Life, photos but not the universe

Last night.

This morning we had a half hour of torrential rain and continuous thunder and lightning. Quite weird, I’ve never seen that before. B&S in law have gone and there’s just us peacefully preparing for bed while ducks and geese and night birds chirp and quack and squawk around us. I ache all over after cleaning some of the boat and packing some of our stuff. It’s a perfectly gorgeous night. Sleep well – I will – and tomorrow I’ll tell you about our next door moorings and stuff.

I added a photo. I’ve no idea what it looks like – or even when / where it was taken. Hope it’s nice.
Oh, forgot to say, thank you for comments. Whatever I do I seem to have to log in all over against to reply – it’s just too late and everything to start over tonight. Xxx all. I think I’m slightly but not seriously broken and yes it’s much Nicer on top in the sun and the bridge was pretty stunning and Liz, don’t be put off -canal holidays are a little bit of hard earned heaven on earth. I can’t tell you (without heaps of typos ) how absolutely brilliant it is. Especially after a large amount of wine.

June 28, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Canal journal – days 5 – lots..

Well we didn’t have any signal for ages except once, for half an hour out on the bank in the pouring rain.  The rain stopped soon enough but so did the signal.

Actually we’ve had some quite acceptable weather and a couple of extremely nice meals.  And some very nice meals on board too.

This morning I fell off the boat.  Barney used to make a habit of doing this, usually in the foulest weather possible but I’ve never felt the need.  All I can say is before our next canal holiday I’m going to invest in a pair of non-bifocal distance glasses.  And I don’t think I have broken any ribs or my wrist otherwise they’d hurt a lot more.

Never mind, the rest of the crew are managing very well and until tomorrow when we may choose to go down the Wolverhampton 21 it’s all very calm.

And since I’m broken, I’m now sitting comfortably in the warm cabin watching the rain pour down as we go through two locks where we’ve just waited for six boats to go in front.  Oddly enough the sun was out until it was our turn to go through.  I’m not complaining.

Oh we’re going down.  I wonder if I’m about to lose signal.

No, not yet.

I’ll try and post some pics.

The sun coming out

Hawksby Junction – the Greyhound does a fabulous meal.

The river Trent looking innocuous  – and big!

Oops – got to go and hold a rope – this is something even a broken person can do.

See you soon.  Or not soon.

June 24, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Canal diary: day, er, 3?

So after the duck rescue, we approached the river Trent hopefully, only to be met with a red traffic light at the flood lock. It was open though so still hopeful, we headed on to the last lock before the river itself. The gauge on the lock side was red. Still faintly hopeful, three of us set off on foot to explore the route ahead and, the sight of the river, looking huge and fast and er, wet, dashed our hopes considerably.
There followed some reversing (difficult) and a struggle to moor near enough to a pub for Barney to be able to hobble to it. Then Barney discovered a strange little growth on his leg which I immediately identified (small scream) as a tick. We attempted to remove it and didn’t quite succeed. I trotted to the pub to get medical advice* and after lengthy waits and transfers to various emergency numbers was told that since he wasn’t going blue or unconscious we needed to get a taxi to A&E within 4hours.
So we did that at a small charge of £27 and spent a peaceful and relaxing hour or two at Derby Royal and then an uncomfortable 20 minutes (I was uncomfortable in sympathy) having the creature’s head parts removed. Meanwhile, back at the boat, brother and sister in law had found that none of the 3 pubs next to the canal in Shardlow were serving food.
So sister in law made a very nice dinner and we returned, armed with lots of antibiotics and nicely dressed. This journey cost us a mere £14 and seemed both shorter and faster than the earlier one, which caused us to say rude things about the first taxi driver. Just as well a tick bite isn’t a real emergency.
The next day we attempted the river again and this time all the red lights were off. Quite fun hurtling down a flooded river though you don’t get much time to admire the view. But when we got to the first lock before the next river system (the River Soar) we encountered a veritable crowd of boaters who had been trapped between the two rivers for days and advised us on no account to attempt the Soar which was quite un-navigable.
Back we went to Shardlow past all the same locks and floods and the scene of the tick attack. Lots of time to enjoy the scenery going upstream!
When I can next get the iPhone, the net book and the Internet to communicate I shall post some photos of the river but we’re going out in a minute to celebrate sister in law’s birthday (yes, you guessed it- at the pub). Although it’s quite satisfying to know it’s possible, it’s a quite unwieldy process finding somewhere to get it all working at once. The main difficulty being that you can only get signal outside most of the time and outside on a narrow boat is either crowded, uncomfortable or wet and often all three. I’m going back in to get warm and changed. hope you’re having fun.

