March 31, 2011

We are back in Alrewas, moored in exactly the same place that we were in last October (coincidentally the only vacant spot in the 14 days moorings just as it was last time) and moored next to the same boat as well.

It’s been a bright, sunny day, but what a wind! Alan reckons that it’s the windiest day that we have ever encountered. I’m not sure about that: I can remember some very windy adventures, but it’s certainly up high in the leader board. We certainly wouldn’t normally have travelled a five hour day under these conditions but we were looking forward to getting to Alrewas and it probably gets very busy here at weekends at this time of the year.

We were rather pleased to leave the heavy goods railway line behind not far past Willington, though I have to say it wasn’t as sleep disturbing as we had feared. However as the train track passes behind the gravel pits the A38 comes close. It’s a very busy road with lots of large trucks so all in all this isn’t the most exciting stretch of waterway though there is an aqueduct over a pretty stretch of the River Dove.

We went straight through Burton, past a glorious array of daffodils at Shobnall Fields and through a strong brewing aroma from Marstons. (We had done the brewery visit last time we were in Burton). As we went on through Branston the wind strengthened and the hire boat exiting Tatenhill Lock in front of us had a dreadful time getting off the side. When we left the lock Alan went straight off and picked me up at the next bridge. The river section between Wychnor and Alrewas wasn’t too bad but it took our combined efforts to get the boat off the lock mooring and into Alrewas Lock. So it was with a sigh of relief that we moored up at the end of a windswept day.

Today we did 12.27 Miles and 6 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2321.29 Miles, 1363 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 39 Tunnels


March 30, 2011

The promised rain arrived overnight and today has been a grey and drizzly day, quite a bit colder than of late. We moved a very small distance, less than a mile, to the moorings at Willington, thinking that we would move on later in the day. No-one likes to travel in rain unless they have to, and we didn’t have to so we have stayed put.

It really was too much to stay cooped up indoors all day so we walked back and over the footbridge to Mercia Marina. It can’t be seen from the canal as there is a fairly long approach canal which passes under a road. It’s a vast place with a huge number of moorings, a shop, restaurant, boat hire and boat sales, as well as a large Midland Chandlers and the normal boat servicing facilities. The boat hire company, Shakespeare Classic Line, seems to be doing a roaring trade as we have seen many of their boats passing during the day.

The downside of not moving along is that we are still very close to the extremely busy train tracks. Most of the traffic appears to be freight trains. It’s a very good thing to see freight going by rail not on the roads but they are very noisy and seem to travel through the night.

Today we did 0.91 Miles

Statistics so far:-

2309.02 Miles, 1357 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 39 Tunnels


March 29, 2011

Findern is a very tiny hamlet, it seems. We decided to moor here, just short of Willington because once again we were caught behind the very slow boat hirers. We had passed them earlier in the day, just after Swarkestone Lock, having repairs made to the boat. Unfortunately they passed us while we were having lunch above Stenson Lock. It’s now raining very heavily and become rather cold so it’s good to be moored. This rain wasn’t supposed to arrive until tomorrow.

We travelled for a couple of hours only today. Until Stenson Lock the countryside is green and quite pretty but now we are sandwiched between roads and the railway line and we know that there is nothing of great interest until Burton.

You may have gathered already that this has been a day of little excitement! The highlight was sharing Stenson Lock with a BW dredger that was being moved to the Coventry Canal. We had seen it being manoeuvred above Swarkestone Lock as we approached the lock ourselves. It was well away when we left the lock and we didn’t see it again until we arrived at Stenson Lock. Stenson is a deep lock, over 12 ft, so it was very welcome to be held snug by the barge as we ascended.

