Sunday, March 23, 2014

A weekend busy doing..........very little

Well this weekend we were supposed to be looking forward to seeing Paul Carrack in concert at Derby Assembly Rooms, but due to a recent large fire the performance was cancelled and has been rescheduled for July, so as we were at a bit of a loose end we headed off down to Blue Moon for a lazy weekend.

We dodged the showers to leave the marina, keeping one ear on the events taking place at the iPro Stadium as Derby County were playing demolishing Nottingham Forest 5-0. How I am going to enjoy work on Monday morning !! 

We made the quick hop down to Ravenshaw Wood and moored up in our favourite spot and spent the rest of the afternoon doing odd jobs around the boat, listening to music and just generally being lazy. Jasper kept an eye on things and welcomed all passers by. 
Ravenshaw Wood
Keeping watch
It's hard to believe that this view from our galley window is the route for the blasted HS2 train line which is ear marked to cut a swathe through this lovely stretch of countryside. We just hope and pray it never happens.

This morning I took Jasper for a walk before breakfast and was surprised to see what I initially thought was a pile of rubbish left on the towpath. As we got closer it was apparent that it was actually someone asleep. Not what you expect to find on an early morning walk and Jasper couldn't quite work out why I put him on his lead as we passed, but I'm sure the chap wouldn't have thanked him for  waking him up with a big lick. 

We had a quick run down to Fradley late morning and turned outside The Swan. I bet the owners of this boat were happy after the football yesterday too. 

We spent the afternoon back at Ravenshaw Wood before reluctantly heading home. We'd not been far, but the batteries, both ours and on the boat, have had a bit of a re-charge.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A midweek bloggers meet up.

We enjoy reading our boating blogs each day to catch up on where everyone is and what they've been up to out on the cut and it's a great way to keep in touch with friends. So when Lesley & Joe on nb Yarwood were seen to be heading in our general direction, we kept tabs on them and got in touch to arrange a meet at 'The Mucky Duck' at Fradley last night.

Of course we both had to finish work before we could set off to meet them, but we managed to arrive just after 6pm to find them comfortably ensconced in the bar with a pint. We have been reading a bit of negativity about The Swan recently on a popular forum, but as is always the case for us, we had a decent meal and a decent pint in nice 'boaty' surroundings, and until we experience anything different, we shall continue to give them our trade. Ok, you wouldn't choose it for a romantic meal or a notable event, but as far as a traditional canal side pub goes, it definitely ticks all the boxes.

Jasper enjoyed meeting Lesley & Joe too and was impressed to be introduced to the delicacy of pork scratchings by Lesley. He'll be ordering a pint of Pedigree next......

After our meal we headed back to Yarwood to see the evening out. Jasper got to know Fletcher and Floyd, their two black labs, whilst we had a lovely tour of Yarwood. Lesley & Joe certainly put much thought into the layout and functions of their fabulous boat and as a liveaboard it has everything you could ever want. It certainly started ideas spinning in our heads and gave us things to think about for the future. We had a lovely evening with lovely people which, again, is all down to the power of 'blogging'.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Releasing the shackles for a lovely weekend

Trusting the weather forecast, we decided to blow the cobwebs off Blue Moon this weekend and head off out of the marina for a mini cruise. The weather certainly didn't disappoint, especially on Sunday, which was absolutely glorious.

John had contacted our friends Paul and Jane during the week who moor with us at Kings Bromley to see if they fancied joining us with their boat 'Lady Melissa' and travel up to Great Haywood in convoy. They bought their boat last September, but since bringing her back to Kings Bromley hadn't managed to get out, so they jumped at the chance and we had a plan.

We left the marina on Saturday morning but then it dawned that there was a scheduled stoppage up at Colwich Lock, which was actually due to finish that day. So would it be open or wouldn't it ? Fortunately our fears were soon quelled as an oncoming boat confirmed that the lock had opened on Friday afternoon, and so we pressed on past the Armitage Shanks factory and through Plum Pudding Cutting to Rugeley. 
Armitage Shanks factory
Lady Melissa through Plum Pudding Cutting
Despite the good weather, there were very few boats out and about and this meant that there were no queues at the usual bottleneck at Colwich Lock - our first lock of 2014. Louise helped Paul and Jane through the lock as John headed off up to Shugborough and was amazed to find the entire length overlooking the hall to be totally boat free. I doubt we will ever see that again as you can't normally stick a pin in it. We decided to go up through Great Haywood Lock and turn at the junction before mooring up for the night back overlooking Shugborough Hall.

Having enjoyed a nice meal and drinks in The Clifford Arms, we all retired to Blue Moon to put the world to rights over a bottle (or two) of wine before bed. How we have missed this boating life over the winter !!

We were in no great rush to head back to Kings Bromley on Sunday. John went off for an early morning three mile run before breakfast (obviously guilty about how much he'd had to drink the night before). He is in training for a charity 10k run in four weeks time in memory of his parents, so needs to keep up the training !!

We had a lovely trip back to Kings Bromley in sunshine and it brought the best out in everyone. Smiling faces, everyone relaxed and enjoying the weather. Even Jasper was taking it steady, as was the buzzard in this waterside garden.
Jasper - 'Just Chillin'
Soaking up the sun
And to end a perfect weekend, England triumphed over Wales in the Six Nations rugby. What more could you ask for ??

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Not quite out with the old, but definitely in with the new.

Wow....March is here already and the days are getting warmer. A day on the boat potentially on the horizon for tomorrow and life is good - apart from work of course. 403 days and counting until retirement !!

A music post for the blog after our night out in Sheffield last night. We spent the day with our close friends Fiona and Rob from 'The Black Country' and travelled north to the 'Steel City' where we met more friends Wendy and Martin to see The Orchestra at 'Plug' - usually a student venue, but one which prides itself on putting on some good live acts, including in the past, Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen and The Prodigy. So when Louise saw that The Orchestra were booked to play one of just three UK gigs there, we jumped at the chance. The fact we were going to this venue didn't exactly go down with our eldest 'student' son Liam, who was mortified to think that his parents were going to such a 'sh*thole' but what a great night we had - even if our feet did stick to the floor a bit !!

Who are The Orchestra you may ask.... Well they are former members of E.L.O. and E.L.O. Part II. We saw them last year at Rewind Festival and were hugely impressed then, but as is the norm with festivals, the set was quite short, so last night we were treated to a full session and they just blew the crowd away with a string of hits taking us all back 30 years or more.

                                                       Video clip of 'Mr Blue Sky'

At the other end of the scale, and obviously not old enough to remember anything about E.L.O. we were fortunate enough to see one of the support acts - sixteen year old Beth McCarthy from York. Not only a very talented singer / musician, but a totally engaging girl with an fantastic attitude and personality who chatted away to us after her performance as if she'd known us for years. If the name rings any bells, then you may well have seen her quite recently, as she appeared on The Voice on BBC1 tonight, winning her singing battle and moving onto the knockout stages. Well done Beth !!!
Fiona and Beth