Saturday, 31 May 2014

New hat; sore knee; and nap time

Wednesday 28th May to Saturday 31st May 2014

We decided to take it a bit easy on Wednesday - just a casual stroll down with Andy and Sue, to the chandlery by Lock 1 - they needed a few things and you can always see something new at any chandlery; Diane also wanted to show me a clock that she was interested in at the Lock Shop.

After all of the purchases, Sue and Diane wandered up into the village - there was a butcher in need of selling them something; Andy and I were left to carry everything back to the boats.

Later on we walked over to The Boathouse to meet Stella and Dave and catch with them. Dave has sold his 70 footer and bought a 57' one to replace it, and Stella is looking to upgrade hers as well.

As we were going to move the following day we wouldn't have a chance to see them from the boat - Stella would be working and Dave is recovering from some injuries after a car accident.

The weather was a contributing factor as to what we did today - it was not a great day and the mizzle continued on and off - which contributed to the late decision by Sue and Andy abandoning their plans to leave and cruise a few miles to a more countryfied location.

Thursday would be a better day and so it was.

We both headed off reasonably early and made it to just after Bridge 101 before mooring up to have a last cuppa together - Andy and Sue would stay the night and we would continue on.

We have had a really great week with them - re-creating some of the good times that we had over winter, this time at Crick. We shall miss them and look forward to when we are together again.
a final cruise together...

...a final cuppa...

...and then fare thee well - until we meet somewhere!

Waving our goodbyes, we headed off and made the right hand turn at Napton Junction, then came Calcutt Locks.

We shared the 2nd and 3rd locks with nb Brigand and then let them head off as we said our goodbyes (again) to Dave who had wandered up from Ventnor Farm marina to pick up a roll of 6" foam that was no longer needed.

We then moved along slowly to the top of the Stockton flight - our only intention being to get near the bottom and have a look at The Blue Lias pub - having not been there before - the other aim to beat the rain as well.

On both accounts we failed.

The rain fell down about 4 locks before the end and whilst we were not soaked it did make it a bit wet; mooring opportunities were less than we thought and we finally stopped just below the bottom lock.

We wandered back to The Blue Lias - it didn't look good with a seeming lack of any activity - we were right - we were there at 5:30 and it didn't reopen until 6pm.
We weren't that desiring of a drink that we were going to wait around for another half hour and besides that the pub didn't look that great (on the outside).
What is this 3pm to 6pm closing thing

the pub was there, but no-one else

A walk back to the boat and a quick drink at The Two Boats - we had built up a bit of a thirst by then, and then a return to Ferndale.

Friday was a better day and we left at a reasonable hour - a hire boat was just coming through the lock as we left - mmm, someone to share the locks with further along - and indeed it panned out that way.

There were 2 willing souls aboard - Clive and son Ben - to help with the locks and with daughter Amy ably handling the boat, we worked through the 10 locks in what seemed virtually no time at all - we all seemed surprised when we had reached the last one.
After this they pulled over for lunch and a rest - they only had a few miles to return their boat on Saturday so they were going to take it easy - any wonder, they had completed the Warwickshire Ring within the week.

Diane wanted to do some grocery shopping at Lidl (in Lemington Spa) which was ideally situated for this - in what now stands as a personal best, she was back in just 15 minutes - didn't even have time to sit down and take it easy.

So we headed off for the last few miles and the final two locks - our destination being Warwick and in particular, The Cape.

Water tank was filled above the last lock; mooring place found and tied up - time to visit a well-known spot for us and the happy Friday pub shot for the viber group.
Friday happy shot

We were not going to do too much on Saturday - just a quick visit into town and a call in at Sainbury's on the way back - there are some things that she cannot buy just anywhere.

A look see at Warwick Castle - way too many kids about, a walk through town and the historic trail; morning tea at the Brethren Kitchen (at the Lord Leycester Hospital); a wander through the markets - purchased a new hat, and then back via the supermarket to the boat.
Warwick castle - as close as we could get...
without paying

keeping the building up

oooh, where did you get that hat?

