Slow Progress From Norbury

One of the reasons so many people choose narrowboat living, is to slow down. When we made our New Zealand return plans last year, and booked Areandare into Debdale Wharf for some bottom maintenance, little did we know what the future held. Having remained in the north-west throughout last winter to be close to Lisa, our next phase was moving south. Then lockdown hit …

Another unique situation was Kim coming to live with us. With hardly any notice or pre-planning for any of us as to how long she’d stay, we welcomed her with open arms. It’s been amazing to have her on board for so long. Now though, she has no idea when/if she’ll get back ‘home’ to Lagos.

So our previous ‘best laid’ plans are looking likely to change. However, nothing is confirmed. You never know what’s around the next corner.

Wheaton Aston to …

On Thursday I left Barry and Kim to move the boat, while I drove to Wheaton Aston. I knew there’s a handy car park there adjacent to the canal, so I’d packed a picnic and my laptop ready for another few hours of car sitting. I’m fortunate to have another new Ad-extra account build, so I spent the afternoon doing keyword research. It’s undeniably not the best way to work. Sat in a car. But I’d still rather deal with a slight inconvenience than be sat in a stuffy office locked into set working hours and having to ‘request’ time off. The very thought of ever going back to that makes me shudder.

Once they arrived, we enjoyed a perfectly calm and peaceful evening in sublime surroundings.

Areandare back at Wheaton Aston

Car And Boat Hopping Foiled

Friday was to be my last car-and-boat-hopping day. We weren’t able to even start the journey till after 2 pm because of my work commitments but then reversed to Wheaton Aston to fill up with some of the cheapest diesel on the system. I helped Barry up the lock before jumping off with my laptop and snacks, ready for another wait.

I’d been sat in the car messaging a friend, when I had a text from Kim to say they hadn’t gone far, maybe a mile, when they hit a bit of a snag! You know that saying “Be careful what you wish for?” Well, it seemed my wish to not have to sit in the car for hours again waiting for them to catch up with me came true.

A tree had fallen and blocked the canal …

Fallen tree on the Shropshire Union Canal July 2020

This cutting is packed with high trees leaning over the canal with evidence of other fallen obstacles. It looked like it was sheer good fortune that no boat was going past at the moment this fell. Looking at the size of the trunk, after three tree fellers had chainsawed it to clear the towpath, I reckon it would’ve taken a boat to the bottom without a second look. It’s a good job we were delayed! Phew 😌

More Grandsons Time

We’ve been at Lisa’s overnight again, leaving Kim to have some peace for her studying and writing. The boys went to Whitchurch for their first hair cut since lockdown began. I loved their long lockdown locks! we were rather taken aback that they each had to go in alone and wear a mask. Quite scary! They were so brave. But it would’ve been helpful if we’d been able to prepare them for this. We’d read that children under 11 years of age didn’t need to wear masks? It seems this is a fallacy 🙁

Whilst we were away the tree trunk has been cleared. Kim said it was like the M52 yesterday, as stranded boats resumed their journeys. A few hire boats were late being returned!

A long line of stranded boats on Saturday morning when we left …
… this afternoon there was only Areandare moored up along this stretch. It’s a dangerous place to stay!

Barry Takes A Shot

Talking of dangerous places, this evening Kim and I heard shots reverberating along the canal. She joked that someone was killing Eve (we’re currently watching this series and loving it), and I replied I hope they haven’t shot Barry. Little did I know – he had been shot! When we pulled up at Autherley Stop Lock he told me he’d been hit on his thigh. And had the pellet to prove it! Crikey. That’s a bit close for comfort. Shooting birds while people are nearby? Surely that’s not legal?

The shotgun pellet that hit Barry. Luckily on his shorts so no damage done
Autherley Stop Lock

Every time we’ve come past this services it’s been an embarrassment. Seriously CRT there’s something awry here. Enjoy your canal? With this as a view? We really support the Trust but this is not a one-off 😰. I’ll be tweeting it so I’m not just moaning as many boaters appear to do.

