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Sunday, 29 December 2013

challenging pump out

We are facing the start of stoppages on the canal shortly, for maintenance work to be done to various locks. Each stoppage will last around 3 weeks and affects where I turn round at Alrewas and also means I can't reach Kings Bromley Marina where I usually fill up with diesel and pump out my poo!
So I decided to make the trip between Christmas and New Year. The weather was forecast good on Boxing Day so I decided to go up the flight and moor in the woods for a couple of nights to recover from being very sociable this month! The marina was opening just for 3 hours on the 28th so that fitted in beautifully. It also meant I could stay put on the 27th when a storm was forecast.

Well, the forecast was spot on and weather wise it worked out beautifully; sunny days with not too much wind when I needed to move and gales when I was sheltered in the woods. However other challenges awaited me. The first occurred half way up the lock flight when I suddenly lost all forward momentum. My first thought was that my propeller had been fouled by all the foliage floating in the canal. But even when I cleared my prop, I still had no power beyond 'tickover'. I managed to reach the top of the flight and tied up on visitors moorings. My friend Stan, who is very knowledgeable in things mechanical and had been helping work the locks with me, had a look. The bad news was my drive cable had snapped, the extremely lucky news was that the previous wonderful owners of Don't Panic had left a spare cable on board!  Stan fitted it for me and decided to come to Woodend Lock with me just to make sure all was well - and it was just as well he did.

Dredging is a key part of keeping the canals navigable but unfortunately CRT seem more keen on spending money on pointless exercises like replacing perfectly serviceable water taps or painting anything that moves, rather than removing silt from the canals. When I reached Woodend I discovered that there was about 6" of clear water and the rest was a mixture of silt, fallen leaves and branches. I ended up having to use my pole to punt the boat into the lock, with Stan helping. Then as I climbed out of the boat onto the lockside I slipped on wet leaves and had Stan not grabbed my arm I may well have ended up falling down between boat and lock wall.

After a restorative glass of wine, Stan left me to go home and I carried on into the woods to moor. Bonny had been so good during all the delays so, when I was mooring, I let her mooch about on the towpath with no tether. Unfortunately she got bored waiting for me and attached herself to a passing family out for a walk. Half an hour later I persuaded her to return with me!

Huge winds kept us stationary the next day which was lovely as I caught up with a bit of cleaning and a lot of resting. The next day I got pumped out and dieseled up and returned to near the top of the flight where I planned to spend a further night. Getting there took much longer than I had expected. Thanks to the storm there was loads of debris floating in the water and I had to stop several times to clear my prop and could really only travel at tickover speed to avoid big logs which could do real damage to the boat. Then I had to tackle Woodend again, this time on my own. Once I had fished a load of branches out of the lock, all went reasonably smoothly and I managed to get clear of the lock with a minimum of poling.

That night I decided to cook a chicken and have a good dinner. Half way through cooking the gas went out! So there I was, in the pitch dark with a torch, wrench and hammer, changing my gas bottles over. It took 20 minutes of unladylike language and bashing my wrench with a lump hammer to release the nut on the gas tank. By that time the chicken was only half cooked and cold so I had to start cooking again.

I got back to my mooring at lunch time today in the most glorious sunshine. It is good to be back for  a rest! Also to be safely moored before yet another storm hits us tomorrow. Well, even a 'housekeeping' trip can be exciting and this one was! Happy 2014 to all my readers.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas to all my readers!

We are having an amazingly mild winter so far. No ice, little frost - easy living! Long may it continue. I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas, whether afloat or bank side. And may 2014 be the year you see all your hopes and dreams come true.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Whether the weather...

Well, the storm passed us by. In fact I have heard more wind coming out of my dog than I heard that night! We were very lucky though as many other parts of the country suffered badly. Lynda, I note what you said about your part of the country - very sad. I felt a little silly though after putting an extra mooring rope on and hiding my planters, but you know what they say, better safe...

