Wednesday 30 December 2020

Ice-Breaking, Christmas Cruise & Website woes (again)...

 Website woes are beginning to become an annual 'given' -  Remember this time last year when 'GoDaddy' forced me into upgrading to their "new product" ... only to find after I'd spent weeks de-doing the website that I wasn't allowed to have more than 50 pages?  Having had a strop about that at the time and then transferring to Wix, I naively thought my woes were over.   Clearly that was a dream!

WHY does it have to be so complicated/restrictive?... I mean, all I was trying to do was use one page as a template to use in order to duplicate a cruise from 2021 to 2022... simple enough you'd think eh?

Wrong!  Wix "dynamic pages" (whatever that is supposed to mean) has other ideas.  Instead of just letting my create a new one, it flagged up something about using too many static pages, TOLD me there was a better way to do it - and THEN promptly left me reading through "HELP PAGES" (an oxymoron if ever there was one) to try and find out HOW!  As it stands, as soon as I publish the next cruise, it applies the formatting to the donor page - thus replacing "Fully Booked" with " Details & Booking" (which is what the NEW page created from the template/duplicate NEEDS to say.

Are you keeping up at the back there?

In short (or should that be long?) it's a blooming good job I have a proper system "on paper" ... and by that I mean a 2021 diary that I write bookings in as soon as they've come in so I know what's what.  


I suppose it's not all bad - perhaps a double booking might be a good thing - an introductory service for solo travelers... so long as they are happy to bunk up and share a bed lol.... I'm joking ! *thinks of a way to divide a kingsize bed down the middle*...

ANYWAY - back to the plot (as tenuous as ever I think you'll find)... you may recall a while back, financial necessity (i.e. 'Ellis' needs new batteries before the next season begins) suggested I put on a couple of  'festive specials'....  Of course Boris with his multi-tier status pretty much put paid to that idea (what are we up to now I forget - tier 34?)... what he didn't take into account however was that  US and a returning GUEST had 'saved' our original 'support' bubble so as to be able to guarantee a 70th birthday cruise back in September... and as that 'bubble' remained in place, there was no reason why we couldn't take our Christmas trip (regardless of any last minute amendments ) so long as we remained within the boundaries of our present tier (it may as well be tear tbh).    

SO, Xmas eve arrived along with our guest who brought with her the nicest mince-pies and Christmas cake I've ever had.  I've never really LIKE mince pies - in fact, I think it's probably 10 years since I last tried one to prove to myself that I don't like them... tastes change and now it appears I DO like them... (well these at least) and off we chugged - Gluwhein in hands.

The original plan HAD been to spend Xmas eve in Castlefield basin - pretty much so we could go to the pub and people watch... alas, "tier 3" meant no pubs were open so it would be a pretty much miserable place to be ... with only train noise for company.  THAT plan abandoned, we turned left at 'Waters Meeting' and chugged on to Worsley.  Having tied up outside a (closed) Hotel, we settled down for a Christmas Eve with plenty of wine/cake and 'nice-ness'.  

It made a lovely change to have a REASON to have a Christmas - not since I was a child have I found it pleasurable ... Then it was a lovely magical time when even my father who seemed to work 24/7 was able to pause, spend time with us and even do a jigsaw.  SINCE childhood however, it's just been a few office xmas **ss ups and miserable feelings.

This year however, with a purpose, it felt lovely... good company, nice food and drink and being the envy of folks walking along the towpath - all having a nosey in the boat as we sat snug (and smug) inside with the fire blazing and our glasses regularly full.

When we awoke on Christmas Day morning, the canal had frozen over slightly but it didn't appear thick enough to remove too much blacking... or at least not where we were - the reality being that once around the corner, it became about half an inch thick and by then we were committed (or should that be we SHOULD have been committed?) ... oh well.  Looks like it's gonna have to be done again next year anyway.

I suppose at it's worst, it was about half an inch thick which whilst not too bad, really did slow us down on our journey.  

We still made it to our destination (Pennington Flash) shortly after lunch and on turning round at Plank Lane marina, bumped into a couple of boaters we know from the Leeds & Liverpool canal... Neil the fender making man and his lovely wife who I can't for the life of me remember what she's called...  They were hunkered down making use of some hedgerows shelter in preparation for Storm Bella .

We turned, and went back to the nicest view point of the flash and (having firmly banged in pins) I set to cooking Christmas dinner whilst Chrissie went for a walk and the bosun tried a few Ariel shots with his drone... turns out, minus 1 degrees doesn't half gobble up battery power so that was a short lived experience.

Whilst dinner was cooking (Leg of Lamb, Gammon Joint and more veggies than were really required) we had a few drinks, watched 'Liz' on the telly (or was it a zoom call - I can't recall ;-) ) and eventually had our dinner around teatime.

Once we were satiated (and the washing up done) it was time for silliness... "pass the sprout" should have been more fun than it was... the previous time this was enjoyed being 4 years previous at Sally's xmas afternoon party"... ALAS, either I bought the wrong thing, or it's been dumbed down now to little more than "cracker jokes & paper hats".....hmmf.

Oh well... given how the rest of 2020 has been, it was only to expected .

Boxing day needed to be a good start due to the weather forecast - Chrissie was on Breakfast duty and once we were full, I got all clobbered up with appropriate external clothing ... only to find that it was no where near as "bad" as the forecasters had been saying it would be...

In fact a nice chug back to Manchester - stopping off briefly for a cheese and biscuit lunch and few glasses of wine.  The predicted weather eventually arriving during the night.

To summarize, for someone who really doesn't like Christmas fuss, it was the nicest one I've experienced for many years... certainly since the last time I was away on a cruise over the holiday season - I DO miss cruise ships... then again I suppose, I now LIVE on one full time (albeit a tiny one) lol.

See you next year - enjoy your "night in"... I shall be in bed with ear plugs by 10pm and then ready to begin Dry January  *quivers*... AND  a hard 2 months ahead to try and shift the blubber 2020 has helped me pile on - 2 stone needs to be gone by the start of the boating season... I think it's fair to say I shall be VERY grumpy for a while now as I don't "do" hungry very well.

Happy New Year - 

Until next time...

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Well THAT'S shown me... Recovering rear seating, experimental Sour-dough and Good Customer Service

 Ok - moving on from my recent rant, I ask you forgive me... I'm over that episode now - having experienced some 'good' behavior towards a soul in need since i got carried away.

