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Friday, 23 May 2008

to Burton on Trent





Well, on our way from Loughborough to Nottingham we passed through Cranfleet Lock. Alongside the lock is the old lock cottage which is now the HQ of the Nottingham Yacht Club, and in the window was a poster advertising their weekend of events two days later, featuring a fly over by a Lacaster bomber, made famous by the Dam Buster raids in WW2. We decided we would go to this and headed first to Nottingham. Lovely weather, and we ambled into the city, stopping by at the "Trip to Jerusalem", a pub carved into the rock beneath Nottingham Castle. It is supposed to have been used by knights as they assembled for the 3rd crusade, let it be said it was an interesting place to visit, made more pleasant by the smoking ban.



We did bits of shopping then turned around and returned to Cranfleet. The weather for the weekend was fabulously hot and the club made us all very welcome. On Friday night there was a duo who put on a very good "Beatles" act, and the drinks were incredibly cheap. They featured "Bomber" bitter, and very good it was. Saturday we had the overfly, hopefully you like the pic, and on Sunday there was a very good morris dancing troupe. A great weekend and fun meeting people.






We then made our way gently to Burton on Trent. We could have made the trip in one day, we took a week! Every two years we need to get our bottom scraped and blacked, by we I mean Lily. Weed grows on the hull profusely during the Summer, and we knock into things so we need to protect the steel. We have done the blacking ourselves in the past but Carol decided that following my accident on the Thames in 2006 it would be better to get it done for us. We could have had this done at Debdale, our home base, but we decided to use Shobnal Boat Servces as we would be under cover & we could get the roof repainted. We had booked the date months in advance, but as we would have to cross the rivers Trent and Soar, and as both are well known for going into flood after heavy rain, we gave ourselves time for a flood to rise & then fall again.

We had a gentle amble along the Trent & Mersey Canal, and had a call from two friends. Would Ian like to go to visit Williams GP? Their daughter was putting on an event at the Williams conference centre and there was to possibilty of Stan & Ian joining in on the trip. What an opportunity. Itinerary was changed and we spent two nights staying at their home and spent a memorable few hours looking around the exhibition of the history of one of the most successful teams in Formula 1 GP racing. Because of the involvement of Stan's daughter and the arrangements she had made for her company's exhibition, we had the other opportunity not offered to all to actually sit in a car. It was a 2001 model, though it had been decorated up to look like the latest model for promotional reasons.






Ian took the opportunity to visit his mother too, using his bus pass, it took as long to get the 15 miles from Desford to Mountsorrel as it took to get from Desford to near Swindon!

Anyway we entered the dry dock on Monday morning nd then made our way into the centre of Burton, which was nearly 1 1/2 miles away, & Carol doesn't do walking much. We found bus routes out, but no thanks to the bus stop signs not having route numbers on them, whilst in Leicestershire they do. For any other boaters going to Burton, from Shobnal there is a number 10 running hourly from close by the boatyard, or with a little walk onto Shobnal St a number 3 runs around every 20 minutes.

On Thursday it was Ian's birthday & we celebrated in fine style, a curry in Wetherspoons, price up now to £5.09 for a curry & a pint, followed by watching the new Indiana Jones film on its opening day. Typical Indiana Jones film, typically enjoyable. Before that though we were given a great opportunity as in the boatyard there was a telescope set up looking at part of the "Coors" ( Bass to me ) brewery. It was trained onto a bird box and we were allowed to watch a Peregrine Falcon feeding her brood of 4 fluffy white chicks.........incredible. Friday morning at 9 the water was let into the dry dock & we carefully moved her out, ensuring that the newly glossed sides were not knocked. Now we are off to the Leicester Festival on June 7th & 8th, but Saturday is our 39th wedding anniversary. Ian chose the date two days after his birthday so he would always be reminded by the arrival of his birthday cards, and he has never yet forgotten!!

More soon

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

From Loughborough

Well, I said we would move off on Tuesday. We managed about half a mile and went into the new canal basin at Loughborough where we first attended to essential services, emptying things and filling the water tank. It was a lovely day, bright sun and warm, so we moved away from the water point and tied up and went shopping.



Carol is a great cook and we both like spicy dishes, but unfortunately our plates were showing the signs of being nearly 20 years old. When we ate food that contained saffron or turmeric, we were left with discolouration that needed bleaching because the glaze was worn and less than perfect. So it was off to Tylers in Loughborough, a lovely shop & well worth a visit, and some new stuff bought, more modern in shape, but we can't fit so many in the plate racks.


