Sunday 30 June 2019

A good report

On Friday evening we reported back to BMI Priory for David’s post operative appointment with Imran Masood. Imran was pleased with David’s eye and also pleased with the fact that Pakistan beat NZ at cricket a couple of days before. We told him it was our gift to him. And the less said about yesterday’s game against Australia, the better, OK?

David’s IOP (intraocular pressure) was 12 in both eyes and his acuity is 6/9. Apparently that is pretty good, especially for a man who has previously been partially sighted. So now I am pressuring him to start doing some of the steering. Boat, but not car or motorhome … The former is safer because it is made of steel and travels at 3mph. The latter two are less structurally robust, and if David was at the wheel, would probably do the same speed as the boat. And, as I think I may have mentioned, there is a tetchy relationship between me and patience.
Superhero, or safety man? They do the job of protecting him and that is all that matters.

We are now on the move again – the weather has cleared up, Salvi and Ann are here, and we are boating! Having two more steerers on board is great, as well as it being great fun playing cards (5 Crowns and Up and Down the River), talking c*ap, and doing lots of laughing.
They look grumpy, but I promise they were happy really - they both were very pleased dinner contained vegetables ... Cassoulet, coleslaw and homemade bread. I will put photos of them smiling in the next post, so you believe me that they are not being held here against their will ...

Declared the most comfortable bed for ages - those duvalay topper pads are good value!

Salvi and Ann have been doing their big adventure over the last few months, travelling up into the Arctic Circle, doing a river cruise from Vienna to Nuremburg, going with other friends (they have other friends??) to Greece and Puglia in Italy. They have spent time in Italy on their own, and then came over to Truro to spend time with Ann’s cousin. Then, oh fabulouso, they came to stay with us.

They have been with us three nights now, and so far the maxim about fish and friends doesn’t apply. Of course, that could all change …

We had an afternoon and a night down at the top of the Tardebigge flight (same place we stopped with Bernice and Roy), and we all walked a fair way down the flight – Ann and I went further, and did a bit of cleaning up after 4 teenagers who had clearly gone to sit by the reservoir to drink beer (Stella) and smoke. We brought their cans back to the boat for disposal, damn their eyes!
The top lock and that is Waka Huia  on the right. A lovely spot. Bernice and Roy will notice that this time, we winded before mooring up ...

Salvi is an engineer and was interested in lock operations.

This is the old pumping station building that is now a very lovely home. Those are three kiwi tourists looking admiringly.

This is the manky scum that gathered at the head of a couple of the locks - that duck had just swum through it and back out. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
Is it just me, or does that wall slope outwards at the top? Is it a design feature or a flaw or age and settling?

Regardless, it is a very attractive church. I it doesn't have a cross on top of the spire - it's a wind vane. So that's OK then!

Hard to believe how close to a conurbation we were. The canal is down by the first line of trees.
Salvi on drinks duty.

In the morning we filled with water (Salvi and me), emptied the elsan (me), emptied the rubbish (Ann) and then Salvi steered us back to Alvechurch for a pump out – well, we thought it might be wise … Then on in to Edgbaston with Salvi on the tiller.

See, Mick, Salvi does the rope trick too ...

We threw Ann and Salvi off before Kings Norton Junction so they could get a cab to a cemetery in Birmingham to see the site where Ann’s baby brother had been buried 65 years before, before her mum and dad emigrated to NZ. Ann and David had done the investigation on the net and Ann had made the call to the sexton – the cemetery closed at 4.30, so we had to make sure they would have plenty of time.
Ann and David doing research and phone calls while Salvi and I were in deck.
David and I continued in to Edgbaston. Much faffing ensued at the moorings while we tried to find the best space.  But what a lovely place to moor – so peaceful and friendly with walkers and cyclists and other boaters coming past. It was very hard to realise that we were within a mile or so of the centre of Birmingham. And what was interesting (to me, anyway) was that I have absolutely no memory of the details of the canal from our trip in their in the company of Laughing John a couple of years ago. Apart perhaps from the rubbish in the cut. That was familiar.

We walked to BMI Priory – a 20 minute walk away through the most beautiful suburb and the university. Edgbaston is the Parnell or Remuera, the Khandallah of Birmingham.

The appointment with Imran was very heartening, and David is clearly seeing much better. So the next appointment in a fortnight will be with Imran and Pete, and we think it’ll be the last one required if all continues as it has been.