Let me explain.  Last night, on the way back from a local "Premier" click and collect service place, I came across an unconscious chap - sprawled half over the towpath and into the hedge row.  At first glance (in the dark/rain) I sort of assumed someone had partaken of a bit too much xmas spirit on the way home from doing the shopping (he had a few carrier bags laying around him) and was sleeping it off... then it dawned on me that being in Tier 3, no where is open so he couldn't have done.. As I got a bit closer , I noticed the rear light of a cyclist turning left on the path ahead and also that the chap on the floor didn't look like the usual sort of person who might take drugs and end up in a self inflicted stupor.

I checked for a pulse and once my useless numb fingers had located his carotid artery, was relieved he was at least alive.  I tried to rouse him for a few seconds before digging out my phone to call 999.  Even as I was doing it, under my breath I was berating the afore mentioned cyclist for "walking cycling  on by" - no sooner had I started dialing, did said cyclist reappear and explained he'd already called for help and an ambulance was parked just round the corner at the end of Marland Way....he'd gone to meet them to explain where the patient was.  That was a relief and also a shark reminder that folks ARE generally good sorts when it's required of them.  As the paramedics arrived, I carried on my way - safe in the knowledge this poor soul who/whomever he was would be in good hands now.

It did give me butterflies in my stomach for a while though.  POINT is, despite all the "Covid in the air" both the cyclist and I acted instinctively  in the best interest of others...and that is how we should be.

 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

OK - Stepping off my soap box again, back in boaty land, I've been pottering - getting on with little jobs here and there when the weather has allowed.  Being in Greater Manchester whilst quite useful, it does mean poor old Ellis is experiencing a LOT of rain.  This has been a real pain as many of the jobs I'd like to be getting on with, require dry weather.

That said (well written), a gap in the clouds DID mean I could (rather roughly I admit) get around to applying some more padding to the new rear seats/backrests i made last winter.  

Whilst the water tank was filling, I took the old guest duvet out of storage and decided rather than spend 12 quid in a launderette washing it, I'd buy a new one for next season... thus freeing up the hollow fibres for 'padding' purposes.  

It was the first time I'd used my new mains-powered Staple gun... it can fire MUCH bigger staples than it's rechargeable predecessor.  Alas, it is also a LOT fussier about when it fires... grrr.  Still, in no time, I'd added a layer of padding and stapled new black leatherette over to cover it.  It's not the PRETTIEST/NEATEST job but it will certainly do for another year.

Continuing with the 'Good News'  another very productive and positive Day was had on 'Ellis' last week.

I bought a pair of decent walking boots around this time last year... which failed by March so I took them back to Go-Outdoors in Pudsey for an exchange ... well, the exchanged pair ALSO failed in the same areas( sole coming apart from the uppers various other failed areas of stitching.  A lovely sunny start for a change so I decided to take the boat in to Castlefield Basin *rather than walk all the way to Go Outdoors and back*... Having looked through my receipts from earlier in the year for the Merrell Boot receipt, It wasn't with the (now sealed up) March receipts folder - I pondered a while and decided to log on, do a click and collect of the boots and suck it up so to speak...

SO, I booked a click and collect for 1 pair of size 9 boots the same "model" as the ones I had (moab), noticing the sole (which is the main bit that failed) had changed a little to the sort of rubber used on Squash trainers....

ANYWAY - having chugged into Castfield and then walked the now much shorter distance to Ancoates, there I Was in the shop with new boots on the counter and about to pay the now lower price of £95 quid... Chatting away with the girl on the till as you do, I mentioned that I had planned on returning the pair on my feet for exchange but couldn't find my receipt so rather than have a fight, decided to get a new pair and suck it up... the premise being, that when you find a paid of walking boots that suit your feet, it's best to stick with them.... (the amount of times I've tried switching and ended up with sore feet being a REAL waste of money)...
She volunteered to look up my purchase history on my discount card and low and behold, within seconds, the March exchange was there and she had to call a supervisor to "inspect" the boots on my feet... at which point, it was agreed they had failed in several places and they would give me the new pair free gratis as an exchange.

That was number 1 good thing... number 2 was that because the boot model had dropped in price since I paid for them, they THEN gave me a gift card to the value of the difference (valid for 12 months) - talk about surprised... I'd given up on the idea of exchanging them cause I don't like a fight and tbh, it's rarely the Staffs fault (although some folks seem to thing it IS)..
So there we have it... a very good service from Go -Outdoors with exceptional staff going above and beyond during difficult times.

Walking back in my new boots, the wind and rain in my face (this is Manchester don't forget) seemed irrelevant.

Irrelevant that was, until Id chugged back to the Marina and then had to reverse on to the pontoon with the wind side on. NO MATTER - I handled the boat as if she had a girlie button and all was well with the world.

Inspired by my (unusual) good fortune, I decided to make some bread - if the truth be known, I'd forgotten to buy a loaf when I Was out so figured I'd try one of the sourdough ready mixes I'd had in the cupboard for a while.  I think they are bit of a cheat in that whilst they do give a lovely taste and claim to contain a 10% rye starter - they ALSO contain yeast to 'cheat'.  No matter, the outcome was a lovely tasting loaf that was eaten in no time.

I'll certainly buy the ready-mix again as it stayed "moist" a lot longer than my usual home-made loaves do.

meanwhile - I am not going to comment much about Boris's "U" turn at the weekend... suffice to say, i have a nasty feeling that by the middle of January next year, with the "army" being deployed to carry out mas covid testing at schools, there will be enough boots on the ground - perhaps with guns handy to FORCE the population to do as they are told... it's a scary thought in 2020/21 how many freedoms our parents took for granted are being eroded as we sleep walk into whatever it is we are sleep walking in to.

Don't get me wrong - I understand, it's serious and it's all about NOT overpowering the NHS but at what other costs??? - I suppose the real damage being done will not be known for many years.

On that note I'll finish now and wish you - Merry Christmas... and if you and any other consenting adults wish to eat your xmas lunch together and your nan is happy for a hug...I'll not be one to jump on the 'berating band wagon'.... use your common sense and so long as any "family/close friend unit" are consenting - who you eat sprouts with and watch crappy telly with is your business...not anyone elses.

Until next time...

Tuesday 15 December 2020

Human Kindness verses Self obsessed modern life...a bit of a rant

What on earth is going on with the world at the moment?


Where has ‘humanity’ gone? … Where has ‘Kindness’ gone? … WHY are SO many people (mainly Daily Mail readers I suspect) behaving in such a self- centred way?

WHEN was the last time  YOU did something kind for the benefit of someone else? – hmmm? – I don’t mean grandiose gestures JUST something kind… that might make a difference to whatever internal HELL someone else is going through?