One of us was particularly tired with a sore left knee, but she valiantly soldiered on for lunch at The Cape of Good Hope pub.

It didn't come as any surprise that we both nodded off whilst watching the French Open in the afternoon - one of us did get up for the Saturday engine check and to write this - the other one? Well, she had another nap.

18 Miles, 25 Locks

Totals: 2518 Miles,  1834 Locks, 81 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Winter in May? - it must be Crick

Saturday 24th May to Tuesday 27th May 2014

The day didn't start particularly well with rain failing - but hey, this is Crick and rain is expected - isn't it?

We wandered with Sue and Andy up to the ticket office to collect our tickets - no hassles - tickets were available and we were in.

We all had a list of things that we wanted to see and find out more about - the rain came back and there was a plethora of umbrellas - all their owners dealing with a bit of mud which was making an appearance.

One of the eye-catching exhibits was the land-based dutch-barge - view by appointment only. We made the time for the following day.

Anyone who has been to Crick may think that a wander around the area and you see it all in a couple of hours.
This time we had many more questions about things that we had either seen before but not been interested in or there were new exhibits that may not be useful to us yet, but which may be more interesting in a year or so.

For us we had things we wanted from the Chandlers; maybe a new hob; we were looking at bathrooms and changes we could make - especially the vanity; there was the question about paint for the bilge and gas locker; the question about painting the whole of the boat; LED fluorescent lights; moorings in the London area; and a few things more.

These are not things which we could trifle about; the talking and the questions all took time.
There was the need for coffee and sustenance - and then the need for some rest.
We wandered into the refreshments tent for somewhere to sit and came across Meagan and Peter (nb Moonshadow) with whom we had travelled last year - so a good chance to catch up with what has been happening - they were both looking very well - I suspect as a consequence of this relaxed lifestyle.

We  had exhausted our attention spans for the morning and headed back to the boats for some lunch and a bit of a rest before the evening's entertainment, but not before we came across another one known to us - Mike (nb Isobel) with whom we have shared a lot of time and hangovers.
He was wandering around with the new lady in his life - Charlotte and her 2 daughters - Bethany and Emily - very polite and well behaved.

Not long after we returned, our mooring partners were heading off to go through the tunnel and wind so that they were facing the right way whenever they headed off.

Just on their return we were hit with an almighty hail storm - loud and louder.
Hail, hail everywhere - winter was here again

...and the trees took a beating as well - the mess left over all boats

We did feel some sympathy for them breasting up in this storm - but not enough to go out into the cold and risk personal damage from the hail.

We did however find enough energy to go and see the effects of it all once it had passed.

We all reconvened later to head to the beer tent for an evening of entertainment - the headliner being Toyah Wilcox - apparently someone of note and of whom we were in the dark.

Available seating and tables were at a premium; the outdoor ones were being brought in - we commandeered ours and settled in.
Seems that there were a great many who were of the mind that they could simply walk in about 10 minutes before the main act and somehow people would be moving and making way for them to have seats - as that didn't occur the next thing was to just stand in the middle of the main walkways (making it difficult for everyone else) and blocking the view of those directly behind them.

We were joined later by Andy's brother David (aka Bob) and his wife Marilyn - we had managed to grab chairs for them as well - in the process we met Dianne and Colin who are members of the IWA and also the St.Pancras Cruising Club so we had a good chat about a lot of things based down in London.
Marilyn, Sue and Diane

Andy, just cannot get enough of Sue's flatbread's 

Toyah Wilcox

The entertainment came on and was all quite good - Diane and Sue were down in the mosh pit not doing their knees and favours, and we all seemed to be a bit tired as we headed home at midnight.

Sunday was a brilliant day - sunshine and blue skies - was there really a storm yesterday - the water-sodden ground and the mud would tell you yes!

We rolled up for our allotted time to look through the dutch barge.

What a cracker of a boat - if only those lottery numbers would come up, this would be the boat for us. This one was only the one-bedroom option, but it comes in a 2 bedroom and also a 3 bedroom version.

