Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Stopped again !

Once more the winter stoppages have caught us out.  When we originally planned on leaving Loughborough we did not worry about the closure of Woodend Lock on the Trent & Mersey, as we expected to be past here before the closure.  In typical manner we set off without checking again, you would have thought that we had learnt our lesson by now !  It must be that you just cannot teach an old dog new tricks. The lock was closed on Monday and will remain so for another 9 days until the 8th March.

We have decided to stay put on the 14 day moorings above Shadehouse Lock.  We did look at going back two locks, in reverse again (what a sight that would have been) and take the long way around via the Coventry and Birmingham and Fazeley Canals. Further investigation, we did check first this time, has shown that this will not be possible either, until after the 8th March. We are pretty much locked in to the area we are in, with stoppages on all the escape routes until the 8th.  We then contemplated the reverse 2 locks and go back the way we came and take a trip up the Erewash Canal. This though means once again going through the large locks that I definitely do not like and not only once but twice. So for me it means staying here. Andrew is currently sticking with my wishes.

The only other issue now is that we WILL run out of groceries in the next few days. It looks like this is going to be my first try at getting groceries delivered or otherwise catching a taxi as I cannot find any bus routes close by. Hopefully delivery will be successful and that will resolve the food issue.

For now though the sun is ACTUALLY SHINING and we shall just have to enjoy some enforced lazy days again. Although this gives me an opportunity to get the next teddy bear bits cut out and ready for assembly. Especially as the first one is almost done, he just needs some ears, eyes and a nose.

Some pics from Fradley Pond.  With the sunny weather I might be able to go back and get some better ones now :)

 A chilly Chaffich

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Grand Tour 2013 - UK Inland Waterways

A few days ago we finally escaped the clutches of floods, friends and facilities of Loughborough and hopefully very soon, winter too.

We are now happy with the interior renovations. The exterior needs a bit of a spit and polish and after removing a fair bit of blacking (underside protection) by using said craft as an icebreaker, the underside could do with a new coat. Not quite sure when we might get around to that though!

Part 2 though, of the Grand Tour, has now commenced. Yippee.

I have been overjoyed at being able to manhandle lock paddles and gates (with help on the odd occasion) now that my wrist is now 99% functional. Now just to get back the necessary muscles to make the locking job a bit easier. Having being forced to steer when my wrist was in a cast though means that we can now share the locking, as I have gained a bit of confidence. I will now let Andrew do his share of locking but NOT when it comes to the big nasty deep locks. For those I would rather be on land than water :-O

We are now above the River Trent at Alrewas and, having past the river sections, we are taking a slow day.  This time I took my camera into Alrewas village but unfortunately the one picture that I was hoping to get was no longer available. Now that the pheasant season is over, there were no pheasant hanging out back at the butchers. I knew I should have taken a photo with my phone when I had the chance, damn.  Anyway some pics taken on the walk today. The weather is still bloody cold so we did not walk around for long. The wind is bitter but I am hoping to take another walk towards the river later this evening.
 Pheasant in a field by Branston Lock

White House Cottage - Alrewas

The 'straight' walls always amuse me

Shakespeare Cottage - Alrewas

The butchers hooks out back, but no pheasant this time

and the front entrance

A plethora of chimneys

Andrew enjoying the walk :-)

Beautiful selection of snowdrops, daffodils and crocus in the cemetery at the Parish Church of the All Saints

PS. Never made the evening walk as the day just got colder and colder and windy, so did not feel like venturing out.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday's Nature Walk

We took a lovely morning walk today with the milder weather and second sunny, or partly sunny, day.

While out for Pie Night last night the canal water level rose another 6 inches or more.  Thank goodness we had moved mooring spots during the day, as where we were moored the towpath was nowhere to be seen, just an extra wide canal.  The occupants of the two boats still near where we were said it was quite an effort to get back aboard. 

Andrew half opened the lock paddles in the hopes of dropping the water level but this morning was even higher still (AKH...after tripping over the mooring rope and landing on me ....Something to do with the Scotch I suspect).  Andrew has now fully opened the paddles both ends at lunch time and the level does seem to be dropping.  We are expecting more to come though as the River Wreake, a tributary of the River Soar was in flood this morning.

Anyway some images of the high water

 Normal river level is to the left of the reed beds

Flooded paddocks

 Water flowing over the weir. This is supposed to help keep the short canal section water levels lower, thank goodness or we would be sailing over the top of the lock gates !

 and the local wildlife

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Hatching a Plan

Our new blinds have arrived and Andrew has completed the installation of said blinds. The interior is now looking very smart.  We still need to remove the brass rails but until we can get some blind bottom holding brackets they will remain in place.