The next item on my things to worry about list is the winter. Radio 4 keep banging on about how incredibly cold it is going to be and others have pointed to the profusion of berries on all the trees and bushes around here as a sure sign of a harsh winter (could be an old wife's tale - not sure). Then someone on the TV said that this winter will make 2010 seem like spring! Here is a reminder of that winter...

Ah well, at least I've got my home owning friend Stan to help out this year. he has already provided me with free wood and has offered his tap if the water should freeze and his bath if I can't waste water on showers. He is a good friend. And if it's a harsh winter, it makes spring that much sweeter!

Sunday, 27 October 2013

storm warning

Well, here I am at 2.45pm on the day the 'big storm' is due to arrive. The forecast for the Midlands is currently for heavy rain and up to 80mph winds. I have used an extra rope to tie up the boat, moved my planters out of harms way and have dropped my solar panel flat onto my roof. There isn't much else I can do.

I am a little anxious as I experience the sharp end of the last big one in 1987 (and the slighter lighter one of 1989) as I was a police officer on duty during both. In 1987 I was stationed in the New Forest and got trapped when a tree fell in front of my panda car and as I braked sharply, another large oak fell behind me, trapping my car with nowhere to go. Trees were coming down all around and I have to admit to being fairly terrified. Being that it was during the night made it worse as we could hear the creaks, groans and crashes but couldn't see where the trees were falling until they were almost on top of us!

Fortunately I was rescued by an army unit with a chainsaw. Others were not so lucky and several people were killed in the Southampton area that night.

There are a couple of large Silver Birch trees alongside my boat but I am hoping they will remain upright. At present it is sunny with a stiff breeze - a lovely day really. Let's hope tomorrow will see us all floating serenely on the mooring! I'll let you know - if I'm spared!! Good luck to all my readers.

Sunday, 6 October 2013


Well done Nev and Roger and Marion, yes, I was in Wales - in Snowdonia to be precise. And no, I didn't take the boat. I had a couple of weeks off so for the first week Bon and I went with my mate Stan to a spectacularly beautiful place called Capel Curig and stayed in the very reasonably priced and comfortable Cobdens Hotel.

Opposite the hotel was a fast flowing river with a little footbridge. Beyond that was a forest with tracks leading in all directions so Bonny and I were spoilt for choice for our morning walks. After walk and breakfast the three of us went out each day. We spent the first full day on Anglesea - beautiful! On other days we took a ride round Llanberis Lake on a steam train. This is Bonny enjoying it...

We also visited Harlech, Porthmagog and of course Snowdon. We had great weather considering it is October and only got seriously rained on once - on our final day.

I returned home on Friday and rushed around doing shopping, laundry etc. so that Bon and I could go out on a mini cruise for the second week of our holiday. We left this morning in glorious sunshine which lasted all day. We are heading to Great Haywood where I am due to meet up with a couple of friends in the pub. Someone's got to do it!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Hopwas Heaven… mostly

I have finally managed a whole week out on the boat. I returned to Hopwas, which is a small village with a large and beautiful woodland about 7 miles away. I was so relieved to get there and back without the assistance of the air ambulance this time!

Our trip was a mixture of cruising, walking and painting the gunwales of the boat. The weather was mostly lovely and the walking spectacular with squirrels throwing themselves out of trees in front of a delighted Bonny.

beautiful hopwas This was where we moored.

We spent a couple of days here before moving down to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. As I passed under the first bridge after leaving our mooring I heard a tremendous rattling noise, as if the propeller had just dropped off. I immediately put the engine into neutral and drifted to the bank. When I investigated, I found that a helpful fisherman had left his metal rimmed keep net in the canal and the whole thing had wrapped itself tightly round my prop. It took ages hanging upside down over my weedhatch to remove it. Here are the remains…

taken off prop hopwas The white parts are all twisted metal!

I got to the B and F without further incident and with my propeller fortunately intact. I had planned to moor at Fisher’s Mill Bridge which is smack bang in the middle of a beautiful water park with fantastic walks. Unfortunately when we got there we found a major flood defence scheme under way…

no walking at the water parkNo walking here!

waterpark b and fShame – it would have been lovely.

