Sunday, September 30, 2012

'Tis grim day up North tha' knows !

... weather-wise that is - mind you it is October tomorrow!

We are both having trouble fighting off this bloody wog*, we are soothing it with lashings of Baileys at the moment - for medicinal purposes of course !

We had a bit of lie-in this morning - well it is Sunday (not that we need an excuse!).  Whilst we had the hire car we decided to go to Stoke on Trent Tesco for a stock up......exciting so far ain't it?!!

We took the doggies for a walk around the marina first, we hadn't gone far when we came across an ambulance treating an old boy on the deck who had taken a tumble on the marina and smashed his face in; I gave them a hand to lift him on the stretcher - he was a big old boy, he was in a very dazed and confused condition.  I'm not sure whether he was a boater or gongoozler  - I hope I didn't contaminate him with my Manflu!

The Tesco store was in a suburb of Stoke called Meir Park and by the state of the punters doing the shopping it appears it could be a rather wealthy suburb, not a chav in sight :)

We still haven't had a good look around Stone yet but from what we have seen it looks quite nice - there are certainly lots of pubs anyway!   There does seem to be a direct correlation between charity shops and betting shops in these little towns ... I cannot think of anything worse than sitting in a betting shop all day spending money ...  which the majority of punters don't have to spend in the first place.  I hate them, they are a scourge of the high street.

Fresh Tuna for dinner tonight and I have already cooked a chook for the animals ... not that they are spoilt!!!!

Tomorrow we are going back up to Macc to collect my prescription drugs from Boots, so will be out and about for much of the day again !

How exciting a blog was that?!  It is hard when you don't move every day ... we are here for 5 months so it could  be a struggle with content. I would add that after being here for 4 days it just doesn't compare with everyday cruising.  Roll on March :-)

an Australian meaning for 'wog' is illness (or virus, such as the flu virus) - used in sentences like He's off work with a wog.

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Final Cruise for 2012 :-(

Its nice to blog again ... the severe case of MANFLU really buggered me up!  I would have to say I havn't had a bad cold in Oz for years yet alone MANFLU - it even made me pine for the warmer climes but feeling a lot better now!  Of course Elaine now has the women's version, ie,  the common cold ... which we all know is a very mild version of the debilitating MANFLU!  At this point I think Elaine may add a few comments........(can't 'cos I am feeling too crappy to think of any comments ... not that he would know I am feeling crappy because I don't whinge and whine and moan and groan with every little sniffle and snuffle .... Elaine x)

So to get up to date, we left Wolseley last Wednesday in pretty crap conditions as in wet windy and a tad cold.  Just as we left the mooring we passed NB Valerie going the other way ... only time for a quick "how ya going" though !

We only had 4 locks to do and they were quite spread out ...

It was Geoffrey's turn for the life ring ...

The canal runs parallel with the River Trent, which as you can see was pretty flooded. These poor cows were stranded on an island ...

We're going to the potteries ...

River Trent in your back yard ...

The canal was very high!
a very full lock !

Over flowing onto the towpath ...

We arrived at the marina quite late and in pouring rain so we parked up on the visitors' mooring for the night.

We could see fire engines by the canal so went to have a look - they were rescuing sheep caught in the floods; they were all there - cops, fire water rescue units etc.  I just love the compassion shown to the animals here.

It was very dark when I took this pic, you can just about make out the fireman rounding up the sheep - God bless him.

So here we are all moored up safely for the next few months!
Caxton is just about in the middle.

One of the first priorities was to buy a small car to get around in for the next 5 months. We decided to hire a car from Enterprise for 5 days so we could get around and have a look at a few motors. I love Enterprise - they pick you up, and drop you off etc, - and a 5 day hire for 90 quid is a bargain I reckon.

We drove to Macclesfield on Friday morning as I had a doctor's appointment at 9.00 am - we had to get up at 6.00 am!!!!! It was very, very bloody hard especially as MANFLU still had a violent grip on me and Elaine still couldn't shrug off the very mild common cold!!!!

The reason for going to the quack was for me to get some blood pressure medication as my Aussie 6 month supply had run out.  It all went rather well for my first visit to a pommie GP - a bit too easy Elaine reckons as she didn't get a blood test done.  I didn't have a problem with that at all as I go bit wobbly with needles.  She did check my blood pressure, which was off the richter scale as I suffer from 'White Coat Syndrome', but she took my word for it that it is fine when I check it on my home monitor.

We went to Boots in Macc to get the drugs but they had run out so have to go back next Monday. Whilst we were at the quacks etc. the dogs were being looked after by Elaine's dad who lives in Macc; they had a great time.....they just slept.......they also hate early mornings!