If you are struggling to remember  - then quite frankly… whilst NOT wishing to be a virtue signaler, it’s time you got off your arse, went for a walk and used your eyes to see the frailty around you.  It’s really easy to make a difference to someone’s day – a simple “Hello – what awful weather*can be substituted with; Isn’t it lovely the sun is out for a change*”… it’s all about connecting with someone who isn’t as lucky as you are to be ‘settled’.  Someone who perhaps HAS worked extremely hard – perhaps continues to do so, in extremely challenging times with nothing but despair at the end of THEIR tunnels, in comparison to your lot.  Just think about it and try and walk a mile in THEIR shoes without looking down your nose thinking “well we/I had it hard too” bollocks… cause that’s what it is is… all bollocks. 

I am probably as FAR as you can get from a socialist but I AM a humanist /empath and other people’s pain can be crushing.    By pain I mean “real pain”- perhaps subjectively … certainly not self pity pain or the kind of  “My life is more important than your life or feelings so I’m going to protect myself in a bubble because I can”… sometimes to the detriment of the people around you (if you are lucky enough to have anybody or that you’ve not pushed away) who cares about you and WANT to see you… give you a hug perhaps – REGARDLESS of whether Boris says you are allowed to or not ffs.

Many folks are SO compliant with  the government GUIDANCE that they are no longer able to make their OWN sensible decisions – in short, they’ve been  brainwashed into avoiding their families for fear they might  contract covid and die.  YEAH – some do/have/will… many wont… quite frankly  I know if my mum was alive still, she’d willingly take the risk for one last hug with either my brother   or I (me or/and my brother however it should be written) whether it killed her or not.   I suppose that is maternal instinct… good parenting and you’ve either got it or you haven’t.

I suspect it’s mass brain-washing… people susceptible to the trite they read in the likes of the Daily Mail *Other completely bigoted newspapers ARE available but rarely considered by those already brain-washed enough to read the DM in the first place*…  people who claim to have enough education and ‘life’ experience to consider themselves ‘well informed’ have become – for want of a more eloquent expression; Self obsessed sheeple!

It’s a shame - it really is… SOME folks beyond the age of 70 *already if you think in biblical terms  *past their ‘3 score years and 10’  demonizing anyone trying to get on with  life.  Oh it’s ok for them… sometimes sitting in their  (certainly  in many cases) financial ‘ivory towers’ to be demanding “stricter measures” to stifle the spread of Sars 2 … these measures being MORE full lock downs.  DON’T they get it? – THEY DON’T WORK….  All they do is SLOW things down enough for the Hospitals to be able to (to some extent) cope with the numbers of people who need medical assistance to either recover from it… or die.

Sadly,  MANY equally life threatening –(for many younger people, still with families to bring up) are getting side-lined because of it…I totally “GET” the government’s stance… it would just be easier if they would/could openly say, we CANNOT protect everyone and ensure no one dies… life isn’t like that… ALL we can do is mitigate the speed at which it spreads… and EVEN WITH A VACINE – which they are already saying might prevent you from contracting it, will NOT STOP you spreading it – ergo, we may as well all right off 2021 and your kids/grandchildren can look forward to massive taxes for the duration of their working lives… anyone under 30 – perhaps 40 (who hasn’t already been fortunate to secure a mortgage) can abandon any idea of being able to OWN their own homes  - instead, a life time of perpetual renting is pretty much written in stone for them.  In short – it sucks MORE for the younger folks than It does for the oldies.

Before I offend ALL my demographic here,  the above RANT has come about because of conversations I have been having with the disillusioned folks I take the time to talk to when I’m out and about  - NOT for altruistic reasons … I’m the first to admit to being lonely… I AM lonely.. I spend WAY too much time on my own and I hate spending time alone… it’s toxic.  I walk for miles each day and for my own SELFISH reasons talk to people… ‘cause I crave interaction with others – in the selfish hope that by listening to their problems/ perception of the world today,  it makes mine seem less important.  Alas, that doesn’t always happen… in fact, more often than not, I head back to the boat full of THEIR worries on top of my own…. Still, tomorrow is ALWAYS another day but if I should die in my sleep, it doesn’t really matter.  UNLIKE the young fellow I spent some time talking with today.  He’s only in his mid 30s – parents dead ( mum 5 years ago – father last year), wife has just confessed to cheating on him with a mutual friend … 2 kids – one the paternity of which is now under question. .. he HAD been furloughed from his employment only to be recently made redundant… we were sat (sitting) on the same concrete bench in the sun – me listening to pop master initially through my headphones – him just staring into space.  As lost as I can feel, sitting there with him pouring his heart out (admittedly he’d got his way through a fair through  few cans of Stella) I felt SO helpless not having any words of comfort … I almost wished I was a man of god – or at least a man with the capacity to say something profound enough to provide some kind of succor … alas, the best I could do was have a swig of his beer as we chatted and head down my own rabbit hole of despair.  I'm lucky... not having kids to consider but  His Christmas is going to be the first without his kids, no parents of his own to prop him up and provide much needed support  .... a pretty wretched time  BUT luckily for him, a kind hearted -(perhaps Christian ) old lady next door to the bedsit he's ended up in has offered to spend the day with him...despite HER vulnerability to covid, SHE has seen the support they can offer each other in both their times of despair and she's prepared to take that risk for the sake of humanity.

Luckily (for me) – when we went on our respective journeys, I was heading back to a marina with at least the opportunity to interact with either another ditch dweller/marina staff ,  acting the fool long enough to make them laugh or at least feel better about their day which might also be just a shitty.


Can you say the same?

If not … perhaps DITCH the newspaper and pick up a copy of the “The Good news Bible” - … I’m not religious in any shape or form but it’s an easy read and makes a lot more sense than the Daily Mail EVER will…


Until next time…


Saturday 5 December 2020

Towpath Life... Tax Returns and Christmas looming.

 Here we are again... can you tell I'm making a determined effort NOT to ignore this place as much as I did during the summer? - ironically perhaps as now, bugger all is REALLY happening...  it's pretty much groundhog day - day in - day out. 

The Towpath however HAS seen a change of use again.  During the recent (now thankfully ended) period of 'lockdown', more and more folks have been using the Towpath.   A few boaters moan about this but quite honestly, it's nice to see people as I wander down to Sale or Deansgate.  There is nothing (well for me at least) quite so miserable as towpath, bereft of human interaction potential.  Yes, I  know I'm a bit odd.  ACTUALLY, I take that back ... I'm no more odd than many of the other 'lost' folks wandering up and down the towpath when I stop to think about it... only difference is, I'm paying double what a 'leisure boater' pays to use the canal and a gazillion times more than 'Joe-public' is.

I don't mind at all.  I'm good at sharing. You see, the towpath is teaming with life (imagine Sir David Attenborough)- (I don't know how to spell his name) describing the comings and goings.

