Back to Stone

  Thought it was about time to post another update – although there isn’t much to report!

With Boris announcing another national lockdown just after Christmas, and with the repairs to the alternator still ongoing, we decided we may as well stay put in the comfort of the marina for another month or so, so paid up to and including the night of the 1st of February. The original installer of our lithium batteries had been quite put out that we hadn’t contacted him about our breakdown, but, in our defence, he’s nearing 80 and lives over 4 hours away, so he wasn’t really our first thought about who might be able to sort us out! However, he insisted on visiting to  install an extra “gizmo” to stop the alternator from overheating again – a new addition to the market since our system had been installed. Having had that fitted, and no longer needing the back-up of an electric hook up, we decided to leave the marina on the 3rd Feb, saying for an extra night, as the office was closed when we went to sign out – hadn’t noticed new opening hours that had come into force the week before! So, we filled the water tank, emptied the poo tank and set off back up to Stone, mooring in a slightly different place than previously. We moved again, a couple of days later, to just above the lock and even nearer to the town centre, as it was very muddy right outside the boat and a space had become free with a tarmac towpath and only a small strip of not-so-muddy grass. It also gave us a different lookout so made a nice change! 

Whilst we’d been in the marina, we’d had two heavy snow falls and a subsequent flood! The River Trent runs very close to the canal near the marina and it burst its banks, flooding the surrounding fields, the overflow running into the canal. The water rose by about a foot, not a huge amount, but any higher and we would’ve been wading along the jetty in our wellies! Sal wouldn’t have liked that at all – she’s not a fan of jetties/pontoons at the best of times! We were checking the other boats on our jetty to make sure the ropes weren’t too tight and did have to loosen a few. The water dropped again after a couple of days, so it wasn’t really much of a problem. Worrying for the people stuck at home and not able to visit their boats, though!

We managed to get a few Tesco deliveries whilst we were in the marina so we were sorted with the grocery shopping. Tony insisted on walking to Stone to get fish and chips one evening – it was over four miles round trip and they were nearly cold by the time he got back – but they are lovely fish and chips so probably worth it! I had also walked into Stone to pick up a new phone from the Amazon Locker – my old one was showing signs of going wrong and I didn’t want to wait until it was totally kaput before I replaced it. Apart from a couple of trips to the nearby Aldi (we like their tea bags and coffee) and our normal dog walks, we just spent the time whiling away the days doing not very much! I did manage to convert two former fleeces into two new dog coats for Sal – took the old and tatty one apart and used it as a pattern. I was really pleased with the results, too! I also finally got round to editing the drone footage of Marple Aqueduct and Bugsworth Basin, both short videos now on YouTube. Here are the links…

I also got round to backing up all our photos to Amazon Photos. They are already in Google Photos but it’s good to have a second back up (or third as I have them all backed up on a hard drive!) I also put them all into albums, which I hadn’t ever done in Google Photos, so should now be easy to find. I’ve been meaning to do that for ages, so one of the few positives of Covid!!

Rhys and Ash were able to visit on Christmas Day, within the Covid guidelines, so we enjoyed a lovely few hours with them in the afternoon before they returned to Ash’s family. Tony cooked a fabulous Christmas lunch and we had a video call with Dave and Mel and Jim and Livv whilst Rhys and Ash were with us. We also had several video calls to other friends and family during the day, so, although it was very different to other Christmases, it was still a lovely day.

After our return to Stone, I bought a new and different drone as the rules have changed about where, and how near to people, you can fly. The drone I already had was just in the category which meant that we couldn’t fly it within 150m of any building or public area – just the sort of places we like to film, so we decided to get a slightly smaller one and sell the other one. I could’ve taken an additional flying test, but it is quite involved (and costs about £100!) and I really didn’t want to be getting into all that, it didn’t seem worth it for the small amount of flying we do! The weather went through another cold spell and the ice was quite thick on the canal – Sal didn’t like the sound of the ice grating against the side of the boat, so spent a few days in a slightly anxious state. Tony went out a few times with the boat hook to break up the ice sheet so it didn’t bump so much, which improved things greatly. She knows she’s not allowed on the bed during the day, which seems to be her go-to place when she’s frightened, so has been laying on the floor as near to the bed as it’s possible to get. She has spent a few nights on the bed, due to “bumpy ice” but I don’t mind that – I enjoy the cuddles, if not the restricted space! The ice has finally melted now, though, so hopefully, things will be a bit more settled for her, now.

Tony enjoyed his birthday a few days ago – not much different to any other day, really, but a couple of special bottles of wine (not all consumed on his birthday!), a takeaway, and socially-distanced tea and birthday cake with our boaty neighbours outside (freezing!!) made it a little different to every other day! 

The only other thing of note is that Sal, at last, is learning how to play! She has always had a funny five minutes and will chase a ball or toy in the boat, especially when excited just before a walk, but has never shown any interest in chasing balls when out walking. She has just discovered, though, the joy of running after and picking up sticks and playing tug – and has even learnt to drop it so we can throw it again! It’s lovely to see her running round and enjoying herself a little bit more.

So, what now? Like everyone else, we are just waiting for the next announcement about the lockdown. We will need to move at the end of the month for another pump out, and we will head north to the next pump out station for that, but until then, will stay put here in Stone.