Friday, 28 August 2015

Another tick

Friday 28 August. 5 miles, 8 locks.

We went to the butcher in Alrewas to stock the fridge. Then off towards Fradley Junction. This is a place we remember well. Back in 2010 on Llanarrow as we approached a lock I lost reverse gear. Thats not too bad except when you put the controls into reverse the throttle is opened. Here I am approaching a lock, wanting to slow down so into reverse I go and the boat accelerates, something wrong, try again and we are going faster instead of slower. Leap off the boat, grab the centre rope and struggle to stop the boat with brute force. Once we have stopped I noticed that the prop was still turning. I now have some idea of what has happened so kill the engine. Well that is why we remember Fradley. The other significant thing about Fradley is that passing this point means we have now navigated the entire length of the Trent and Mersey canal. Tick in the box. Travelled on up the canal until it started getting very windy and uncomfortable so pulled over for the night. Moored up amongst the weeds. Happens that it is the same spot we  moored up on 6th July 2010 with friends Robert and Mary, from New Plymouth, on board.

Touristy things

Monday 24 August. 7 miles, 2 locks.

Took a walk up to Mercia Marina which I am told is the largest inland marina in England. Talked to a broker about the process of selling, not that that is the plan just yet but a bit of preliminary research. Talked with the Marina staff about their conditions of mooring there in case we decide to move the boat further south. Back to the boat for lunch then set off south, up the canal. Passed through Burton upon Trent as we hadn't read anything about the place that made us want to stop. Finally moored up next to Branston Water Park. The sunset was so spectacular that all the boaters were out to watch the fiery sky.

Tuesday 25 August. 2 miles, 1 lock.

We took a walk around the perimeter of the water park expecting to see a lot of wildlife but we probably see more on the canals every day than what was there. Perhaps there is more to see during breeding season. Walked into Branston, a town cut in two by a major highway. The smaller part, nearer to the canal was older while the other side was being developed with a large housing estate and new shopping centre. We set off again for the short trip to Barton Turn where we were going to stop only for a short time to visit Barton-under-Needwood. We had read that it was worth the 1 mile walk. Another lovely village with a variety of buildings worth looking at. On the way back the rain came down so we stopped at Barton Marina for a coffee. This and Mercia have been developed as places for the public to visit. Large restaurants, Pubs and farm shops are there to make it attractive for other than boaties to visit. Too wet to move on so here for the night.

Wednesday 26 August. 2 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

Still raining when we woke so no rush to get going. Late morning the sun started to poke through so off we go straight into the first lock. The next lock is a couple of miles away as we follow alongside the same noisy highway that had a continuous stream of traffic all night. At the second lock we moored up well back and Diana went to set the lock. The heavens opened so I leave the boat and take the brolly up to her. Through the lock, back on the boat, rain stops and the sun is out for the rest of the day. Interesting how the heavy showers know when Diana will be standing beside a lock. Next stop is Alrewas where it is reputed to have the best butcher on the canal system. After lunch we walk the mile or so to the National Memorial Arboretum. 150 acres of woodland with 300 memorials to groups and individuals. There were two memorials that got my attention. "Shot at Dawn" 306 posts representing the British and commonwealth soldiers shot for cowardice or desertion during WW1. They have recently all received a pardon. The other was the Armed Forces Memorial with the names of all service personnel who have died on duty since the second world war. There were thousands of them and the sad part is that there is room for thousands more names to be added. I found the name of a family friend from New Plymouth who died in a Jaguar crash while a member of the RAF. Returned to the boat via crossing that busy road just after 5pm. Dual carriageway with a safety zone in the middle. Waited 6 minutes to bet to the safety zone and then another couple to make it all the way across.

Thursday 27 August. 0 miles.

Decide we would take a bus to Lichfield today. The bus runs every hour and we missed one by 5 minutes. Spent the time looking and photographing some of those typical english village houses. One was having the final touches of a new thatched roof being put on. Looked so fresh. In Lichfield we visited the Cathedral. Probably not quite as big as Liverpool but most impressive. Wandered around taking in the variety of well presented old buildings. Visited Erasmus Darwin's house and museum. He was the grandfather of Charles Darwin. I think they promote it the wrong way around. It should be that Charles Darwin was Erasmus's grandson. I had not heard of him before and was fascinated with his inventions. Now back on the boat for the night.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Last of the biggies

Saturday 22 August, 4 1/2 miles, 3 locks.

