Monday 31 December 2012

I take it back. Rain!

No sooner had I happily posted about the sunny morning we had and the clouds came.

Carol from 2 boats over said they were cruising into Stone and did we want anything.  Well we did.... we wanted a ride into Stone and a walk back for some fresh air. So we hopped aboard, met their visitors, and off we went.  We did the loop around the marina to the exit and as we neared the lock the drizzle started.  Perhaps I shouldn't say "started" but "returned"!  All the same we enjoyed the trip into Stone.

There was a couple of things we wanted from the supermarket (it rained like billy-o while we were in there).  By the time we came out the rain had stopped so we started the walk back.  We almost made it.  About 3/4 of the way back it rained some more.

Dot from nb Ewn Ha Cul had kindly offered to smoke us some cheese yesterday so when we got back she and Gordon came over for to bring the cheese and have a chat.  It was dark soon after they left and Mick came in saying he could hear someone working the lock in the dark. I went out with the camera and there was nb Winton's Folly coming back into the marina. Seems time got away from them at The Swan!!

Sunday 30 December 2012

Sun !!!

We woke to a clear day and now the sun's out.  Bliss!!
I have my fingers crossed that forecast is correct.  What a relief.

Weather for Stone, UK
Currently : 4°C
Sun : Partly sunny, Max 8° Min 8°
Mon : Chance of rain, Max 10° Min 2°
Tue : Partly sunny, Max 6° Min 8°
Wed : Partly sunny, Max 11° Min 7°

Days end

I've had terrible internet woes the past few days, but here it is at last.

It’s been raining… and raining… and raining.  We did expect this type of weather but it really would be nice to have a rest from it for a day.  I think the gloomy weather was starting to get to us and as soon as that thought entered my head I looked out to find the most gorgeous reddish glow over the marina as the sun set.  It was just in time.  I raced out to take some photos and Andy from nb Josephine called out “Are you taking photos to prove that sometimes the rain stops?!”  Well, it sure seemed that way!

Today Mick went off on the bus to Stafford to B&Q… again… as the item he’d been sold yesterday in Etruria turned out to be the wrong one for the job.  We did some internet research and found what he needed.  It said that it was in stock at B&Q in Stafford.  Just to make sure we rang and asked them to set the last 2 items aside for him to collect today.  He headed off in the pouring rain across the muddy marina field. 

When he was on the bus on the way back to the marina from Stafford I walked out to the main road to meet him.  Despite the constant rain I just had to get out!  It was quite enjoyable sloshing along in the mud and rain but it seems there’ll be laundry to do tomorrow.  Mick’s shoes were saturated and we both had mud splashes everywhere.

This afternoon he got to his task while I was out having a coffee on nb Ewn Ha Cul.  When I returned it seems he’d had a mini melt down.  After all the rainy bus trips to get what he wanted, the 2 tins he’d returned with from Stafford had a use by date of 2008 and wouldn’t work!  He’s not happy.

Photos :
1. The church at Aston
2. - 10. Around the marina Saturday afternoon

Saturday 29 December 2012

To Stone and to Stoke

Yesterday Mick walked into Stone to visit the hardware store... again... and cruised back onboard nb Winton's Folly as they were returning to the marina.  I had intended to spend the time working but the first hour I had a good tidy up, then a chat with Diane and Rebecca who came onboard to check out Mick's progress with the stove, and finally I settled to some work.

Mick enjoyed his cruise and returned full of enthusiasm for going out in the boat soon.  He didn't have a lot of luck at the hardware store so we decided a trip to B&Q would be needed.  As we chatted, we were reminded of a funny thing that happened in our first couple of weeks in the UK.  Mick wanted a couple of sponges to give the boat a wash.  At B&Q they were 50p each and above them was a sign that said "3 for 2".  We've come to know that the English seem to love this type of deal - the supermarkets are full of them.  But, it was the first time Mick had seen it and he quickly worked out that the 50p each worked out cheaper.  At the checkout the fellow told him to go back and get another as they were 3 for 2.  Mick said it worked out more expensive so he'd just have the two of them!  After a quick explanation all became clear and he left with his 3 sponges (for the price of two)!

Today we decided we'd catch the bus into Stoke on Trent.  Mick wanted B&Q, we wanted to buy a second tv from Tesco (the same as the one we have), and we thought it would be nice to have a bus trip in a different direction.  We walked to the bus stop opposite the Three Crowns and got there with 10 minutes to spare before the expected bus.  After about five minutes we saw Gordon from nb Ewn Ha Cul coming towards us.  It turned out he had been waiting at the opposite stop, intending to catch the same route in the opposite direction into Stafford.  It wasn't to be.  We weren't aware that it was a "Bank Holiday" and the bus ran on the Saturday timetable which meant it didn't come beyond Stone!  Lucky he saw us waiting and came to tell us!!

