Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

31 May '11

Since I'm getting moaned at for not putting anything on the blog for a few weeks here I am!

Basically we haven't been out really - the weather has been very windy and not desperately good for cruising and we have been sorting out  pensions etc so have needed to be here for the post.

However we went out last week down to Stenson for a few days when Jan and Rog came to stay. They used the Stenson Bubble which they would recommend to anyone who wants to come and see us but doesn't fancy the boat! We moored opposite which was great. We went on a short trip down to Swarkeston where we had to turn, which was eventful because of the wind and getting caught on the side, me having to jump out to push us off and Paddy ending up in the canal (again).

I had written this out in much more detail but for some reason it all disappeared and I can't be bothered to write it all out again!

I am still waiting for pictures of our outing with Sue and Terry and Jan has promised to send me the ones that she took so at some point I will add some pictures!

in the meantime we hope to get out in a week or so's time to go up to Alrewas for a few days and then at the end of the month (June) we are travelling down the the SW in the van to visit friends and relations so I will try to make sure I put something on (with pictures) as soon as possible!

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

10th May '11

We had a cruise out yesterday with the 'gang'. Mostly a lovely day for the trip - it was relatively calm to go out of the marina and John did it beautifully (very proud of him!). Lots of baby ducks, moorhens etc but no cygnets as yet. Lots of swans sitting on nests though so it can't be long.

Paddy more or less ignored Bruno (large brown lab) which was a comfort and coped fairly well with having a crowd on board - the first time it's happened for any length of time. He was happy to take some biscuits from Terry but once they were gone took a bit of a dislike to him and barked whenever he saw him! I stayed in the bow with Sue and Maureen and he was at the stern with the two John's, Terry sort of bounced between us and (thank you SO much Terry) managed to finally programme our dome! John has now mounted the TV on the wall and is going to get the Wii sorted out - oh happy days!!!! Not played it for over a year and need some practice I expect.

Anyway back to yesterday - we got up to Burton on the visitors moorings and while I got lunch out on the table ready for everyone to fill their plates and go out to the picnic table to eat it, the weather completely turned. Sky went black, wind blew a hooley, thunder and lightening started - you name it, we had it. SO lunch on board which was interesting but we managed it and hopefully a good time was had by all!

We eventually started on our way back and as we left the weather improved again and within 20min or so you wouldn't have believed the storm had ever happened. Blue skys and fluffy white clouds again. As we were nearing Willington, Paddy was getting quite noisy and I looked at my watch expecting it to be about 5 (his tea time) and it was 6.45! Poor little chap - no wonder he was a bit upset!

Couldn't believe how the time had gone but when we came to go into the marina it was mirror calm and mooring was text-book stuff!

Terry took loads of pictures so hopefully if they come through to me I shall put them on the blog  - I had a day off!

Visitors welcome - day trips with lunch a speciallity!

Friday, 6 May 2011

6th May '11

A bit of a culture shock today - we went out in the van!! Oh the speed of it! We overtook stuff and everything!

We had to go out to take the van to a repair workshop for them to see if they can do the work on it to get it all together again without bits hanging off it! They appeared to be able to do the job so we came home again and informed the insurance chappie and at some point he will approve the job and eventually the bits will have arrived and the van can be mended. It's just as well we are going to be away for a few weeks as they can get themselves organised so that when we return (hopefully) all will be ready and we can take it in and get it done before our trip back down to the South West - scheduled for the end of June.

Paddy was so excited to be going in the van again - ever since we got to the marina he has been wanting to get back into it each time we walk past! He went straight to it - bless hiim! Once we were in it he was back to his old self of watching the traffic and grinning at us!

While we were out we took the opportunity to get some shopping done which meant that we could do a full shop with lots of tins and heavy stuff without wondering how to carry it home! I have to admit that it was quite nice to do that but I was happy to get back on the water and contemplate a gently 3mph.

It was quite weird to see place names that are linked with canals on the roadsigns - Alrewas and Wychnor belong to our world on the water and shouldn't be just there on the sides of a main road! We went along the canal for some of the journey and then of course because we were going to Tamworth, we also crossed the Coventry canal. We recognised places that we had seen that were about 4 - 5 days sail away and the journey took us about 45 minutes! Quite disorientating!

When we returned to the marina - someone had parked in OUR place - how dare they! We parked behind them to unload the shopping and then John went to move the van - immediately he did the chap in OUR space moved his so a bit later John went out and moved the van back. It's not as petty as it sounds as we needed space to put the bikes on behind the van and the second place didn't allow that - his car can easily fit into lots of other spaces but the van can't. In the next few weeks they are asking for all the motor homes to be parked in a separate compound which is fair enough but in the meantime we are staying put!

