Saturday 31 August 2013


The goodies keep coming!

My best beloved likes to wear gloves for handling mooring lines and windlass. She has, however, gone through three pairs in quick succession, including a pair of gardening gloves we thought might be a bit more resilient.

So we popped over to Lymington on this sunny Saturday to visit a chandlery (and explore the market; and sample the yummy, high-quality New Forest Ice Cream at just 80p for a medium sized cornet). The selection of sailing gloves was amazing, and she opted for these from Musto. Hopefully they'll do the business.

We'll soon find out. Tuesday is getting closer!

Friday 30 August 2013


It was a quiet fortnight until yesterday, with myself down in the depths of the college database, developing hard, and my best beloved doing what best beloveds do when left to their own devices. And then – yesterday. What a day! Goodies!

You may (but probably won't) remember that on the first day of our adventure with Sam and Elissa (the grand Norwegian kids), I'd left my MacBook out in the rain and it died the death. When I took it to Apple's Genius bar last Monday week, to see if anything could be done, they refrained from giggling and asked if it was insured. I hadn't thought of that – less talented in those areas than in databases. So the next day I enquired, and it was. They'd pick it up and see if it could be repaired, which they did, and it couldn't. At which point they offered to replace it. Not bad for a six-year old MacBook. I'd done my research, knew the model I'd like and was allowed to pay the difference. We ordered it, were told about 7 – 10 days, and it arrived in 24 hours (yesterday). One new MacBook Air – very exciting!

Meanwhile, my best beloved had been finding the exercise known as "winding-the-lock-gate-paddles" extremely beneficial but, at times, almost beyond the bounds of her physical strength, given the condition of some of them. She been eyeing enviously people she encountered who owned a LockMaster ratchet windlass. We gulped a bit when we found what it was going to cost, but then – what price true love? Not to mention easing the winding. We ordered it and, with Mel Errington's efficiency, it was with us in no time at all, arriving yesterday! Very exciting! Rather heavy, but that'll make up for the loss of winding exercise.

And then, when we were at home late afternoon, our friends Jon and Michelle returned Erin Mae's keys, reported they'd had a jolly good time, and presented us with a nice card, a bottle of something interesting and a little box of calories to be worked off with the LockMaster.

So yesterday was quite some day! A day of goodies. And everything arriving in time to be taken to Erin Mae when we resume our cruising next week. My best beloved's teddies, looking on in the background, just can't believe they're going to be abandoned again.

Sunday 18 August 2013


Our friends Jon and Michelle, with Eve and Jake, are using Erin Mae for a few days. If you see them somewhere in the Great Haywood to Fradley stretch of the Trent & Mersey, surprise them with a cheery wave! Jon's FaceBook page shows Jake at the tiller, concentrating hard, and just able to see along the top of the boat because he's standing on the 8 inch platform we inherited from the previous owners. Nice one, Jon.

So here's a couple of pictures from our time with Elissa and Sam, which I couldn't post earlier because of leaving my MacBook out in the rain. Two of the bug-hunting crew ready for the hunt round the lake at Fradley:

And some evidence that they really did help some of the time!

Friday 16 August 2013


Special Air Services – but in this case the service provided by Scandivavian Airlines (SAS) for supervising unaccompanied children flying back to Oslo. Our end at Manchester was fine, if a bit short on the touchy-feely stuff. At the Oslo end we understand that the supervising adult thought Elissa and Sam were in transit and had to be sent on to some other destination. But all's well that ends well, and the children are back home practising (according to their mother) not being quite as well-behaved as they have been for the last fortnight.

So, Elissa and Sam, Erin Mae will miss you and is glad to have two other children on board for the next few days while your grandparents go home to recover enjoy the New Forest for a little while. Keep singing the Erin Mae song!

Sam and Elissa came to stay
On Erin Mae, Erin Mae.
Sam and Elissa came to stay
On the good ship Erin Mae.

Oh what a time that was
On Erin Mae, Erin Mae
Oh what a time we had that day
On the good ship Erin Mae!

Thursday 15 August 2013


For the last few days there's been a whine/squeal/whistle coming from Erin Mae's engine. Sounded suspiciously like the water pump on my old Vauxhall Viva just before it packed up. So at 10 this morning we were round at the Anglo Welsh yard which happens to be an Isuzu centre, and whose manager, Keith, I know to be a really competent engineer. The noise was certainly coming from the water pump area, but Keith said he'd never heard one on an Isuzu engine sounding like this. However, he had heard something like it from the alternator belts. So his side-kick Kev changed the belts and, voilá, the noise was cured. They charged me just £11 all in which, given what it could have been, was something of a result.