We decided to walk into Stone and catch the bus from there.  As we walked we realized it wouldn't be practical to walk so far back to the marina carrying a television all the way from Stone.  We decided to take the other bus service that goes down the main road on the opposite side of the marina as that came a bit closer and we would walk back from there.

We had lunch when we arrived at Hanley and then went our own ways - Mick to B&Q and me to check out The Potteries Shopping Centre.  We met up at Tesco to buy the television and a few other bits and pieces.  As we came out of Tesco and began on our way to the bus station at the top of the hill I noticed a bus stop opposite.  We checked out the bus routes that used this stop and as we did our bus appeared.  Perfect! 

It was a great day out and we've decided we'll catch the bus somewhere once a week.  We're getting cabin fever with the boat being in the marina and the weather being so rainy. 

We had another first today.  We placed an online grocery order with Ocado and had it delivered.  The cheapest delivery slot was 5.30 - 6.30pm so I went out in the dark to wait for it.  A chat with Gil from nb Shoehorn as she came to collect her laundry helped pass the time.  The driver was very friendly and helpful placing the bags in the little marina wheelie cart.  We'll definitely do this again.

Photos : some interesting buildings in Hanley (despite the gloomy weather)

Wednesday 26 December 2012

A "Onesie" rage

Now, I thought this was Diane's family tradition or something (I'd never heard of them!) but it turns out to be far bigger than that.  I stumbled across this article from the Daily Mail and discovered England's gone mad for Onesies!

We've all gone crazy for onesies! Celebrities fuel trend for all-in-ones as Asda stockpiles ONE MILLION in time for Christmas

If you find the idea of a grown-up dressed up as an adult baby disturbing, steel yourself now, because the item predicted by supermarkets and high street stores alike to be the number one Christmas gift for 2012 is none other than the onesie.
Celebrities were early adopters of the trend, with the likes of Rihanna, Robbie Williams, Tulisa, One Direction and Tom Daley all stepping out in their own versions of the adult rompersuits.
Holly Willoughby appeared on This Morning wearing one, Keith Lemon stepped out in Asda's Incredible Hulk onesie and Amy Childs vajazzled a £60 velour all-in-one, 2,000 of which sold out on her website in two days.

Evidently millions have already bought one for themselves. George at Asda, who are predicting that onesies will be the number one Christmas gift this year, say that sales of onesies have soared by a staggering 606 per cent year on year, and the word 'onesie' is now the most searched-for term on their website.
Marks & Spencer and Debenhams have reported staggering sales results too, with M&S saying last month they would be producing an additional 10 styles of the onesie in time for Christmas, and Debenhams reporting a 155 per cent rise in sales in October compared to the previous month.

A spokesman said at the time they'd sold 2,075 units in just one week - and that was just the tip of the iceberg.
With Christmas now fast approaching, many more are expected to jump on the onesie bandwagon.
A poll on the George at Asda Facebook page revealed that 42 per cent of customers are planning to buy a onesie as a gift this year, and a third admit the ultra-forgiving onesie will be their outfit for Christmas day.

As a result, Asda say they have stockpiled one million onesies to meet demand, and have launched an online Onesie Shop for customers. There, shoppers can buy Sponge Bob Square Pants onesies, onesies in tiger print and dalmation print, a Fair Isle onesie inspired by the Burberry catwalk show - and that Incredible Hulk onesie as worn by Keith Lemon, which sales analysts at the store predict will sell out in 24 hours (no fighting in the aisles over the last one now please). 

Fiona Lambert, George Brand Director said she predicted sales of onesies will go on soaring right up until the big day. 'Onesies are the must-have item for Christmas 2012,' she said. 'Each week at George we see sales soar higher than the week before which we are attributing to celebrity influence. 

'Due to such high customer demand we have ordered in thousands of extra onesies and launched our dedicated online ‘Onesie Stop Shop’ to ensure our shoppers don’t miss out on the perfect outfit for a cosy Christmas morning, day and night for the whole family.'

Christmas afloat

It was a strange experience being in this weather at Christmas.  No Carols by Candlelight on tv, no cicadas making racket, no flies buzzing....

Christmas Eve there was the boaters lunch in one of the marina huts. Luckily the large one was available as there were more in attendance than the usual afternoon tea.  A new attendee was Paul from nb Caxton who was ushered into the hut just an hour after arriving back from Australia. He managed well to stay awake for another couple of hours.  Lunch continued on beyond afternoon tea and before we knew it the sky was dark.  Ray from nb Ferndale returned from Heathrow with daughter Sam, also just arrived from Australia.  There was also a new couple and their visitors but I can't for the life of me recall their names.  I'll have to ask.

