I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Saturday, 6 January 2018


I thought I would do a quick update post in case anyone was wondering where we are!  I should be busy writing sunny posts from Mojacar but instead we are at home. 

We got a dreadful shock just before Christmas when Richard went for, what we thought was, a fairly routine angiogram on December 15th.  He had been having a few chest pains and was a bit breathless so reckoned he would probably need a stent maybe two  However the result of the angiogram was that he needed a quadruple heart bypass!  He was kept in the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Portsmouth until a bed could be found for him in University Hospital Southampton and an operation slot booked.  I went in to see him on the 22nd only to find him packing and getting ready to move.  We still had no idea when the operation would be but were hoping it would be before Christmas.  The following morning he was told that the operation would be after Christmas but in the afternoon he was told it would be the following day!

So on December 22nd Richard had his quadruple bypass.  I went to see him in the evening in HDU and he had wires, tubes and drains coming out of all sorts of places!  He really had no idea I was there though did tell me that he had dropped his razor that morning but it was OK!!  In fact he had dropped the hospital razor whilst shaving all his body hair off!  It's crazy really that he could come round and tell me that!  He moved from HDU to the Cardiac Ward the following day and started his long slow recovery.  He spent Christmas in hospital but was given his freedom on the evening of Boxing Day - four days after the op.

Once home Richard started to get better and now, two weeks on, he is doing a few light chores around the house and walking for about 30 minutes a day.  He has to wear a Posthorax Support Jacket for six weeks until the sternum is mended and then gradually do more and more so that by about twelve weeks he should be back to normal.

He has about a 12 inch scar on his chest, one from his groin to his ankle on his left leg and another one from his knee to his ankle on his right leg.  Most of the dressings are now off but there is still a bit of leakage from the long scar at the bottom of his leg.

It's quite frightening when I think that Richard was really a walking time bomb and could have had a heart attack at any time.  However that didn't happen nor did anything else that could have happened.  It's no use looking at the "what ifs" - they didn't happen.

Sadly we had to cancel our trip to Spain but we are hoping to have a week or two in the sun in mid March, when the twelve weeks are up.  But the good news is that Richard should be back to full fitness before the cruising season is upon us.

I did think about putting a couple of photos on here of Richard's scars - but, don't worry, I wont!

Thursday, 5 October 2017

The end of our summer cruise and my knee!

Today is Thursday 5th October and it is a week since my knee operation and I’m feeling really good. 
Granny and Tobyn on his 1st birthday
However, I will go back to the end of August when I left you all in Bancroft Basin.  It took us two days to get to the top of the Hatton Flight and each day my knee felt more and more painful.  They were quite long days with one being 7.70 miles and 15 locks and the other 6.8 miles and 17 locks.  Fortunately, the weather was good which made it a bit more bearable for me.

With the Hatton Flight in front of us we set off and got down about 4 locks before our knights in shining armour appeared!  Gill and Phil from Deck of Cards had done the flight the day before and were moored above the Cape Locks but had very kindly offered to walk up to meet us and help us down.  I’m afraid I took to my bed absolutely exhausted after 5 very long and knee battering days.  We had done 57 miles and 49 locks in those 5 days.

Somewhere on the Thames
Eventually we arrived in the Saltisford Arm and moored up.  Richard went back to Tewksbury to collect the car and in the evening we met Gill and Phil in the Cape of Good Hope for drinks and meal.

The following morning we packed up Mary H and drove home.  For me it was bliss to be able to walk straight instead of sideways and not have to do the steps from the cabin up to the deck!

Stratford upon Avon
I had an appointment to see the knee consultant and he arranged for me to have an MRI scan which showed up that the meniscus was torn and pretty mangled which is why I was having so much pain.  I was offered an operation on September 27th which I jumped at.

The operation went well and I was supposed to be on crutches (not weight bearing) for at least 5 days.  I felt so good that I’m afraid I didn’t use them all the time. 

Gloucester and Sharpness Canal
So here we are on October 5th.  I’ve just started driving again – I don’t think I had driven since the end of July.  I am slowly building up muscle again and trying to walk without a limp – I’ve limped for so long now that it is automatic!  I don’t need to limp now at all.

Hopping back to September, Richard and Jim took Mary H from the Saltisford Arm to Dunchurch Pools which took them 4 days – via the Folly Inn!!  The boat is now tucked up, but not winterised yet, in a very nice marina.

