Below bridge 101 Trent and Mersey
Froghall tunnel
Les Lobbs Diary
April 2011
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Taunton, sunny
Answers to last month's puzzles are on the answers page.

Taunton, drizzle
We are at J&S's after taking Ju in for a 6.00am start; Steve should be home by 10.00. We are then off to Argos at Tiverton and Maplin's at Exeter to spend our credit note. Mum is at Jean's for the weekend, so if it is fine, Dawn is going to tidy her garden up a bit. Good news from P'boro where B&A's mum is home from hospital. We bought ourselves a couple of lifejackets yesterday, for when we do river trips; you hardly need them on the canals, as you can usually walk out if you fall in! I also persuaded the finance dept. that we needed new mooring lines, so we bought 2 * 8 mtr lengths of 3 strand, 14mm nylon, in a delightful shade of dark blue. We are working our way through the "boat needs" list, with only the epoxy blacking left to get; we will probably go to Bristol on Monday to pick it up.
Taunton, clear but cool
Yesterday we took Mum to Jean and Ivan's, where she is spending the weekend. We are meeting Julie at B&Q at 10.00 and taking Alex with us to a car boot sale at Brent Knoll; not to sell ! There is a cycle race through Taunton this morning (gets more like France every day) so we will keep clear of it until after lunch. Just heard from Roger and Linda, who left their car and caravan with the recovery people in Spain, they expect to get it back early next week; there's a chance we can meet up with them, as they journey down to the SW later this month.... Back from the car boot - what a load of tat; bought a pair of binoculars!

I've put a link on the home page for video clips
please send me links to video clips worth including
(if you get problems viewing with I.Explorer please use another browser.)
My new dongle arrived today; I have gone with Tmobile, which seems, by the forums, to be my best bet. I still cannot understand how I can get good reception and coverage through Portugal and Spain, yet have such bad service in England with it's far denser population. (pun un-intended). I am hoping that with the combination of this, and my aerial/amplifier, I should be able to keep this page updated fairly regularly. I have also put a link on the home page to a selection of video clips; if you have any of interest, please send them, or the link, to me.

A man is stopped by the police at around 1 AM and asked where he is going at this late hour.
The man replies, "I am going to attend a lecture about alcohol abuse and the effects it has on the human body and social relations".
The officer then asks, "Really? Who on earth is giving such a lecture at this time of night?"
The man replies simply, "My wife."

Here's a link to a "brain training site", let me know how you do.
06/04/2011 Taunton, sunny
Yesterday we had our dentist's appointments, took Mum into Tiverton to her dentist, and took the van in for service, MOT etc.. This morning I left an armful of blood at the doctors and we took Mum to visit her friend, who has just had a knee replacement. We are at Julie's, and have fitted a new belt to the tumble dryer, which broke when Dawn used it! (no comment). Now we are waiting to hear from Chelston, that the van is ready for collection.

You go in through one hole, you come out through three holes. Once you're inside you're ready to go outside, but once you're outside you're still inside. What is it?
Taunton, sunny
Collected the van at 11.00; no problems, though they did have a job removing the swivel on Dawn's seat .. she didn't like it because it made the seat too high. They fitted the new rear window and renewed the seal above the frame so hopefully we will have no more leaks. We are now back at the Taunton site and are planning (not a good word to use, I know!) to head up t'country next Thursday, calling at our friend's at Croughton and then on to Chateau Barsby in P'boro. Congratulations to our correspondent from Champagnac la Riviere, who was the first to solve the latest riddle .. for your prize, please choose between a coconut, or a goldfish in a bag.

Use a four letter word, the same letters each time, to fill in the blank spaces.

A ____ old sorcerer on ____ bent,

Put on her ____ and away she went

____ she cried, as she went on her way,

How are we going to ____ today?

Can you figure out which four letters best completes this word puzzle?

Taunton, sunny
Yesterday we trekked up to Bristol to buy a can of blacking, to touch up damaged areas below the waterline when Coromandel is lifted out the water. We wanted to use the same epoxy that was on her and Bristol was the nearest supplier we could find. Spent a few hours with Mum, where Dawn finished doing the front garden, and then back to the site, where we got our shorts on to get a few rays. We ate outside for the first time since we came back to the UK.
This morning it was back to Mum's, for Dawn to attack the back garden while Mum was baking bread and hot X buns. After Dawn had worked up a healthy glow, we drove over to see Nick and Olwen, where we were royally treated with a lunch of oysters and a wonderful mussel dish; we must ask Olwen for the recipe. (it was the first time Dawn had tried oysters!!) That man from Limoges has got the sorcerer puzzle right; first again!

Place the letters A,B,C and 2 spaces in each row and column. Each row and column must contain that exact combination-kind of like sudoku.

The letters around the square indicate what must be the 1st
letter to appear in that row or column. So the 'C' above the last column means that 'C' appears 1st in that column, so you know the 1st cell in that column must be a 'C' or a space.

Taunton, still sunny.
On Monday we visited Andrew and family and took Ashley & Alex with us; we went to a large park and play area in Newton Abbot where the kids had a whale of a time. Yesterday we saw Mum again and met up with a couple of friends we knew when we had the shop in Silverton, Jenny and Stephen; good to talk of the changes in the village and see them looking so well. When we returned to the van I had the dreaded job of renewing the van insurance and road tax, the insurance had only gone up a few pounds, so shouldn't complain I suppose. Last evening we finished polishing the van, which we have been doing in stages most evenings, and started loading up with things for the boat, mostly wine. Today is our last stint at baby-sitting so Dawn went off at 05.00 to take Ju to work and then we have the boys till about 15.00.

