Thursday, 30 January 2014

Fraud, Penkridge and Emergency Dentist

Mum and Tony came to visit us on Saturday, and had a good look around Penkridge Market.  Fantastic.  I'd forgotten how great these big markets were - and how cheap.  Zara jumper (with tags) £3 - thank you.  Per Una cardi £8 - we'll have one of those as well.  Cup cakes to die for.  Bird seed restocked, and a load of nick nacks from the, well, the nick nack stall.  Mum was also laden with goodies.  We then went to The Littleton Arms for lunch, a pub which had somehow passed us by on previous visits to Penkridge.  However, the guest beer was Batham's, Dave's favourite, so I can't see us leaving here any time soon, or until the barrel runs out at least!
Mum had also brought my mail.  Nothing of great importance - apart from one letter from HSBC referring to the fraudulent credit card transaction just before Christmas.  I needed to sign and return a form to declare that the £2512.00 transaction to Virgin Atlantic really wasn't anything to do with me!  I immediately signed the form and put it back in the post to them.  NO!!! IT WASN'T ME!!  I would have thought that this particular fraudulent transaction would be easy to catch the culprits - who's sitting in the seats booked on the Virgin Atlantic flight? 
Who ever it is - IT WAS THEM WHO DID IT!
The worst lock for a single handed boater - no bollards - or anything else to tie a rope to
(Filance Lock, Penkridge)

Does my bum look big in this? 
 I finally got my new fancy pants trousers, which I'd ordered on line, to be delivered to and collected by me from Penkridge Post Office.  Great, the system worked!  My last pair had literally fallen apart. 

Unfortunately this is not a water vole!  It's a great big fat rat. They - there's definitely more than one of them - live in the hedgerow where we've moored, so we won't be putting out any bird feeders!  It seems that a dog walker comes along each morning and throws a load of bread on the towpath, which the rats collect and take home with them to their den in the hedge, in broad daylight I might add.  Granted, there are loads of sparrows here chirping away, but there's no bread left for them once the rats have had it.  A fact which escapes the bread throwing dog walker.

Whilst having lunch with Mum & Tony on Saturday, I was aware that the side of my face had begun to throb.  Now I've had this problem before, which resulted in three days of extreme pain due to something wrong with a tooth.  When it first happened in July, I visited my dentist to find out what was causing the pain.  Nothing wrong with the tooth he says, by this time I couldn't distinguish whether the pain was from my tooth or my ear, so I then went to the doctor, thinking that it must be my ear.  Doctor said there was nothing wrong with my ear, but to come back in a few days if the pain persisted.  Thankfully the pain eventually went. 
It happened again in November, but the pain stopped after a few days so didn't go to dentist - or doctor.  Then again in December just before Christmas.  Again, I went to the dentist, who said he couldn't see anything wrong with the tooth, and took and x-ray to compare with one previously taken.  He did say however, that it was probably something under the tooth and to make an appointment for either extraction, or root canal work (i.e. one visit or three visits).  Then came Christmas and we were away on the boat.  The problem tooth was forgotten about - until Saturday!  Sunday morning I woke up with a very swollen face and in extreme pain.  By Monday morning I couldn't speak and the side of my face was like a football. I couldn't find an NHS dentist willing to see me, so I opted for a private dentist here in Penkridge.  By this time I was desperate.  I managed to get an appointment Monday afternoon.  The dentist took one look at my football face, said there was nothing he could - or would - do until the swelling had gone down.  I had a severe infection and prescribed a course of strong anti biotics and penicillin. 5 mins = £70 kerching!!!   So that's no alcohol for me for at least a week. 
So we're now hanging around Penkridge until I can get back to the dentist for the tooth to be extracted hopefully next Monday.  I do hope he can just get rid of this troublesome tooth - we have tickets for a Transatlantic Sessions fiddley-eye-diddley-eye concert in Birmingham next Thursday night!
Oh, I almost forgot to mention - NB Seyella came past yesterday, just had time to shout hello!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Flooded fields to Stafford

We slowly retraced our route from Stone to Great Haywood, then took a right turn at the junction from the Trent and Mersey canal and onto the Staffs & Worcester canal.  We even managed to have a few days without rain last week.  We try to avoid moving in the rain - so it's taken us about a week to do a few miles!  Boy, am I fed up of the mud.  I know, I know, it could be 10 degrees below, and we could be frozen in (as in previous years), but every time you step off the boat, you're in mud.  I'm just so glad we've now got the cratch & cover on the front, at least we can leave all the muddy boots & wellies outside.

Lovely sculptures of hares on the side of March Hare house in Stone (where else would they be).
I managed to get a hair appointment in Stone with the only hairdresser I've ever seen with red and black bad hair, 1980's Paul Weller punk wig style-ee (If you put this into Google search, you'll see exactly what I mean).  I should have taken this as a bit of a clue as to what kind of haircut I would get - never mind, I have a selection of hats, and apparently 'tis the season for bonnets.
So washing all done in the laundrette, we moved out of Stone.

Once out of Stone, we moored near Staffordshire's answer to South Fork.
Saw this old buggy in the same field as the gypsy caravan. 
Needs a bit of TLC though.
Bit of debris in the water ....

This boat won't be moving any time soon.

Spotted near Stafford.... NB James Howard, ex Maestermyn Hire Boat from up our way.