Don’t know where but they are cute!
Our stats for the summer are 543 miles and 380 locks over 149 days.  79 on board and 70 at home.  Our plan was to make it about 60% boat and 40% home but that works out at 53% on board and 47% at home but we didn’t anticipate my knee problem and having to cut our summer short.

We are off to Spain at the end of December for 2 months so I will no doubt blog from there too but until then Happy Christmas!!

Monday, 21 August 2017

We made it to Stratford-upon-Avon

It’s been a strange trip with a mixture of sunshine, rain and overcast.  It’s also been quite chilly at night – we put the heating on one night.

Richard has been more or less single handing.  All I’ve done is steer the boat into the lock and hold on to the stern rope (you need to rope up fore and aft when going up the locks on the River Avon – some of them are very severe).  I’ve then been down below resting – mainly on the bed as that is really the only place I can get comfy.  I’ve caught up on my blog reading and played lots of games on the iPad – boring really!  Sadly I left my crochet in the car which I’m a bit fed up about.

 I’ve spent a lot of time trying to find the right consultant and I’ve chosen a guy called Andrew Cossey who specialises in knees and runs a clinic called Just Knees!  Apparently you can choose your own consultant these days.  He works at the Spire Hospital in Havant and also the Queen Alexandra (NHS) Hospital in Portsmouth so hopefully it will work as even though I will see him as a private patient initially any treatment will have to be done on the NHS.  I did read on his recommendations page that someone chose him and then got his knee replaced on the NHS at the Spire.  I will contact his secretary tomorrow and see if I can self-refer bearing in mind I have the letter from Gloucester Royal.  They also have an MRI machine at the Spire.

I had been having cabin fever so once we were moored up in Bancroft Basin we ventured out to see the craft market which we could see from the boat.  Sadly it started to rain which cut our walk short but I had done enough anyway.

South Stratford Canal tomorrow.

The photos today were all taken with my phone and the quality is very poor - I will have to look at the settings as something is wrong.

42.49 miles
17 locks

Friday, 18 August 2017

A pause in blogging

I'm going to take a break in blogging.

I went to Gloucester Hospital A & E yesterday and have been diagnosed with damage to the medial menisci on the right knee.  The knee is swollen and extremely painful.  I need to rest it and apply cold compresses.

We are heading back upstream and will then retrace our steps back to Newbury.  We are going home on August 30th and hope to leave Mary H in the Saltisford Arm.  I have an appointment with my GP who will, hopefully, refer me to the hospital.  Gloucester A & E say that I need an MRI scan but apparently my GP can't arrange one of those - it needs to be done via a consultant.

I will dip in and out of blogging just to let you know how we are progressing and if there is anything startling that I think you should know about!

You may wonder why there is a random photo of Mary H on this post - on Facebook it always shows the first photo on the post and I really don't want that photo to be of a knee!

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Pershore (River Avon) – Tuesday 15th August

Penny and Jim were leaving us today and it was very sad.  Even though it had been a bit chaotic at times we have had a lovely time with them onboard and I am missing them already.  This year I have known Jim for 50 years!  I was 14 when Penny first brought him home and he used to tease me mercilessly – I used to dread him coming!  As I got older I started giving as good as I got and it’s stayed that way ever since!  It’s all banter – I hope!

We waved them off and I had a bit more than a tear in my eye.

We then had to make a decision.  I have been suffering with a pain in my right knee.  It’s been a nagging pain which I have been getting on with but today the pain was searing each time I put my foot down.  I managed to get across to Asda but by the time I got back I had had it and flopped down in the chair with my leg up for the rest of the day – hence another night in Pershore.  I’m not too sure what we are going to do – I’m just hoping that the pain will subside with some rest.

Here is a bit of information on the River Avon as news is lacking today!

Beginning in Northamptonshire, the river flows through or adjoining the counties of Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, near the Cotswold Hills area. Notable towns it flows through include Rugby, Stratford-upon-Avon, Evesham, Pershore and Tewkesbury, where it joins the Severn. It has traditionally been divided since 1719 into the Lower Avon, below Evesham, and the Upper Avon, from Evesham to above Stratford-upon-Avon.

Improvements to aid navigation began in 1635, and a series of locks and weirs made it possible to reach Stratford, and to within 4 miles of Warwick. The Upper Avon was tortuous and prone to flooding, and was abandoned as a means of navigation in 1877. The Lower Avon struggled on, and never really closed, although it was only navigable below Pershore by 1945. Restoration of the lower river as a navigable waterway began in 1950, and was completed in 1962. The upper river was a more daunting task, as most of the locks and weirs were no longer extant. Work began in 1965 on the construction of nine new locks and 17 miles of river, using mainly volunteer labour, and was completed in 1974 when it was opened by Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.