There were bulldozers and lots of men in hard hats at my proposed mooring site so I went on as far as the first lock flight to turn at the winding hole. That was a major feat as the canal became very narrow and the winding hole not much wider than my boat!

getting narrower on b and f Turning here was a challenge!

I spent the night on the B and F – very quiet despite it being August and then returned to Hopwas for a couple of days to do some much needed boat painting.

All in all it was a lovely trip and it was particularly good to have some time alone as I haven’t managed much of that lately. As I was explaining to a friend only yesterday – most people are basically social creatures who can quite easily cope with periods of solitude – even enjoying it perhaps, but they get their energy from being with family or friends. I am one of the more unusual types who reverse that. I can quite happily be sociable for periods of time but I am most content and get my energy from being alone. Ah well, it takes all sorts!

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

mini cruise opportunity

I am not needed at work next week which may not be good news for my pocket but it's excellent news for a cruise hungry pair of boaters ( Bonny and I). So next Monday (or Tuesday depending on work) we are setting sail (figuratively) down the Coventry Canal. Our first stop will be Hopwas. The last time Bonny and I were there was September 2012, when we had some fantastic walks in the woods but it was on our return from that trip on 1st October. that I broke my leg, so it will be good to return this time in one piece - hopefully!

If I am feeling energetic I will cruise longer days and go up the Ashby Canal - famous for skirting the field where the Battle of Bosworth took place. If I don't feel that fit I shall visit the bottom of the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal where there is a large water park that I have not visited yet. I heard this canal has suffered a breach so I shall have to check that it is navigable. I don't really mind where I go; just being out is fantastic.

I am still enjoying work, although the hours aren't quite enough to keep the wolf from the door so I may have to look for an additional few hours somewhere. When not working or doing all the chores of a boating life, I go out exploring with Stan. A couple of weeks ago we had a picnic on top of Cannock Chase with his two dogs Bess and Sam and Bonny. I was going to post a picture of us all but for some reason I can't at present - the mysteries of computing, all very easy until it's not!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

cruise reminder

I know it has been a ridiculously long time since I updated this blog, but without cruising I find I have a lot less to say! Yesterday I thought I would tottle up to Kings Bromley and hide from the sun in the woods, before popping into the marina to pump out and diesel up. The first part of the plan worked a treat. I started up the flight at around 7.30 and had it all to myself. I arrived in a lovely shady spot to moor within 2 hours and spent the rest of the increasingly hot day on my lounger under the trees. Bonny had the day off her lead and was very well behaved.

By evening the temperature had risen to 30 degrees (or for us oldies, around 90f) and the humidity was very high. I struggle a bit in hot weather anyway and these last couple of weeks having been rather trying - especially at night when the temperature in my cabin has reached 100f. So I went to bed with every window and hatch open, only to be woken abruptly at 5.30 with the rain hammering down. Cue leaping around my boat in the altogether shutting everything up and mopping up rainwater.

I went back to bed but once the thunder and lightning started I had no chance to sleep, as Bonny let me know in no uncertain terms that she doesn't enjoy storms. It has rained non stop since then (writing this at 10.30). Bon and I have been out briefly but I am not planning to visit the marina until it calms down a bit. Sitting here with the towpath turning into a river and the only boats going past being hire boats brings back fond memories of last year's cruise. I spent many a happy day watching the rain and waiting in vain for summer. This year we have actually had a taste of summer and I didn't much like it. Hard to please or what?

I will need to return tomorrow as I'm at work on Thursday so I rather hope it dries up a little. Meanwhile I'll leave you with a picture of the field I am moored by - taken before the deluge...

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Boater turned gardener

What can I do when, due to being a working girl again, I can’t go cruising? Here’s the answer…

veggies 2013

Turn to gardening and save some of my hard earned dosh by growing my own veggies! This picture shows my salad leaves (slow due to little sun), carrots, sugar snap peas, radishes (had one harvest of radishes already, more seeds planted) and spring onions. I also have tomatoes growing in a hanging basket and some chives. For colour I have these…

flowers on new mooring

And these…

springtime bon

Bonny is adjusting very well to being left while I work. This is mostly how she spends her time…

sleeping work hours away

I too am adjusting to work. I love the work itself but trying to fit my life in as well is proving a challenge! Poor Stan is being neglected and has to do with an occasional meal out rather than a weekly one. I see Jan more as she is doing me huge favours like taking Bonny out if I’m away for more than 4 hours and even ironing my uniform – bless her.