*no, no, to borrow their phone and see if they had an emergency phone number. I didn’t expect the pub staff to be medical experts.

June 19, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 7 Comments

Narrow boat diary – Day one. (and a bit)

Not counting last night, that is.  Yesterday we mostly arrived, loaded up the boat and travelled to the Plum Pudding at Armitage for dinner.  (of Armitage Shanks fame – yes, the bathroom suites.  Oh alright then the toilets*)  The Plum Pudding began well with a very nice set of starters but wasn’t too good after that.  Average food at somewhat bigger than average prices.

Today, after a dreadful night of overheating, back and hip ache and very little sleep, everything except the weather looked up.  Actually now that’s brightening a bit too.  And I tried a new thing with the iphone and the netbook.  Amazingly it sort of worked.  I can use the iphone as a wifi source and the netbook seems quite happy to connect to it.  However, although it’s very pleasing that I can do this, it undoes itself quite regularly as the signal comes and goes – mostly it goes.

We rescued a family of ducklings which got into a lock with another boat (Brother in Law fished them out with a shrimp net which someone helpfully left on board.)  Perhaps I will be able to upload photos.

Oh yes!  The last duckling – resisting rescue

finally caught and deposited below the lock – setting off to catch up with the rest of the family

And off they all went into the rain.

I managed to get the heating working and discovered that lock winding doesn’t bring back the tennis elbow – mind it was only one paddle and it was a very nicely oiled one. So far so good.  Barney is steering quite happily and has been firmly discouraged from abandoning his crutches  as yesterday he made an incautious step and has been feeling the result ever since.  (He now has a weight bearing plaster but isn’t supposed to use it like a proper leg yet)

Amazingly, the wifi has stayed connected through ages and ages of slow uploading so I will quickly post this before it gives up.

June 16, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Bags and boats. And rain of course.

We’ve been checking the weather forecast somewhat obsessively and it’s not looking good.  Next time we get the opportunity to book weeks on the boat I think we should go for May.  Or March – was it March when we had a couple of weeks of nice weather?  Perhaps late October would be a good bet.

Anyway checking five days at a time is a fairly pointless excercise since we’ll be away for longer than that.  Of course I’ll have the iPhone this time.  On the other hand there’s something about narrowboats and canals which defies signal.  They’re good places to hide, electronically speaking, though by the same token I suppose not much good for terrorists.

Anyway, it’s time to start frantic packing and shopping.  I ought to be good at that by now but I’m already faffing hopelessly all over the place.  It suddenly occurs to me that I will have to pack for Barney too – and carry it all down! Oops.  Small bags will be a good idea.

I’d better go and look for bags.

Some friends of ours have just moved to a place which is only a few miles away and in spite of having scoured the countryside for miles around with the camera, I never knew this road existed.  Lovely!

And on the way there I went past the pond at Burnt Hill

Nothing like a pond in summer (it is summer isn’t it?)

One of the things I have failed to do sensibly in time, is to organise cat feeding.  The neighbours will be away for a part of the time when we are and I trotted up the road to see if next door but eight could do it and their house was suspiciously quiet and padlocked. Well I’m sure someone will do it for us.

As I passed the neighbours in between I noticed that there are eggs for sale outside one of the houses.  It’s a bit bad that I haven’t got to know any one between Two and Seven but perhaps I can buy eggs some time and get to know number 4 that way.  Meanwhile, I gave the cat her chicken (Galinha/Kyckling/Kylling/Kanaa/Huhn/Poulet/kip/Pollo/κοτόπουλο) pouch.  I wonder if she’ll live long enough for me to learn the names of eight different kinds of meat and fish in nine languages.

Got to finish packing and sort out some updates.

Have a lovely time while I’m away.

June 14, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 5 Comments


One of the interesting things about having a temporarily one-legged husband is that there is no point in carefully preserving his socks in pairs since he only uses one at a time.  So when he gets both legs back I wonder how many pairs we’ll have left.  The sock monster must be having a ball.

