Friday, 21 August 2015

Friends Reunited.

It seems an age since we last posted, but we have had a busy week or so, mostly meeting up with friends. Oh dear, more booze consumed!  It's a hard life...

So early morning on Thursday saw us make the gruelling trip from Willington and into Mercia marina. All of half a mile in fact. The forecast for later that day and all of Friday was truly dire, so we set about giving the boat a wash and brush up prior to the deluge. A few hours hard work saw the boat gleaming inside and out, especially after Ali's work touching up the wounds below the gunnel.   (Doug & James please note.) It was late evening before the weather turned, and Friday was awful, so glad we sought refuge in a marina.

This gave us the opportunity to complete several wash loads on the boat and then dry using the marina's excellent and very reasonably priced dryer's. Whilst Mercia is huge, it has matured so that it has lost the somewhat stark look. The trees and now verdant periphery certainly enhance the outlook.

Whilst on our mooring, we watched, through the drizzle, the launch of a wide beam. Nice boat, and I am sure the owners will enjoy living on her, but if our experience has anything to go by, it will rarely leave the environs of a marina. They are too wide to navigate even the broad canals in this area, without stress. Just my opinion!

On Saturday, the sky cleared and morphed into a beautiful day. We said tara to the marina, the wended our way back to Willington. A quick wind and reverse saw us moored right outside The Dragon, where Claire and David were to stay overnight. They arrived at lunch time and we sat on the bank enjoying a nibble and the sunshine, mayhap a drink and then went to the pub for an evening meal and a drink or three! Finished off by a tipple on the boat...

On Sunday we made a short cruise with them to Stenson and back, and then would you believe, went out for Sunday lunch. I of course had lemonade....

So nice to see them both and we hoped they enjoyed their sojourn and have now, an appreciation of what canal living means for us. ( hic !)

On Monday we bade farewell to Willington. Still descending we made our way to Aston lock, moored up and walked into the village. My ex neighbour from Haxey has moved here and so we decided to pay her an unannounced visit! Enid is lovely and used to iron all my shirts when I was in the job. Now closer to family, she has a very desirable new residence to suit her advancing years, but you just cannot hold her back. As we walked into her close, we bumped into her walking to the shop. She was somewhat surprised shall we say, but we all had tears in our eyes as we met up once again. Indestructible is Big E.

After an afternoon nattering, we walked back and as it was such a temperate evening, we decided to move on to Shardlow. It is surprisingly quiet and descending the lock we managed to moor right outside the historic clock warehouse, whose clock does not work! Always annoys me when a public clock is left to wind into stasis. As we were moored outside, we just had to visit to maintain the imbalance of our livers and digestion

On Tuesday, it was the Rivers. Ali hates weirs, so out with the anchor and off we go. No mean feat that, as it resides buried in the bow locker. Well the weather and rivers could not have been kinder. The broad waters gave us the chance to blow out the engines cobwebs. So nice to be on deep water again. Passing the entrance to the Erewash Canal, sharp right and we were on the beautiful river Soar. The more we have navigated this river, the more we are jealous of Ian and Karen (N.B.Serenity). They moor on this fantastic navigation and are members of the Soar Boating Club. The clubs base is at Normanton and a more idyllic location would be hard to find, anywhere! As they were at the club, they invited us to join them. How could we refuse?

Onto the Derwent

Under the M1 (now where would you rather be?)

On the River Soar

Waiting for Kegworth Deep Lock

Moored with NB Serentity

Apart from Karen having to go to some place called work every day, we enjoyed their company and hospitality for the next few days.. I just wish Ian would moderate his drinking, as he is an awful influence on Ali, whilst Karen and I remained, as usual, almost teetotal. (I lie!)

So thank you both once again, for your company and generosity. Lovely to see you both again and looking forward to the meet next spring, all being well. Hope the club house has lost the Asiatic aroma!

(Karen this is why Ian & John didn't get there jobs done !

Our parting was saddened because Karen had to go to this work place once again, before we had even winked an eye at the dawning day. So a not so quick farewell to Ian, and with a heavy heart, we were off. What a beautiful location. The river and environs put the Thames to shame.

After a quick shop in Loughborough,we passed Ally, on her now nicely painted boat on the outskirts but unfortunately no one was home.  We made Thurmaston yesterday, mooring on the end of the lock landing above the lock, Once again, beautiful, and oh so quiet. Again today, but a handful of boats moving. But why? I know not, but it did mean that we navigated 16 broad locks alone. Not a problem when not in a rush. A good job really, as some of the gates are in dire need of refurbishment.