To start with, we've got the boating folk... striding around - more often than not wearing Shorts (like me) with their floaty ball key rings clipped to their shorts... mud up the back of their legs  and smiling/saying hello to everyone coming towards them or sat (sitting) on a bench etc.  THEN you've got the ding-a-lingers on bikes (I'm NOT so keen on them truth be told), who zoom up behind you ... give  a few dings on their bell and  EXPECT you to get out of their way.  At the nicer end of the 'user spectrum' are the old dears having a wander along canal side - hoping (like me quite often) to have the opportunity to interact with another human being... before they go back to their prison like home for the remainder of the darkness... in anticipation of repeating their walk the following day etc.

Unlike the Street or retail park, there is (despite what some of the more recent towpath converts think ) an understanding that it's "OK" to say hello when on the towpath... to everyone - be they on boats, kayaks, walking a dog, pushing a child in  buggy or even staggering around with a can (or 7) of 'special brew'... It's OK cause I'd hazard a guess most of us have made a conscious choice to BE there and avoid the more hostile routes.  Even the ones smoking dope are friendly enough on the whole.  I don't like the smell of it but it's no more offensive I suppose than the soap dodgers you often have to queue behind in Aldi *other German supermarkets with limited product ranges are available*... 

Oddly, today as I was walking Manchester direction, a chap (this time a jogger) passed by me and I got that strange smell for pork and onion pies - the ones that taste lovely from Stanforths in Skipton but when my brain processed it must have been a stale sweat aroma, I admit to feeling quite bilious at that point lol.

Then we've got the ladies who buy all the exercise gear but really are just having a gossip with a mate as they meander along the towpath.  I met a couple of these the other days on a "run out" - heavens I sound like Thora Herd in Last of the Summer wine ...  I must have been looking "good" - (something that doesn't happen often and tbh, I was only have a jaunt out cause cabin fever was setting in.  I can only imagine WHAT they were talking about but as I rounded a corner and dropped into tick-over for some moored boats, one of them shouted "my friend fancies you and your boat, are you single?" - quite taken aback I replied (possibly blushing) "I'm newly divorced but dance backwards"... which they didn't get so I had to (by then I was a few feet further ahead) wave a limp wrist at them to further explain... at which point they were (practically ro0lling on the floor laughing.

All good fun and positive interactions.

Of course it's not all rosy - as we chug up and down the canl, OR (as it mostly the case during the winter months) you ALSO come across 'troubled' folks... those who can't quite fit into society... or perhaps they choose NOT to fit.  They're just as worthy of a conversation or bit of kindness though.  I suppose THEY are the ones we SHOULD be looking out for and trying to help.  I try but don't always manage it and admit to choosing carefully if someone looks dangerous. 

Writing of 'scruffy people' I can't remember if I've already shared this with you but the other week - I was walking back from a gin run (ok perhaps I bought some bread and milk too) with my back pack on  and on my route is a church... where apparently on Thursday mornings they run a food bank... well it was just after lunch and I did notice a van being packed up with stuff but didn't give it much attention until was level with it... AT which point, a lovely old lady wandered out of the church front with a white carrier bag and offered me a bag of  (presumably) food not claimed... As tempting as it was (I doubt there would have been any gin in it though) I politely declined and continued on my way back to the boat... chuckling to myself that I've finally blended into cc society.  The joke is that on paper as a result of this Covid year, I probably DO I meet the criteria.  Oh dear... time to buy some less holey shorts and t-shirts from charity shops again.   

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

NOW that lock down is over, Manchester remains in tier 3... ergo, whilst shops, barbers, gyms and pools are open - you CAN'T go into a pub.  It's all a bit pants really... the reality is that the "covid spreading hubs" (in my opinion) ARE the supermarkets that we ALL have to go into! - you know, the places where you DON'T have to submit to track and trace and where folks who are "mask exempt" regularly loiter around spreading (or potentially spreading) their germs... NO - Government totally ignores THEM as places of mass transmission!  Folks anonymously spreading the virus- day in, day out.

That really does irk.  It must REALY irk for the many pubs/restaurants being screwing into the ground as a result.

At the risk of having ANOTHER moan, I STILL maintain - EVERYONE should be wearing masks - end of... I'm exempt due to my asthma but quite frankly feel it a moral (perhaps civil) duty to wear one when I have to and  quite frankly, anyone who has emotional or mental health issues SO severe that wearing a mask whilst in Tesco's *other militant supermarkets are available* is clearly UNSAFE to be out without a carer anyway!


In MORE positive news, I've done my Tax return for the previous year and that feels good.  I'm quite open about this so the 'profit' element whilst modest WAS an improvement on the startup year so that's good - alas, all the profit (and more) was eaten up with solicitors fees and divorce loan repayments but hey - they'd have been there without the profit so I choose to see this as a positive! 2020 WAS to have been the year when things began to look up but we all know what happened to that.  The reality now is it's been a debt building year.  NOW with the good news about the covid vaccines coming online, hopefully 2021 will help get back to 'zero'... and if not, surely 2022 will!

Out and about, Xmas lights are going up and that's nice to see (I usually think it's WAY too early) but this year, any light is GOOD light!

I'm quite looking forward to Christmas this year - not since I was a kid have I enjoyed it.... Xmas really is for kids...  luckily, my folks have been self sufficient and not guilted either me or my brother (my brother and I?) into enforced family xmas gatherings.  Last year did feel cruel NOT being with dad - his first on his own since mum died (after 52 years together) but he WAS adamant he wanted to be miserable on his own.... likewise in my case I was mourning both Joyce dying AND the end of my civil partnership,  Dad again this year is choosing not to take up any of the offers bestowed up on him which I totally understand.... he KNOWS he's loved and wanted but will do his own thing.  I respect that.

THIS year, with a guest coming, it's a different kettle of fish on board 'Ellis' -  I've already got  some crackers, and I've half a plan to wait until 23rd December and see what lights are left - time will tell on that one!

Righty ho - enough of this now... it's Saturday night, Strictly is looming on the goggle box and I feel a glass of something cold and dry coming on.

Until next time....

Sunday 29 November 2020

Not Hacked... boaty chores and 2022 Cruise Itinery Started.

 I hate fiddling with the website - partly cause I'm crap at it... partly cause it goes against the original 'dream' life of being a free spirit bobbing around the canals on a whim.  Reality bites though and the only way I can afford to do this until I can draw my pension is through structured trips... a (not too difficult I suppose) compromise I can live with - in fact, one I embrace when it comes to actually HAVING guests on board... I just don't like the planning.  Several people have commented about my poor syntax and grammar - whilst I do GET their point, it's such a faff to fiddle with the formatting and given my tendency to bugger things up when I try and change them, I'm learning not to worry about it too much.

