Saturday, 25 December 2010

Merry Christmas

Bottoms Up!

Mrs Tufted duck is having a lovely christmas day - Mr Tufted duck turned up this morning.

Friday, 24 December 2010

New arrivals to the oasis in the ice

Woke up this morning to the ice creaking and breaking, there was no chance of the noise being a boat, it was 2 swans who had arrived to our little haven for the ducks where we had melted the ice around the boats.  They too were very grateful for a bit of water, they are so ungainly out of it. 

A single female tufted duck also turned up, but she proved a tricky little devil to get a photo of, either diving, or going into turbo drive at the sight of a camera, but eventually I managed it..

(tail end of a tufted duck)

And this is Nemo cat, watching the ducks and swans through the drain holes in the front deck.

I've had my christmas haircut by the decendant of Hilda Baker, who talked about "audience survey maps" and criticised the airports for not having enough "avian fluid for de-icing aircraft".  I would have found it more funny if he stopped stabbing my ears with a comb - it's not as if they're in a different position on my head to everyone else. 
Not long to wait for father christmas now, just been tracking his where abouts on
He's actually in Denmark as I write this, but he's on his way....    I'm off now to start cooking the sprouts and get a hair dryer on the still frozen goose.  Good luck everyone with cooking the christmas dinner!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Trolly dolly dash

We were getting a bit low on diesel & so was the boat infront of us, and the boat infront of him.  It ended up with 3 blokes armed with their trolly dollies - sorry stack trucks - trundling down the towpath laden with empty diesel cans on a mission to load up from the local fuel oil depot.  One hour later, I heard the distinct rumble of the trucks returning - mission accomplished & we've topped up with the red stuff.  Very busy day today, Dave also did a few of water container runs.  After being stuck out in the wilds last winter for 6 weeks stuck in ice, we are very very lucky to be here with all amenities at our disposal.  We've been reading blogs, and there's a couple of boats who have already given up and left their boats.  If it wasn't for this new 2nd stove in the back of the boat, we'd have probably done the same.  We'll do a laundrette run tomorrow.  Log delivery due tomorrow, coal man delivered yesterday.  I just hope Piers Corbyn (a weather forecaster who specialises in astrophysics)  is wrong, he says it is the beginning of the next ice age - according to today's Telegraph.  We'd better start saving up for a set of skis to affix to the bottom of the boat.  The day of the horse towing the boat may over, but it could be the start of a new breed of raindeer........

Which brings me neatly on to the best xmas decoration I've seen this year so far - it's 10ft high and located at the front of the Barge & Bridge pub.

We're still keeping some water available for the ducks, boy were they grateful first thing this morning, they were really thirsty & just sat drinking water as soon as we had broken it up.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

We wont be seeing Gosty Hill this year!

Dave spoke to Iain today on Gosty Hill, he was struggling to break ice and reach Hillmorton.   He was making extremely slow progress and was regretting his decision to leave Braunston as the ice was still extremely thick in places.  Unfortunately he wont be able to reach Atherstone until the new year, and gave us his apologies - it's not his fault!  Poor Iain & Alison, they're losing alot of business.  We then resorted to plan B, as we needed fuel from somewhere, so Dave then trundled off with trolly dolly to buy some diesel in cans.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Christmas Shopping Sorted.

We took the bull by the horns today & went into Nuneaton to do some Christmas shopping.  I wasn't looking forward to it at all, after my Coventry shopping experience, in which I fled empty handed.  There were loads of market stalls up and down the main shopping area, mainly comprising of hat and woolly scarf stalls.  Unfortunately, everyone had a wooly hat and scarf last year for christmas, so I had to bypass them. Then - Lo! what music to my ears!  It was the Pan Pipe Music Man!  Ah, I'd forgotten the joys of city centre shopping.  With the echoing of 'I just called to say I love you' and 'O sole mio' Andean-style-ee and a new found spring in my step, I shopped like it was 4pm on christmas eve.  2 hours and back on the bus.  Job done.  Don't know what all the fuss is about.

Andean Pan Pipe Music man in full flow.

Recycling and Dog Poo (Grumpy old woman)

Some observations for Atherstone Council:  The glass bottle bank near the Atherstone council offices had finally been emptied - after over a week of the 'pods' being stuffed to the gunnels and empty bottles littered around it. So we have managed to clear some space on the front deck of empties (mostly of the red variety), it was getting quite embarrassing, and we had resorted to masking the recycling bag with some bin bags.  There's not alot of room on a boat to keep anything uncessary, but we try and recycle as much as we can.  After storing things for any length of time, then trying to dispose of it responsibly, it's extremely annoying when the recycling  bins aren't emptied regularly - especially outside the council offices.  Rant number one finished ...

And on to dog poo...  After being on the boat a few years now, and visiting many different towns up and down the country,  I think Atherstone has to be the worst I've come across for people not picking up their dog poo.  I'm not just talking about the towpath, which dog owners see as a linear toilet for their pets - even up and down the main street, dollops outside shops, enevitably with people's foot prints in it - disgraceful.  Lord knows there's enough dog poo bins here, but they obviously don't know what they're for.  I know councils are cutting back dramatically, but one thing this town is lacking is a Dog Warden.  A few £50 on-the-spot fines should do the trick.  Word soon gets around, and people then start picking up.  If people refuse to pay, then it goes to court, with a maximum fine of £1000.  A Dog Warden in Atherstone would certainly pay for itself very quickly! I'm running out of dog poo bags, after offering bags to those people who don't seem to carry any poo bags with them when dog walking - and I don't even have a dog.