Four Weeks and Counting Covid-19 Symptom Study Stats

There ‘now over 4 million ‘citizen scientists’ signed up to the Symptom Study App which is fantastic. What’s not so reassuring is the number of weekly cases seems to have increased to 2,103. Check out this article for more information

The study team aren’t yet sure whether the number is just levelling off, or whether we’re starting to see an increase. It’s certainly not what we want to see with just four weeks and counting till our planned return to New Zealand …

16 thoughts on “Slow Progress From Norbury

  1. If Barry was able to identify the shooters he could submit a complaint. Cops may even revoke the shooters shotgun certificate.

    The fact that the pellet did not penetrate indicates 100yrs or more. 12g shotgun killing range is 30-50yrds. Although 70yrds is possible if they loaded the shells themselves & put extra powder in them.
    But they should not be shooting within range of people.

    Although l done that many times on the rivers & canals in the 80s. I would pop down to the gun shop for 2 boxes of shells twice a month (25 per box).
    But l was shooting birds in the air. That may have been the case with Barry. A single pellet fell from the sky. Unless he heard the shot & was sure it was a ground shot.

    I was in the army as a lad & shot many guns in full auto mode. So l was disciplined in the handling of guns.
    Guns kill & should be treated with respect. If a pellet had struck me l would have phoned the police. Because the next time it happens someone may be injured or killed. The guy that fired the shot probably had no idea the pellets reached the canal. That’s why the police should have been informed. There is no doubt that an ARV would have been dispatched to have a word with every shooter in that area. Warnings would have been issued & if only one shooter was present, you can be sure his licence would be revoked with immediate effect. His gun would also be confiscated.

    • Goodness. Thanks for all that information. I do feel Barry has taken it too lightly. He says it was a double barrel as he heard it go off twice (does that make sense?). Kim and I had heard the shots inside the boat. We didn’t see the shooter.
      We going to try and report it online. A bit late now I realise. It’s not something we’ve come across before 😳

      • Yes a double barrel, or over/under can be recognised by the 2 rapid shots or both fired together.

        If he had lost an eye, or even worse had a child been hit, would you have call the police?

        The shooter very likely has no idea that the shot had reached the canal. He/she probably owns or has permission to shoot that land. Therefore it will happen again.

        Therefore best to make the police aware. They need to know the location (as accurate as possible), the direction the shot came from + the date & time of the “offence”.
        They will then talk to the farmer to establish who was shooting on the land at that time.

        The shooter/shooters, when identified, will be spoken to by the police.
        Unlikely any action will be taken against them, but at least they will then be aware of the incident & will take grater care in future. Or the farmer will revoke permission to shoot the land as inexperienced shooters can also injure his lifestock.

  2. Surprised that no boaters had a chainsaw onboard. I always carried my 21″ petrol chainsaw on the boat. I carried it to cut firewood when l came across it.
    However l did turn it on trees which made navigation difficult a few times. Waterways maintainable guys were very aware that l did that & had no problem with it. In fact they frequently dropped off many trunks to our chalets beside the canal for us to use as firewood (we also had stoves in those).

    Waterways police often gave me a lift back with my shopping. I knew their rota & timed my shopping trips to scrounge a lift. They would drop me off beside the chalet & have a cheeky look a my boat licence which was always displayed in the window, as once they caught me with it expired (just got a warning).

    I also had a little 2 seater ski boat which l took out on day trips. They also gave me a warning for speeding up the Trent river. They were unable to catch up to me in the police launch.
    Not surprised as that tiny boat had 50hp twin outboards for power. The spark plugs often oiled up due to being run at low revs. Therefore the marine engineer fitted “hot plugs” to burn off the oil & advised me to increase the revs when possible to clean up the plugs. That big wide river was an ideal place. I had no idea the cops had spotted me.
    Cops said that one guy described me as speeding up the Trent, but they didn’t agree l was “speeding”. I said well l am glad to hear that. He said we would describe it as “hydroplaning”. Do you know how fast this police launch goes? (He asked). Not as fast as my ski boat (l answered). He didn’t smile.
    But l was 24 & the ski boat skimmed across the water (causing no wake), big wide river, no boats around. So l couldn’t understand the fuss. It was 1983.

