Tuesday, October 30, 2012

If You go Down to the Woods Today.......

Not a lot going in marina land at the mo.
Sunday we went out for a lovely lunch at a pub whose name escapes me, yesterday the highlight was going to Tescos mind you it was the upmarket Meir Heath branch, no Chavvies here I tell ya.

Lovely fishy dinner last night on the good ship, which brings us to today......

We took the doggies for a walk to the magic Downs Banks woods, situated just north of Stone.

Sammie was keen for the off

There were a few cars in the carpark, but we only passed a few people in the woods

It is such a lovely walk

You can see for miles in every direction


There is a millennium monument at the top

It points out the surrounding landmarks, we could see up to 45 miles! 

Elaine daintily crossing the creek!

When we got back to the boat I/We packed my bags for my trip to Sydney tomorrow.

We then finished the day off with a Guinness for me and a merlot for El down at The Swan.

I will do a few posts from Sydney to stay in touch and most importantly keep the ratings from sliding.... :-)

Enjoy the winter peoples!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Elaine's big day out !

Elaine here ... reporting on my 'big day out'!

Since I knew we would be at Aston Marina for some time I started researching what events / attractions were coming up while we are here.  My favourite one - and one I have been 'hanging out' to attend - was the 'Celebration of Complementary Healing, run by the Holistic Health Connection.  The event was at Sandon Hall in Sandon (funny that!) and incorporated lots of lovely holistic healing therapies, stalls and talks.

Sandon Hall is a magnificent building with fantastic grounds ... apparently 400 acres of them !


The autumnal colours made it look even more spectac.

Paul came in with me for a looksie and a cuppa before he left me to it for the day!  He can't take too much 'woo woo' stuff !!

This is the hall full of the exhibitors ... they had talks in the library and a cafe in the orangery - all of which was just magnificent !

I started off with reflexology treatment with a lovely lady, who I shall be visiting again soon as she is based in a nearby village!  I then attended a talk with Dominic James who has written The Reiki Man trilogy - he explained his journey to Reiki and how he came to write the three fictional books incorporating Reiki; I have only read the first one thus far but have the next two queued up on my Kindle to read soon !

I then had a mooch about looking at the stalls before I went in for my next treatment of the day - 'Angelic Reiki' ... it was sooooo good - felt like it balanced up the left and right sides of the old brain - which is always a good thing !!

After that I had another mooch about and bought a lovely quartz crystal and a light box to sit it on ... soooo pretty !  I also bought some Nag Champa incense plus and incense holder and then I found 3 CDs with relaxing music for animals - for just one pound each - bargain!  (Bombo and Sammy are thrilled with them !)

Then I went in for a talk on Aromatology - which is basically about using essential oils undiluted in various forms - which is a very specialised practice in the UK but common practice in much of Europe.  It was funny because the lady giving the talk was trained by Penny Price - who is the daughter of Shirley Price - one of the very first people to bring Aromatherapy as we know it to the UK.  Anyway, it was Shirley Price that I learnt my Aromatherapy from way back in 1990 - made me feel a bit old that !!!

After that I had another little mooch about while I waited for Paul to come and pick me up - I had a lovely day and a lot of soul and spirit replenishment !

When Paul arrived he announced that he had located a place for another bit of spirit replenishment not far from Sandon Hall ... he was quite excited as he thought he had found his 'quintessential English pub'!  Here it is ... the Holly Bush Inn in Salt - apparently the second oldest pub in England or so he tells me !  It was nice and friendly but not what Paul had envisaged - so he is still on his quest!

We had a quick half while the dogs waited in the car - I also had a jacket potato as I had forgotten to eat all day with all the excitement !!  I told Paul all about my day - and this was his response ... 

What like-minded souls we are !!

After visiting the Holly Bush we headed back to the boat where it was nice and warm and snuggly from Paul's expert fire-making skills !  The weather really has changed in the last day or so - the temps are in single digits now so the bubble coats are well and truly out !  We do like the nice clear skies though, even though it is crisp and cold !

Another lovely day!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Macclesfield, The Vets and a Lovely Walk

We went to Macclesfield yesterday to pick up a couple of suitcases for my trip back to Oz next week ... always good to go back in Macc and have a chat with Elaine's dad.  I also picked up my motorcycle gear as that will be my mode of transport whilst over there.