I walked to the Marina below Shardlow on the River Trent. Plenty of boats and a great variety of narrowboats, cruisers & sea going  launches.  A bit of a tidy up around the boat and some R & R before we went to visit the Shardlow Heritage Centre. Once again a small museum that excelled in the displays because it was operated by enthusiastic volunteers. Set off on a beautiful, warm to us, hot to the locals, day. Meandered along with pleasant surroundings but nothing spectacular. Due to the heat of the day the thunderstorms started to build up about 1600 so we watched them closely. Continued motoring through the edge of some rain until a big one threatened. Moored up just in time. 20 minutes later we could continue on but decided not to. Nice evening followed although a bit noisy. Commercial airfield and race car circuit within 5 miles. The farmer was disking the field next door till late in the night. I guess he was trying to beat the storms that are forecast. The odd coal train rattled by and the dogs in the pound stopped barking after dark. The police helicopter was not far away searching for something about 0100. Despite this it was a nice place that felt like it was out in the sticks, to spend the night.

Sunday 23 August. 6 1/2 miles. 2 locks.

A lovely morning to continue our trundle through Derbyshire. At the first lock there was a bit of traffic so we waited our turn which was lucky as another boat arrived in time to join us through the lock. They then followed us the three miles to the next and last double lock. The two lockies went up to the lock and then came back with smiles on their faces as there were a couple of lock keepers on duty and they wanted to do all the work. It should be a bit easier from here on as we are back into single locks again. As we approached Willington the drizzle threatened so Diana walked ahead and found a big enough slot just 4 boat lengths away from one of three pubs in the town. Sunday Roast sounds good. Checked out the first pub which was more a restaurant type overlooking the canal. The second one advertised food but when we went in they didn't. Third time lucky. Went in to what had a nice english pub atmosphere and asked for a menu. "Don't have a menu, all we have today is a Roast". Well I have to say that was the best Roast so far with the tenderest cut of beef I have had for some time. So with belly full of roast and a pint the rest of the day was very relaxing.

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Anchor Away

Friday 21 August. 11 1/2 miles, 4 locks

A day of travel. First 3 miles were on a wide deep canal which took us to Beeston where we locked up about two feet onto the River Trent which we followed until locking up onto the Trent & Mersey Canal just past the intersection with the River Derwent. Moored up in Shardlow. Now we are off rivers the anchor can come off roof and be stowed below.


Wednesday 19 August. 0 miles.

Touristy things today. I went into town early to the information centre then did a bit of a scout around to hind the Castle etc. Took a wrong turning and ended up back where I started. We both set off later and walked to the Robin Hood statue. Took a look at the, so called Castle. There has been a building in some form here for centuries and the sandstone rock it stands on gives magnificent views around the area. The latest building on the site is now a museum. We took the tour where all we did was walk around the outside and hear the history of all the previous owners and what buildings had been there. The second part of the tour took us into the caves and tunnels of the rock with some gory details of what had happened down there. After lunch went to the  Nottingham Contemporary gallery where there was an exhibition about Chatswood house and its furniture. A house to visit that is on Diana's bucket list. The next two recommended visits didn't make us want to rush in so gave them a miss. Back on the boat for tea.

Thursday 20 August. 1/4 mile, 1 lock.

A bus trip today to visit Wollaton House. The very impressive  house of the Willoughby family whose fortune is from coal mining and other industrial enterprises. Massive gardens which now belong to Nottingham council and are free to visit. We also took a tour of the Victorian Kitchens. They were closed up many years ago just as they were. They have now been renovated to as they were. Wandered around Nottingham taking photos of a big variety of buildings. Back on the boat we turned it around, came up one lock the moored up again. I now have a 3 mile run in the morning without needing Diana for locks. We had not been to the oldest Inn in England , "Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem" so went in for a drink and stayed for a meal before returning to the boat.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Book 6

Monday 17 August. 8 1/2 miles, 4 locks.

