Sunday, 18 December 2011

Let it Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow

Thursday 8th December to Sunday 18th December 2011

We had our first snow of the winter on Thursday (15th) and then again (snow – not the 1st snow) today – 18th.
Ice on the water in the marina - a sure sign that winter is here

The snow last Thursday barely touched the ground before it melted and of course we were out there to take photos and enjoy it – after all we don’t see it very often – and now doubt by the end of January we might be fed up with it – but not anywhere near that stage yet.

About as much covering of snow as we were to get
The frozen puddles and the crunching of ice and snow beneath the feet are all strange to us – the sliding down the icy incline is something we have quickly learned to avoid.

1st snow of the winter - we may not be smiling in January
but for now it is still new to us

no hot dogs here - Banjo has taken the changes in his stride
It is particularly enjoyable when we are out walking the dog and the sun is also out and with no wind it actually is quite mild.

We have had very interesting 10 days.

Diane has finished the double glazing and it works a treat – still a little moisture on the cabin side of the windows and she does take them out occasionally to dry between them but nowhere near as much water as we had been experiencing – and all for the bargain price of less than ₤150 compared to an estimated ₤3000 to replace all of the windows.

The pram-hood cover is nearing completion – a final fitting on Wednesday last and all looks very good – hoping that this will be finished and up something early this week. The new cratch cover was marked up ready for the completion and final fitting – again, it should be done this week.

The pram-hood cover nearly there -
Diane and Banjo making themselves at home inside

We were down at The Swan Inn last Monday night for the Karaoke final, but sadly Mike didn’t win it – I think he was handicapped in being the 12th out of 16 to get up on stage and whilst the other 11 were doing their stuff we were a bit too busy sampling the ales; we managed to get home OK (thanks to the pre-booked taxi), but we were a bit the worse for wear after that.

A great night out

I am blaming the massive swaying of the boat as I was getting off onto the pontoon for suddenly finding one foot and the lower leg in the water and being spreadeagled across the wooden pontoon – it had nothing to do with the 12 pints that seemed to vanish down at The Swan. I was quite happy to just sleep there – others decided not.

Tuesday morning was a hoot (not really) and it took until 11 until I was anywhere near ready to be anywhere near capable of being able to start doing any work (or being able to bring the computer screen into focus) – yet I can say that no matter how bad I was from the night before, I still made it into work the next day – about 10 feet to the dinette.

We took the train yesterday into Birmingham to meet up with Debbie and James and the girls and take a look around the German markets in New Street – now into their 21st year it has become a Brum tradition and their were so many people about – despite the weather not being that great – a bit of rain throughout the afternoon.

We can now cross off on the bucket list, going to the Birmingham Womens Institute Christmas Carol Service – and so glad I am that we can.

It does still count as attending if you pop in to see the last 10 minutes – which we did – D&J had to pick up daughters Kat and Rachel who were in the choir – but we attended.

An interesting thing with the train fares – we were going from Stone to New Street with a change at Stafford – apparently with some, the fare is cheaper if you buy it in stages – so we asked for Stone to Stafford and then Stafford to New Street (return naturally) and saved ₤3.80 - very glad that the conductor told us about it – they really are very good on London Midland – even able to give full details of the next train to catch from Stafford.

Being Sunday we are trying a new locality for our traditional Sunday roast – Diane has decided that we need to do one for ourselves.

Tastes as good as it looks - these two didn't get a look in!

I have to say that as usual it was well cooked and very very tasty (wouldn’t say anything else – would I?)

We are now awaiting the next fall of snow and seeing all of the surrounding fields covered in a blanket of white.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

To the Land where you can’t buy a vowel

Monday 14th November to Wednesday 7th December 2011

No travel for these three weeks if you discount the two movements for pump out and for fuel – which seemed a bit like cruising for half a day as we exited from the marina and up the canal to the entrance and back onto the mooring.

Reversing is definitely an art that we have yet to master as on both occasions we (read that as I) made a complete hash of it – the second time it took 5 attempts to get the boat back in properly – at least I didn’t hit any other boats.

Life in the marina is certainly very different to being out on the canal proper and there are vastly different priorities – with power and water on tap there is no need to really have to watch after these things, so life becomes more about the things to do on the boat and the things that are going on around the marina and the town.

Diane has continued with the job of double-glazing the windows – she is a marvel with a doggedness sadly lacking in her other half – there are just two windows left to be done and it is merely waiting for that to come in after being ordered.

She has even taken them out again and improved on the sealing of each. Whilst there is now some condensation on the boat-inside of each window – there is none between the glazing and vastly less than appears on the two remaining windows – and it is much colder than we have had earlier in this task.

On the evening of the 21st we ventured down to The Swan Inn in Stone along with Mike and Stella, (nb Isobel) for an evening of Karaoke – it was Mike who had entered a competition who took the microphone for that part, although Stella was up as well during the non-competition part of the evening – the beer was flowing quite well and we all needed the taxi to get back to the boats.

Diane has finally resolved the doctor problem – now registered and seen a doctor here in Stone – all is going well.

We have also managed to purchase some tractor seats from Old 20 Tractor Sales in Derby. Now we just need to get someone to put them on the back.

Work started on putting on the pram-hood cover that we ordered about 6 weeks ago back in Atherstone – the frame is up – well it was before it was put down again, but it is still fixed onto the boat – the cover is due to come soon.

About 6 weeks ago the Daily Mirror had a promotion running which meant that you could have a night away for £10 with a token – we collected 3 and have had three nights away in SouthWales – a return to the land of the missus.

Ross-on-Wye - I think they sell just about everything - but what about a kitchen sink?

I understand the desire for the Welsh to retain their own language and admire them for that, but by golly it is difficult at the best of times, but when they start abbreviating the place names and some of them do not appear any different in English or Welsh; the markings on the road start wearing away and suddenly you have no idea where you are heading – for Cardiff (or Caerdydd) they abbreviated it to C’Dydd – huh!!! – where am I again.

You have to hand it to the Welsh - they are all about protecting the wild life
My mother-in-law will be in good hands
We visited Ponty markets for her faggots and peas – so much has changed since our first visit together almost 20 years ago; a visit to her grandparents grave and to where she was born – she couldn’t exactly remember the house, but it was narrowed down to two (or three).

We caught the last 20 minutes of the Wales v Australia game – the send off for Shane Williams – he scored a try in the 81st minute – a great way to send off a great player – what is important though is that the Wallabys won.

Sunday was trip into Cardyff, Caerdiff, Cardeydd, Cardiff (that’s the one) and a walk around the city following one of the tourist trails that visitor information invariably set up was as usual informative and showed us a bit more of the city.
It's about time for a new Time Lord (or is that Time Lady)

A visit to Ross-on-Wye on the way there and to Gloucester (and the docks) on the way back completed the trip.

part of Gloucester docks - plenty of craft of all shapes and sizes
We wanted to be back for around 4:30 to pick up Banjo from the kennels – we were trialling them for our US trip in February – and found them to be very good, so another problem solved

It's a mighty big lock down Gloucester way - this leads onto the River Severn
Now back on the boat and the cold weather has started to hit and very happily the boat is quite warm inside during the day even without the heating on – so that is good.

We are expecting it to get even colder and I guess it will not be too long before the snow starts.

Xmas decorations and tree all up and carols on Classic FM – all feels very seasonal.