This is a very different year, as this time last year I had embarked on my 3 month cruise in almost constant rain. Now I am tethered to the bank and the last week has brought almost constant sun. Hey ho!

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Working Girl

I have not worked since June 1st last year and I have to say I have thoroughly enjoyed my year of leisure! The best part, of course, was my long cruise and the worst was breaking my leg, but that is all behind me now as I have re-entered the world of work.

I have been so incredibly fortunate in my search for work. I only decided a few weeks ago that my leg was sufficiently strong to enable me to do a job and so my search had barely started. I had put the word about at Fradley Junction and my friends were keeping their eyes open for me. Stan went one step further and spoke to Toby and Bonnie Williams who live at Alrewas Hayes, a beautiful, Queen Anne style country house, and use the location to host weddings and other events. He was game keeper for their father and so knows the family well.

As a result of his conversation, Toby asked me up for an interview. I went and met them both and liked them and the set up immediately. The motto on the crest of Alrewas Hayes is ‘to be rather than to seem’ which I love and which seems to be borne out in the feel of the place. They immediately offered me a part time post which I immediately accepted!

My role is varied. At present I am doing a little of everything to get an overview of the work there. So I have set up for afternoon tea and for a full scale silver service dinner for 140. I have cleaned the bridal suite and served breakfast to the guests. Each wedding is different as Toby and Bonnie want to, as far as possible, let the couple do whatever they choose so that adds variety to the work.  In the summer they have some students working for them and they see my role as being a whipper in or student wrangler! In fact almost the first thing they said to me at my interview was that they were so glad I wasn’t young!! I took that in the spirit it was intended – employing lots of younger people is great for the energy levels but they do need some managing.

It is also so nice to be involved in ‘happy’ work for a change. Helping people make their special day as perfect as possible is infinitely preferable to either selling tat to people who can’t afford it or trying to convert people who don’t want to be converted, not to mention arresting people and ‘banging them up’! And the relief of not having to post my cv out to employers, compete with hundreds of people for one job and put up with rejections is indescribable! Having work on my doorstep so no commuting is the cherry on the wedding cake!

The hours are fairly light at present but they will increase as the venue is booked at weekends right through almost to the end of the year. Bonny (my dog not my employer) is coping well considering she is having to stay behind for the first time in her life (she celebrated her 4th birthday last Monday). If I am on a 3 or 4 hour shift she has her big walk and then gets left to sleep. If it is all day then my faithful friend Jan comes and takes her out and even took her back to her boat one afternoon. Stan has also offered to dog walk if I need it.

All in all I would say I am the most fortunate person I know – in home, mooring, work and friends – oh and with Bonny behaving – in dog too!

Saturday, 4 May 2013

More good fortune but less time

Just a quick post to say that I have found myself a job! I had heard horror stories in this area - like Asda advertising two full time jobs and receiving 6,000 applications!! Or a pub in Lichfield with one bar manager job available getting 700 people sending in cv's.

Anyway I will write more about how I got the job I have found when I am not rushing out, but it is in a country house that hosts weddings and other events. It is called Alrewas Hayes and I can see the drive way from my boat, so not much of a commute! Have a look at www.alrewashayes.com if you want to see it, but it's lovely!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Dog Diary Part 2

I am in the dog house today. After lulling my mistress into a false sense of security, I escaped from her yesterday, ran wild in Holsworthy Woods and nearly got run over on the main road that runs from Launceston to Bude.

It all started well. Holsworthy woods are very exciting with nice wide logging trails so I can see who is coming, but at each side of the trail there are the deep, dark woods with tempting undergrowth to wriggle through and become invisible in. I had followed at Mum's feet for the first half hour or so and made sure I came every time she called; she was so pleased with me - sucker! Then, with no warning, I dived into the woods where the gorse and brambles were thick so she couldn't follow me. She wasn't too worried to begin with and just kept walking, calling me in her pretend calm voice. I wasn't fooled - she was starting to get worried and that made me feel very anxious too.