    Oh happy days. I miss my youth.

    • What wonderful stories and memories you have made in your book of life. I’m sure there’s many more pages and chapters to come.

      The tree was much too big for boaters to cut and the risk was the trunk would’ve fallen into the canal and cause a worse blockage. Better to leave it to the professionals. They were there bright and early the following day and soon had it sorted 😉

    • Perhaps today with all the political correctness & safety regulations, the right thing to do is wait on the professionals to move it. I wouldn’t advise anyone to tackle a tree that size as it’s not one for the novice.

      But back in the 80s l did just that. Trust me, l have hundreds of hours felling trees. Wood must be cut correctly. Serious injuries or death can be caused by inexperienced people attempting to fell trees. Not to mention property damage.

      As for the big one l tackled (just couldn’t resist it).
      It was far too big for me to get out the water, so l cut it into several lengths & tied them to the bank with some rope to allow boats to pass (another boat donated the rope).
      But l was only a few miles from home, so l couldn’t resist taking a part of that trunk with me (it was dead seasoned ASH).
      So l roped it up & took it on tow.

      Only got a mile before the maintainance guys turned up in their barge. They had a good laugh at my efforts.
      Then they offered to deliver it to me as l saved them some graft removing the obstruction.
      So l asked them to collect the rest of it that l had tied up to the bank & deliver that at the same time. Very easy for them as they have a hydrolic crane on their barge (but their chainsaw was no bigger or better than mine 🙂

      No mobile phones & digital cameras back then. But l did have a 35mm camera. I wish l had taken a few pics. Especially of the guys delivering what must have been over a ton of firewood, on many occasions.

      The waterways guys even suggested that l apply for a job on the crew (they had an opening).
      They appeared surprised when l explained that l was a registered nurse by profession who had taken a few years off to “live the good life”.

      1985 & l was back working in a NHS hospital.
      No more hanging from boats sawing trees. But my skills inserting needles & tubes in people were still as good as they were in 1980.

      The good life is now a distant memory. But l don’t regret any of it.
      Wife now on oxygen 24/7, so not a reality for me to buy a boat.
      But if she went before me, & l was still as healthy as l am now. Then l am selling up & coming back to do it all again.
      This time l have much more money to play with. So no need to hunt for the free firewood.
      But l would carry my chainsaw just in case (yes l still have one). Even a telescopic petrol chainsaw which l could have used back then.

      So l still dream. I even look at boats on the market & consider if l should buy one big enough to house a workshop so l can take one of my lathes with me.
      I am also now qualified in electronics & understand boat wiring. Also a radio ham, so would need a radio room in the boat + enough solar panels & battery banks to run all my electronics.

      We don’t know what the future holds.

      • Oh wow! No camera but a very good memory. I hope you have all these fabulous stories documented somewhere for posterity?

        • This is the very first time l have told those stories. I haven’t even told the wife. But there have been many times that l lay awake in bed recalling those days.

          There was no river rescue service back then. Or if there was l was not aware of it.
          Therefore engine repairs were carried out with whatever l had available to keep it running.
          I once repaired a cracked water jacket on the engine with a tube of araldite & the change from my pocket. It worked a treat & was still holding a year later.

          Trent lock was a popular drinking zone. Many times l was well intoxicated after midnight & started up the boat to take it to a less populated location for the night.
          I had more spotlights fitted than the average boat. Someone gave me one of those amber flashing lights so l fitted that on the boat.

          I recall one night we were returning from the pub at Swarkstone. I had all the lights going, including the flashing amber one. About 10 people on the boat, all with cans of beer, music playing loud (we were having a party).