Whilst we were there Elaine's brother, Trevor, dropped in for a visit plus, for some strange reason, a shelf in Elaine's Dad's china cabinet decided to fall apart resulting in an almighty crash and a very slow rescue operation to remove the rest of the valuable china and ornaments without further damage!  Result ... only one smashed wine glass!

We left Macc at lunchtime and went looking at a few cars we had checked out on the net.  After looking at a lot of crap we ended up buying a 2003 Citreon C3, with 45000 miles on the clock. We pick it up from Crewe next Thursday after they have fixed up a few small problems with it; it's a bit of a gamble - buying a 9 year old car, but hopefully it will be OK.  Elaine liked it which is the main thing :)

So to today - Saturday - we are both still feeling a bit lethargic but as we still have the hire car till next Tuesday we went out for a bit of an explore. We checked out the dry dock in Stone which looks pretty good; we will probably put Caxton in it next March and anti-foul it before we cruise off again.

Stone looks pretty good and I am sure we will appreciate it when we are both 100%  - the pubs look great but I don't fancy a drink waaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhh.

We also went to a large pet store in Stoke to get some supplies.

As neither of us could be bothered to cook I went down to Stone and bought a fantastic hot Thai take away - this would for sure kill the MANFLU and Elaine's mild Common cold!

As I type this at 10.00 pm I am drinking a glass of wine and enjoying alcohol again!  Thank you, Thai take away THANKYOU XXX  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Manly Ferry Grounded by Man-Flu

We awoke Monday morning at Fradley Junction to the sound of very heavy rain, and high winds; it was lovely and cosy in the boat but the water gauge was reading below zero - we haven't ran out of water so I don't know how accurate it is.

I donned the full 'Manly Ferry' wet weather gear and wellies and off we went - we only had one lock to do so Elaine stayed down below, no point in her putting all the gear on for one lock!

I quite enjoyed it up there on my own thinking about future plans and the state of the nation etc.

We passed pallets of crappers at the Armitage Shanks factory bound for dunnies the world over.  I was  watching a chap who really seemed to enjoy his job - he was disposing of the rejects, he made sure everyone was smashed in a spectacular fashion as it went into the waste skip!

Pallets of toilets, it was a bit dark
This was the worst weather I had steered the boat in without a doubt, but as a true-blue hero (oh really!!! Elaine) was determined to find a water point and fill that bloody water tank!

We filled the tank at the water point next to to the driving range just past Spode House, which is a very impressive building, but it was just too wet to get a pic.

After filling the tank we headed onwards through Rugeley, past the picturesque power station and moored up for the night near Wolseley Bridge.

We took the dogs for a walk and ended up at the Wolseley Arms pub - but we had to sit outside as they were not doggy friendly.

It was here that I started to feel a bit dodgy, we started to walk back to the boat and all the symptoms started to kick in ... it was the curse of modern man, which will never be  understood by women......yep MAN-FLU!!!!

Elaine had left a veggie stew bubbling on top of the fire when we went out and when we came back it was all cooked through and ready to eat!  As my man-flu was a very bad case I only managed one glass of red last night !  Elaine made me up some of her magic potions (herbal remedies! - Elaine), I took those and had an early night at 23.30!

Had a pretty good night's sleep but have decided to stay here and stay inside the boat rather than go out and risk the full blown Man-Flu virus2 (I made that bit up)!

So far so good......2 cups of tea plus breakfast, all in bed!

If you dont believe me about MAN-FLU check this here  

Cough cough sneeze snot splutter!!!!!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Short Blog

Russ came, mum has gone. Raining and cold. Fire lit, boat lovely and toasty. Veged out all day listening to music and having a few drinks.
Mucky Duck tonight.
Service will resume as normal tomorrow.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mothers Last Day

Had a lovely dinner, washed down with a few beers last night at the Tame Otter pub in Hopwas.

Before we cast off the lines this morning I had to take a pic of Elaine's solitary tomato; this is the result of nearly 4 months work......the bloody tomato plants have infested the cratch and foredeck causing condensation and resulting  mould on the inside of the cratch, the cats crap in the pots and every Tom, Dick and Harry that walks past the boat thinks we are growing bloody marijuana.

But it is so worth it because we have ONE bloody tomato!!!!

There it is!
(My God, he is a whinger - how rewarding is it to grow something yourself - even if it is one little tomato - there are others - they are just small and green yet !!! Elaine x)

Mum and Elaine walked the length of Hopwas Woods.  If mother had seen the signs saying that it is an Army firing range she would have been hiding inside the boat.

Cruising past Hopwas Woods where, apart from being a firing range, the local witches go skyclad - as in, they get their kit off,.  I kept my eyes peeled but unfortunately saw nothing!

Keeping eyes on the canal ...

Very nice des res ...

Passed a hay bail Stonehenge ...

The optismistic Englishman, although in saying that today was very sunny and quite warm in the sun ...

