Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Australia Day

One of the marina sheds was decorated by Elly and Diane in flags and bunting to celebrate Australia day. Wine, beer, tea and coffee flowed while the home-baked goods and Vegemite sandwiches on offer went down a treat.

Australia day celebrates the landing of the first British Fleet in Sydney Cove in 1788. We celebrated a day later than the official day as Monday is our boater gathering day and would also be a national holiday in Australia.

Swiped a few of the photos below from Elly as my photos came out crap again.

Only blot on the proceedings is that one of our number was in hospital but we toasted her speedy recovery in true boater style. " Get well soon Elaine"

  Roly and Bev commissioned a special cake for the day complete with 'Skippy' photo. Four Aussies  Diane, Elly, Paul and Ray are here at the cutting ceremony.

Today Tuesday, we have been into Stoke to get more coal, we seem to be using more than usual lately, and then into Stafford to order carpets and 'lino' for the floor. Apparently, you don't call it  'lino' anymore it's 'vinyl flooring', how very posh. When it was lino it was a cheap option, not any more!

Lino (Linoleum) was invented by Frederick Walton in 1864, his first factory was in Staines, my home town, so it will always be lino to me.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

No Monkey Forrest

Met up with boat crews Ray and Diane, Gordon and Dot, Phil and Lynne in the Royal Exchange for a bevvy and a laugh with tea afterwards in Weatherspoons. 

We had a walk around Trentham Monkey Forest  which is a pleasant mile or so around a central lake and gardens with a huge area of secure forest for the apes. We didn't see any monkeys but we did see fairy's and a robin.

Some building's are dilapidated.

But the gardens are well kept.

This was the grand entrance to Trentham Hall and is to be restored to be included in a planned 5 star hotel

Perseus with the head of Medusa by the lake.

Afterwards Sue wanted to do some Asian shopping so we drove to Pak Foods near Stoke where she purchased  Chapati and Gram FLOUURR,  Ghee, Somaq and various herbs and spices. 

On the way home we drove through a hail thunderstorm which quickly turned the roads icy white.

I was the skinny runt of a kid in the hat in yesterdays photo. The glasses  wrong footed some, I didn't need them back then.

Thursday, 23 January 2014

Bognor Regis

Today has been spring like with real warmth in the sun. We cut the slats for the bed extension, we used the boot of the car as a work area. This was done by Sue climbing into the back of the land rover and sitting on each slat in turn to hold them steady while I cut them.

In the evening we dined in the marina bistro with Diane and Ray. Paul and Elaine joined us for pre dinner drinks. Wednesday night is Gourmet pie night, we all chose a different dish from the menu and none of us were disappointed. Not sure if we overstayed our welcome but as we stood to leave the lights and the music went off.

My brother Alan sent me some scanned photos of a family holiday we had in 1964 in a caravan park in Bognor Regis.

Two of the family are missing from the photo, Mum is probably making our tea and eldest brother Alan might be taking the photo. Those of you who know me can have a guess at which child is me. A clue, I'm not in a pretty dress. ..... Answer next blog.

I changed the filter element in the freshwater pipeline to the kitchen tap. It was easy to remove but requires a bit of sawing to get the fittings off the old filter to put on the new one. It was really fiddly to get it all screwed back into position and was beginning to hack me off but just before I got to the point where I might launch the filter element into the canal followed by a few choice words there was a knock on the cabin roof.
Ray and Diane came round with some old tat bearing gifts from Australia. Tim Tams which apparently are an Australian delicacy that has equal status as Beluga caviar or Bollinger champagne. Our other antipodean friends in the marina have been counting down the days with Diane till the TimTams arrived. We are also the proud owners of a wooden trinket pot, keyrings and stubby holder... Thanks so much

Pride of place.

TimTam a sort of upper class Penquin.

So after a nice cuppa with our guests and a slice of the delicious banana bread that Sue had baked yesterday, I calmly got back to the filter and it all slipped into place easily with no drips.

