Valentine’s Day Weekend

We always planned to visit the boat once a month – at least. And so here we are on a 4 day, long weekend – celebrating getting engaged on Valentine’s Day itself – 35 years ago!! It was 2 degrees on the boat when we embarked on Thursday night … only now some 24 hours later, is it starting to warm up. We have thermometers and thermostats everywhere but they do little except to smugly say . .  you should be warm by now!

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Well, Toby’s happy – 3 walks a day and a place by the fire.

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Viv’s happy – the Wi-Fi is now working in the marina, well sort of.  It wasn’t working at all for the 2 weeks at Christmas but Viv’s back surfing.

We had an unwelcome visitor last night – a wee mouse!  All of the dried food had been sampled, including the bar of soap, toothpaste and great chunks of loo roll missing as he/she made their winter nest.  So a lot of grub was chucked and a remedy sought:

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We started off in true fashion – pub on the way here – the marvellous and newly opened Head of Steam pub in Lilbourne … well, it was on the way and it seemed a shame not to stop. (see https://www.facebook.com/LilbourneHeadofSteam )

We visited Paul Smith (author of the Liveaboard website) in Calcutt Boats – very nice marina and setting with 110 acres of woodland.  A trip to Daventry for mouse killer & secure storage bins to deter future rodentary visits.

Another pub visit – the Wharf Inn in Welford – http://wharfinn.co.uk/

Great lunch & a decent variety of beers.

Saturday, 14th: after a few chores (including disposing of the wee mouse), we took the dog and walked to the Wheatsheaf pub in Crick – see link above.  A good hours walk followed by one of the best steaks that I’ve ever had.  Always a tad wary of ordering steak out … when they give you the “special serrated knife”, ooooh, is it going to be that tough?? But it was fine; more than fine, in fact even though I was expecting a 10 oz steak, it came in one large lump, more like a fillet, very interesting but very tender & tasty!  They also had Oakham’s Citra on tap too.  Just the matter of that hours walk back.

The Christmas Test

Well, I think we passed the test. Two weeks with the whole spectrum of weather: gales, rain, sleet and an iced-in marina! Not 100% enjoyable and I think it has taken the gloss off of the living aboard dream a bit. Is Yelvertoft still “the place to be”? Hmm, maybe. As Paul Smith says in his newsletter this month ( http://livingonanarrowboat.co.uk/newsletter-archive/2015-01-04-newsletter-more-winter-cruising/ ), it does seem to be draconian in its rules & regs! But it’s a start.  We look forward to the Spring & Summer cruising.

Frozen

We continue our little Winter holiday on the boat. We knew it would be a testing time as the temperatures plummet to -4 and both the marina & canal all freeze over . .

There’s Adagio all warm & cosy … chimney smoking.

Day Trip to the old haunts around Nottingham

With Nottingham just an hour away, we took the chance to re-visit Plumtree and Keyworth – where we lived for three years (1990-93). We took lunch at the Plough in Normanton on the Wolds – http://theploughatnormanton.co.uk/ – with excellent food and Jaipur beer! We also wandered round the city centre, looking at the lights, the Christmas Fayre as well as re-stocking tobacco at Gauntleys  We then went back to Cropwell Bishop to walk on the disused canal and Hoe Woods – a regular trip with our first dog – Buster! Lots of mud but a good trip.  We ended with a visit to the Cropwell Bishop Creamery for some Stilton.

unlikely they’ll ever fully restore the Grantham Canal owing to the ground where gypsum deposits have always caused leaks – here’s one of the wide locks.

and someone found what little water there was – Swamp Dog!

strange men in the woods

and some Stilton to take home.

Christmas Afloat

We are up on the boat! Last year we went to Cuba … this year our holiday is in Yelvertoft on the boat, yes, two weeks. At least we’ll see how we fare with two weeks of winter survival.  Well, it was 6 degrees inside the boat when we arrived but an hour or two later and it’s up to 20+.  The Squirrel stove – on, gas central heating – on, tree lights – on, dasher – on, dancer – on, prancer – on … .

Steve’s Birthday & Market Harborough/Foxton Locks

Yes, it’s the Ol Codger’s birthday and we went off to Market Harborough for the day – about 30 minutes away and also a walk around the famous Foxton staircase locks

Here we are at the old wharf, about half a mile from the town centre. We first came here 20 years ago – with Buster. It was very derelict then with broken buildings and not a nice place to stop.  Now, it’s all refurbished and chic!

Lunch in the Three Swans (even a star filter does little to enhance the subject matter!).