Coming through Stenson Lock

Today we did 6.45 Miles and 2 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2308.11 Miles, 1357 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 39 Tunnels

Back on the Trent and Mersey

March 28, 2011

The early fog soon burnt off this morning and it was a beautiful day by the time we left just after 9.00. When I walked to Kegworth Deep Lock a small boat had just entered so I asked them if they would wait until Alan brought the boat round. When he got there he said that NB Hawkeye, who was moored around the corner from us, was also coming along thinking that they would be joining us in the lock. They pulled up as we were descending. When we reached the Kegworth Shallow Lock, which was left open so that we could pass straight through, the small boat pulled in to moor. We went on very slowly and were joined by NB Hawkeye as we entered Ratcliffe Lock.

The couple on NB Hawkeye are retired US Academics who have been travelling the system for the past few years. We have been coming across them on and off since Kilby Bridge, and were moored next to them at Leicester. We turned onto the Trent and went through Sawley Lock with them, before leaving them at the marina. It was only then that we discovered that the Professor’s field was electronic design, just like Alan, and they were both radio amateurs. They would have had lots to talk about but by then it was too late!

As we waved them goodbye we went past the River Derwent and back onto the Trent and Mersey Canal. We were one of three boats in the Derwent Mouth Lock as a small hire boat and a short Sea Piper boat were in line next to us. The hirers went off first and it was apparent that they had just picked up their boat: they were travelling so slowly that Alan had to keep stopping altogether. As readers of this blog will know we are people who believe in travelling at tickover past moored boats but we also believe in keeping moving! We were relieved when they pulled in for lunch at Shardlow so we decided to keep going. (They passed us late in the afternoon after we had moored up. They had obviously gained in confidence as they sped past without slowing down!)

We ate on the go and stopped to water above Weston Lock. It was such a lovely day that I got on the roof to give it a wash while the tank was filling and then we gave it a quick rinse with the hose. I also washed one side of the boat: it was long overdue. Now that I’ve got myself started I plan to finish the washing and polishing when we are moored on the other side of the canal and then start on the repairs to the paintwork. My least favourite aspect of boating!

Ratcliffe Power Station

Today we did 10.53 Miles and 10 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2301.66 Miles, 1355 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 39 Tunnels


March 27, 2011

It’s always a strange day when the clocks go forward. Alan has suggested that we should just ignore it, at least until the next time we have to take a train or some other occasion when time matters. Like tonight, I said, when we want to watch Waking the Dead at 9.00, which was 8.00 yesterday.

It was a river day today, on the stretch from Loughborough up to Kegworth. It is wonderful to steer on the river and the Soar has views, unlike the Severn or the Trent. We drifted past Normanton, and Zouch, and then moored on the approach to Kegworth: unfortunately also under the approach to East Midlands Airport. Luckily it’s not the busiest of the UK airports but it is quite alarming as a plane passes just over our heads.

Because we had somewhat misjudged our proximity to Kegworth Lock, and then it’s a good stride on to the bridge we had a fairly long walk into Kegworth village. We managed to get to the Cap and Stocking pub which Mr Pearson says is one of his favourites on the waterways system. It was pleasantly busy in the late afternoon: one of those pleasant pubs with several small rooms and no slippery brown leather sofas. They also sell Bass from the jug which we very much enjoyed. It would be high up on the list of our favourites but nothing beats the One Eyed Rat in Ripon which would entice us to move there.

It’s worth also mentioning the Albion Innat Loughborough, which we popped into last night. It’s a very idiosyncratic little pub on the canal, a semi-detached half of a building, very quiet in that there are no machines or TVs, good beer, massive meals and the landlord knew all the clientele (except us of course) by name.

