Friday, July 29, 2016

A Grand day Out.

I have been moored up on the farm now for seven weeks. They have always told me that this weekend has been booked for a big family gathering. Apparently they book the whole site every year for the weekend. They asked me if I minded moving off the site and park up around the back with the horse floats for the weekend.
No problems says I, so just for a change I got up early and took the van for a spin to pick up my washing from the bagwash at Bolly , then to Tesco for a bit of a shop.
 Tesco was an eyeopener in the early morning......loads of OAPs staggering around the aisles, checking the label of everything they pick up!! A 20 minute shop took me about 40 minutes trying to get round the buggers.

So this is my weekend mooring around the back of the farm, its not a problem as there is a 240 hook up.

So to the big day out, Elaine has been hankering after some nice food, so between myself and her lovely friend Jane we managed to arrange a lunch at Sutton Hall, which is one of Elaine's and mine favourite places in the UK.
I did the easy bit in booking the restaurant, Jane managed to find a wheelchair taxi at very short notice.
The staff at the hospice excelled themselves in getting Elaine ready for her big day out, its the first time she has been out in seven weeks and it really meant a lot to her.
We had a lovely few hours at the restaurant and enjoyed some yummy food. 
It really took it out of Elaine, but I'm sure it was worth it. 

A big thank you to Jane and her husband Andy for such a lovely day out, hopefully we can do it again.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Some Very Good News And A Little Bit Of Bad News

First the good news.....Bombo lump was this.........Trichoblastomas are a cutaneous condition characterised by benign neoplasms of follicular germinative cells Trichoblastic fibroma is a designation used to characterise small nodular trichoblastomas with conspicuous fibrocytic stroma, sometimes constituting over 50% of the lesion.

All that gobbledegook translates to he had a benign lump so he is 100% fine and is healing well, I cant believe how quickly his fur is growing back. 

The not so good news is that the lovely Volvo that I have been driving around for nearly two months went limp on me today, as is it went into limp mode.

The car has been lent to me by one of Elaine's friends and is a bit of a rocket ship. Today though as I was driving along the road to Bolly it would go no faster than 40MPH.

I drove it slowly to Shaw St Motors in Macclesfield, he was really busy but once I told him the reason that I need the car, it was no problem, He said leave it with us and we will check it out.

They rang a couple of hours later and had diagnosed a fractured turbo pipe, so it was getting no boost. It should be up and running tomorrow some time.

I ended up walking to the hospice and later in the arvo got a cab back to the farm.

The good news far outweighed the bad, I'm off to the pub for a celebratory drink!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Its The Little Things.

Elaine had a couple of little gifts yesterday from people who she has never met.

It touched both her and me deeply.

The first was a lovely postcard from a person who has been reading the blog from its inception, they are housebound and thanked us for letting them join us on out adventures through the blog, they also wished Elaine all the best at this difficult time.

Thank you so much she loved reading it.

The second was a lovely silver crucifix sent to Elaine from a friend of my sisters, Elaine loves it and thanks you so much.

The third little gift was a little hand carved cross given to her by the hospice chaplain. Its made to sit in your hand, which it did all day yesterday in Elaine's

I would have to say that I am not religious, but the chaplain lady has brought a lot of comfort to Elaine and has been a great help to me and will do so in the future. She is a lovely lady.   

 I stayed up the hospice till about 18.30 last night, I popped into the local for my nightly pint which ended up being two.
 I got talking to one of the locals who I have been on hello terms with and we had a long chat on why I am there virtually every night like Nigel no friends. Once I told him what was going on he was offering me his spare car....An Audi A8!! Did I need a laptop as Im always sitting on the phone in the pub catching up on emails and messages.
 He asked me to come and join his friends which was nice, but I told him I quite enjoy just sitting on my own with the doggies and contemplating life etc.

As I left Chris and Steve off of NB AmyJo were just popping in the pub, they were moored up above the pub on Gurnett Aqueduct.

It would have been rude not to join them for another couple of beers, we had a nice little catch up.

I finally got home to make dinner at 23.00! 

I also found out a couple of days ago that my dear old mother has been in hospital for over a week with a heart infection and is going to be in there for a long time to come, I think my family didn't want to burden me with more worries.  I have five brothers and sisters so she will have plenty of visitors. There is no way I can leave Elaine at this time.

Still waiting for the result on Bombo's lump that he had removed, but Im very confident on good news on that one.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Catching Up With Old Friends.

The lovely weather is still with us thankfully, it makes walking the dogs so much more pleasurable.

This is one of the walks I take the boys on, its on part of the farm where I am moored up.

