Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Willington to Sardlow

We did not return to the Marina, mooring in Shardlow just around the corner from the New Inn. Although it is only a 5 minute walk back to the marina it takes about an hour by boat and we wanted to stay out for an extra night. Had a very nice meal in the New Inn, washed down with a few pints of pedigree. I think that mooring the last night at Shardlow may be the norm as it finishes of the trip with a nice easy day and we can get the boat ship shape without being tried before you start.
Overall impressions of our first major trip. Fantastic!
We both loved every minute of it, never fell out once, it feels like we have been away for a month. However we have had a seep learning curve not just canal stuff but working out a right pace to travel. For most of the trip we pushed to hard and travelled to far, but by the end we had slowed to a pace that resulted in no more than 5 hours travelling a day.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Ragley to Willington

Another quiet day did not set off until noon and were at Willington by 3pm. Had a job to find a mooring and discovered after we had moored that we were no more than 10 yards from the main railway line but what the hell. Bumped into Ros, who we met at Beeston a few days ago. She was on her way to London (single handed) but was having to go the long way around because of the water issues and Foxton. After a Gin on the boat and then a pint in the Dragon I think we have made a new friend. We hope to head of down the Grand Union to London next spring so we look forward to meeting up then.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Sawley to Ragley Boat Stop

Late start after a hard day yesterday. Shower, fill up with water, pump out and head off up the Trent & Mersey. Spent some money in the chandlery replace fender lost earlier in the week. It was almost lunchtime before we left. Derwent Mouth lock was a nightmare, three boats ahead of is, two at the top waiting to come down and by the time it was our turn we had a large working boat tied up to us as I walked back to the boat. The most sensible action was to wave the through ahead of us as we were in no rush and it would have been difficult to extricate our boat from inside the working boat. By the time we had made it past Swalkstone lock we were both exhausted, so stopped at the Ragley Boat Stop. I think that the week is catching up with us, we are still doing to much in a day. We have to change our attitude!!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Gunthorpe back to Sawley

On the move by 8:30 as we have decided we want to go back to the canals and Jan does not want to stop in Nottingham tonight. So 21 miles and 8 locks to get back to Sawley! We again met the chap who helped us look for the lost windlass at Bishops Lock, still did not write down the name of his boat. We now have the big Trent locks sussed, Jan on the bows me on the stern and Spot shut down below. Had a stop at Sainbury by Castle Marina to pick up milk etc and get a snack for lunch. Jan sent me as I am the snack king, never left a supermarket without something to nibble on. I came back with four hot and spicy chicken thighs and a bag of hot roast potatoes all from the hot snacks counter, total cost £3. We had to push hard to get back to Sawley, it was almost 6:00pm by the time we moored. We were both very tired and fractious. Make ham sandwiches served with Pomme Bears for tea. Too tiered for a shower will sort out everything in the morning.

Friday, 16 September 2011

Castle Marina to Gunthorpe

Away early to head off down the Trent. The overnight stop in Nottingham went fine, no issues or problems. Not very keen on the Nottingham canal as it seems to be drug deal central. Just a couple of locks to do to get back onto the Trent, we passed the chap who tried to find our lost windlass at Bishops Meadow lock on the Soar. I must get better organised and write down stuff like names and boat names so I can include them in the blog. Also I must get a small simple camera to carry in my pocket, my big SLR stuff is just to much to have with you all the time and I missed so many good photos. Holm lock was our first experience of a large river Trent lock - Bloody Hell! The chap operating the lock was helpful, if a little brusque, Jan said he was a miserable git.
Although the Trent is a great river we both said we prefer the canals as they are more intimate and you meet more people. Because the river is so wide you feel like you are just moving from A to B. I will say in passing, as a homage to Terry Darlington, "Egrets, we say a few". Stopped at Gunthorpe pontoon for the night. The lock keeper at Stoke lock had said that narrow boats can moor on the inside of the pontoon so we were hopeful of a spot, however on arrival it did not look promising. We circled a few times to have a better look as we went by some chaps from Colwick saw us and mover there boats forward to make room for us. People on the water are so nice!
We finished the day with a very expensive meal in Tom Browns. The food was good but cost us more that food for the previous 2 days.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Kegworth to Castle Marina Nottingham