Monday 24 June 2019

Back onboard

So now the issue is how to stop a certain person doing stuff...

We got back about 10am, and honestly, he has hardly sat down and blobbed since.

He is looking very well, is very happy about being able to see clearly, and is delighting in reading things - unprompted, unasked and unnecessarily!

My role as emailer is diminishing, but not totally, as I am quicker at composing the requisite messages.

My main task now is administering eyedrops - 10 (6 and 4) each day in the right eye and 4 in the left. And considering a certain person wants a gap of 4 minutes between the different drops I think my next few weeks are going to be focused on "Head back, look up!" 14 times a day ...

This afternoon, I have done my first online Waitrose shop for delivery - I am hopeful that everything I think I selected is included and that when it arrives there is a limited amount of packaging. I also hope that I will be able to alter the delivery address, if we ever require the service again.

Bernice and Roy left this morning, so it is all quiet. Not to worry! Simultaneous nana naps are about to commence. Perhaps while napping, my unconscious will be able to decide what to make for dinner!

Sunday 23 June 2019

For the absence of doubt and suspension of suspense - the operation was successful! Yay!!!

Sunday 11am to 12.20pm

It is a funny time at the moment – I am sitting next to David’s bed in the Paediatrics section of the ophthalmic ward, and we are waiting for him to be taken off to surgery. There is a delay because there is a woman still in surgery with another surgeon.
David has the SpongeBob Squarepants cubicle
Under his dressing gown he is wearing the most elegant hospital gown - the kind that is wraparound and open at the back ... Stockings for prevention of DVT. Note the cheerful curtains.
Imran Masood came and clearly identified which eye he's going to operate on.

Neither of us are worried, but still it is a strange feeling.

We have been holed up in Alvechurch Marina for the last 10 or so days – we could have been out boating but the weather has been pants, so we have happily stayed put.

But all changed when the weather cleared up and some fellow bloggers and NZ motorhomers came to stay on the boat with us. We had never met Bernice and Roy but almost immediately felt like we had known them for ages.

They are over here visiting their daughter who has just given birth to a wee (not so wee, actually) boy, and are doing a wander around the country, leaving their daughter and son in law some space to get used to parenthood.

So when they arrived, we decided that we would do a bit of boating. We are not far (about an hour) from the top of the Tardebigge flight of locks (about 30+) so we decided to go only to the top where we can turn.

It was so nice to be out on the water again! Roy took the tiller, but didn’t want to do the tunnels.

And as we tootled along, some walkers looked at us in amazement – yay, it was Jennie and Chris from Tentatrice out walking with Monty. Arrangements were made for them to join us on the boat once we were moored and they had finished their walk.

Tea, wine and nibbles onboard with the boat slightly tilted to port with all 6 sitting at the dinette and Monty underneath the table – clearly he was the tipping point, because surely none of us are in any way portly…

At the top of the locks, I think
Roy and David probably discussing lock operation
Bernice said she gave up trying to count up how many ducklings this mum was protecting.
An impressive spire - so beautifully designed and built. Shame about the cross on top ...
I remember seeing this building when we were coming up this set of locks last time (well, David and Olek were doing them, with Mick, Julia and John ahead of us). But I cannot remember what it is.

While David took Bernice and Roy for a walk down a few of the locks (Bernice armed with my phone for photos) I got dinner ready. Pork and mozzarella meatballs in a rich garlicy tomato sauce (Waitrose) with the addition of sliced chorizo, red pepper and mushrooms (Marilyn), carrot and beetroot salad (Marilyn), scalloped potatoes (Marilyn), and a green salad (Marilyn). All very yummy, but did you know that scalloped potatoes take AGES to cook?

While we waited, we introduced Bernice and Roy to 5 Crowns. Bernice won, David was the loser. Bernice and I were very happy!
Turn the computer sideways to see this - I did try to alter the photo, but didn't succeed, obviously ... Anyway, for clarification purposes and for absence of doubt: Bernice won, David lost.
 In the morning, we winded and then Bernice was in charge of steering. She declared she didn’t want to do the tunnels. So I mentioned that Roy had failed tunnels the day before. Expected and actual result: Bernice was going to do tunnels. And she did them very well indeed.
David was retrieving the mooring pins I'd handed to Bernice ...
Bernice in the first few minutes. Remember this for a photo that follows ...