Elaine also wanted to enjoy some of the lovely sunshine but wasn't really well enough to  get out of bed so the lovely staff at the hospice said no probs we will take the bed outside! They are nice beyond comprehension.

The boys love being on the bed with Elaine, check Sammie out upside down in the gap at the bottom of the bed, whilst Bombo is crashed out with his mum further up the bed.

Bombo is still wearing his cone of shame.

I had a couple of visitors over the weekend, my old friends from Oz Graham and Andrea had come over over for a few weeks hols.

They were staying at Shrigley Hall which is located just outside of Bollington. 

Friday night we went to Sutton Hall, and last night we went on a mini pub crawl around Bollington.

I lived with Graham and Andrea for a few years in the early 90s, we had many fun times together and one big not so fun time when we came back very drunk from a wine tasting evening to see lots of fire engines in the street and their lovely home burning away, luckily the fire brigade arrived quickly and saved their two dogs and limited most of the damage to the back end of the house.

I have a lot to thank these two for as they gave me a room in their house when my life was going a bit shitty. It was while living with them that I met the lovely Elaine in 1995 and the rest is history so to speak.     

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Poor Bombo.

I really am very much a glass very full person but I really think I could do with a break.

I have a wife, sister in law and a great nephew all doing battle with the bastard disease cancer.

Now Bombo has been to the vet to remove a lump that was growing very close to his eye, they don't think its cancer but we will have to wait for about 7 days until we get the results back from the lab.

If there is such a thing as a higher being, do me a favour and give me a break will ya.......PLEASE xx

The poor boy hates wearing the cone of shame!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Thank You Spain......

......For sending us some lovely hot weather, it is so much appreciated.

The heatwave arrived nice and early in the morning, I wound the awning in so the rays would dry the bog of eternal stench outside of the motorhome.

I had to take the laundry to the bagwash at Bollington so I took the boys for a walk around the village whilst there.

As I have many a time said England in the summertime is without equal. 

The views from the Bolly aqueduct are just fab. 

I have always admired this house at the end of the aqueduct, it is superb. 

None of this namby pamby OHS for the tough northerners! 

Our old cottage in the centre of the village is looking resplendent with its new windows and front door. 

The shade temp at noon, a lovely 33 degrees.

It was then time to head off to Macclesfield railway station to pick up Elaine's nieces Leyna and Josie who had come up from London and Kent to visit their lovely auntie.

Elaine loved having her feet and legs massaged by the pair of them.

I dropped the girls off at Macc railway station at 19.00 then headed back to the van and down to the pub for a cooling pint, whilst I was there, I received a call from Leyna to say that Josie had lost her iPhone  and it was either in the car or maybe left at the railway station.
It wasn't in the car so I drove down to the station, lo and behold the kind girl behind the kiosk had found it and  handed it over to the station master......lovely person.

By now it was nearly 21.00 so I treated myself to a Thai takeaway.

Its now 22.30 and still 26 it!  

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Meeting Boaters And Long Lost Cousins.

My first task this morning was to go and hunt down NB AmyJo, I have been in touch with Steve and following their blog so I knew they were in the area.

I parked up in Bollington and took a stroll through the streets, have I mentioned before that I love Bollington, when I finally decide to settle down somewhere this place is going to be right up there, the weather is crap but the location and the people are lovely.

Today though the weather was sunny and HOT!

I found Steve and Chris having brekkie at the Clarence Mill, I joined them for a coffee, then we returned to their boat which was moored up on the viaduct for a tour.

It is as superb boat in design and quality and I wish them well on their future adventures on the cut.

As well as living in Bolly one day I can seriously see a return to the cut myself one day, it is such a lovely relaxed life style, but I would have to head south to Mojacar for the winter. 

I then headed to the hospice where I found Elaine chatting to a strange man!! It was her long lost nephew Jamie McBride who she last saw over 40 years ago when he was a baby!!  They had a lovely long chat with Elaine filling in all the missing bits re Jamies relatives. 

Elaine hasn't ventured outside now for over six weeks, so with the help of the lovely nurses at the hospice we got her ready and comfortable and put her in a wheelchair so I could take her for a walk around the surrounding area in the magical sunshine.  It was too hot for the boys so I ended up pushing the three of them! 

When we got back to the hospice Elaine went for the comfy chair whilst the boys crashed out on her bed. 

I left Elaine in the early evening as she was feeling tired.
Once back at base I parked up the car, opened up all the windows in the van to cool it down and set off with the boys for a walk.

Past my favourite view of the Macc canal at Sutton. 

It would have been rude to not stop at the Sutton Hall pub for a pint, some bloke had turned up in his steam traction engine!

