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Thursday, 27 September 2007

Nottingham to Burton on Trent

Thursday 20th September:- We moved on from Nottingham on a lovely warm afternoon, being very careful of the far from hardened paint on the port side. We only operated two locks this day, Beeston at the junction from the Beeston & Nottingham canal and the river Trent, and then Cranfleet lock as we approached the junction between the rivers Soar and Trent.

The stretch of river above Beeston lock is a lovely wide stretch with lovely views. Some years ago we had somehow managed to move the setting of our rudder so that the tiller direction was out of kilter. We used this Beeston stretch to re-set it by running forward at reasonable speed and easing the rudder into the correct position. The retaining bolt was then fixed very firmly!

We spent the night at the end of the Cranfeet cut, close to where we stayed on our cruise to Nottingham. The weather is getting cooler now and Friday morning was overcast, but we only cruised the short distance along the Trent from Cranfleet and through the (manned) Sawley lock and arrived at Sawley Marina around 11.30, tieing up and plugging into mains power. Our daughter, Sally, arrived a while later to collect us ready to help work getting our granddaughter Hannah's disco party set up the following night. We must confess we were rather dreading it, discos can be rather noisy and a party for 10 year olds has limited appeal to ageing wrinkleys. Wrong! It was a great night and tremendous to be part of all the happiness and squeals of delight.

As usual greatly over catered on food, so following day we joined Sally's family for a lunch of left-overs before being taken back to Lily.

In the early hours of Monday morning wild weather assailed us, roofs in nearby Nottingham were blown off and the rain poured horizontally. The morning was very blustery so we sauntered around, chatted to other boaters, did other bits that were necessary, and then decided we really didn't fancy cruising in that weather, so stayed put! Tuesday morning was a bit better, but the wind is now from the north and a lot colder, so it was fleeces on for the cruise through Derwent lock and into Shardlow, leaving the river for almost the last time. The sun came out and as we left the river the wind cut through less and we slowly made our way through Shardlow, Aston (much improved surrounds), Weston and Swarkestone locks. Carol gave her sister, Annette, a call to see if she & husband Mike wanted to join us for supper. They said they would like to and we decided to tie up at the end of the garden of the Radley Arms (01332 703919), we had been cruising for around 5 hours.(52deg 51'38.85 N 1deg 29'16.99 W)

Much to our surprise we had a meal that we all enjoyed thoroughly. I refused the opportunity of a 48oz steak!! I had a lovely mixed grill, of which they offered two sizes. I had the smaller size but struggled to eat it all, but we all made space for a desert. Carol does not eat them normally but treacle sponge or tart are sure to get her interested. We then retired to Lily for coffee and chat and all had a really enjoyable evening, so much so that after they had left, giving me a large bag of delicious eating apples off their tree, we slept soundy through till gone 9am.

Wednesday 26th we cruised very slowly again through Stenson lock. This is a wide and very deep lock, and we shared it with a boat that had not behaved in the best of manners at a lock the day before.................boaters you should always look behind to see if another boat is approaching as you start to work a lock and share it if possible. Stenson is the last wide lock we shall use for many days, from now on they are small and Lily will fill them. We are on the Trent and Mersey canal for now, built by Brindley in the 1770/80s for this stretch. The weather was cool but bright, if you got out of the wind it was pleasant in the sun but a party of boaters from South Africa who were returning their boat after a thoroughly enjoyable 2 weeks holiday were complaing it was colder than their winter! Not cold enough to stop them planning another visit.

We ended the day moored in Burton on Trent (52deg 48'46.49 N 1deg 38'58.32 W) and wandered into the town and did a bit of shopping. It is a fair walk and not terribly inspiring. I resisted the temptation of a vist to the Bass ( sorry Coors ) brewery, but in 2004 when the IWA National festival was here I really enjoyed the visit to the Marston brewery. Nice quiet mooring overnight, Carol cooked a lovely new Nigella Lawson curry recipe. Red prawn & Mango from the October 2007 Good Housekeeping magazine.

We are off from here today to Alrewas which is a lovely village. It used to have a great deli and a superb butcher, we'll see if they still do. I had thought about going to the National Memorial Arboretum which is there, but it looks as if it is too far for Carol to walk to it. We are planning where we can arrange for a couple of friends to come to join us on Saturday, and all this cruising comes to an end for this year on October 19th!