Suddenly she was the scary thing and not the deep dark woods. It had been raining for a while now and I was wet through and really worried. I tried to give myself up to a couple of passing strangers, but they didn't understand and thought I was just playing with their dog. Every time mum walked towards me I dived back into the undergrowth. I wasn't playing now, I really wanted to be safe with mum, going home, but somehow a switch triggered in my brain and I felt like a wild creature. Various humans and dogs joined in the chase which just made me more fearful and so I laid low until they gave up.

After an hour or so of playing hide and seek I had slowly worked down closer and closer to the car park. It is only a little way in from the road and I wasn't really sure what I was going to do when I got there, but I knew in that direction home lay. Mum could see what I was about, so she positioned herself between me and the road. She sternly told me to stop and wait, instead I dodged easily round her and ran straight into the road. The cars were going really fast and the fear in my mistress jumped to panic level and I realised this was not good. For a moment I just stopped in the middle of the road - frozen with fear and indecision. A car swerved round me, covering me with gritty spray.

Then my Mum did something quite clever. Instead of chasing me, she ran away from me, up a logging trail on the far side of the road, yelling like a banshee as she went. I instinctively ran after her, in full flight mode. Suddenly we were running away together, rather than me from her. She gradually slowed down and I followed her - at a distance to start with and then closer. There was no one else around on this trail and that helped calm me down. After ten minutes or so, Mum came to a halt and waited for me. I darted into a ditch but then realised that, actually I really didn't want to play that game any more, I just wanted to be safe. So I climbed out of the ditch, walked up to mum and sat at her feet, hoping she wouldn't kill me.

She didn't. Despite the fact that I was covered in mud and soaked to the skin, she picked me up and gave me the biggest cuddle and then said a very rude word that I won't repeat here! Safely on the lead, I trotted back to the car as if I was an obedience champion. Gosh I was tired when we got back to the house. I hardly had the energy to eat my supper and as soon as it was polite to do so, I took myself off to bed. My mum wasn't far behind me either, although I don't know why she was so tired, she hadn't run nearly as far as I had!

Saturday, 20 April 2013

Bonny in Devon Heaven

Here is a few pictures and comments on our trip to Devon from Bonny’s diary…

It is lovely and sunny here for a change. I am enjoying chasing anything that moves, playing carefully with Maisie the cat and having walks off the lead. Sometimes I get a bit carried away and then my mum gets a bit anxious and I have to be restrained, but mostly I am being brilliantly behaved. I like holidays and I better make the most of this one as it looks like mum might just have the sniff of a job when we return.

On top of the world
At the beach, or rather above it – exhausting business climbing cliffs.

steep path!
Onwards and upwards - or perhaps not. I'm not used to heights!

bon on top
Bonny on top of the world!

tiny dog big woods
You can feel very small sometimes!

Pearl and Bonny exploring
Bonny with her new best friend – Pearl. Behaving beautifully in the woods, off the lead.

Pearl and Bonny
Relaxing after our walk with mum.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Return to Devon

I haven't posted anything recently as I have been engaged in boring activities such as job hunting and cleaning, but this week I'm taking a break from the mundane and yesterday I drove to Devon. I am staying with Roger and Shirleyann, the same wonderful friends who looked after me when I was laid up with my broken limb.

It is very strange and wonderful being back here with two working legs. I can walk up the stairs rather than bumping up and down on my bottom. I can take Bonny out for walks myself rather than relying on others and I don't have to be waited on! Best of all I can have a bath!! I was here for six weeks and couldn't use the bath because of my cast. Only another boater or anyone living with only a shower will know the frustration of that!

Bonny has settled down as if she has never been away, although she is keeping a nervous eye on Maisie the cat, who is set on letting Bonny know whose house this is and has cuffed her across the ear at least three times since we arrived yesterday afternoon!

