Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Progress continued

Sheila's operation went very well and she's making what's known as an uneventful recovery. Jo very kindly drove us to the Royal today so that we could attend the dressings clinic. On removal of the dressing, the wound was found to be healing well, with just a touch of weep at the distal (far) end. This was examined by a medic who concluded that it was nothing to worry about, there being no sign of infection.

She's got a fresh, much smaller dressing on her foot which we can remove after three to five days. She's also to start walking about again, so we're past the tedious bit of just sitting around.

In fact the only thing that went wrong was my stupid fault. As we were on our way back, I realised that I'd left my iPad and Sheila's Kindle on top of the car park ticket machine, where I'd put them whilst fishing change out of my pocket. Jo turned us around and we shot back to the hospital. They'd gone from on top of the machine, of course, but when I enquired at the desk in the Kings Treatment Centre I was told they'd been handed in and were on their way to the lost property office.

The staff member taking them there was still in sight and could be called back. They'd taken the name and address of the decent man who'd found them, so we can send him a thank you note and a token of our appreciation of his honesty. It does reinforce your faith in human nature, stuff like this.

So it's being a good week all round. We had a splendid afternoon and evening with John and Nev yesterday, what's more. Elanor and Sal came round for a bit of it and the weather was fine enough that we were able to stay out on the veranda for dinner.

We've now got four weeks of relaxing at the marina before Sheila's next OP appointment, when hopefully we'll be cleared to get on with some boating. The plan is to get away by the end of July, do the Four Counties ring and end up at Poynton for the Braidbar Owners' Weekend.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Things going well

I suppose I ought to be cautious about such hubris, but after a stressful couple of weeks, we do seem to be getting on top of things. We're back in the boat until next Monday whilst our penultimate guests occupy the lodge. Meanwhile, we've been to Ely by train for Graeme's graduation ceremony in the cathedral there. We stayed two nights in the Lamb Hotel, a classic English middle ranking place. None of your Hiltons or Marriotts here, a bit scruffy, staff who often seemed a bit unsure of what they were doing but an excellent location just a couple of minutes from the cathedral.

We had two good meals, one at the Royal Standard in Fore Hill, the best steak I've eaten for a long time, and one in the Grand Central on the riverside, an American restaurant with ridiculously large portions. It was great to have some quality time with Cathy and Graeme, and with the grandsons and their cousins on the Sunday morning.

Health wise things are pretty good too. The pressures in my eyes have dropped significantly, possibly as a belated effect of the laser treatment. If all is still good in six months, I may even go back to annual checks. Sheila had her second toe joint replacement on Wednesday, staying in overnight as she didn't go to theatre until mid afternoon. It took them a long time to discharge her yesterday, mainly due to a delay in getting her take out drugs prescribed, but we finally sprang her at half three.

She has to spend the next two weeks mostly sitting down with her foot up, but she's in very little pain already, less than before the op. We'll move back into the lodge on Monday for three and a half weeks. If her recovery goes to plan, we should be boating again by the end of July.

And the boat? The Webasto is now performing properly, not that we've needed it recently, but the batteries are getting very tired, down to about 100 Ah left out of 460, I reckon. The solar panel keeps them going, with a bit of top up from the shoreline each day. The hope is that they'll last out until we get back to Braidbar in August, just before the Owners' Weekend.

The Trojans haven't done particularly well – I reckon it gets too hot for them under the engine boards when we're cruising – so I'm thinking of going onto basic sealed units. If they last a couple of years they'd be more economic than four years of Trojans and, being lighter, would be easier for me to change. The Trojans weigh around 27kg apiece and are just too heavy for me to drag out from under the deck.

Finally, some grateful thanks. Firstly to Jean Gittins who helped us move stuff from lodge to boat, then to Wynne Jones who collected us from Derby station on Sunday because the trains weren't running to Willington, to Jo James for taking Sheila to the Royal Derby in the early morning and especially to Elanor who has been a great help and support in lots of ways, not least in taking me to collect Sheila yesterday after hanging about all day waiting for the phone call. Truly it is wonderful to have such friends.

I'll blog again in a few weeks time.


Saturday, 7 May 2016

Settling back in

OK, so you're all waiting to hear about the fish and chips ;)

Well, they were OK, no more than that, I'm afraid, and, in our view, not worth putting up with the noise from the railway line that makes the Willington VMs so uncomfortable. Next time we fancy fish and chips on the way back to the marina, we'll get them from Alrewas. Specifically, the chips were cut very small so had cooked rather hard and there wasn't enough fish inside the batter.

Yesterday, we arrived in the marina between eight and half past and pumped out. Jules came across a bit before nine and sold us some diesel, 130 litres, in fact, and we were back on pontoon Y21 by ten. We spent the day packing up to move back to the lodge and nattering to Peter and Melanie on Inkling who had been across to the Aqua moorings for some snagging and were just back.

Elanor finishes early on a Friday at the moment and came over with Sally in the late afternoon to help us move stuff into the lodge. Sheila looked after Sal whilst the car was loaded up, which gave her the happy opportunity to natter to Trev and Rachael who had come across to see Peter and Melanie, being fellow Aqua owners. After moving loads of stuff up to the lodge, we had a gentle walk round the marina, taking our time as it was so hot.

Getting up this morning, we realised the breakfast cereal was still on the boat...