Much to our surprise there are many boats cruising, we thought most would have gone to roost by this time of year. Many of the boats are Canaltime boats where people use them as their timeshare. They have several bases around the canals, but obviously the base at Sawley is very busy, there are boats everywhere. In the past Canaltime have been critcised for not giving their hirers sufficient training but we have found them all correctly handled and I think it is wonderful that people are being given the opportunity to exerience the waterways.

Wednesday, 19 September 2007

Lincoln, Newark, home visit and on

Weather whilst in Lincoln was lovely. We ambled around the lower levels together, but Carol's back left much to be desired. The mooring was far from quiet, and one evening some lads played football across the canal, until a car came along and the ball went "Bang" as it hit it. We had no trouble at our mooring and stayed there from Sunday evening until Wednesday morning. I wandered up to the Cathedral on Tuesday afternoon as I wanted some digital pictures, I only used film last time. It is a fair old slog up there and I hope some of these images will give some impression of the steepness. I wandered along to a refurbished windmill that is near the castle, but it is only open at weekends, but as we cruised into the city the sails were turning beautifully.

At the top there are some lovely houses adjacent to the Cathedral. As I arrived up here I noticed boys in a bold school uniform scurrying into the Cathedral and the bells started ringing. At the front I saw people in gowns and glad rags, yes it was a degree ceremony. What a lovely setting.

I wandered on and snapped this learned ice cream eater and carried on to the castle from the entrance to which I took this view of the wonderful building that featured in the film of the Da Vinci code. ( I've not seen the film but enjoyed the book )

I was parched by this time and took myself to one of the local hostelries up there and had a very pleasant pint. Charming barmaid, place full of families eating before the ceremony. I asked her about the goings on, she reported she was getting her degree the next day & would have an hour off work to get ready.

Steep walk down the hill, but lovely old buildings. It really is a must to visit, the Cathedral occupied us for many hours on our visit in 2005.

At the bottom, Lily was moored alongside the remains of the old Clayton & Shuttleworth factory. This business was vast in the 1800's and employed many thousands of people, with a canal wharf within the works. They built steam engines and ploughing machines that were sent worldwide, but effectively the company died in 1929. The entry gates are alongside Stamp End Lock which has a powered guillotine top gate, but my is it slow!!! You do get quite a good view of the Cathedral whilst waiting!

We had to pass through the lock to turn round, which we call "winding" as in gales. We had thought we would carry on to Boston but the clock was defeating us & we were to be back at Newark on the Thursdy night to catch our train. We set off on Wednesday around 11 on a lovely sunny, warm day and got to the lock onto the Trent at Torksey by mid afternoon, attended to our facilities and then locked down and moored for the night. We saw a most rare sight as we approached Torksey, namely a British Waterways dredger at work! Boaters perpetually beoan the fact that the botom of the canal is too close to the top because of lack of dredging, I show you here work under way. I had a wander round Torksey, and folks, there's not a lot to see.

9.15 am we set off upstream with the spring tide helping us on our way. It was not so warm this day, Carol wore a fleece though I stayed in shorts and tee shirt. Excitement on the trip as this very large gravel boat rushed past us & tied up to receive its load. We tend not to look behind too often on the canals, we must remember to do so on rivers!

It took us 3 1/2 hours to get to Cromwell lock and we carried on into Newark Marina where we moored up & hooked up to mains power.

Curry. We love curries and both enjoyed them long before we met in 1964, I reckon I was about 12 when I first enjoyed one. I'll revert to this in another page, but suffice to say that on Thursday night we had a very enjoyable curry in Newark at Asha Tandoori on Stodman St.

The Marina was only about 200 yards from Newark Town station, we caught the 9.58 train ( bit late, engineering works at Lincoln) and it took us direct to Loughbrough, though it stopped almost as frequently as a local bus on the run to Nottingham. We picked up a local bus at the station, changed bus in the town centre and arrived in Mountsorrel by 11.30. Total cost £8 each return!!

Busy weekend in Leicestershire. 70th birthday party, 60th birthday party, supper with friends, seeing kids & grandchildren, changing Carol's phone as it kept droppings its charge. We were glad to countenance our return trip on the Monday where we got back to Newark around mid-day.

We moved out of the marina and onto the town moorings where I tidied up the black paint on the starboard gunwales. The weather was good as we started our cruise through to Gunthorpe where we stopped, but by the time we arrived the cold wind had forced us both into several layers of clothing. I got the gloss paint on the one side that evening, and after we had cruised through to Nottingham for Wednesday night, I got red oxide pain onto the rusty bits on the port side. We had our first rain during cruising since Sam and Hannah were with us in mid August during this cruise. We also said goodbye to the large locks on the river and the friendly and helpful lock keepers who work them.

