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Wednesday, February 03, 2016

A bit of help needed

Jaq is making good progress but finds the exercises grueling but appreciates they are the answer to getting fully mobile.
Pain seems to be easing as she finds the need to take less of the Morphine liquid to back up the regular pain meds so that is a sign things are improving. 
The 40 staples closing the incision closed are to be removed Tuesday next so another step up the ladder to recovery.

We have had friends, readers and fellow bloggers, you know who you are, help with things like diesel and gas etc and offers from many others. A big thank you to every one of you.

Now a bit of help for two blog readers who have E-mailed the request below. As Jaq or I have never ventured along the K and A we are at a loss to give any advice to Betsy and Ian so fellow boaters and hirers help is needed.
If you offer advice via comments I can publish them but if you have any lengthy suggestions use my e-mail and I will forward them on. 
Any links to boat companys will make life easier for your fellow readers.

Hello, and hope all are recovering well! We are an American
 couple (husband born in England but moved to US at age 8), and we are 
trying to plan a canal boat holiday for this summer. We have family in 
Winchester, south of London, so we have been looking at the Kennet and 
Avon route, so that we might have a chance to visit them. We are looking
 for about 5 days on the water. 
 
One company has suggested a 
route between Bath and Bradford on Avon, stopping before the Canal Hill 
locks and return, but we had the idea that the east side of the big 
locks would be more scenic. Can you counsel us on this? We are really 
operating blind being that we are so far away and don’t’ have any 
knowledge of the waterways. 
 
Also, can you recommend a canal boat rental company on the Kennet and Avon route?
 
We are so appreciative of any information and advice you can share with us.
 
Thank you,
 
Betsy and Ian E

Friday, January 29, 2016

Captain is back in charge

Jaq is now out of hospital and back on the boat and very happy to be in her own environment. She can move around the boat on one crutch    but standing too long is not going to happen for a while. Exercises are carried out several times a day to get everything back to full working order in the near future.
Ice packs are getting the swelling to decrease a lot.

Jaq sends her thanks for all your good wishes and is sure she will survive my cooking, supervised by her of course.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Post Op.

Jaq has had successful surgery on her knee and by this evening was eating and looking forward to the Physio getting her up tomorrow morning.
Thanks for all your good wishes.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Another NHS visit

Still on the hospital tour of the UK last week saw me as an inpatient of Warwick hospital. Same problem of the Stoma becoming blocked.

 The first 20 months of my life with a Stoma went by with no problems but since last summer I have had four three keeping me in hospital. This last one was four days.
 According to the surgeon keeping an eye on me it is the scar tissue from my two major ops that is causing the problem. He did recommend reversing the Stoma but at the moment other things medical need to be seen too.

 One of which of course is Jaq's knee replacement surgery tomorrow Tuesday. We are moored across from the hospital so getting there at 7am and my visiting couldn't be easier.


I am sure Jaq will have good care in the hospital as my experience was wonderful. From the minute I walked into Accident and Emergency in agony the treatment was excellent and swift. It took them 12 minutes to put in a Cannula and give me Morphine. Only then did reception come for my details. I was told off for not calling an ambulance but when I set off along the towpath from Radford to catch two buses I felt only severe discomfort.
The staff were first class, just can't praise them enough.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Five Mile Prison

With Jaq`s upcoming knee replacement surgery we put in a request to the Canal River Trust to overstay the usual 14 days mooring allowed in the area of the hospital.
There has, as boaters will be aware, been many discussions on canal forums and in any place boaters congregate with the British Waterways act of 1995 being the talking point. Section 17 is the part that causes a lot of rows and in particular the words I have underlined below.

(ii)the applicant for the relevant consent satisfies the Board that the vessel to which the application relates will be used bona fide for navigation throughout the period for which the consent is valid without remaining continuously in any one place for more than 14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances

CRT have issued the following guidelines as to reasonable but none of the reasons are in the act and this is the centre of nearly all discussions with some boaters declaring they(crt) have no legal right to stop people mooring for over 14 days.