By the time we got back we couldn't be bothered to cook so went for dinner at The Three Crowns just outside of the marina - nice pub, good food and service.

This morning we went down to Stone to load up with booze and sort out Elaine joining my bank account.  Stuff Nationwide, Barclays are just so much easier to get on with, plus their on-line accounts are easy to read compared with Nationwide!

Then it was off to the vets to get the three cats vaccinated; they are going into a cattery when we escape from the marina at Christmas.  We couldn't believe how cheap it was - the three cats were vaccinated for the price of one back in Oz!!  We popped into the Farm Shop on the way back in to buy Geoffrey some prawns for being a good boy at the vets (who said our animals are spoilt !)

We then took the dogs for a walk through Barlaston Downs; what a magic place, we went quite late so didn't get time to explore the whole place.

I am still totally gob-smacked that dogs, horses and push-bikes are allowed to venture into a National Trust park. 

Back in Oz there is no chance of doing any of those activities in a National Park.

The dogs loved it as much as us and had a good run around.

By the time we had walked a few k's we were gagging for a pint so we dropped into the Swan on the way back to the boat.  It is such a magic pub, always a good friendly crowd, good age demographic (no bloody kids!).

Here is a pic of our new friends down the pub ... been there too long, I think !

The dogs didn't mind them - they were well at home in front of the fire ...

We are going to go for another walk to the Downs tomorrow - a bit earlier than today so we can do a lot of exploring !

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The Hazards Of Living in a Marina!

So there I was minding my own business polishing the side of the boat ... I stood back to admire my handiwork when 'whooska' -  base over apex I went!  I ended up flat on my back in the neighbour's cratch.  I bashed my elbow, back of my head and bruised my back, it bloody hurt!  I mean who the hell would park a boat there and not have a cratch cover fitted to guard against such accidents!

As I fell back I also splattered polish all over the front of his boat, so I did the right thing and gave his bow a quick clean up!

And what did Elaine do?  ....she laughed, she said 'one minute I was talking to you and the next minute you were gone'!

At least if we were out on the canal my fall backwards would have been cushioned by dogshit!

I tell you these marinas are dangerous places!!

Got to go - Man Utd are on the box.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Out and About ... and a Flasher!

On Friday night we met up with Ray and Diane from NB Ferndale ... they had also left the marina for a few days! The Swan was just too crowded so we went to The Star instead, and had a few beers and a good chat in the snug bar.

There were lots of boaty types in the bar and unbeknown to me one of them flashed her bazookas! Just when you need eyes in the back of your head!  Elaine told me about this later - apparently they were talking about some kind of 'narrowboat-calendar-girl's type calendar!  I think she was giving her mates a preview!  We left the pub about 23.30 and walked a few paces back to the boat - the trouble was that we hadn't had any dinner and we were a tad hungry, so decided to go for a pizza!  Whilst waiting for the pizza we went in The Swan for a night cap ... by now there were only the die-hards left!  We walked back to the boat and demolished the very nice pizzas.....a perfect end to a perfect Friday night.

Saturday lunch-time saw the arrival of Elaine's brother, Trevor - he was a man  bearing many gifts ... firewood, mail, plus rose hips and lavender from his garden for Elaine.

Once we had loaded the wood etc. on board we took off through all the Stone locks ...

Past the old brewery, now its a machine shop ...

I like this lock, you enter it directly after going under the road bridge ...

We chucked a u-ey on the outskirts of stone, its a most impressive winding hole, it is located in the middle of a flash housing estate.

Back past The Star pub ...

Past an elephant ...

Into the last lock at Aston ...

Before we turned into the marina, we reversed into the pen so I could polish the other side of the boat ...

Before Trevor headed off home for the night we went to Thai Lanna restaurant in Stone; if you like good Thai food it is well worth a visit.  It was packed but the maitre d' squeezed us in upstairs.

Today was another lovely day so I finally got round to painting the roof ... well nearly all of it, I ran out of paint!
This to me is the best part about being on a marina - it's so easy to do all the little jobs that have built up over the last 7 months!
... and how about the weather?  Saturday and Sunday were both such lovely days - hopefully it will last a bit longer so I can finish off the roof.
Sam escaped from the boat again (when we had turned our backs for a nano-second) - and was bought back by a chap moored on a completely different arm - he just loves to wander off to find another dog to play with ... I think he finds Bombo too boring !