Wednesday, 4 May 2011

4th May '11

Jim and Paul have been and we now have a working bow-thruster! Apparently it was one of the wires that John had checked (twice) that was not quite connected properly - some of our stuff in the hold must have knocked it out of place when we were in the first lock where it stopped working. Ho hum - put it down to experience and at least John knows that he can manage the boat without it in extreme conditions!!!!
There were other bits and pieces that they did as well and apparently the unsightly stain in the bathroom is NOT a leak on the soil pipe (thankfully) but has been the slow absorbtion of the water that leaked from the kitchen sink back while we were at Huntingdon. It still looks horrible but I don't feel as bad about it now - they are going to overlay the panel when we are nearer Manchester in a few weeks time.

Everyone is very friendly in the marina and it feels like home - although we are busy planning our trip to Llangoglen and hope to set off at the end of next week. We need to buy the relevant map but ours takes us to the relevant junction and it is 75 miles with 71 locks! Luckily lots of the locks are in staircases so it just means you go from one to the next. Much easier than one and then a mile or so and then another. Well it's easier for me because I'm on the boat - not sure John thinks it's easier!

We went to get registered with a doctor yesterday. We needed (yet again) to show proof of identity and then were nearly refused because they showed us as living at Shaftesbury.
Us "But we have only just moved here so haven't any proof"
Receptionist "We can't register you without proof that you live here"
Us "Can't you put that address and then we can change it at a later date?"
Receptionist "No because that's out of our area, we need offical proof that you live in this area"
Us "But we only have a c/o address here as we can't use the marina, and no-one official will accept a c/o address, so we never will have proof"
Receptionist "I'll have to go and speak to someone"

Anyway we got registered and John got to see the doctor to get his medication that he had been without for 3 days so all was well - on the way out the receptionist says "We will need to see some official proof of address next time you come" We smiled and left! Being of no fixed abode is not always easy!!!!

We are also not able to vote in the referendum tomorrow which annoys me - we are sure there is a proceedure but because we have been away we haven't been able to sort out what it is! Shame as we have both just made up our minds what we would vote if we could!

I have now worked enough on the crochet blanket so that it just covers the top of the bed but I want it to go down the sides. I worked out that I have made 265 squares so far and each one takes me about 20 - 30 minutes! to do 5 more rounds I will need to make a further 280 squares...... I'm going to take it up to the laundry and see if a good iron will stretch it a bit!!!!!! I spend nearly all my time when we are cruising working on it and want to get on with some other projects!!!

We are having real, proper visitors next week, Sue, Terry, Mo and John are coming for the day and we are going out for a cruise and having lunch! I'm very excited to be doing something social! John and I get on really well and enjoy each others company but it will be nice to speak to someone else for a change! I also love showing off the boat - stains and all - so roll on Monday! At this point can I order a nice day with sun and very little wind please? Getting in and out of the mooring and the marina are a bit of a bugger in the wind!

This is the Dragon (formerly the Green Dragon) at Willington - over the bank holiday it was absolutely heaving - good pub - nice beer but you get better value for money at the Green Man just around the corner! the marina is the other side of the canal and about a mile down the road.

Here we are in the marina - we are pleased with the position we have - not too close to the A50 that runs to the north or the A38 that runs to the west or the railway that does the other two directions! We are close to the visitors car-park and all the offices etc so all in all a good mooring!

The blanket - making progress but the next circle needs 48 squares and the following 52 squares and so on!!!

For those that like some geographical information - we are currently between Burton on Trent and Derby and are going to be travelling past Burton on Trent, through Rugeley, Stoke on Trent, up and around three sides of Crewe (this should take a couple of weeks or so) to Hurleston Junction then we will be going towards the Welsh bit through Ellesmere, Chirk and up to Llangollen (that is the correct spelling! ignore previous ones), not sure of the timing of this as we haven't got the map yet but probably a week or so and then the return journey we will go back up to Hurleston and then take the southerly route down through Market Drayton to Wolverhampton, back up towards Stafford then back on the Trent and Mersey at Haywood to return back through Burton to Willington, another couple of weeks! It's probably a 4 - 5 hour car journey!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

1st May '11

Sorry that there has been a bit of a break but the last few days have been somewhat hectic but .... we are here in the Marina now and the maiden voyage has been completed! phew...............

27th. We left the mooring early and attacked the Atherstone Locks - all 11 of them, pretty much in a line with a bit of a break between the 4th and 5th ones. Thankfully they were single ones so I wasn't too bad and there were other people coming the other direction so it made it relatively easy. We had a call from Jim saying he wanted to meet us on Friday (Royal Wedding Day) at Willington so we realised that we had to motor on as much as we could (at 3mph that's not that easy) to get there on time. This meant that we needed to get to Fradley Junction tonight - and that was MILES away!

Fearlessly we continued on and through the Glascote Locks (only 2 of them I'm pleased to say!) and then Fazeley Junction which was empty and we got straight through it - back onto familiar territory now as we had got as far as Fazeley with Susan and Malcolm a couple of years ago. Somehow it's easier when you know the way! We were getting pretty tired by now and decided that mooring at Whittington would be sensible with an early start the next day. We had been going for 10 hours which is enough for anyone believe me.