We are on to Sawley Marina for next weekend as we have Hannah's 10th birthday party to help out at, a disco!! Assuming it does not rain too much I should get all the touching up done in time for the ravages of winter. May get some more photos sorted and also learn how to better format this blog!

Sunday, 9 September 2007

On to Newark & Lincoln

Our trip to Newark was lovely on a very warm day, so warm I had to cover my shoulders to stop them burning. Going down the river Trent from Nottingham the river is very windy and twists and turns through lovely countryside. The locks are all very large and are operated by lock-keepers, making for lazy cruising because the river has been used for commercial carrying until recently, and even today large boats carrying fairly large cargoes occasionally use the river. We saw none on our trip which was uneventful and we saw very few other boats moving, though I suppose Thursday afternoons in September are likely to be quiet.

We got good moorings on a floating pontoon outside the British Waterways offices in Newark, though Carol had a big problem turning into the river flow, our bow thruster was struggling to make progress. Carol's back was giving her a lot of trouble after the walking around Nottingham yesterday but she loves this mooring in Newark (53deg 04'47.25N 0deg 48'39.03W) as it is very close to a large branch of Waitrose! She suffered this time though as I bought some special Spanish style pitted (ie no stone in them ) olives which we nibbled before our meal and on the first olive she bit into a stone and chipped a tooth. I returned the stone and the chipping and await their response, the acting manager was suitably upset.

We decided that as we have to be around home next weekend we have decided to leave Lily in Newark as this mooring is right by the train station and there is a marina nearby. Better still the train from Newark at around 10am runs through to Loughborough. I booked a slot at £8 per night at the marina from Thursday night on.

So at around 11 on Saturday we moved off, through Newark Nether lock and on to North Muskham where we moored outside the Muskham Ferry pub whilst we watched qualifying for the Italian GP, and I enjoyed a very pleasant pint of Pedigree. This over we set off downstream to Cromwell lock which is a very large structure and is at the limit of the tidal river Trent where we moored up alongside a concrete wall around 12 feet high. Carol asked around the other boaters and found none was going downstream that tide so she spoke to the lock-keeper who said he would let us through shortly as soon as he had completed locking 'up' a narrowboat. We duly entered this cavernous structure and left around 15.45 on the tidal stretch with 17 miles to Torksey where we were to turn off the river. We set our engine revs to around 1800 and at just about 18.15 we turned into Torksey and moored up at a floating pontoon mooring. We could have ' locked up' off the river that night but the mooring was good and quiet and mooring space at the top of the lock was crowded. During the next 90 minutes or so many other boats turned in to moor to the pontoons as the tide was by then getting very low. Torksey is at 53deg 17'35.67 N 0deg 44'46.20 W.

The weather had been not as good as forecast as the clouds hardly broke at all. I stayed in tee shirt and shorts but Carol needed a sweater & jeans. At least the wind was mild and the trip was twisty. We bought a navigation guide to help us avoid the gravel shoals, very important on a falling tide. Other boaters, don't be put off going along this tidal stretch, just take sensible precautions and be guided by the lock keepers.

Sunday dawned bright and at around 9.30 we locked up and attended to domestic tasks before cruising to Stalham. This is along the Fossedyke which was originally dug by the Romans and is pretty straight, wide and deep with no locks from Torksey to Lincoln. We reached Stalham just before 12 in time to set up the TV and watch the GP which was interesting, but unfortunately there are political/spying turmoils that have got in the way of the racing somewhat. Whilst at Stalham I managed to buy my weekly fix of Sunday Times which I have read nearly every week since around 1960!

Anyhow, GP over we set off at a steady pace to Lincoln and it warmed up no end. There were not many boats moving and we entered the wide basin at Lincoln at around 16.30 and had expected to moor in this area, as we did in 2005 but the mooring arms have been removed. We didn't fancy mooring alongside the all with several bars and restaurants alongside, so we carried on through The Glory Hole and moored just above the lock. Good mooring but right along a road and opposite the City Council works depot. Dustcarts start early in the morning! The road alongside started to get busy before dawn, so we both had a somewhat disturbed night. Our location is 53 deg 13'41.59 N 0deg 31'51.87 W.

I'll report on Lincoln later, but as it is a big hike up to the Cathedral and as we spent much of a day there 2005, with Carol's back iffy we will avoid this.

