Friday, 28 August 2015

Home waters!

Ali reckons I am showing the signs of early onset Alzheimer's! This may well be true, but as we gained familiar ground, the journey became something of a blur. Not that the area is in any way unpleasant, far from it. But it is so familiar that you tend to forget what a wonderful and diverse landscape the Leicester line offers.

 Today we have moored opposite our marina of choice, for winter. This is Crick. Being the start of the bank holiday weekend, we rather expected the run in to be busy, not so. Very quiet up to now.

After leaving our mooring at Kilby bridge last Saturday morning, we were lucky to enjoy the company of another boat (NB Tiggywinkle) up all the broad locks towards Foxton. This made life a lot easier and we were soon into the swing. All was going well until we noticed that the pounds appeared to be lower than normal. We did not get grounded, but our companion boat did just before entering the lock. A quick flush of water through the lock from Ali gave them just enough water to make it in.

All did not go as well on one of the locks. The gate paddle on the top gate on one side proved awkward in that it could only be operated one way. As Ali was lowering the paddle the windlass slipped and spun, hitting her hard on the left arm. She was in great pain and had a cut, but carried on. Thank God for frozen peas!  It was only later when the bruising came out that the severity was apparent. It just shows how careful you need to be at all times.

We carried on through the beautiful area towards Debdale, the canal here an SSSI. A tad narrow, but worth it. Just prior to Foxton, we moored in rural solitude, away from the majority of the gongoozling masses. Still quite a foot fall along the towpath though. As I stood on the rear deck, two couples with a pair of dogs happened to walk past. The dogs first. One had an enormous crap just past our mooring ( the dog I hasten to add): and I watched as the owners blithely walked past it. I hailed them, pointed to the pile and requested its removal...or words to that effect. It was collected!

On Sunday, with a dire forecast for the next day, we poodled into Market Harborough. £10 per day with electric included is not too bad. We managed to moor against the wall, so we were not swinging about on the somewhat short finger pontoons. Good use we made of the power supply.

We ended up staying in Harborough until Wednesday. Sat out the foul weather, did all the chores and had the engine serviced. This also gave Ali the chance to meet up with family.

So Wednesday saw us cast off the electrical umbilical, and off towards Foxton again.  We arrived just missing passage up the lock flight, so lunched moored up outside the pub. For some reason, it did seem to take a long time before we began the ascent, first in the queue, but we flew up, assisted by a very young lad and his granddad, opening and closing the gates.

Moored up for the day just above the locks.

On Thursday we enjoyed the lock free summit pound, with its splendid views. Well it was lock free until we decided to visit Welford.  One lock, and use of the services and we decided to move on back onto the main line. So up the same gentle lock and south again. We moored once again in rural isolation and I did a spot of fishing. Sods law, no camera and a large mink swam past, only darting into the undergrowth when it spotted me.

The sun shone today, although it has been a little windy, a feature of this year! We are moored virtually opposite what will be our winter mooring and in sight, just, of N.B. Panda, resplendent in her new paintwork and sign writing.

Not entirely sure where we are heading after Braunston, but the south Oxford looks promising, if the water levels are OK.

I know there has been and will be controversy about the mooring rules/restrictions at Foxton, but this sign is beyond me, how can you moor to a concrete bank and solid towpath?
Sign - 7 days

Bank - concrete! 

12 Broad locks
12 Narrow locks.
42 miles.
Saddington tunnel 880 yds
Husbands Bosworth tunnel 1166 yds
4 moveable bridges.

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.