We are close to Birmingham, the UK's 2nd largest city, but you wouldn't know it!
Now doesn't she look relaxed steering in the dark?
Haven't seen that much blue sky for days!
See, totally relaxed now.
I did suggest to her that we could boat an additional hour up to Hopwood, have lunch in a pub and then return. But she was keen to play 5 Crowns again, so it was straight back to the mooring, lunch at the Weighbridge (Bernice and Roy’s shout), and then back on board for cards. David won.
Back at the mooring, and this boat has been beside us all the time - I must be getting very dimwitted, but it was only just before I took the photo that I saw the pun - DOH!!
In the pub ...
The lager shandy brigade
My lunch - a Med Veg Platter. Those roasted capsicums in balsamic vinegar have got to be reproduced in the boat!
Bernice and Roy had one each of these. It is the Luxury Platter - it was huge too. A good part of one of them got taken back to the boat to be their dinner while we were in BMI Priory at David's Friday evening appointment.
They had been going to leave that day, but it occurred to me that as we were going to be hoteling for Saturday and Sunday nights, to be close to the hospital, they may as well use the boat as a base.

That meant more 5 Crowns on Friday night, and yesterday before lunch and after we had packed for the hospital trip. I sat in the cratch watching David pack while filling the water tank. When I tell you it is not a speedy tap and the tank was only half empty, and when I tell you that David was STILL packing when I had filled the tank, put away the hose, and circumnavigated the world, you will understand how tedious it was to watch, and how hard it was to keep my hands off the process.

So yesterday, Roy won. Bernice sent us a photo later – she had won again, just playing Roy. She has already ordered two sets of the game and had them delivered to their daughter’s house. I sense this may become the official NZMCA game ...

And after our arrival at the hotel, we went for a walk down to the canal. And we found that there is a good place to moor within a mile or so of BMI Priory where David will probably have his post-operative appointment on Friday. It’s a lovely quiet and open space.

So when Salvi and Ann arrive, we will move there for a night or two, before heading down to Stratford on Avon or Warwick – not properly decided yet.

David walked off with Winifred the nurse about 15 minutes ago. Now I am just waiting for him to come back.

1.11pm: He's back, still sleepy, says his eye is a bit sore, has had a couple of sips of water. He has to sleep off the anaesthetic and then they will give him something to eat and drink.

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Quitting while I am ahead

Score 7 - 3 to me in 5 crowns.

I have won best of 10.

Stopping now.

Listing helps calm my mind ...

Just so you know, here is our timetable starting today:

Wednesday 19th:
  • Clean boat - all inside surfaces, change sheets, 
  • wash said sheets and attempt to get them dry 
  • send cheese scone recipe and John Wiper's details to Lisa and David
Thursday 20th:
  • Haircut for Marilyn - long overdue as it is scruffy and far too long - be quiet, Mick ...
  • Welcome Bernice and Roy, who live in their bus in NZ and are over here visiting their daughter and brand new grandson - and no, we have't met them before
Friday 21st: into Edgbaston:
  • to BMI Priory leaving the boat about 5pm, for an appointment for the consenting process and a second iodine cleaning of David’s eyelashes - it’s one of the things Imran Masood and Pete Shah do prior to surgery to reduce the possibility of infection
  • returning to the boat about 9.30pm
Saturday 22nd:
  • into Edgbaston to stay in a hotel for two nights. 
  • Leaving the boat about 1pm Saturday
Sunday 23rd,
  • 8am: into the hospital,
  • back at the hotel anytime from noon to 2pm or later, depending on where David is on the list
  • staying overnight at the hotel so no public transport required after his general anaesthetic
Monday 24th:
  • checking out of the hotel
  • maybe going to BMI Priory for a post op appointment, or to Birmingham Hospital
  • we are planning on going back to the boat that afternoon/evening
Tuesday 25th:
  • blobbing on board, or
  • possibly the post op appointment - they don’t tell you till the day of the operation, dammit!
Wednesday 26th:
  • Salvi and Ann Persico arriving and probably staying until about 4 July 
    • I have warned them to bring warmer clothes - they have been swanning about in Italy in 25+ degree heat, and are in for a rude awakening here, I fear
  • our thinking currently is that we will head for Stratford on Avon, and they will do pretty much all of the work, with David wearing his safety googles and watching quietly (yeah right)
26 June for the next month or so:
  • we will be moving around but not venturing too far from being accessible to Birmingham by train - Stratford fits with that, as does Oxford or pretty much anywhere give rail travel possibilities

Phew! It is good for me to have this in a list - helps me get it clear in my mind.