This is our mooring

Thursday, 6 September 2007


We stayed at Loughborough all day Saturday and Sunday, taking in a walk around Victoria Park with the Carillon set in it. Sadly we just missed the recital that Sunday as we had been to the cinema again, this time to see the Bourne Ultimatum, which we thoroughly enjoyed, the more so because the two preceeding films in the series had been shown on TV a week or so earlier. Carol can't believe that I go to the cinema now, I always usually retort that the film will be on TV soon! Tight (well diluted) Scottish blood must be the reason, though I understand that as we now have an Orange phone we can go to the cinema for free on Wednesdays! The cinema in Loughborough has been pleasantly modernised and the staff were very helpful.

So it was on Monday morning that we set off northwards again, stopping at Bishops Meadow facilities, which I have to say are far from the best on the system, a fact I passed on the the area BW manager. We shared the lock with a trip boat from Barrow Boating and gave instructions as to how to work a lock, though how they got that far without working a lock beats me as they had passed through 2 already. What we did discover is that Bishops Meadow lock is short. Lily is only 70 feet long, or at least we only paid for 70 feet, but when I tried to open the gate I was not able to do so and Carol had to use the bow thruster to go out the other gate.

The river downstream of Loughborough is about the most beautiful cruising we have ever enjoyed, everyone should try it. We stopped at the Rose & Crown in Zouch for a beer & cappuchino before going on to the river Trent junction and got a lovely mooring at the end of the cut to Cranfleet lock. We travelled for just over 5 hours this day, very slow cruising is our norm.

Our mooring that night was at 52deg 52'30.68N 1deg 16'13.27W.

Despite the power station and the Sheffield - London mainline crossing about 1/4 mile away it was a lovely quiet spot overnight, and the weather was good on Monday, and Tuesday dawned bright too and continued on through Cranfleet lock and on to Beeston lock where we entered the Nottingham and Beeston canal. We stopped at the services block there to fill and empty, and I took photos of two boats that were moored on the lock mooring points, which I sent on to BW.

Having recharged we poddled along in the sunshine to moor outside Castle Marina in Nottingham. We only cruised for 3 hours and we stopped here until Thursday. Simon, our son-in-law rang to see if he could cadge a bed. He lives near Chichester but had a meeting in Bishops Stortford on Tuesday and another in Crewe the following day. By stopping with us it saved him 5 or more hours of driving. It was a bit of a celebration too as he had just been advised of the size of his annual bonus, which rather made me wilt!

We stopped through Wednesday too and wandered around Nottingham a bit though Carol's back gave her severe problems and she retired hurt. Friends joined us for a meal at the Baltimore Diner and, rather to our surprise, we all enjoyed the food. They also brought our post, having collected it from Sally's. This is a bit of a problem as we still seem to be getting an awful lot of mail despite my best efforts to stop it.

Now after another quiet night we are going to head off to Newark, though whether we will get there today I doubt very much. Weather still good as is the forecast for the next five days. Our location here is 52 deg 56'47.35 N 1deg 10'02.02W. Google Earth was wonderful at plotting Simon's route to find us too.

Saturday, 1 September 2007

Back to boating

Saturday 1st September.

I have been remonstrated with by my brother about failure to blog, but frankly, we have been doing family things, not boating. Our Loughborough mooring was as below.

On Monday we explored the delights of free bus passes as we travelled from Loughborough to Leicester on a 127, then changed to an ?X5? and went to Market Harborough. The journey took us about one and a half hours, by car it would have been about 3/4 hour. We then had to get from Harborough to Debdale to collect the car. The hour and a half trip was free, the taxi ride took under 10 minutes and cost £9. Even so the journey by car at around 40p per mile would have cost well over £12. We went to collect our new tyre and then spent a while in Harborough sorting out a new phone for Carol and having lunch.

New phone on Orange. For £35 per month 700 min to any mobile, 100 texts and 100 min to land lines. This should improve on last month's costs!

Great discovery. Weatherspoons. Carol often coughs up over £2 for a cappuccino, Weatherspoons was under £1 & passed the test. But better still, on Mondays certain bitters are only £1.45 per pint, including Pedigree!! I nearly thought I had died and gone to heaven. I can't remember when I last paid so little for this great beer. We also had our main meal there and it cost around £6 for the two of us. The only worrying thing was seeing people in there at around 10.30 drinking pints in rounds, and even with quite elderly ladies doing so at that time. I never realised this went on.