I am visiting friends in Halwill this afternoon and have a skittles evening lined up later on in the week, despite the fact that I haven't touched a ball in over four years and will be playing in a cup match! It's lovely to be back.

Sunday, 31 March 2013

Single handed boaters

I had a comment posted by Kath, another lone boater and she is planning to cruise from the Fossdike to Skipton - respect! It would be lovely to hear from any other lone boaters who are cruising on a regular basis. It would be interesting to hear any tips / disasters / great days etc.

Meanwhile - good luck Kath, I haven't even had the courage to tackle a broad lock on my own yet!

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Boating in a blizzard

Well, if I had any doubts about my ability to manage the boat after my accident, they were dispelled by the end of my mini cruise. The first four days out were perfectly reasonable, weather wise. I had heeded the warning for snow on Friday and so reluctantly left Great Haywood and got to Kings Bromley by Thursday afternoon. I got the boat pumped out and dieseled up and then tied on mooring pins in the woods, prepared to wait Friday out.

Actually the mooring up wasn’t that straight forward as the wind had really started to blow and, as I usually find, it was blowing my boat away from the bank. The problem with that if you need to moor on pins and are single handed is that you need to get the boat to stay put while you hammer the pins in, but without anything to moor to in the meantime, the boat is likely to end up in the bushes on the other side of the cut!

Mooring up is the one thing I had been anxious about as that is how my leg got broken – hauling the boat in on the centre rope and mis-stepping on a tree root. I tried to get in a couple of times but as soon as I got off, the boat  started to drift out. So I ended up joining a long rope to my centre rope (whilst steering the boat and trying to hold her steady), then leaping off with this long rope, crossing the towpath and wrapping the rope around the nearest tree. That meant that at least ‘Don’t Panic’ wasn’t going to leave without me and I had time to hammer the pins in and then haul her in closer to the bank. The whole procedure took around 30 minutes from start to finish and having been cruising all day, I was finished!

Then the snow started. It snowed non stop all Thursday night and then all of Friday too. On Saturday morning I was starting to worry that I would get frozen in here in the middle of the woods with no access to my car or water. So in the middle of a blizzard I pulled out my mooring pins and made my way to Woodend Lock. I have never seen so much snow round and lock and the wind was blowing it into drifts. I knew this was a seriously risky business, operating a lock alone in these conditions, but once past Woodend I only had a few minutes before I reached Shadehouse Lock (the top of Fradley flight), mooring rings and safety.

I made it, with again much pulling on ropes in the wind to get her safely secured. The next day, again in snow and wind, my mate Stan helped me get her down the flight and back to my home mooring – a bacon and egg butty being his reward!

I would not have chosen this weather, or to finish my first mini cruise in such a fraught way, but it has done wonders for my confidence and I am  happy now to take the boat out alone – but I think I’ll wait for Spring to finally arrive before venturing out again!

ps Thank you to those of you who left such kind comments after my last entry – I don’t feel particularly brave – just very lucky to be able to live like this!

Monday, 18 March 2013

Back to being single handed

Since I broke my leg on 1st October, I have not had the legs or the confidence to cruise the boat on my own. Finally, on Sunday I decided that it was time to 'get back on the horse'. I wanted to go before the Easter rush so that I could take my time and find easy mooring sites. I wasn't sure how I would cope physically or emotionally after my confidence took a pretty big beating when I was injured. But I had to find out if I could still cruise single handed because if I couldn't cruise then I couldn't imagine remaining on the boat. I know it suits some people to have a floating cottage but for me, most of the joy of being a boater is in the travelling.

