Thursday 31 December

A double celebration today – Storm’s birthday and New Year’s Eve.

After coffee in bed while Storm opened his cards, a quick walk with Max and breakfast, we headed out to the shops to pick up an indian banquet from Tesco for tonight which we’re going to enjoy with Laura and Marc.  Marc rang mid morning to see if we’d like to go round for the afternoon as Summer was asking for us.  Unfortunately Laura had to work today, saving lives on the stroke ward.

When we left the boat the sun was shining but by the time we reached Marc’s it was lashing it down with rain again and it continued to do so for most of the afternoon.  By 4pm we thought it had stopped and we all headed out for a quick trip round the block to get some fresh air and Summer managed to run the whole way dragging the rest of us behind her.

New Year’s Eve celebrations next …

 

 

 

 

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Wednesday 30 December

Our go-cart tyres did an excellent job last night cushioning the boat against the canal edge as Storm Frank blew us about in the wind.

Max and I ventured out into the strong winds this morning while Storm cooked breakfast.  We timed this walk to perfection as minutes after getting back the rain was lashing against the boat windows.

In such miserable weather we had nothing urgent to do today and we decided to stay indoors and set about finding a secret indoor route for our TV aerial cable.  This needed to go behind the fridge, the washing machine, and the base units either side.

Expanding plastic-coated curtain wire seems to have always featured in my life.   My grandfather was a hardware manufacturer and this is one of the products he made and there was always a supply of it in our house.  It has been used for many purposes other than hanging net curtains and today a length of it was used as a mouse with a length of string tied to the end of it, to which eventually the aerial cable was tied and then the cable pulled back.

As the morning wore on, chaos ruled in the kitchen area as cupboards were emptied, shelves dismantled, backs of cupboards removed, to find a route through to the engine bay.   There was stuff everywhere and then we needed to remove the back steps that lead up onto the rear deck.

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These steps comprise three storage boxes with lids where Storm hides all his bits and pieces.   This provided a wonderful excuse to reorganise them.   When we finally got the steps out, we discovered a spare dog behind them (well enough hair and fluff to make one) and the pile of stuff had spilled out all over the boat.

By 2pm we’d finished routing the cable, had cleaned up and put everything back and you couldn’t tell there’d ever been anything out of place.

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Storm Frank had also disappeared and we took Max for a walk towards Waverton and came back along the back road where we found another pub, The Plough, which looks worthy of a visit at another time.

Monday 28 December

We walked with Max into Chester to pick up the car and then drove to Laura’s for a fun day of babysitting.  Summer was on good form and we had great fun.

“Bedtime” was something Summer wasn’t ready for.  At the moment potty training is underway and real success is had after her bath. This could be seen as a tactic to avoid going to bed.  The parental guide-lines were to put her to bed and ignore her but after twice responding to her shouts where I was met by a semi-naked form, carrying a potty, it was impossible to ignore her.  After re-applying clothes and settling her down I went back downstairs and waited ten minutes before going back to check whether she was asleep, this time I was met by a semi-clad fairy wearing silken slippers and waving a pink wand with a star on the end which was waved over me to the words “Abracadabra!”.

Time to be firm so pyjamas were put back on and this time I laid down beside her.  A little hand rubbed my back and I was told “Sleep Nanny”.  Before I was lulled into sleep myself, I resorted to making her another bottle of warm milk which eventually did the trick and I escaped back downstairs!

Sunday, 27 December

Once everyone arrived on Christmas Eve afternoon we headed out into the Welsh countryside to the village of Rossett and enjoyed a drink in the one of the pubs there before heading back to Laura’s for a chilli.    Someone taught Summer to ask for a Sambuca (Uncle James) but she was happy to share Nanny’s soft drink instead.

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On Christmas Day Santa found his way to Laura’s and we were all thoroughly spoilt, not least Summer who took well into the afternoon to open all her presents.  We had a lovely day with Laura, Marc, Summer, James, Ali & my Mum, eating, drinking and being merry.   Laura had worked so hard to make everything look really festive and her cooked breakfast and afternoon buffet were amazing, and her olive penguins and strawberry santas were much admired.

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We waved goodbye to the Beverley contingent on Boxing Day morning and Summer helped Storm and I take Max for a walk in the park.  Walking backwards meant this took a while.   In the afternoon we headed out to the Red Lion in Dodleston to meet up with Marc’s family for a drink.   Summer tried hard to lead her four year old cousin, Jacob, astray and we were able to stay for an hour before they got too excitable.   Afterwards Marc and Storm went off to the cinema in Broughton in the evening to see the new Star Wars movie.   After her bath, Summer was asleep within minutes of her head hitting her pillow and she didn’t stir again until half past eight this morning.

Today, Storm and I gathered our things together and we were back on the boat by 10.30 am.  We lit the stove, filled up with water, unpacked our bags, and had a coffee before we got ready to leave our mooring.  We winded and I moved off towards the staircase lock whileStorm worked the locks.   Once we’d cleared the staircase, the locks were all set in our favour.   We didn’t see any other moving boats today, although there were lots of people out walking and enjoying the sunshine.  We made it back to Christleton and were moored up again by 2pm.

We’re thinking about all those boaters caught up in the floods in Yorkshire and hope that everyone is safe.   In 2010 we were moored up and frozen in over Christmas in Hebden Bridge, and on last night’s news, we saw a scary fast flowing river passing the place where we’d moored instead of the peace and quiet that we enjoyed.  Normally canals are safe in wet weather as they are self levelling, unlike rivers whose water levels are unpredictable.  The problem in Hebden Bridge is that the nearby river has burst its banks and the floodwaters have entered the canal.

Wednesday 23 December

I set about doing the baking today so that it’s ready to take to Laura’s tomorrow when James, Ali & my Mum arrive for Christmas.   Mince pies, sausage rolls, an almond tart and a quiche are all boxed up ready to go!  The mince pies and sausage rolls have been tested for quality and they got the thumbs up – phew!

Last week Marc gave us a 12v TV and yesterday Storm headed off to Maplins to buy an aerial and 25 meters of cable so that he could install this on the boat.  Today with the help of Lee from the boat behind, who just happens to be a yacht electrician, they managed to get the TV working and we got a really good picture!  This is the first time I’ve watched live TV on Blackbird!  We just need to find a way of routing the cable through the boat as at the moment it is a bit of a trip hazard.

Tuesday 22 December

Downhill to Spring –  whoopee.

Yesterday was spent doing some errands for Laura while she went to work and today we’ve been doing some boat maintenance which involved letting the fire go out, removing all the fire bricks etc to clean out the inside of the fire box before adding more fire cement around the outside of the vent on the outside of the boat to prevent ingress of tar, and then cleaning everything else down afterwards.

After that we both needed a shower.