Monday, 29 March 2021

She is still there!

Monday 29th March 2021 

The day had arrived when we were to be allowed to visit the boat in the marina, so we were up and off.  We are expecting a couple of deliveries today, so wanted to be home again before lunch.  The good news was - she is still there! 

Even better - a quick internal inspection showed all was well - the last time we were here was as we arrived back from Crafted Boats on 19th December and we had noted there was a small leak around the bathroom porthole.  Since then we have had everything crossed that it had not got worse over the winter.  Thankfully it hadn't, but it does need to be re-sealed, so the next job was to start the engine and turn her round so the porthole is by the pontoon.  

A short time later she was settled back in her mooring again.

Once she was safely tied up, Monty and I headed off for his morning walk leaving Chris to do bits and bobs.  We clocked up almost 4 miles having got all the way to Netherwich Basin the other side of Vines Park in Droitwich.  There were 3 boats on the visitor moorings - I have to say there are a lot worse places to sit out a lock down.  The furthest boat away is close enough to the water point to fill up without moving.  There are rubbish facilities in the park and shops close by.  The one problem I can see is if you need to empty a toilet - okay if you have a waterless toilet and are composting your waste, but the nearest elsan and pump out facilities are back in Droitwich Spa Marina.

This was not our first walk along a canal this year, but was our first visit to Droitwich.  It was good to be back.  Spring is definitely in the air - well for the ducks at least.  There was a lot of head bobbing going on between these two.

You can see why so many of the dillies drown at this time of year - she is completely submerged and to add insult to injury another drake came to try and muscle in on the act.

He got short shrift and she survived to fight another day.

On my way back to the boat I took a very short detour to take some pictures of nb Chuffed - Debby and Dave, she is safe and sound and looking in fine fettle.

So what have we been up to since I last posted back in January - well not a lot!  We have both had our vaccinations as I am sure many of you will have done.  We should have our second ones before the end of April, so hope to be able to take to the waterways in May.

I am sure that a lot of us  have been spending our time out walking most days.  For us this has mostly been confined to our estate since Christmas, so we really have stayed local.  We are lucky that there are a lot of footpaths and quite a lot of different things to look at.  One also gets to know other dogs and their owners, so there is often the chance to stop for a socially distanced chat.  I have found many ways to extend what was our basic route, but I have to confess that boredom is beginning to set in, but we are not in a high rise flat in a city centre, so things could be a lot worse.

A selection of the paths we tread daily:

A short detour at one point takes us to a small holding 

With 10 Jacob sheep.  Apparently there will be no lambs this spring.

A couple of geese - I did wonder if one would end up on the table at Christmas, but no, they are still there. 

Three horses 

and their very small pony friend

Each day as we go round the duck pond

We have to stop for Monty to watch - we call it TV for dogs!  There are ducks, moorhens, squirrels and most fascinating of all 

a healthy and very well fed population of rats!

We have 8 minor roads to cross on our circuit round and Monty has got the sit and wait off to a fine art.

And finally as we come to the end of our walk, there are a couple of handy logs for Monty to get on which saves me bending down quite so far to re-attach his lead!

As lovely as all that is we were delighted when we were given the go ahead to resume C&RT ranger patrols on 29 February 2021.  We decided to just do the lower half of our Tardebigge route which is usually less crowded.  We did take a litter picker, but did not wear uniform - we wanted to just if we felt safe.  Oh how wonderful it was to be back beside the canal - Monty was back where he belonged.

The next day we did our first proper patrol since mid December.  I collected about 2 dozen dog bags in the first half mile!  Then by the reservoir there was the remains of a nitrous oxide party - very Covid safe all breathing in from the same balloon!!  We are lucky that we have a rural route that is usually quite clean, but we did fill two large shopping bags, so it was a job worth doing.  The following week it was just one bag, but for the first time in years we picked up around 2 dozen cigarette ends - neither of us can remember the last time we found even one.  The following week it was just half a bag, but oh my goodness what a state the tow path was in by what used to be the engine house by lock 57. At one time it was a nightclub (long before our time here) and now it is apartments.  The ground floor one is rented out and we have to assume there is a new tenant.  All I could see was cigarette ends.  I am bit OCD about counting (I cannot go up a large flight of stairs for eg in a castle without counting), so I counted as I picked - 74!!  I believe they take 10 years to fully decompose, so just what does that thoughtful tenant think is going to happen to them and how many are in the canal?  More to the point, how many will I find when we go this week?  I did add a comment on my report, but I am not sure what, if anything, can be done.  At the end of the day, it is littering.  