I enclose a pic of the new wharf. The multi coloured buildings are student flats and the "balls" are art works with carvings to some degree reflecting the past of Loughborough. They have merit in being different, and are certainly worth studying to identify features of the town and its industrial history, though I didn't see a stocking frame or a Cottons Patent knitting machine. The nice flat area around the balls was much appreciated by the skate boarders! The student flats were the subject of a great many objections at the planning application stage as they have no parking spaces and the students are supposed to sign an undertaking not to use a car, though how this is enforced heaven knows.

We moved off about 100 yards before mooring for the night. Ian went to the NHS Drop In centre as he had a problem with his ring finger. An injection might have worked, we'll see, if not it will be a small operation.


So Wednesday dawned, bright, sunny and warm. A bit of clothes drying first and off we went at 11. We needed to do some washing and when the boat was fitted out the boatyard had an old washer dryer it dropped in, it helped the balance, but it was beige and we wanted white, so the beige one went to a flat we let out and the new white one was for the boat. Getting them in and out was not easy. The doors are only about one inch wider than the machine, so one person heaved at the bottom, two others pulled on ropes and out it came onto the back deck. The doors off the back deck are even narrower, so to get it off we had to lift it over the top. The new one works well and we have a nifty way of fixing a rotary clothes line to the boat to get the clothes dry.

We passed through just 5 locks, all of them double width and with quite large falls in them. We have difficulty with Bishops Meadow Lock at the edge of Loughborough as it is a bit short. The only way we can get out the lock is to open the gate on the side opposite to that where Lily lies. We understand British Waterways are going to do some work to get the lock up to 72 feet long soon.


It really is lovely on the river Soar, beautiful sweepig bends and pretty fields alongside. There is a gorgeous house on this bit of our cruise, I include a picture. Heaven knows what it is worth, but it certainly is way beyond our means, and it has planes from the nearby East Midlands Airport passing close by with great frequency.

We have moored for the night at the entry to the Cranfleet cut. We are right at the junction of the river Soar and river Trent, and the Cranfleet cut takes boats past Thrumpton weir. We are unfortunately near to the bridge where the Sheffield - London rail line crosses the cut so it is a little noisy, but I expect the fresh air will see us sleeping like tops.

Nottingham tomorrow. We are in the process of working our way to Burton on Trent where we are to enter a dry dock and have our hull blacked. We have allowed time to get there in case the river goes in to flood, rest assured if we see heavy, prolonged rain is forecast then we shall dash off to Shardlow and off the river very quickly.

More later

Monday, 5 May 2008

Loughborough Canal Festival

The Loughborough Canal Festival was started some years ago when people got word of worrying plans to cover the canal basin in Loughborough with tarmac as part of a road improvement scheme and boaters wanted to protest. It was originally held over the Easter weekend, but when Easter was flooded out in 1998 it was hurriedly rearranged to the May Day Sunday, and that is where it has remained, except that its sucess has caused it to expand to the Saturday and Sunday. Boat entry is free and usually over 100 boats throng to the canal in the centre of the own, and usually the weather is good. The road scheme died, not the canal basin



The Inland Waterways Association (IWA) Leicestershire Branch has always supported the event both with boats and with our branch display, and 2008 was no different. Lily Pad arrived on site on Friday with the display equipment coming on Element, a 19th century boat, arriving at about 7pm that day. Carol held a dinner party for 5 of us that night, delicious food with a filo pastry wrapped salmon & leek main course and a rather alcoholic Tira Misu dessert. It set us up for the weekend.



The weather was pretty good, dry all Saturday and only a little drizzle on Sunday until it started to rain more just about as the show was to end. There were perhaps less people than last year, but the towpath was busy all day and on our stand we spent the whole time talking to people.



Of course Monday dawned dry and bright and it got warmer by the hour during the day!











We have stayed put all day, Ian visited his mother who has not been too well, & Carol has prepared for friends coming for dinner. Tomorrow we move on

Thursday, 1 May 2008

2008 Cruisng Starts

Since last Posting............sorry it has been so long


Well, after a winter in Debdale Wharf we are glad to be back on the cut.


We were often asked how did we keep warm, most days we were too warm despite the stove being on its lowest setting. We were frozen in for a few days, but fortunately had enough diesel fuel to keep the fire going, and it only took a little hot water on the water tap to get it flowing. We were not sure how we would take to it, well we loved it. The only thing we didn't do was any cruising, we went out on New Years Day, intending to cruise to Market Harborough, but we me friends on the way and only got as far as Foxton! In early April we did make it as far as the Harborough basin, but it was overall a very static winter, mainly because Ian was busy working to improve a flat we let out, as well as working part time back at Blaby Council.


