Friday, 3 March 2017

Nature keeps giving this time of the year

Ok, so it gives high winds and lots of rain but it also gives extra daylight, warmer days, more sunshine and with the sun some lovely sunrises.

The solar panel on the boat 'woke up' mid February as the sun must have hit an angle to the panel that allowed a charge. These last few days I have come back to the boat to find all the electricity magically put back into my batteries I used the evening before.

Nature is giving me the light to walk Leia morning and night in the light. I actually hung up my two head torches this morning  - they have been ever present in my jacket pocket since October.

In another few weeks it will be light enough and hopefully warm enough to get some outside jobs done after work.... and fishing  - hurray !!

Some pictures rather than words ....

Monday, 27 February 2017

Homeless at last....

Well, a plan has to have a start a middle and an end. Last Friday the 24th February  was the turning point - the middle.

We completed on the sale of our home of the last 21 years, 6 months and 26 days. It has not been a home really for the last couple of years as we have let our son and daughter in law live there and moved back in and then I have spent the last 16 months DIY'ing to get it something like to attract the right buyer.

For my record it went on the market in June, we accepted an offer in early October and despite being asked to have it ready by the end of November to move into it took about 5 months to complete from the offer.

There is no doubt in my mind there are still a few areas of business that need a real kick up the backside and the buying and selling of houses is one of them. There is a shocking lack of appropriate timing and associated customer services. The antiquated practices and lack of engagement with modern communications methods and data accessibility do not fit with what is now expected. They deserve to be overridden by technology. We see it in the estate agents side - no %'s anymore, fixed prices and all competing. The 'conveyancing' needs to be shaken up.

Rant over and house gone, it is a big relief not to have the liability of an empty house as well as the costs each month on services hardly used. Plus come the growing season one less large lawn to mow.

So several weeks now until the next but not final part of something discussed many times and planned in some detail over many decades.... more on that later.

The other good news is we have had an offer accepted on a property and exchanged contracts on it. It ticked all but one box and that box can be retrospectively ticked if needed.

For now though a picture of our home of the last 21 years. Lets hope the house looks after its new owners as it did our family and if they are half as happy as we were while there they will  be rich indeed.

Saturday, 11 February 2017

The atmospheric Caldon canal

Last Sunday saw us meet up with our youngest who had flown in to Birmingham airport after a weeks skiing in the alps - nice.  His partner Emma came up and she and Rachel had a girly day shopping while I was Cindafella cleaning the boat, emptying cassettes and fettling the engine.

We all stopped in the Boars head hotel on Saturday and on Sunday went for a walk from Froghall wharf down the (more muddy than we expected) Caldon canal. As we got to our terminus close to the footpath up to the Falcon centre a large American steam loco came past which was a sight to behold. At that point we decided to walk on the Consall forge and get the train back.

It was muddy but still beautiful. 

I have reported the tree down....

When the train passed us going to Cheddleton we could hear its urgent whistle all down the valley - a simple but engaging pleasure for me !

 We timed our arrival at the station well with a five minute wait 

 This is the train arriving with the loco going backwards 

 Leia got a nights stay in a hotel, a train ride as well as a great walk - she does live an interesting life !

Sadly my phone ran out of battery at the station but while watching the engine run around and then couple up the boiler made too much steam and I know where the term  - 'let off steam' comes from, my goodness the noise was literally deafening.

These machines are real living beasts and beautiful to be exposed to, so close as well.

The Caldon canal and the Churnet Valley have some real treasures.

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Electric shock and the poo fairy

Ok, don't worry it was not me who had the shock but I am the poo fairy.

Poor Leia was playing with a bottle she had found and backed onto the electric fence that has been installed on part of one of our favourite walks. Not just any electric shock but one up her backside make her yelp quite loud - she backed onto it and shot forward much quicker !

I clocked someone had left their collected dog turds by the gate to get to the path.... two lots so a regular walker. I did my good deed for the day and became the poo fairy and removed it for them. I only hope they do not really start to believe in the poo fairy as they will never put their dog mess in a bin ever again !

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

It's like living in a cloud

A comment from one of my boaty neighbours this morning( last week now !).

The mist and drizzle that has seemingly been ever present this year is not welcome. I am actually looking forward to some strong winds to blow this weather away..... when not moving a boat the wind is quite nice to sit and listen to. Certainly a nice accompaniment to going to sleep.