I then went for a walk through the village and down to the King Head for another pint.

Once back at the farm I took some pics as the the light was fantastic.

Its been so nice to see the sun, its been weeks!  

It really is a nice place to moor up, I have been here six weeks now!!

There has only been one van here this weekend, now I am back on my own again, just as I like it. 

Finally a big thank you  to my boaty friends, my friends from Oz and general blog readers who donated so much money for my poor little great nephew, my niece writes to me every day thanking me for the very generous donations, thanks to you guys the target was smashed and has nearly doubled.

Whilst I'm in the thanking mode I must  mention the staff from the East Cheshire Hospice  These people go so far beyond the normal standard of care  it is humbling. Nothing but nothing is too much trouble for them, I don't know how they do it day after day, this applies to the paid staff and the volunteers.

I cannot thank these people enough for the love and care they are giving Elaine when she needs it so much.
She is totally happy there and its all thanks to them.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Best Day Of Boating Ever...

Another lazy blog day but this post is worth repeating as it was three years ago this week that we took the mighty Caxton up the Thames from Limehouse basin and through the centre of London.

Without a doubt it was the highlight of our life cruising around the UK canal system.

Elaine wrote most of the post, as she is a much better writer than me, she sums up the day perfectly.

Read it all below...

Doin' the Tidal Thames

Elaine here ...

Well - what an adventure we had yesterday (Sun 14th July)!  We got up our normal early hour, took dogs foralk, found Tescos etc - then hid away from the sun while we prepared our boat for taking it on our trip down the tidal Thames later in the day.  We had to clear out the cratch as everything had suddenly landed in there over the past few days!  We ended up putting the pushbikes on top of the bed (on top of an old sheet) - plus a lot of other stuff and generally clearing a path for clear access to the bow rope and the anchor!  We then padded out the glass and crockery cupboards and taped them closed and put anything else that was loose on shelves down on the floor, securely tucked away!  Paul did his last engine checks ... whatever they were !  That all done we took the dogs down for a walk to see the first lot of boats being locked out at Limehouse ...

NB Chance is the blue boat, waiting to come out ...
NB Chance on their way out 
 We then met our 'Lock Leader' Eric and had a bit of a briefing with him in the Cruising Association beer garden (er, along with a couple of shandies!).   Eric left us to finish our drinks, then we headed back to the boat at about 3 pm - only to be met by Eric again telling us that we had an earlier lock time and we were leaving NOW!  Bloody hell, talk about the jitters - my system suddenly went into overdrive and trying to refocus on all the last minute things we had to do ...

Paul got Eric's spare walkie talkie from him, so we could be in contact during the trip and I went back to the boat with the dogs.  I dug all our trip stuff out and piled it onto the rear deck ... life jackets, binoculars, maps, camera, phone, phone numbers - oh, and the tiller!  I then went down and quickly dosed the animals up with some homoeopathy to try and prevent them having motion sickness and to help with any anxiety (used Aconite and Cocculus for those who are interested!).  I also gave myself a quick dose of the Bach Flowers Rescue Remedy - just to settle me down a bit!  Then I quickly put the dogs life jackets on them and went to the bow to untie us and then we were off ... talk about rush !

I wasn't nervous of the whole trip per se - just, I think more nervous of unknown territories and procedures ... what to be doing with ropes, if the animals would be OK and what to do in case of emergency and lots and lots of 'what ifs'!  I knew we were all in good hands - boats are second nature to Paul ... he used to do weekend work for a couple of big boat brokers, where he would  teach new skippers how to handle and dock their boats on Sydney Harbour; often when we first started 'going out' he would surprise me with a date on a cruise around the Harbour ... he ,used to skipper a very large, flash cruiser for a Aussie multimillionaire ... the chap also used to let him borrow it for his own use! Wot a charmer eh?!

Anyway, I digress ... we set off into the lock at Limehouse and I managed to tie my bow rope to the steel wire.  Because of the length of our boat, however, ie, it was too long to reach the rear wire Paul had to rope to the ladder, with Paul having to feed it.  As they let the lock down the rope got caught on the ladder - very tight - so Paul had to alert them to stop the lock.  They refilled it a little and then lowered it again with no more surprises !

The lock gates opened, I untied my bow rope and secured the cratch covers, shut up the front doors and went to join Paul on the stern, checking on the animals on the way through.  The boat was rocking about 'like Billio'at this point as we entered the tidal Thames.  Paul had to manoeuvre the boat around to 'stem the tide' while we waited for the last locking to eject its last two narrowboats for the day!  The last two were out, we turned and we were off !!