I, on the other hand have many well ordered pairs.  However most of them are not in use at the moment because I have discovered flight socks.  Well I discovered them a long time ago and considered them a possibly necessary evil in case of awful things happening on aeroplanes.

I have a funny foot which gives me a certain amount of trouble, recently it’s been swelling up at the ankle like a small football and I suddenly remembered the flight socks.  They are very effective at containing the ankle – once I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time wrestling them on.  I can’t imagine how a person with arthritic hands and a stiff back could conceivably get them on.  It’s like trying to get a football into a balloon – not that I’ve ever tried that.  Now that I’ve understood the dynamics of  flight socks and feet I shall definitely avoid any temptation to put footballs in balloons in the future.

Coincidentally, at least I hope so, my other ankle has suddenly developed an intermittant fault – basically it gives way and hurts quite a lot.   I’m going to bother the doctor again but I bet they’ll just say it’s flat feet.  And oh look!  just after I’ve spent an hour hobbling and hopping round the kitchen, they’ve both stopped doing it.  Obviously the answer is to blog more.  And drink more – there’s no doubt that a glass of wine or three eases these things a lot.

On the way home from grandbaby minding yesterday I stopped, during the five minutes of sunshine, on a road which we always make a point of using at this time of year.

I’m very fond of poppies.  They’re a gift.


June 7, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Not a washout

but only because people are so kind and thoughtful.  Oh and the weather was fine on Monday for the dancers which helped.

I can’t remember how many times people took the wheelchair from me to give me a break.  (It must be said, a wheelchair is a big advantage when crowds gather in small areas.  And whenever Barney went to the loo, I was in there like a shot – very comfy indeed.  And the grandchildren loved pushing him : )  Memorably, last night, when we said goodbye to everyone and set off for home, with Barney on crutches to make wheelchair manouvering easier, suddenly we were surrounded by cheerful, merry people, carrying bags and bits of chair, pushing the chair, helping each other and giving lots of advice to all and sundry.  The wheelchair and the bags and the detachable bits of chair and the dog (hang on – dog?  What dog???), the dog basket (???) and very nearly, Barney himself, were lifted into the car and stowed very helpfully and we set off into the night with ears ringing from farewells and general merriment.  The dog (???) immediately unpacked herself and leapt in among the sausages and raincoats – to be fair, she was more interested in getting closer to us than in food but we still had to stop and repack everything to accommodate her.

Oh yes.  The dog.  And lots of sausages and enough eggs to start a chicken farm.  Well, what with one thing and another, the number of campers dwindled over the weekend and yesterday afternoon, Youngest and Mr Youngest had delivered their children to one of the other parents to take part in a different set of  Jubilee celebrations, today.  They then decided to take down all their camping gear and spend the night in a B&B in the village since they had no children to consider but the dog was a bit of a problem so we agreed to take her home with us and hopefully, any minute now, they’ll turn up to take her home with them.

Since there weren’t in fact five thousand to feed and the last two breakfasts had been completely abandoned for lack of mouths, there was a considerable sausage and egg surplus and somehow we seem to have ended up with that too.  (Can’t help thinking that if we’d ignored the dog last night we could have ended up with a a single neat package comprising dog, eggs and sausages to be delivered this morning but I suppose it might have resulted in a disaster of  epic proportions if the dog had eaten too much.)  Oh well, it’ll be omelettes and egg curry this week.

The weekend was a success in spite of rain, regretted absences and the presence of an invited guest who didn’t properly appreciate the honour of being invited* and spent most of the first two days in various states of inebriation and intoxication and gave offence to a number of people who were kind enough to look after him and prevent him from getting beaten up when he was being a complete pain in the village.  The rest of the weekend he was mostly absent – who knows where – he refused several offers to be taken to catch the next train home and certainly spent half of one night, having trashed a borrowed tent, sitting, sulking in the middle of the field in the pouring rain.

So it was all a bit disjointed.  The general consensus was that it just doesn’t work, not having a full complement of campers.   To be fair, the general confusion was compounded by the loss of the key to the shower and wash rooms early in the weekend.