With the mist and warmer temps comes mud. Despite best efforts I have to go to work in scruffs as the mud just gets flicked everywhere.

So I don't want snow just some nice crisp clean mornings and the sight of the sun might be useful. I literally cannot remember when I last saw  a clear sunny blue sky at the moorings.

Ok - I wrote this a week ago  and since then we have had some nice crispy mornings, but this morning it was back to mud and mist.

In fact Saturday was a beautiful day am.... what a contrast to Tuesday am.... but if the weather is to be crap, better be crap while I am at work.

Monday was so nice Leia and I went to Common lock for a pre work walk... the pictures say it all

Every day it gets lighter and when the sun is free to roam free from the clouds the mornings frosts and evening sunsets are as much as anyone could want.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Les Biggs

Sadly Les has to quote Maffi 'swung his last windlass in this life' It's always hard to accept someone is no longer with us  but now a loved and cherished memory for all those who he loved and befriended in his life.

My thinking on death is that you move to a memory and live again in everyone's hearts when you are spoken of .... this keeps going until the last one who loved talks no more and you pass to whatever and where ever  - I do not know.

I hope and I am sure Jaq will cruise on and we can raise those memories out on the cut where Les was at his happiest.

Too many are passing on in my life for it not to be a reminder, a strong reminder that dreams are only reality for those brave and strong enough to pursue them.

Last time I meet Les was on the Coventry and I blogged about it here.... 

In memory of that day I have copied the post and the picture so I have the memory on two of my blogs.

Canal Royalty

It's something you hear about when people refer to the old working boatmen and women, and rightly so. They had a hard life and the latter workers stuck at it and in some ways bridged into the next 'life' of the canals. This new life is characterised by the live-a-board, those who take a brave decision to move aboard, yes I think it is brave to step aside from the umbilical cord of bricks and motor and all the connectivity that comes with it. So these people are the new generation and in my opinion true custodians of the waterways, they look after it for me while I am at work ;-)

So today I met canal royalty. I have hailed Les on a couple of occasions when doing our own bit of cruising. I then started to read of a true romance (and I'm a bloke remember) his princess lived thousands of miles away, living a completely different life. I started to wonder if was reading fact or fiction, it was so unlikely but so worthwhile, especially as the two life journeys had been so seemingly difficult. The writing was compelling, the story was absorbing, as soon as a blog entry had been consumed you were left waiting and wanting more update, the next instalment.

Like all fairy tales this one had the very best of endings, the English gent gets his bride and the princess gets to live in her stately home.

So back to today, I visited that stately home and it rivals the best. It's one full of love and laughter. It represents everything that those desiring to live-a-board must aspire to. It was certainly helped by the lovely smell of baking cake when I was invited aboard!

We chatted for a good couple of hours about life, boats, culture plus much much more that will no doubt come to me in reflections as the days pass.

So in my book this pair are canal royalty as they represent so many canal users but they are at the top of the tree in their story, their use of the canals and what came over most was the love of the life they lead. Better not shout about it too loud otherwise there would be a massive rush to buy boats.... and I know how hard that can be !

I came away inspired, certainly by the lifestyle but I think more so by the obvious love and affection between the pair, it was nice to see the last chapter of the book in real life. Long may they cruise the waterways.

Monday, 16 January 2017

About as low as it gets

Dark nights are one thing, dark wet drizzly nights are pushing the test to a new low. Offside moorings, a good trek from the car in the pitch black are joy on a crisp moonlit night, or a warm summers evening . But a crappy January with towpaths muddy and dangerously slippy have no appeal.

All with the catalyst of events well outside of my control deliver a less than ideal experience. Thats the bad stuff.

Down south this weekend we saw a truly beautiful thing.  First off we are privileged to be able to carry out a semi remote south Downs walk. We have good fitness. We inadvertently went off the track and met up with a beautiful white stag.  Ghosting through the woods like some form of etherial being. I'm pleased we have no photo as my memory will last longer and it so much more detailed.

As if by magic it and the heard of red deer melted off into the woodland  - it felt like a dream a sweet dream you wish to remember for a long long time.

So we have to seek out the small beautiful things especially at this testing time as the year turns and the sun starts to ever gradually warm us all again.