As it happened I didn't start entirely alone as my mate Stan helped me up the lock flight. But I managed to climb on my roof and up the lock ladder - something that was beyond me just a few weeks ago. Then at the top of the Fradley Flight I waved a fond farewell and cruised off with just Bonny for crew. I couldn't stop grinning! The weather was grey and chilly with just the odd bit of sunlight, but I didn't care - I forgot the sheer joy of pointing your boat ahead and just going. Last night I stopped near Handsacre on mooring pins. I really need to work on my arm muscles now as I found hammering in the pins hard going. My leg hurt a bit, but I am used to that and it didn't stop me taking Bon for a long walk as a reward for her patience on the roof.
(The observant among you will have spotted this wasn't taken yesterday - trees in leaf - but you get the idea!)
Today we cruised through Handsacre, Armitage and Rugeley in such thick fog that I couldn't even see the smoke stacks of Rugeley Power Station despite passing within a quarter of a mile of them! We tied up at lunchtime at one of my favourite moorings at Taft Bridge looking across to Cannock Chase. It's a safe place for Bonny to be off the lead so she has been very happily hunting mice in the reeds. Oh and the sun came out just as we moored - lovely.
This is where we are moored - just space for one boat but again this photo was taken on another occasion - it certainly isn't warm enough to have a lounger out!

Tomorrow we will mooch up to Great Haywood and stay for a couple of days before returning home. The temptation is just to keep going but my leg will only take so much before it hurts enough to spoil the day. I am so grateful though to be able to do even a few days. I really did wonder, whilst lying in a hospital bed, whether I would ever be able to manage the boat again.

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Trip to Lymington

I haven't posted anything recently as life has been pretty quiet while I have continued to mend. The mooring is still lovely and I haven't yet started to job hunt. To be honest I'm struggling to get motivated to find work as I am having such a lovely time, but my money isn't going to last forever so I really need to get on with it.

Before that though I decided my leg was mended enough to take a first long drive, to visit my stepmother in the New Forest. I hadn't seen her in over a year, having missed both a family wedding and Christmas due to the leg. I went down on Tuesday, taking a relaxed 4 hours with a couple of Bonny stops en route. I managed fine, although my leg has been pretty sore since then. But I think that is down to the walks we have been having. Lymington and the surrounding area is so beautiful we just had to explore. Here are photos taken on our morning walk on the sea wall...

This is the sea wall between Lymington and the Solent. Since there is water both sides, it was safe to let Bonny off the lead!

The Isle of Wight is there but hidden in the mist. The geese flew overhead making a racket and scaring Bon

This is Lymington Yacht Haven - full of plastic boats - the type we look down on as narrow boaters!

We will be returning to normal life shortly and then I want to take the boat out for my first solo trip since my accident. It's over 5 months since I broke my leg and it is time to 'get back on the horse'. Eventually I'd like to take a cruise up to Froghall on the Caldon Canal. Stan took me there recently by car and it was absolutely beautiful with the lowest tunnel roof I have ever seen!

Thursday, 31 January 2013


It has been extremely windy here over the last three days. Despite that, Stan and I braved a trip in the boat down to Streethay as I was seriously in need of diesel and a pump out. It took us quite a while but it’s a lovely thing to be full of diesel and water and empty of poo.

I am getting stronger and stronger but I’m not yet allowed to jump and so can’t easily get on and off roof to do locks and the lock ladders are also tricky. So I am very lucky to have help as both Jan and Stan worked the locks for me – all I had to do was steer. Yesterday we braved even stronger gusts of wind to turn the boat at the village of Alrewas, as she sits much better on my new mooring if  facing the lock flight.

Turning a narrowboat (or winding as it is known) in a gale is an exciting operation, akin to a fairground ride! You have to find a winding hole – in our case just past the first lock into Alrewas. You then note which way the wind is blowing and position your boat accordingly as, as soon as you turn broadways to the wind, the boat will start travelling quickly in a sideways direction. If you don’t manage to complete the turn quickly enough you can end up being blown past the wide part of the canal, provided for turning, and onto the narrower part which means you can end up being jammed across the canal with your bow on one bank and stern on the other!

You could have heard my engine roaring a mile away as I swung ‘Don’t Panic’ into the wind and turned her through 180 degrees. All very thrilling and the fact that I managed it OK has given another boost to my confidence.

