I have been trying to lose weight which is hard when you don’t feel like you can walk far. So, I decided to be proactive with reducing my calories whilst increasing my exercise. Easy you say, not really because I have fibromyalgia as well as Alzheimer’s disease which both affect the ability to be active, but I decided that I could start slowly and build up. So, day one, I roughly calculated my calorie intake and walked around the marina at a brisk walk where I live. Day two, again keeping my calorie intake around 1000 kc, I walked further round the marina, coming back and falling asleep in the chair outside our boat on the pontoon! Feeling good about the exercise, and knowing that if I keep going I shall start to lose some weight and be fitter and healthier.
Oh my goodness it has been ages since I have last posted here. I will need to bring everything up to date as I remember it.
Well, we returned back to the marina at the beginning of September both feeling exhausted but satisfied with the trip. We both remarked how our dis-abilities made the activity of locking and boating harder this year than before.
Falling back into the routine of living in the marina was disturbingly seamless. With the boat always throwing up some maintenance conundrum, the first was the calorifier (hot water tank) splitting and leaking into the boat. The cupboard it was sitting in had to be taken apart to remove the tank, followed by a trip to various chandlers to buy a new tank plus an assortment of brass and plastic fittings to create a twisted maze of new pipework. New stop taps had to be put in, expansion tank, and the tank itself. The whole process took a week to complete with Mr Hsg trying to fold himself into the smallest spaces to complete the job. Thank goodness he is more than capable of DIY plumbing, carpentry, and electrical works, with some engineering. Canal boats are expensive creatures demanding money being thrown at them with distressing regularity. Following that he moved the water pump to sit underneath the kitchen units, to keep warmer in winter months so that it cuts down the delay of water flowing from the tap.
I have focused my photography and creating some cards. I made some cards showing various aspects of the marina and took them to the office to see if they were interested in buying them. Brilliant, they wanted them and more! So, now I have been supplying them with Christmas Cards of the marina, people love to see their boats on a card and they have quickly sold out.
I would love to find a way of selling them elsewhere but struggle with trying to sort it out. I thought about setting up a website but my computing experience and knowledge is disappearing and I have struggled to sort it out. I will have to look at ebay or Etsy if I can figure out the logistics of it all.
Update on my Alzheimer’s – I have finally in these past two weeks, seen my new consultant at Derby Royal Hospital and have begun Rivastigmene tablets. I can feel myself withdrawing from anything social a little. Its not that I want to, it’s almost like a fear of going out, and I have no idea why. I have to choose the books that I read a little more carefully as I have struggled to work out some of the story lines in some which is a bit of a pain because I do enjoy reading.
I must try and post more regularly to keep my motivation going.
Barrowford Lock No 48 is broken and being repaired so we have been moored up for four days at Bridge 91 on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal until we can move knowing that we can ascend the flight.
There is a small herd of cows that wander in distinct patterns around the field. The trees at the top are where several Buzzards sit and we can hear their call during the day and evening. We have watched them soar around the fields alighting on different groups of trees as they hunt. So far we have been unable to get any photos of their splendour.
There is a male dragonfly whose patch is along the bank beside us, we stand and watch his patterns of behaviour so that when he lands we can photograph him. There were flashes of turquoise blue along his brown body, and his abdomen and head yellow and brown, with bronze colour wings, superb! Nature is so amazing.
Today Ella is staying close to the boat and not going into the field; we think she may have got stuck in the fence and hedge last evening because she came back without her collar on and wanted to cuddle up on my lap for the rest of the night which is unusual for her.
She catches voles, mice, shrews, and eats spiders, flies, and all sorts of creepy things. Daisy on the other hand has never liked furry animals preferring her prey to be slimy, and a long time ago used to bring in worms, frogs and fish from a neighbours garden (her prize ghost carp, oops!) and has not attempted to catch anything since moving onto the boat. Once Ella brought her in a mouse and put it down in front of her hoping she would join in the sport of chasing it, but Daisy looked disturbed and lost, so Ella had to claim it back as it ran.
