Colour Coordinated. 26th February

Leamington Spa

IMAG2665smA sock was going to be needed on my bad foot today as we were going out. We tried one of my socks but it wouldn’t get halfway onto my foot so Mick kindly lent me one of his. Was his choice intentional? He’d like me to think so, but I reckon that the colour coordination with my blue and black boot was a pure coincidence. We managed to find a trainer for my other foot and then I managed to get up the bow steps on my bottom. The hardest bit of getting off the boat is managing to get my bottom onto one of the bow lockers from the well deck, a height of about 14 inches. But with a hoik from Mick I was successful. With feet on the towpath and a steadying hand I stood up, outside the boat for the first time in almost two weeks.

IMAG2672smIMAG2671smYesterday Mick had collected a car from Enterprise for the weekend, this meant we could have a day out. To me it didn’t really matter where we went, just the fact that I was out of the boat was exciting. Enterprise must have know something too as the dash board was also coordinated.

 

First we drove to Sainsburys where we parked in a normal bay. Mick felt that we would have been justified in using a disabled one but  without a blue badge I wouldn’t let him. Unfortunately I’d forgotten to take a section of the newspaper so that I could sit and read it in the car whilst Mick did the shopping, but fortunately Mick returned from the store with a wheelchair. This meant that we got to use the shopping trolley that clips onto a wheelchair, quite exciting and a voyage of discovery. I also got to use the disabled toilet for the first time without putting on a limp to get me to the door!

IMG_20170226_114343630smWe should have started our shopping at the far end of the store as all the big things we wanted like cat litter and wine were at that end and by the time we reached them there was little space left in the trolley. Also the view wasn’t so good anymore, cat litter! At least it was blue, keeping with the theme of the day.

IMAG2680smIMAG2684smAfter dropping off the fridge stuff at Lillian we then drove 12 miles north to Coventry, where we had the unpleasant experience of the ring road. Basically the whole thing is one giant roundabout. You have to dice with death to get onto it from the slip road as others are coming off at the same time at speed, then do the reverse when you want to leave. At least we knew what we were facing before we got there.

IMAG2687smIMAG2693smHere we visited the six floored Ikea. Mick went off to the sixth floor to be redirected to the fourth to pick up my second wheelchair of the day. Our wine glasses have managed to reduce in number to two, so we needed to stock up. We were also checking out things that we’d want for NB Oleanna, new covers for our duvet, throws to keep the upholstery clean on muddy cat freedom days and extra cutlery for when we get the dishwasher going amongst other things.

IMAG2696smOnce the shopping was done we had to return to the sixth floor to the café for a late lunch. A large portion of meatballs and chips is compulsory with gravy and jam, we also had some peas to help with mending bones. Not our normal Sunday roast, but we’ll have that tomorrow.

IMAG2699sm0 locks, 0 miles, 1st fresh air in 13 days, 1 hire car, 2 ,yes, just 2 boxes of wine, 2 wheelchairs, 1 dodgy wheel, 1 cricked neck, 2 quick Geraghty push, 15 meatballs each, 6 new glasses, Space 1999 lampshades, 1 man where he shouldn’t have been, 24 guiding light big candles, 1 long shopping list for next time, 1 completed lego mini, 1 very cream and white town, 1 lovely day out, 1 boring day in!

And Rest. 25th February

Leamington Spa

A day of rest for those who have been working hard, and those who spend much of their time sitting around, it’s hard work you know!

Mick popped of to get our Saturday newspaper. Our mooring is one of the closest to a shop we’ve had. We are moored right by a snicket that leads through to a big Co-op which is about 20m away from Lillians stern. If you didn’t have to weave your way through cars in the car park it might beat Waitrose in Aylesbury.

IMG_20170225_123535569smIMG_20170225_131426173smWith three pairs of glasses in hand and a shopping bag Mick headed off into town to explore. Apparently we can cross Leamington Spa off the list now as he brought back photos of the highlights. A park, river, Town Hall and parades of Regency shops. I’ve still not crossed it off my list.