 “14 days or such longer period as is reasonable in the circumstances”
Circumstances where it is reasonable to stay in one neighbourhood or locality for longer than 14 days
are where further movement is prevented by causes outside the reasonable control of the boater.
Examples include temporary mechanical breakdown preventing cruising until repairs are complete,
emergency navigation stoppage, impassable ice or serious illness (for which medical evidence may
be required).
Such reasons should be made known immediately to local Trust enforcement staff with a request to
authorise a longer stay at the mooring site or nearby.


Now our way of looking at all this is that our normal lifestyle is to cruise all over the canal/river system but medically this has been a problem for two years now. 
So rather than get involved in legal squabbles with CRT we follow their guidelines and inform them of our need to stay longer than 14 days. Attaching the admission letter to the e mail request just makes their decision both easier and quicker. In the past on one occasion we offered no paperwork and still got overstay permission.

We have in the past had nothing but help from CRT and once again permission has been granted to overstay. 
The three places we have been allowed to overstay are spread over 110 miles- in case anyone thinks we are always in the same area for the overstays. Also our cruising has extended further during the healthy periods.

Our cruising area for the next eight weeks is a five mile stretch between the Saltisford arm at Warwick and Radford Semele,  about two miles east of Leamington Spa. On the map I have marked Red lines along the canal so as not to get confused with the rivers Avon and Leam that run nearby.


 At both ends of our 5 miles the canal is closed for maintenance of locks. Yes that`s right we couldn`t go anywhere so why bother to tell CRT. I suppose we could have stayed two weeks at Radford then two at Leamington etc. you get the picture. 
Problem with that is we need to get water that is only available at one end of the 5 mile prison. Shopping and fuel will have to be purchased from the centre part of our prison and the best moorings amongst fields is at Radford the other end of the prison complex.
So much easier to tell CRT we will be seen within the prison walls on a regular basis.

As enforced confinements go this one is not going to be too bad as we have everything we need in most cases canal side. We have a choice of four food supermarkets canal side and one (Asda) within half a mile of the Radford mooring.

The town centre of Leamington Spa is within half a mile of the canal.

 Two stations Leamington Spa and Warwick for trains to London if I need hospital appointments. 

The GP Jaq has attached herself to is a half mile from the canal and best of all the Hospital for Jaq`s surgery is canal side.

All sounds good so what`s the downside I hear you thinking. The only downer is that there are no diesel supplies. Two yards Kate Boats and Delta Marine do not sell diesel during winter and with the lock maintenance no fuel boat can get through. 

All is not lost though as we have two 20 litre Jerry cans and a 25 litre drum. Everything including the tank was filled about two weeks ago. We have a petrol generator that we can use to eke out our diesel stocks. Three of the supermarkets sell fuel with the closest being Tesco. Our plan is to fill a Jerry can and add it to the main tank each week or so as we pass by to get water or food supplies.

This will keep us with good stocks in case the canal freezes. We have a decent stock of logs having found some in the last few days and our coal stocks on the roof are good. The Saltisford Arm Trust in the canal arm at the extreme end of our 5 miles sells coal and Propane but not diesel. The trust also offers winter moorings with electricity and services but they were fully booked when we tried before Christmas. It seems boaters book a year in advance and I can understand why with it being not part of the main towpath, decent walkways and a lack of mud underfoot.

Let me show you around our prison.

Radford Semele is the rural and preferred part of our five mile stretch. Just two miles east of Leamington Spa. No boats in either direction.
Across the canal is a farmers house and St. Nicholas church. The field is usually the feeding ground for a lot of Pheasant.


Just a quarter mile from the Radford moorings and the same distance through a housing estate/sub division this bridge gives access to our nearest food supermarket Asda. That`s Walmart to our U.S. readers.
Across the towpath just fields leading down to the River Leam.

This is bridge 40 leading up to the old high street and within half a mile of the town centre, with all the usual high street names, of Leamington Spa. We are 1.5 miles from our start at Radford Semele
No sooner having left Leamington central we come to our first canal side food supermarket Morrissons. Adjacent is a Costa coffee handy if that`s your daily fix. A hundred yards to the right is Leamington Spa station.
Not sure who these campers are but they seem settled in and not just passing through. I guess these might be homeless folk who find themselves in luxury accommodation, just above cardboard box level.
Just across from the camp site is the Leamington Shires retail park. In addition to the usual retail outlets we have our second food supermarket, Sainsbury`s. Immediately adjacent to the shops we have an industrial area that has amongst others a Screwfix and Toolstation plus our third food supermarket Aldi. We are 2 miles from Radford Semele.

