Loo views

Loo views

Sunday, 11 March 2018

We are back out!

It has seemed an abnormally long winter. Rain most of the Autumn, snow in December and again in March but now Spring really is making an effort to burst forth and we have sallyed forth!

Our Winter wasn't as bad as for some, as Bonny and I left the boat on 16th December and didnt return until 4th February. We spent a while step-mother visiting and then went to Devon, to my friend's house for Christmas and then  for house and cat sitting duties. So we were luxuriating in bricks and mortar for 50 days.

I worried about my boat, particularly in the cold, and missed her a lot. So I was very happy to return and find her in one piece. She didn't punish me much for abandoning her; just a couple of small leaks, easily sorted. The engine started first time, albeit with a cough and a splutter and my batteries had been well fed by my solar panel. It was perishingly cold in the boat but nothing my trusty woodburner couldn't address. It was good to know that, although I enjoyed house sitting, my boat is still my preferred home, even during the blizzards to follow!

Only a week ago we had snow drifts at Fradley Junction, but in the last few days they have melted away and for the first time there is real warmth in the sun. So, since I was due a marina visit to pump out and diesel up, I decided to make a trip of it. This morning we cruised through the fog to one of our favourite mooring spots just outside Hopwas on the Coventry canal. Bonny particularly loves it here for the wild woodland walks. The view from our mooring is the first, view from my loo photo.

We will see out the forecasted rain tomorrow here and then mooch down to the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal where there is a lovely little marina that sells very reasonably priced diesel. A couple of days at the water park before going back to Hopwas and then back home. I'm only planning to be out for a week but it will shake off the winter cobwebs.

I have my fantastic friends Roger and Shirleyann visiting in Mid April and then Bonny and I will be off cruising till Autumn. My plan at present is to go north, having been south for the last couple of years. I didn't make it all the way up the Macclesfield Canal because of my sorely foot. This year I want to do that and the Peak Forest. Also the Shroppie and Staffs and Worcester.

It has been three months now since the steroid injection and my foot has responded brilliantly. I have to do stretching exercises every day and it tells me if I have lifted anything heavy or walked too far, but other than that, I am virtually pain free and I am so grateful.

The other reason for my route is that I may be looking for a new mooring. The world is finally closing in on Fradley Junction. HS2 is already starting to have an impact, there are plans for houses to be built on the agricultural land near us and on the other side of the canal rumours of gravel extraction to begin this year. I am very grateful for the 9 peaceful years on my current mooring but I couldn't stay to see it ruined. So I will be keeping my eyes open for a new mooring, particularly on my favourite canal, the Shropshire Union. Mind you, it will be hard to beat this as a mooring!

Sunday, 3 December 2017


It is two weeks today since I had the steroid injection in my foot and the result has been nothing short of miraculous! It was a very painful procedure, followed by a frustrating 48 hours of having to sit still with my foot up. The doctor said it would take two weeks or so before it really started to have an effect, but I started to get some relief from the pain within the first week.

Two weeks on and I can walk normally again for the first time since February. I am almost entirely pain free, although my heel will give me a jab if I'm trying to do too much. From today I can resume my stretching exercises. The steroids do not cure the condition, but they stop the inflammation and pain for a period of weeks or months. Meanwhile if I can keep my poor damaged tendon flexible and stretchy, then there is a possibility that the pain will not return.

It is amazing the difference being virtually pain free makes. My mood has lightened and despite the cold dark days of winter,  I feel bouncy and optimistic again. Physically I have regained my energy. I hadn't realised how drained I had become from coping with pain every day.

I am trying not to worry about the future and how long this recovery might last. I am trying very hard just to value today. The worst that can happen is that the inflammation will return once the injection wears off, which means I would have to continue having them to a maximum of three a year. The best is that this one injection, together with the exercises will do the trick. Here's hoping!

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Painful year

Before I have a whinge, I must say that I have been very lucky for 55 of my 56 years. I have had no serious or chronic illnesses. Although I've broken the odd bone they have all mended fine. So I know I am a lot more fortunate than many.