There's a saying an old bloke who used to come in to my dad's garage used on many occasion:  "It's near enough for a country spot"... I  always liked that and suppose have adopted it as my mantra lol.

ANYWAY - I have made a start on my 2022 routes.  Having enjoyed the time we spent going up and down the Anderton boat lift this year... AND the cruising on the River Weaver, we're going to start the season with a few trips around Northwich.   I've put in the header note about the plan to get a dog for 2022... it might not happen but forewarned is forearmed AND doing it with the consent of prospective guests FEELS like the right way forward.   If there was any way I could persuade 'Ed's" dad to give him up I wood as he's a smashing fella.

Website building a side, I've also being doing some inside jobs that I can get on with during the wet weather - which seems like ALL the time at the moment.  I've an awful lot of painting to touch up after quite a 'rough' season ... just look at all the scuffs and marks on the starboard stern.

The bow isn't much better either.

I could really do with some dry weather though... it's not cold yet so painting would be ok but it's just never dry enough to sand and paint... grrr.

INSIDE - the new (mains powered) bigger fridge freezer whilst brilliant, IS a pain when it comes to the freezer part.  You see, the door cannot open totally and given the "flaps" can't open all the way, putting stuff in and out is a bit of a pain in the proverbial.  My temporary

solution to this is to remove the larder /tumble drier cupboard door which is currently surface mounted - cut a strip off the side to shrink it and then re-fit it flush.  I'd worked out doing that would give an extra 22mm of opening space for the door.

It has made it a little easier but NOT enough.  The longer term solution is going to be (I think) a piano hinge in the middle of the (now flush) door - that way it can fold back on itself totally and allow the freezer to open fully INTO the cupboard.    That will have to wait until the end of this lockdown so I can have a meander around B & Q or wherever.

Another internal EASY WIN has been a new loo seat - soft close and only plastic but given I spend a lot of time looking into the bathroom (leaving the door open to let the heat from the fire circulate) I've put on a sticker which cheers me up...

Childish I'll admit but it does make me smile.

In other news, given the revised countrywide tiers that have been announced after this lock down finishes shortly (what lock down???) I think we are unlikely to be taking any guests anytime soon - despite the now permissible "Xmas" free for all.

Trouble is that VERY few people are obeying the supposed FULL lock down we've just had (well are technically still in until the 3rd Dec).

When taking my exercise, (or buying gin) it's clear by the number of cars on the road during "non- rush -hours" folks are just out and about...  high streets, despite not having many shops open are STILL heaving...  the tow path is full of folks and groups of youths are hanging around empty buildings doing the sort of things they would usually do... 

Corner shops are not asking folks to wear masks... the 2 metre rule is gradually being ignored.

SHORT of the army being on the streets pointing guns at us - like China would do, the uk population won't comply...

Even the oldies are revolting...

I do as I'm supposed so - to a sensible point... and that's just that..  everyone is thinking they are doing what their supposed to - to THIER version of a sensible point... people who are "mask exempt" are waving their silly little lanyards to show their exemption as they wander around Tescos infecting (allegedly) the rest of us...

The reality of government OR opposition at the moment, is NO ONE knows how to progress...  

I've been rejected by the discretionary hospitality fund for my home town because "Hotels are not being ordered to close this time" - and because I'm classed as an Hotel, I CAN be open... to "appropriate" customers... it's a complete farce... alas, one which no matter how much I moan about it, there is nothing to be done.

Hey ho - although given the approaching season perhaps that should be HO HO  😆

Oh btw - I nearly forgot... I had an email the other day from a well meaning reader, who intimated the blog might have been hacked as adverts are now appearing on it.  HANDS up...  I was fiddling with the new settings (new since blogger forced me off the legacy version which I liked, to their new version) and I activated something called Ad-sense... apparently having advertisements that are supposed to be relevant, is making a few pence... it'll all add up and who knows... perhaps someone might actually see something worth while.  Sorry if they are a pain but ANY source of additional income right now is well and truly welcome this end.

Until next time...

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Fire-Escape & and 'That's That Then'.

Now then,  here we are again - nearly the end of November and I just realized I'm behind where I was LAST year in the old 'book-keeping' chores... looking through my phone to see what I'd been up to recently, I came across the screen shot I took on the 6th Nov Last year of my accepted Tax return by HMRC.  Hmmf...  not like it'll make begger all difference to the finances but I suppose I really do need to get it done before the deadline becomes just that.

MEANWHILE - ignoring 'grown up stuff' for a moment... ACTUALLY, come to think of it I suppose this is just as grown up:  After17 months of solicitors bills (for very little actual work me thinks), last week I got the Final Dissolution Order through from the court... WHICH in "normal parlance" would be classed as the 'Decree-absolute' - ergo,  I am now FINALLY legally single again.  I really do pity people who got 'properly married' or those with kids and maintenance issues to sort out... it must be horrible.  It's been a difficult enough split for us and we already came to a fair agreement BEFORE involving a solicitor.  In hindsight, we should have just done it ourselves and saved an awful lot of money for nothing.  Hey ho. Anyway - That's that then...  the end of an Era.

I'd hoped to feel more positive about it to be honest - alas when the paperwork landed on the doormat  (my tenant opens my post and updates me accordingly) it felt like a final dagger to the heart... like watching years of (mostly positive memories) having a big red cross put through them.  I can't deny it's sent me on a bit of a downer... not helped by the miserable winter blues nagging at my mood, all at the time of my late mums birthday anniversary...(and that's with me ignoring the covid elephant in the room).  Still - it does leave both Andy and I "free" to do it all again... hmm...  or perhaps not!  

We're still in touch - all be it at a LONG arms length...  there is still genuine affection for each other and I'm confident as time heals, we'll be able to be proper friends...  right now, I'm still smarting emotionally and as much as I WANT to totally forgive, I'm not sure I have the capacity just yet... likewise I suppose from his point of view... in one of my less proud moments (admittedly at the end of a very difficult few months, during which I struggled to come to terms with what had been going on) I lost control and was cruel to someone when I shouldn't have been... namely his parents.  The contents of that vicious exchange ( vicious from both sides) are private but suffice to say buttons, were pushed from which there came a point of no return - Which I'm sad about and when NOT looking through the red haze of the time, I regret and am sorry about.  

Still - it's all water under the bridge now and I hope everyone is able to move forward in whatever weird direction mother nature has in store for us all.