Within half a mile yet more food in the shape of our fourth supermarket Lidl.


Tesco is our fifth supermarket with 24 hour moorings outside, out of picture to the left, but you will find the same few boats seem to be shopping 24/7. Nice to see those fuel prices for those of you still in the grind of getting to work and school runs. We have now traveled three miles from Radford Semele.

This is the hospital where Jaq will have the surgery. We have seen a boat moored here but with the road so close we prefer further along on the towpath side. There is a footbridge leading over to the hospital and Jaq`s GP is just a half mile from the canal. We have stayed here for a few nights and it has been very quiet. Being close to a children's playground so I guess noise might be higher in the summer months. Warwick rail station is very close to here.



This is the first of the two Cape locks and just out of picture on the right the only water point in our five miles. To be 100% accurate there is another just above the second lock some 400 yards away. The end of our five miles is just a half mile past the locks at the junction of the Saltisford arm. Now venturing this half mile entails four locks -two each way- so not a lot of point. Jaq and I decided after much deliberation that given a calm day we might try to turn the boat below the locks and save ourselves a lot of work. The canal is wider than is normal at the locks along here because of the old single locks (extreme left of picture) that are still in place although not working.
So having pushed the bow out I left things in the capable hands of Jaq to walk the stern along the bank. Very little effort is needed. Two things to remember here. You need a boat no longer than 58 feet and you need a calm day with any wind blowing from the direction of the lock. Using the engine is likely to get you in a lot of trouble so best to walk it. If the bow should ground the boat is moving so slowly it won`t be serious and the maneuver can be easily reversed. This point is four an a quarter miles from Radford and just a quarter mile past the hospital.

So as you can see we have food, retail shopping, DIY, train stations, hospital, fuel and doctors. The only thing we haven`t got is our freedom to cruise more than five miles.



Thursday, January 14, 2016

Stats, Hire Boats and the love of family.

Just look at these stats from the blog. The two top posts of all time are by Jaq, "what every woman wants..." and "the Airhead marine...". How can that many people be that interested in sh toilets.
 Nearly six thousand page views. Ok so we can understand that composting toilets are big talk amongst boaters present and those about to step aboard but Jaq has become quite flushed with so much interest in those two posts.

Now look down the list and in 3rd place the post i did about going to London for my check up and the two needles I had to endure, yuk I do so hate needles, has had 1820 views. 
Now this post like most of the others had average views upon publishing but sometime in the late summer  some four months after I posted it was getting hundreds of views day after day. It did have a video link to bus driver training on a skid patch that came from YouTube but surely that wouldn`t link to the blog.

As to why Dorney Lake  is high on the ratings, Googling it shows nothing related to the blog in the first 6 pages so a mystery there.


Last Sunday five hire boats of the Kate Boats fleet from the Warwick base past us just outside Leamington. I walked up to the lock to use the rubbish/trash bins and because I knew the lock was closing on the Monday and asked them about returning the boats. It seems they will return them to the Stockton base some 8/9 miles along the canal. 
I guess they will be transported by road back to get their cars. Amazing thing about Kate Boats is the number that are out on hire through the winter months. 
Even over Christmas we met a boat heading up the Hatton lock flight intending to have Christmas dinner on board and had seen many Kate boats out during November and December.

Madeline for example is a 47 foot four berth 5 star luxury boat on hire in the peak July/August season for £1635($2350).  It can be hired out of the main season in February for £1,000($1400) LESS than the summer price.
The lowest saving I found on older boats was £700($1050) so I can see the attraction to hire this time of year. Looking at the crews aboard the hire boats I`m  guessing these are second holidays as not one boat had children aboard.


