Thursday 5 September 2019

Family aboard

One drama we had to overcome last week was the replacement of eyedrops for David's left eye. Before we left NZ David had a script filled for the three sets of drops, one for his right eye and two for his left. One of the latter keeps his pupil dilated (not sure why; that eye looks like a startled owl's wide pupil 😜) and the other keeps the pressure down. The pharmacist in Waikanae had one fewer bottles of the Dortimopt than the script called for. And David didn't set him the task of sourcing the other one before we left ... Doh!
So suddenly over the Bank holiday weekend, we realised that the Dortimopt was almost run out, and more needed to be sourced pretty much immediately - we don't know how long he could go without them before his pressure would rise again, but it's not a risk to be lightly taken.

So I made a call to an optometrist in Coventry, but they don't have a prescribing practitioner and suggested the NHS Walk-in Centre there. So I threw David off the boat at Hawkesbury Junction (well, I dispatched him with impatience and grumpiness, as he was being a total pain about getting himself sorted for the process of getting there and back - how long does it need to take to get your phone, earphones, ipad, wallet, specs, prescriptions, current drops, NHI card, passport into a backpack? And how much mental preparation does it take to do so? AAARRRGGGHHH!!!)

I had decided not to wait at the junction, but to carry on. There are no locks after the junction for ages, so I was confident I would manage. I did the stop lock at the junction which was easy because it's only about a foot drop and I didn't have to climb down the ladder and slime myself along the lock wall, and a hire boat was coming along behind me so they closed up for me.

I got around the 180 degree turn out of the basin into the Coventry Canal without touching anything - first time I have accomplished that and David wasn't there to see it, dammit!

When I rang the Walk in Centre before David left the boat, they had said the wait at that time was 1.5 hours. Well, in the end he waited about 4 hours, then 20 minutes for the script to be filled. But it was all free, and he was very pleased with the service, as well as relieved to have the UK version of the Dortimopt to tide him over till we get home.

In the meantime I had boated along such a pretty part of the canal network (it's a shame David missed it really), and then I moored up (middle rope only) across from Springwood Haven Marina to have lunch before moving over for a pumpout. I'd decided that with 3 guests over a 3 day weekend, it was a wise prepatory move ...

Tim called about then and said he was on his way to us from work, and decided he would go and fetch David, so I carried on, finally mooring up at Hartshill. I was very kindly assisted by the man on the boat in front of where I wanted to moor - I'd almost gone past his two matching lilac and white boats when I made the decision, and he came out and helped with the middle rope as I reversed back into place. Lovely place to moor and a good parking area by the bridge. There were a few boats moored and the people were very friendly. I saw Neil who had painted the inspection hatch with rust-proofing gunk a couple of years back when we were on Tixall Wide, and a guy on nb Isabella Grace with whom I had a lovely conversation as I walked back from sending Tim a pin for the parking area - Tim and David can't have been far away as they appeared on the towpath mid chat.

The thing I learned about solo boating that day was how well you have to be prepared with all the accoutrements for the number of hours you expect to be cruising - drinks, tissues, sunglasses, hat, jersey in case it gets cold, sunscreen in case it gets hot ... Because there are no opportunities to go down into the boat to collect things unless you pull over and tie up, and who wants to do that just because the hat is still sitting on the bed?

As Waka Huia is a reverse layout, I was able go down into the galley and quickly fill the water bottle if I went into neutral on a very straight section; but there was no toilet stop until I moored up opposite Springwood Haven Marina for lunch ... (I think I told David later how I realised that he does a lot of fetching stuff for me - in case I didn't, I will tell him now 😙😏)

We are now in Alrewas having arrived here on Saturday arvo complete with Olek and Karol and their mum Marta who had trained down from Scotland to Tamworth and cabbed it to Fazeley on Thursday night.

They'd travelled a couple of hundred miles on Thursday evening while we had travelled from Polesworth on Thursday (2 locks and 7 miles), having done the Atherstone flight of locks on Wednesday 6 miles and 11 locks) to be in the right place to meet them! We did also do a 1.6 mile walk to Asda at Tamworth - does that count as journey time?

On Friday we headed out early - no pikelets for breakfast, to Karol's disappointment - but a stop at Hopwas for football in a field. First task was to pump up the ball David and I bought in Argos at Milton Keynes. David tells me that Karol is a natural as a goalkeeper.