Not sure what this crop is....answers please?!

Bombo having a sleep with his head in a plastic container!

Sammy being Sam!

and this is him doing his famous Meerkat  impersonation ...

We turned left at Fradley Junction and moored at the top of the second lock.
Elaine took the dogs and cassette for a walk down to the service area ...

The fender boat was moored behind us - the chap sat stripped off on the tow path in the sunshine making fenders, not a bad life!

Mum had a look around the shop whilst Elaine and I emptied the nasties down at the yard ...

Old British Waterways van in the foregroud with its C&RT successor in the background ...

It was such a nice arvo that we had to go for a drink in The Swan and watch the boats go by.  It is a very busy junction !

On the way back to the boat we passed one that has been named after our dog ... always knew he was special ...

So back to the title, it's Mother's last day with us today - brother Russ picks her up tomorrow morning.  I think she has enjoyed her 2 week stay with us. She is pretty fit for her 80+ years and walked with Elaine and the dogs every day, no doubt she will visit us again next year.

Mum found this pic in her purse - it is of her in Kew Gardens in 1948 with her best friend.  (Mum is on the left).

Friday, September 21, 2012

50,000 Hits & 6 Months Since Leaving OZ

Just over 50,000 page views since starting our blog, pretty amazing methinks.   I still can't believe folks out there actually read it, it is very flattering. This blogging lark does become rather addictive; in saying that I don't spend a great deal of time writing it as I never go into much detail about the canals, the history of buildings etc. as there are so many boaty blogs out there doing a much better job than I ever could ... our best post ever was written by Bombo.....go figure!  Elaine writes ten times better than me but she isn't so addicted.  The one thing I have tried to do is be positive, after all, we both feel so grateful to live this most fantastic lifestyle, what is there to be negative about, apart from the F%*"ing hire boats of course.......Joke :)

Six months since we left Oz ... regrets ... 'I've had a few, but then again too few to mention'  ... sorry Frank!  Seriously - none whatsoever, as its a fantastic lifestyle in a fantastic country with fantastic friendly people, we both absolutely love it.

I think one thing that has also made it so easy is to have such a great boat; Caxton has now clocked up over 3500 hours - the only failure has been a blown fuse, and that was our fault for overloading it!
We are both very grateful to Joe and Lesley (previous owners of Caxton) for keeping the boat in such an immaculate condition and of making the sale such an easy process, it was all done on trust!  I would also add that Barn Owl build a very good quality boat.

Now after all the gushing, guess what?  I'm packing up and leaving the boat!  ... just kidding - only for a short time!  This is the reason that we are going to the Marina at Stone earlier than planned - as I am going back to Oz for a couple of months to do some stuff !

Nearly forgot.... today's journey - we left Polesworth, it pissed down all day, I had to put my thermal ski gloves because my hands were freezing - and I loved it!  We are now moored right outside 'The Tame Otter' at Hopwas.

Guess where we are going tonight?  We have lots to celebrate........:)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Polesworth and a meeting with the Ambos

We stayed in Polesworth today to catch up on some shopping, plus I wanted to tidy up the wiring on the Mastervolt.

We were up this way last May and whilst taking the dogs for walk Bombo had a funny turn and was laying on his side; I was reassuring him when an Ambulance stopped and asked if he was OK ... he was, he just has reverse sneezing problems that debilitate him for a while.

Today we were in the centre of Polesworth and we were in an alley kneeling down packing away the shopping into the rucksacks, when we heard the siren of an Ambulance approaching.  It stopped at the end of the alley - I said to the driver 'we are all OK' and. he replied 'I will just park the ambulance safely' and drove on to do just that !  The next thing we knew, the 2 ambos are next to us in the alley way asking us what the problem was, they thought we were kneeling over a body!

It turned out that they should have been a flat above the alley ... an old boy had collapsed and couldn't get up.  Very efficient these ambos around here !!!!

Next it was the butcher - I had a Sydney Ferries jacket on, so he gave me some Aussie coins he had in his till!  Friendly bunch up here :)

When we got back to the boat Elaine had a lie down as she felt a bit crook, so I finished tidying up the Mastervolt wiring.  The only negative on the battery now is for the auto bilge pump, the rest all go through the shunt.  Really glad I got all that sorted - it had been bugging me for ages!  Now, when you check the Mastervolt panel it will tell you how many amps are being drawn even if you turn on one light etc.  Hopefully, I won't be looking at it every ten seconds!

Tomorrow we are on the move again ...


The Shorts are Stashed

I finally had to admit defeat and put away the shorts and get back into the long jeans - it was just too bloody cold yesterday! Amazing to think 10 days ago we were hiding from the sun 'coz it was too hot!

Winter here we come, although there has been a bit of a change in our plans which I will blog about later.

