Saturday, December 18, 2010

We can only look forward

The forecasted snow and ice has returned with a vengeance so we are pleased that our friends made it here when they did. Now all we hope is that we can get home for Christmas having to rely on road and rail transport so many people on the move during uncertainty at this time. It is a white Christmas that we dream about but do not really need.
We can only make plans for next year and hope. Moving about and exploring is at the heart of it. Staying in one place for so long has proved that. We have achieved much of what we set out to do but wish that we could have gone to all those places we like in one year which is of course impossible.
So have an enjoyable holiday on or off your boats with family or friends.
Snowmen and their dogs

This is Gaylord

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Moving events

For the third time we have been able to move the boat back up through the lock for services at Gayton. Both taps and the Elsan in working condition while the warmth lasts. The boat yard has been breaking the ice every day so they can move their boats about for servicing. They provided our diesel, oil and filters for a service later. We know of other boaters elsewhere coping with their lot under different circumstances. Last we heard at Braunston, the canal crossroads, is not so well served because both Elsans were blocked!
Despite eight days of positive temperatures there is still plenty of thick ice about on the canals. But Geoff on Seyella felt confident to make a run for Gailey.

It was a determined effort helped by us opening and closing 4 locks on the way. Boaters at Otherton were thankful for broken ice as now they could move to their services. The local Heron would also be pleased to be able to go fishing again!
The threat of further low temperatures, snow and ice prompted the move.

A thought: Would we all pay a bit more to avoid the cuts? A cut in services may well be harder to cope with.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Beyond the call.....

George hired a car for the weekend and drove us all to Market Drayton to visit No Problem and our friends Sue n Vic. Despite the slightly warmer temperatures it was still very slippery under foot. In the boot of the car, two large water containers which George used to transport water from tap to boat several times to fill the No Problem tank.
It was great to see Sue n Vic again after spending the summer months apart. We all enjoyed bread rolls and homemade soup while discussing future plans, listening to Georges jokes and swapping Christmas cards. Ann had baked a cake so we all had some of that as well. It was an enjoyable meeting of friends separated by many more canal miles than road miles! We came away with a homemade pot of jam. Thanks S n V, was good to see you both during this bleak mid winter. And thanks to George n Carol for driving us there.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Things to do and plans to make

Gailey Lock
There is just a promise that by the weekend it may get warmer if the wind changes. We have decided to do some washing and dry the clothes by the fire. “Anybody short of water can lick it off our windows!” By the end of the day it was all dry. Perhaps later we can back up that lock again for water and diesel. Done the Christmas cards and posted some when Ann and Carol took the bus to Stafford. More to go next time we get out.

Meanwhile the canal remains frozen and the British Waterways men doing this dredging told us there is no chance of moving any time soon. So we stay put and make other plans to go home. The marina we were going is frozen with 4 inches of ice. A taxi can take us to Stafford for the train while George and Carol kindly look after the boat.

Ice paveing

An ice block

Friday, December 03, 2010

Staying put

Just like most of us boaters on the frozen canals the boat is not moving. We did walk down past a few locks and found British Waterways operatives working hard dredging the canal. Somehow they had managed to break up the ice around their boats using the grab bucket. We just had to complement them both on their efforts.
A small stream was still clear of ice and flowing into the canal where it eventually froze. Also where the water is flowing past Gailey lock there is a large stretch of clear water almost getting past our boats.
The cold weather has not stopped us getting out and we walked up the A5 Watling Street to the roundabout where we found ‘Dobbies’. It is one of those Garden Centres with much more. It is a virtual Santa’s Grotto for adults at this time of year. Everything is there to satisfy those of us who want a material Christmas rather than a spiritual one. We have been keeping in touch with our friends not just by reading their blogs but also writing emails an making phone calls.
Carol, George, Ann and I plus two dogs called Molly all walked up the A5 to catch a bus to Penkridge. The market was open but several stalls were missing. Not surprising due to the conditions being sunny but icy under foot. Stafford Gramar School music department were there playing Christmas Carols.
We had arranged to meet Geoff and Margaret on Seyella and they provided homemade soup, mince pies and warming drinks. It was a wonderful gathering of friends during this cold winter. We then elected to walk the 3 miles back to Gailey because we realised we had just missed the bus. It took about an hour boat to boat. Thankfully it was not snowing or too windy. Most of the canal was frozen but with a few clear ponds where all the ducks have gathered.
Next day Tesco managed to find us bringing our orders. The driver and helper were travelling together in the bad conditions as support for each other. Then we packed it all away. Meanwhile George had opened the lock gates and flushed out the slab of ice. It had warmed up during the day so the canal was clear behind us. Both Rock n Roll and Moore 2 Life backed up one by one to get diesel and water. One tap had frozen due to its lack of insulation. Thankfully there is another available for use. We left it dripping slowly so it would not freeze.
Back down at our mooring, just below the lock, the ice reformed as the temperature dropped again. “More porridge for breakfast please.” It cooks well on top of the stove while we get up. Batteries are not so efficient when cold so are not giving up as much energy as normal. We find it best to charge them up twice a day while it remains cold.
Geoff turned up as arranged, George n Carol came and we all had a drink and a natter on M2L in the morning. Then George got the Barbe out. The snow under it quickly melted! When Geoff returned we were soon round on R n R for a lovely meal.