Friday, October 19, 2012

Escape from Aston Marina!

We have been going a bit stir crazy in the marina for the last 3 weeks ...it is very handy for having access to electric and water etc. but it just doesn't compare to being out and about cruising the canals!   I can see that living on a marina would be quite handy if you had a job or you had been cruising for years and just wanted a base - or, of course, if you were physically incapable of operating the locks and bridges etc.

We needed to do the 'marina thing' this winter as I will be away for a few weeks, so the boat will be safe, but we are already thinking that next year we will harden up and stay out on the cut!

So we were up bright and early (not) and cast off for our weekend in........Stone!  Yes - we are the great adventurers !!

Bombo assumed his position and away we went ...

Through the marina bridge ...

And into Aston lock ...

It felt really good to be on the move!  Even the dogs were loving it !

Next lock by the Star pub (in Stone) ...

And that was it!  We are moored in the centre of Stone. We passed NB Ferndale, who have also escaped, so we are meeting them tonight for a couple down at the Swan.

After tying up we went for a walk up to the dry dock to arrange for a date for blacking Caxton - they cannot fit us in till April! We also went to Fullers yard but he didn't feel confident in his crane lifting out Caxton :(

Any suggestions for any other dry docks in this area?

We had a walk through Stone town centre on the way back - it is a great little town.  There always seems to be something going on in the way of market stalls down the main street - and the people are really friendly.  Elaine invested 3 quid on some thermal socks - now she might stop nicking mine !

We will stay here 'til tomorrow and then have another mooch about!  Elaine's brother might come to visit this weekend, so that'll be good - he also has some bags of wood for us (which he has laboured hard to chop into convenient sized pieces for us!) - so they will keep us warm in the months ahead !
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Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend in Kent

On Friday afternoon we trundled off to visit Elaine's sister in Kent - it was about a 4 hour drive from Stone with motorways virtually all the way.

I liked this Austrian truck we passed on the M6 ...
Bombo travels very well in the back seat!

Past the Luton turnoff (my town of birth).  I quite enjoyed it there when I was young, but now - what a dump, must be one of the worst towns in the UK!

Sam likes to sit in the front and see what is going on...

Nothing like a Friday arvo on the M25!

The QE2 bridge is most impressive - spanning River Thames at Dartford.

What do sisters do when they meet?  They play with their hair!
El's sister and her hubby live in a over 200 year old house in East Farleigh ...

El's brother-in-law is a Professional Illustrator and Artist - check out his website if you get a minute - he does some amazing work !

El's niece also has a little fluffy white dog ... kind of a mixture of Bombo and Sammy !

El's niece and her husband have bought some land near Maidstone and are building some livery stables and a house; in just over a year they are charging ahead, the stables are fantastic and oh-so-clean!

Nice big sky over the paddocks, it was quite a warm day ...

One of El's Great Nieces (yep, she is a Great Aunt !!!)

Another Great Niece - they are 2 very lucky little girls ... they each have a pony, plus dogs, guinea pigs and chickens! It really is a great location and lifestyle to grow up with!

The dogs enjoyed the run around ...

The girls ...
Elaine doing some horse jumping ...

Then it was my turn ...
Then it was time to feed the chooks ...

Plus give a rescue chook her medication ...

Then it was time to say goodbye to Elaine' Brother-in-law, Niece and Sister ...

On the way back we drove through the centre of London, rather than going around the M25.

Approaching the Gherkin ...

Over Tower Bridge ... (at this point we were going the 'wrong way' but we soon got back on track !)

And onto the start of the M1; the Citroen performed faultlessly which was good. 

So back home to the boat.  We had left the cats on their own so it was a tad smelly when we got in - but it was all in the litter trays so no probs, plus we left them plenty of food and water.  We think it was too long to have left them though and if we go away again over the winter we will put them in a cattery, in case it gets too cold on the boat.

Today Elaine gave the inside of the boat a good clean whilst I polished one side and touched up the blacking.  I will have to turn her around tomorrow and do the other side while El goes to the hairdressers (again!)

Good to hear that Elly and Mick are joining us on the marina for the winter!