The Tim Tams are very good, they'll all be gone by tonight unless Sue hides them from me.  Sue hides anything chocolate from me and then drip feeds me the odd morsel, she has been known to count out 5 maltesers per evening from a box to make them last a week, thats no good to me, thats not even a mouthful. Apparently this is for my own good as I would eat a whole box of chocolates or packet of biscuits in a single sitting. Appears I'm not the only boater to be treated this way.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Genius Bar

Rob was around early to put a final coat of lacquer on the doors. So to get away from any fumes we left him to it and took ourselves off to the Trafford Centre (that should be far enough ). We had a wander around window shopping and had lunch in KFC.

Our main aim for going was to take Sue's faulty phone into the Apple store. The store has what they call a 'Genius Bar' where employees try to find solutions to your Apple products problem.

Our problem was that the phone kept asking to be connected to itunes for a restore, this we did 4 times before dumping the phone in a drawer 6 months ago.

Any way the queue to see one of the genius crew was 20 deep ....not a good advert for the Apple products .. and we had to book a slot which wasn't for another two hours time. Once our slot arrived & our 'Genius' quickly concurred that the phone was beyond help and swapped it for a new one for a charge of £119 (out of warranty)...ouch.

I'll be sticking with my HTC phone.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Having a Jimmy in Leek

Sunday was a lovely sunny day but very cool, Sue took Diane to the station so she could get a train to Birmingham to meet hubby Ray who has been enduring a 40+ degree heatwave in Melbourne, it must be a different yellow disc to the one in our sky which is only producing 6 degrees.

We had a long muddy puddly meander along the towpath past Stone, there were plenty of joggers with wet socks, a cyclist with wet muddy striped arses and backs. (why don't riders of push bikes have mudguards anymore) and dog walkers with soggy hounds enjoying the morning sun.

In the afternoon we had a trip to Leek which was the home of canal engineer James Brindley, unfortunately, the mill and museum bearing his name were closed.


Leek is situated at the southern edge of the Peak District National Park and so has some dramatic rugged countryside around it to explore, we didn't have our hiking gear with us so we just drove through it.

Monday - There was a sharp frost first thing with a thin sheet of ice on the water followed by fog a little later. I had a walk around the marina to try and take moody pictures of frosty boats through the mist with the new camera.  

Went to fill the water tank but the tap was frozen, a kettle of water freed it up (we take it for granted when at home that there is always water available at the tap). Unloaded three bags of coal that had been residing in the boot of the car into the cratch.
In the afternoon we had a good laugh in the Royal Exchange with Paul, Elaine, Diane, Ray, Roly, Bev, Gorden, Bombo, Sammy and Banjo.

Friday, 17 January 2014


We were woken early this morning to the phone ringing at 08:30. Daughter was on the phone for help with the boiler which would not fire up, this was sorted by an engineer in the afternoon.

Now up, we decided on a trip to Nantwich as the sun was shining. Nantwich town is similar to other towns we have visited in the west midlands in that they have all had a sprinkling of old buildings with black wooden framework and whitewashed walls. Nantwich would of had quite a few more of this type of construction if it hadn't lost 150 houses, inns and other buildings in a fire that burned for 20 days in 1583


After a nice lunch in a cafe we headed of to the Hack Green secret nuclear bunker museum, not so secret these days as it's very well sign posted. We spent a couple of hours viewing all the equipment used in WW2 and the cold war click here.

Have some more photos to put on here but I have run out of my monthly data allowance and it doesn't renew until the 23rd. The free WiFi at the marina is too slow to upload photos.

Friday we were up by 6am which was a bit weird, spent the day doing boaty chores then met up with Roly, Paul, Elaine and Diane at the Titanic pub for an early Plum Porter. Afterwards Sue and I had our tea in Weatherspoons.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Odd Job

Life in the marina continues as usual in a slow relaxed manner, the mellow inducing days are shortened even more with our late rising, 1130am one day last week! I expect this will change as we get nearer to spring and start looking forward to the start of our cruising season.

