Welcome to the world of Narrowboating

To risk is to live!

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!