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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.

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