Tuesday Sue went off to Litchfield with the luncheon girls which left me the boat to myself to get some jobs done on the. First job was to rig a cable for the washing machine so we can bypass the converter.

Second job was to change the fresh water pump, which didn't go according to plan,  forgetting to depressurise the system left me a little soggy, then when installed, the pressure was low and the water pulsing from the tap this I traced to a loose pressure switch on the pump.

Third job was to tidy the wiring under the TV by fitting a 4 plug adapter to the inside cupboard wall. With all this done and filling the water tank and dumping the rubbish Sue was pulling  back into the carpark.

Today we went into Stafford to B&Q for some bits and have a wander around the town which has some impressive buildings. Then it was into Stone to get some bags of coal, a replacement mop for the one we lost of the roof in the high winds and some supplies from Morrisons on the way back to the marina.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Bagels & Potions

Rob has finished the woodwork for us in FL today, the transformation is striking. 

So I thought to myself how hard can this baking lark be, Sue can knock up a fantastic loaf, cake or scone with ease. I like a bagel so I knocked up some dough ball rings (flour,sugar,salt and yeast) boiled them in bicarbonate water for a minute, a bit of egg wash, top with a few seeds and baked them for 25 mins ... Voila.

Our friend Elaine who practices in natural remedies kindly made me up a potion and chest rub for my irritating cough and it is working a treat. I'm feeling much better today and have hardly had to cough.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Ladies Wot Lunch.

Sue went out yesterday with the female halves of a few crews 'wot lunch' to Trentham to do some retail therapy, while I had the boat to myself to slob about in.

Today we have been to Stone to get some jollop for my annoying cough and to B&Q in Stafford for some electrical connections. On the way home Sue snapped some pictures of a bright  rainbow ...well it was bright before she took the picture.

We had a visitor today bearing gifts, Diane had made us a pair of hanging kitchen hand towels edged in crochet. They will come in very handy when I'm checking the engine oil ..thanks Diane ;)

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Lichfield Hoard

Today after filling the water tank we had a car ride into Lichfield to return a blender we bought from Debenhams before Christmas which packed up on its inaugural spin in a bowl of bread crumbs.

While there we decided to have a gander inside the cathedral, what an impressive building, it also has an exhibition of part of the 3,500 items of gold and silver known as the Staffordshire Hoard found in a Lichfield field in 2009. but did I bring my camera, of course not, so I borrowed these from the net

Robs been at the boat today fitting more doors he just needs to come back and do some finishing off work.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Relaxing Monday

Just pottered about today in the boat doing a few chores I didn't even go to the boaters Monday afternoon get together as I've been feeling a little bit under the weather(Lemsip capsules are keeping something at bay). Sue went along  and had a good chin wag with the assembled crews, it appears I missed out on some yummy biscuits and scones.

Diane just out of picture,  Roly, Jim, Joan, Dot and Gordon. 

I've ordered a new water pump as a spare and have asked it to be sent to Stone post office using the 'Poste Resante' service. It's being sent by Interlink courier so I'm not sure the post office will accept a non royal mail package, I will track it and see what happens.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

Week one 2014

What a start to 2014, the last 5 days have seen storms hitting the west and south coasts of the UK, here in Stone things haven't been so bad, we have had a couple of sunny calm days in between the wind and rain.

The Storms have played havoc with the ferry service to IOM, when this happens the shelves in Tesco soon empty. The shelves are replenished straight from the Tesco trailers coming off the ferry. The situation is exacerbated by an army of panic buyers.

We might have to send a food parcel by air to our daughter if the storms persist ;-)

Its Sunday evening now and the rain is back, along with gusty winds.

We have been out in the car for trips to Newcastle under Lyme & Stafford during the week and a shortened Stone farmers market yesterday,  Rob has visited the boat with templates for the new doors in the bedroom and kitchen, he should be back to fit them this week.

Above is an angel made for us by Dot a talented stained glass artist.