We took a million and one photos but here are just a few, to tell the story!
Here we are heading towards Tower Bridge.  I think I checked in on the animals at this point and they were as 'happy as Larry' ... Sam was upside down, kipping in his chair, Bombo was resting in his bed and the cats were in their usual comatosed states ... either the homoeopathy worked a treat or they are just too cool for school !!!

We continued our journey - lots of Clipper cats passing us but the skippers were very professional and gave us plenty of room ...

We slowed to let this big boat through - then we were all clear to pass through the centre arch ...

Passing the Golden Hind ...

Millennium bridge ...
Taking a pic of them, taking a pic of us !
Here is a pic they took of us (from the above mentioned blog) ... thanks again, Adam and Adrian!
Makes ya feel kinda insignificant !
Past the big wheel and approaching a big clock ...

The 'money' shot ...

... or is this the 'money' shot - Paul happy at realising one of his dreams ...

Along the way we spotted one of these ... I hope they are in better condition than the 'Liverpool ducks' as two of those have sunk recently!

Passing by the 'James Bond Building', MI5 ...

Pretty Bridge ... can't remember which one it was now!

Nice flats ... not the usual canalside  'des res's'  we take pics of !

Battersea power station ... 

Paul's arty shot of it ... he is getting good at this !

When things settled down a bit we got the dogs out the back with us ... straight to sleep!

Spotted these picnicers along the way ...

When all was clear and calm I took over the tiller for a while !

We went past Fulham FC football ground - in the back ground ...

We saw lots of revellers at lovely Riverside pubs ...

We met a Charter boat, pushing huge bow wave but surprisingly we didn't rock much passing him. 

Sammie woke up for a bit ... too hot !!!!!

We easily passed these dinghies coming towards us, sailing downwind ...

- but two boats behind were not so lucky ... Paul explained to me that they 'turned on the racing buoy and were tacking up wind' (? all gobbledeegook to me!).  Anyway, they looked to me like they were circling the boats behind us - creating havoc!  One nearly came a cropper - a dinghy that is, not a narrowboat!!

After that our camera battery gave up - due to overuse, no doubt!  So we didn't get any pics coming into Brentford lock ... that was a funny thing, no sooner were we in there than the gates opened and we were out again!  The next gauging lock up was electric ... needing a BW key to operate it.  It is very easy to operate - once you get the hang of it - but I was really thankful for the help of Eric's wife there ... who had done this lock a million times over!   It is just plain wierd pressing buttons to open and close gates and paddles!!!

We continued our journey up into the Grand Union canal, doing two more locks, until we reached our mooring very close to the Fox pub at Hanwell.  It was pretty late by then, about 8.30 pm, so we quickly got ourselves sorted and rushed up to the pub to try and get some dinner ... but alas, they weren't serving food!  Ah well, we found what remained of our 'convoy' mates ... James and Doug from NB Chance, Neil and Pauline from NB Waterlily and Andrew and Frances from NB Doris Katia (the boat of the St Pancras Crusing Club's Commodore and his wife).  We had a really great night, with lots of beer, lots of laughs and lots of crisps for dinner ... 

We all headed back to our boats at about 11.30 pm ... or so, and that was it!  The end to a brilliant day - the sort of day that you can't really believe you have just had ... in a good way!  The weather yesterday was amazing - soooo hot and even last night we were sitting outside til nearly midnight and it was still warm!

Today, all our boating buddies have continued on our journeys but we are having a 'sit still' day!  We have reassembled the boat and are now what doing what all good boaters do ... sitting in the cratch ... hiding from the sun !  Phew ... it is hot !  What country am I in again?

Paul's Bit......

This is the trip I wanted to do more than anything on our boat, yes you can go on someone else's boat or take a trip on a charter boat, but nothing compares to taking your own boat. As for the boat, I was very surprised how well she handled with very little pitch and roll. The lumpiest part was when we were stemming the tide outside the lock, waiting for the last two boats to come out so we could travel together.
Yes I was apprehensive about the trip, but I knew the boat was in sound condition, Elaine is a cool under pressure second officer, plus we had all the safety gear should something go wrong. I have read previous blogs where people worry about the Thames Clippers zooming around, yes they are very fast but they put out very little wake, plus the skippers are professionals who really don't go out of their way to put the fear of Christ up narrowboaters.

Summing up, brilliant magical trip on a perfect weather day through the heart of the greatest city in the world in a slab sided flat bottomed sardine can!

Before we leave this blog post we just wanted to say a HUGE THANKYOU to Andrew Phasey and St Pancras Cruising Club for making us feel so welcome on their cruise up the tidal Thames.