Saturday, 24 January 2015


We had a really fast trip down the next 10 locks on Thursday despite the majority of them being empty and needing filling before we could use them. It's nice to be back working the locks and we seem to be vying for the windlass in the morning to see who gets to do the work and who gets to drive. I know which I prefer! Luckily Audlum locks are close enough together for us to share the work and Roger was going on to set the next lock while I operated the one we were going down. I don't think I'd manage to single-hand the boat through locks yet but that's certainly something I'd like to try later in the year.

A new butchers has opened in the village since we were here last and they have enterprisingly installed a large advertising sign half way down the locks.  I paid them a visit yesterday but they're extremely expensive and seem to specialise in the more upmarket cuts of meat like fillet steak and designer sausages. 

We stayed overnight on the 24 hour visitor moorings in the village but resisted the urge to visit any of the 3 pubs. It's the first time we've ever been able to stop here as it's such a popular spot, but this time it was empty apart from one other boat which had obviously been there a while.

It was a pretty grim overcast day yesterday but we carried on down the rest of the locks and are now moored in a beautiful spot overlooking the River Weaver which as yet is not much more than a bit of a stream.

Just before we left Audlum I went in the Co-op and stocked up on baking supplies and had a "bake-in". Potato cakes, banana and sultana pancakes and fruit buns.  Yum!

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Three weeks on the wagon

We've now managed 3 weeks without having any alcohol and have raised over £100 in donations for Cancer Research in addition to the money we'll personally be donating at the end of the month. I can't say it's been easy and is January always so long???  but there's now only 10 days to go and we're going to stick it out till the bitter end.  The only draw back has been that we haven't moored in some of the places we'd normally stop i.e. outside good pubs. It was especially difficult not to stop at The Anchor, especially when we saw Graham & Jill on n.b. Armadillo already moored there. 

We had another nocturnal visit from our mysterious creature before we left the moorings at Boggs Lock. Whatever it was had spent some time on the back deck and had left us a present.

I looked on Google but couldn't identify the droppings. I'd still like to think it was an otter although the droppings aren't typical of that animal which apparently is quite common in that area as shown by this bridge-side plaque.

Although the weather's been quite cold lately we've managed some beautiful sunny cruising days and haven't encountered as much as ice as was forecast. In fact most of  the ice that did form over the odd few nights had disappeared by the time we set off late morning.  Just before we left the Staffs & Worcester canal we came across a fallen branch which was blocking the canal. It took us about 20 minutes to get a rope around it and pull it to closer to the towpath so that we could creep past. Unfortunately it was much too big for us to pull out of the canal so Roger reported it to C&RT for them to deal with.

Can you believe how much the price of diesel has fallen recently? It was 63.9 p/l at Turners at Wheaton Aston and hasn't been that low for years.  It was 69.9 p/l at Norbury Junction a few miles away.

Did you spot the first sign of spring?  There were several clumps of wild primroses in the bank at Turners.

It won't be long now till Spring arrives properly. There are plenty of birds starting to sing again and we've seen lots and lots of robins.

We're now moored in one of the pounds on the Audlum flight for a couple of days. There are hardly any boats about either cruising or moored up. Most of the designated winter moorings where you have to pay to stay are deserted and the only moving boat we've seen for days was one that came up the lock flight in the dark late last night. Walking down the locks to go into the village this afternoon we only saw one other moored boat, apart from the long-term moorers that is. I've never known the canals to be so quiet in winter before. Do you think it's something to do with this years stoppages?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Boots Update

You may remember back in November I bought myself some new winter boots. Well after 3 months I thought I'd give you an update on how they've performed.

The budget pair have proved to be extremely warm and perfect for muddy conditions and walking the dog, but aren't really suitable for working locks as they tend to slip when I'm pushing on lock beams.

The Doc Martens however are SUPERB!!  They're perfect in all weather conditions, although I don't wear them when it's very muddy but that's purely because I don't want to spoil the embroidery.  Not only are they totally waterproof but they're extremely comfortable and very warm, so much so that I no longer have to wear thermal walking socks, but best of all they're totally slip-proof, even in the recent snow and icy conditions.

I love them so much that I'm going to invest in a plainer pair purely for locking and keep these for best. Just out of interest I looked at the Doc Martens website and they also do sandals with the same anti-slip soles so they might be an answer for summer, which is when I fell last year and damaged my spine. The days of fashion over practicality are long gone for me but these are still pretty cute don't you think?

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

Two Weeks On The Wagon

We've now reached the half way point in our Dryathlon, giving up alcohol and raising money for Cancer Research. It's not been as easy as we expected. I still find myself reaching for the wine glasses when I set the table for dinner and Roger really misses his bottle of beer whenever he's cooking. Mostly it's habit rather than craving but we'll both be happy when it's February and we can enjoy a glass of wine again.

