Thursday, 19 October 2017

Lapworth (rescuing the squeeze box for a second time)

Gorgeous sunset from the boat on Tuesday evening

On Tuesday morning Buddy and I walked up the Stratford canal to the top of the Lapworth flight of locks and then turned left to visit Lapworth church. Lapworth is one of those villages that moved, so the church is now a couple miles away from the current village which grew up around the canals rather than the church.

On the way I noticed a boat, called Squeeze Box, was adrift as one of its mooring pins had pulled out.  There didn’t seem to be anyone around but I thought I’d give a quick knock before clambering onto someone else’s boat.  As I went to knock on the door, it opened and a couple came out.  They had just realised that the boat was diagonally across the canal and were coming out to re-pin it.

I held the boat while they got the pins safe and I said I recognised them but not from where.  The lady got it immediately, she said I had rescued them when they got stuck in one of the Astwood locks on the Birmingham & Worcester canal.  They had just picked up the boat and weren’t aware they should drive with the fenders up, especially in locks.  They had stuck fast but we got them moving by slowly letting water in.  I have a long lasting recollection of him going round with a knife, angrily cutting off the gunwale fenders once the boat was safe 😊
There were quite a few boats on the move up and down the flight so I suspect some areas are on half term already.  Once we reached the top lock we turned onto the country lane that leads down to the church.

Church built before 1200 (date not time) and has clearly been added to over the years

The church was open so Buddy and I had a look around.  The most interesting thing to me was the unusual flat roof:

Another odd feature of this church is that the tower was built separately, in the 1300s, but a passageway to the church was added about 400 years later.  You can’t really see this feature from the exterior picture of the church above.

I fancied a more circular walk so headed down a footpath opposite the church rather than back towards the canal.  It led through a really large cattle field and I passed a couple of ladies whose dogs were off their leads but I didn’t dare let Buddy off.  Fortunately the cows were right across the other side; Buddy's not keen on cows.

You can just see the cows in the far distance, to the right

We also passed one of the small brick field barns but this one has clearly been converted to a stable:

Brick built field barn complete with silhouetted horse

We re-joined the canal at the beautifully maintained Lapworth cricket field:

This canal-side house is near the top of Lapworth and has slowly been added to over recent years.  Each addition has taken more of the garden and this latest addition leaves just a small area of decking.  Not sure how that would affect the resale value especially for families with young children.

After lunch we had another walk and this time we bumped into Jo on his boat, Pohutukawa.  I mentioned Jo and Lisa when we passed them the other day; they are now living on a boat that our friends, Craig and Sarah, sold them.  Jo and I spent a pleasant half an hour chatting, mainly about boat life of course.  He and Lisa, are both teachers, and have sold their house and are having a year out whilst deciding what to do with their lives. It’s always fascinating to hear people’s stories and never ceases to amaze me how people have the guts to sell up and move onto a boat without ever being on one before.  I had to keep Buddy on his lead whilst we were chatting as one of their cats wasn’t scared of him and crossed the towpath in front of him a couple of times.

On Wednesday morning I dropped Karen at work at six and then Buddy and I drove up to Yorkshire to see my parents for a couple of nights.  It’s looking hopeful that Mum may be allowed home next week.  It’s amazing that the bones in her ankles seemed to have healed after only four weeks.  My dad has had a stairlift installed, one of the prerequisites for her being allowed home.  The family feel happier now that the lift is there as there is less of a chance that Dad will fall down the stairs.  I had a go on it as well but didn’t allow Buddy on, much to the children’s disappointment.

The drive up to Yorkshire is obviously not much fun for Buddy but we arrived by ten and went straight to the river so he could have a run:

In the middle of the afternoon I took him on a longer walk, partly along the canal.  This canal-side milestone, in the middle of the village, rather gives away the name of the canal:

Buddy was happy to be back by canal water and made it quite clear as soon as we got onto the towpath:

I rang Karen in the evening and, as it happened, she was just getting back to the boat after work.  She was most concerned as the solar lights weren't on.  It must have been a pretty dismal day in the Midlands and the lights only lasted a few hours or, probably just as likely, the wind had blown over the solar receiver which is in one of the plant pots.