 

IMG_20170225_130256031_HDRsmHe did also return with a nice looking pie, some sausages and cake, all from some food stalls which were by the Royal Pump House Spa. The pie we’ll have tonight with jackets cooked in the multifuel stove. But the cakes didn’t last long at all, both gluten free, but you couldn’t tell! They were yummy, we chopped them in half and shared them.

IMAG2656smAs it was a rest day I haven’t watched a film so no clues today, I may not get time tomorrow either as I may be allowed outside!

IMAG2606smYesterdays film was of course Marnie, 1964. Margaret Edgar or Marnie charms her way into clerical jobs without references and then steals cash from the safe and flees. Changing her appearance and identity as she goes. At one interview she is recognised by Mark Rutland, played by Sean Connery (shortly after filming Dr No). When she steals from his business he tracks her down and blackmails her into marriage. This obviously isn’t going to be the happiest of marriages especially as Marnie is haunted by things that happened in her childhood.

Tippi Hedren plays Marnie although Hitchcock had originally wanted Grace Kelly, but she pulled out after the citizens of Monaco objected to her being in a film depicting a sexually disturbed thief. It was the last time HItchcock had a blonde woman in the central role, it was also the final time he worked with several of his key team members including Bernard Herrmann who wrote much of the very familiar music from HItchcocks films.

0 locks, 0 miles, 842 tweety birds wanting company, 1 newspaper, £5 grade 2 haircut, 1 skinhead again, 2 yummy cakes, 2 passing boats, 1 afternoon snooze curtailed by 4 furry feet, 1 car, 0 film, 1 new puzzle book, 29 broad locks, 7 narrow locks to go, 1 short explore, 842 birds on the wrong side!

Forty Six Hours and Thirty Four Minutes. 24th February

Lock 36, Hatton to Clements Street Bridge, Leamington Spa

An early start again for Mick in the calm, chilly sunshine that this morning brought. He left me with a mug of tea and a bowl of cereal as he continued to work Lillian down the locks. No sign of movement from our neighbours so we were on our own again.

IMAG2627smChoosing the right time in a flight of locks to get up and get dressed is tricky with a broken ankle and crutches. The boat needs to be steady to get into the bathroom, so cruising or sitting in a lock is the right time. Once sitting down it doesn’t matter. I managed the move between locks and waited for the moments of stillness to stand to brush my teeth and then move through to resume my position on the sofa.

IMAG2600smAbove Lock 34 Mick said that there was a boat coming up the next lock. I took a guess as to who it might be and was right, NB Ferndale, we were guaranteed to cross bows soon as they are making their way to Birmingham. Sorry Ray if Mick didn’t twig who you were straight away and thank you both for your concern about my ankle and I did wave Diane. Thank you for setting the locks. It was interesting that all bar one had held their water and that one had 2016 gates! Maybe they haven’t bedded in yet fully.

IMG_20170224_112237949_HDRsmIMG_20170224_114717790_HDRsmWe came out of the bottom lock at midday exactly. Our fastest passage up the flight was a couple of Easters ago and was around 2hours 15 minutes. But today we excelled ourselves in setting a new record for us, the longest time being 46 hrs and 34 minutes! If Doris hadn’t interrupted us it would have been 24 hrs shorter.

IMAG2629smA make shift sign greets anyone wanting to go down the Saltisford Arm, basically don’t bother, they are full. We have stopped there a couple of times but today we wanted to cover a bit more distance. A brief top up of the water tank opposite The Cape of Good Hope, it would have been nice to go for a pint, but lock beams aren’t very crutch friendly. Down the two Cape locks and we were in the sump pound. From here on we will be heading upwards to Crick.

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A short pit stop for lunch before Mick continued to move us on to Royal Leamington Spa. Here is another place that will be staying on our to do next time list, although Mick will get a look round tomorrow.  A visit to an opticians is needed to mend my glasses and Mick wants to visit a barbers as he isn’t too keen on my idea of braiding his hair with beads.