Ah, Cholet, must be at Radford Bank then.  I said last year he's going to have to get a bigger boat with all the "stuff" he collects.  He's got an extension instead, in the shape of a little row boat.

We moored near the Aqueduct over the River Sow, in the hope of seeing some unusual birds, like goosanders on the river, we thought it was worth not having any TV for the night, in the hope of some nice bird noises. But all was quiet - very quiet - without the TV.
When we moved off next day, and round the corner we saw this lot...

Hundreds of lapwings.  Mark that down in the Nicholsons for next time!

Flooded fields around Stafford with loads of birdlife, just too far away for a decent photo.

The house at Deptmore lock has been completely renovated and a new access road put in since it was sold 2(?) years ago.  The lovely lady who used to live here had no mains electricity and no road access.  She had a generator for her power, which she said she didn't need much of, as she didn't have a TV, just a radio to keep her company in the evenings.  She had a little boat moored below the lock with an outboard motor, which she used to take herself to Radford Road Bridge then catch a bus into Stafford once a week for her shopping.  We had asked previously what happened to the lady, but were told she went into sheltered accommodation.    Time moves on I suppose.
When ever we pass through here, I remember an incident a few years ago, we had moored up top side of the lock.  Now anyone who knows this location will know it's in the middle of nowhere. No cars, no noise, no nothing!  We were sat watching TV (features a lot in this blog for some reason), when there was a knock on the window of the boat.  It frightened the life out of us, as it was miles from civilisation (apart from Deptmore cottage).  Turns out it was the 'lady of the house' who wanted our help.  A dog had fallen into the lock (which was thankfully full), and she'd been trying to fish him out but couldn't, and came to the boat for help as she'd seen our light on.  We eventually pulled the black lab out of the black lock in the dark.  The dog just ran off towards Stafford.  No harm done, and a happy ending - for the dog at least!  Glad we could help.
Anyway, onwards to Stafford, and a meet up with Mum.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

On no you're not!

Signage on a boat in Stone ....
Registered at Aqueduct?!?  I don't think so!

Monday, 20 January 2014

Rugeley to Great Haywood

We stopped for shopping in Rugeley, intending to go to Morrisons, however this huge new Tesco appeared out of nowhere!  Who put that there?  We didn't even notice any building work going on the last time we came through here.  It must have been built pretty darned quick!

Trolly dolly loaded, we contined on our way, dodging the showers.
This is Wolsely Bridge - with only one moored boat! 
Perhaps they are sorting out the overstayers around here after all.

The recent rain certainly doesn't help the area around Colwich lock, it's thick mud at the best of times.  This is definitely a welly job.

Ooo err.... there's another storm a comin'. 

Shugborough Hall.  Very dark skies behind it. 
We managed to get tied up just before the heavens opened.

The beautiful Essex bridge, leading to Shugborough Hall, over the River Trent, at the junction of the River Sow.  This is the longest remaining packhorse bridge in England.

River is high - but we've seen it much higher. It's still got a few feet to go before it bursts its banks.

Great Haywood junction.  We stopped for services here at the Anglo Welsh base. 
I'm glad we moored below Haywood lock the night before, as there wasn't much room at the junction.  There was only 4 boats, but they all moored with 30ft between them.  Why do that on popular 48 hour moorings?  Just bunch up a bit & let someone else in.  Fair enough if you're out in the sticks, but less of the "I'm alright Jack" attitude would be nice.

Nice to see that the ugly scaffolding has been replaced at Hoo Mill Lock (and at Colwich)

Very tidy and smart - compared to how it looked for a couple of years.
I'm glad that hand barriers have been erected, as I would have fallen off the side if they weren't there.

Only one gypsy caravan near Weston - don't know where the others have gone.  Off being gypsies perhaps. 

The house at Bridge 86 is for sale - a snip at  £349,950 (CLICK)

We'll stay in Stone for a few days and get some laundry done - as well as meet up with some old friends. 

Almost forgot - the post office in Great Haywood has closed and moved into the Spar. I asked in PO if I could get some mail sent post restant, but they were due to close that day- so I was told to contact the Spar to see if they would be continuing the service. Unfortunately they had no idea what I was talking about.  After explaining that it wasnt a post restaurant I wanted, I was told to fill out the royal mail forms - but there isnt such a form. So the answer was no. I'll just have to get it sent somewhere else.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Enjoying the Wildlife

We're enjoying the wildlife this part of the world has to offer over the last couple of weeks.  Although half the time, we haven't got the camera to hand, and then they come out blurred!  Ah well, we'll persevere........

This is also a buzzard, shame I couldn't get a more focused shot, he's really white - but it is a buzzard!

You could spot him a mile a way, sitting in the trees.

See anything?  Right in the middle of the picture there's a fox walking under the fence line, and right along the railway line at Tamhorn.

This is him carrying on walking as if nothing is happening above him - there's an 11 coach Virgin train thundering past him, just above his head.

And on he goes, undaunted.

I must find out where this bloke sells his pork - the new pig farm just outside Rugeley.

Goosanders in the flooded Trent.

That's not a swan in the distance - its an egret - again, on the Trent

We've seen more kingfishers this week than I think we saw in the whole of last year.

This one didn't move an inch as the boat passed him by.

No, thank you!
A hundred or so geese - but they're not canadas.


Red wings gathering, just as the sun was going down.

Female chaffinch.  I think we're going to have to get a better camera with all these wildlife pics.