Friday 2 January 2015

2014 in summary.

What a year 2014 has been for Chris and myself.  AmyJo is now a year old and has brought us many happy memories in that time. 

She still gives us much joy and now we seem to have moved onboard permanently she heralds a new phase in our lives that we are both enjoying immensely.  We simply cannot imagine life without AmyJo now as she has become an integral part of our lives.

So what did we get up too last year?

Our first longish Cruise in 2014 took us to Braunston and back in January with the weather cold but bright.  Freezing weather and thin ice gave us a taster of winter life aboard.  The stunning morning frost made us enjoy the life even more and cemented our desire to become liveaboards.  On the return Chris took charge and helmed AmyJo through Watford Locks for the first time with great success.

Morning frost at Braunston Marina
Chris dwarfed in her first lock at the helm of AmyJo
Our next big cruise took us further a field at Easter and in 6 days we cruised to the Saltisford arm where we met up with convalescing Keith and his good wife Jo on Hadar.  2014 has not been a good year for Keith as his health was not at its best.  When we met them he was making a slow but steady recovery.

We spent a day with them catching up as we had met them at Elesmere Port and Chester the previous year.  They have become valued friends and we often keep in touch via the blogs now days.  Keith is still not 100% but he  has improved as time goes on with the odd set back.  We can't wait to meet them again for a chin wag.

By a chance (scuse the pun) read of nb Chance's blog I found Doug and James had managed to get their blog pages in print.  We could not resist and so we now have a complete year of AmyJo's build from our blog posts immortalized in hard back.

As time when on we started to settle into the routine of commuting to Crick marina at weekends and settled into life getting used to all the vagaries of life aboard.  Chris reveled in trying out her new travel iron/hair dryer which proved a great success.

As we were staying in Crick Marina it would have been remiss of us not to attend the show in May to give Fernwood's our support.  We showed many prospective customers around AmyJo and we know they got at least two orders with our help.  Of course we had the usual show weather with a sudden heavy burst of hailstones literally thrown in.

In June we had a royal visit from a very special lady, Mary, Chris's mum came for the day with friend Derek and Vicky.  Disabled with one leg Mary was helped aboard and shown around AmyJo followed by a cruise and lunch in the Moorings.  A lovely sunny day brought more happy memories.
Mary helped onboard using the Ikea Chair lifting method
Best friend Derek relishes his first ever trip on a narrow boat during
Mary's visit.
Later in the month after sorting out a coolant leak that set off alarms we took ourselves off for another cruise this time to Whilton Marina.  Whilst moored there we had the good fortune to meet Mortimer Bones who we consider a celebrity in boating circlesBones, as she likes to be known, writes a column for the canal boat magazine and cruises in her free time.  On this trip Chris managed to get in some more helm time too

Mortimer Bone's boat of the same name

Chris enjoying her time at the helm
July was the month of our big adventure of the year, our trip home to Tattenhall Marina.  With mixed feelings we left our berth in Crick.  Sad to leave new found friends Barbara and Andy of nb Outlaw's dream behind, apprehensive of what lie ahead and excited to finally being able to spend more time on AmyJo.

Our trip could not have been better timed and we enjoyed three weeks of the best weather of the year.  Gloriously warm sunny days lay ahead

Waters new but which way, Coventry of course Chris.

Our fav mooring of the trip in All Oaks wood

Water Explorer allowed us to plot progress on the cruise
 At Hawksbury junction we ran into (but not literally) more boating celebrities in the form of John and Fiona Slee in their boat Epiphany.  Canal boat magazine readers will be familiar with Fiona's coumn of their travels around the country.  John and Fiona have cruised pretty much all of the network now.  Unfortunately no free moorings meant we could not stop for a chat with them.

John and Fiona round the junction at we enter it.
During the cruise we got to know AmyJo and how she handles.  We found that her design was working well for us, so much so within the first week we felt completely at home in her.  She swims really well and once you get to know her ways is a doddle to handle in tight situations.  In fact it was asked if AmyJo was remote controlled once by a boater who had witnessed one of my better manouvers.

Fradley Junction and the iconic Swan Pub bathed in sun
Along the way we stopped in some lovely places like this one at Gnosall

and navigated some narrow stretches like this one called the Grub Street cutting

The weather was fantastic giving us the opportunity to explorer Market Drayton on market day.  Here we lunched in a converted cinema and then soaked up more sun wandering around the market stalls.

Next was our marathon locking day through a very busy Audlum due to an historic boat rally.  We locked down 20 locks in total in 30C temperatures and were grateful many locks were sheltered by the trees.

We made better time than we thought we would so with another week in hand we cruised up into our home town of Chester and braved the deep Northgate locks to spend a great night in the basin being visited by many friends.

Northgate top lock

Finally after 3 weeks of constant cruising AmyJo brought us home to Tattenhall marina where we have been ever since.

AmyJo's current mooring in the marina.
 We stayed at home in the house for just 4 days and hated it.  We missed life aboard AmyJo so much we left the house in the good hands of our eldest daughter Amy to look after it and moved back onto AmyJo.  We now only go home for the post and occasional visits, spending as much time as we can on AmyJo.  She is now considered our home.

Over the months we have made many new friends at the marina starting whilst attending a massive hog roast laid on by the marina.  Below are pictures of us with some of our pontoon neighbours.

Recently we had our last cruise of the year up the Llangollen canal for a week.  Sadly we only had time to get as far as Whitchurch but vowed to return this year to cruise the full length probably in April so watch out for our posts on that cruise.

Wrenbury Mill and lift bridge
Now winter has arrived we are finding new experiences living aboard and have made a few refinements to help keep us warm like my home made secondary glazing that keeps condensation at bay and helps keep AmyJo warm and snug.  An added bonus we found is it also help to eliminate external noise as well not that there is much where we are.

One of our home made glazing units that also acts as a porthole bung

So that was 2014, here is hoping 2015 is equally as good if not better.  We've lived on AmyJo for six months now so I thought I'd let you all know how that has been for us in another post sometime.   

Until then we hope you have a great year and all your dreams come to fruition.  Have good health and peace.  Do comment from time to time if you feel the urge as we really do love to hear from you.

1 comment:

Ray Oakhill said...

Just came across your blog by chance after reading about the rolled up newspaper trip to soak up condensation in the engine 'ole via the Waiouru blog. Not come across anyone else with this condensation problem before and thought it was unique to my boat.
Pleased to see that nb Stronghold is on your list of bloggers too. Ray