 

 

IMAG2641smIMAG2638smIMAG2647smTodays film

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Wednesdays film was Topaz, 1969. A French intelligence agent (Frederick Stafford) becomes entangled in Cold War politics leading up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis and later he helps break up a  Russian spy ring in France. This wasn’t really the right film to be watching as we started to descend Hatton as I may have enjoyed it more if I’d been able to concentrate on it better. The incredibly rigid hair do of Dan Robin kept me watching, unfortunately I found it a very slow film.

 

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Thursdays film was The Trouble with Harry, 1955. This is black comedy. The story is about how the residents of a small Vermont village react when the dead body of a man named Harry is found on a hillside. Romance ensues between residents as they try to solve the problem of what to do with Harrys body. It is Shirley MacLaines first film. Well done Nick, although I think it was more a process of elimination. An amusing film for a blustery stormy day.

 

DSCF7117sm13 locks, 5.09 miles, 1 blogging boat, 1 large branch, 46 hrs 34 mins, 1 left, 0 space, 1 good pub just a bit too far away, 11th film, 2 sunny to be inside, 7 short trips out, 1 large ivy bush concurred, 2 fish and chips.

Halfway Down Hatton With Doris. 22nd 23rd February

Lapworth Link to Lock 36 Hatton

IMAG2536smA few miles to cover and at least ten locks before we could stop for the day. Mick pushed off at around 11am and turned right onto The Grand Union and headed for the top of Hatton. A hire boat had passed us before we’d set off this morning and then another boat came past saying they’d set all the locks for us. Past the goat farm and through the tunnel and along the cutting to the top of the locks.

IMAG2546smWe stopped and filled with water hoping that someone might just come and join us, but there was no sign of any other boat in either direction. So with a bike at hand Mick started to gradually work his way down the flight. He only went ahead and set the next lock before emptying the lock Lillian was in. At the first three locks a chap with some ladies was very keen to lend a hand, so Mick could climb down the ladder and drive Lillian into the next ready lock. But then his handy helper had been left by his friends and felt he should go too, so Mick was back on his own.

I’d become quite blasé about going down in narrow locks inside Lillian, but Hatton locks are wide. I put a film on to try to distract myself as the boat twisted onto a diagonal, but this didn’t help. Even though I knew Mick had tied the boat up so that she couldn’t drift onto the cil the distance she did move had me sat on the edge of the sofa more than the film did!

DSCF4187smThe lock ladders started to have not enough depth behind the runs so Mick reverted to pulling Lillian out of the locks which did mean that he could stay and close the gate before climbing back on board to move her into the next chamber.

DSCF4190smIMAG2564smAt the fifth lock the heavens opened and Mick had to don his waterproofs, he pulled up the pram cover and sheltered until the torrent had stopped. This was maybe a prelude to storm Doris. It passed on by so that we could continue on down the flight.

DSCF4193smDSCF4195smIMG_20170223_150604480smThese locks are hard enough work when there are two of you with no ropes and boats to pull, so we had only expected to get half way today. Between Locks 36 and 37 there is a slightly longer pound and one ring near to the lock landing bollards with just enough space for a boat in front. So Mick pulled Lillian’s bow towards the bywash, the old narrow lock, and tied her up. Thank you for the info Margees. About an hour after we had settled I could hear the hammering of spikes behind us, another boat had stopped in the dark.

Sadly no matter which way Mick pointed the aerial there was no TV signal, but we did have the internet, so we had an evening watching TV via our Chromecast.

Doris kicked off at around 4.15 am for us by bumping Lillian against the side. It was very rude of her especially as my sleep at the moment tends to be in two hour segments as my body wants to turn over but my foot isn’t so keen. We managed to get a bit more sleep before giving up and making a cuppa at just gone 7 am.

