Thursday, 31 July 2014

Into Leicester and out the other side

Apologies for not posting a blog since Monday but we have been busy and knackered so today's stop for thunderstorms has given us a chance to catch up. As we said before, we had a great day out with Steve and Shaun on Sunday.

Loughborough Basin

From Loughborough basin we decided to push on through Barrow and so spent the night moored just after Junction Lock but before the Hope and Anchor pub. We had picked up supplies at Tesco before leaving the basin so had all that was needed for a BBQ on the bank. We filled up with water at the Hope and Anchor (not sure it is an official water point but they are few and far between on the Soar) and pushed on to Castle Gardens in the middle of Leicester. Fortunately a boat moved off the pontoon not long after we arrived so we had a good safe mooring.

Kids Canoeing on the Soar in Leicester

I have to say the Soar heading into Leicester is a great river to cruise.
It is narrow and winding and lined with all sorts of flowering plants - it has the appearance of what Terry Darlington's description of his American trip across the Okefenokee swamp, we were looking for crocs and anacondas, but only saw a coconut floating in the river!! It is only the last mile that gets a bit industrial and mucky but all in all a nice trip.

The edge of Leicester

We walked into Leicester, had a couple of pints and sat outside Witherspoons people watching until we collected a take-away Chinese from Shanghai Moon (always eat here when passing through). The meal was very good but on reflection we now think that The Basin in Loughborough is numero uno!
Wednesday morning we set off to Kilby Bridge to top up water and spend the night. Made a bit of a cockup and managed to get to the pub 15 mins after they stopped serving food so we survived on ham sandwiches (again!). Thursday was to be a steady run towards Foxton.  However our plans were scuppered as we had to wait for an hour below lock 25 (Top Half Mile Lock) while a CaRT chappie back filled the water level between that lock and the one below due to the water level only just deep enough in the centre of the cut to take a boat.  We also paired up with a newcomer to the canal boating who had taken a boat only 2 days ago and was moving it single handed to Oxford for refurb; he wasn't too sure about the difference between single and double locks nor too handy with a windlass so very much a newcomer (as we all have been).  He said is following an "ambition, not a dream" in having the boat - we wish him well.  We decided to moor just after Newton Top Lock (near Newton Harcourt). Another middle of nowhere spot but the the thunderstorms were brewing and we just managed to get moored before the downpour. Ham salad for tea!!

Monday, 28 July 2014

Loughborough Basin chinese

We had a great start to the summer cruise. Shaun & Steve travelled with us from Shardlow. The weather was fine the chilled rose flowed and a good time was had by all. We ended the day with a meal in The Basin restaurant next door to the mooring. The food was fantastic, the service was good and the meal was a reasonable price. We finally ended the day sat on the steps of the basin drinking wine and looking like a bunch of winos. Unfortunately I took no photographs as I could not find my camera until this morning.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Third Time Lucky!!

Sunday we attempt to restart the 2014 summer cruise. Slight change of plan. We have seen Willington and Fradley enough for this month so we are heading up the Soar in a clockwise direction. Our friends Steve and Shaun have helped us to get home the last two attempts to start our cruise so the plan is to take Steve and Shaun with us for a days cruising to Loughborough then moor in the basin and take them for a meal at The Basin restaurant. They can then catch the Skyline bus from outside the restaurant back to Donington. Me will see!

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Tilly May Is Fixed Thanks to JD Narrowboats

Had a phone call from the chaps at JD Narrowboats this morning. They had found the problem, which turned out to be the water pump itself. This was really good news. So the tank was fine and we didn't have to have a whole new set of pipes run from the tank. Most importably the pump on Tilly May is right at the stern so the water we found below the floor had not traveled all through the boat. After a bit more drying and some rewiring of the fridge so that the wires are not on the flour where they can get wet and we will be ship shape by the weekend.
It was so worth the mad dash back to Shardlow. Darren and Andy at JD Narrowboats are top men. They look after Tilly May  and provide us with a great place to moor. If you pass by you should take a look at the boats they build, they are Fantastic. Thanks Chaps!
We have decided to continue on our original route but this time clockwise as we have been to Fradley Junction twice already so at least we will be out for a few weeks before we visit again.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Water Down Below!!