Having said that, I am heartily fed up. As I have mentioned previously in this blog I have suffered from a very sore heel since February this year. I tried everything I could think of to sort it out myself but I failed. So I have been down the GP, referred to hospital route. I have Plantur Fascitis with a heel spur that is poking into my tendon. This Sunday I am going to Burton Hospital to have a steroid injection. They hope that if they stop the constant inflammation it might not come back. We will see.

Whilst waiting I have also had a stinking cold and toothache. I went to the dentist today to get a replacement crown (for £245, thanks NHS) but my tooth disintegrated and the dentist spent nearly half an hour taking out all the bits. So, no crown, instead a denture beckons but unlikely to be done by Christmas (the gaping hole in my jaw has to mend first) and so I may be having a liquidised Christmas lunch. It's 3 hours later now and the injections have worn off and it feels like someone is smashing my jaw repeatedly with a hammer.

I promise I will never take pain free living for granted ever again. Pain shadows everything else. It is hard to appreciate the beautiful sights of autumn like the picture above when my focus is on my sore foot and mouth. It's difficult to keep a sunny mood when the clouds of pain gather every day without fail. But I am likely to be lucky. My mouth will settle down in a while and there is a chance that the heel injection will work and then I will once again experience a pain free day. Let's hope!

Friday, 15 September 2017


I have not written this blog since I finished my cruise back in August and have been told off for it! But being that it is a cruising blog, I don't tend to have much to say when I'm on my mooring.
However I am out on a mini cruise to prepare for Autumn. I have gone to Kings Bromley Marina to fill my boat and diesel cans with fuel, pumped my poo tank out and got a spare gas cylinder.

I usually go up monthly even in the winter, but last year I very nearly hurt myself very badly from slipping on wet leaves and putting one leg down between boat and concrete.  It is also not particularly pleasurable cruising through leaves while they are lying thick on the surface of the canal. I have to constantly stop and reverse in order to empty my weedhatch and it is slow going. Add to that wind and rain and it just turns in to a chore.

So I am experimenting this winter. I am going to see how hard it is to stay put and bring what I need to the boat. I have a manual pump out kit (no, I don't pump out into the cut, I have barrels for the purpose!) I have my diesel cans which hold 40 litres and can be refilled at the marina. And I have enough gas to last till Spring. The coal boat should start coming past the mooring fairly soon but I need to add to my wood store.

When I was working full time, my 2 days cruising to fill and empty were a treat that I would risk injury for. But now I am lucky enough to cruise the season, the thrill has rather worn off!

Talking of the darker seasons, I always try to last till October before I have my first fire of the season. Today though was wet until I moored up and chilly too so I gave in.

All dried out and toasty warm. Non boaters often ask me how I cope with a cold winter on a boat. I tend to tell them that I cope by opening all my windows and by wearing a tea shirt! It is such a small area to heat that once the woodburner is going the problem tends to be getting too hot, rather than too cold!

We are moored in the woods for the night. The picture above shows a flicker of sunshine but that only appeared briefly at around 4pm. Tomorrow we return down the flight and cruise to Alrewas to turn so I am facing the right way on my mooring, so just the 10 locks to do!

Friday, 4 August 2017

What is home?

This is now my view from the loo for the foreseeable future. I have to admit to really enjoying being back on my mooring. As you can see I am half way through reclaiming my hedge. The grass needs another go over, the bushes are entirely out of control and my pots are full of weeds, but I love pottering round my patch of paradise.

I have also been welcomed back by my friends and neighbours. They have stopped for a chat. They have cut my grass. They have lent me petrol in a can as the petrol in my car mysteriously disappeared while I was away. It is a wonderful yet diverse community of people who are brought together by mooring in this location and all do their best to make it a lovely place to live.

Bonny has also really enjoyed reclaiming her territory. She has been peeing around the place so much that she has had to suck up half the canal to keep going! After four months she is loving going on familiar walks once again, but so far has been really good at staying with me while we explore!

But part of me feels a bit guilty about my enjoyment. I say to myself that if I was a 'real' boater, a real explorer, then my boat would be all the home I needed. I wouldn't need a place, a community to return to. If I was a 'real' boater I wouldn't have a mooring at all but would endlessly travel the waterways and call each patch of towpath I tie up to home.