Yesterday I watched the female dragonfly lay her eggs in the water on some reeds, and cursed not having my camera with me ready. I returned with my camera and a stool to sit and wait for her return but as the way of things she was nowhere to be seen. Today Mr Hs called to me that Daisy was bringing me a present, “Daisy?” I queried, and in she trotted with the female dragon fly firmly in her mouth. Proud of herself she announced her kill to me then proceeded to play with it, deftly removing the head. Yes, she loves a crunchy prey too! Abandoned on the carpet, both parts still moving, I picked it up and took some photographs, interesting to see it up close, but sad that she caught it.
A few minutes later, I saw Ella through the window, take a mouse up to Daisy who was now eating grass, and showed her, then proceeded to eat it.
I have been in and out of pain since the last set of seven locks which I did on my own. Both of us have found it hard this year physically, having to have rest days. I commented that we must be getting old, and Mr Hs said that our disabilities are making it hard. I agree with that, I remember him saying to me (in one of his accusing moments when I just wanted to rest) “you weren’t like this a year ago”, and thinking about it, I wasn’t. In the space of two years my physical and mental state has declined much to my own disappointment. However, I will not let that stop me, I imagine the pain of walking and winding stiff paddle handles, and pushing 2000kg of supposedly balanced gates open, is doing my arthritis good. At least there is chance of wearing away new nodules, as they say; use it or lose it. When you moor up in the countryside with the flowers, birds and insects around you it is all worth it. At times we have no idea where we are, even which County we are in, like now, we think we are in Lancashire.
Two weeks have passed since we left the marina, everything is back to normal and our travelling is becoming very enjoyable.
I have seen a Water Rail bird, a stoat, Mr Hs watched a badger through his binoculars. We have left the Trent & Mersey Canal onto the privately owned Bridgewater canal which is wide and relatively well kept. I have taken photos along the way of graffiti, interesting buildings and nice canal areas.
We have met some interesting people, and I have had some great lads help me on the locks. Two were smoking their joints wrapped in licorice papers, but were friendly and helpful. A group of boys eagerly helped asking a myriad of questions about the boat, how the locks work. We saw a group of idiotic children behind up stripping off and jumping into the locks to swim, if only they knew the dangers they were putting themselves in…
We have been down the Anderton Boat Lift to the River Weaver, and spent two days in beautiful soundings. We came back up the Anderton Boat Lift and carried on the Trent & Mersey. Mr Hs decided to that we would continue up towards Liverpool & Leeds and head up North. He didn’t wait for me whilst I was in the bathroom to go through a lock and nearly caught the boat on the cill, bending the rudder. I guess he wanted to prove to himself he could still do locks single handed.
Yesterday we climbed through 27 locks, the first two, then the 25 locks of the Wigan flight. These were double locks for two boats at a time, with big and heavy gates. I had struggled with about five before we were joined by another boat with plenty of bodies on board to help at the locks. These were locals and had it planned to a tee..one guy went ahead and set the locks up ready, and two others worked bringing the boats through. What would have taken us about eight hours, took two. Phew! thank goodness they came along. Back on the Liverpool & Leeds canal we saw how little maintenance the Canal and River Trust has been carried out. The locks were in bad state with rubbish caught in the paddles making them leak and unable to work properly. The anti vandal locks were not always working which meant that one pound had drained of all water and we had to refill it before we could progress any further, that meant sitting in the lock for an hour because the pound had enough water to get to the next lock.
The water had dropped about two feet down the flight, which makes it dangerous for boats getting caught on cills, leaving the locks and sinking which happened a few days ago.
There is no apparent work being carried out by CaRT to keep one of Britain’s heritage in working order for the benefit of all.
Once upon a time British Waterways employed Lengthmen who lived in lock-keeper cottages and looked after a length of the cut (canal). The cottages were sold off, and there is no one to care for, monitor, and be the eyes and ears of BW’s. The breach of the canal at Dutton could have been avoided had there been a lengthman who would have seen problems. At flights of locks one or two lengthmen could help, and monitor what was happening. Volunteer lock helpers are encouraged by CaRT to get boats through locks quickly and safetly, but they only appear to want to work on nice rural locks that boaters themselves would prefer to do. I understand that recently CaRT decided they could make some money by charging companies who offer their staff as volunteers during team building days. Now, I know that sometimes I have problems in understanding some things but that seems ridiculous. Needless to say a charge would negate volunteering and also stop it.
