Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Pumps and Yoga!

It was a very gloomy start to the day today, so it was time to do an indoor job. The shower pump packs up occasionally, I think the valve rubbers are going a bit hard.  I generally clean them up and away it goes for another few months but as I had a spare new diaphragm pump on board I thought I would change it.  It was a different make but it was no big deal, I can even get at it a bit easier now!

Nice new pump fitted ...

Old pump removed ...

Meanwhile in the main cabin Elaine was into her daily yoga workout ...

And then made up a load of (colourful) vegetable juice ...

I put a coat of varnish on the cratch top plank cos the sun was out, then it rained!

Not a lot else happened ... walked the dogs, went for a drive and did a bit of reading.

Back to Macc tomorrow. 

Forgot to put this pic on yesterday of the dogs checking out the fish at the Lake Rudyard visitor centre ...

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Secret Lake

We didn't get up to much yesterday in the daytime - the weather was a bit unenchanting so we just spent time catching up on emails, paying bills, tranfering money from Oz ... all exciting stuff.

Diane from NB Ferndale rang in the daytime to ask if we wanted to join them for dinner at The Dog and Doublet at Sandon ... so there went the 'no drink' day down the gurgler!

It's only a couple of miles from the marina so we drove down there, spotting this low flying balloon on the way.

We havn't seen Ray and Diane since June, so we had a good catch up and a very nice dinner.  We were sitting in the lounge later having another drink when things went a little pear shaped!  When we sat down Ray moved his chair back a little so he could sit properly, (he is a big lad and there was not very much room in the corner).  A chap came back from the bar after getting another drink, and was a little peturbed that Ray had moved back a bit even though this chap was on his own and had the choice of four chairs to sit on!  He was being awkward and muttered a bit under his breath about the chair being moved etc. We ignored him and carried on chatting away for another hour or so, and having a nice little time. Then this chap decides to leave, he stands over the four of us (he was a big lad too) and shouted something like, "I'm going now so you can push your chair back as far as you like, and you havn't got the decency to F%$*ing  apologise".   He then carried on like a pork chop.  We sat there for a couple of minutes just saying good night etc, but he wouldn't stop or go.  I stood up to him and told him to piss off and stop trying to ruin our night ... we had a bit of a barney and he finally went!  He was staying there at the hotel so I don't know if he had too many sherbets or what, I have never been a violent person, but I really wanted to snot him!  I should also state the The Dog and Doublet is a bit of a flash pub, so it was a bit unusual to have a problem in it.  We had a good night anyway!

Ray and Diane returned to the marina today, so I'm sure we will be having a few more outings.

Whenever we drive to Macclesfield we go the back way via Leek, and we always pass a very picturesque lake, so today we decided to go and check it out.

It is called Rudyard lake ... it was built over 200 years ago to supply water to the Caldon Canal.  How about that, there was a canal link!  It became a tourist attraction in the 1800s and a couple of the visitors were so impressed with it they named their son after it ... he DID NOT make exceedingly good cakes, but wrote many a story about India!

It is a lovely place to visit - it is a bit of a miniature lake district, but unlike the lake district it doesnt rain all the time.  As you can see from the pics it was once again another warm day ... the shorts were out!

The water levels are way down as they are doing some maintenance to the dam wall.

There were some lovely waterside houses and boat sheds dotted around the shore ...

You can see where the water level should normally be ...

The dogs enjoyed a paddle ...

There were a few pebbles on the beach!

A narrow gauge steam train runs alongside the lake on one side ...

It runs along the cutting where the Manchester to Uttoxeter railway used to run.  In its heyday the railway would drop off 20,000 day trippers in one day! Today there were about 30 people.

On the way back to the boat we got stuck behind this truck, it was like being back in rural Australia ...

Once back at the boat I sanded down the cratch getting it ready for some varnish, whilst Elaine did some mega cook ups to last us (and the animals) for the next few days.

The 'dog whisperer' was in action on the hill today, but on talking to a couple on our arm with two very large dogs, they reckon he is pretty good ... perhaps I should give him the benefit of the doubt!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Summer is Back

Recently we have had pics of the dogs on the blog - well, lots of the dogs plus a few of the cats, but last night we got a mixed photo when William went to sleep on top of Sammie!  That was a first ... Sam did grumble a bit but soon went back to sleep when William didn't budge.

What a day it was weather wise today - just glorious.  The shorts were back on, although underneath the overalls at first.

To start the day we went for a short cruise ... as in out of the berth, turn round and back in so I could paint the port gunnel.

We then went for a quick drive to B&Q at Stafford to buy some more paint trays and rollers.  On the way we passed the Staffordshire Showgrounds where we noticed heaps of caravans all parked up ... we drove in to see what was going on, plus to see if there were any motorhomes to see if we could pick up some ideas.  There were hardly any motorhomes - it was nearly all caravans plus the people were all very old ... there was even a ambulance in the driveway taking  one of them away.  We were intercepted by a couple of old boys, enquiring as to why we were driving round checking out the caravans but once we told them what we were doing they were fine and went to great lengths to explain all the pros and cons of caravans vs motorhomes.  The reason why the participants were elderly was because it was the 'Retired Caravaners Association AGM'.  Probably explains why the huge Tena truck was parked outside also.

