Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Making the most of wheels……

Last Thursday – 1st port of call was Guildford hospital to check up on my brother.

All things considered, he is doing very well.  It’s incredible to think that only thee weeks ago, among other things, his jaw was split in two!  Looking at it now, you would never know.  He’s had lots of stitches removed from:- his jaw, his leg and his wrist and, although he still has a tube in his throat and it remains painful, he can speak a little.  He’s not able to go home yet as he is still unable to swallow and has to feed himself a liquid diet through a tube into his stomach.  (Makes a change from the liquid diet he is so good at administering via his right arm and his throat!!)  Our NHS gets lots of criticism – from what I’ve seen here I have only praise.

From Guildford we made our way to Harlow where we had arranged to spend a long weekend with our friends, Mick & Lynn.  Lynn was working that day but Mick was at home looking after Leo, the youngest (13 months) of their two grandsons.  Mick grandson-minds most Fridays and we hoped that we would at least be able to offer moral support if nothing else.odds and ss 009 (600x800)

What a fabulous little boy Leo is!  They call him ‘man cub’ ……..aahh!  He was SO good, ALL day and coped amazingly well with three crusty/rusty old-timers!  I am ‘well jel’!  T.O.W.I.E. language??!!  (The Only Way Is Essex – I’ve never watched it but am under the impression that the translation is ‘well jealous’).

On Saturday, Lynn came down with THE BUG!!  NOT John’s bug – it was/is her very own bug causing her to have a croaky voice AND swollen, painful glands.  The rest of us – people and dogs – went for a lovely walk around Fisher’s Green (part of the Lee Valley Country Park and accessible by boat) in the warm sunshine  hoping that, if she rested, she would be able to cope with our pre-arranged evening out.  We went to Bishops Stortford where, after eating out, we went to see The Bohemians (a Queen Tribute band).

I have learned to approach tribute bands with an open mind!  This band sang the tracks well, played the music very well and gave an un-reserved, somewhat ‘tongue-in-cheek’ but more than acceptable showy stage performance.  The place was packed, the audience well-engaged and it was a really good evening.

On Sunday Lynn was no better so, after walking the dogs in the woods, we made a hasty exit so our friends could at least have some peace and quiet for the rest of the day.  We came ‘home’ via Hitchin!!  A very good friend of ours now lives there but, disgracefully, we haven’t seen him for four years.  He is SO well!  In fact, he looks better than I think I have ever seen him in over 20 years!  It might be something to do with the fact that he has recently crewed a yacht across the Atlantic ending up in St Lucia.  He gained a good colour, high lights in his hair but lost over a stone in weight!  The photos and footage are fantastic to see – BIG waves so DEFINITELY not for me but the vastness of the ocean, the vastness of the skies, the stars at night and the special wildlife (dolphins, whales, unusual birds) – WOW!

Poor Lynn is now on antibiotic's and has been signed off work for a week.  Take it easy, Lynn, and get well soon.  Thank you both for a lovely (lovely!!) weekend. xxoo

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Just So’s Yer Know …..

Watford Locks

Today we went for a walk along the locks at Watford and …………. the towpath all along the flight has been/is being tarmacked. 

“About time too”, I hear the lock-keeper/s say. 

On a regular basis the towpath adjoining the staircase locks has been flooded by boaters descending the flight too closely to the boat in front.  The resulting flood water washed away lots of the gravel path to the bottom of the slope.  It was then the responsibility of the attendant lock-keeper/s to shovel it up, barrow it back to the bald patches, replace it and replenish if necessary.  This did not lead to happy lock-keepers!!  We’ve seen this happen several times – the last time being in November when we were on our way back to Crick.  Boy, did the offending boater get a telling off!  Now, however, although there will undoubtedly be flooded future moments the surface of the towpath will stay in tact!

New Chandlers at Whilton

The Chandlers at Whilton Marina has changed hands.  It has just re-opened under new management.  It’s all a bit sparse at the moment but it looks like more available space is to be utilised and it will be well stocked.  The old chandlers was so quirky though, an Aladdin's Cave and we loved it!!


The restored 100 year old steam-powered narrow boat, “President” is definitely a celebrity on our canals and rightly so.  Fantastic news:- being part of the National Historic Fleet the boat (she? he? it?) is to represent Staffordshire and be part of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Flotilla on the Thames in June.  An assortment of 1,000 boats are to take part and it’s going to be such a majestic spectacle. 

Daventry Arm

I’m amazed!  Apparently Daventry Town Council don’t want a canal arm going into the town.  I really am surprised because according to reports from other canal side towns and villages the boost canal trade brings to a local economy is a definite plus point and not to be sniffed at.  As a town, Daventry doesn’t appear to be thriving to me and would benefit from attracting extra trade.

Monday, 20 February 2012

A Rare Bug

Well, actually, I don’t think it’s rare at all – a lot of people seem to have it or have had it – just not on boats here in the marina.

Since living on a boat we have had very little illness – just a few sniffles and odd days of not feeling ‘quite the ticket’.  I think it’s probably a result of being out in the fresh air such a lot and not being in places where people assemble in confined spaces – like offices, shops, schools etc.   BUT ….. a nasty bug has now got John in it’s clutches!  A week ago he complained of a husky voice!  His throat, he said, was, however, not sore.

