2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 32,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 12 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Gondola Sweep

coal stock up ChesterIt seems most people ttop of Shropshire Unionurn around in Chester Basin, chosing not to venture to the top of the Shropshire Union. There were a few raised eyebrows, puzzled expressions and comments including ‘Bloody hell, put it this way if Cheshire had a colonic, Ellesmere Port is where the pipe would go.’ Ew. A little harsh in our book, Ellesmere Port has it’s appeal, we enjoyed a fairly surreal last New Year, enough to see us Cheshire Oaks mooringheading back for round two.

A coal and water stock up then a pretty windy journey meaning plenty of throttle, resulting in a speedy six miles. Not such a picturesque mooring tonight but perfectly functional: floodlights from the Skoda garage opposite, a concrete path, rings and all. Just a five-minute walk into Cheshire Oaks, the heart of outlet shopping up this way. Making our way back to the boat we almost passed Tescos without a care in the world – very tempted to walk on by, before seeing narrowboat sense and heading in for an end of aisle gondola special offer sweep.

Last Night

dragon boat ChesterLast night in Chester before the epic eight mile, lock free voyage to the top of the Shropshire Union. Having eaten or destroyed everything he had for ChristmaMurk destroying Christmass Murk got a bit of ‘doggy parlor’ treatment down on the meadow – mainly a swim and shampoo.

All calm and quiet now after the recent windy days, they lasted so long that a still boat almost seems wrong. Using water like wild things tonight as we’ll bump our way alongside the boat that’s still tied tight to the waterpoint before leaving in the morning. The fire is ticking over and despite being almost through December we haven’t really had to hammer the heating, it’s stayed so mild.

Day Tripper

Taylor's Boatyard With Christmas almost done it wouldn’t be so bad to lose this lovely mooring so we braved a water fill in day light. Headed into the city centre, more a two-way street in the shops with tills refunding like crazy. The diet of turkey followed by creme Quality Streets (SFR thought if funny to collect up ALL the pink and orange ones from the mountainous amounts December saw them chow through, then painstakingly re-tape the box resulting a nasty festive surprise for us) was getting a little tiresome so we stopped off at Tescos.

Everyone knows just about everyone here now, the guy in front is going through a painful initiation period with his boat, seven weeks in and he’s down to push battery torch lights on the ceiling as his starter motor is caput. The basin hTelfords Warehouseas been a fish bowl today, sunshine after days shut up indoors saw even the most reluctant walkers out. Still love the way people from the real world don’t realise you can see when they poke their head in the cratch, can hear them through 8mm thin walls. All relatively quiet when Nick erupted from the lazy boy ‘Alright alright, pass on by…keep your opinions to yourself!’ A loud day tripper boomed that living on a boat would ‘Be okay for a short time, certainly not for good, how horrendous.’ If he hadn’t been so engrossed in the ipad she might have got Nick’s opinion on her. Anyhow, boat world bit back, she battled her way up over the bridge shimmying past the toadstool man who was busy wielding a chain saw around with artistic flair.

Boxing Day

from the clock towerYou never know what’s around the corner but this is our second floating Christmas and looking back quite a few things are in better shape than this time lastnorth wall year. The engine hasn’t begun to gurgle and cut out (blocked fuel filter); we’re not checking the hull and tipping out a third of a bucket of water every few days (the water tank drama); damp isn’t slowly creeping across the ceiling, it might be, but the ceiling is painted now so we can’t see it and that’s fine (a reluctant finger on the spray foam innorth wallsulation); the windows aren’t dripping with condensation (we didn’t realise quite how condensation worked); the bathroom has heat (there was no fan heater); the mattress isn’t verging on mouldy underneath (there was no ventilation and we didn’t have dry mesh), the lights and TV are gentle on the batteries (most power zapping halogens are gone, replaced with LEDs) and the contents of the radiator system isn’t seeping into the bedroom carpet (Murk hasn’t kicked it under the north walllately). All in all, pretty good, if we’re still here this time next year it’ll practically be a palace.

Very happy with the backdrop Chester slings at Christmas. A winter wall walk the last two mornings where forced boxing day chesterclose proximity resulted in a very Victorian feel…total strangers wishing each other Merry Christmas. This morning was an icy affair, creating even more comradery although old people slip sliding in new Christmas shoes is doesn’t make for a relaxing experience.

The turkey, that caught fire for a short time, seems a great boat food, one very heavy lug back along the towpath and there’s probably enough to keep going for a week.

Gibble Gobble Gamble

ChesterWe’re sitting a couple of inches higher than this time yesterday but apart from the endless rocking and thundering rain a boat isn’t a bad place to sit out a storm. Walked a very disinterested Murk this morning, he’s learning which routes he likes and those he’d frankly rather not bother with. Staying put for a while means the washing regime that works so well on the move has taken a bit of a back seat, there was no way round it but a trip to the launderette.