David has had to postpone doing the tax returns as he cannot see well enough to read the handwritten notes he prepared before we left home. He's putting them off till Monday, so he is clearly positive about the outcome of surgery. Good thing, too.

Monday 17 June 2019

Visitors and crappy weather

19 June NOTE TO SELF: read for typos before publishing ... Have had to get into edit mode to correct things that I didn't check, dammit!

Well, the best thing about the weather being crappy is that it makes it bearable not being able to go boating. Well, we could boat but there's a bit of uncertainty about what pre-op appointments are required before Sunday.

So far there is one today, but we are expecting there is at least one other, yet to be scheduled.

But as the weather has been pants, the question of moving has been moot. And as we are on shore power here at Alvechurch Marina, there is no need to be running the engine to charge batteries when the sun cannot do the job on the solar panels.

We have had two sets of visitors in recent days and lots of laughs.

The first set were people we had never met but who also blog and whose photos I've seen often. Lisa and David from What a Lark, and their friends Amanda and David came to visit one morning. I'd made cheese scones in honour of their visit and done a big tidy and clean of the boat - sweeping, washing the floor, dusting, cleaning the basin and toilets, cleaning the butler's sink ... First impressions, don't you know!

There was much discussion of boaty stuff, including the angst, jointly and severally felt, about the lack of lock etiquette we had all recently experienced - and in both cases, on the Lapworth flight.

I promised to send them the cheese scone recipe and to give them John Wiper's contact details but so far have not done either. My bad. After this post, I promise!

Lisa and David very generously lent us their car for a couple of days, so we were able to go and do some shopping at the Bromsgrove Waitrose. But sadly, no Vogel's bread there, dammit.

On Saturday we had a call from our friends from Waikanae, Madeline and Bevan, who came over here to buy a motorhome for shipping back to NZ, after doing a few months tripping around Europe in it. The motorhome purchase has been accomplished, but not without incident.  It's a struggle to buy insurance for a motor vehicle here if you don't have a post code or are not a resident. After multiple abortive phone calls, Mads got in touch with us and asked what we had done. Given we don't throw out anything important and still have a Motorhome file in the email system, I was able to find the name and contact details of the guy who had organised ours. And he came through for them too. And they are using the same shipping agents we did - well, if there is a set of people who've already done the job successfully, why look for others that are untested?

Anyway, the motorhome is now in their possession and they were keen to come and show us. Mads texted from outside the pub on the marina site (the Weighbridge) as they had pulled up and seen Morris dancers performing. Way back when we were all living in the UK, we took Mads to the Charlbury fair, where the Morris dancers were performing and there was an egg throwing and catching competition. If I remember rightly, Jack Potter's son Richard and daughter in law Jackie came second in that!

By the way, I noticed (hard to miss) that the Morris dancers were in blackface. I asked one of them and she explained that, way back in the beginning of the dancing, it was done to earn money, esp when the overlords were not fronting up with the owed earnings. So they danced but for safety's sake, disguised themselves by turning their coats inside out and attaching rags to them, and sooting up their faces. Interesting stuff.

The motorhome is lovely, it's an Adria and beautifully spec'ed. So we had to drink champagne (theirs) and eat dinner on board Waka Huia (currently they have no gas and they weren't hooked up to power), and they breakfasted with us too.
Two sensible women and a photobomber, aka Bevan

I need longer arms to do selfies!

Now that is a better photo; thanks, Bevan.

The following photos have been added for interest and as a historical record...
The 14 year old grandson is now taller than his dad, I am sure! And look at those feet! What size are they? 

This is Kai, Tim and Dana's rescue dog. She is coming to stay on the boat with us while they and the boys go to Portugal for their holidays. On our request, Tim bought her a lifejacket as we know it would be very difficult to haul her out of the water is she falls/jumps in. Apparently this photo was taken mid-wag, although I am not so sure. Looks to me like those ears are back ...

Friday 14 June 2019

Sartorial elegance or what?