Today we did 5.74 Miles and 3 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2291.13 Miles, 1345 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 39 Tunnels


March 26, 2011

It was an early start for us because we were breasted up to the diesel boat and he wanted to start off just before 9.00. So we were away at 8.15, through the Mountsorrel Lock. It was a very misty morning and, as predicted, much cooler today. I had a lovely long walk through the river meadows to the Barrow Deep Lock. As expected the traffic light on the house next to the lock was green, to say that it was safe to go onto the river. The deep Lock is 9ft 7ins so not really very deep, say compared with the Denham or Bath deep locks. We passed a boat moored just before the lock and the boater was out at the stern doing a bit of a tidy. He certainly saw me passing with the windlass and Alan followed just after. We were surprised when the boat pulled up to the lock just as we were about to exit. I know that our paint needs a touch up in the near future but I didn’t think we looked that disreputable! I would have expected them to ask us if we would wait.

Pillings Lock was chained open for the summer months. It will only be closed if the river rises. Then we were into a traditional canal section into Loughborough while the river went off in a big swoop around the town. We had been recommended to moor just before the sharp turn under the Chain Bridge so that is what we did.

It is market day in Loughborough and the market is one of the largest I have seen for a long time. We had a wander round, and some lunch and stocked up with provisions for the next few days. We might even have to put the fire on this evening: what a change!

Today we did 6.72 Miles and 3 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2285.39 Miles, 1342 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 39 Tunnels


March 25, 2011

After the blog was posted last night we did come under attack from a group of Leicester youths – a group of about seven young teens on bikes who were yelling across at the boats and then threw some missiles. Not sure what they were but they landed close enough to splash the windows. So we decided to move on first thing this morning, not specifically because of that, but there seemed nothing attractive enough to hold us.

And the next few miles were even less attractive. The canal/river was rubbish laden and scummy and we were passing through an area of former textile mills, including the well known name Worsley, all derelict or being torn down.

When we reached Lime Kiln Lock, the second of the day, we met up with a group of three drunks (at 10.30 am quite paralytic) and the young teenage daughter of one of them who was definitely not drunk. Her Dad was an ex boater, and greeted us with joy. In fact Alan narrowly avoided being kissed. He insisted on helping us through the lock with his daughter assisting in the gate opening, and told us all about when he lived on a boat for a couple of years at Debdale, twenty years ago. Apparently he was to take his daughter to a hospital appointment!! He grabbed our centre line and insisted on holding it as we descended, and then when one of the gates wouldn’t fully open because of rubbish (though I would have gone through the other gate) he leapt onto our roof and grabbed the boat hook to poke futilely down towards the obstruction which he couldn’t possibly reach. He was just able to leap back onto the roof to replace the pole and then held onto the side of the lock with his hands while he pushed the boat off with his feet. By this time Alan and I were shutting our eyes and praying that we wouldn’t have to fish him out of the canal. Miraculously he made it back to the lock side and we all waved goodbye with his daughter raising her eyes heavenwards. Poor girl. Though he was actually a very nice man and the sadness was that he was in that situation.

By the time we moored for lunch at the Hope and Anchor and then went on after lunch to Mountsorrel things had improved though there was still a fair degree of rubbish that had worked its way downstream. It is good to be back on a river, especially one that is now broadening.

Just past Sileby Lock we passed our namesake, Lazy Days. This was a most illustrious namesake because she bore a plaque saying that she was one of the Dunkirk small ships fleet in 1940. We had first heard that there was a boat of our name involved in the Dunkirk evacuation when we were moored outside Cowroast marina some years ago and it was such a pleasure to finally see her.

We arrived at Mountsorrel at 4.00 to find the diesel boat, Star Carrying Company, which we should have hailed yesterday in Leicester, filling up two boats on the moorings above the locks. We came alongside and filled up and have remained breasted up for the night. The Swan Pub had been recommended so we went there for our Friday night drink. It was very busy and a perfectly pleasant place to end the day.

Friars Mills

Worsley Chimney

Space centre with the ‘River I Soar’

The 1940 Dunkirk Lazy Days – Our namesake

Boat Manoeuvres

Today we did 8.90 Miles and 7 Locks

Statistics so far:-

2278.67 Miles, 1339 Locks, 128 Swing Bridges, 82 Lift Bridges, 39 Tunnels