28th  Strangely neither of us slept well last night and another early start, knowing that we had to get quite a long way although we decided that if we could get to Burton then at least we would be able to start early and get to Willington in time for Jim the next day.

Fradley Junction arrived quite quickly and we stopped for water as it was easy to get it - there is a small swing bridge to open just before the junction and while we were getting the water John went to have a look at the junction to see what boats were around. The junction is a tricky one because the Coventry meets the Trent and Mersey at right angles, opposite a pub with a lock immediately around the corner to the East (the way we were going) and another a bit further on to the West so no matter which direction you are coming from it can be a bit of a delicate operation!

Naturally there was a boat waiting to go down our lock but luckily there was minimal wind and John got the boat around and moored at the side behind the waiting boat perfectly - he's really good at this stuff! There are 3 locks in our direction going down but we had done them many times and I hardly knocked anything! The wind was getting up as the day was going on and I was very aware of the rest of the locks ahead.... wish I was as good as John, but I'm improving and at least I'm not QUITE as scared now!

We stopped at Alrewas which is one of my favourite places on the Trent and Mersey to have a brief lunch and then back on the way. We promised ourselves that we would go back at some point and have a proper stay there as there is the National Memorial Arboretum just outside which is worth visiting but we have never had the time.

A couple morelocks and the phone goes - Jim can't come on Friday and will come on Monday. Not best pleased as we have been beating ourselves up to get there on time. We could also have stayed in Alrewas longer if we had known in time. However it meant that the rush was over and we decided to stop at Branston (of the pickle) as there is a nice water park there to walk around. We got a brilliant mooring right by the opening and walked into Branston which we had never done before. Nice little village with a couple of good pubs and some shops and only 10 minutes from the canal. Couldn't believe we had never been there before, considering that we must have been on that canal about 6-7 times in the past!

We gave Paddy a good walk around the water park and settled down to an early night with no alarm in the morning.

29th  We decided to stay on the mooring and watch the wedding then move on in the afternoon as I wanted to be at Willington on Saturday morning to get to the post office - I'd been ignoring the blanket for a while and knitted Chloe some bits for her birthday and had to post them on Saturday so that she'd get them on Tuesday. The reception was awful - we still have no TV and so were trying to watch it live on the computer. In the end we had the radio on for the live commentary with the computer silent - the text was a minute or two behind the action and the computer was buffering continuously and was on average about 4 minutes behind the text! I was very upset that we didn't have any bunting or flags to decorate the boat but enjoyed our rather strange version of the event. I'm a royalist and proud of it!

After the wedding we set sail and the sun had come out - the wind was still strong but we sailed without mishap to Willington. The pub on the green has been re-opened as the Dragon and had tables out so we sat outside with a beer to celebrate the day and treated ourselves to a burger in the evening - we know how to live!

30th  Stayed at Willington because we are tight and the rent is monthly at the Marina so going in tomorrow means we save a significant amount! We did however go to the Post Office to see about getting a PO box. They suggested we simply use their address and have the mail sent down to the marina which is what most people do - yes we said that's good can we have the forms - you have to go to the marina to get them they said. SO we went back to the boat - got Paddy and walked up the canal, over the bridge, along the entrance and into the shop at the marina. Yes they said , here's the forms - you need 20,000,000 forms of ID to show that you are not illegal immigrants or aliens and that you have a permanant address. so we walk back along the entrance, across the bridge and along the canal and turn the boat upside down looking for said bits of evidence! Living without a permant home for nearly a year means you have little proof of identity and John's driving licence is currently at the DVLA as he needed to update the photo! Eventually we got as much as we could and decided to cycle back to the marina along the road - leaving Paddy behind! Much quicker and they then had the gall to LAUGH at the number of letters we presented to them! Anyway we now have an address for post which is good!

1st May Cruised - or should I say battled against the force 8 gale that was blowing - into the marina and into our berth. It feels good. Home at last.

John turned to me yesterday and said "Now that it's all over, I wouldn't mind going back to the rivers at some point." "Mmm" I replied,"I know what you mean, it doesn't seem that bad now it's over."

We are now planning our next trip, probably leaving at the end of next week, we want to go to North Wales to the LLangoglen (probably spelt wrong) before it gets busy in the summer..........

Love this life :-)

Swing bridge approaching Fradley Junction

Perfectluy moored at Fradley waiting for the lock - Paddy in charge of the boat!

In the lock looking back - the junction is just on the right of the picture opposite the pub.

In the lock looking forward - this is typical of many locks on the Trent and Mersey - a vary low and narrow bridge on the bottom gate - note ttat there is only one bike on the roof now! Even that was dodgy for some of them!

We have just come out of here but you have to get through it to go up the lock - interesting at times!

Wonky bridge at Wychnor which is actually on a river stretch on the canal - the first time we ever came through here there was a boat festival on and there were boats moored 3 or 4 abreast and getting through the gap was quite tight - luckily with our long beast there was nothing in the way today!

Almost there!

About to make the turn!

Despite the wind doing it's worse we got around and are on the approach!

Beautiful sunset for our first night in the Marina!