The plan is to do stuff in the lodge today, then tomorrow we'll start on a whole series of cleaning and minor repair jobs on the boat.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

A night in Willington

Setting off at 7.45 once more, we had a good run to Willington, arriving just three hours later. The route is showing the benefit of CRT's work in cutting back offside growth and dredging shallow spots. Sanity Again maintained 3.5 mph when not creeping past moored boats or sneaking up on blind bends.

We had plenty of choice for mooring when we got here, but it's really filled up now. As we approached the village, we saw several Mercia moorers heading the other way – clearly the better weather is having an effect on cruising plans.

We've got Mirabilis tied in front of us for the night and have been exchanging loads of chat with them all day.

After lunch, we popped into the village to stock up on perishables like grapes and salad stuff that we can't get from the marina shops. Back at the boat, we put the coal box away in the bow locker and cleaned up the well deck, so that SA is now definitely in summer cruising mode.

The cunning plan is to have fish and chips from the new shop here tonight then go into the marina first thing tomorrow. We need diesel and a pump out and to refill the water tank. Elanor is giving us a hand on Saturday to move stuff back into the lodge. If this weather holds, we'll be able to get a lot of outside work done next week, touching in the paintwork here and there and washing and polishing the cabin sides.

This will be the last of the daily blogs until we are cruising again, but as before, I'll blog from time to time with news about us.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Quick run to Branston

Alrewas to Branston is one of those runs that takes either two and a half hours or three. If you set out expecting three, you get two and a half and vice versa. So today we left at a quarter to eight, aiming to arrive between half ten and eleven, and got here at quarter past ten. We'd had all the locks with us bar the last, Tatenhill, and were followed by two guys from Keir, the contractors, moving a workboat to a new location.

They'd actually showed up above Bagnall just as Sheila was getting ready to set off but insisted that we go first. There was very little traffic moving and the weather has continued to pick up.

CRT were doing some work repairing the towpath edge between Tatenhill and the Water Park, but not in such a way as to obstruct navigation. They were using stakes and sandbags to make good the edge, then backfilling with dredge from the centre of the channel. It's a lot better than nothing but doesn't remove the big stones that have fallen out of the washwall that stop you from getting up to the side, something that's a particular problem in this length.

After we'd had coffee, I set off to walk to Morrisons, having forgotten to buy more tomatoes yesterday. It's a bit of a trek, so I was delighted to find that there is now a large Co-op in Branston village, about the same size as the new one in Willington. The Co-op is certainly investing a lot in new stores these days.

After lunch, we took a brisk walk round the lake. No unusual birds were seen, indeed there's less variety than at Mercia, but it's still a very pleasant stroll.

Tomorrow, on to Willington. It looks like we should be able to get some of the outdoor jobs done in the next few days if this weather holds up.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

On to Alrewas

It's been a routine but very pleasant sort of day. We set off just before eight with the familiar run to Alrewas in prospect. The weather was much better than yesterday, though still with a chilly wind, and I didn't need to wrap up anything like as much for my stint on the back.

By the time we got to Woodend, we'd had coffee and Sheila had started a wash load. We passed some old acquaintances from our WRG days, the Bakers on Enbee, and they followed us down the locks as far as the junction. The locks were against us until we got to Middle, where a volockie had set it for us. We then had this excellent service at every lock through Fradley. In contrast to some complaints that have been aired on CanalWorld, they were courteous and considerate and took particular care to ensure that, as the steerer, I was happy with what they were doing.

There was quite a bit of traffic about, especially Canaltimes, but nothing to cause inconvenience. We've tied just above Bagnall lock, as usual when going in this direction, but there would have been room on the controlled moorings if we'd wanted to stop there.

After lunch and a rest, we walked the towpath to the river lock. The boards all say "Proceed with caution" though the river level is well down in the green. There's a fair flow on, mind, so not much different from when we came up three and a half weeks ago.

We took a path across the fields into the centre of the village, emerging onto Dark Lane. I don't honestly think that it saved much time, if any, but made a pleasant change when we weren't in a hurry anyway. We popped into the Coöp for some bits and pieces and ambled back to the boat for a cup of tea.

Tomorrow, we'll go on to Branston, then to Willington on Thursday. At the moment, the plan is to tie in the village for the night so as to sample the produce of the new chip shop, then go into the marina on Friday morning.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Hit's hon to 'andsacre

Sorry about that – I'm a bit short of sleep after a very good evening last night. We only just got to bed before midnight having disgracefully overstayed on Bunnies. It was such a merry meeting that we couldn't tear ourselves away earlier.

Many thanks, Ian and Sharon, for good food, good wine and excellent company.

We still managed a decently prompt start this morning, being keen to get down Haywood and Colwich locks before the traffic built up. As it was, we found one boat just locking down the latter and had to turn it for ourselves. Sheila steered on through conditions that weren't as bad as yesterday, but were still very breezy with rather lowering cloud at first.

The sun finally broke through as the morning went on, so that by the time we finished at Handsacre Sheila was getting too hot in her rain suit. There was a fair bit of traffic about, but not too much of it encountered at awkward spots.

We didn't stop in Rugeley, having stocked up in Stone, and finally finished for the day at half eleven. Since then, we've been loafing, rather, recovering from the weekend's excesses, you may say. Tomorrow, on to Alrewas. We've seen Bunnies go past, but have lost track of Inkling (thanks for the comment, by the way, Mel!)