That's it folks - rant over -  I'm off to clean the bottom of my shoes again.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

To there and back again

We've moved - 50 yards to the water point and back again!  We've been running the engine in gear for a few minutes each day, just to break up the ice around the boat and to give the ducks a chance.  There wasn't any ice under bridge 41, so backing up wasn't that bad till there,  the only problem was the ice the few yards between the bridge and the water point which was still solid, up to 5" in places.  After a few attempts of forward and reverse, and with Dave breaking the ice on the side with the pole, we managed to get in and attach ourselves to the one unfrozen tap.  I immediately jumped in the shower - and stayed there for quite some time.  Water tank now full.  Casettes empty.  Couple of clothes hand washes.  Job done! 

After spending time breaking ice, just to go a few yards, we've decided to stay put until either (a) the sun thaws all the ice, or (b) the sun thaws all the ice.  We were very pleased with our efforts and returned to 'our mooring'.  Ten minutes later, the boat infront of us was on the move, backwards to the water tap.  "Going to fill up with water" he said, "the ice seems to have melted and there's a path to the water point".  "Oh really!"  Obviously our ice crashing wasn't as loud as we thought.  We retired to the Market Tavern as we both smelled so sweet to discuss our next move - or non move. 

Saturday, 11 December 2010

Should we stay or should we go?

Dave has spent most of the day reading blog spots, to find out if anyone has taken the decision to move.  As far as we can tell, the answer to that is NO!  However, Dave Dare of Oxfordshire Narrowboats has been breaking ice today above Lower Heyford to meet Dusty the coal boat coming in the other direction.  So thats one bit of canal that'll be navigable. (Not that we're anywhere near!)

The ice here in Atherstone has thawed around the boats, but it still seems quite thick the further you go away from the town into the country.  We havent seen a boat move in over 2 weeks.  We are toying with the idea of moving to Valley Cruisers to get a bit of diesel, then as far as Sutton Stop in the hope of meeting Gosty Hill sometime next week.  However if we move from here, with all the services we need, we may get frozen in somewhere we don't want to be, and if it's for another fortnight, then that's Christmas scuppered.  We had hoped to get round to Warwick, then back up to Atherstone for christmas, but obviously havent moved for a fortnight, so that's that plan out of the window.  Of course, we could just stay here till Christmas as we know there's more ice on the way, but then we'd fall foul of BW.  Decisions, decisions.....

Dave and his little helper Nemo concentrating on the computer.

I've been doing my "Aunty Sue" duties, and went to Kenilworth for a couple of days to see Iona perform in her school nativity/carol service.  The story of the baby Jesus, 6 carols (without stopping for breath between verses & chorus)  all done & dusted in 45 minutes.  When you rejoin the 'real world' - even for a short time, you realise how hectic the world is out there!  Life at Rachel's is at 100mph.  Work, school, after school activities for the 3 girls, and a labrador to walk.  I don't know how she does it.  I'm now back on the boat, hiding away, all quiet.  Another revelation to me was that I seem to have lost the nack of shopping.  I had a pit stop in Coventry whilst changing buses, and thought I'd get some christmas presents there.  After walking glassy eyed round M & S, BHS, Debenhams, piped christmas musak and endless flashing decorations, there was just too much stuff to chose from, so I panicked and ran back to the bus empty handed.  Good timing on my part, as the Atherstone bus pulled up just as I arrived at the bus stop. Going to have to get a grip and steel myself into shopping mode once more - there just isnt enough time to knit everyone a scarf!

At least I had a couple of nice walks round Abbeyfields & Kenilworth castle while I was there.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Cold cold cold

Thawing nicely - but for how long?

Thought i'd post a couple of photos of the ice, before it all melts:

 Views from above Br41, top of Atherstone flight

 Befur frozen in - we are not alone!

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Still iced in at Atherstone

Well we're still frozen in - day 6 now.  I can think of worse places to be stuck - tho' not sure about the ducks - here they are, going for a walk on the ice.  It's cold & the ice is now quite thick, but there's hardly any snow.

One boat made a break for it last Sunday morning, closely followed by a hire boat from Valley Cruises (a couple of miles further on, between Atherstone and Nuneaton).  We decided not to follow, as we had all the services here at the top of the locks.  So here we are, awaiting the coldest night of the year. We've topped up the water using our container, as luckily the water tap hasn't (yet) frozen.  We had hoped to chase Gosty Hill down the Coventry to get coal & diesel, we don't know where he'll turn up next - assuming they're frozen in too.  We had to buy coal from the garage which is an expensive way of doing it, but got a load of logs from 'a bloke in the pub' which were reasonably priced, and very good burners!  Next problem could be diesel, but we hope to get unlocked from the ice and make it to Valley Cruisers over the weekend - fingers crossed, but we'l find out where Gosty Hill is first.  Dave loves it here - the Market Tavern serves Lady Godiva.