On to Foxton locks – a clever flight of seven staircase locks – each one joined to the next, which gives rise to some pretty deep lock chambers

Time read the Towpath Talk paper

There used to be an inclined plane here – a sloping escalator that dragged boats uphill in big caissons … all gone now

it reduced the transit time of the staircase locks, quite a feat

A grand day out followed by a cook-in, wine and of course some birthday cigars – thanks chaps!

Nottingham & the Grantham Canal Re-visited

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Ah, the morning mist across the marina as I take the Boggle on his first walk. Off to Nottingham today (less than an hour away) to visit my tobacconist & the Grantham Canal.  We lived up here some 20 years ago and it will be so good to see it again and take Toby for a walk – where Buster walked was all those years ago …

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Hmm a lot has changed – city centre full of trams and a huge Christmas fayre.

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Gauntley’s – my pipe tobacco shop. I usually buy online but it’s good to visit in person – I even managed to get some of their special Christmas mixture – not on sale until tomorrow – sshh!

Off to Hickling and a stroll on the Grantham Canal.

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I doubt we’ll ever see boats back on here but it’s a great little waterway.

Iris & Cliff liked it . .  “Do you like Hickling?  I don’t know I’ve never Hickled!”, said Mum after a few beers!

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A much better path nowadays – the dog loved it!  We would come to various sections of this canal with Buster …

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Very odd sign – “you don’t get many of those about”

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Up to Clarke’s Bridge. Chris phoned me , Viv phoned me . .  must have known where I was!  Dog was very happy. A great trip.

Now back to me boat and the log fire!

Thanks Chris & Amy for the texts/calls letting me know you’ve remembered the ol’ codger’s birthday! Cheers

A Week in Yelvertoft

Well done Viv for posting a parcel of cables & chargers – I can charge the phone and upload some phone pix wot I took.

Enjoying my week up here – although the chores seem to lead to more work . . my efforts to replace the broken glass on the Morso Squirrel stove failed as the new glass was thinner and the screws didn’t hold it . .  my efforts to tighten em lead to one shearing off. Woe.  Off to Midland Chandlers to get sommit – they only had the same glass but I bought a new screw – £1 please! My neighbour & good friend Nick sorted the door by drilling out the old screw & tapping a new one in . . fixed! And the fire was still alight, Brilliant.  Where am I? Oh, here:

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Nick asked a favour, if we could move from B2 to B4 as he wanted to bring his other boat, a barge, across and park it next to his as he wanted to work on it.  No problem – short cruise out & back – arrow shows how far we’ve moved.

Walked the dog up Cracks Hill yesterday – there’s a beacon on top and good views of Crick & back towards our marina – all very rural:

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above is our very rural marina! Below is the other view to Crick:

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and that beacon, followed by a very happy dog – lot’s of walks and squirmies

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It’s a lovely place here – walking the dog with the sun coming up over the very still marina … swans gliding in … nice. Not many chores left now – the engine had an oil change & I’ve victualed the boat with more gin!

Well, Viv’s coming up on Friday & Saturday’s my birthday!

November mini break

Hello Chaps
Well, we normally go away for my birthday … somewhere warm – last year it was Cuba but this year, nope.
So I said Let’s go up to the boat … I’m up here for the week “doing boat things”
Such as repairing my Squirrel – yes, you guessed it’s having problems with locked nuts.
I broke the glass door and it also doesn’t seem to shut properly . . so I’ve got the bits but lack the wherewithal, as usual . .
I’ve also got the change the engine oil . . sounds straightforward . .
Viv joins me on Friday – coming up by train.
It was 8 degrees when I came on board today but with the gas central heating on and the Squirrel burning logs n coal, we’re up to 19 now
And very cosy it is too.
The Wi-Fi is so cr*p in this marina, that I’m having to sit up in the cratch and write this – only place there’s a signal.
Still a chance for a smoke and a new euphemism – my cratch is smoking! How’s yours?
Brief Howdy to the Cardiff girls – I’ve got 1 kg of Caerphilly maturing nicely and over 1 kg of little Bries going nice and fluffy – in a nice way, too
Must try and carry on this cheese lark – it’s very rewarding!
Well no TV tonight as after 2 hours of “playing” with the Sat dish and sat box, I give up …
Apparently, it’s got to point at TWO satellites at once 28.2 and 28.5 degrees E … .invalid postcode errors …so back to me book & scotch then . .
Hopefully I’ll get time to take some piccies too.
Cheers

Autumn Visits

Sad at being away from our boat. Hope to visit for a week soon (17 – 23rd Nov) and then again for two weeks over Christmas & New Year.  Chance to test the boat in Winter!!