Up Early and polished the side of the boat I washed yesterday. Set off Northeast through countryside keeping clear of weir's that are just before each lock. Called into Loughborough where there is a large Tesco's beside the canal basin. Leaving the townscape behind we trundle along until we moor up at the last available spot. Happens to be opposite a nice pub, That's a positive. Over a mile each way to the nearest bridge to cross the river. Thats a negative. Sat on the towpath watching the wild life, picked a few blackberries then washed the other side of the boat. We are right under the final approach to East Midlands airfield and Ryan Air are doing circuits in a B737.

Tuesday 18 August. 12 1/2 miles, 8 locks.

Polished the other side of the boat before heading off. Caught up with a boat and went through the next 7 locks with them. Although the mileage was high for the day we were on rivers where the speed limit is 6 and 8 mph. Molly can produce a mighty bow wave. I have decided that we are a few hours travel in credit to get back to Furness Vale so at the Junction of the Rivers Soar and Trent we turn right heading down the Trent to Nottingham, where we are now moored. As we approach Nottingham Jim, from Preston rings to find out where we are. He and Ann are in the area and join us for dinner in town before they continue on their way.

The title refers to the Waterways guides I use. We have not been on the River Trent before so I had to open book 6 as my guide to where we were going.

Monday, 17 August 2015


Sunday 16 August. 1 1/2 miles, 1 lock.

Beautiful morning so chated to the neighbors for a while. Walked back to the village and Farm shop. Nothing great in the farm shop but there was an attached Motor Museum. No one was around to get information from but I think it is one guys collection. He was into Austin's so that made it very interesting to me. The one lock we did was easy. Went through with a family and the kids were keen to do everything. During our long travels between villages to day we stopped for water where there was a lot of activity which meant dodging families in row boats, canoes, bicycles on floats and a pedal power dingy. Stopped before the next lock and walked into "Barrow upon Soar". Another delightful village.Visited a pub for an ale on the way back to the boat where it was domestic time with Diana washing cloths and I washed one side of the boat.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

On the River Soar

Saturday 15 August. 10 miles 8 locks.

The only boat going our way was breasted up with us but got away well before we were ready. Sun's shining and off we head. As we are about to close the gate at the first lock Diana sees a boat coming so we wait. It is a 28ft cabin cruiser that had been behind us on the moorings but was facing the other way so had not considered them as company in the locks. The difference is that at 28ft they could do a "U" turn. Today we had company on all 8 locks. It was a lovely run on the River Soar with deep water making the boat work better. The only hitch was a rubbish filled section where the cabin cruiser got stopped with a plastic bag around the prop. As we went past we picked up a plastic bag and part of a pack which stopped us in our tracks. We both got the props cleared and carried on. Moored up tonight at Mountsorrel. Took a walk into the village where there are a number of stone buildings. this probably because there were a number of Quarries in the area. Walk to the top of a hill where you could see for miles. Nice to be up a bit and get some idea of where you are and have been.

Rain Delay

Friday 14 August. 0 miles.

Although the forecast was for heavy rain and thunder not much feel on Leicester overnight. At the first lock we drop down onto the river . There are warning boards to tell you what the water level is and whether one should proceed or not. The difficulty is that you don't know till you get there. I phoned a lock keeper and he said that there was no warnings at the moment but it was bucketing down where he was and the river could be in flood in a couple of hours. After further discussion we decided to stay another day as where we are is secure from water level changes. Found a good sized Tesco supermarket two blocks away so did a big shop. I went back again just before tea to top up the cellar. The day was drizzly and after pottering around town we gave up, found a very good local museum and then came back to the boat by 1700.

Thursday, 13 August 2015


With VJ Day celebrations this weekend there was the added pleasure of motering down the canals with a Spitfire doing aerobatics overhead and then looked like it joined up with three others in the distance. The next day a hunter jet passes overhead in it's way somewhere. No photos, just enjoyed the experience.

On our own.

Monday 10 August, 11 miles, 3 locks, 2 swing bridges, 1 tunnel.

