Loo views

Loo views

Friday 31 August 2018

Settling in

Not quite my view from the loo but it illustrates the priorities I have now I am settling in to my new mooring.

Five days in and I am feeling a lot more relaxed and much less tired. It's been busy though. The above picture illustrates how I get water. The tap is around 300 feet from my boat. Fortunately the farmer has strung a series of hoses along the fence. All I have to do is join my hose to the end and feed it to my boat. Then march down the mooring to the tap, turn it on and sprint back! The water pressure is surprisingly good, considering the distance it is travelling.

Since I took a while to cruise here, other priorities included finding a local launderette and supermarket. Both were satisfyingly close in the market town of Newport. I have discovered two claims to fame so far for Newport. It has won Britain in Bloom more times than any other town, and Jeremy Corbyn was born here.

I have made friends with the local post office at Woodseaves so I can now receive post. I have also found my way to Norbury Junction as this is the nearest place I can dispose of my rubbish. This last task has been made more of a challenge as the main road is closed till October while they install new water pipes. Instead I have been squeezing down roads that have more in common with footpaths than highways!

A more difficult task has been to try and shift some of the silt at my mooring. My rescuers did a wonderful job pulling my boat in the other day, but I discovered it was then stuck firmly on the silt. That's ok if I never intended to move again, but I don't like being stuck and so set to to free her.

It took me nearly an hour with much shoving, engine revving and poling but I eventually got Don't Panic back into clear water. I then blasted the side of the mooring with water from my prop for a while, before hauling her back into the side. I have left her on loose ropes, hoping that as other boats pass and cause her to move, it will help shift the silt. I have also poked at the silt with my pole, hoping to disturb it by letting air in. My body certainly knows about it now!

There are still many more jobs to do, but fun to be had too. Bonny and I are loving exploring new and exciting walks. We are really starting to feel at home here and I think this new home is going to suit us both so well as we both get a little older!

Monday 27 August 2018


This is my new view from my loo on my new mooring. Not pretty (yet) but having my car right here by my boat is a new experience. For nearly 10 years I have been carting everything in my barrow from the car, down the road, across the lock gate and down the towpath to my boat.

Arriving has been a difficult journey though. I had the breakdown at Woodend Lock on the day I left Fradley (see previous post). I broke down again at the junction of the Staffs and Worcester and the Shropshire Union. My throttle cable snapped, leaving me with no forward momentum! Having only broken down once whilst on the move in ten years, twice in two weeks felt like a sign! But perhaps it was a sign of good fortune, as it happened right beside a boatyard. They had me up and running again in less than an hour.

Arriving has been difficult emotionally too. I regard myself as a reasonably courageous woman, but I suffer from anxiety when it comes to meeting new people and particularly when joining a new community. I think the anxiety has got worse the older I get. I no longer have to attend parties or social events if I don't want to. I'm not working so I don't have to meet a lot of strangers. I fact I can go for fairly long periods where I don't have to mix with people at all. And as with most hangups, if you avoid it rather than confront it, you don't resolve it!

So knowing I was coming to a new mooring, with new neighbours and a new landlord has prevented me from sleeping soundly for weeks. The only thing that has kept me reasonably sane is practicing mindfulness. I downloaded the Headspace app and I take 30 minutes each day to meditate and that has really helped lessen my anxiety.

Today was the day of our arrival as I cruised from Gnosall to Shebdon. (Useless fact alert: the three nearest settlements along the canal from my mooring are Gnosall, Norbury and Knighton. All sound like they begin with N, only one does.)

I arrived on my mooring with a flourish. Because it hadn't been used for months it had silted up and I couldn't get my boat closer than a couple of feet from the bank. I grabbed my rope and jumped ashore to try and pull her in. Unfortunately, my foot landed on a greasy paving slab and I went down flat on my face....right in front of my new neighbour! He came rushing to my assistance, as did his son, on the boat moored at the other end of mine, and the three of us managed to pull 'Don't Panic' into the side, with only a bruised knee (and pride) to show for my tumble.

It certainly broke the ice with my neighbours; Colin and Viv on one side and their son Jason on the other. We had a lovely chat and Viv offered to fetch anything I needed as they were just off shopping. They seem very lovely and that is a massive weight off my mind.

Now I have finally arrived (having been travelling towards my new mooring since May!) I feel exhausted. The adrenaline has drained away and it was all I could do to secure the boat and take Bonny for her first Shebdon walk. I have time though. I have a list of things I need to do, but today I will sit and listen to the silence and thank the god of the canals that I am here.

Wednesday 15 August 2018


This was my last sunset at Hunts Lock; my home mooring for the last 9 years. Today I set off for my new adventure on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Leaving is an exhausting business. Practically I had a list of jobs as long as your arm and a lot of them involved humping heavy loads. Emotionally it has been hard too. Saying goodbye to favourite places, favourite people and favourite dogs drains me, and as Bonny and I did our last favourite walk, in a place she has spent all her life so far, I wondered whether I was doing the right thing. But my car and most of my essentials are already at Shebdon, notice has been given on my old mooring and it is too late for doubts.

We set off with the good wishes of our neighbours ringing in our ears and the good will of the lock keepers helping us up the flight. Once we were actually on our way, my heart lightened but that didn't last!

We reached Woodend Lock, the 6th lock that morning and without warning my engine suddenly started screaming at me. I immediately shut everything down and tied up. I cautiously restarted the engine, but as soon as I tried to put it in gear all hell broke loose. I called RCR, the AA of the canals. Amazingly two helpful and cheerful young men were with me within 30 minutes!

It took no time at all for them to diagnose the problem; a discarded Xmas tree had wrapped itself around my propeller and the screaming sound was my overstressed gearbox. The poor engineer had to don his dry suit and swim under my boat to free the offending item. Here it is...

(A plea to those who live on or near the canals: please don't use the waterways as a dustbin, you have no idea what trouble a little bit of rubbish can cause.)

Once the offending item had been removed and the propeller had been checked for damage, we started up my engine again and, with everything crossed, gently eased her into gear. Hallelujah, my gearbox was fine and in no time at all I was on my way again.

I staggered into Kings Bromley marina for diesel and a pump out, but the adrenaline was draining fast and with it the last of my energy. Once I left the marina I tied up as soon as I was able and collapsed into my armchair. It's a few hours on now. Bonny and I have had a walk and I have chatted to my friends. I shall sleep well tonight but apart from feeling unbelievably tired, I am back to normal.

Who knows what tomorrow may bring, but I'm ready for it!