Today I had intended to take it easy as not just my foot, but my whole body is aching after the exertions of the last few days. (It is amazing how quickly my muscles have deteriorated since being laid up and it’s a painful business getting them to work again – particularly my back). However, so far Bonny and I have been caught in rain of monsoon proportions on our morning walk. Then on our return the wind strengthened and blew my TV aerial down from the roof, bending all its prongs and in the process knocking my chimney into the cut. Bonny got out of the boat in all the excitement and showed every sign of running away. But I managed to persuade her back into the boat, rescue my chimney from the water, straighten out my aerial and tie it and my chimney firmly to the deck. I have now collapsed into my boat, taken a pain killer and put the kettle on. Hopefully my restful day will start here!!

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Arctic conditions

It has turned seriously cold here now and the canal has finally given in to the big freeze. There will be no more moving to the water tap or anywhere else until the thaw arrives.

Here is the view from our mooring at present…

all we need are polar bears

And here are some welcome visitors to my bird feeding station – a pair no less, so I am hoping for some baby woodpeckers come the Spring…

arty woodpeckerwoodpecker on nuts

Bonny loves the snow except when it freezes to her paws and face…

snow in face

It is hard work walking on snow and ice, but as long as I don’t fall I think the increased exercise is doing my leg the power of good. Off to fetch some more coal now as I am getting through a lot at present. Worth it though to have a toasty warm boat.

Friday, 18 January 2013

No more broken leg

I went to visit the physiotherapist yesterday with high hopes of being officially discharged from his care and I wasn't disappointed. Handing in my crutches felt like an official full stop to this particular saga. Steve, the senior physio (looks about 14) was fairly amazed at the rate of my recovery. He said I was about three months ahead of where he would expect me to be and didn't even add 'for a woman of my age', which he is prone to do. He put it down to my resting it properly when I first broke it and then really getting on with all the exercises and walking once I was allowed to. It made all the aches and pains of the last three and a half months worthwhile!

The prognosis for full recovery is good. It is still swelling every day after exercise but that should get less and less. My leg has mended nice and straight and is getting stronger every day. I only limp now when it gets tired. My ankle is a bit lumpy, especially where the metal work is, but I am long past worrying about the attractiveness of my legs!

It is just as well I am steadier on my pins as it started snowing last night and hasn't really stopped since. Bonny had a fantastic walk this morning. She loves the snow and so ran, rolled and burrowed in it. She streaked down the towpath and then came racing back with a snowball for a face. I would have taken photos but there really isn't enough light yet as we are currently in a bit of a blizzard.

I hope the cold weather doesn't last too long as I am getting close to needing to move the boat for a pump out. Still, today I am cosy warm, I have a full tank of water and an invitation to share a venison stew for lunch with my mate Stan so life isn't too shabby!

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Busy on my new mooring

Sorry about the silence but since I moved back to my mooring I have found life has become pretty busy! I say my mooring – of course I mean my lovely new mooring. It is only a few feet away from my previous spot, but it is so much better!

view towards old mooring

This is a view of the lovely flat piece of ground where I get on and off the boat. If you enlarge the picture and look beyond the coal bags, that was my old mooring. The central tree trunk in the picture is exactly the spot where I broke my leg.

new bench

Fitzy – who had the mooring previously, sold me his garden bench and here is Bonny enjoying it!

New perch

I bought a new storage box as the old one which doubled as a bench had broken. Bonny immediately commandeered it as a perch from which to watch the goings on in the field at the back of the mooring. Lovely view!

new storage

We have much more useable space on this mooring and no overhanging trees. As soon as the weather improves I will start some planting.

I have loved being back on the mooring – especially this one, but it has taken all my energy to cope. My leg is improving in leaps and bounds (not literally yet!) but I have to plan the days carefully. If I am taking the rubbish up to the disposal point then I know I will have to put my foot up for a good while when I return. Ditto for shopping, walking Bonny etc. But I am managing all my jobs without assistance now which is great although it’s still nice to have Jan along to help sometimes.

We are standing ready for the ice at present. It was well before freezing last night and by tomorrow it will probably be frozen (forecast minus 10 tonight!) I have watered up (took the boat there and back on my own for the first time since the accident). We just hope that it doesn’t last too long. All in all though Bonny and I are extremely happy bunnies!