Jane, 3rd January 2010

Thursday, 29th April 2010: Reflecting on some of life's challenges . . .

They say that 'worse things happen at sea' but for us, any plans for what most regard as the 'festive season' were dashed by injuries sustained on land! Firstly, Friday 11th December 2009, was the occasion of Jane's office party - Graham collected her in the car when the event finished and we were both safely back in Cropredy with the car neatly parked by 11:00 pm. As the towpath was rather muddy, Jane decided to put her wellies on - so these were retrieved from the boot of the car and after placing Jane's shoes in the boot, Graham slammed the boot lid shut. Unfortunately, Jane had been supporting herself (while putting her wellies on) by placing her left hand on the rear wing of the car and her little finger became trapped between the car's bodywork and the (now closed) boot lid. It was immediately obvious that the finger was seriously injured so we drove to the Accident and Emergency Department at Banbury's Horton Hospital - where the finger was x-rayed and examined by an orthopedic specialist who explained that the finger was intact but badly torn and the bone was crushed and broken. Accordingly, Jane would need to be admitted to hospital, there and then, for emergency surgery. Jane was in hospital for three days and the procedure, carried out on the Saturday morning, involved the insertion of a 'K-wire' through the bones and joints of the finger to hold it all together. The whole hand had to be kept strapped up and this meant that Jane would be incapable of performing many of her usual domestic tasks for some time.

The second calamity occurred, during a visit to Sunny, Lisa and Richard (Son, Daughter-in-law and Grandson respectively) for lunch at their Amesbury home on New Years Day. As it was a fine sunny day, it was suggested that we should enjoy a pre-lunch walk - so we walked up on to the plain, near Stonehenge, and we all were chatting away happily when Jane slipped and fell catching her ankle in a rut in the path as she did so. The fall dislocated her ankle and broke the bone in three places. At the time, we were out in the middle of nowhere but, fortunately, Richard had his mobile phone and within a very short time we had the Paramedics and Air Ambulance in attendance. The helicopter took Jane to Salisbury Hospital where the surgeons found it necessary to insert a metal plate and nine screws to hold the ankle together. The above photograph, taken at Amesbury on 3rd January, shows Jane in a rather sorry state with the existing plaster cast on her left hand and a new one on her right leg!

Ankle injuries take a long time to heal and it is only now, after nearly four months, that Jane is able to walk and drive again - albeit only for short distances. For the first six weeks of Jane's recuperation she was unable to put any weight on her right leg at all and even now, she still needs a stick to steady herself when walking for anything more than a few yards. The good news is that the 'K-wire' was succesfully removed from her finger and it appears to have healed up quite well so we have high hopes that the ankle will also make a good recovery - eventually . . .

During Jane's extended period of incapacity, the domestic routine of life afloat provided many new challenges for Graham, especially during the freezing January weather, and he has coped well with most of them - even to the extent of producing a reasonable variety of daily meals and managing our laundry! Nevertheless, life would have been very difficult without the tremendous support that we have enjoyed from of our friends in Cropredy. There has been so much kindness and generous deeds that it would take pages to list them all but we must pay a special tribute to Brenda Day who delivered a most excellent home-made soup on an almost daily basis to sustain us during the initial weeks of Jane's incapacity. We even had help crewing the boat when we needed to go to Banbury and this involved breaking through serious ice, as shown in the photograph above which was taken by Ian Buchanan ©, publisher of Primary Times . There are more pictures of 'Alnwick' in the snow and ice in our updated gallery here.

Since February 2009, Graham has been involved with the local amateur dramatic group, the Cropredy 'Harlequins'. Their first production this year was 'The Twits', based on a humorous children's story written by Roald Dahl.
Graham played the part of the 'Ringmaster'/narrator and, as can be seen in the photograph on the right, he even shaved off his newly grown beard so that he could grow an appropriate moustache for the part! The play was performed at Cropredy Village Hall on the 18th, 19th and 20th February 2010.

Our other major activity in Cropredy is ringing the church bells, although Jane was unable to ring for nearly three months after her two accidents. We now practice on Monday and Wednesday evenings with additional fortnightly 'mutual improvement' sessions on a Tuesday morning. For all this activity, progress has been quite slow - bellringing, especially method ringing, is clearly a skill that would have been more easily acquired when we were a lot younger!
The 'Ringmaster', Cropredy Harlequins - February 2010

After all the excitement of 'The Twits' we took 'Alnwick' out for a brief cruise down to Thrupp where we met up with our friends, Bones and Maffi, Bottle and Wozie on 'Oakfield' and, of course, we enjoyed the excellent hospitality at Annie's Tea Room which we can recommend wholeheartedly. Although Jane was able to steer the boat through most locks and lift bridges, she still needed to use her crutches for any excursions onto the land and we were extremely grateful to the mooring warden of The Thrupp Canal Cruising Club who allowed us to use the conveniently located mooring facilities that are reserved for boaters with disabilities.

The photograph below was taken by the crew of 'Oakfield' - who had kindly helped us through the first lift bridges and lock as we started on our journey back to Cropredy on Thursday, 4th March 2010; the photograph shows 'Alnwick' getting under way on the river section (River Cherwell) above Shipton Weir Lock. Our friend Helen, from Cropredy, also came down to join us as far as Heyford and helped with the essential 'car shuttle' and subsequent locks! We arrived back at Cropredy on Saturday, 6th March and Jane was able to return to work (still on crutches) on Monday, 8th March; her first day back at work since breaking her ankle!

On the River Cherwell, 4th March 2010

The last four months have been a real challenge for us and, if anything, we have learned that it is perfectly possible to live aboard 'Alnwick' even when one of us is partially incapacitated. The experience will certainly influence our future lifestyle decisions.

These days, our life is entirely focused on our boat and events in the village of Cropredy where we have our home mooring and we rarely use our house, except as a laundry and somewhere to store our 'stuff'. Our 1967 MGB GT was one  major item that had been stored at the house since 2005 - we last drove it in 2007 and it seemed such a waste to keep such a fine classic when we just don't have the time or motivation to enjoy it. Therefore, at the end of March, we put it up for sale on eBay and we are pleased to say that it realised a fair price and appears to have gone to a genuine MG enthusiast. The photograph below shows the car a few days before it left us for its new home.

Will this be the end of our passion for classic car motoring? Who knows?

Our MGB GT, 26th March 2010

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