Matty has also made us a clear side hatch insert which will let in the light but keep out the cool winds. Really looking good.

With Andrew taking a photo using the latest in camera gadgetry :)

The photos of the girls and Andrew's fishing photos are now all framed and put up on the walls. All in all it is becoming very much our home.

We are now both looking forward to the warmer weather and are now planning where to go next.  Although once again we are restricted by the high river levels.  Last week we upped pegs and traveled up river to fill with diesel and another pump-out. This time we went up to Sileby and then returned to Barrow upon Soar for a change of scenery and a touch of rural. While here the weather turned and it has rained and snowed and the river has risen, dropped and risen again. I was finding it a bit difficult getting off and back on to the boat where we were moored as there was a sloping edge to the canal. Andrew has moved us up to the lock landing at Barrow Deep lock so that I can hop on and off the boat much more easily.

Our new view out the front with my little bit of spring.

On our trip up to Sileby, we once again spied a Kingfisher but getting a decent photo of one is really proving to be quite elusive. They are small, quick and very timid. Moving off rapidly when the boat drifts to close.  This is the best that I have been able to get so far, certainly not my normal standard !!  But I will keep trying.

We also saw a Little Egret and I have been waiting for a decent day's weather to go back and try to get a good picture of it.  Today started out lovely and sunny but once we had done some essential grocery shopping and moved the boat, the clouds came over. Although they cannot make up their minds just yet it seems. I will definitely go for a walk tomorrow with camera in hand and see what I can find.  The birds are far more vocal and active today to.
I did see two Magpies attacking a squirrel in a tree just as it started snowing yesterday.  No activity from them this morning but now that we have moved down a bit I can no longer keep a check on them.

So the plan is to move on once the river levels drop again. Back to Loughborough initially to get a few more items and then south on the Trent and Mersey past Alrewas and the river sections.  Our loose plan is to get to the Shropshire Union canal (Shroppie) and the Llangollen canal.  A part which we did in 2006 but our idea is to take it much more slowly this time around.  After that we will head further north to the Leeds and Liverpool canal but as yet we have not decided exactly how we will get there.  Could be a toss of a coin at the various canal junctions and let the canal take us which ever way the coin decides.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

February has arrived

It does not seem possible that we have already been aboard for 4 months! Although January has been a quiet month in comparison to the previous 3, as we have spent most of it on a very short length of the canal in Loughborough.

We have been making good use of the time though. The kitchen cupboard has been sorted with some pull out wire drawers, the portholes in the bed room area have had the curtains removed and the foam squabs covered. This makes the walls look much better as they are not broken up by curtains and the rails which were annoying me have now gone :-)
From this:

To this:

Andrew has resolved the problems with the washing machine by re-plumbing with a thermostatic mixing valve, set to 43 degrees, so that the washing machine will fill with hot water every time, negating the need for the washing machine thermostat to heat the water. We can of course only use the machine when the engine is running as that is what heats the water, but that will not really be an issue as we run it each day to charge the batteries anyway. We have not tried the dryer but we shall probably not need it much anyway. Air drying will suffice.

Our photos of the girls and Andrews fishing have been framed and fitted to the walls. Wooden blinds have been ordered for the living area, to replace the curtains there. Hopefully these will arrive soon and we can then complete the redecoration in the boat. Just need to finish the shelving in what is now the laundry cupboard.

Now that the updates which we wanted to make are almost complete, we are making plans to move on and start making our way north for so that we may be up there for summer.

I am looking forward to spring, as two winters with no summer break in between is really starting to wear me down. Not long to wait now though, the days are getting longer and slightly warmer.

We did do a short trip to get the loo pumped out and it made me realise that we are missing the open rural areas just a bit.  So our plan is to stock up early in the week and take a rural break for a few days before venturing back into town.  Andrew has a 'work' night organised for the 12th Feb and then some time after that we will possibly be moving on.  I must admit I am getting quite excited to be on the move again, especially as I will not have to worry about being iced in far from any conveniences :-)  Just not looking forward to going up the Stenson lock again. I might just offer to do the locking for that one. My wrist has improved quite a bit since the cast was removed although I still do not have as much movement in it as before. Hopefully it will eventually get back to almost normal.

I have some hand sewing/craft projects all organised to keep me busy on any rainy days that we encounter over the following months. 3 mohair teddy bears to make, a cross stitch to complete and a scarf to finish knitting.  Hopefully that should b more than enough to keep me busy in the quiet times, oh and also another 3 puzzles :-)