We had a problem at Barrow lock and had to empty it and refill as there was something
 in between the gates which was stopping them closing 
no problem second time around

Why?  They had a very large field but liked it under the bridge 

I am glad there was water between us!  He was a big fella

without the signs sometimes it would be easy to go the wrong way

This afternoon, after passing through Leicester, we have moored in Kilby. A hard day, so to the pub went we and very nice it was too. Leicester has something of a reputation amongst boaters, I am sure undeserved. It has cleaned up its act, the towpaths are clean and we'll maintained, but still people are fearful. It would be nice to be able to tarry in this fair city one day as it has much to offer.

Leicester Space Centre (or space station as Ali likes to call it!)

Its  a bit narrow

all the bridges along this stretch come with the Leicester graffiti, 
which is a shame as they are lovely structures.

47.5 miles.
37 broad locks.

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Per Chance. A Riverside escape!

Today we arrived at Willington on the Trent and Mersey Canal. We have arranged to meet friends here this weekend, but in the meantime need to complete a few jobs and sit out the awful weather forecast for Friday especially.

With this in mind, we are popping into Mercia marina for two days, time we hope to give the boat exterior a clean prior to the deluge to come. She has not done bad considering the miles and locks we have covered this year thus far. So fingers crossed that the weather is kind tomorrow.

Since the last post and spending a day in Penkridge, whilst Ali went on a shop fest to Birmingham, we have covered a few miles. Not too many locks on these sections and on the whole, the weather has been kind. Not always, but mostly!

Our mooring in Penkridge was in a pound containing the services. These are opposite the lock landing. As we were in sight of them, we waited for a clear spell before setting off on the short hop onto them, in order to water up. No sooner had we landed and even before we were fast, a chap who had spent the night moored on the lock landing bollards, wandered up and asked how long we were going to be! As long as it takes to fill, obviously... Then he asked if he could breast up to us. What that would achieve other than blocking us in after we had completed, gawd knows, so we declined his request and I pointed out that as he had moored on the landing, getting himself onto the services should not have posed a problem for him! Needles to say, he went off in a huff. Idiot.

Anyway, we soon progressed and bimbled our way towards Great Heywood. This is a lovely stretch of canal and hard to believe that you are so near to some large conurbations. At Tixall lock, we had to queue for a while, but were soon on our way across the wide and then to the junction. As we had completed a wash load en-route, a swift reverse as we exited onto the T&M allowed us to replenish the tank. We set off for Haywood lock when whom should we spy moored up, but Doug and James on N.B. Chance. They were in the company of Steve and Denise on N.B. Riverside Escape, who we have also met previously. No sooner we spotted when Doug lept into action, requesting a moored boat to shuffle up to let us in! So we were set for a cracking weekend and so it proved. Out for a meal that night, then a wander around a classic car show at Shugborough Hall on Sunday, followed by a barbeque late afternoon and into the evening. Thank you all for your company, as ever, a laugh, though our livers are now in recovery!  Even if you did shame us about our mucky boat. My turn with the talking stick Doug!

All good things come to an end and it was sad to say farewell to both couples. Hope our paths cross again soon.

That day we made good time and stopped for a mega shop in Rugeley, (to replenish the alcohol) then for fishing bait in Handsacre. At this point, just as we got on the move, the heavens opened. It really was monsoon like for a time, but it was warm rain. This soon passed and by the time we were approaching Fradley locks, the sky was clear again. The visitor moorings above Shade house lock looked full, so as a boat was exiting the lock upon our approach, we decided to try our luck further down, but before we could enter, the top gate was closed and the lock emptied. Bad form, as we were in plain sight only a 100 yds or so from the lock. But, this worked in our favour, as we then spied a vacant mooring just prior to the lock landing and just long enough for us to tuck in. Poetic justice, as the lock stealers ascended looking for a mooring.

The next day, we descended the locks with ease as all the traffic was coming up. Even the service moorings were free. It was a pleasant run through Alrewas and the river section was delightful. We called it a day near to Branston water park. Whilst I got my tackle out (fishing!), Ali began rubbing down and then painting the battle damage to the starboard side. Sods law strikes, after navigating all year without any contact from another boat, we were struck by a rather posh boat whilst we were moored up and I was fishing. The excuse was that me landing a fish distracted him!

That night we popped into The Bridge, a pub owned and run by Italians, with a food menu reflecting their heritage. Very nice it was to.

So today, the final leg into Willington. Watered at the services, then winded to allow Ali to complete remedial work on the port side. I again got my tackle out! There is a theme developing here methinks... A beautiful day, possibly the warmest thus far.

37 miles.
22 locks.