We also had our youngest grandchildren and our daughter to stay for a week. It was lovely having them but the weather was cold ( only 4 degrees as we left Twycross Zoo! ) and it was very tiring. We had hoped to be around Birmingham by this time but delays in finishing work off at the flat and more doctors visits made us decide to stay put, would we ever set off?


Over winter we managed to catch up with our friends, both those living ashore and those other cruisers who were back at base for the winter. We intended to set off at the beginning of April, but things conspired against us, what with doctors check-ups and tests and a few other things, but we were ready to go on Monday 21st, except I had sold a car and it was to be collected the following day. Not only that but we found we had a water leak that was affecting the wooden floor. Great! it was not easy to get at and was caused by a hefty brass fitting developing a crack..........how? It has been in place 4 1/2 years and is not subject to vibrations or impact, but it was dripping fast. What a good job we were still in the Marina & I was able to isolate the fault & readily replace it.


Ducklings arrived a few days ago, Carol feeds them.


So we waited, and or neighbouring boaters decided that Tuesday 22nd was so lovely we ought to have drinks on the towpath at lunchtime. What a great way for me to kill time till my buyer came, then we could set off.................she never came, but we had a very enjoyable time and gave a good send off to a friend who was having a knee replacement the next day. So we stayed put that night, and then it hammered down with rain on Wednesday morning, but cleared at lunchtime & we were off.


We cruised as far as the lovely mooring above Wistow Park that featured last August. I'll put in another pic later. In the morning we walked across the fields to the Wistow Rural Centre, about 1/2 mile away, which was a place we had said we would visit many times as we ad driven past. It is well worth a visit with a very good garden centre, minature village, farm shop, a good cafe and a load of other shops selling things we didn't need! From late July they also have a maze cut through a field of maize. Try it.


Returning to the boat we cast off and Ian walked to Newton Top lock to set it and commented to a noisy crew of youths that they were supposed to close gates as they leave a lock. They said they left them open for us...............they must have had wonderful eyesight as we were round the bend ( but you knew that anyway ). So we were rapidly in the lock, dropped the level, and then Ian started to try to open a gate, then the other, then the first one again. Carol climbed up to help, but still no joy. There was a boat moored above the next lock, but no-one in but eventually a CanalTime boat with a crew of 6 came and we managed to open it & we were away........are we ever to get away? We reported it to BW who said they found a large piece of wood trapped under the lock gates, it was almost certainly wedged there by the youths slamming the gates shut by drawing the paddles hard.


We were off and stopped briefly at Kilby Bridge to top up with water and empty the loo, and we cruised on to Aylestone, mooring just below Kings Lock. We had all sorts of weather this day, lovely sun, sharp showers, downpours and hailstorms, we loved it. Aylestone was our home for 30+ years so we knew the Chinese takeaway was good. Got too much, it is still in the freezer.


Our next stop was at Castle Gardens in Leicester. We wanted to get some fish from the Fish Market and Ian needed to have a word with someone about the DVR we had just bought. We wondered about stopping there the night but decided to move on to Memory Lane. There is a water point here that is not marked on the guides, we stopped here the night & filled the tanks again, it was a lovely quiet night once the youths at the nearby college had finished wearing out their tyres showing off.


Boaters beware, as you approach Lime Kiln lock there are many welcoming mooring bollards, sadly the silt is very deep and the water very shallow. One boater on Saturday took at least 15 minutes to get free. Moor close to the lock only.


We cruised through to moor alongside a friend above Mountsorrel Lock and stayed several days. With our delayed departure from Debdale the planned trip around the Leicester Ring did not materialise, and we are due at Loughborough Canal Festival this May Day weekend. We had said to our grandson that we would take him to the British Grand Prix this year, but it clashes with a Race Night our other daughter is arranging which we had promised to go to. Ian then noticed a Vintage Sports Car Club meeting at Silverstone last weekend and we arranged to go with Sam on Sunday, picking him up at 9am. We got there in good time.....................except it was a day late!! We had a fun day anyway, visiting Donnington Motor Racing Museum and then taking him kart racing. He was apprehensive before he started, that last about 1/2 a lap, the he loved it and is desperate to go again, what ave we done?


Today, Thursday 1st and we returned Carol's car back to Debdale yesterday & used our bus passes to get back from Harborogh, took my car to a friend's farm awaiting a buyer and we are ready to set off with friend Beryl to Loughborough...........except the river is in flood! Boats have passed through both ways, and we have dicided to try it carefully after lunch.