IMG_20170223_140752125smToday we planned to stay put due to Doris Day, maybe I should have left The Man Who Knew Too Much to watch today! So Doris has lived up to expectations. We have been buffeted quite violently at times despite having fat fenders out. The ropes have been checked on several occasions and everything was either fixed to the roof or put under the pram cover last night so that we didn’t loose anything. Our mooring isn’t sheltered but at least there are no big trees to blow over as they have been doing across the network like dominoes.

Mick went for a short walk much to Tilly’s disgust, his added weight meant that his feet stayed firmly on the ground. She wouldn’t have liked it anyway and we were quite concerned that the gusts would have ended up damaging the pram cover if we had to leave some of it open for her to come and go through.

IMAG2566smIMAG2570smIMAG2575smYesterdays film

IMAG2587smTodays film, you only get one clue.

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Kind Hearts and Coronets, 1949, was the film I watched on Tuesday. One of my favourite Ealing Comedies. Louis D’Ascoyne Mazzini the 10th Duke of Chalfont is in prison writing his memoirs whilst waiting to be hung for murder the following morning. Due to his mother having run off with an Italian Opera Singer she was disowned by her family. He sets out to kill eight people who are ahead of him in succession to the dukedom. My favourite is when he kills suffragette Lady Agatha D’Ascoyne who is dropping leaflets over London from a balloon, ‘I shot an arrow in the air, she fell to earth in Barclay Square’.

 

DSCF7117sm10 locks, 5.68 miles, 1 tunnel, 9 Toggenburg goats, 0 companion boat, 1 torrentail downpour, 1 aching Mick, 9th and 10th films, 2 weekends with Rick, 1 seriously stroppy Doris, 5.30 am checking of pins, 1 canal turned sea, 1 new duvet set, 0 progress today, 1 pram appointment made.

Lapworth Completed. 21st February

Lapworth Lock 6 to Lapworth Link

Only fifteen locks to do today in a mile!

IMAG2474smAs the locks were so close together today Mick got one of our Brompton bikes out so that he could speed up and down the towpath to set locks ahead, taking care obviously of other towpath users.

IMG_20170221_114422172_HDRsmOnce Lillian was in a lock Mick would leave the top gate open, so that the level wouldn’t drop whilst he was elsewhere, then he’d cycle down past the first lock to lift a paddle at the next, on his way back he would open the gates at the first lock, then return to Lillian closing the top gate and opening paddles to lower her down.

IMAG2444smIMAG2456smBecause there are few places to be able to step on and off your boat below the bottom gates, Mick climbed back down a couple of runs on the lock ladder onto Lillian’s roof. Moving her forward he would stop once the stern was clear of the gates and use the boat hook to push the beams closing the gates. From inside the boat this was the noisiest part of each lock, because as Mick pushed, Lillian would move and biffed the entrance walls. I’m not thinking about what the gunnels look like and it has been suggested that the roof may be a bit mucky now. Oh well, as long as we are all safe that is what matters and come the time for Lillian to go on the market I still might be wearing my boot and unable to wash her, so that job will have to fall on Mick.

IMAG2487smBetween locks 14 and 15 are some rings so Mick pulled over for a cuppa and some lunch. New houses have been built along these moorings and the section we stopped at had a very high wall to the gardens, no canal view. A bit further along the wall was lower, but I suspect a hedge will be planted so that us nosy boaters can’t look in. The houses did however have chimneys.

IMAG2453smIMAG2496smAfter a break Mick decided he’d complete the flight, if we had time we’d push on to Rowington where we have moored before with a view. But sadly by the time the last lock was finished and we were on the Lapworth Link it was already 5pm. So we decided to stay put for the night and cope with the noise from the nearby trains.

 

IMAG2440smIMAG2478smIMAG2479smTodays film, I thought I’d have a break from Hitchcock today.