In my case, I had a VERY close call with the Grim-Reaper this week...  For a while now, when the immersion heater has been on (it's rated at 1kw) I've noticed 'hot smell' coming from the inverter.  To be honest, I just rationalized it in my head that as it contains a massive coil and moffsats (I think that's their name) this was probably just a  side - effect of them doing their job.

Being on Shoreline, I didn't really think much  of it until the other evening whilst cooking tea.  I had the microwave on at the same time as the immersion... (immersion 1kw and microwave rated at 1.5kw) -combined total still within the inverters capacity (or on pass-through mode) the 16amp shoreline feed.

The  'hot' smell became more of a 'Smokey' smell.

On opening the cupboard to look, it became apparent all was NOT good- acrid smoke was being produced and a strange "glow" from inside the inverter was visible.  After knocking off the power at the boat's isolator AND outside at the shoreline, I investigated properly by removing covers etc.

IT turned out that the negative INPUT must have had (good English) a poor/stretched connection and passing such a big current through created enough heat to melt the connecting block.

I went looking for a big choc block in amongst my electrical gubbings box... only to remember, I USED up the big ones last year when I fitted the power supply in the bedroom for the chap who had booked who needed to bring a CPAP machine with him... never used in anger due to covid trapping him in Germany.

Knocking on a neighboring (mid self build) boat, I managed to scrounge a smaller one and decided to use it for the earth.  I also replaced the internal negative wire with a new piece (and put the heat sleeve over it too) .

On putting it all back together I turned everything back on (hearing the fridge/freezer start up) I was relieved when it worked again.  Over the next couple of hours I kept checking (as you do) for smells and having phoned my brother (he's an electrician) and shown him what I'd done, we agreed all is now well...  I might just have been a case of poor crimping on the initial installation but whatever the cause, it's now resolved... the grim reaper being sent on his way on this occasion.  

To be on the SAFE SIDE - I fitted new batteries in all 3 smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms before retiring for the night lol.

IN OTHER NEWS... remember I mentioned about putting on a couple of Xmas Specials up on the website? - well I did... just 2, 3 night trips... ONE of which was snapped up very quickly which is marvelous... what's even better is that it's the Xmas eve one  and it's the lady who came for her 70th (and thus saved her 'bubble' for us, so no matter what happens, Boris can't really put a spanner in things.

The other one is yet to go but even if it doesn't, I think we'll make the trip anyway cause as lovely as Shoreline is, I do get a bit itchy hull when not moving around.

Ooo, before I go (I've 5 miles to walk this morning to pick up a parasol due an accidental WRONG location click and collect), I've had another visit from the Spanish rescue dog yesterday - he's a charming fellow and I REALLY could keep him.  He poses for photos almost instinctively

don't you think?

HIS visits have really made me think it's time to get another dog... or rather PLAN to.  Something Ed's size and nature would be perfect.  

The thing is, I DO have to consider what booked guests might think... SO - in a bid not to brass anyone off who's booked already for 2021, I've decided that WHEN I put the 2022 schedule online (I'm about to start that), at the top of the page is going to be a large paragraph explaining that for the 2022 season there will be a dog on board... this BEFORE anyone can book so as not to enforce it on anyone.  I Think that's fair and gives me  NEXT winter to find the perfect rescue dog to join the good ship Ellis.

Until Next time...

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Overnight Oats (Bircher Muesli) and no comment

 Ignoring what is currently going on in the world, here on Ellis I am sinking my teeth in to my winter jobs list again...  a few easy wins such as taking the (overly dark mirror film I put on last winter) OFF the portholes and side hatches,  changing the mesh on the roof vents to ones with smaller holes  (now the fly nets have worn out over the mushrooms)  and touching up scratches here and there.    Bigger jobs include re-modelling the crew wardrobe to remove hanging rails and make shelves/dividers to store clothes folded on and also in the lower half, fit shelving to store uht milk, soft drinks AND make space for the very useful (but space consuming) sholley to live.... instead of it being on top of the crew loo - which to be frank had become a pain in the bum every night when preparing crew quarters for bed.

As much of the country is probably sitting around at home eating and drinking more than is good for them in the run up to 2021, I am taking the opposite approach - as much as I'd LIKE to keep eating and drinking whatever I like, the reality is, now we're not moving around I am just turning into a fat middle-aged puff! - the latter I can't really do much about... the former...? well it requires will power and motivation - both of which are in short supply but having touched on 13 stone 10 the other day, it HAS to happen.  

My blood pressure is higher than it should be (even having been medication for it for the last 20 years)  

- cholesterol is also high and the doc did suggest last year I they'd take another test and put me on statins but then Covid came along so that was that.  Having had a phone consultation recently, they suggested I take an over the counter test from a chemist and let them know the results...  suffice to say once again the overall level being 6. something or other, meaning in the absence of "proper" testing, they sent an online prescription to the nominated chemist... ahem, school boy error idiot at large here HADN'T changed it from Boots Northwich! - ergo, I'll not be collecting them anytime soon.

So - in an attempt to soak up as much as I can without medication, I've began the whole Plant Sterols regime and forced myself to begin eating over night oats for breakfast each day... after the 3rd day, I stopped noticing how unsweet they tasted and am now a bit of a convert....  AS for the plant sterols - all I have to say on that subject is that after a week or so on them, I seemed to develop an allergic reaction and my back came up in lumps and bumps and itched like mad.  On stopping them, it disappeared... 'looks like all my hopes are pinned on the oats.  I'll report back in a month if I'm still alive!☺😁☺  I've also knocked the gin on the head massively - initially doing alternate days... then every 3rd day and now I try  not to drink until weekends.... with varying results but any day missed HAS to be a benefit.  

The toe is still sore but I'm making better progress now walking and in fact can manage 6 miles or so in my boots before I have to take a pain killer... wish the same could be said for my back  but I suppose that's the price you pay for being such an agile, athletic old man - eventually, nature catches up with you.  Hey ho.  LUCKILY, being ginger people don't notice the limping!

What else to report? - er not a lot really...  when I'm not pottering about doing chores, I trying to work out a couple of short Xmas trips to put on the website (that will depend on what happens on 2nd Dec.) and also work some more trips out for the end of next year.  2022 is in the planning now and I  AM going to begin the year from Stone and spend some time on the River Weaver doing 5 or 6 night trips from Anderton, down the lift and after a few nights on the river, ending at Northwich Marina to do change overs plugged into electric... it makes it SO much easier.  After that, I think it'll be time to head further south but as yet I'm not sure.

BEFORE then however, I really need to get my accounts up to date for the previous year and do the tax return - tbh, the figs are already in a spreadsheet so it's really just a case of pulling my finger out.

Thing is, I keep getting distracted - yesterday I made a new friend... Whilst I was buggering about trying to fit the shelves in the wardrobe, I turned around and there he was - sitting quite happily watching me!