 Back in early December I reported the demise of our Central heating boiler. It is a diesel powered unit that heats the hot water tank and the four radiators spread through the boat. 
The price quoted for a new unit was astronomical and we decided to do without it as it never was in use constantly as the stove was our source of heat and the engine gives us hot water.
My son Kevin turned up one day just before Christmas with the grandchildren and his partner Adele plus a full Eberspacher installation kit. He said he paid a fraction of what i was quoted and as he is in the transport trade with his trucks using the air blowing version I don`t doubt that.
When your son turns up like that and also pays for the installation saying "you have given me enough cash over the years" a dad knows he didn`t waste his time raising that son.
All now recently installed, with lots of spare parts, and working  I guess it will get used first thing in the mornings if the cold below freezing weather appears from the weekend onwards.
Thanks son.




Monday, January 11, 2016

Chinook Weather


"It's true. Somewhere inside us we are all the ages we've ever been. We are the three year old who got bit by the dog. We're the 6 year old our mother lost track of at the mall. We're the 10 year old who was tickled till we wet our pant. We're the 13 year old shy kid with zits. We're the 16 year old no one asked to the prom, and  so on.  We walk around in the bodies of adults until someone presses the right button and summons up one of those kids." ~ Anonymous

     My last blog post detailed my favorite non-boating blogs. This morning I read the latest post from Idlewild, Alaska written by a homesteader named Amy. In it she writes about the word Chinook, offering several different definitions: a helicopter, a dog breed, the proper name of a Pacific Northwest coastal native tribe, and the name of the warm, strong winds that roar down off the Alaskan mountains bringing warm, wet weather, gusts with speeds up to 100 MPH, and near tropical temperatures of 40F in January! She writes,"But to me, the chinook is a winter storm in Alaska. It’s that warm southern wind that blows in and often brings rain and sometimes eventually snow with it. The winds howl at 100 mph or more. Trees blow over. Power lines are knocked out and the roads turn to wet ice rinks. Temperature will go from negative 20 F to 40 above in a matter of hours. I adore windy days because of these chinooks. To me, wind means warmth!"
     Amy's post transported me back to my Alaskan childhood and the feeling of excitement that used to vibrate through my limbs upon waking to find the Chinooks were blowing! Such a contrast to the short, brittle, freezing days when temperatures plummeted to as far as -30 F. Bear in mind that in The Last Frontier children play outside at recess until the weather officially drops below -20F. I plodded off to school in my winter gear minus snow pants. Chinook weather was a good reason to wear a dress and tights! I would anticipate the walk home in the afternoon when the winds had melted the top layer of snow on the roads, forming a mantle of water over the hard packed ice. 
     We would purposely leave our winter boots behind at school, escaping to the street in our shiny, hard bottomed dress shoes which performed like skates on the wet, slick road.  Opening our coats and holding each side out like bat wings, the ice-eating winds pushed us along--children sailing on the winter streets, giggling and laughing, playing with the weather. Of course we would get home and be in trouble; feet soggy, coat soaked, tights wet and grimy from falling, hair a-tangle and cheeks glowing with the pink kiss of the wind, but who cared! The wind, the wind, the BIG Chinooks came to play with us!
     Jump forward in time to 1980 when I was the mother of a toddler, living in a second floor apartment across the parking lot from a truss maker--a local south Anchorage company--that manufactured huge wooden roof trusses. Their yard was protected with 15 foot tall chain link fencing. In the corner of their lot nearest the road was a tall stack of industrial grade plywood sheets three inches thick, eight feet wide and twelve feet long. I remember listening to the wind rattling at the windows, watching the road ice melt into a shining, water-slick surface as the Chinooks gathered strength throughout the day. When it reached 90 plus MPH, the invisible breath of the wind lifted the sheets of plywood one-by-one, an invisible hand shuffling a giant deck of wooden cards, flicking each sheet over the top of the chain link fence with nary a struggle, sending giant wooden panels skittering down the street like toys. 
     Out in the Alaskan wilds Amy writes about taking advantage of the warm wind to split logs in preparation for the colder weather which will surely follow in the wake of the mighty Chinooks. Les and I suffered firewood envy as we drooled over her blog pictures of their wood pile. Thank you Amy for a mighty blast from the past!
Firewood during the Alaskan Chinook - IdlewildAlaska
Copyright 2016, Idlewild, Alaska