The aqueduct where the Leeds & Liverpool canal crosses the Crosber Beck which joins the River Aire in my parent’s village, Gargrave

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Lapworth (ignoring the naysayers and congratulations are in order)

There was really a rather good weather forecast for Monday in these parts; light cloud in the morning with full sun and 20 degrees centigrade from midday.  So, an ideal day to get some washing done, it would also be ideal to use the slow cooker with all that sun available to shine on our solar panels.

The sky during the morning – supposed to be light cloud – I know most people saw it and it’s nothing new but it’s still uncommon enough to cause comment

My first problem arose when the first wash was half way through.  I had just come in from outside and the machine just stopped with one of the red lights flashing.  I assumed I had accidentally knocked a button when I walked past it and so reset it and started it off again.

Buddy and I went for our morning walk whilst this second attempt went through its cycle.  When we got back the same thing was happening so I knew something was up.  Looking at the manual I found that the flashing light gives a code, the code being the number of flashes in each phase of flashes.  The code translated to a possible blocked filter.  This didn’t seem out of the question as I haven’t cleaned the filter since we moved the machine to the new boat.  The flap that covers the filter has been restricted by the steps down to the galley and hence doesn’t open.

There was nothing for it but to get my hands dirty and remove the steps.  Before I started I had a quick look at the recipe that I was going to cook later.  Just as well I did as it needed at least seven hours in the slow cooker.  For some reason I had four hours in my mind and thought I had loads of time.  So, I got on with preparing the evening meal even though it was only midday (the sky was still like the picture at the top and still no sign of it changing).

Whilst getting some ingredients out of the fridge I noticed cream dripping into the salad box.  On investigating further, I realised that somehow a nearly full pot of cream had been knocked over and was everywhere.  I quickly shut the fridge door and thought I would tackle it later; cleaning out the fridge was on my job list this week anyway.

So, I got the slow cooker out, prepared the dish and transferred everything to it.  I thought I would have to run the engine occasionally as there was still no sun but that didn’t matter as I still had all the washing to do and that needs the engine running anyway.

Back to the steps: I unscrewed goodness knows how many screws and finally remove the steps.  Of course, I had to empty them all first as they were full of our spices, beer, wine and food store stuff like cans of tomatoes.  But once the steps were out I got the filter cover off and opened the filter without thinking.  The next thing there was water everywhere – I had forgotten to drain the machine.  I quickly screwed the filter back in and set the machine on the drain cycle whilst I prepared my lunch and Karen’s lunchbox for Tuesday.

In the end I got the filter clean and set the machine going again.  I took Buddy for another walk and when we got back the machine had got further in its cycle than before so I knew everything was OK.  When it finished I hung the washing outside and set another load going then went off for a bike ride along the canal with Buddy.  I noticed the wind had got up and within half an hour the sky had cleared and we had beautiful blue skies.

The pound above Dicks Lane lock in the sunshine

Another rural lock on the Stratford at Lowsonford

By four thirty Buddy had had enough and stopped at a lock as if to say, ‘I think we should turn around and go home for dinner’.  

When we got home the wind was really up so I put extra pegs on the washing for fear of any of it blowing off.  I put the steps back together, this time ensuring there would be easy access to the filter in future.

Considering how windy it had been when out on the bike ride I still saw a lot of butterflies, mainly Red Admirals but I also saw Speckled Woods, a couple of Peacocks and one Small White – not bad for the second half of October but I suppose it was really warm.

I sent Karen a picture of the lamb shanks gently cooking in the hope it would encourage her to get home a bit early 😊

After three hours cooking, another four to go

Oh, in case the fastidious were wondering, I did clean the fridge 😊
And the congratulations?  My sister became a grandparent for the second time yesterday (Karen and I are still waiting).  Also, my youngest son, Jake, got engaged to Dommie - the announcement was so them – no one knew until their Facebook status changed!