Rachel & Trevor are all packed up and waiting for their rental to arrive between 9 & 10. After a few delays it arrived and they were on their way by 1100. We set off just before 12 and motored back down to Foxton where we turned north. A nice rural run with many twist and turns. As we were going through the Saddington tunnel, which is two way, I missed a great photo opportunity. The reflections were perfect and the exit portal was a complete circle. Half way through I could see the shape of a narrow boat on the other side of the tunnel. As we got closer to the other boat, still outside the tunnel, it looked like it was suspended in the middle of the portal circle. Quite eerie and confusing on the brain. Did three locks after the tunnel then moored up between locks for the night. That proved to be a good decision as there were no places to moor during the following days run.

Tuesday 11 August. 4 1/2 miles 9 locks.

We set of for Kilby Bridge, the recommended last place to stop before the run into Leicester. On the way we pass the only small village for miles. There is no where to moor up so I sit on a lock mooring while Diana takes a walk into the village. While she is away I help 3 boats through the lock. Diana returns disappointed as she didn't find anything interesting. We continue on to Kilby Bridge, Fill with water and moor up for the night watching for boats that may be going to Leicester tomorrow. The local pub is recommended and it is Curry night. Very nice it was. Back to the boat and there is one moored up pointing our way. No, they are having a day off and not going our way in the morning.

Wednesday 12 August. 8 miles, 12 locks.

Away at a reasonable hour and plod off by ourselves. Beautiful warm day. After 7 locks we stop under some trees, get out the chairs and enjoy lunch on the towpath. Not a common activity this summer. The next lock takes us down onto the River Soar where the water is a bit deeper and Molly is happiest. Finally we arrive at the mooring alongside Castle Park. All spots taken and nobody around so we breast up alongside a boat we had been through 3 locks with yesterday. Of the 24 double locks we have done in the last three days these were the only ones we paired up for. The moorings we are on are fenced off from the park and the gate is locked, also the park is locked at night so feel safe here. After tea we take a walk into to town to see what's there. Locate the market, Cathedral, and part of the shopping centre. Found a Gelato shop, one of the top 6 in the country. Prices reflect that but the quality was superb.

Thursday 13 August. 0 miles.

Shuffled the boat around to let others out and end up attached to the pontoon. Into the market where it was interesting listening to the banter of the sellers. Mid afternoon friends from Bristol join us in town for lunch and then they come back to the boat where we chat for a couple of hours before they resume their journey to Sheffield. Nice to have a bit of a gentle day.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

You never know who you will meet.

Wednesday 5 August. 0 miles

A bit of a late get up. Walked into Braunston to see what the Chandler had. Bought a couple of LED's to try and replace the fluorescents in the kitchen. Visited the Church, Butcher and supermarket before walking via the marina back to the boat. NB Lady Esther was moored up with nobody on board. The adjacent boat said they were at the pub so off we go and as we walk in the door Angie leaps from her chair with instant recognition. Spent a couple of hours with her, Dave and his sister before back to the boat for tea. Later on Diana, Rachel Trevor & I wandered back down the towpath to spend another couple of hours with Dave & Angie on Lady Esther.

Thursday 6  August. 9 miles, 13 locks (inc a staircase of 4)

As we got side tracked from leaving yesterday it was an early start and away by eight. The first 6 double locks we did by ourselves and had to empty all locks to set them. An odd bit of drizzle on the way up. Moored up for breakfast and then a boat coming the other way pulls in behind and it is Geoff and Debbie who moor a few berths away at Furness Vale. They are travelling with the boat that lives next door at Furness Vale. After breakfast we head off into the Braunston tunnel with Trevor at the helm. Past a few boats coming the other way. At Norton junction we make the left turn. Pretty tight so Trevor takes a couple of goes at getting round the corner. Next feature of the day is the Watford locks with a staircase of 4. We check in with the lock keeper and there is about an hours delay. The hour is spent having a very enjoyable lunch on the tow path in warm sunny weather. When it is our turn we are first in and quickly rise to the top of the locks. Next lock is 20 odd miles away. Through the Crick tunnel then moor up for the night. Into town for a look around, an Ale at the pub & resupply from the food store. Back on the boat for tea when the couple we came down the Hatton flight with wander past and have a chat. Got some tired crew tonight.


Friday 7 August. 17 1/2 miles, 10 locks, 1 tunnel.