The photos today are from earlier on our visit to the lovely River Avon.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Pershore (River Avon) – Monday 14th August

A bit of a mixed day weatherwise but no heavy rain.

We left Offenham for the final time – I will miss our stays there.  Down through Evesham Lock, under Workman’s Bridge and passed the moorings and the house where my friend, Jenny, used to live.

Chadbury is a sad lock for me as Jenny and her husband, Mike, used to look after it.  Their ashes are scattered here so I said a little prayer for them both.

 I guess this house below Chadbury Lock is an old mill.  I can’t quite decide whether I like it or not.  NB Epiphany went passed in 2013 and Fiona Slee took the second photo.

Fladbury Lock and then Wyre Lock where we saw this interesting boat.  I think they might have a few problems getting under the bridges of the canal system!

Wyre Lock was our last lock with Penny and Jim as they are going home tomorrow   We moored up at Pershore about 2.30pm.  Penny and I walked into town as she wanted to go to Boots.  A very quick whizz round Asda and then back to the boat before the rain came down.  Later Richard and Jim went to get a Chinese take-away which was OK but I’ve had better.

I thought we would be stopping in Evesham today and had already done some research into the Battle of Evesham.  I don’t want it to go to waste so here it is!!!

The Battle of Evesham (4 August 1265) was one of the two main battles of 13th century England's Second Barons' War. It marked the defeat of Simon de Montfort, Earl of Leicester, and the rebellious barons by Prince Edward – later King Edward I – who led the forces of his father, King Henry III.  With the Battle of Lewes Montfort had won control of royal government, but after the defection of several close allies and the escape from captivity of Prince Edward, he found himself on the defensive. Forced to engage the royalists at Evesham, he faced an army twice the size of his own. The battle soon turned into a massacre; Montfort himself was killed and his body mutilated. Though the battle effectively restored royal authority, scattered resistance remained until the Dictum of Kenilworth was signed in 1267.

These are also a few photos of Evesham which I have also been saving!

14.41 miles
5 locks

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Fish & Anchor, Offenham (River Avon) – Sunday 13th August

OK I’ve got to do this – we are offen in Offenham!  I’ve been waiting to do this for ages!  It is our 4th visit in less than 4 weeks.

We left Welford Lock - sharing it with another boat.  Next was Bidford Grange followed by Barton Lock.
Bidford Grange Weir
My cousin lives in Bidford and we were having dinner with them tonight.  There was space on the visitor mooring in Bidford on the meadow, so a quick phone call and Simon and Deb, along with Marley their dog, joined us for coffee.  It was a lovely morning and the meadow was busy with people out for a Sunday stroll.  After coffee Penny and I (with Muffin and Freddie of course) joined Simon and Deb on a walk to Marlcliff Lock while Richard and Jim took the boat.  We said “see you later” to Simon and Deb and set off downstream again. 

Bidford Bridge
Bidford Bridge is a scheduled monument and is Grade I listed.  It is wider than a typical packhorse bridge. It dates from the early 15th century but has been repaired many times; in the 16th century stone from Alcester's demolished priory was used. In 1644, supporters of Charles I demolished the bridge to cover his retreat from Worcester to Oxford - this was repaired in 1650.

Apparently the moorings at Bidford were set up by a donation from the Duchess Dudley Trust in the 18th Century for curates to rescue English maidens from the harems of the east!  It wasn’t a success!
Jim working hard at Marcliff Lock
After Marlcliff comes Harvington or Robert Aickman Lock who led the battle to save the inland waterways by restoring and preserving England's then-neglected and largely derelict inland canal system.  Harvington Lock is a national memorial to him.

The pound is quite short between Harvington and Offenham locks so it didn’t take us long to get to the Fish and Anchor moorings.  We arrived just a narrow boat was leaving so we were lucky.  However after a couple of hours the other three boats had gone.  We spent the afternoon reading (and maybe sleeping!) before getting our glad rags on ready to go to dinner at the Fish and Anchor with Simon and Deb.  The Sunday menu is a bit limited but nonetheless we all had a really good meal.  After a very affable dinner we said goodbye to Simon and Deb and headed back to Mary H.

The Fish and Anchor is an old pub but all I can find on the internet is that it is at least 600 years old.

7.58 miles
5 locks