Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Time Out for Renovations

Winter is starting to set in now. A couple of days of light snow here in Loughborough and this morning some 'slushy' ice on the one side of the canal. We, on the other hand, are snug and warm in our little boat.

A couple of nights ago I totaled up our mileage and locks that we have done since I boarded on the 30th September 2012. We have traveled 530.23 miles, opened and closed 456 locks and 7 swing bridges and gone through 12 tunnels. And that is only the start, there are many more to go.
We have been in Loughborough now just over a week and it is interesting to note that with no upping of pegs and ropes and moving each day, the days do start to blend in to one another and there is no rush to do a job today that can easily be achieved tomorrow, or the day after that or possibly even next week, whenever that is. So as you can possibly tell, we are quite chilled out, not literally that is! I am getting to a point now, almost 4 months after leaving work and wondering if I am now at that point whether I will ever want to go back to work.  Part of me right now wants to work, if only to earn some money so that I may go out and splash it about on trivial and unnecessary items, I SO MISS SHOPPING FOR THE FUN OF IT!

Grocery shopping every 3 days, because we cannot fit any more food into the fridge, just does not count. Especially when shopping with Andrew, I cannot browse and take my time over all the luxury items that they have out there to tempt me. I must admit though that I am sure that at least a third of the trolley has been taken over with chocolate, biscuits and desserts. We will never run sort of those.

On the plus side Andrew has managed to install some wire drawers in the kitchen cupboard, which I am very happy with. He has also trimmed down a radiator cabinet, so that I now have a handy shelf next to me for my bears and tea, along with my sewing implements.

Now that my arm is out of plaster, I have purchased some pleather to cover the port hole foam rounds. With no sewing machine, all sewing has to be done by hand and this is taking time as my wrist and hand do start to complain after a while and I have to leave it for a day or so again. Hopefully I should get the first one completed today but even if I say so myself it does look rather good and infinitely better than the curtain. Eventually all 6 will be done and all the curtain rails removed.

The other item is the large white elephant in the cupboard, the washing machine. Andrew get a phone number for a repair man, but unfortunately he does not like working on washing machines in narrowboats and has turned down our request. Which leaves us back at square one with the white elephant still sitting in the cupboard. Repair or replace? that is the question. If we replace, what happens with the white elephant? If we repair we need to do more than that, as we will then have to work out how we can actually use the current machine without heating the water. That brings on a whole new challenge which honestly I don't think that either of us could be bothered to resolve.  The simplest solution to all is to move the white elephant on to a new home (to be picked up from the boat) and replace him with a small hippo that will only wash in cold water.

The next item on the agenda is the dreaded generator which caused all the havoc with the white elephant in the first place. I would like to replace that with a MUCH smaller and quieter version, but again that requires the current item to be removed before a replacement can be obtained. Well I guess we have plenty of time to sort all this out but I have a sneaky suspicion that things might not all be resolved before we start cruising again. I might just have to put my foot down and insist that it is.

We did have a bit of fun this last week though. We were towed backwards to the water point to fill up the water tank in preparation for the Big Freeze. It is about 500m to the water point under a bridge and a sharp 90deg turn. Andrew was just to timid (or lazy) to try reversing on his own, we are facing the wrong way. To turn the boat means a 2 mile roundtrip to the winding hole and back. On seeing Matty passing by he stuck out his thumb and hitched a lift instead. I was able to grab a few shots before we got to the bridge. They were having fun and it seems the passer by's enjoyed the sight too.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Onward to Loughborough

Christmas 2012 has been and gone and by the time this gets posted so will New Year.

A frosty morning at Barton Turns Marina

While waiting for the lock repairs to be completed we were delighted to see our good friends, Lindsay and Carmen, from South Africa, who we have not seen for 24 years. It was great catching up on past memories and family histories.

A Tufted Duck at Barton Turns Marina

We eagerly left Barton Turns Marina on the 19th December as intended, to continue our journey to Loughborough. What was not expected was that we would run out of diesel along the way. Our intention was to push through the evening to get to Loughborough before the flood waters rose to impassable levels. I have to say that lucky for us the diesel ran out before we joined the River Trent and not once we were already on it.

The boat interior now that we have partly 'redecorated'

Unbeknown to us, the radiators use an awful lot of diesel. We had used them quite a bit at Barton Turns after we ran out of coal for the stove and to help dry the towels in the bathroom while the outside temp was below freezing. We did not check the diesel level before leaving Barton Turns Marina as we had filled up the tank the previous week! We will not be doing that again in a hurry.

We got as far as Ashton Lock and ended up moored on a water point as we could not get the engine restarted to move back around the already moored boats. Andrew went to appologise to the boat owners behind us and they offered him a lift to get some diesel, which would enable us to get to Shardlow and refill the tank. Unfortunatey the overnight delay was enough to allow the river to rise and subsequently close. After filling up again at Shardlow and no safe over Christmas mooring, we then retraced our steps and have moored up in Mercia Marina, after what I might add was a scary night trip (for me) up the Stenson Lock, a 11' 10" double lock with terrible turbulence when filling the lock.

This winter has been the wettest on record and it has rained almost every day since the 15th December. With over 200 flood alerts over the Christmas period, it has not been that pleasant. I have however managed to complete a 1000 piece puzzle in just a short time.

We left the boat in Mercia Marina and hired a car to travel to Woodcote to stay with Jody and Gina for Christmas. We invited ourselves a couple of days early due to the circumstances and had a wonderful time and delicious Christmas Lunch.

 Gina, Andrew, Kathy and Alan


Michele and Andrew (after lunch)

We left Woodcote on Boxing Day to catch up with Andrew's cousins and aunt, before returning to a rather chilly boat and no coal! This time we will check the level of diesel in the tank.

As we were not able to get the boat to Loughborough, we hired a car to get there for the Banter on the 28th Dec. The CWDF banter was great fun and we came back to the boat the following day with rather more luggage than when we left. Andrew went a bit crazy at the auction.

We are now 'stuck' within a stretch of canal which we cannot get off as the flooding River Trent has us boxed in. Our current plan is to return to Barton Turns Marina as it has better access to food shopping than here at Mercia Marina and at least there we also had some internet access which we have not been able to get here.

Unfortunately it turned out that the internet issues were due to the portable wi-fi and not the service, although we did still have problems even with our 'smart' phones.