Anyway, we are now moored up opposite a golf course, and resting our weary and painful joints and muscles after yesterdays workout!
The big cruise. We set off out on the cut on Sunday 28th July 2013 unfortunately it was not in good circumstances as Mr Hs suffered a bit of ‘rage’ at me because I asked a question three times. I was just as shocked as our boat neighbour who discreetly disappeared into his boat, until we were backing out of our pontoon. As we continued along you could have cut the atmosphere with a knife between us. Fortunately I am not the sort of person who accepts bullying and abuse. However, this is out of character for him so I have no idea what is going on with him. As we were travelling he said sorry, but I should not have asked him more than once. “I have Alzheimer’s” I said “Its what I do, I can’t help it, its not my fault”.
I had been excited for this day when we could travel, having spoken to my doctor who phoned me two days previous and said she would contact the new Memory Clinic and tell them I would be away until October.
We moored up for the night, among trees having to use mooring pins in very soft soil, the mooring ahead of us with rings was occupied. In the morning Mr Hs suddenly had another rage at me, this time shouting and swearing leaning in towards me as he did so. I held my hand up and talked quietly and calmly to him telling him to stop. He told me I was the problem why he was raging, but I was not the one who had lost control of my temper! At that point he got dressed muttered something about going back and left the boat. I sat on the back in a chair drinking coffee, reading my book. Something was wrong and he was taking it out on me. I called my daughter and talked to her which made me feel better, and he returned two hours later as if nothing had happened.
We left and continued our journey, the countryside full of lovely long grasses and wild flowers. A field of traditional breeds of cows such as the Longhorn, all suckling calves. What a delightful sight to see.
After a few hours we moored up with fields on either side, we let the cats out and they explored the bank and the hedge. Ella sat with her eyes firmly fixed on whatever little secrets were further in until she eventually came running into the boat with her (very small) kill. I could not see what it was because she ate it all very quickly! Daisy just wanders sedately up and down, not straying far but enjoying the freedom. Today we left there and continued on our way towards Stone, and then Stoke. It has rained, been incredibly hot and humid.
I have seen a Water Rail in the reeds, and a large flock of Greylag Geese in a Stafforshire field. Ducks have got their second fledglings this year and we pass them at various ages.
Before we have reached Stoke, we have moored on a concrete edge looking across marsh one side of us, and a railway line the other side of the canal. We can’t let the cats out because of the bycycles coming along the towpath at speed.
We are back in the marina after a few days at Tixall. Soon we will be going out for a few months, lazily travelling and mooring up when we find a nice spot.
I have been waiting for an an appointment for the memory clinic in Derby (being transferred from Leicester), but if it doesn’t come soon we will leave anyway. I cannot live my life from one appointment to the next. My Alzheimer’s is not going to get any worse for not waiting, and life is definitely too short not to enjoy it.
Today we are moored up at Tixall, just past the wide, but still in the middle of nowhere. It is heaven here. There is a rookery in a large tree behind us and about 2 to 300 rooks are coming and going in one large flock, it is stunning to watch. To the side of us the other side of the canal are reeds where the reed warblers flit to and from. Swallows skim the surface of the water, and buzzards sit on the wires across the field in the distance to to left of us. the noise of the birds is tremendous even though the rest of the world is silent to us.
The silence is deafening and beautiful at the same time. This is boating at its most precious.
Of course we have had a bbq (with our COBB BBQ) cooking a whole chicken. It sat on the back like a statement and cooked away whilst we relaxed in the setting sun.
Both cats now in from wandering we shut up the back and have settled down for the evening.
Boating is the most relaxing activity anyone can do. Once you are out in the cut miles from anywhere, there is no phone signal, no internet ,no noisy neighbours, no traffic…just birds and quiet bliss.
# Updated to say we have internet!