Meanwhile…

In recent weeks Boatwif has been more of a ‘Housewif’ than a narrowboat crew member. There’s been no windlass wielding, no tiller-gripping, no rope throwing…

Minds have been focused on the Great Redistribution. The garage, stacked high with the stuff of decades of family life, had been started on.

Locally, several small brothers had often said how they loved going fishing with their dad. A donation to them of a couple of fishing rods and tackle, a child’s tent and camp bed, several racquets, a rugby ball and a cricket bat brought big smiles all round. There was even a small red chair just right for their baby sister…

A very large remover’s box was delved into: oh, model trains and accessories were discovered.

   

Finding a good home for them was tricky at first, but then an internet search led to a model engineering society and an enthusiast happy to service the locos and rolling stock, to be sold off at the society’s Open Day later in the year. Who was the more delighted – the donors at passing decades old trains to a good home or the recipient keen to start cleaning them up…?

“We’re coming down in February,” Cheshire Mum had announced, “to give you a hand.” And so it was that after an hour or so scrabbling about in the loft Techno Son-in-Law had assembled several piles of Things To Be Sorted.          Over the following days there were five trips to the local Household Waste Recycling Centre, items carefully sorted to load into the appropriate skip.

A motley selection of cameras and vintage hi-fi equipment were sold at the local Auction Rooms.

Contact was made with a Baby Bank:   Why keep baby and toddler items when the Cheshire One, a frequent visitor in her pre-school days, is weeks away from A levels now?!  A cot, a stair gate, a bed guard, toys and games, even baby clothes were collected by beamingly grateful Baby Bank staff.

What then to do with the Blue Chair?    When the Captain had sought out a reclining chair with leg rest to help him cope with his dodgy hip, the Blue Chair had been consigned to the garage. Far too old for a fire safety label, no charity could accept it. Freecycle was the answer. And within an hour of posting its availability there were three potential takers – and one very happy person keen to collect and reupholster it! RESULT!

Other items redistributed via Freecycle were glove puppets  and wooden building blocks.

There was more head scratching about how and where to redistribute a hundred cassette tapes.      In these days of digital downloads who wants or uses commercially recorded cassettes? Local charity shops were not interested. Then Boatwif /Housewif recalled a previous Redistribution attempt, when the Oxfam Books and Music shop in the nearby town of Olney had taken LPs from the 60s and 70s… A phone call gained a positive response – and in due course the cassettes were relocated to an appreciative new home. “Oh, we listen to every one of them,” said the smiley Saturday volunteer, referring to the  many plastic-cased tapes saved from landfill.

An unwelcome intruder in late February was a tugging nerve, the discomfort developing into raging sciatica. How on earth was a bent, hobbling and housebound Boatwif ever going to be able to get on a boat again… Painkillers and patience, icepacks and firm seat pads, manipulation and gentle movement eventually dulled and drove the pain away. “Sciatica – it’s like a deep toothache down your leg, isn’t it!” said Cookerman, a fellow sufferer, aka the family pharmacist. Mid-March, via a drive up the M1 to Cleddau‘s Crick mooring, a trial was held. Could Boatwif get on and off the boat….?  Slowly, carefully, Boatwif found she could bend under the bow deck cratch cover and creep down the steps into the cabin. There was a flicker of hope, then a growing confidence. It wasn’t a long visit – but enough to observe that new safety ladders have been installed at the end of the pontoons.

   

Apart from moored boats at Crick Marina have there been any other boats seen in recent weeks? Yes, the river levels at Stratford -upon-Avon had fallen since the January visit; trip boats and rowing teams were spied vying for space one late March morning.

“What? Stratford again?” some may ask.

Indeed, but for a very special reason.     Comfortably seated for a Saturday matinee of ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream’ at the RSC, Techno Son-in-Law leaned forward along the row of seats as the lights went down. “Happy Christmas,” he said, “and thank you for the present!” Seats bought five months earlier had been a combined Christmas present for the boaters and the Cheshire Three. Not even sciatica was to get in the way of a day trip to Stratford for a splendid, magical, highly comic production!

Next day a narrowboat was seen descending Stoke Prior Bottom Lock on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal.      After a Sunday lunch at the Navigation Inn with the former nb Tentatrice crew, a Towpath Telegraph (free newspaper for waterway users) was spotted. See here:  The April edition was out – and its front page bore alarming news.     Severe silting at Salter’s Lode Lock and the Denver Sluice (both locks in Norfolk) means boat access to the River Great Ouse – and to Bedford – is impossible. The Ouse between these two locks is tidal. The lock at Salter’s Lode prevents salty water entering the Middle Levels; the sluices at Denver are flood controls where silt banks often build up on the tidal side of the lock. Would cruise plans to the 2O24 Bedford River Festival have to be abandoned…?

A few days later news emerged of plans to start de-silting work during the first week of April. May it be successfully completed in time for Cleddau to pass through both locks sometime in June…

Meanwhile, during another out west road trip to Pembrokeshire (much rain) there was one bright day.

Sea.

Space.

Light – and the Irish Ferry moving smoothly out towards St Ann’s Head and the Celtic Sea.

Down at Hobbs Point, as for decades before, anglers cast their rods. Across the water vessels  bobbed in Neyland Yacht Haven

and a bilingual sign warned of the dangers of swimming in deep water. 

Back in Beds the crew hope for more bright days as (with fingers firmly crossed!) they anticipate the start of a Cleddau spring cruise…

Estimated road miles:   641

Distance travelled by water: 0 miles

Lock operations observed: 1

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2 Responses

  1. Pip Leckenby says:

    So glad your Sciatica has improved to allow boating.
    Pip x

  2. Sue Deveson says:

    Thanks, Pip.
    We’ve just had a phone chat with the marine engineer who has assured us that the boat’s outstanding jobs are being attended to.
    So fingers are doubly crossed now that all is going in the right direction!
    Sue /Boatwif

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