This one has slowed you all down!!
Curses, I spoke too soon; that chap from Limoges has done it. (Obviously got more spare time than the rest of us)
John: "I know the street where Ann lives, but I don't know the number"

Mary: "If you double her number and add on the value of both the digits you get 99"

What is Ann's number?

Alas our fridge, it is no more
No pretty magnets on it's door
It's gone to that place in the sky
Where all old white goods go to die

No more we'll see it's friendly light
When we raid it in the night
We'll have to look for one as nice
But oh my lord, what a price

But all this sorrow will not do
I'll get a mortgage from the pru
Then we'll choose one just as fine
And fill it to the gills with wine

Lament for Trevor's fridge
Now a minutes silence would be fitting
Bugger this retirement - you don't get a minute!
We spent a good few days in P'boro visiting friends and family and enjoying the hospitality at Chateau Barsby. The journey to the marina was OK and now we are "sorting out" the boat; it's not too bad, considering the temperatures of -16° they had over the winter. The van heaved a sigh as we took the banana boxes full of wine, and other essentials, over to the boat. We were able to sleep on the boat Sunday, after getting the water supply filled and working; today we have been shopping for bits and pieces. The only job I want doing on the boat is to have the stern gland re-packed as it is getting low on packing. The access to the gland is not easy so I have asked the engineer at the marina to do it for me; when that is done we can tootle off. I hesitate to ask, but what is the latest on the f****** Trevor?

I thought it was too good to be true ... the engine battery is now deceased. There is a new one ordered for tomorrow afternoon, then comes the fun, extracting the dud one and replacing it with the new one; they are seriously heavy! We have removed lots of un-needed tools from the lockers, which means that we can now carry more foodstuff. This afternoon we have had a chat with Stuart from "Silver Swan", who has given us a lot of useful info on our proposed trip to Leeds.

Gt Haywood, Still blazing sunshine
Paul, a friend from France, visited us last evening, and after a chilli, we spent a few hours finding out what he is doing now he has returned to the UK.The battery arrived as promised, and after dis-connecting a few of the leisure batteries, we got it fitted and back together again. The engineer here is up to his neck with work so we will leave the stern gland, and have it packed when we return. Dawn is doing the last wash in the marina's machines and tomorrow, hopefully, we will set off along the Trent and Mersey towards the junction with the Macclesfield canal.

Below bridge 101 T&M sunny
We're on the move ... left Thursday and did 12 locks in 12 miles and found this lovely country mooring. We decided to stay here for the day (don't want to rush it) and friends Tony and Heidi, from NB Peckham Poppy, drove over for a review of what we each have been doing over the winter. On their recommendation we are turning right in Stoke on Trent and "doing" the Caldon canal; the Frodsham arm they say is well worth a visit. Trevor - we passed a NB called "Blossom" but unfortunately I had not got the camera to hand.

Milton, Caldon arm sunny
Set off through pretty countryside, which turned more industrial as we neared Stoke on Trent. In Stoke we turned onto the Caldon arm and have made slow progress out of the Stoke area due to low water levels and various types of poly bags wrapped round the prop. Milton is the first real village we have seen since Stoke, so we have moored for the night. "Finds" to date are 1 fender and 1 life bouy ( see pic); we are the water wombles!

Leek Terminus, Caldon canal, Leek branch, sunny
We left Milton in overcast weather and travelled towards the Leek/Froghall junction; just before the junction the engine missed a few beats and threatened to cut out. Obviously a fuel problem! So we tied up and I changed the primary and secondary engine filters and, after bleeding the system, away we went. Midway through the Leek tunnel we got an ominous tapping from the engine and puffs of blue smoke; as the terminus of the canal was just round the bend we crept there and tied up. I tried all the bleed points but fuel was flowing OK; as it was a new engine last year we have left a message with the engineer who installed it, but don't expect a reply until after the holidays. (Just hope he hasn't got an invite to THE wedding!)
This part of the canal has been glorious with lots of wooded banks and carpets of bluebells; we couldn't have picked a prettier place to break down.

Leek, sunny
The engineer from Barrus (engine manufacturers) called just after lunch and got us up and running again. He made various adjustments and fitted a new injector in pot 3 and then gave us lots of useful tips about the engine .. good to talk to someone who really knew his job. Providing the weather is suitable, we will set off in the morning, back down the cut and take the Froghall arm, through the Hazelhurst locks. We have enjoyed our stay here and the friendliness of the walkers, who pass once or twice a day and often stop for a chat. Glenys -: sorry for the shock, perhaps I should have put a warning on that clip; we have just opened the "green tomato & ginger" chutney, it's great, can we please have the recipe when we call in the autumn?

Milton, sunny
It went to plan; we travelled down the Caldon to Froghall (pic of tunnel on the left, too low for us!) along the Churnet valley, and very picturesque it was. The last few miles have some very narrow sections but it was well worth it and there are not too many boats about; we keep meeting up with the same boats and swapping yarns about submerged boulders etc.. Tonight we are moored above Milton in the country as there are a few boats a bit the worse for drink, so we will keep well clear of them and set off earlyish tomorrow. If we make decent time tomorrow we should clear the tunnel above Stoke at Harecastle (1926 yards) and manage to get out into the country again before we tie up for the night.

Westport lake (before Harecastle tunnel) sunny and windy
We cleared the locks at Etruria junction at lunch time and started heading for the tunnel, then Dawn spotted an ice cream van in the grounds of Westport lake, so we stopped! After having an ice cream, which was very good, we decided to call it a day, as strong cross winds and narrow boats don't go well together. The first tunnel passage is at 08.00 tomorrow, so we will try to be there for that. I got the length wrong yesterday, it is 2926 yards, and because there is not enough room for boats to pass, they use a rota system with a maximum of 8 boats in convoy.