The jottings are back – have you missed them? The winter has flown by with so many good friends to catch up with as well as the joys of the 'Murder Mystery' in the Village Hall. Then there was Christmas and the New Year celebrations and sadly, some old friends to say goodbye to. I wasn't idle through those long, dark months though – the little blue car has been zooming here, there and everywhere and is now languishing in another hedge, waiting for me to get back the bus back there tomorrow. I'm very happy to be swapping the steering wheel for a windlass.
We had a false start on Wednesday as Captain Carl had forgotten the boat keys. Luckily, we'd only got to Ropsley before he remembered so the day wasn't spoilt. 'American Pie' was on radio 2 and I trundled along, singing about driving my Chevy to the Levy and quite forgot to be cross. The sun shone, the sky was blue as we bounced by the village pond for the second time and tried to ignore the black clouds looming on the horizon. We knew the forecast for Wednesday was for wintry showers and blustery winds but once the calendar turns over from February to March, our love of boating is stronger than the threat of a few flakes of snow. The sleeting rain started as we flew down the new dual carriageway between Nottingham and the M1- that's an improvement after the terrible roads around us in Lincolnshire– a smooth road with no pot-holes.
It's such a joy to get on board 'Lady Aberlour' after being away for so long. The cabin smelt fresh – not a trace of mustiness anywhere except in the large drawer that I call the 'airing cupboard'. Its where I keep the spare bedding and towels and everything in it is clammy and smells odd – it will have to be washed before we can use it. Undeterred, I potter through the cabin, smiling at the curtain lace, the books, the pretty postcards, the sheep coaster, the 'Beach Huts' plaque – things I collected on our travels or gifts from thoughtful friends. It's good to be home. I find the new diary and place it in the usual spot by the radio, ready for Carl to keep a record of our battery usage, weather, engine hours and other mundane matters. I think its more interesting to write about swallows, ducklings and kingfishers and often scribble in large letters 'Kingfisher day' across the bottom of the page – I must try to be a bit more descriptive if I want to be a real Twitcher. Nothing to record so far, our one day of chugging from Burton to Alrewas started with snow and sleet and was bitterly cold and grey. The river Trent was running fast as we crossed it and Carl throttled up to power us through the cross current. We love that river stretch from Wychnor to Alrewas and most years we have moored here and walked up to the picturesque church, but this year the water levels are too high and we can't linger.
The big orange casserole dish has been bubbling away on the stove almost every day since we left Burton, I made a beef stew large enough to feed the crew of the QE2! The big kettle and the little kettle jostle for room on the stove top and I can squeeze my porridge pan on there too. Tricky quickly remembered where the warmest spot is and can usually be found gazing at the cosy glow from her place right in front of the it. I've had to make her a new bed by stuffing a cover with old tee shirts and woollies – I forgot that I threw her old bed away when we left the boat last year and spent a while looking for it before I remembered. The older I get the more time I spend looking for things!
Another old 'friend' I re-discovered since we got back is my lovely comfy bed. I was shattered on Wednesday night after all the packing and unpacking and it might have had something to do with the large glass of wine I had with our friends from Naga Queen. I'd had both hot water bottles in the bed all day but even so. The edges felt a little chilly and the rain was lashing down and the wind was howling through the trees when we finally settled down. The boat rocked us to sleep and we slept like babies - when we surfaced the next morning, it was a beautiful day, sunny and calm, perfect weather for turning around, a manoeuvre which can be tricky when its windy. If anything is guaranteed to start an argument between Captain and Crew its trying to turn the boat in a gale!
Today, the boat is moored in our favourite spot in Alrewas and the sun has been shining on our solar panels for most of the afternoon, which has pleased Carl greatly. The canals are quiet, only a handful of boats have passed our mooring but there have been streams of people along the towpath. A big dog put his head in through the hatch this morning and drooled at the smell of bacon and his owner almost did the same – I had forgotten about the delights of the 'gongoozlers' who press their noses against our windows and seem surprised to find real people living inside. Carl is alternating between reading a book and entertaining me with snippets about those devils across the channel who are trying to keep us in the EU against our will. When he finally crossed into the 21st century and bought himself a tablet, I didn't think he would use it for trawling through the political pages and sending his blood pressure sky high.
As Carl came chugging into Alrewas Lock, a man on a bike went by and cycled off along the towpath. Not unusual, except for one thing – the bobble hat, waterproof jacket and boots were all quite normal but the knitted, yellow and green, pleated skirt, revealing a pair of very knobbly knees, was most definitely unusual. And so, another boating year begins
That's all from me, have a good week everyone
Love as always
The Floating Chandlers