We fetched up for the day in Willington still with the engine running as the batteries hadn't got up to 100% - originally we moored up quite close (much too close!) to the road and rail, so rather than ask for opinions, Olek and I looked a bit further down the towpath and found that it was good. So he guarded the desired spot and I came back and quietly untied and moved the boat. Marta and David came racing up out of the boat concerned 😖 😖 that the boat was just floating free by itself - they had not heard me untying or putting fenders on the roof ... Sneaky, eh? 😝😛

After lunch we did a circular walk to the pub, in the general direction of away from it, along the towpath to the next bridge, through cornfields, on to a road near the marina and, eventually, the pub - imperative to sneak up on it from behind, you know ... Karol hadn't wanted to go for a walk, but was persuaded by crisps and a drink: so he was temporarily miffed to discover on the way back using the direct route, that we were only about 400 metres from it. 😏😏😏

Saturday morning was deemed pikelet breakfast but as the boys were still asleep and David was still in bed when I felt like getting going, I got us set up for cruising and off we went. Apparently the engine wakes people up - who knew? So the boys appeared not long after, and we stopped for breakfast about a mile short of Fradley Junction. Lovely place to moor. Pikelets, bacon, banana and syrup - I know there is maple syrup in the cupboard somewhere, but I was content for Karol just to find the golden syrup. Yummy!

At the junction we re-filled with water and then David, Marta and Olek went on to the rubbish disposal and lock. Karol was in charge of the swing bridge and I asked if he wanted to get onboard. No, he said, he'd go to the lock. So off he goes and off I go, him to the right, me to the left. Much yelling and calling from two grandsons and a husband - wrong way, Marilyn!!

I am not sure what was in my head - probably nothing but fresh air - David and I had been speaking for days about getting to Fradley and turning right, but in my head I saw Shadehouse Lock so of course, I turned left. So a reverse and a turn to the right while the volunteer lock-keeper looked on in an amused way. Fortunately there were no other boaters waiting ...

The boys are excellent on the locks - Olek has been a star for some time and Karol, although little, is strong and determined. If his big brother can do it, he wants to emulate him. (That, of course, does not extend to doing dishes without complaining ...) Their granddad has taught them well - they always put the windlass down at the end of the rainbow (the arc of the gate) and they are careful with winding down the paddle gear, they know to rock or give a lift to the gate if it is hard to move.

So as David and Marta walked the long-ish lock pounds, the boys and I cruised the short distance to Alrewas. We moored on the 14 day moorings - great place to be with plenty of sun for the solars which needed it with the short days' cruising we'd been doing.

Off to the nearby park they all went (a couple of times) after Marta's dad arrived from Chipping Norton to stay the night. Rain interrupted play but they were all happily busy.

Olek and Marta
Karol on dishes after breakfast
The butterfly was savings its energy by hitching a ride - and widening its genetic spread too, I guess. Beautiful markings.
When we have guests on board, their bedding gets rolled up and placed on our bed. Here Olek is doing a Kai impression burrowing in the pillows and then looking surprised at being disturbed ...

Olek was sitting on the galley steps and I had the felt pen at hand ...
Then he named them - no idea of the significance of the names. He wrote upside down and I thought it was pretty tidy considering - perhaps he could become a teacher, as I remember a key skill was being able to print upside down. Second thoughts, NO! Go for something less stressful, I say!

On Sunday, as they were all leaving after lunch, we had a short cruise down through the river section to Wynchnor Lock and return.
The boys at Alrewas Lock on Sunday morning

Working, Grammy, working!

Two grandfathers watching two grandsons working
Closing Wynchnor Lock behind me at the end of the river section

Olek steered into Wynchnor Lock on the way back (first time - didn't touch the sides) and then steered the river section and worked the lock for me, then he took over steering again, and came up and winded (first time - beautifully done) and brought us in to moor in exactly the same spot we'd left a few hours before.
And here we are back at Alrewas Lock

Karol had a new pad and pens so drawing was the order of the day once lock work was done.

And here we are but not for much longer - David and I stayed here yesterday and had Ed here replacing the heat exchanger on the Webasto, replacing the water/anti-freeze in the radiators, and changing the toilet seals. Tim arrived mid-afternoon (in time for a late lunch of cheese scones) and got on with his tasks; and by the time he finished, it was 8.30pm and we still hadn't had dinner although most of it was ready to go. We were having fillet steak from Coates the butcher here in Alrewas, so that was quickly cooked, potatoes mashed with lashings of butter, and the coleslaw had been made hours before. Gu puddings followed.
Dinner for Tim one night last week - lamb shanks, cooked with onions and lemons. Yum

Tim at work - he clearly knows what he is doing, but I have no idea.. David does though, so at least one of of living on board understands electricity.

And then a Skype call to leave a happy birthday singing message for Kirsty who turns 42 today - my dad always said it was no accident that her birthday was on the anniversary of the day war broke out. What could he mean? She rang back later when I was in bed. Just lovely to talk to her.

So here we are. Shortly we will get up and get going to Burton upon Trent. We are meeting Mick and Julia there today and Tim will be joining us again. I have tempted M&J with braised steak and onions for dinner - food as the enticer to friendship ...

The first load of laundry is in ready to go, David has to vacuum the galley this morning as Tim created a few metal slivers yesterday as he cut a rectangle out of the cover plate of the switchboard, and I am not keen to have them in my feet or food.

I am going to take earplugs with me as we will be in the 5th lane of the A38 for most of the cruise today and it is noisy!

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