Friday, January 30, 2009

I wish I could just.....!

Look out of the window and enjoy the view without a care.  But there is always something else to do.
Ann took Tara the cat to the vet in Rugeley.  Not by bus because there isn’t one but asked Dave on a boat called Thea we knew in the Marina.  Another helpful boater had taken Ann when Molly had to be taken to the vet.  Unfortunately the vet was unable to take a blood sample so we just got some pills to keep Tara going.  She has a thyroid problem. 
We spent a few days helping our friends with their ‘wooding’.  It is all chopped up and stored on their boat No Problem.  There is so much about here because British Waterways are cutting trees down. 
We have been in Great Haywood too long because I have been getting treatment for an infected cist.  “It was a nasty red lump on my back which after a few weeks is much better thanks to the excellent Nurses at the local Medical centre.”  Been going every day for treatment but now have a week off!  At last we can get away after getting Tesco to deliver the groceries.  Not too far because the Nurse wants to see me again.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Great Haywood

The National Trust is cutting down a lot of trees between the railway and the canal.  Apparently many are unstable due to bank erosion.  Their plan is to plant reed beds which will protect the bank from further erosion and provide habitat for nesting birds.

British Waterways are also cutting down trees but on the tow path side.  Many of the local boaters are chopping it up to burn on their fires.  Good for them during this cold winter.  The problem is that it is too ‘green’ to burn.  We think some of it is Elder.  The wood is quite red when first cut. 
The river Trent, not far away, is flowing quite fast but not into its flood plain.  James Brindley was appointed engineer in 1877 and had a ‘flood’ ditch lined with brick or stone built beside the canal.  This would prevent the Trent flooding into the canal, but the ditch has been filled in! 

Here are some views of this small but useful village. 

The Post Office

The Pub

The Shops

No Problem and its crew are heading this way so we walked down to Colwich Lock to help them through.  

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


We got past Tixall Wide and stopped at Milford.  Tim and Lisa of Staffordshire Canopies are here and we asked them to do some modifications on our back cover.  While here we discovered Milford Common the other side of the railway line.  A wooded hill which is looked after by the National Trust and part of Cannock Chase; a popular spot for public with car parks but sadly rubbish all over the place.  “Why don’t they take their rubbish home in their cars?”  Strangely there are no bins for rubbish or dog bins for that matter.

We had been able to hang up our bird feeders on the hedge.  At first there came a selection birds to enjoy the winter feed but then this squirrel came for a snack.

Ann walked back to Tixall Wide to meet Geof and Mags on Seyella who had arrived there; they have been travelling with Sue n Vic on No Problem. 

Next day they stopped by for a drink and a chat.

Friday, January 16, 2009

A certain loss of freedom

We were unable to move out of Great Haywood Marina due to the thick ice and are feeling unhappy because we do not see birds in hedges and cannot hang up the feeders.  All we see are the sides of boats either side.  But we are getting to know a few boaters along out pontoon, like neighbours down the street.  One kind couple has taken Ann and Molly to the vet at Rugeley.  Now Molly is protected against Kennel Cough so we can meet Lucy and Meg later.  We have not seen our friends on No Problem since October last year.  Unable to make short term plans till the ice has gone.

It was cosy in the Marina but there were few places to walk.  The land line saved running the engine and proved cheaper to charge the batteries and we were able to claim diesel use for heating only.  But it was costing about £8 a night to stay in.  One boater made a desperate attempt to escape by breaking up the 2 inch thick ice with his boat pole.  It took him several hours to get away.  We got away a few days later when the ice melted.

We got a free bus ride into Stafford to stock up during a mild sunny day.  Wandering around the concrete jungle was not fun but we eventually found a supermarket near the edge of town.  There were busses taking people here there and everywhere if only we knew where that was.  Managed to get back to our bus stop and consumed a hot sausage roll while waiting for the hourly service.

It was quite strange once we had got moving after the Christmas and New Year break heading up the Staffordshire and Worcestershire canal.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Frozen in the New Year

We have been away from our boat home for a while to celebrate Christmas and see our family.  Went first class by Cross country train with 3 bags, cat and dog.  Problems started with the taxi driver complaining about the cat.  He was not the driver we had called.  Then our train was an hour late, was to stop at Birmingham and cancelled so got on the next one.  Luckily we found seats as our reserved ones were on the cancelled train.  The train we were on then became packed full by passengers from the cancelled train at Birmingham.

Three hours later we arrived at our second home to stay with mum who will be 90 this year.  She still has a car which we can borrow to visit family members elsewhere.  But first to the medical centre for that annual check up, then to our grand children to deliver the all important presents.  Back at mum’s we set about trying to get food organised for that all important meal on Christmas day.  We had already had a Tesco delivery directly to the house.  Now it was off down the road to get the turkey meat and fresh vegetables.  Boxing day was spent with our grand children and playing with their new toys.  Their parents wanted to celebrate the New Year in with friends so we looked after the boys.  Then it was Ben’s birthday party a few days later.

It had got quite cold the day we returned to the boat.  The train was on time and we got the full first class service so by the time we arrived at the boat we were fed and watered.  On the way we saw that the canals and rivers were frozen.  So finding the boat stuck in ice was an expected sight.  We had of course put the boat to sleep before we left.  Everything off and water pumped out of the pipes.  First on with the power, boiler on and fire lit and water pumped back into the pipes.  The engine was started to charge the batteries after their rest.  The solar panels had been left connected so the batteries were in fact full.  Once the fire had got going we took our coat off and made a cup of tea.  Then we filled a hot water bottle for the bed.

It looks like we may well have to stay for a while till it warms up so we purchased some electricity and plugged in the shore line.  The diesel we have will then be used to keep us warm rather than charging batteries. 

The ice had formed a week ago and is quite thick so it will take several warmer days to melt away.  The village of Great Haywood has a farm shop, post office, Spar and Premier shops and a pharmacy.  An hourly bus service can get us to Stafford and back so we could not be better placed for facilities.