I forgot to mention I bought 6 pairs of socks in the market at Redditch yesterday - 6 pairs with legs as opposed to the little short ones that end below the ankle. I have lots of the latter here on the boat, but only 3 pairs with legs - well, who knew I would need them given it is meant to be summer? But the weather has been so pants that longer socks are required.

Mind you, it was a close run thing whether I would continue with the socks purchase: at first, the stall holder thought I was Australian, then compounded the insult by suggesting I was South African. He finally got it right, spurred on by my demanding my money back ...

I like colourful socks, so was very happy with my purchase, once the level of insult had been calmed 😏😛

I am now looking forward to boating in the rain, at least for a little bit, so I can wear my elegant attire.

In between showers this morning (after I'd made cheese scones for visitors and baked bread), I did a photo shoot.
I have a range of colourful socks that I can wear with my very fetching hi-viz pants and my quite decorously modest lime green jacket. I think I should start out matching the purple or red socks.
Our friend Clare gave me the lime green jacket - she had purchased it online and she could have used it as a shroud, wrapped around her about 4 times. It's a bit big for me (it'll only go around me 11/4 times, but it was free ... However, until I matched it with the yellow over-trousers, it had not occurred to me that it was not really a bright lime green - well, not in comparison to the trousers ...

I'll be happy wearing the whole outfit on the back of the boat - after all, almost no one else will be out boating when we are moving along in the rain. But I certainly won't be wearing it anywhere else!

Thursday 13 June 2019

Hurry up and Wait

The weather has been pants since I don't know when, but probably not as long as I think.

I know it is only 16 days since David had his first appointment with Pete Shah back on 29 May, and such a lot has happened since then!

I seem to remember that the rain had started in earnest last Saturday when Mick and Julia had hoped to get to the Stockton Flight before we arrived back from our latest trip to BMI Priory Hospital and the overnight stay after it. I am SO pleased we didn't drive back on the Friday night as it was raining hard then, but it didn't interfere with boating at that point.

It seems to me that it has persisted down interminably forever, but that is clearly not true. It may not be true, but it felt true enough to lower my spirits considerably - I love being on the boat, but feeling trapped inside a small space is horrid.
Yesterday we walked into the village between showers and I saw this community garden near the Coop

A bit hard to read, but here's the rationale. A cool idea.

After feeling very down yesterday, even though we'd had a walk into the village, this morning I looked at what movies were on in Redditch which is a 4 minute train ride away. Rocketman (about Elton John) was showing, so tickets were purchased online for a 3.05pm showing.
At the station - the trip is a bargain at £6 return in total - £3 each!
There was also shopping to be done:
  • safety glasses to prevent dust and grit getting at David's eyes pre- and post-surgery. Screwfix had some sporty looking ones that got excellent reviews, so that was the first stop. We travelled there by bus as it was raining on arrival in Redditch. Would have to say that the bus driver was not a happy puppy in his work ...
  • I also purchased some waterproof over-trousers - shield your eyes for the photos ...
    Some people don't deserve the lovely wives they have ... Only a mean husband would take photos of me trying these on in the shop!  I think I am going to need a pink hi-viz jacket to set off these waterproofs. Otherwise I need to get them dirty very fast ...
    So I didn't have to sit down to remove them, I asked for help. I also requested that no photos be taken of this process. That worked then, didn't it?
  • we needed fruit and veges plus teabags, butter and a couple of other bits - we aimed for Asda, but found an Aldi closer. 
    • Did you know Aldi doesn't sell butter? Why on earth not, I wonder? 
    • We did find a chicken, ham hock and leek pie though ...
  • we found a Polish grocery across the road so bought a cabbage there
  • then back to the open market for some fruit
  • it was curry day today at the local Wetherspoons so we had a late lunch there. Not bad, but nowhere near the nicest curry we've had.
  • then off to Boots in the shopping centre - David had to rush back to a shop where he'd left one of the shopping bags ...
  • off to the movie theatre in a rush as we were a bit late. We needn't have worried - they had 38 minutes of ads and trailers - wtf?!?!?!
    • the movie was excellent - David stayed awake and that is always an indicator of quality, or at least, engagement.
  • A stop in at Wilko for keyboard cleaner and a large dark grey bathmat that I will use as a stern door mat (easy to shake out and easy to wash).
When we got to the station for a train back to the marina, it was fine - not sunny, but not raining.

