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Monday, 24 September 2012

From Fradley to Loughborough

Monday 17th September Bright at first but not warm and showers by 5. We pushed across to the water point at first and had a pretty awful cup of coffee before we set off around 10.30, joining a line of boats descending and meeting boats coming up. Between Fradley & Alrewas we met Mo & Vanessa on Balmaha, moored up alongside and had a good natter with them & Mo’s cousin and wife who were moored with them. Mo’s coffee was much better.
Lily leaves Balmaha

It was a great chat but we had to get on, we had an appointment to meet Mike & Jo on Sarah Kate that evening in Burton on Trent. We had a bit of queuing at locks and it clouded over and the breeze got up but we made it to tie up with Sarah Kate just before the footbridge to the park in Burton.
Alrewas weir was not so well protected when we first went past it.

After we had eaten they joined us in Lily for a good old chat. There are two significant coincidences we have with them, the first is how we became aware of is their boat. Sarah Kate was launched, fully fitted, at Thurmaston boatyard on the day the shell of our second boat was also launched. In Mike & Jo’s care she has been much improved as well as growing quite significantly longer and she shows the love they have for her.

The second, and much stranger coincidence came to our mutual knowledge about two years ago. A schoolfriend of Carol right from the early years of her education joined the nurse training scheme at Leicester Royal Infirmary with Carol. Sadly through illness she did not achieve her State Registration until a year after Carol, having dropped into the following set of trainees. During a communication around two years ago she mentioned she had another old nursing friend with a boat called Sarah Kate! Yes Jo was in her set, what a coincidence.
Mike approaches his mooring spot.

I regret I forgot to take photos of both meetings, but Mo & Jo provided images, thanks both.

Tuesday 18th Mike & Jo moved away quietly whilst I was doing my morning exercises, heading towards Nottingham to where they have never been by boat.
I've not seen one of these old Morris cars for I guess 40 years

The trouble with Burton on Trent as far as Carol is concerned is the smell of the brewing, but I of course love it, and we were moored near to Marston’s brewery. The other big problem is that it is a very long way from the canal to the major stores. In the past we have walked there and struggled back, but regrettably Carol’s back problems mean a walk like this is completely out of the question. However, just east of our mooring the number 3 bus runs every quarter hour down to the supermarkets & coffee houses. We have visitors coming on Thursday and Carol had another feast to prepare. We did some of the purchasing in the morning and after lunch I left Carol resting whilst I caught the bus to go to the National Museum of Brewing. 
The "brewery visit lets you see a sort of reconstruction of a brewery. I went on a
tour of Marstons during an IWA Festival, there we were in the actual brew house

It was very interesting, I spent well over 2 hours there and finished in their bar for my 4 samples of beer. I tried Worthingto E, Red Label, White Label and one from Rock in Cornwall. It was very interesting trying them as a tasting, the Cornish beer was not in the same league as the Worthingtons, the E was a drink I used to enjoy when much younger, but the White Label was by far the best of the four, if only you can find it!
The brewery a justly proud of their horse drawn vehicles

Wednesday 19th and after getting fresh soft fruit we moved on to Willington, mooring just before the road bridge in a lovely spot and much further from the rail lines than where most people moor. Weather was reasonable but wet overnight, Carol prepared some of the dishes in advance for our guests on Thursday.
The old stone bridge over the river Dove

Thursday 20th and it was damp at first but brightened so that I was able to polish the brasses before our friends arrived. We cruised down to Stenson and back before mooring up for a typically magnificent meal made by Carol. During the cruise the weather stayed dry but cool and overcast, during lunch it lightened, and as we chatted and played cards out came the sun! It was a most enjoyable way to spend a day.
Friends after they had eaten very well!

Friday 21st A very wet day, but we had arranged to have some of our family for lunch on Sunday in Loughborough and we had to move on. We reversed back to the winding hole and went about, used the services and got cruising about 10.15. It rained with differing intensities all day and it was breezy and cool, even I had fingerless mitts on! Our first large lock since the few we did up the Rochdale on August 5th was that delicate little one at Stenson! We met boats at most locks but only shared one and one of the top gates at Swarkestone was horribly jammed but fortunately in the closed position and the other gate did open. I reported it to C&RT, hopefully they soon got it sorted.

We carried on till we got to Red Hill when we’d had enough and we moored just before the flood lock at 5. Quite a big day for us, 9 miles and 9 wide locks, but 15 years ago I reckoned that on a long summer’s day we could get from Thurmaston to nearly Alrewas, but we never actually did quite that much! No pictures in the awful weather!

Saturday 22nd and a lovely day after a cold night with big condensation inside Lily. We were away by 9.20 meeting with a fibreglass cruiser at Ratcliffe Lock and shared this and Kegworth with them. They had sold the boat after renovating it and were delivering it to Thurmaston. 
Carol passes Ratcliff Power Station

By the time were at Zouch sweater & jacket were off. 
The river past Normanton on Soar is lovely

At Bishops Meadow we shared with another narrowboat and then we stopped to watch qualifying for the Singapore GP, before moving on to moor just through Chainbridge. We had intended to moor in Loughborough Basin but two long broad beam boats and about 3 others had pretty well filled it, in fact if we had ventured up there I’m sure we’d never have been able to turn.

Sunday 23rd started dry but overcast but it was raining by mid day and carried on doing so through till we went to bed and there were heavy showers after this. The forecast for Sun night/ Monday is awful with heavy rainfall and strong winds, perhaps we should have pushed on through to Kings Lock to get off the river. We didn’t as we had organised for our oldest daughter and family to come for lunch in late afternoon. It was off for a coffee first, quick shop to make sure this week’s chicken was totally fresh!
Very tasty & chocolaty!!

We had a lovely afternoon and evening, great food and several board games. It had been Hannah’s 15th birthday the day before so we had some girly pink fizz at first and a very yummy cake Sally had bought for her later. Now if the Soar can just avoid going into flood!!!!

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