Gill and Rodney came and we spent a few really nice (note the choice of a different adjective - ‘nice’ and not ‘lovely’!) days with them – as usual eating and drinking far too much!  On Valentine’s Day we went for a splendid (!) meal in The Red Lion.  Red heart    By Thursday all the ice had melted so we took Rodney’s boat out for a quick ‘jolly’ to Yelvertoft and back.  Gill was in the throws of ‘getting over’ the bug!  The irritating cough was still in evidence.

John seemed fine until Saturday when he too started to have bouts of coughing.  Sick smile  These things always seem to be worse at night so neither of us have had peaceful slumbers!  I fear I’m making it sound as though John caught this bug from Gill – not so – I think he had started to incubate it before she arrived.  I really hope Rodney hasn’t caught it.  Today I’ve opened the back doors and closed the bedroom door in an attempt to flush out lurking germs with gusts of cold air!!  I definitely do not want to catch this bug – we are going to see Mick and Lynn on Thursday –  they have already had it, got rid of it and I feel sure do not want it back!!  On Friday we are due to revise old skills – that of baby-minding!!  Just as well Leo is a tough little lad!  He could be in for an interesting experience!

My brother, Graham is, according to the sister on the ward, making good progress.  He is now sending daily progress texts!  Things rarely go completely smoothly though – he is soon to begin radiotherapy as they did not get all ‘the bad stuff’ (his words) out during the operation.  Also, there is a problem regarding nerve endings between his neck and shoulder and he is receiving physiotherapy treatment for that.

Three more weekends before we get back out on the cut.  Smile

Monday, 13 February 2012

That Was the Week That Was

Last Monday my brother underwent his major surgery.  I spoke to one of the surgeons involved that night and he was very positive about how things had gone but, as tactfully as he could, warned me that Graham was not looking very pretty!  I went to Guildford  to see him on Friday and, yes, he looks like he has been severely beaten up by a large gang of thugs!  Quite understandably he is feeling very sorry for himself and very despondent BUT his wounds WILL heal given time and, as each day passes, he will progress closer to that goal.  In reality this is only the beginning of a long, unpleasant journey but surely this is the worse bit? 

During the week we heard that the boating couple we were planning to cruise to York with this year have decided to sell their boat and move back onto land.  They assure us that it’s got nothing to do with the prospect of being with us!  Sue and Rob n/b “Patience” have been liveaboards now for about nine or ten years and, during that time, have made the most of exploring much of our inland waterways.  We wish them loads of happiness for the future  Thumbs up  but will really miss them from the system.  Crying face


Our neighbour, Bob, who is a single-hander and quite amazing in what he does and where he goes has been to York – and Sheffield – and Boston and invited us aboard “The Beez Neez “ to see photos he took of getting to all those places.  His comprehensive and exciting photos have whetted my appetite even more and confirmed to me that, at the very least, I want us to go to Nottingham, Newark and Boston.

Turning off the tidal Trent onto the Stainforth and Keadby Canal seems to be another challenge altogether and not for the feint-hearted.

It would seem that the thing to do is:-

As you approach the lock you start to turn the boat and let the current take you sideways past the lock until you manage to do a 180 degree turn.  You then travel back up-stream and turn into the lock. !!??  It would seem that navigating the Yorkshire Ouse is not to be taken lightly either!  Apparently it goes into flood very quickly and very easily.

I read what other boaters have done and where they have been and tend to think “if they can do it, why can’t we?” BUT I’m not the one responsible for steering the boat and keeping both us and our home safe so I do respect John’s anxiety.

On Sunday we had lunch in The Red Lion at Crick with our friends, Gary and Joan, their daughters Jessica and Alison and Ali’s ‘my Andy’!  Ali is a teacher and lives with Andy in Nottingham.  Crick is a good half way point to meet up with them.

This week is half term and my good friend, Gill, accompanied by Rodney, is coming up to spend a few days with us.  I’m really looking forward to that.  We might have been stuck in one place since November but plenty has been happening to keep us occupied!!

The cold conditions have persisted all week.  One night the outside temperature went down to – 10.8.  For dramatic effect I would have called that –11 but 10.8 I was told so 10.8 it is!  Things are, however, now starting to warm up.  Let’s hope that the worst of the weather is over for the Winter and we can now  look forward to the Spring.  I can’t wait to get back out onto the cut and start cruising again.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Nice Ice ....... Baby!!!

Sorry, I know it's cheesy but I couldn't resist it!

Well, having convinced ourselves that this year we had escaped the ice and snow .............. it's arrived with vengence.  All the boats in the marina and out on the cut are going no-where and I rather suspect that is the general pattern everywhere on the system.

In these condidtions it's not only the cut that gets iced up.  All the water taps in the marina are frozen and so is the pump out facility.

On the plus side the grass and mud on the fields and tow paths, if not covered in snow, are frozen hard which means that the dogs don't get in such a mess when we take them out for a walk.

Trust Rodney to choose to come up this weekend when, prior to this, it's been so mild.  Still, it doesn't really matter what the conditions are like outside when you're in front of the fire watching hours and hours of rugby with a bottle of sherry and lots of nibbles does it?!

That's what you get for helping out!
Jane making a large, fresh snowball - heading our way!

For those of you who know my brother, Graham - please spare him a thought tomorrow as he undergoes complicated surgery - all 8 and a half hours worth!  He has been diagnosed with mouth and throat cancer and is having the tumours removed.  Following surgery he will be in Intensive Care and not able to receive visitors until at least Thursday.  Poor, poor Graham.