Also although I call it my mooring, I don't own it. I rent the space from CRT who could ask me to move on at any time. So how do we define what home is? Surely it is more than the roof over our heads? Is it where our loved ones are? But then what about those of us who are alone or who are separated from those we love?

Perhaps for me it is the place I feel I most belong. Yes, I belong first and foremost on my boat, but Hunts Lock mooring is the place I come back to. It shelters me in the winter, it allows me to pretend I have a garden and it allows me to belong to a community. When I am here I don't have to worry about moving on every two weeks (or less). I know each night who will be mooring next to me and I know I am safe here.

I admire those hardy souls among the boating community who have cast off their need for a place and travel free of attachments. Perhaps I will do the same one day but I know I am not ready for that yet. Meanwhile I click my heels and say..."There is no place like home."

Tuesday, 1 August 2017


Well, we made it back to our home mooring after nearly four months away.
It is a bit of a jungle but it would have been a lot worse if my wonderful neighbour Nev Wells hadn't cut the grass for me. This is a picture of further up the mooring where it hasn't been cut for only 6 weeks..

But this, thanks to Nev is what mine looks like:

I have found a new and strange growth and wondered if anyone can identify it?

Happy and sad to be back. It's been an incredible adventure and endings are almost always tinged with sadness. But I also feel really good that after such a long cruise I have brought Bonny, the boat and myself back safely.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Lessons learned.

I have been reflecting on my cruise as I approach the end of this particular adventure. I have learned some lessons and thought I would record them here, mostly to remind myself of them when memories of the wisdom gained begins to fade.

1. Don't set targets.
On previous cruises, I decided each day where I wanted to get to, by what time and would record the locks and miles done. The problem with deciding in advance where I would stop was that I would become increasingly anxious as my chosen spot grew closer, in case something would prevent me mooring there. I sometimes spoilt the journeying by worrying about the destination. The recording of times, miles and locks tempted me to become impatient if anybody held me up and occasionally I would take silly risks at locks as I had put myself under a time pressure. Giving up wearing a watch really helped with this one.

2. Be an explorer.
Connected with the point above, I have learnt not to pass by somewhere that I fancied stopping at. I have found unexpectedly beautiful walks and met unexpectedly friendly people when stopping on a whim. Of course you have to have enough time to be able to do this. So I deliberately allowed masses of time to travel a relatively short distance.

3. Embrace the unexpected.
Again linked with the above point, I found things happening on my cruise that threw what plans I had made into dissaray. I was delayed at Newbold for a while because of a stoppage at Hawksbury. It allowed me to rest. I also found a wonderful walk (from behind the Church if you are ever there). I was tempted to fret about the delay but largely managed to relax about it as fretting would not have encouraged CRT to mend the lock gate any quicker!

Even a very sad occurance can have a silver lining. My friends Roger and Shirleyann joined me for a cruise on the Thames. However Shirleyann's mother was taken very seriously ill, forcing Shirleyann to jump ship and fly immediately to Canada. Roger stayed behind and cruised back to Banbury with me so he could take all their stuff off the boat when he had fetched his car. Last year Roger and I had had a falling out during another cruise and I felt that it had coloured our relationship since. This time, with the two of us thrown together without Shirleyann to mediate, meant that we had a chance to mend and deepen our friendship.

4. Let snugglers be.
This is still a work in progress! Snugglers is a term I coined for boaters who find me moored out in the middle of nowhere, miles from anything and decide that what I really want is company and so moor right by me - they snuggle up to me. I don't mind this when there is limited mooring or I am moored at a recognised site. But I found it certainly intrusive and sometimes even an aggressive act to invade what I saw as my personal space when there were plenty of other spots to moor. What this cruise has taught me is that my personal space is my boat and not the outside world. I actually have all the privacy and solitude anyone could ever need. If another boater has the need to moor close by for their own sense of security, then who am I to object?

5. Don't underestimate myself.
I have discovered through cruising that I can achieve more and be more than I ever imagined I could. I can cope physically and emotionally with tough challenges and the only limits were the ones I placed on myself. There was an advert that had the tag line "Don't let your fear stand in the way of your dreams". Well amen to that!

It occurs to me as I write this that these cruising lessons aren't bad ones for life in general!