Awoke on Monday morning to find water on the galley floor. At first thought the fridge had defrosted but quickly discovered we had a serious water leak coming from the water tank. The space under the floor was full of water. After a full assessment of the situation we decided to run for home so the boys at JD Narrowboats could sort the problem. So we spun the boat around and headed back to Fradley Junction. We left the boat overnight and arrived back to start the run back home. We left Fradley at 9am with a plan to do 25.5 miles and 15 locks back home. If all want to plan we would be home by 9pm. All started well but once we were through Alrewas we hit queuing boats at Wychnor lock. Jan went down to help speed boats through. By the time the boat in the lock and moved through the other boats said we could jump the queue. People on the cut are so nice. When we arrived at Barton Turn Lock there were 3 boats queuing, but the boat that had gone through Wychnor lock had told them of our mad dash and they all waved us through the queue and down the lock. Jan was in tears and how helpful ever body was. It took 11 hours to do the 25.5 miles and 15 locks. We arrived at 8pm and today the boys are looking at the boat. We have to say a big thank you to everyone who help us yesterday.

Sunday, 13 July 2014

A return to Fazeley and a great curry

I know we shouldn't complain, but today was a bit hot! We seemed to spend the best part of the day with the sun in our faces, slowly cooking. No locks today so at least we didn't have much physical work to do but the heat is still draining. Passed through some pretty channels lined with trees, very restful. We spent the night on the Fazeley visitors' mooring and I picked up a takeaway curry from the Ivory Tusk, which is just around the corner. We ate there two years ago and I can say the food is still as good. Top quality food and plenty of it. We had some welcome rain in the night and are due some this morning.

Disused Victorian Factory overlooking the Birminham Fazeley Canal at Fazeley

We plan to head towards Polesworth today - hopefully no dead bodies (got held up there 2 years ago when drowned man found in the cut!)

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Fradley Junction & The Mucky Duck

A trip to Coates butchers in Alrewas before a leisurely cruise up to Fradley Junction. The Trent & Mersey was busy with boats all the way to Fradley, but we still managed to be moored up and sat in the bank by 1pm. We decided to moor on the Coventry canal just past the swing bridge where it is quiet and the towpath has a wide grass margin suitable for snoozing in the sun with Spot. 

A footbridge over the Trent below Alrewas

Had a salad with home made Scotch Eggs from Mr Coates. Later we took a walk to the White Swan for a few pints of Abbott Ale followed by a very pleasant Turkey and Leek Pie. Life is a bitch!

Friday, 11 July 2014

Willington to Alrewas

We awoke to a beautiful sunny morning. Swans pecking at the boat for food (fed them digestive biscuits last night - bad move), swallows whizzing past the side hatch. A water topup at the CaRT facility and on out way to Alrewas. Alrewas is one of our favourite stops. The flood meadows and the village are so beautiful.

Railway Cottages at Willington

The journey was uneventful. The large periods of chugging along by the side of the A38 make this section of the Trent & Mersey a little noisy, but it is nice to move onto single locks. The contrast between Stenson 12 foot double lock and the tiny 3 foot 6 inch single Dallow lock is welcome. 
The Usual Audience at Dallow Lock
At Tatenhill lock we met a couple who were 1 week into a life changing adventure. They had sold up and bought a boat from Northampton to become live aboards - very excited! By the time we reached Alrewas we were both well cooked by the sun. One mooring left just after the lock so chairs out in the shade next to the hedge and a well earned bottle of ice cold Peroni. Dinner in The Crown on Post Office Road. This pub had just been refitted a month before the last time we were here. It turned out that Thursdays are fish night. Jan had a dressed crab starter that was fantastic and could have fed both of us. I had traditional fish & chips that was large and very well cooked with a light crispy batter. Finally sat by the boat watching the sun go down until about 9pm when we went to bed knackered. Terry Darlington is right - 9 o’clock is the boaters midnight!

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Shardlow to WIllington

A nice steady cruise from Shardlow to Willington. No major problems with the locks which makes a change. Even Stenson lock filled and emptied without incident. Finished the day with a few pints of Burton Bridge and a fantastic meal at The Dragon.
Lock side Cafe at Stenson Bubble

Weston Grange
Every time we pass this house I look and wish I lived there.

Off we go Again!

My apologise for no blog but our initial cruise ended after only two days when an inner ear infection did for my balance and we had to return home. Now fully cured we are off again today. A month late but we will just cruise until September. Watch this space.