Upon instruction (and after a dog biscuit) he went and sat outside and continued to watch me working... amazingly, understanding me perfectly... later on I discovered he's actually a rescue dog from Spain! As you will imagine I spent the rest of the afternoon doing my BEST "Manwell" (how do you spell that?) impression... "I speak very good Spanish... I learn it from a book" lol.

So there we are - Remembrance day...11th hour, 11th day, 11th month. ALL this Covid stuff is REALLY put into perspective by WW1 I think!

Until next time....

Friday 23 October 2020

Moan Moan Moan Moan Moan! - oh and the 4200 hours service

 I'll come clean - I'm not in the best of moods at the moment... well let's face it, WHO is?  This whole situation with restrictions and people with different opinions /solutions/knee jerk reactions and down right hostility is getting me down.  Well more cross about it than down I suppose but given the impending "dark gloomy nights" and short days it's only a matter of time before I'm feeling blue.

The thing is, I love boating, and moving around the network - I love chatting with folks and having guests on board.  Winter is miserable enough after a GOOD summer of guests ...  I'd hoped for a good season (I'd been pretty much fully booked at the start of the season ) - well PRE the covid situation.  SO many folks couldn't come (the overseas totally cancelled and even when we were allowed to operate under the '1 metre plus' guise, quite a few didn't want to take the risk... which I totally understand.

Others were "trapped" in places like Wales and Scotland with their power crazed dictators cautious leaders locking them up like criminals  To summarize, from a potential "earning year" of  30 weeks, we only were able to "do" 7 and a half... the majority of which were solo travelers... in short, I'm heading into winter with even less than bugger all and STILL have divorce loans to some how repay.  NOW OK ... I'm not destitute as despite NOT being GIVEN any grants or self employed income support (you'll recall I didn't qualify as due to this being a new business, I didn't have 3 years profitable tax returns to submit)  I WAS able to borrow 25 percent of my turnover on the basis of a 'bounce back loan' - which of course will need to be repaid.  I can survive and will try and offer some out of season day trips again as soon as tier 2/3 restrictions permit 2 households being under one roof again...

THIS whole "tier" thing is a load of bollocks, designed to let the government off the hook from having to try and 'pay' people not to work whilst at the same time, effectively passing the buck to businesses/self employed folks.

THING is, I GET it.  Boris and Co - (and by Co I suppose I mean the country) can't afford to have a total lock down again... and anyway it DIDN'T work last time did it? - all these folks spouting off about a ruddy circuit breaker being required (and Wales / Northern Ireland and Scotland most probably - I've lost track a bit) don't seem to GET it....  it's all spin an being SEEN to be trying to do something .... when in reality there is bugger all they CAN do.  I believe the term is LIP SERVICE.   Boris needs to grow a pair of balls and actually state that we can't afford to hide away forever...  RATHER than allocating funds to provide (lip service ) support, to the offending areas, how about  channeling all that money into MORE field hospitals to provide covid care  - let it burn it's way through and let the people who WANT to hide - or rather CAN afford to hide on their pensions and HAVE all the supermarket delivery slots etc. DO SO.

I'm really getting sick of the young folks being demonized for just trying to get on with things - I saw a lovely clip the other day of an 83 year old woman saying she's not got much time left and she'll be dammed if she's gonna hide away so she'll take her chances - very stoic but more importantly NOT selfish... she went on to say it's all well and good her friends berating the youth for putting "her" in danger but they will be ones who (if they are lucky enough to be employed in whatever economic world is left) will be paying for this for years after she is dead anyway.

Sobering but true.

Don't get me wrong - I AM complying with the guidance... I AM wearing a ruddy mask when in shops like I'm supposed to but it really is a load of cobblers having to wear a mask to get from a pub door to a table - then take it off once I'm sitting down.  It makes NO sense... NOR does the "children being except" rubbish - everyone knows they are full of germs at the best of times... it's all gotten so silly it'd be funny if society hadn't been brainwashed.  THE REALITY of a SAFE mask is this - what is now having to be worn all day in operating theatres 

So all this silly mask wearing obsession whilst might mitigate how far the globules in a cough can travel, WON'T do an awful lot to stop it spreading...they are just a way for governments globally to create some positive assurances that our lives matter ... the reality is none us really do.

Rant over - suffice to say I continue to follow guidance, wear a face covering, wash my hands and keep the required distance away from people which is common sense (well that latter 2 anyway).

MEANWHILE - back in boaty land...

When the couple got off in Chirk, we decided we'd go BACK up to Llangollen Basin to do our "1 day turn around" back on mains electric ... that turned out to be a bad move as we ended up stuck in a convoy - at the head of which was a 70 foot boat being skippered by someone who'd never been on one before and who held everyone up.  In fact, a couple of boats ahead of us actually winded and abandoned the journey.

We tolerated it and did a couple of loads of laundry on route anyway so it turned out for the best in the end.  Next day we headed back to Trevor and collect our next guests.  They were with us for 5 nights and after them we had another quick turn around and then another guest joined us in Nantwich to Penkridge.  When he'd departed  we trudged on to Stone in the wind and rain and then spent a few days on shoreline in Aston Marina.  IT was nice to see my friends again (who are there now for the winter ) and when the time came to leave, we began our trip back up north where we're to spend the winter. The plan HAD been Aston but with winter stoppages planned, IF they over run (and lets face it that's highly likely) we'd NOT be able to begin next season in the right place at the right time.  

So here we are ... effectively trapped in a tier 3 area for a month at least with no chance of doing any trips.  On the plus side, I HAVE done the 4200 hour service and also gotten rid of 20 litres of waste oil to be used as fuel for a boat yards heating system.

Here's a photo of me having a nap after that picnic we had down by the river near the Ponty what's it's name? aqueduct.

I think that was the last sleep I had lol - nothing to do with a big swig of oramorph to ease my poorly toe - WHICH is still sore btw if anyone cares.

Until next time... (when I'll hopefully be feeling more chipper)

Friday 2 October 2020

LONG overdue update, a bit (well lot) of a moan, a broken toe and a dislocated shoulder!

 Righty ho - I'm finally back here for a catch up.... not really with any spare time as such, but we've stopped early today due to Storm 'Alex' making progress difficult and bloody miserable!  

WHAT'S been happening I hear you ask? - well, having merged two trips together so as to enable a returning guest (who's barmy but lovely  who's great fun)  to celebrate her 70th Birthday on 'Ellis'   BEFORE then however, we took another trip down the Anderton Boat lift to enable easy mooring of the the boat near the supermarket to stock up - NOT before the lady had met us in Lymm at the pub to buy us lunch AND bring two caldrons of plants ( a few days before her trip) that were shortly going to be bursting into flower - we do get em!