Back at the boat I started painting the port gunnel whilst Elaine polished the mushroom vents plus the houdini hatches ...

They came up like new, after a bit of elbow grease and 'solvol autosol' ...

Quite a few people on the marina came by admiring the extended cratch, which is looking a bit naked while the cover is away being fixed up ...

Elaine and her mate finished off the day ...

....crashed out in the sun, it was still 24 at 18.30!

We went up to the Three Crowns pub for Sunday dinner and a drink and very nice it was too.
We will take a break from the boat tomorrow and go for a good walk with the doggies.

Nearly forgot ... we now have a resident dog whisperer on the marina.  Every poor bugger that takes their dog for a walk on the mound between the marina and the canal is pounced on by The Cesar Milan of Aston Marina ... be afraid Roly, be afraid!

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Tarting Up

No plans today so we thought we would start giving the boat a good clean up after our summer cruising but before that here a couple of pics of the cats in their daily positions.  Here is 23 year old Geoffrey squashing his young 20 year old mate, William.  William never seems to mind - we think it keeps him warm!

Jaffa blends into his rug ... we are not sure how old he is, but we picked him up as a stray about 12 years ago.

So today Elaine cleaned out more cupboards, cleaned and polished all the woodwork and floor ... plus retreived various animals when they escaped via various exits!

I touched up the blacking on the stbd side plus repainted the stbd took all day.

At about 17.00 we started to walk to Stone with the dogs - where we thought we might stop for a little refreshment at the Swan before walking back.  We got about half way there and decided it was too nice to sit in the pub ... I forgot to mention earlier that it was a very warm summer-like day. We did a u-ey and headed back to the marina and had a drink in the sun on the marina deck.

Very nice it was too ...

Two pints of fancy beer for two un-fancy people ...

Can you send me over another couple of grand, I need to get another round in!

Friday, September 20, 2013

From a Downer to the Downs

We went on bit of a road trip today as we needed to get a zip fixed on the cratch cover plus a couple of press studs replaced.  We ended up driving to Kinver Canopies who are in Stourbridge so we will pick it up next week when we head off to the NEC.

After we dropped off the cover we decided to check out a couple of Motorhome dealers in Birmingham.  (We are not ready to buy a motorhome yet, but it's good to get an idea of what is out there).  Not only were the dealers depressing but some of the suburbs we drove through ... :(   There are some lovely places in the UK but when you go through the less salubrious ones ... they are just so bloody awful, mind you, a lot of it is down to the residents who just chuck their crap everywhere.

Anyhow, we escaped from the blackest of the Black Country and drove back towards our little slice of heaven up the deserted M6!!

Rather than going back to the boat or off to the pub we thought we would go for a jolly nice walk up the Downs Banks, just outside Stone.

It was deserted and oh-so peaceful, so off went the doggies in search of the dastardly wabbits ...

We even took a selfie ...

It was actually quite warm, so we decided to have a lie-down on the grass for a while and soak up the ambience ...

Sammie enjoyed it ...

As of course so did Bomboliscious ...

We helped ourselves to a few juicy blackberries along our walk.  As you can see by my ever-increasing girth the 5/2 diet has gone down the pan!

We had to put the boys back on their leads as they were showing just a bit too much interest in the local rabbits ... when they get too caried away they don't come back!

And finally back to the tranquil Aston Marina ...

aaahhh ... :)

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Back On Board

We are now back on board the good ship after our two days in Macclesfield ... as soon as we got close to the marina, the sun came out....its a sign!

Whilst in Macc we had the rear muffler replaced on the C3, parts and labour £68.00 not bad methinks.

The insurance is also about to expire...what a bloody nightmare trying to sort through the quotes!  The Australian system is so simple, the car is insured for x amount, anyone can drive it, but the excess will change if a young or less experienced driver smashes it.  "Simples" as some rat-like creature says!

Our C3 having the exhaust replaced

The dogs loved being in the house ... they ran around chasing each other up and down the stairs!

Once back on board, I fitted the new fire bricks to the stove.  I will also give it a repaint before firing it up for the first time this season.  We feel it's not quite cool enough for it at the mo, so we just run the hurricane for an hour or so and the boat is toasty.

We also removed the cratch cover when we got back, as it has a buggered zip.  We have just got to find someone local to repair it now!

Elaine has been busy sorting out the cratch as we are going to give it all a repaint, when we look like getting a decent run of dry weather.