On Tuesday we eventually left Loughborough and went to Zouch, a small hamlet right by the cut, where we stopped the night, it took us barely 2 hours cruising from Loughborough and just 2 locks. Tried out the Rose & Crown for Cappuccino coffee & beer. The meals here used to be really good value, they don't seem that way now, and anyway our tastes have changed. Beer was OK & Carol said so was the coffee, and they were friendly people in there.

The next morning we went through Zouch lock, cruised for about 2 miles towards Kegworth then turned and passed through Loughborough to a lovely secluded mooring. Not much cruising, but an enjoyable day. I enclose a photo.

Thursday morning we headed off towards Mountsorrel, emptying the loo and filling with water. We were to entertain friends to lunch and a cruise. The weather for the previous few days was pretty cold, so Carol cooked her lovely Moussaka, lovely food on a cool day but of course it was lovely and warm. Never mind, we all enjoyed it and then set off to Loughborough and back. Most enjoyable.

Friday 24th we left Lily at about 10. We had another flat tyre the evening before and we used our very inexpensive breakdown service (£34 for the 2 of us, 2 cars per year!!) to help. I tried all my sockets but couldn't shift the wheel nuts, the breakdown chap used a bar at least a metre long and had to give it some real stick to free the nuts. Eventually we were off to see our daughter & family for Emily's 5th birthday party over the weekend, and we brought her back with us on Monday. She stayed with us until Thursday evening when Clare took her home.

Great things during her visit. We visited Leicester Museum to see what we know as "Dippy" the dinosaur, which she loved. We also looked at the new Attenborough collection of Picasso pottery. Very interesting, we are lucky Sir Richard has given this to the Museum. We also pulled in the Newark Houses Museum to let Emily see the Daniel Lambert exhibits. On Thursday we all went to Stonehurst Farm Park in Mountsorrel. This is about 1/2 a mile from Mountsorrel Lock and the kids aged 2, 5 and 13 all had a great time. We were there playing on things and cuddling small animals for over 4 hours and had to drag the kids away!

Greg Duffin who created this has also been an old car nut for around 45 years, he actually helped me out when I needed track rod ends for my Austin Seven when it failed its MOT. He now has a wonderful eclectic collection of all sorts of motoring bits, I guess around 25 cars from the early 20s onwards and a great array of old motorbikes. All the exhibits are different, some wonderfully restored, others totally unrestored, along with everything else I used to see when I visited small garages around the area in the 1960's. There are many Austins including a rather nice Ulster, a large Rolls Royce, an aged Crossley bus, and a lovely sports Vauxhall, I guess a 30/98, but I'm very rusty on my old cars. Give the place a visit, it has a lovely cafe/restaurant and a very good farm shop.

So Friday 31st, we are on our own again, but are going out with friends that evening so Carol wants a hair do. We were going to cruise to Loughborough, but decided to use the car instead and we had a thrilling time doing the launderette too! Also we found a very large "Outdors" shop which we shall delve into more in the future. The meal out at an Italian restaurant (Bobolis) in Kibworth was expensive and was not very good. All four of us looked at the menu and were not sure what we would chose to eat, not spoilt for choice, but struggling to find something that tickled our fancy. We will not go again, but rest assured, it is a fairly long walk from the canal so boaters are not likely to find it.

Saturday, September 1st, we set off again from friend Beryl's moorings and did the usual at the Barrow services stop. We ran out of one of the gas bottles on Thursday so need to replace it. We have never before had the cooker go out on us, having sensed it beforehand, not so then! I also dipped the fuel tank and we seem to have used 100 litres since 13th August running the engine for 62 hours. We moored up near to the Chainbridge in Loughborough and wandered off to shop. I walked to see the Old Rectory Museum near the Parish Church. It is only open on Saturdays from 10 to 4, not big, but I found it interesting. If you are visiting Loughborough, try to fit in a visit to Taylor's Bell Foundry, very interesting, and try to hear the Carillon play. The Great Central Railway is a lovely way to spend a day. When we did it with our eldest 2 grandchildren, who were I guess about 10 and 7, we were going to and fro for most of a day, and thoroughly enjoyed our all day breakfast on the train.

Current mooring location, courtesy of Google Earth is:-

52 degrees 46' 37.82N 1 degree 12' 40.51 W

Carol cooked a lovely new recipe from Friday's Times newspaper, a sort of Spanish omelette with choritso sausage and coriander. Well worth a try if you like the ingredients. Since then I've been bashing away at this.

I took these photos of our Mountsorrel moorings this morning.

The stone building is the old butter market.