Set off planning to call into the Crick Marina for a look around this well known boating centre. At the last entrance to the marina we found an empty berth on the canal. Shortly after a local queries our intentions. Then just before we are to walk in Management arrives and tells us there are no facilities to look at and sends us on our way. The first part of today we are not going any where near villages and the view is a bit obstructed by trees. Later on it is great views over the farmland and a beautiful day. A joy to be boating. We arrive at the Foxton Locks about 1700 and moor up well back from the top so I can walk forward to see what is happening. Talk to the lock keeper who says we can come down but be quick as there are boats to come up. By the time we get back with the boat the situation has changed and we will have to wait for three boats coming up. At 1800 we are on our way down the first 5 of the staircase where we wait so three coming up can pass. Down the last 5 and out the bottom by 1845. Moor at the bottom and have a great dinner that has been prepared and cooking for a couple of hours. Finish the evening with a visit to "Bridge 61", a very traditional Pub.

Saturday 8 August 5 1/2 miles, 2 swing bridges.

A beautiful day. The morning is spent looking around the Foxton locks and the remains of the old boat incline. We had been told by others that this was the prettiest set of locks. We would have to agree. It just felt nice to be alive on the canals in England. In the afternoon we set off up the branch to Market Harborough and moored up in the basin at Union Wharf. Pleasant surroundings with residential housing, small businesses and a restaurant. Rachel and Trevor head off to town to locate a rental car company and buy a B & B book. Diana and I went in a bit later and meet up for Fish & Chips sitting on a bench in the square. One of the things Trevor wanted to do back here in England. Spent the evening sitting on a bench outside the Canal Club office using their wifi.

Sunday 9 August. 0 miles.

Trevor has been using his mechanical skills to check out and give me advice on looking after Molly Rose's inner workings. I then made a horrible mess doing an oil change. Trevor and Rachel skyped home and sorted out transport for the next 3 weeks. Diana went to the antique market in town. We followed in later for lunch and food shopping to restock before heading off on our separate ways tomorrow. It has been great to have them on board for the last 10 days. they can now understand why we are over here.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015


Tuesday 4 August. 8 miles, 13 locks.

A nice but windy day. Double locks all the way. The first two we paired up for then we stopped for water. Good that we stopped for water but then did the rest by ourselves. With two extra crew on board we made good progress at our pace not having to worry about others. The wind made it tricky getting into some locks with a bit of crashing the sides at times. After the first 10 we had a lunch break before getting to the last 3. Between 2 and 3 we pulled into a boatyard for a pump out, gas & diesel. Then Trevor took the tiller and brought us through to Braunston. Following a busy day it was into the pub for drinks and dinner. A short walk through the town then back on the boat for an early night. All pretty tired.

Long Itchington

Monday 3 August. 4 1/2 miles, 10 locks.

A bit grey to start but a nice day overall. Started of with 6 reasonable spaced locks and then finished with a couple close together and then a staircase of 2.
Moored up at Long Itchington. Had lunch then walked into the village which we had been to in 2010. returned to the boat via a public path through the fields. Few drinks on board before dinner. An early night required with a flight of 8 locks to start our day tomorrow.

Sunday, 2 August 2015

Leaving Warwick

Friday 31 July. 0 miles.

Made our way to Warwick Raceway to meet Rachel & Trevor off the bus from London. Back to the boat for lunch, followed by a walk into Warwick to look at St Mary's Church, Lord Leycester Hospital, Walked around the outside of the Castle then back into town for tea at a pub in the square before back to the boat to show the guests how to make up their bed.

Saturday 1 August. 0 miles.

Market day. Late breakfast so called it Brunch. Then into the market which although a lot of stalls, there was nothing spectacular. A visit to the museum was followed by a visit to 45 High street. This is the house my Granny lived in before the family emigrated to NZ in 1906. Diana and I have been there twice before. It was great to be able to take Rachel there and have Shirley show her around. Tea on the boat tonight. Made contact with Regan to wish him a happy 21st birthday.

Sunday 2 August. 4 miles, 2 locks.

Headed off before midday and made our way east. Trevor & Rachel had their first lessons on locks befor mooring up in Leamington Spa. Took a walk around town and visited "The Art in the Park" event. Moved on to a country location, adjacent to a field with poppies, for the night. It was one out of the box with sunshine and warmth while we had snacks and drinks on the back of the boat.