Meanwhile, as Kev worked, we tried to make coffee. That was when we realised that the water tank was empty. Them there kids again, I think, emptying the water tank even faster than they filled the poo tank!

No shortage of water from the skies today, so we called on our experience from last year and went up to the play barn in Stone. Great (and popular) decision!

Elissa: When I woken up, Sam was already awake and wery awake too. That wasn't good beacuse that ment he will disturb me, and he did so. He throwed his monkey at me and things like that. After lunch we went to Come Into Play, that's like an big inside play-area. It's bad that we are going home tomorrow, but I also miss mommy and daddy and my gerbils. I also miss Theo (my brother), but he will not come home in a few days.

Sam: no post today – took too long eating Grandpa's chicken fingers, and we've an early start tomorrow with their flight leaving Manchester airport at 10.20.

Hm...better get to bed.

Wednesday 14 August 2013

Just one spoonful

Elissa: We went to Cannock Chase Visitor Centre and went to the play area there. After that we went 4 kilometres and I was tired before we started! Then we bought an ice-cream. Then we went home and ate supper. We also watched a funny video called Dunstan Checks In. We had melon for pudding but I only got one spoonful of sugar. :-(

Sam: This is something we forgot to write before. It was a canal boat standing behind us called "Sam"! And today we have goed to a place called Cannock Chase Visitor Centre. We go to a play area there and it was really good fun. Grandpa called me a monkey. And then we goed two and a half miles in a circle. First we was in the play area, then we goed on the road and followed some posts and we see lots of things on the journey. And then we come back and buy an ice-cream. And then we went home and see a funny video. And now we're sitting here writing the blog! :)

Well, that about sums up the day. Having got back to Great Haywood a day early we decided to go out in the car and have a picnic to make the most of the weather while it lasted – it really clouded over this afternoon.

Tuesday 13 August 2013

5 days between pump-outs!

I can see that having kids on board, doing what kids do, could get to be expensive when you have a pump-out loo (or just very busy if you have the other sort). 5 days since the pump-out at Kings Bromley and the light comes on again. So we ended up hot-footing it back to Great Haywood instead of spending a final night out on the cut. Probably no bad thing since the weather was not brilliant for outside activities.

Sam: Grandpa's head is better. We played Christmas with our teddies and made presents for them.   For dinner we had chicken fingers and we eated potatoes and broccoli and for pudding we had melon with sugar which was really nice. :)

Elissa: It was a quiet day, so it's not so much to write today. Me and Sam played Christmas with our teddies.

Well, my head didn't leak last night, though the evidence of yesterday's encounter with the hatch was plain for all we met today to see. Notable moments today were doing a lock single-handed, because my best beloved didn't realise we'd arrived until we were in it, and passing another blogging boat (Moore2life) on the run in to Great Haywood, though we didn't see anyone on board so didn't stop to say Hi. We did stop to give the kids a run at the Wolseley Bridge wildlife centre, but it wasn't quite so much fun with loads of other people and children's groups around.

Monday 12 August 2013

Now it's poor Grandpa

Sam: Grandpa bump his head. It's blood really much. But it's OK. My foot is much better too, thank you. :)

Elissa: Grandpa slipped and bashed his head and it was bloody very much. It is OK. We went to the play area and now we have been there three times. I also made a coat/ hat stand for our teddies, because they now have lots of clothes that I have made for them out of plastic from plastic bags.

There's something about where the edge of Erin Mae's hatch comes in relation to my eyeline as I exit when it's half-closed. My best beloved had gone ahead to set the next lock. I'd gone down inside for something before coming back out to close the lock behind me. And the hatch was half-closed because of the occasional showers. Crash! Ouch! Recoiling, I put my foot into the basket with lots of vegetables, tumbled backwards into the kitchen, and added insult to injury by banging my head again against the fridge door. When I finally made it out onto the stern I was dripping considerable amounts of haemoglobin over everywhere. My best beloved, being well trained in the arts of caring for the sick, the bloody and the incompetent, returned and patched me up. The children were gratifyingly concerned for the well-being of their senior relative, and glad to find that the incident did not prevent him buying them an ice-cream at Fradley, nor guiding boat and occupants onwards to the Ash Tree to renew their acquaintance with the pub's climbing apparatus.

Hope I don't leak too much tonight, once horizontal.

Sunday 11 August 2013

Go faster

Today – another first. A fisherman told me to go faster! I thought I was being helpful by not chewing up his turf. He apparently thought I was taking too long to get past it! Win some, lose some. Going faster would have been the preference for both Sam and Elissa as well.