IMAG2375smYesterdays film was The Man Who Knew Too Much, 1956, the second version as it was a remake of Hitchcocks 1934 film. James Stewart and Doris Day star in the film which won an Academy Award for Best Song, Que Sera, Sera. I had no idea that the song wasn’t from a Doris Day musical. A good afternoon film.

An American doctor and his family are on holiday in Marrakesh where they meet a French man who behaves a little strangely. A trip to a busy market with an English couple the next day ends with a dagger in the French mans back, a kidnapping and the doctor being told too much resulting in a trip to London. ‘

 

DSCF7117sm15 locks, 1.01 miles, 1 new collar sussed, 1 left turn, 1 long chat with Ricky, 7th film, 8th film, 1 very high wall, 242 Connaught Square, 1 well used boat hook, 1 clean pooh box, 2 chickeny hands, 2 slippery crutches, 0 almost internet.

More Years Please! 21st February

 

DSCF6889smA year ago today (what ever a year is!), I came to live on Lillian with her and Tom. I was quite small then and a bit shy, but the prospect of getting a cuddle became too much for me to stay behind the sofa much longer so I came out and started to purr, well I carried on purring as the back of the sofa had made me quite happy.

DSCF7183smDSCF7835smAfter a day or so I was sitting on knees and purring. I got my very own bed to sleep in/on or near and found that gravity was occasionally a bit too much for me as I fell off my special shelf.

DSCF7678smDSCF7778smaApparently there aren’t very many cats who live a life like I do. The outside of my home gets moved …. a lot. The outside has been Nottingham (I came from near there), London, Oxford, Crick, Leicester, Lincoln, Boston, Tamworth, Retford, Sheffield, Doncaster, Selby, York, Leeds, Skipton, Wigan, Manchester, Macclesfield, Bugsworth, Stoke, Birmingham and many more!

 

DSCF9127smDSCF9229smNo matter where the outside is I know where home is. There’s just been one time when it took me quite a while to find it, nothing to do with badgers and their holes honest!

DSCF7936smDSCF9006smMy position as Tiller Cat or Second Mate is very important and varied. I defend Lillian from ducks and nosy pirate cats. I watch the outside go by, up and down from my shelf. Checking that the trip computer is warm and working is vital. Sometimes I check that all is going well with the moving of Lillian for this I have to sit on the roof . Batting chocolate wrappers around is important too, making sure they are not alive. Keeping laps and toes warm too, although toes are a little out of bounds at the moment!

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DSCF9312smDSCF5046smMy job is demanding so to relax I fish, climb trees, watch TV, climb walls, sleep, play with my toys. I find friends along the way, who I occasionally bring home. I get admired a lot as people walk by yet I can become invisible to woofers who are only inches away from my nose.

DSCF5933smDSCF8160smChallenges come along every now and again. Wind and snow can be problematic especially when the outside has lots of good trees, but rain only adds to the fun of being outside. I can now swim to a high standard. Finding that patch of bright sunshine and being able to make it stay still is by far the biggest challenge I face.

DSCF0494smI like it here, it changes and it’s fun, think I’ll have a few more of these year things please. To the ladies from Burton Joyce Cats Welfare, Thank you for choosing me to be the boat cat, I’m still purring.

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Todays film and answer as it would be too hard for even Christine to guess! They had to have two cats playing Mr Fuzzypants and I’d have been able to climb up and down the building without breaking into a sweat! Apparently they had to animate some scenes, bad casting I say!

IMAG2029smPS She says that normal service will resume tomorrow

Up a Tree Without a Visa! 20th February

Dickens Heath to Lapworth Lock 6

Not far to go today as we’d decided that we’d stop after the first four locks of the Lapworth Flight, to make it easier on the single handing crew. We might split Hatton in two too, unless we come across a hire boat with six crew as we did the first time we did it. So as Mick cooked breakfast the back doors were opened up and Tilly was set free for the first time in days. When we don’t have a schedule to meet she is allowed out in the morning, she decides when to come home and that is when the doors get closed and we make ready to leave, Much to my disgust!