It’s nice to be home though I do have two black and white furry attendants, both regarding me earnestly and both wondering when the canine one’s people will come and take her away.  Oh but I’ve just realised, they won’t be setting off for another hour or so – although most of the tents were taken down yesterday, everyone who is still there will be saying goodbye and chatting in the pub till mid-afternoon.  Possibly I will need to let the dog out again!  Oh oops! the cat has decided to make the most of this opportunity to keep the dog in her place and has settled sneakily into her basket.

I have a lot of washing to do, having poured a good deal of authentic Thai green curry down several clothes during the transportation of it past a crowd of dancers and followers yesterday.  Not their fault – I wasn’t watching what I was doing.

One of the brilliant things about the Bampton weekend is that the dancers and their entourages (there are three teams in the village) are invited to dance in many of the gardens of the older houses; beautiful old Cotswold stone cottages and manor houses with stunning gardens.  Even if I was totally indifferent to Morris dancing (instead of being mildly interested) I’d still follow, just for the chance to see some of these places.

I say they’re invited – I sometimes wonder how this miracle of co-operation from the landowning classes is achieved.  And what happens when a fine old manor house is sold to new people who may not be expecting to have to share their peaceful garden with half the village, and indeed a large number of strangers, once a year.  I wonder if outgoing owners make a proviso in the deeds or just chuckle to themselves, knowing the newcomers are in for a May Surprise.    However it’s done, it seems to work.  At strategic houses with big gardens, the owners stand on their lawns and patios, in front of a table covered with glasses and jugs of refreshments for the Morris dancers and all seems to be cordial and pleasant.  Every year I’m hugely impressed by this.  Very much a privilege.  (For them too, of course : )

Right, washing, tidying and sleep – not necessarily in that order.  I may decide to wake up briefly and look for Venus finishing its (her?) transit across the sun which we may be able to see very early in the morning.  Last chance in this lifetime so maybe worth getting up for.

Good night.  I hope you enjoyed the Jubilee in one way or another.

*Actually I think he did appreciate the honour and stoked himself up, in the only way he knew, to handle it.  It’s always deeply distressing to see a needy young person screwing up a chance to be befriended.  You don’t have to behave in an exemplary manner to make friends in Bampton on Whit weekend, in fact you have to behave quite extraordinarily badly not to go home feeling hugged and warmed.  He’s a poor lost boy.  Dammit.

June 5, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | 5 Comments


So here we are in sunny Bampton. Saturday we watched the shirt race (prams and any kind of clothing but few shirts). There was a false start so half the prams did the course twice and probably drank more beer than was good for them. Oh alright not the prams, the pushers and riders. As the last few prams went past it began to rain and continued to do so all night (yes we were really glad not to be camping).

Sunday it rained steadily and sometimes heavily all day but for some reason the village wasn’t as crowded as usual (cant think why) so there was plenty of room to sit in the pubs and listen to music and chat to old annual friends. Indoors the queen progressed on a vast television to the sound of morris tunes played by massed fiddles, melodions, a piano, two flutes and trombone playing English folk and morris tunes. Very appropriate. Didn’t the poor old lady look frozen in her white dress. I bet everyone wished they’d had the big do last week. Anyway the campers and villagers played the aunt sally match wetly and enthusiastically and as usual the village team won in spite of a splendid shot from Barney poised on one leg and divested of all his rain gear.

Barney and I drove home through torrential rain and huge puddles. We paused to let a young roe deer skid across the road and saw a barn owl flitting through raindrops.

Today we were up bright and early to drive back in time to see the first dance at 8.30. The morris teams will dance all day now until 8 pm around the village but we left them after an hour and had breakfast in the cafe.

I’m finding this a trifle slow with the tiny iPhone screen and not much signal so I ‘ll leave you with Barney and new friend – very new, only a few weeks old. Hey. The sun is out!

Well I don’t know if I’ve done that or not.

June 4, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Off for a jolly weekend in the country

We’ve got a busy weekend ahead.  Normally, we would be camping in Bampton on the bank holiday weekend but probably that’s not such a good idea at present so we’re driving up every day and coming home to bed.  It’ll be the first time for 37 years that we haven’t set up camp on the football field on Friday night and left on Tuesday morning after a weekend of  riotous living and morris dancing.  Really.  Not that we do any dancing;  it’s a requirement for being in the team that you have lived in the village all your life.  However, there is another event during the many that take place during the weekend which is the Aunt Sally match on Sunday afternoon – Village versus Campers.  Campers will be a bit thin on the ground this year for various reasons so Barney may have to do some one-legged throwing.  It’ll be interesting.