Elissa: Today was quite a quiet day. Me and Sam was just inside drawing while Gam and Grandpa was outside steering the boat.😒 We was suppose to go to the shop but we didn't because of Sam's foot. It was a bit boring just sitting there and draw, so I decided to go and help Gam doing the lock, and I opened a gate all by my self with Gam on the other side!😌  When we got to the place we was ment to moor up, we got lunch. After that we got some chocolate buttons. Me and Sam was trying to have a walk, but Sam got so tired of hopping around so I sayd that he should try to walk and first he really didn't want to, but I wanted, so he did!🚶    Now he is walking around like every one else.😄 We also found some friends on the boat beside us, and played with Them. So it was a nice day after all. 👫

Sam: Today I and Elissa go for an expedition and Elissa take from me my walking stick for my foot. And then I stand on it and I try to go and it worked! And now I can walk🚶 on my foot. It hurts a little bit but it's OK. I'm glad I can walk on my foot.😄

Hopefully, with Sam's foot seemingly on the mend, we can all go a bit faster tomorrow!

PS: Sorry about the font (assuming it appears as Comic Sans once the post is posted). The kids did their blog entries in the notes app on the iPad and I haven't a clue how to change it.

Saturday 10 August 2013

Hospital ship

One last visit to the play area at Branston water park before we set off this morning. One last swing. One last climb up the tower. One last "Grandpa, see what I can do!", as he jumps down to the ground, just as he has a hundred times before. Oops, poor Sam. One foot that hurts rather badly. So it's poor Grandpa who carries him back to Erin Mae. After that it's hopalong Sam, with the help of an aluminium pole, whenever we tie up and he wants to play off the boat. Didn't stop him returning to the play area when we'd gone down a couple more locks, winded at Horninglow Basin and come back to the same spot for the night. Mostly the swings – climbing was limited to going up the slide on his knees.

Sam: Today we go to the play area and having fun playing there, but when we have to go then I want to show Grandpa something and he says "Yes" and then I going to jump from the metal frame to the ground. But then I jumped and I didn't do what I meant to do. And then I jumped and hit my foot on the ground and hurt my foot. And then we runned home with me on Grandpa's back. And then I have to sit on the chair with my foot on the other chair. And now we're sitting here writing the blog.     :(

Elissa: We went to the play area and Sam hurt his foot. In the end of the day I found three cats, and lucely they lived on the boat in front of us. I made a toy for them out of string and paper, but they was more intrested in the string than the paper... One of the cats found a shrew and I had it in my hand before the cat killed it. :-(

So now we're on the return journey – but Elissa and Sam are looking forward to seeing again the places we stopped on the way through.

Friday 9 August 2013


Today we added NB Shadowfax to the list of Tolkien-themed narrowboat names. The list now reads:
Arwen Evenstar
Travelling, we came through the Alrewas river section of the Trent & Mersey, for which Elissa and Sam donned their life- jackets. Neither thought this worthy of mention in their blog posts tonight.

Sam:  So we went off and we went down four locks and I helped Gam push the gates. And then we go to a water park and go and explore two times.

Elissa: Me and Sam made life-jackets and hats for our teddies. And we went to Branston water park and we feed the ducks and play in the play area.

Duck food

We bought this special duck food from the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. More nutritious, it seems, than bread, which is the avian equivalent of a chip butty. Thing is, bread floats long enough to get the birds competing. The pellets sink almost before the duck can register their nutritional value. Conclusion – the fun in feeding ducks is in seeing them fight for the grub, not the altruism of sustaining a dependent population. So when Sam and Elissa ran out of supplies, it was no bad thing. It seems Fradley chandlery sells some which will restore the competitive element to the entertainment.

Feeding the ducks was so exhausting that they've gone to bed without contributing to the blog tonight. Sorry about that. See if we can do better tomorrow.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Device conflict

It's not the TV controller – it's who has the iPad! Now my MacBook appears to have died a death – and all because of 30 minutes in the rain – blog posts have to be done on the iPad. And my news catchup, sports catchup, boating blogs catchup, emails and anything else catchup. All on the iPad. Trouble is – it's my best beloved's iPad. As is the only smartphone in the household. So I can't just pick it up when I feel like it. It's grovel, grovel, would you mind if I alleviated my withdrawal symptoms? Oh, you're playing Angry Birds, Patience, doing FaceBook? Oh well, I'll come back later. If that's OK. It's a bit like the information blackout that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. As Melanie sang more years ago than I care to remember – "You don't know what you've got till it's gone."

