Friday, 31 October 2014

Amazingly warm day

They reckon that it's the warmest Hallowe'en since records began, and I shouldn't be surprised. We've been walking round the marina without coats on all day. Apart from our continuing slow improvement – I'm still coughing and spluttering a bit and Sheila's joined me in that stage, necessitating the consumption of Victory V's – there's not a great deal to report except for the continuing construction of the Great Wall of Mercia:











It's said to be at its final height or thereabouts and should look a lot better once wooden clad and with planting in front of it.

The other thing to mention is the arrival of our neighbours on Y20. A brand new Aqua bespoke boat, Inkling is owned by Peter and Melanie who seem very pleasant people indeed. They are long term Mercia moorers, having sold Eunoia to buy Inkling.

They've spent the afternoon washing and polishing:





I'm pleased to say that I spotted the literary reference in the name of their new boat; the Inklings was the name of a group of friends who, between the wars, met regularly in the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford to discuss their current writing, a sort of early writers support group.

Since it included CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien, it could be said to have been rather more successful than most such, though Tolkien at least continued to have terrible trouble actually finishing his projects. It's a wonder that The Lord of the Rings ever made it into print at all and we only know about his other works such as The Silmarillion because of their post mortem publication after editing by his son Christopher.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

Taking time but getting there

Looking back, I see that this cold has been a feature for six days now, which is frankly a bit boring for all of us. Never mind, we're nearly there; I'm feeling almost back to what passes for normal for me, and Sheila is making steady progress.

It's helped that the weather today has been very mild again, encouraging us to get out and about both in the morning and just after lunch. We did some necessary shopping after breakfast; tissues, firelighters, milk, that sort of thing and had a perambulation round the marina this afternoon.

Sheila wore her new boots for the first time and is very pleased with them. A decent pair of boots helps with her sore toes and she was noticeably quicker walking with them on. As we approached Facilities Block 1 we came across Peter and Janet from the other Sanity and had a good old natter with them about this, that and the other thing. Enjoy your trip to Florida, guys – just watch out for hurricanes... ;)

There's a decorative wall going up on each side of the main entrance to the marina just now; it's very good of the marina owners to provide us with something else to gawp at now that the Boardwalk is to all intents and purposes finished. This wall looks a bit fierce at the moment, being a concrete block construction reminiscent of the Berlin Wall that came down just 25 years ago; it's been christened the Great Wall of Mercia.

I understand that it's to be clad in wood when finished and no doubt will look a lot less menacing then!

I'll try and remember to take some photos of it tomorrow.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Still quiet

We're both gradually recovering from this horrible cold, but are still taking it easy whilst we do so.

The main activity outside today was a walk round to the shops for veg and bread and to call in at the office in connection with a new booking for the lodge for next year. Carrots, parsnips and a butternut squash were obtained.

I'd already boiled the carcass of the chicken with an onion, a couple of sticks of celery and some herbs so I decided to make a chicken and veg soup out of the resulting stock. So I cut the squash into quarters, deseeded it and popped it in the oven for a bit whilst I stripped the meat off the bones of the chick.

Then I fished the squash out, added some olive oil to the roasting tray and cut the other veg, plus a couple of onions, into chunks and put them in the tray, coating them with the oil. That lot went in the oven whilst I peeled and cut up the squash. (Squash is much easier to peel if you cook it a bit first; the flesh softens and you can peel the rind off with a small sharp knife.) This latter has been boiled up with the stock for around twenty minutes whilst the veg roasted away, getting soft and a bit browned.

Once the stock has cooled a bit, I'll give it a good whizzing with the Bamix wand to blend in the squash, onion and celery. Then I'll add the roasted veg chunks, the meat off the chick and some fine green beans that needed using up, boil it all up again and there's the soup, yum, yum.

Just the thing to treat a cold on a dull, cool autumnal day...

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Hanging in there

I'm making steady progress but poor Sheila is still on the way down. Hopefully we'll be back to normal by the weekend.

Today's been another day to get through despite snuffling, coughing and sneezing; Sheila's been getting on with the washing and we managed a stagger round the marina after lunch while it was still very balmy. The rain has now arrived after a day that felt more like summer for a time.

I think the only other thing to mention today is a follow up to something that was on the Today programme yesterday and then discussed on the Canal World Forum. This is a proposal in the consultation on the Staffordshire Local Minerals Plan to allow Tarmac Lafarge to excavate part of Hopwas Woods for gravel.

Hopwas is an ancient woodland referred to in the Doomsday Book; for those who don't know it, the Coventry Canal runs along one side in one of its most beautiful sections. Lafarge claim that the bit they want to dig up has been ravaged by fire in the 70's and that they will put it all back, but of course it's not just about the trees. Those will have been felled, burnt and all sorts of things down the centuries, but the forest ecosystem, the whole bit under ground, is irreplaceable.

There's a petition to be signed protesting at the very idea here

Monday, 27 October 2014

Slow improvement: slightly soggy

I'm pleased to say that I'm a bit better today, and Sheila has got over feeling dizzy, though I fear she's developing the cold. Hardly surprising in the circumstances, of course, we're a devoted couple who share everything.

So it's been a pretty quiet day again, naturally; the weather has colluded in that, being warm but extremely dull with a steady breeze.

We managed a trip to the Farm Shop and the Still Waters shop this morning and a walk round the marina this afternoon, dumping some recycling on the way.

I didn't feel like cooking much last night so just did a ship's hash with corned beef, fried onions and mushrooms and real mashed potato rather than the instant stuff. That was fine but meant that as I'd already defrosted some mince on Saturday and not used it, I had to cook it up this morning, making chilli con carne.

Sheila has stripped the chilli plants of their mini peppers, which are now mostly in the freezer apart from the four I used in the meal (they are very small). We won't actually eat the chilli tonight as Elanor is bringing over the chicken she bought for me on Friday from the factory shop near where she works and it's on its death date today.

These thing get so complicated when you have limited freezer space.

At least we have a quiet week this week; I'm just glad the cold didn't hold off until next week when we're pretty busy again.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Still soggy

I'm still full of this cold and it looks like Sheila is coming down with it :( .

So we've spent the day indoors apart from a quick trip to the Farm Shop for milk and pasties.

I've just finished bleaching and boiling a load of my hankies as I'm running out.

Hopefully we'll feel a bit more alive tomorrow...

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A different sort of soggy

Today the cold which has been lurking in my head for a few days decided to manifest itself, moistly. I'm on my second hankie already. Fortunately, we'd had a walk round the marina before it got too bad and I remembered to take the iPad with me and photograph the new signs.

So today, mostly pictures:




Nice new sign by the shop about the boat trips...


... but the old one is still in use.


That bush will have to go.


The boat trips actually leave from near that sign in the distance. The yellow boat on its own is the first of the business boats; it sells hampers.


The first sign you see entering the marina by car. It's a bit blurry as I had to zoom quite a bit. The alternative would have been standing in the middle of the road.



Sign on the footpath coming from Findern.


Also using this gate would be visitors to Aqua Boat Building and Hire Boats, Lodge Owners and various others, but I guess there wasn't room for all that.

Let's all hope I feel a bit better tomorrow!