After such a big afternoon Mick was a bit "under the weather" and fell asleep early. Awake on my own I encountered my first bout of homesickness. It certainly doesn't help that we're living with a bit if chaos at the moment.  After years of renovating at home we'd been used to the house being spotless all the time.  Being surrounded by clutter feels awful.

This morning we thought we'd go for a walk but before we left we heard a boat engine start up. It was nb Winton's Folly about to head into Stone. We hopped on board and worked the Aston Lock for them, along with the "assistance" of a couple of very little boys walking along the towpath with their parents. They were very excited to see the boat.... and so were we.... to be out of the marina!  We've decided we will have to go cruising soon.  We got off the boat at the next bridge for the short walk back across the marina field.

Coming back in the gate of our pontoon we bumped into Roland and his wife, Bev from nb Klara. They came along with us to have a look at our boat and we enjoyed a good chat with them. More reassurance to hear yet another story of a few hiccups. Why on earth did we think we'd just get on board and cruise off into the sunset?  Well..... not quite but we definitely weren't prepared for those first few weeks.

When they left it was time to walk to the Three Crowns for our lunch.  We enjoyed the meal and not having to cook or clean up.  A good Christmas present!  It had been drizzling as we walked there but the weather had cleared in time for the walk back.  We had an amble around the marina before getting back on board for a quiet afternoon.  We did notice that the marina bistro was far from full, in fact there were only a handful of occupied tables.  We had originally thought to have Christmas lunch there but at almost double the price of the lovely lunch we had at the Three Crowns we're glad of our choice.  I think it was a 6 course meal at the bistro but our three courses was more than enough.  We couldn't even finish that.

Weather for Stone, UK
Currently : 5°C
Tue : Chance of rain, Max 7° Min 3°
Wed : Chance of rain, Max 7° Min 3°
Thu : Chance of rain, Max 6° Min 2°
Fri : Chance of rain, Max 12° Min 5°

Weather for Bendigo, Australia
Currently : 10°C
Tue : Clear, Max 29° Min 14°
Wed : Mostly sunny, Max 34° Min 12°
Thu : Clear, Max 29° Min 10°
Fri : Mostly sunny, Max 31° Min 12°

Photos :
1. Jean (nb Josephine), Diane (nb Ferndale), Rebecca (nb Ferndale visitor)
2. Gordon (nb Ewn Ha Cul), Paul & Elaine (nb Caxton) with Sam gazing at his favourite person, Andy, (nb Josephine)
3. 2 visitors, new attendee (name to come), Dot (nb Ewn Ha Cul)
4. Elly, Carol & Barry (nb Winton's Folly), Mick
5. Roland & Bev (nb Klara), new attendee (name to come)
6. Rebecca & Sam (nb Ferndale visiting sisters)
7. A trip out of the marina - lots of horn tooting as we headed out
8. A family of gongoozlers at Aston Lock
9. Barry and Carol (nb Winton's Folly)
10. The sun desperately trying to get through as we return to the marina

Tuesday 25 December 2012

Merry, Merry Christmas

All the best wishes for Christmas to our family, friends, new-found boating pals and blog readers!
Have a great day !!

Monday 24 December 2012

Angle it is!

The stove is going to be on an angle.  We thought it looked better, the heat from the open door won't be directed at the end of the finrad radiator timberwork, and.... the vote was unanimous!  A couple of comments gave us something else to consider.  It will be easier to clean out the ashes if it's on an angle.  Thanks for the emails and comments.

This morning we woke to a stunning sunny day.  The big excitement for the morning was nb Winton's Folly coming back in after a couple of nights in Stone.  They've actually been out of the marina!  I think we need to get a life.  Once Christmas is over and Mick's resolved his hole in the roof we really must go out for a night or two.  We'll wait for the next kind weather.  nb Ferndale also returned this afternoon.  They only just made it as there was a bit of drizzle starting up. 

Mick spent the better part of the morning drilling little holes in a circle to cut out the section of steelwork in the roof for the flue to go through.  He's finding it rather frustrating trying to do jobs with only the most basic of tools.  He did have company out there.  Barry from nb Winton's Folly stood out with his cuppa chatting to him while he worked. 

It's beginning to feel like Christmas.  There was a band playing Christmas carols outside the marina building this morning.  I meant to go and take a photo but got sidetracked.  By the time I remembered they were packing up.  There is suddenly a lot more activity around the marina.  Folk who use their boats for weekends and holidays are starting to appear and tonight there are many more lights on and more smoking chimneys.  We have neighbours next door for the next few days too.

We whiled away a few hours with Barry and Carol this afternoon once the light was going.  The debate over pros and cons of marina living goes on.  Regardless of any of the other pluses or minuses, we're certainly glad of the company of the other boaters!