Les Lobbs Diary
Westport Lake, Raining,
What a start to October, hot or wot! - yesterday we moved from Middlewich to Hassall Green (about halfway through the
locks) near the motorway. Out came the chairs, and the knees; my shorts have shrunk yet again, but we managed a few
hours sunshine. To avoid the sun, we left at first light and got to Harecastle tunnel just after lunch. Whilst we waited for
passage through the tunnel, it rained, but when we popped out 45mins later the sun was out again. We are now tied up
at Westport Lake - a favourite stop of ours, partly because there is a smashing ice cream van here. This is the top pound
and is very low, so we are hoping they will pump some water in overnight.
When I got up this morning the water had risen by two inches and we were floating, so after rousing the crew, we were
underway by 07.00. As we were in the top pound, the water level drops every time a lock is used, so it made sense to
start down the Stoke locks before the levels dropped again. We dodged all the usual rubbish you find around large
towns, gas bottles, pallets etc.; the first boat we met had spent hours getting a large lump of hessian carpet unwrapped
from his prop and had got damage to his rudder because of it. When the levels are low, a lot of the rubbish that lives
quite happily on the bottom gets stirred up and looks for a nice juicy propeller to make love to. Fortunately the levels
around Stone are normal, so we are hoping for a gentle cruise back to the marina tomorrow. We already have bags of
"stuff", which we need to transfer to the van, laying around the boat - we have just eaten the last of the sausages, so a
serious shopping trip is called for when we hit base.
Gt Haywood marina, sunny
Sun and wind today, but a pleasant cruise to our base at Gt Haywood - we stopped at Weston upon Trent for our last
lunch out this season, very good. I have just updated my log and can report that this season we have covered 1212
miles and done 642 locks; we have used 958 litres of diesel, this is not all for travelling, because we run the engine to
charge the batteries when we are not cruising and our stove runs on diesel. The big changeover has already started,
with management taking bags of gear over to the van and washing every item she can lay her hands on, in the marina
Gt Haywood marina, windy
This morning I changed the engine oil and filter and also the gearbox oil - don't like to leave the engine standing all
winter with old oil in it. Whilst I was in the engine hole, I redid a couple of joints on the diesel lines that were weeping
and tightened the stern gland; Dawn filled the stern greaser, so we should be ready to go next spring. Boat cleansing
detail then took over and she has brought the outside back to its old shiny self. After a sarny and coffee, we had a trip
into Stafford, to look round the shops, and bought a few bits to take with us this winter. (no shoes !) The farm shop at the
entrance to the marina has been moved to a new building and is now a top rate deli and butchers, as well as the fruit
and veg range they grew and sold before. Most of the laundry has been done, except the bedding, and housekeeping is
busy cutting duvets down and making pillows out of them - sewing them by hand!! My old laptop has now been taken
on by Dawn, so that she can get her own books down for her kindle; the phrase about old dogs and new tricks springs to
Yesterday we put the boat to bed for the winter - drained down water systems and removed pump, filled wastes with
sunflower oil, stacked all the cushions upright and turned off gas and diesel. After bringing in all the roof gear, we set
up the electric convector heater on frost setting and slept in the van. This morning we left at 6.30 and arrived at Taunton
caravan site about 11.00; we had a steady run with no hold-ups and a breakfast break just before Bristol. This afternoon
Julie & co brought the car over for us to borrow, and Alex tried his best to polish off the contents of our fruit bowl. We
dropped in on Mum, who was feeling a bit down, and had a good long chat and collected our mountain of mail.
We've been dodging about a bit for the last few days - picking up stuff for friends abroad. I took back the mooring ropes
that we bought in April, because they had started to develop "bulges" coming out of the strands; after everyone had
examined them and scratched their heads they exchanged them - we choose a hemp/terylene rope this time. Mum is
feeling a lot better and is back to baking bread, and we have visited John & Jean, who are over from France and
staying in Tiverton. In our spare time we have fitted a reversing camera and have wired it back to the dash area, this
afternoon we hope to connect it to the dash-mounted screen - if I can figure out how to get the cables behind the dash.
Reversing camera - job's a good 'un. We visited Mum again this morning and Dawn attacked the back garden, so there
are very few weeds left now that dare show their heads. On wrinkly day we will get some pansies or polys and brighten
up the back garden and alongside the drive.
Taunton, sunny but cool at night
Mum's garden is now flush with pansies and looking good; we took Mum shopping in Tivvy yesterday and are taking her
to lunch, with Jean & Ivan, on her birthday, 28th Oct. I've still got one small job to do on the van - fit a low level light
switch in my bedroom, we have all the bits, just got to fit them. Later today we will look at ferry crossings, possibly
Monday 31st or Tuesday 1st, Portsmouth to Ouistreham.
Dawn bought scampi and chips, Mums favourite, in Tivvy and we rushed them over to Mums before they got cold. (I use
the term "rushed" with reservations, which will be obvious to anyone who drives the Exe valley road). Light switch
fitted, so now I can use the light without getting out of bed, important at my age. We have booked the ferry for 14.45
Monday 31st, which means we can stop overnight in Ouistreham and drive to Le Lude on 1st Nov, a national holiday in
Just got back to the van, after taking Mum out for a birthday lunch with Jean & Ivan at the Ruffwell, a hotel near
Silverton that has recently changed hands and been re-furbished. After our dentist check-ups, on Tuesday, we headed
for Newton Abbot to see Andrew & the kids. It was good to see him walking better, but he is still on a lot of painkillers;
kids were as lively as ever and soon had Dawn playing with them on the lounge carpet.
On Wed morning we had a ride over to Barnstaple, to see our old pals Paul & Lisa; Lisa is an Osteopath and spent the
best part of an hour cracking and massaging all the kinks and dinks out of Dawns back, caused from all the lock work
over the summer. We then had a dash back to Taunton for Dawns dentist appointment, where she had a rather large
filling replaced. How much fun can one person have in a day? but she's worth it.
We've just taken Mum shopping in Tivvy and said our goodbyes. We are now back at the van, having a bit of lunch
before we start "putting away" all the stuff, ready for travelling tomorrow. Dawn has washed the van and Julies car,
which we are taking back later this afternoon, when we are joining them for a roast dinner. This should be the last time
I use my English dongle, so don't expect too regular updates while we are on the move.