Before we start on today's journey I have to mention the TV programme 'Mrs Biggs' that we have been watching ... it's basically about Ronnie Biggs' Mrs - as in, her side of the story.  In the last episode they arrived in Australia; the shots of the outback, albeit beautifully harsh, reminded us as to why we chose to cruise the canals rather than buy a camper in Oz and join the grey nomads.  Here (in the UK) the scenery changes constantly, plus passing numerous villages and towns etc.  Back in Oz there is just thousands of miles of well ... nothing!

Back to Wednesday - we left last night's mooring outside the Anchor Inn at Hartshill ...

Not only have the shorts been put away but the doggies had their coats on and were well covered by our coats.  Poor old Sam just shivers, he just hasn't got a good fur coat ... when we picked him up from the pound a few years ago he was virtually hairless!
Bombo wearing his hoodie
Took this pic for Elaine's brother, Trev, who has a Moggy Minor ... this one has front discs.

Sorry kiddies Santa doesn't live in the north pole he lives in an abandoned warehouse in Atherstone!

Onto the Atherstone flight, Elaine is perfecting opening the gates by hanging off one and opening the other by pushing with her foot !  She still won't jump from one gate to the other, what could possibly go wrong......... (he is trying to kill me ... Elaine :))

Hairy Pole ...

Bombo wants to be a figurehead ...

Lovely setting on the Atherstone flight all the locks were very easy to operate ...

Caxton waiting for the lock to be set ...

Mother watching Elaine do her stuff ...

We are running close to the West Coast Mainline again, I wonder when they will start painting the trains in their new First Group livery?

Yay we reach 100% on alternator charging only, without having the travel power on!  Now I know that it works, I have just got to tidy up the negative wiring ...

Actually as we were going down the Atherstone flight the wind dropped and it was very pleasant.  We stopped for the night at Polesworth .  We decided to light our first coal fire of  season ... wow - did it smoke!!!  It even set off the smoke detector in the cabin!  Mother thought we were back in wartime Luton with the smokescreens being lit!
It got a lot worse than this, we disappeared! 

Couldn't be bothered to cook so it was Indian takeaway last night!  There is a really good Indian in Polesworth, called India Garden, which sits on top of the Bulls Head and right next to Bridge No. 54 - perfect!

We are staying at Polesworth for a day so we will be able to get stocked up with some good food plus Mother is busting to go shopping ... she hasn't been to the shops for 10 days!

One last thing.....when we were at the top of the Atherstone flight we stopped at the service point which is opposite the lock mooring to do the usual.  Whilst  we were waiting for the water to fill (35 mins!) the queue went from no boats waiting to 3 boats waiting, so the question is ... do you push in or wait for the 3 boats to go?  We waited this time, but wonder what the correct etiquette is ... I wouldn't want to upset anyone!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Stoke Golding to Hartshill

Before we set off we left Mum on board and took the dogs up to Stoke Golding village to get some basic supplies ... and basic it was - only white bread, no choice of tea etc. - oh, and no credit card facilities.  I suppose everyone that lives in the village has a car and uses the big supermarkets or gets home delivery, shame for the small shop owner trying to compete.

C&RT were repairing a bank on the Ashby -  one chap's job was too shoo the inquisitive cows away!

We filled with fuel at Ashby Boat Company ... 177 quid (Gulp!); fuel consumption worked out at 1.67 lph. It seems to vary quite a bit between refills hopefully because of the engine working at different loads etc. - not because the fuel delivery pumps are inaccurate - I wonder who calibrates them? 
Graceful yet very cranky swans 
 By the time we started heading through Nuneaton I was bloody freezing and had to put on the beanie and goose feather bubble coat.  I still had my shorts and sandals on though, I quite like looking like a nutter.

The canal and towpath through Nuneaton seemed a lot clearer of the normal rubbish that is found here, perhaps it had blown away in the wind!

We passed NB Piston Broke just north of Nuneaton, I got a picture of Paul........ (much to his dismay !) 

Elaine and Mum took the dogs for a walk on the towpath and soon warmed up ... the path was a bit wonky for Mother so she had to jump back on board.  Elaine walked on for another couple of miles with the boys, who were loving the smells of rabbits along the way ... and kept dragging her along !

We passed Valley Cruisers at Springwood Haven; we hired a boat from them when I was over here last July for Mother's 80th.  The handover was the most thorough we had ever been through, we thought we were never going to get away!  

We stopped for the night outside the Anchor Inn at Hartshill, as we had such a long day and I was feeling a tad tired and emotional we went there for a couple of beers and dinner...I found a new beer I like 'Everard Tiger Beer'.

On the Mastervolt front we got up to 96% Can we top the ton today?

Today we will do the Atherstone flight ... Elaine is getting excited because she hasn't worked a lock for 6 days!