Thursday, February 28, 2013

We Are Sailing.....We Are Sailing

Hopefully there will be no stormy waters......!

Another very good turnout last night for our last pie night at The Three Crowns. Apart from Elaine and myself, we were joined by Dot, Gordon, Toni, Ray, Jim, Joan, Roly, Bev, Rob, Robs GF, Barb and Phil.

This is a pic of Dot and Gordon's pies - 'neanderthal pies' as Elaine called them - yep, they have a leg of lamb sticking out of them !

We won't miss the marina, but we will certainly miss these lovely new friends.  There is nothing wrong with the marina, but we brought a boat to go boating!

We have been living on the Marina for 5 months! The main reason for being there so long was because I buggered off to Oz for 2 months and we went into the marina a month earlier than planned so I could be sure that Elaine would be au fait with the workings of the boat.  If I don't go to Oz this year we will go into a marina in December and only spend 3 months there, weather permitting!

This morning we awoke to a stunningly sunny day.  We prepared the ship, unplugged the umbilical cord and left the berth ...
Bye Bye lovely Berth !
There was a bit of ice on the water so we were ice-breaking as we went !

This swan was happy to cruise along in the gap we had created in the ice for him !

The first stop was the fuel wharf to fill the tank.  When we got there we were met by a farewell party - Jim, Joan, Dot and Gordon ...

and then Ray and Toni (NB Ferndale) ... Bye Bye for now !
Bye Bye Dot and Gordon (NB Ewn Ha Cul) .. so long and thanks for all the marmalade !

Bye bye Aston Marina ...

We turned onto the canal and straight away Bombo assumed his position

Lovely little baa lambs ...

Into the first lock at Sandon ...

Oh it feels good!

Bombo was soon joined by Sam and Geoffrey ...

Geoffrey was loving it cruising along with us ... loving the sunshine I think !
Elaine was soon into her stride walking the boys ...

We passed NB Sokai ...

and moored up for the night at a lovely spot in Pasturefields ...

An absolutely lovely first day - many more to come!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Nice Day for a Massage!

But first things first, a big thank you to Toni from NB Ferndale who presented Bombo and Sam with a very nice couple of knitted jumpers at our Monday arvo boaters meet up.

Very smart they are too, they really do feel the cold, so they are very much appreciated.


It was a good Monday turnout for the afternoon tea, except there was a big absence of was instead an 'alcohol' afternoon tea.  This was our last Monday get together as we are off cruising on Thursday; it will be sad to say farewell to all our new friends but we can't wait to view fields instead of another boat from our side hatch !

We have no regrets about sitting out the winter in a marina, but could never do it full time, unless we were working full time etc.

We are also putting the little Citroen into storage for the summer at Elaine's brothers house so today I took it down to Morrison's and put it through the car wash plus gave it a good vacuum.

Lastly, as Elaine is a professional massage therapist, she decided it was time to brush up on her skills as she hasn't done a massage in a fair while. So who would be the guinea pig?  I know......ME.....

Very nice it was too, I decided to have the full 1.5 hour treatment, and slept through most of it.....relaxed or what!  (Elaine here ... actually he had a 1.5 hour treatment - and then demanded another 20 mins on his feet !!!   Greedy boy !)
Who is the old bald git!
Table fits in the lounge nicely - lovely and warm too by the fire !
Tomorrow night we are off to The Three Crowns for our final "Pie Night" - more drinking as well....bugger!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Anorak On...............

....................Elaine and the dogs loaded in the car and we were off to the steam gala taking place at the Churnet Valley Railway.

They had 3 steam engines running up and down the track.

This loco was an interesting one - it was built in the USA and shipped to France during the second world war to be used in the war effort.  After the war she operated in Hungary!  She was saved from the scrapyard by a British pilot who bought her and returned her to the UK.

We then drove to The Black Lion Pub which must be one of the remotest pubs in England!  It sits right next to the railway and canal - no road! There was a outdoor BBQ on plus a beer festival, all in 2 degree temperatures!

There were some very "interesting" people at the pub.....train anoraks, real ale connoisseurs and dog walkers!  We sat outside in the garden - experiencing the occasional snow flurry!

The view from the pub is fantastic.....if you like trains!

Another view from the pub garden, the train is just leaving Consall Forge station.  The canal is on the left.

It was a ........

double headed steam train......

I was beside myself!

Elaine was too of course!  She reckons it was the best day out she has ever had!
(Elaine here ... NOT !)