28 years ago, Youngest was born on Whit Monday.  We had been to Bampton as usual, though only Barney camped.  So I set off home on the Sunday evening and about an hour after arriving home, realised that he was going to have to come home himself – our third too so no time for hanging around.  I phoned the Eagle pub, where I knew he would be, and the Landlord turned to the assembled crowd and said “Time, Barney!” I could hear the shouts of encouragement and all sorts of bawdiness and stuff.  It all worked out very well and Youngest has had her birthday celebrations on the camp site ever since.  Anyway, what with Queenie doing her thing and the bank holiday being moved forwards a week, I forgot Youngest’s birthday this year.  She has forgiven me and I’m trying to think of something splendid to do for her to make up – it ought to be done at Bampton really but this will be difficult to organise.

Speaking of celebrations, Cold Ash, just down the road has all the bunting up, as expected, but also and puzzlingly, large numbers of effigies at their gates.  The effect, as you drive past, is slightly creepy.  There’s a bedraggled bride, tied to a tree, a crooked man with a sailor’s hat leaning over a gate and assorted other figures dangling and draped along the roadside.  I’m glad I shan’t have to pass that way again till after the weekend is over.

Right.  Got to go and unearth the cooking gear – we will not be cooking breakfast for the five thousand in a tent this year but Youngest has nobly assumed her father’s mantle.  She needs our stuff.  (Damn!  I thought I’d got away with all that hauling of cookers and tables and beanstalks for once)

A last walk in the woods before we set off for Oxfordshire.

Looks a bit dark – could be a wet weekend.

(Update: Is wet)


June 3, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Must be Christmas?*

After Barney’s accident, we had a few hectic days of phoning/writing to/emailing lots of insurance companies.  Partly because various car and house insurances were due around then (note to self: don’t have an accident at this time of year again).  As might be expected, the car and house insurance renewals were done and dusted withing a day or so while the accident claims vanished into the aether/post box without a trace.  Together with the expensive medical certificates.

Time passed, some forms were re-sent as it transpired they hadn’t arrived (so why is it not ok to send photocopies at first but perfectly alright if your first attempt disappears?).  More time passed, Barney became agitated and and querulous and a trenchant email was sent which prompted a brief reply, followed by a slightly longer apology.  More time passed and there was more querulousness.  (Isn’t that a quite delicious word.)

Today’s post looked like a big heap of bills but, to our astonishment, it included a cheque from Barney’s personal accident insurance company.  And to our even greater astonishment, mine was a cheque from the holiday insurance company!

Well isn’t that nice.

In celebration, I tackled two jobs which have been niggling at me for weeks.  One is reading the water meter – this involves completely emptying the cupboard next to the sink (which is a deep, and dark undertaking; stuff needs to be extracted and stacked and wondered at, shelves need to be unhinged and lifted out and then you have to crawl into the cupboard with a torch and lift a tiny hinged flap and read the dusty, spider-webbed numbers which are upside down).  So I did that.

Then I cleaned the hob.  Cleaning the hob has been Barney’s Sunday morning  job for a year or two and this made me very happy.  Since incapacitating himself, some six weeks ago) he hasn’t been able to do it which, to be honest didn’t make me particularly unhappy as I had more interesting things to worry about.  I eyed it occasionally and thought, once the first two weeks had gone by, that it could wait another day or ten without looking a lot worse.  Which was true but it did look pretty bad quite quickly.  So now there’s a nice bright patch of kitchen where once there was a gloomy heap of grease and this is very pleasing.  No photos of that because inevitably, the gleam of the clean hob shows up the contrasting areas all around it and no one wants to see that.

Instead, some cobwebs which are much nicer than those I found above the hob.  Curious place for spiders to settle in I would have thought.

Have a lovely, celebratory weekend.  Enjoy the parties – though none will be a patch on last weekend’s : )

*Actually, I suppose we may have Queenie to thank – everyone frantically sorting our last minute stuff before the holiday.  Even insurance companies?  Hmm.


June 1, 2012 Posted by | Uncategorized | 8 Comments