I think you'll agree, they looked nice enough on the roof of the boat as we waited return passage up the lift.

In typical ginger style, whilst leaping back on to the boat like a fat ginger lump the athletic gazelle I am, I clonked my middle toe on my left foot on the dolly and apart from pushing the nail back through the bed and causing it to bleed profusely for days, I think (from the ongoing pain) I must have broken it.  Having consulted 'Dr Google' the consensus being nothing can be done other than strapping it to another to until it heals...  suffice  to say, nearly a month on it 's still blooming painful - NOT that I'm moaning about it so much now and after the initial 3 weeks of not being able to wear anything on it other than crocs, I can now at least tolerate a trainer.

We did our 'covid clean' (which is just the same as a normal one tbh) and collected our guest near The Old Broken Cross at Northwich.  After the usual ching wag and glass of fizz, we began our trip to Llangollen.

AS you'll know if you read this (and yes I admit I've been really crap lately at writing it... so much so in fact, the other day a woman passed by on another boat and shouted " I still read your blog but you need to pull your finger out" ) you'll know, GENERALLY I'm quite forgiving of hire boaters doing silly things...  HOWEVER, just as we ascended our first locks of the trip in Middlewhich, we encountered  hire boat "mid hand over" who 'stole our lock' just as we'd come up and one had come down in the middle pound...  meaning I had know where to go in the wind other than the far side - the so called expert (the chap doing the hand over from the bank side) then shouted at me that I'd need to move as the boat was 70 foot long and needed the space to turn... I'm afraid I shouted back and explained what a poor example of boating etiquette HE'D just demonstrated to the hirers... and have to admit to sulking about it for a fair few hours after.


Next day I was in a better mood and we stopped off at Church Minsull where, we took a walk into the pub for a lunchtime glass of vino - OVER priced at £19.50 for 3 glasses!

Still, the "socially distanced" toilet in the loo did give me a giggle.

AND the scramble back up though the woods was pleasant enough.

We continued our journey and after a detour up the Shroppie to Calverley Services (to dump some rubbish that Venetian Marina wouldn't take when we filled up with diesel) and were soon on the Llangollen canal again... our trip was interesting as we encountered several hire boats without the first clue of how to work a lock - the result being queues of 5-6 boats soon mounting up.  

LUCKILY, the bosun is now well versed with bossing people about at providing assistance, so he and Chrissie went to the front of the queue to sort things out and in Much less time than it could have been, we were making reasonable progress.  We went a bit further than we'd planned to (once the hirers had stopped so as not to be behind them again the following day) and due to an early start, there was even time the following morning for an impromptu "zoom" Zumba session - on the towpath...  luckily, the captain had enough sense the night before NOT to agree to join in... unlike David. 

It was an exercise theme to continue throughout the rest of the trip lol.  OUR 70 year old not behaving like a 70 year old AT ALL!

The weather was behaving itself quite nicely so we decided to take a segway down the Monty branch...  Chrissie insisting on working the locks and remembering about the "blow holes" I was ready with my camera when we began our descent.

 I'd forgotten HOW shallow it is down there... not so bad when you are in the middle of the channel but whenever you meet a boat coming the other way, BOTH parties get grounded quite often.  Still, the journey to the end of the navigable section was enjoyable and we spent a lovely while down there... 

We even  went exploring on the kayak...NOT quite so sure where we'd stand insurance wise (although the kayak IS licensed properly) but you can't keep a game bird down with trivialities like that so we did it anyway...  NO Matter.  It was a lovely change from the chug of the engine.

Once our sojourn down the Monty was over with, we continued up stream - NOT before I'd been made to walk nearly 6 miles STILL with a broken toe to a pub for a drink... I barely moaned about as you can imagine...IN my crocs - them being all I could tolerate at the time!

A little farther on, I threw an "I'm sick of cooking" tantrum so we went out for tea in the Poachers Pocket in Chirk...  nice enough, a crappy selfie but these days you can't ask someone to take a photo  - apparently!

On route back to the boat we bought some eggs (as you do) and then had a "gin tasting night" .... the next day us ALL thinking the former was perhaps NOT the greatest idea we'd had!

Still, we had an easy day planned with a ramble along the aqueduct and picnic lunch down by the river underneath - David took his drone and this photo was the best quality he could take due to the fact he'd forgotten to put a memory card in it! - it IS us 3 having a lovely picnic though... my toe was really hurting so I'd been swigging oramorph on route  .

.. the result being me having an afternoon nap on the rocks by the river as they drank bubbles.

The remaining trip up from Trevor to Llangollen Basin was as interesting as usual with lots of chaotic moments including hire boaters AND live-aboards - all in great spirits.

Spending 2 nights in the basin, we were able to celebrate Chrissie's (I never know whether it should be Chrissy?) birthday with a surprise "unicorn cake" we'd kept hidden... and a rather dangerous candle which claimed to be safe for indoor use - we took no chances and I think the expression on her face, rather captured ALL our thoughts about said candle!

What this photo doesn't show is ME in  behind the camera with a fire-extinguisher to the ready!

We ended our trip with a birthday meal in the Cornmill Restaurant  - the usual one way system meaning that if you want a wee you have to go out the back door, round the outside, back in the front door and then repeat to get back to your table ... it's all a bit silly really but the sheeple seem to think it will stop covid spreading...  AND given how brainwashed we've all become, folks walking their dogs down the towpath wearing masks seem to think it'll make a difference.

Oh dear - If I'm not careful I'll end up on a rant about it...

MOVING away from that - we said our goodbyes following 2 weeks of laughs and adventurous japes - the down side being we only had 1 day to turn around and get the boat prepped for our new guests who were due on at Chirk the next afternoon... in the (rushed) process of mooring up, I took a tumble into the canal between the bank and the boat - only up to my groin and dislocated my shoulder during the attempt at not falling further...  this meant more pain (well i suppose it distracted me from my toe for a few days) but it went back in without too much hassle as I have quite lose shoulders...  FINALLY something useful about being genticially flawed lol

With new guests on board, we began another trip up to Llangollen Basin and then on to Ellesemere before returning 4 days later.  We had fun with them too but my photos seem to be missing...  no idea what I've done on my phone but hey ho.  It was their first trip on a narrowboat and they've booked to come again next year which is lovely... 

When they left, we had another next day turn around (5 loads of washing and drying being a bit of a schlepp  on a boat) but we did it and all was fine... I'll up date about that trip next time.  RIGHT now, time is cracking on and I've got dinner to cook.

until next time...