Sunday, 30 October 2016

Moon boot and crutches for sale!

On this dreary October day, 34 years to the day I gave birth to my firstborn, I suddenly realised it was about time I got writing again just incase anyone actually reads this drivel and likes to know where we are in the world!

The canine crew
enjoying the view

Well I can tell you that we are back in Bolton at the moment, planning our winter get away and fraught with indecision about where and when to set off in the motorhome.

First cycle ride after surgery, phew!

Nigel's replacement ankle surgery went according to plan but the recovery didn't. The wound was stubborn to heal having somehow picked up an infection. Weeks of too-ing and fro-ing to the hospital in Salford every few days, interspersed with readmittance for intravenous antibiotics for a couple of days kept us from returning to the boat until the beginning of September. This hampered his ability to perform the physio exercises in order to get moving comfortably again. However, he is now driving again and physio has resumed, fingers crossed he will become more mobile before too long. He was able to cycle again to get about in Belgium even though one short dog walk was enough!

First dog walk for 2 and a half years!
complete with crutch and moon boot.

Dash is in the canal, can you see him?
You might need to zoom in!

Being back at home always has its plus points of course, number one being that we were home for Hattie's 4th birthday and I was able to take her and her mum and other grandma out for the day to Stockley Farm where I have been countless times before on school trips. It was so special to be there with my own grand daughter though and she thoroughly enjoyed her day as we all did. Thankfully grandad managed to hobble about and look after himself at home alone without any mishaps!

Tractor ride, Hattie and her mummy

Feeding the goats

Adventure playground

Later, back in Belgium we enjoyed some fantastic weather on our month's cruise in Meander. We decided, with advice from the capitaine of the marina, not to be too ambitious so we planned a circular (ish) itinerary taking in some of the smaller, less well known towns and waterways of Flanders and giving ourselves plenty of time back at Leopoldsburg to winterise the boat. We had originally planned to leave her back in Lemmer, Friesland out of the water but having got as far south as Flanders we thought we would leave her there and explore more of Belgium, including Wallonia next year. 

Tapestry clad lifting bridge
More bridge tapestry

Mechelen Cathedral
I climbed 538 steps to the top
View from the top,
I could see Brussels to the South
and Antwerp to the North 
Hotel de Ville, Lier
One of the bells of the
Mechelen Carillion

Deep lock...going up!

Duck weed trail, we woz here!

Into the pea soup

Strange goings on in Mechelen,
Red robed people
with Picture Frames ???
Me and him in Hasselt

Talented family street musicians
Could have listened all day

Catching the rays

Hasselt by night

Keeping out of the way
of the big boys on the Albert Canal

Let Me In
Random parrot out for a walk in Hasselt

Hasseltse coffee
a "little" bit of cream
and a large slug of Geneva

We have enjoyed Belgium much more than we expected to, the waterways are varied and interesting and the towns all have differing and lively charm and architecture. The people have been welcoming and friendly and starting with "I'm sorry I don't speak Flemish, only English" even on the VHF radio channels usually gets one a helpful and polite reply. We haven't seen many other British boaters although back at our winter base there are now 4, the other 3 of whom we have got to know and intend to keep in touch with.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

"Summer " in Bolton

We have now been home a week. The predicted date for Nigel's replacement ankle operation was some time in August but Drew intercepted a hospital letter and relayed the news to us that it is to be 6th July with his pre-op assessment on 15th June.

Red bridge, Utrecht

Water lilies on the Beverlo Canal

So having almost reached the Belgian border and having had intelligence from other boating friends that their winter mooring in Leopoldsburg was a good spot to leave a boat we decided to make that our intermediate destination instead of returning to Friesland.

A country pile on the Vecht

Following on from my last blog post, we spent some time navigating the very pretty Vecht river, had a few days in Utrecht, a vibrant and cosmopolitan city, cruised for a while on the BIG Amsterdam Rhine canal  and for a short time up the very busy Rhine (called the Waal at this point) with the big boys a rather bumpy ride!


At Heusden we had a very pleasant chance meeting with John and Hilary Berridge on their barge Iskra. We first met them on our summer 2011 cruise and have had a couple of meet ups since. They told us about their winter mooring and just as they were leaving to go north and us to keep on heading south, we got the news about the operation date.

This made us bounce!

Let the big boys out first

No overtaking!

On to s'Hetogenbosch, (known as Den Bosch for short)  the birth place of the Dutch painter Hieronymus_Bosch  where we met a young man from Salford who helped us moor and then came on board for a natter. He kindly accompanied me on foot to the station so that I could go back and retrieve the car. This had not gone well the first time when I returned to Lemmer from Utrecht. It was quite a long journey by train and bus and involved quite a bit of walking. I decided to do my shopping in Lemmer before returning to Utrecht, got back to the car with a trolley load only to find I had a flat tyre. I was helped by a local garage owner who replaced the flat with the spare wheel. Fortunately I was able to get the tyre repaired in Utrecht at "kwik fit" on the Monday morning.

New Rail bridge at Den Bosch

Evening Light show

Markt, Den Bosch

Den Bosch Town Hall

Working out our last few days, we realized we could take our time to get to Leopoldsburg and get the dogs to a vet within the prescribed time span for the Pet Passport scheme and for me to travel back to Den Bosch to retrieve the car one last time. 

Yours truly steering along the
water lily lined Beverlo Canal

We have asked to leave our boat there for the duration of Nigel's operation and recovery, we hope to be able to continue cruising late summer/early autumn and return to Leopoldsburg for the winter 2016/17. It's a very friendly marina with helpful staff. The town is within walking/cycling distance with all the shops we need. Whilst we were there, Nigel managed to install our two tilting solar panels, a good day's work whilst I was fetching the car. 

Us in a lock with two commercials

A 103 year old commercial alongside us in a lock

Bailey Bridge at the start of the
Beverlo Canal, Belgium


Kiddie transport,
Dutch style

Loading with gravel, almost full
load line under his feet!

New "thatched" houses at Naarden

Alternative use for hub caps

Peleton...clock the King of the Mountains
in polka dot...I don't think so!

Red Bridge opening for us

Rhosneigr Bay????

Sailing lesson on the Vecht

Street Art

Look behind you.......

Our mooring in Veghel

A bit of elbow grease and it might still work????

Meander on the wall above the lock in Utrecht

On the Vecht

Needs some TLC!
Work boat on the Vecht

One of many "house boats" lining the Vecht
Solar panels installed
So we're back in Bolton, it's the summer Solstice today and the sun is actually shining.We're looking forward to being able to watch Le Tour De France on TV this year, last year we missed it all as we have no TV on Meander.

One thing that really pleased me was that I was complimented by the Vet on the dogs' health and fitness; after Belle's illness earlier this year it was good to be told by a professional that they are both in fine fettle!