The last few Sundays I have been out walking with our daughter, Sarah.  We headed off down a path beside the local rugby club which eventually leads to Tardebigge - we were glad we had our boots on!
The views were worth it though

Having decided that once was enough with all that mud we next investigated a footpath that runs along the side of the local golf course.  It is a 4.5 to 5 mile round trip from our house, something Chris is unable to do, so I am very glad to be close enough to Sarah to go walking with her.  It is a great walk and Monty has a lot of freedom, but from today the golfers will be back, so I reckon he will be back on the lead next time we go (no running off with little white balls!).  We haven't managed a clear day yet, so I want to go back as there are far reaching views over the Malverns.  It is definitely a Sunday walk as we have to cross over a very busy road and then walk along the side of the A38 to get there, so you have to pick your time.

So what have we done apart from walking?  Well one snowy evening in January we were watching the television when water started to come through the ceiling!  Buckets were collected and the mains turned off.  This was about 21:30.  I called the home emergency people and a plumber arrived about 00:30 and left after a couple of hours - way beyond on our bedtime!  That was a Thursday and we had to wait until Monday for the spare part that was required to fix the expansion tank in the airing cupboard.  It was a different plumber who made the repair.  We were able to put the water on for a short time each day to flush the loos and to use the electric shower in our downstairs loo on one occasion each, so we survived.  It is at times like that that I am so grateful for emergency cover - it gives us great peace of mind.  Two months later, the water re-appeared.  The first plumber on scene in January arrived, this time mid afternoon and with no snow.  Thankfully it was a quick fix, sadly, the chap who did the initial repair failed to tighten a joint up correctly.  The weirdest part was having someone come into the house.  Masks and gloves were worn, so we felt quite safe.

Our other bit of entertainment happened behind our house - the school over the back fence contracted a tree surgeon to trim the trees that back on to our (and other houses).  I had a good view from my upstairs study of the young men shimming up the trees - they did an excellent job that was long overdue.  

The worst of the overhang went from this 

to this - a vast improvement.

What a bonus the internet has been.  We have regular Skype calls with the family and with The Cleddau crew and another couple - the 6 of us met almost 50 years ago.  Various games and quizzes have been done both with family and friends.  Kahoot was our first foray into quizzes and then we found 
OUTSMARTED.  Only one household needs the boxed set - everyone else can join via tablets or phones.  I would urge you to go and look - it is great fun.  I initially thought I would save some pennies and buy the set with the unpainted figures, but dug deep and coughed up the extra fiver - money well spent as all pale grey would be very boring and much easier to confuse when moving them about.  Mind you it does not take much to confuse me!  They are going to be bringing out new sets of questions, so the game will be ever expanding and up to date.

The triumph of internet entertainment took place last Friday when the Cleddau's crew's son in law hosted a session of Taskmaster for 4 couples.  We were tasked to arrive in surprising costumes and oh boy, were they a surprise!  Everyone really put in a huge amount of effort and we had a really good evening with many a laugh as we rushed hither and thither collecting this, that and the other to present to 'The Taskmaster'.  We promised no photos, so you will just have to imagine the fun!  

One of our other occupations has been reading via Skype with our youngest grandson.  It started in the first lockdown and has continued since then.  During this last period out of school we were doing it every day Monday to Friday.  Our favourite books have both been by David Walliams - 'Code Name Bananas' and 'Bad Dad'.  Now he is back in school, we are still doing it twice a week.  The most satisfying part of it all, apart from keeping such close contact with him, is that his reading had come on in leaps and bounds.  A year ago, he was quite hesitant, whereas now he adds voices, expression and is pretty fluent.  That is something we would not have done had it not been for Covid.

I do hope you are all keeping well and safe and that the easing of restrictions will be adhered to and then, hopefully, we will all be able to enjoy some boating this summer.  For me, personally, I cannot wait to be able to see the family properly again.  We have not seen our local grandsons since September and the family in Derby since March 2020.    Take care and stay safe.