I'd like to say a big  THANK YOU to everyone of you who have already sponsored us. So far we've raised £100 which will be added to our own donation at the end of the month.

If you haven't already sponsored us
 please, please, please 

sponsor us now by following this link  HERE .  It's such a good cause

Monday, 12 January 2015

Poetry In Motion

A friend sent me this poem the other day. I think it says it all about my lifestyle, don't you?

I love a little narrowboat, I love the old canal,
Imagining the tales these ancient waterways could tell,
I love to work the lock, those oaken gates so firm and strong,
With know-alls up above to tell you what you're doing wrong.
I love to see the native creatures busy at the bank,
The otter and the water vole, the terrapin and mink,
And peering in the water, into shallows green and still,
To see somebody's goldfish from the kitchen window-sill.
I love to moor along the bank and hear the gentle rain,
To cook a meal and watch the world beyond the window-pane,
Little bobbing moorhen chicks, the mallard and the coot,
Exhausted lovers hoping that their effort's bearing fruit.
I love the ancient bridges, every keystone, every corbel,
The singing of the little birds, the chirrup and the warble,
To feed a lonely swan, so perfect, white as alabaster,
Who struck me with his wing; observe my collar-bone in plaster.
I love to meet the other folk who use the waterways,
The walkers and the fishermen on sunny languid days,
We drift beside the towpath and we breathe the summer's breath,
Till roaring motor-bikers come and frighten us to death.
I love the inland waterways and if it's in my power,
I'll just keep on a-sailing at about three miles an hour,
And when I see that final tunnel, into it I'll glide,
I'll raise my yachting cap and see you on the other side.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Midnight Visitor

Just before he went to bed last night Roger heard a noise outside and went to investigate. We're currently moored in the middle of nowhere, just above Bogg's lock on the Staffs & Worcester Canal, and as expected he couldn't see anyone about. About an hour later Chico started growling and Roger got up to go and have another look. Again nothing to be seen. Shortly afterwards Chico started growling and barking again so this time I got up to have a look. One of the zips on the canal side of the cratch was raised a couple of inches and there was a small pile of white stuff on the gunwale. I put the light on and saw that the plastic bag which I keep fat balls in to feed the birds was ripped and 2 of the balls were missing.

We're not sure what creature had come visiting but I suspect it may have been an otter. They're very intelligent nocturnal creatures which apparently are quite common around here. I wish we had a night-sight camera on a motion sensor so we could leave fat balls out again tonight to see what comes calling.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

One Week On The Wagon

Back in November 2012 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. 2013 was a write-off as regards cruising while I had the treatment that saved my life. 2014 saw us doing a lot of cruising although I wasn't allowed to operate locks or do anything too strenuous. 2015 however is going to be different. I'm now "all clear" and fit enough to resume working the locks as well as steering.

To celebrate Roger and I have joined the Dryathlon. We've given up alcohol for the month of January and are donating the money we would have spent on booze to Cancer Research. Anyone who knows us personally knows that we drink/drank way too much beer and red wine so a month off the pop will benefit both Cancer Research and our livers.

We posted on Face Book yesterday and have so far received £40 in donations in addition to the £150 we'll personally be donating.

If you'd like to help and sponsor us please use this LINK to donate online via Just Giving, if you pay tax you can also "gift aid" your donation. Alternatively you can text RYJG55 £5 (or any other amount) to 70070  which is JustTextGiving by Vodafone

Thank You 

Friday, 2 January 2015

Happy New Year

I've tallied up last year's boating statistics and we traveled 1119 miles and passed through 418 locks. We met and traveled with some lovely people and basically just really enjoyed ourselves. It's now time to plan this year's cruising route and we already have a few ideas although nothing's fixed as yet. As the saying goes.........Watch this space

Today has been another gloriously sunny but cold day and we're now moored on Tixall Wide. It's still one of my absolute favourite places to moor and despite having been here many many times we've never been to Shugborough Hall so today we decided to remedy that. Unfortunately the house is closed until March but we had a nice long walk through the grounds.

This is the very ornate foot/horse bridge over the River Trent with its many triangular passing places which allowed people crossing on foot to get out of the way of passing horsemen.

The river is quite high at the moment

This is the Hall itself. If you're interested in its history etc you can read about it HERE

This is the Tower of The Winds which is one of the follies in the grounds

and this is the Arch of Hadrian.  There are several other follies and monuments in the grounds but we'll have to come back in the summer when the estate is open to see them.

I expected to see more livestock or deer in the grounds but this horny beast was the most interesting animal we saw.

We're expecting friends for the weekend so I'll see you again next week, take care.