We were going to have breakfast for dinner (fruit, yoghurt, muesli) but I'm not hungry and David has made a pita bread with hummus, tomato and ham.

 So that is one more day done on the countdown to operation day. This hurrying up and waiting requires planning and fortitude!

Tomorrow we have guests coming for morning tea - coffee and cheese scones have been promised. So it'll be an early start making sure the boat is clean and scones are ready to fortify the visitors for their Tardebigge descent!

Tuesday 11 June 2019

A giant effort

We have arrived at Alvechurch with supreme efforts expended since Thursday.

Elapsed duration: 6 days,
Actual Boating time: 3.5 days.

Pretty impressive, eh? and we had great help/leadership from Team Granger.

Team Granger ready to do the business on the Buckby Flight

Thursday morning:  Gayton Marina to Norton Junction, 12.5 miles, 7 locks
  • After a car shuffle with pick up at Norton Junction at 7am and a drive back to Gayton Marina).  
  • Mick and Julia drove me back to Gayton to collect my rental car and they went home
  • late that afternoon/early evening, Tony and Helen came onboard Waka Huia for a drink and lots of nibbles which were all David and I had for dinner; not sure if they ate a meal back on their boat. However, as they had consumed two bottles of sauvignon, I wouldn't have thought they would need food ...
    It's not often I see the boat from this angle. Mick is at the helm.
And smoothly into the lock
David getting a ride between locks on the Buckby Flight, I think.

Friday morning:  Norton Junction to Braunston, 4.25 miles, 7 locks.
  • Started at 7am
  • Julia and I both drove to Braunston to leave one car at Dale's yard, and one outside the Admiral Nelson carpark, while David and Mick came through the tunnel and met us at the top of the locks.
  • and all done and moored up next to Dale's boat by 10.30am.
  • Mick and Julia went home and David and I drove to Birmingham for an appointment that evening with Pete Shah and Imran Masood, the surgeon.
 Saturday 11.30am - 5pm:  Braunston to Wood Lock, 11.75 miles, 19 locks
  • David and I drove back from Birmingham in appalling weather, Mick and Julia were dropped off by Mick's brother early in the morning, but the weather was so pants that they stayed put on the boat.
  • We started off with my steering in the rain and wind because it is only water and air, after all. Mick didn't last staying inside out of the rain - he said it didn't feel right sitting down inside ...
  • The weather cleared as we came to the Calcutt locks and we were away on a mission. 
  • We shared with a hirer who had her 89 and 86 year old parents on board who were celebrating their 65th anniversary. She was a very good steerer.
  • David, Julia and I did the locks while Mick steered.
  • Then on we went to the 8 Stockton Locks and the 2 Itchington Locks and the 4 Bascote Locks and Welsh Road Lock and Wood Lock.
  • Moored up and had roast pork and crackling, roast potatoes, broccoli, carrots and peas with yummy gravy for dinner.
  • Played 5 Crowns, Mick won the practice hand, Julia won the game
  • Early to bed
  • Not sure where this is, but the rain had started and it was very chilly.
    The roast pork with yummy crackling - cooked in the Barbie doll camp oven (as designated by Jaq Biggs) ...
Dinner is served and about to be devoured!
Sunset in the cratch after Wood Lock

Sunday 6.50am - 5.50pm (with a one hour stop for lunch after the Hatton Flight): below Wood Lock on the GU to Hockley Heath on the Stratford on Avon Canal, 18 miles 46 locks (I think - I may well have miscounted - correction required, Mick? Corrected since Mick and Julia have read it.)
  • Mick and I shared the steering on the Hatton Flight and assisted Julia and David on the locks
  • I was delighted to see that the other gate comes open for Mick as he steers into a double lock too ... I'd thought it was something I was doing wrong!
  • Julia was working ahead and keeping the boats ahead of us on track and moving more swiftly than they had been - we caught them up with the Efficiency Team techniques, so Julia was on coaching and helping those not yet inculcated into the Granger methodology ...
  • Mick steered on the Lapworth Flight and I was on locks
  • I did have a bit of a grump about an owner who was filling a lock that was our way - esp when she said 'Oh, I didn't see you' - mainly because she didn't move forward of the top paddles, dammit!!
  • And then two locks further up, a bunch of Aussie hirers were doing the same thing - gggrrr!!! They HAD been told by some walkers that the boat in front of them was going down, so they were sort of excused ... and I did apologise for being grumpy, OK?
  • Julia was working ahead again as there was a boat ahead of us with only one guy operating the locks - they dubbed Julia the Sergeant Major, but really appreciated her help and training. She got their life story while coaching and assisting, and coming back to help us as well - she is a star!
  • dinner was panfried marinated salmon (sweet thai chilli sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, chopped coriander), salad from the rooftop allotment, new potatoes, followed by Gu puddings - salted caramel (2) and millionaire shortbread cheesecakes (2). Yum
  • plus lots of chardonnay for me (and for Julia but without effect apparently)
  • I was sent to bed and fell asleep within a couple of minutes - shades of Sawley last year and my being locked in at the Lockkeeper's Rest ...
  • Mission accomplished - all locks on the way to Alvechurch were completed so Mick and Julia were to be released in the morning.
Julia and David

