Monday 14th to Sunday 20th December 2009

We’re between bridges 8 and 9 on the Harbro’ Arm, in earshot of the A6 but out of noseshot of the glue factory. We’ve had the pleasure of a couple of boats pass us including the coal boat Hadar on the way towards Harbro’.
Our batteries are giving back noticeably less than a month ago despite an increase in the charging time. This could be the early signs of a duff one in our bank of four or it could be the cold affecting their performance. I’ve made a note to separate them when the weather improves and check their individual voltages.

Our long weekend in the country was fun but by late Tuesday morning we were stirring the mud again with the sharp end pointing towards the bright lights of Harbro’s market.

The cold clear day set my eyes off, streaming as they do every winter. Walking or cruising it makes no difference, water squirts as soon as the cold air hits the eyeballs. Towpath walkers throw strange looks, probably assuming I’ve had an almighty barny with V and lost the argument.
Pain though it is, it makes a change from summer, at least I’m not sneezing.

And what should we see round the corner but a coal boat so we pulled over and relieved them of a couple of bags. Keith and Jo are in rude health, standing on the towpath in shirt sleeves while we shiver under our multi-layered coats.

We arrived at our destination, it’s getting colder, they forecast snow and we’re looking at a couple of empty spaces at Union Wharf. It seemed daft not to ask so we enquired about moorings for a few days, just until we get warm you understand, we’re not going soft in our old age, honest.

Put yourselves over there, she said, make use of the electricity, the water, our lending books and DVDs, stay as long as you want……. Once you’re in, connected up and warm, the tiredness hits you and the comfy chairs beckon, the eyelids fasten onto your cheeks and you’re away. It’s winter, there’s no rush to go anywhere, even the shops can wait.

But it wasn’t all feet up and snoozin’. While V went for a wander I went down the engine room and messed about with the batteries. All cells are equal, none showing any signs of failing so we breathed easier and blamed the cold weather for our volts starvation.

Visitors. Mike and Jo popped in for elevenses and the time flew by as it does when you’re enjoying yourself.

A trip to town to see the tree with its lights, finished the day.

Visitors. Keith and Jo are in the Wharf so we ordered another couple of bags of coal, it’s becoming an expensive habit, and invited them over for sausage rolls (my favourite) and mince pies.
There were one or two flakes of white floating on an easterly breeze during the day but as my Nana used to say, it’s too cold to snow. How can it be too cold to snow? I never sorted that one out to any level of satisfaction.
It was certainly getting colder (2 Deg C last night) and impossible to tighten the ropes as they refused to lose their shape when pulled from the mooring rings.

Awoke to find the water around us frozen solid and V dropping hints about her birthday.
Made tea and returned to bed to watch an excited girl open her cards and presents indoors while thick snow fell outside. It’s obviously warm enough for snow.

As it’s V’s birthday I took her out. I walked her to town and back (carrying the groceries of course) and as if that wasn’t enough excitement treated her to lunch at the Union Inn.
Hot veg’ and stilton soup, who says I don’t know how to treat a lady?

And we have more visitors. Claire and Ter came for dinner to help V celebrate mmmm years of life on planet earth.

British Waterways thought of us by sending two little squares of paper in exchange for the six hundred and seventy six pounds and thruppence that we sent them two weeks ago. Isn’t that nice.

This was going to be our night out, treated to a meal at Graham and Sue’s but we got a call to say that he was ill, the swine had flu. Poor old Graham, laid low, sending his ‘buddy’ out for the special pills. Get well mate, don’t worry about us, we’re having Paul and Dawn over for lunch so all is not lost.

Visitors. Paul and Dawn and Travis the terrier came over from town to savour meals on keels. They’re good company, very talented in arty things, kinder folk you’ll never find.

Sunday 20th
Temperatures went below minus 3 last night. Roof hatches are frozen inside and the pond outside looks thick enough to stand on.

Tea in bed was followed by a Christmas breakfast practise – scrambled eggs on toast with smoked salmon and ‘caviar’. The only thing we didn’t try was the bottle of fizz. That must wait until the 25th.

Tonight we’re exercising vocal chords at the Baptist Church. Carols by candlelight should set us thinking about the real meaning of Christmas and put us in good humour for the week ahead.

How the week has flown, nothing in the way of cruising but it’s the life that we enjoy. This next week will no doubt pass even faster as we prepare for Christmas with two little princesses onboard. More about that later.

Reflecting on this last year, V has counted our cruising miles and declared an average year for distance, locks and swing/lift bridges:-

Canal and river miles = 1126
Locks = 955
Swing bridges = 100
Lift bridges = 38
Tunnels = 13

News is just coming in that someone failed to make it by 30 foot boat from the River Humber to the Thames by the salty route at night. I had my eye on the Wash and the Bristol Channel but it looks like the stakes have been raised.