          When we went under the bridge we noticed that a police car had stopped & two cops were standing on the bridge looking rather confused at what was coming down the canal. They then went to the other side to get a better view after we passed under it as they were no doubt dazzled by all those spot lights as we approached them.

          No they didn’t run down the tow path after us. If they did they would need to swim as no way would l be pulling over for them.
          A couple of miles later we moored up beside my chalet & continued the party in there.
          I loved living in that remote location. No neighbours to disturb. Party all night if we wanted to. Many nights we had midnight barbeques beside the river.
          I could literally sit on my doorstep with a fishing rod.

          • I love that you’ve found a way to share your stories. Barry has many tapes of parties in his twenties, albeit on land in Gisborne.
            Maybe your wife would enjoy hearing about your escapades before you met?
            One day at a time James. I’m sure you’ll make it back for more adventures, albeit rather different ones to your youth 🤗

            • Yes you are right Sandra. If l return my adventures won’t be as colourful as they were nearly 40yrs ago. I no longer drink alcohol, so outings to the pub would be for a meal & a shandy.

              But wisdom comes with age. As does knowledge. Back in those days boat repairs would have been an easier task if l had the knowledge, experience & tools that l have now. And ofcourse the money.

              Hard to believe that after all my wild adventures l only got a few warnings from the cops. I couldn’t afford to be charged with anything as it would affect my career.
              I still don’t have any convictions. Other than a speeding ticket last week (36 in 30 zone). Only the 2nd l have had in my life. But no points as l can opt for the speed awareness course.

              I was showing the wife pics of a boat in the classifieds last week. She liked it. But getting her on one is another matter.

              Sadly my mother died last year. I got her house. Rented out for now. But when l draw my pension l just may decide to sell it & buy a boat.
              Boats tend to hold their value, so the kids can sell it when l have gone.

              • I got a speeding ticket two years ago for 35mph. Like you I went for the course. And it was really informative! I learnt so much and it’s changed my driving for the better.

                A lot of women resist narrowboating. If you’ve ever read our posts about Paul and Elaine Macey you’d know it took ages to persuade Elaine. Thankfully she decided to go for it – because about five years later she died of cancer. Eighteen months after that Paul did too. Neither of them had reached pension age. Thank goodness they chose to carpe diem. Oh! And Elaine adored it 😉

                • That’s so sad Sandra. But you are right, they enjoyed life to the full whilst they were here.

                  Tonight l also recalled the time l sunk a sailing boat with my wake at Trent lock.
                  It had 3 youths in it shouting abuse at my mate & l. Calling my beloved boat a rust bucket Grrrrr.

                  Despite having the full wide river they pulled into the narrow gap between my boat & the bank in order to overtake me. They had no idea that my boat was “much” faster than most boats.

                  So l opened the throttle full up.
                  Those little sailing dingys have only a few inches freeboard at the stern. So my wash was like a tidal wave to them.
                  Their boat SUNK as l overtook them.

                  Fortunately it was shallow water, so they were able to recover the boat. Cops found them responsible for bad navigation.

                  Those youths always kept well clear of my boat after that 😁

                  If l had a video of any of my experiences that would have been one of the funniest. I have missed out most of the details which can only be described as a “scream”.

                  • Sounds like Karma 😂

                    I do think writing all your stories down would be amazing. You could copy and paste this comment thread. It’s one of the reasons I write the blog and have done since 2009. When I’m really old (I don’t count 60 as old that’s for sure!), I’ll be able to reflect on the adventures and smile. Of course not everything gets published, I keep some things back, because one I’ll write them book’. Well maybe …

                    Sounds like you have a book in you too 😉

  3. They do say you never hear the one that kills you, so Well done, Barry, but that is scary! … I counted at least 60 rings on that log – that’s a decent bit of growth. 🙂

    • Yikes! I think so but as usual he thinks I’m over reacting. Typical cool kiwi!

      The rings were magnificent. Gorgeous trees. I would’ve loved to have a slice of it but they were too heavy to carry back to the boat and I think had all gone by the time we returned 😉

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