David is on his way to the next lock, Mick is clearing the one I am in - must have got warm as the jerseys are off!
In the Lapworth Flight. See our lovely new cratch cover? And my rooftop allotment?

Monday 1.30pm - 4pm. Hockley Heath to the Shirley Drawbridge at Solihull - in the pouring rain and wind
Julia's alarm was set for 5am and David's was set for 5.30am, so he wasn't getting out of bed till then. Mick and Julia stacked their bedding and created a wall. A somnolent person determined it was trapping him in situ ...

  • we all left the boat at 6.30am and headed by cab to Alvechurch Railway Station, 
    • David and I were heading to University stop near Edgbaston for an appointment with Prof Shah
    • Mick and Julia were going to New Street, to catch a train back to Kettering - as their mission with us was done.
  • After the appointment, where David had his eyelashes carefully cleaned with iodine to reduce the chances of inflammation and infection post surgery, we headed back to Alvechurch by train and then a cab to Hockley Heath has been at work - there is no such word as childrens ... I just had to fix it while waiting for the cab back to the boat in the early afternoon.
  • It was raining, but I decided to get cruising as there were at least 5.5 hours (turns out it was closer to 6.5, but that is the speedy Granger team - they move much more quickly than we do) to do to get to Alvechurch Marina (15 minutes in a cab ...), so off we went with David inside making tea for me at regular intervals
  • I only lasted 2.25 hours, until we got to the drawbridge at Shirley which David had to come out and open. I took advantage of the stop to go and have a wee, and realised how cold I was (wet coat tails on the tummy will do that to you ... AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
  • So I told David I wanted to stop for the day. Mooring was nice and quiet.
  • I fell asleep on the sofa and was told to go to bed, so I did. No dinner required!
Tuesday 5.50am - 11am Shirley Drawbridge on the Stratford on Avon Canal to Alvechurch Marina on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal, with a stop for water
  • The rain had come down most of the night I think, but was quite light at 5am and, according to the forecast, it was due to stay that way for a few hours before becoming heavier
  • so off we went at 5.50am.
  • I wore more clothes than yesterday (the major additions were a T shirt, and my dad's woollen jersey - so I had 5 layers on top, plus a scarf and rain jacket and my bushman's hat.) I still got  cold ...
  • David made brekkie while I steered and when we stopped for water, I ate and put a load of washing (towels) on
  • then back out into the cold and wet (I am a hero)
    Trying to keep my legs dry by using a modified plastic bag. The white above my right ear is one of the tissues that I had put under my hat to keep dry ... (My nose always runs when I am cold.) And my cost is extremely wet on the outside! The hat got a trifle damp too. and the gloves - I wrung them out afterwards. Note to self: buy waterproof tramping gloves at an outdoor shop very soon!!

  • by the time we arrived I was bloody cold and my hands would barely function when I was trying to attach the sides of the pram cover - did you know that cold fingers don't do domes and poking turny things through holes and turning them to secure said turny things? Well, now you do!
  • It was inside for a shower to warm up, then David warmed up the leftover roast pork and gravy for me to eat with buttered vogel bread - and there's a thing: Waitrose sells Vogel's bread!!! Yay!!! The soy and linseed is very yummy indeed!
  • After lunch, I beat David again at 5 Crowns so now the score is 7-1 to me in our tournament, but I only beat him by 3 points this time -  think that made it worse for him ...