The railway and pub.

Even got a narrow boat in the shot, well it is a narrow boat blog!

The USA loco running backwards, as you can see she is burning smokeless fuel!

All in all another fantastic day out! 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Countdown to Leaving the Marina

Yesterday we popped down to Stafford  and bought some blacking, brushes, scrapers, roller trays and other odds and sods for when we go on the hard next weekend.  I also cleaned the car in 1 degree of temperature ... the first clean it has had in 5 months!  In the evening we took the dogs for a walk to Stone and popped into the Talbot pub for a very nice Guinness - and that was it for the day!

Today we were up at first light (10.00am!).  We popped down to the chandlery in Stone to buy some more paint for touching up the topsides. When we came out of the chandlery NB Sokai was cruising past ... (another blogger)

The stone chandlery's pump out cart was out - on display !  It has been given a new coat of paint, I think it is the paint that holds it together.....

I think it a 1960s Austin, it is very basic ...

and definitely not road worthy ...

Good enough to pump out 'shit tanks' though!

We then took a drive to Amerton Farm and  Craft Centre, to have a look.  We discovered ...
farm animals!

There is also a craft shop, gift shop, jewellery shop, restaurant and lots more.
We couldn't take the doggies with us because of the aforementioned animals.

When we got back to the boat we took the boys for a long walk along the towpath - which is getting less and less muddy by the day, although still pretty boggy!

I love this gate in the hedge, it is a gate to..... 


Elaine's arty - reflection shot ...

Tonight we went to the marina bistro for a very nice dinner.  We had accumulated quite a few points by using the marina farm shop so the night wasn't too exy!

Tomorrow....Steam Trains....Yea Baby!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Of Mice and Men

... or at least 'Moustraps' and Boaters !

Elaine here ... Paul is busy watching some boring old football on the tele ...

Yesterday we had a MASSIVE day out ... at 11am we got the bus with Ray, Toni, Dot and Gordon to Hanley - as we all had tickets to go to see the 60th anniversary tour of Agatha Christie's 'The Mousetrap' at the Regent Theatre.  We got to Hanley a bit early so we headed into Weatherspoons for a quick lunch!  The place was absolutely heaving.  Weatherspoons always seem to have amazing builings; this one was also amazing - just unfortunate that it used to be a slaughter house in days of yore !

After lunch we headed off to the theatre - we had booked the matinee performance so that we could get to and from the place in the day time - but this is also the time that many of the elderly in the community head out - we all felt positively youthful !  As the lights went out and the play started all that could be heard around the theatre was gentle squeal of hearing aids being turned up in harmony !  It was a lovely play - very twee.  It was pretty darn hot in the theatre and conseqently I had to give Paul the elbow FOUR TIMES ... to wake him up !!

Lovely theatre ...

After the play we headed back to the bus station (which is a pretty grim place in Hanley ... good job they are building a new one!) and boarded our '101' bus back to Stone.  Here is a pic of the naughty kids on the back seat ... 

Our chariot delivered us back to the Swan in Stone, where we felt a need to break up our journey and wet our whistles!  Following that we continued our trek - on Shanks' pony this time - back toward the Marina - but heading for the Three Crowns, where we had a table booked for pie night!  On arrival at the Three Crowns we met up with Roly, Rob, Jim and Joan - some of the other boaters from the Marina.  After more wetting of whistles we sat down for our lovely pie dinner - and a good night was had by all !

This morning we had to get up (relatively) early as Bombo had an appointment at the hairdressers.  Here is the before picture ...

and here the after ...

Half a dog !!

After that our old friends, Sheila and Greg, (from Aus) arrived for a visit so we had a cuppa with them on the boat before heading out to a local (ish) dog-friendly pub - The Clifford at Great Heywood.  Unfortunately we had left it too late for lunch so ended up consuming copious amounts of crisps instead - oops !  We spent a couple of hours there and then delivered them back to the Marina where they got back in their car to head back to Runcorn.  It was lovely to catch up with them and see how they are enjoying ol' Blighty!
Paul and Greg - gosipping !
 ... and after that we got back to the boat and Elly (from NB Parisien Star) popped over for a cuppa as she is off to Germany for a week and we won't get to see her again before we head off cruising next week.  I think we are the first of the 'gang' to head out of the marina - it will be sad to be saying cheerio to our new-found buddies, but hopefully we will bump in to the on the cut ... not literally !!

All in all a busy two days - way too much excitement for us so tomorrow we will chill !