Friday, 8 December 2017

Hopwood (bringing the inner child out – the first snow of winter)

We have a dichotomy; do we move or not over the next week?  Moored where we are at Hopwood has the distinct advantage that we are right next to a water point.  This could be crucial if the forecast for a fortnight of freezing weather is correct.  As much as it’s fun cruising in ice, if it gets too thick it will damage the blacking on the boat.  Also, when passing moored boats, sheets of ice slide across to the moored boats which in turn can upset the occupants because of their blacking.

We really wanted to get to Lapworth over the weekend of 18th December.  At least if the weather sets in really cold we have easy access to all services there.  At the moment, Sue is coming to visit on the Friday and Mike and Lesley coming over the next day to come down Lesley's favourite flight of locks with us.  Normally we could set off this weekend and easily get down to Lapworth, but we are stymied by bridge and lock closures which don’t open until the weekend of the 18th.  So, although we can get as far as the closures (the cut isn’t frozen over yet) we are in danger of getting iced in at the top of Lapworth with no access to services over the next few weeks.

Let’s just see what Friday brings.

Each morning this week, Buddy and I have had a five mile circular walk taking in Alvechurch and then gone for a walk in the other direction over Wast Hill tunnel in the afternoon.

At the permanent moorings at Lower Bittell is a relatively new boat that makes us chuckle.  Karen and I first came across it eighteen months or so ago when the owners had just picked it up from the boat builders.  We were chatting to them whilst waiting for a lock and asked what they were going to call it as it was nameless and just had a picture on the side.  They hadn’t decided but said they would keep the picture until they had.  Eighteen months later it looks like they still haven’t decided 😊

Stork carrying a new 'baby' boat

Every month or so we come across a Mandarin duck or two.  These are very colourful (well, the males are) and unlike most British ducks.  They live naturally here now having escaped many years ago when they were first imported from China as specimen birds.  There is a sole example in Alvechurch and I always feel sorry for him as he hasn’t got a mate.

Mandarin duck – try as I might he wouldn’t turn side on for me

Our mooring is next to a pig field which has all sorts of different breeds in it and all seem very friendly.  If we walk up to the gate they come bounding over expecting to be fed and also give Buddy the opportunity for a good sniff.

Moored next to the pig field

Snow was forecast to start during the early hours of Friday and continue into Sunday.  Both Karen and I still get excited by the prospect of snow just like when we were children; as much as we like snow we have long since given up skiing though.

Whenever we got up for the loo in the night we would open the porthole to see if it had started snowing.  By the morning we were laying there trying to ascertain whether we could hear the muffled sound of traffic – to our delight, we could but only just over an inch had fallen so it was surprising the road was covered.

Through the galley window this morning

When Buddy first saw snow (in Burton on Trent, on our old boat, in January 2015) he didn’t know what to do.  When I took him out first thing he just stood on the rear deck hopping from foot to foot.

Buddy having never seen snow before

This morning, he couldn’t wait to start playing and was soon tearing up and down the towpath.

Not a lot of snow yet but chance there may be plenty more this weekend 😉

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