Back down the last of the Soar and a quick left turn to Sawley Marina to replace the windlass and top op fuel and water then an about turn down the Trent and through Nottingham. All went smoothly until we arrived at Beeston Lock. Spot has developed the habit of jumping off the boat with Jan as soon as we reach a lock, in fact we have on several occasions pulled over to let spot jump off and follow us down the tow path. This was all fine until she tried to jump off at Beeston lock (three feet higher than the deck) and did not quite judge it right. Big splash, dog in water, engine in neutral, now dog is swimming between boat and bank, but she finally turned and swan around the back of the boat so I could grab her by the scruff and hall her out. Managed to close the boat doors to stop her running through the boat shaking, so all was well accept for her dignity. Yet another lesson learnt, this one by Spot.
Finally moored in Nottingham by Castle Marina. Had a meal at The Riverside Bar, which used to be the Baltimore Dinner. Cheep and cheerful meal that went down a treat as I could have eaten a scabby donkey between two mattresses. Jan was a little concerned about mooring in the middle of Nottingham but all was fine.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Barrow upon Soar back to Kegworth

Following the general chatter about water levels around Kings Lock we decided to return down the Soar and try our luck going down the Trent. The return journey was, deliberately more sedate. Rushing to get through Loughborough yesterday was bad planning and  meant we were tired and saw little of the area. The trip back was far more enjoyable and is another lesson learnt. At Bishop Meadow lock we were joined by a couple who had come through Leicester, they confirmed that the levels were very low, and that freinds of their had been stuck in Market Harborough foe a week. Lunch was at Loughborough basin after a visit to Tesco for a re-stock. The basin was empty with large quantities of floating rubbish. The rubbish and the adjacent wall covered in razor wire spoilt a very pleasant basin. Having purchased lots of goodies from Tesco we had a picnic on the boat. This was punctuated with Jan looking through binoculars at people eating in a Chinese restaurant on the basin. I think next time we pass this way we may be having Chinese.
Finally stopped for the night just by Kegworth Shallow lock. Had a shower (day 2 on the water, not sure how long it will last) and went to the Anchor Inn for a pint (well 3 actually). The beer was fine but no food so back to the boat for ham sandwiches and crisps. A couple of things to note. One, the Anchor Inn has a sign offering the lease for sale from Enterprise Inns. I know this company as 3 of my local pubs are owned by Enterprise Inns. It is almost impossible for anyone to take a lease from them and make a living. Two we always have ham on the boat. Every trip we make I cook a ham, cut it into three and vac-pack it. This way we always have something to eat.
Tomorrow we go the Sawley Marina to repace the lost windlass and fill up with water and fuel before heading to Nottingham. We are looking forward to Nottingham as we both lived there for many years.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Shardlow to Barrow Upon Soar

First day out and we overdo it again! The plan was to set off Monday lunchtime but could not get out the Marina because of the wind so set of Tuesday early. Managed a few firsts today, first pumpout, first electric lock at Sawley ( fortunately nobody was around so we took our time and studied it all until we were happy), first windless loss over the side at Bishops Meadow Lock, first fender loss (two more lessons learnt). A very nice chap came over with a magnet to try and find the windless but no joy. So many nice friendly, helpful people on the cut. We did manage to share a couple of locks with two boats full of old chaps trying hard to grow old disgracefully. They had obviously had a fair bit to drink (not that that in itself is an issue) and left each lock with the paddles up and gates open, Jan had to stop and put everything right before we moved on.
Out timing was a bit out today, we arrived at Normanton too early to stop for the day but late enough to give us a tough run to get through Loughborough. We ended the day at Barrow Upon Soar and had a nice meal in the Boat Inn. The pub was full of groups that had been canoeing so we thought the meals would be hearty and the were.
We had a few boats tell us of the very low water levels around Kings Lock in Leicester. We were hoping to get through Leicester in one go tomorrow so we have decided to rethink. We knew that Foxton was closed but thought we would go to Market Harborough, however we are not that fussed so will wind in the moring and head back down the Soar and head off down the Trent.

Monday, 5 September 2011

First Tip Day 2 Fradley Junction to Burton

Up early, couple of cups of tea and off. We decided to make an early start as we were part on a water point and we fancied doing a couple of locks without an audience. Jan did the locks and I managed to get the boat in without too much hassle. We sped off as far as Branston then stopped for a shower and something to eat. We managed to get into the Bridge Inn 5 mins before they stopped serving food. The pub does Italian food, so I had a pizza and Jan pasta with smoked salmon. Both meals were really good, the pizza was super thin with a topping to die for. We didn't fancy mooring in Burton so pushed on through until we found a spot where the canal moved away from the A38 and there were no moored boat. By the time we had all the mooring ropes sorted we were joined by narrow boat Harmony with Glen and Leane aboard. We spent several hours chatting and drinking Gin until hypothermia took over. A very pleasant and unexpected evening.