Just as well we've got Elissa and Sam with us to keep my mind off my troubles. Not much head space for anything else at all with those two around. We must have exhausted them yesterday – they've been doing an inordinate amount of reading today. But we also found the time to come on through Rugeley and go shopping for a whole lot of nice things to eat. Sam and I have this ongoing dialogue about whether our meal in the middle of the day is lunch (which is what Sam thinks it ought to be), or dinner (which is what I sometimes call it). For Sam, dinner is absolutely, always and without exception what you have in the evening. But on Erin Mae it seems that what you call a meal is as flexible as the time at which you eat it.

Sam: We went to the play area and I found two friends. They were a bit younger than me. I started on my library book, and when I have reading enough I go to the play area, and when I come back, Elissa was reading my book.

Elissa: We got a bug-hunting set from Gam with a little pot for having them in, a microscope that looks like a pencil, a paper with some types of bugs and butterflies, some stickers with bugs and spiders and some sisuirs that don't cut things but catches things. I have already found two things , a little bug and a spider. Later on Gam made us jelly.

Tuesday 6 August 2013

Norwegians in the sun

Took an age to get sorted for cruising, but we were finally under way about mid-day, with the sun finally putting his hat on.

Sam's blog entry: we went to the shops and on the way we played some games. We went back to the boat and went on an adventure. We came to two locks. The first was OK but the  second had lots of boats in a queue. Then we went to the woods. There was a big swing there, which could have three in it.

Elissa's blog entry: we went to the wood at Wolseley Bridge and played the big grandpasaurus an this time he was quite good at being scary and that was fun. Grandpa also give us a push in the swing. The last ten minutes me and Sam was aloud to do what we wanted to, and that was fun. When it was most fun grandpa comed an sayd that we was going back to the boat.

The Staffordshire Wildlife Trust conservation and river repair area at Bridge 70 is awesome – a great wildlife area set up really well for visitors, especially children. We made good use of it today, and hope to do so again on the return journey in a few days' time. Meanwhile we're ready for bed about two hours earlier than usual!

Monday 5 August 2013

Norwegians and the rain

Up at 6 and off to Manchester airport to meet the early SAS flight. Elissa and Sam came through fine -– first time they've made such a journey with just the airline staff to look after them. Back to Great Haywood in the rain. After settling in it was lunch-time.

Sam's blog entry: We went to Burglar King and we eat cheese burglars and sword chips!

Elissa's blog entry: we went to Shugborough because Gam wanted some flour,
and played the big barata. Grandpa was quite a lazy barata (he didn't hide well enough and he didn't catch us properly). ;-)

Unfortunately, with all the business of bringing in the luggage in the rain, I left my MacBook sitting outside. It's now stood next to the hot water tank in an attempt to get it working again, and this post has been written on my best beloved's iPad. Oh the joys...! But we did also call in at the farm shop on the way back to Erin Mae this afternoon, and Elissa and Sam picked some strawberries for tea. Yummy!

Sunday 4 August 2013

Dead centre

On the run into Stafford from Great Haywood we pass the crematorium / burial ground. At the entrance to the attractive grounds it has a florist cum tea-room – understandable in the circumstances, but they sometimes seem to be touting for passing trade (the floristic tea-room, I should explain, not the crematorium). Rather stranger is that they are currently advertising an Open Day. We've been wondering exactly what it is that will be open. And if it's by divine initiative of which the crem has somehow received prior intimation then we'd better get ready – and not just for the imminent arrival of Elissa and Sam from Oslo.

Thursday 1 August 2013

Getting ready

It seems an absolute age since Iain and Glenys came for a few days on Erin Mae. On the trip down to Gailey and back we were under moral obligation to stop off at Penkridge and introduce them to Jaspers. A rare bakers', which prompted tales of stops at The Pie Shop, half way between their home in Oz and Sydney.

For those who know, there are even more delights on the other side of the road at this little triangular junction.

My best beloved and Glenys thought the name of the shop they were standing by highly appropriate.

But why, once inside Mr Simms' emporium, was my best beloved so glum? It wasn't all out of bounds.

Anyway, once we'd dropped them off at Stafford station to continue their UK visit with family, we ourselves came home to get ready.

It involved visits to the dentist, the hairdresser and the supermarket. It involved finishing off immediately pressing database work. It involved picking up life-jackets and car booster seats. Elissa and Sam are arriving from Oslo, for 11 days on Erin Mae. And we need to be ready.

So tomorrow it's back up the motorways to Great Haywood, ready to pick them up from Manchester airport on Monday. I wonder if they'll help me with the blog.

Somehow the Test Match seems a little less important this time (nothing at all, I assure you, to do with Australia having had a rather good first day).