Lunctwoh was washed up with the very last dregs oturkey gamblef the water tank, with no time to spare for a fill fourwe set off over the wall for our ‘turkey gamble’. Still scarred from paying top whack last year only to see prices slashed soon after, it was all or noChesterthing. A blaze of yellow stickers shone out before us, with plenty of punters clearly sickened at the thought of their pricey bird sat at the back of their fridge. Other than being accused of supermarket espionage by an overzealous store attendant whturkeyo caught the camera flashbah, humbug! out the corner of his mall cop eye, the plan worked liked magic…bah humbug. Don’t chokeChristmas water on your turkey:)

One final Christmas preparation was sorting the waterless boat issue, still pretty windy the manoeuvre required a fair bit of power combined with a gentle landing against the boat spending Christmas on the waterpoint. Early post tonight, Christmas Eve tapas await.


carols in Chester CathedralThe car arrived crammed with enough food to open a farmers market, enough alcohol tospace power us into the spring, masses of presents, Mummy and the second largest of the Swiss Family clan. Not even through the door, the glazing film had the thumbs down from Sar, ‘Jesus you can hardly see out the windows it’s so hazy’. All aboard for drinks and lunch before heading into the city as the lights came alive, they went down pretty well, you don’t get that in the village. Mummy took part in some shopping while Sar opted for a little rest and relaxation in amongst the price tags – day one of city life, she was on the ropes. Tapas, carols by candlelight followed by a West wall walk back to the basin. Salmon Leap

twothreeAn unbelievably sunny Sunday, perfect for a walk to the meadows, ‘Over that bloody wall again?’…er yes. Happened to mention liking the Salmon Leap apartments – got met with suspicious eyes, you don’t get buildings like that in the village either. Another afternoon of shopping, a monumental occasion as Sar River Deeactually visited a cash machine, Mum and me waited anxiously hoping she’d be okay, that she’d take time to read the instructions properly, not get bamboozled by technical terminology like PIN…a miracle returned the readies.

Exhausted from walking the ‘bloody wall’ the kitchen came  under attack ‘Oh my god this is such a small space, where do you cut anything?’ ‘Don’t you ever sharpen knives?’ The G&T lemon massacre was not a pretty sight, the knife endlessly jabbing the Corian. One last trip over wall for a meal then a trip to Telfords Warehouse. Waved goodbye this morning, Sar in the driving seat – obviously figured which side the M6 toll bucket is going back.

Gathered round the fire tonight, Mini Swiss FChester Meadowsamily members will hear tales of a land outside the village where WHSmith is three floors high, people endlessly walk a wall and shops don’t sell things but provide chairs for people who live on boats so small they can’t sit down. Lovely to see you both x

Pouring down again, no tinsel party people out tonight.

Landlubbers Welcome

 ChesterA walk to Wales followed by a trip inside the wall. It’s all beginning to look a bit like Christmas, massive queues snaking frobest dresse doorm Pandora and crowds galore. Down at the racecourse we warmed up in The Architect, buzzing with Christmas parties but still cozy gaps here and there, highly recommended by a trusted source! Some beautifully dressed doors about, not sure if the wreaths matched paint of the paint matched the wreaths.

twozeroEagerly awaiting the landlubbers arrival…The boat hasChester issued a code red with one landlubber in mind (you know who you are), sadly not a big reader of this shit but four hours of car boredom might do the trick:

1. Phone cThe Architectharging fascilities available 10am-5pm, 2.Keep elbows tucked in when passing the window glazing, 3. Plan ahead – no dithering in the cratch, 4. Power saving LEDs are located at various points through out the boat – a crew member will soon tell you where, 5. Use ‘gentle hands’ on fixtures and fittings…remember Christmas day 2006? We do. 6. THINK CONDENSATION, keep breathing to a minimum. ENJOY YOUR STAY!

On the Inside

Chester BasinWorn out boaters surfaced with tales of rocking to the point of quChester Cathedraleasiness and water shooting plug holes during last night’s storm, either we’re getting used to it or just more tired than usual as nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Bright and colder this morning, Murk got walked fast and furious before being dropped back onboard.

A minute walk from the boat is long enough to make it up on the city wall, five minutes more and Chester unfolds in all it’s Chester Cathedralblack and white glory. Glad to see the Chester Wall stepsCathedral has gone all out for Christmas, trees for a whole host of countries around the world. The antithesis to Milton Keynes, Chester wasn’t built for modern-day practicality, criss crossed balcony buildings generate constant shopping surprises for me, Nick of course, knows it like the back of his hand. Even Tescos is subterranean.

The current basin crowd is a friendly mix of boaters and non-boating passers by. Met a lovely lady walking a majestic dog (paws on ears Murk) who popped in for ‘the tour’, instantly in love with freedom and convincChester Basined it was the most romantic thing she promised to oneninepop back with Christmas champagne and left with visions of setting off into the sunset by boat – leaving a part Marylebone, part Chester life behind. Really???

Beneath The City Walls

Shropshire Union into ChesteroneeightBreezy but not the deluge forecast, we set off to the water point having been a bit free with the washing machine. Barely a boat on the move it was a bit of shock to find two boats just beginning their fills – set to take around an hour. We knew the couple from Manchester and as luck would have it they’d recruited a friend to cycle on and set the locks ‘They’re all yours, tell him to re-set them again’ they called. Happy days. So the first three canal Chester city wallflew by, thankfully Tarvin lock was finished and working. The final journey into Chester basin is all a bit Disney, restaurants full of lunch timers, the great somewhere only...city walls bulging impossibly huge bulks of sandstone and the mammoth drop at the end. The staircase was partly for us and a guy even opened the top gate. Under the bridge by Telfords and round the corner is always exciting in terms of ‘is there anywhere to stop’. Our luck was in there too, we filled the water tank and reversed back into the last gap.

A canal Chester city wallboat sort out, then a walk down to John Lewis where we found the ...we knowreal meaning of Christmas. Storm ‘Emily’ crashed about outside, Nick disappeared, returning with two umbrellas from the 99p shop ‘select your weapon’. Soaked by the time we got back with one umbrella binned and the other’s prongs pinged in all the wrong places. Moored opposite a boat that despite no shoreline is managing to run a mass of fairy lights. Quiet in the basin tonight.