IMG_20170220_122433320smSo after I was trampled on with very muddy paws, Mick got ready to push off. The cutting that we followed had plenty of snowdrops. In fact today Mick has only taken snowdrop photos, so you’ll have to make do with my out the window shots.

This time on the Stratford Canal we were going to stop and visit Wedges Bakery for the first time, but that remains on the list to do next time. After three miles or so we passed through Hockley Heath. We didn’t bother stopping here either as our money has been spent on building NB Oleanna so there’s not enough left for a Rolls Royce or a McLaren.

IMAG2376smIMAG2378smIMAG2383smThe next challenge for a single hander was not far on, a couple of lift bridges manually wound, on the off side. Mick pulled us in to the side went to check that there were bollards on the offside and then pulled Lillian’s bow over and tied the bow rope off. He then wound the bridge up, untied her, climbed aboard pushing her clear of the angled bridge and walked his way along the gunnel to the stern. After driving her through he stopped with the stern just clear of the bridge and tied her off to the bollard on that side, wound the bridge back down before untying and continuing. It’s so much quicker when one of us just hops off and winds the bridge up for the other to drive through.

IMAG2385smIMAG2391smIMAG2394smThe second of the two bridges, Bridge 28 has caused us problems in the past. First time it had quite a few inches of fresh snow on it which we tried to sweep off and then the hydraulics were very hard and Mick had to wind it up. The second time it was really hard work. Since then the hydraulics have been adjusted and it moves much easier, however it takes 70 turns of a windlass to get it raised!

IMAG2404smThen the start of the flight of locks. Mick had some assistance with gates at the first lock. When he’d got Lillian into the third lock he headed down to get the forth ready but there was a boat just pulling out of it. Their crew member walked up and opened the paddles for Mick. So todays locks were easy, only 15 to do tomorrow.

A short distance on we pulled in just before Lock 6 and with plenty of day light left Tilly was encouraged to go out again. Straight up the bank and into the undergrowth and trees.

IMAG2389smWhat a day! Two places to explore and make the most of. The second was best as there were trees and it was just the right time of day when the birdies are all sitting around ready to sing me songs. They do this quite enthusiastically and more of their friends join them. The loudest singers are the black and white ones and the really big black ones.

IMAG2423smToday however they got a bit too rowdy and one thing led to another. The another was that I left my red visa and name tag behind in the trees, somewhere. Nowhere to be seen. I went back to Lillian but she didn’t notice and by the time he did I was off down the towpath again. On my next check in I was furnished with a whole new visa and tag, well the old one was getting quite tatty.

Good job I got her two name tags done last year! There’s another two waiting with NB Oleanna on them. I just hope that the collar she got for her birthday now fits her, it’s on the tightest fitting! Maybe she won’t be so quick to take this one off, even though she has totally mastered the pull technique, I can only hope.

IMAG2414smIMAG2412smIMAG2409smTodays film

IMAG2332smYesterdays film was Family Plot, 1976. The story involves two couples, a “fake” psychic and cab driver boyfriend, the other are a couple of kidnappers holding people to ransom for diamonds. Their lives become connected because of a search for a missing heir. It is a dark comedy thriller and quite amusing.

This was the last film that Hitchcock directed. One day on set they were about to film a car sequence using a blue screen (to add the background in later), but nothing was happening. An assistant to Hitchcock walked onto the set with a telephone placing it on the bonnet of the car, it rang, Hitchcock lifted the receiver and held it to his chest, after a minute he replaced the handset saying, ‘They now know my pacemaker is still working’.

DSCF7121sm4 locks, 5.37 miles, 2 lift bridges holding up 0, 1 cooked breakfast, 5 explores, 7 trees climbed, 1 cat rescue not necessary, 0 bakers, 0 butchers, 0 sports cars, 0 tatty red collar, 1 super duper highvis collar, 1 roast chicken in the oven, 1 cat very asleep.