We also printed off some free tickets to A Place in The Sun  show at the NEC  ... we will go there Friday week to check it out.  It's another option we want to look at, as in where we want to live when we buy a house again!  As much as we love England, the winter is just a killer, plus we have no immediate desire to return to Australia (especially with the animals).  An interesting fact is that we can claim our Aussie pensions in Spain, France, Italy and virtually the rest of Europe, but won't get a cent if we stay in the UK!

Oh we love making plans.....making them come off is always a bit trickier!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Change of Plans Yet Again!

Due to some unforeseen circumstances, we are having to change our future plans again. We will know more next week, but it looks like we could be in the marina for a few months after all ... once we are all sorted then hopefully we will then sell the boat and carry on with our original plans.

Aston marina is a very nice marina and as a big bonus I think all the people we got to know last winter will be back again this year, so we will be surrounded by our  boaty "family" again.

The M6 motorway is virtually next door so it provides easy access to major cities and there is a railway station at Stone, which is very handy.

Elaine has had a few appointments recently and all I will say is that the NHS has been the most fantastic organisation to deal with and, to be honest, from what we had heard and read we weren't too optimistic ... they have been fantastic!

So another few months ... I better start thinking of things to blog about...oh yes, they are cutting the grass on the marina!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Settling Back Into Marina Life

It's actually quite a nice feeling being back in the marina.  There is an unoccupied boat next to us one side, and a double empty berth the other side, so that's good.  We are hooked up to shore power so the washing machine and drier having been running virtually non stop.

We took a drive to Stoke this morning to fill the gas bottles, which is very cheap at GT Gas.  On the way back we went for a shop at Aldi.....see how exciting it is in a marina!  Also bought the little green light that goes in the instrument panel (not from Aldi ... from Stone Chandlery!) - cost us a whopping £2.00!

Once back at the  boat Elaine put all the shopping away and started on a mass juicing and soup making whilst I started to clean up the boat, as it is pretty disgusting ... on the outside.  After a few hours she was looking pretty good, haven't even polished it yet.  The boat next to us is brand new, yet I reckon ours has got a much better paint job and she is nearly five years old!

Whilst admiring our shiny boat a chap came past and introduced himself, it was Andy and his wife Sue from NB Festina Lente, who are moored a few boats up from us, and are wintering in the marina. I can feel a few beers coming on!!  We have been in contact with a lot of last year's winter crowd, and it looks like they are all coming back ... I can feel a lot of beers coming on!

I also bled one of the radiators as it wasn't getting as hot as the others - you can fry an egg on it now! How do they get air in them, there are no leaks?

We are off to Macc again tomorrow as Elaine has a couple of more appointments at the hospital.  I will have to take the C3 to the Dr as well, the exhaust is about to drop off!

No pics today so I will put on a couple of the absolute highlight of out travels aboard Caxton......

Through the centre of London in your own boat......Magic!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Late Start and a Jump Start

We had a very nice lie-in this morning, followed by a fantastic greasy fry up (sausages for me and halloumi for El, plus eggs, beans and mushrooms ... yum).

Our only plans today were to get some food in for the animals and buy a length of hose for the hose reel, as our hose won't quite reach the filler when we are moored in the marina stern first.  I was then going to start cleaning up the outside of the boat whilst Elaine was to make a start on thinning-out the cupboards and winterizing the wardrobes.

First I must tell you what happened when I took the dogs for their morning walk.  I let them off their leads on a grassy knoll behind the boat, when I noticed another chappie walking his lab puppy.  Sammie spotted the dog and went running over for a play.  The man spotted Sammie running towards them and shouted, "STOP" and held his hand up in front of him (Crocodile Dundee style).  Sammie stopped in his tracks so I went over to lead him away.  The chap announced that he was a dog trainer and that Sammie was in a dangerous attack mode!  I replied he is a lover not a fighter, but did mention that he may try and shag his dog to death! We had a brief chat then I left, realizing that he was a nutter!

So off we went to go to Stafford to get our bits and pieces, got in the car and ... nothing !  The battery was flat on the little Citroen ... bugger!   Before I left for Oz last November I signed up for a basic breakdown service on the car with 'Green Flag', so I gave them a ring expecting to get the runaround and 'ah-but-you-didn't-read-the-policy-etc' but it was an amazingly efficient service ... within 30 mins 2 chaps arrived in a bloody big breakdown truck, jump started the car and checked the charge rate which was all good!  (They were actually from Mannings, who sub-contract to Green Flag).

We decided to go straight to Halfords and buy a new battery, the old one was the original one for the car and was 10 years old.  Halfords went all smoothly as well ... "Do you want us to fit it as well?"  "Be rude not to",  I replied!

Once that was done we finished out little shopping trip and came back to the boat where it proceeded to absolutely piss down. Today is a nice day not to be boating.  Elaine got stuck into the cupboards while I sorted out the hose and filled up the water so we could start to catch up on our washing.

Tonight we shall venture down to stone and pay a visit to the 'Spoons in Stone.