The engine room was a boys room with space to sit, easily have a beer or two, talk about the engineering; how well the 5 kW generator was performing and maybe find time to tinker with the engine as well.

The sundeck was lovely to sit down and enjoy the day - just a bit of dreaming about it all to be done.

After that it was back to the mundane items on our list and finalising what we would buy and not.

It was getting on a bit so we headed up into the village for a Sunday lunch at the Red Lion - meals stopped at 2pm and it was already 2:30 - no luck, so a few paces more to The Wheatsheaf - could not possibly complain about that.

We all needed a bit of a rest - Crick is just so exhausting and we needed to be back for the evening session, which this time was a tribute band to The Travelling Wilbury's.
In anyone's mind it is difficult to do one legend well, but to find five people to do five legends well would be impossible - and so it came to pass.
The music was good and the performance was passable but it really was a hard act !

A slightly earlier night for us - we left Andy and Sue with "Bob" and Marilyn and headed back to the boat for some much needed sleep.
intense concentration from Sue as she and Andy move Fiesta Lente
to allow another boat out.

Monday and rain again - the towpath after a brief semi-dryout in the Sunday sunshine was back to mud and mess again.
It being the last day we needed to look through a few boats for bathroom ideas and also just to let our imaginations run wild for a bit.

We saw another dutch-barge which you couldn't pay me to take - it was woeful; after that it was a couple of wide-beams which were back up to our imagination-standards - a lot of luxury and without a huge pricetag.

The last items that we had on our list were either purchased and crossed off, or simply crossed off with the wallet closed.

We had seen it all - or at least enough - we had come and walked and talked and spent.

A restful afternoon; then a walk up to the Red Lion for dinner - this eating out has to stop - it isn't helping the number on the scales.
Plans were made and confirmed for the Tuesday getaway.

It was a bit of a mixed bag on Tuesday morning - the sun was trying but the clouds and rain were winning, and we needed to head off.

Just about to untie and go but we had a boat approaching so we decided to wait and let them go first.

In what seemed the blink of an eye as we finally pushed off, the passing boat had found itself almost across the tunnel entrance - no idea what went wrong - help was offered but they said they were OK.

Entering the tunnel and adjusting your eyes to the darkness, we could easily see (and hear) that things were not completely OK - they were bumper boating with the sides of the tunnel and appeared just like novices.
Eventually we noticed a distinct lack of light in front of their boat - no tunnel light and consequently "flying" blind.
Diane, now at the front of Ferndale, offered help again and indistinctly heard a response that sounded like circuit-breakers - help was again declined, as the tunnel exit loomed large in front of them.

We were able to speak with them at the top of Watford Locks - they had just picked up the boat (new) from Crick show; she had no experience at all and he had a little but many years ago; all of their lights went out after they entered the tunnel and they couldn't find the circuit breaker(s) to fix them.
After helping them through the first lock, the lockkeeper helped them through the rest of the flight, whilst we along with Festina Lente just behind, followed them through.

A quick stop for water at the bottom before resuming; Norton Junction easily negotiated, as was Braunston Tunnel and the Braunston flight of locks and we moored up just after the waterpoint - a bit wet from the misty drizzle which had permeated through some of the outer layers.

Definitely time to not move any further.

What of the travellers with light problems - we saw them pass later on, with friends aboard, someone else steering and there was a bit of paint missing - she didn't look like a new boat anymore.

9 Miles, 13 Locks, 2 Tunnels

Totals: 2500 Miles, 1809  Locks, 81 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Gee, I spoil that girl

Wednesday 21st May to Friday 23rdMay 2014

Another "rest" day for us - you just know when I say rest, that it really isn't that, but at the end we both needed one.
Sun streaming in - enough to make
everyone happy

The right-hand side of the boat (some would say starboard, but I need to keep it simple for some), was the side away from the pontoon over winter and consequently was unable to be polished as much as one would like (read as neglected).

As a result it needed a good dose of T-cut to get the oxide layer off and then a damn-good waxing after that.

When we were in Aldi last weekend we noticed a good price on a 240V polisher (generally for cars, but boats are just a bit bigger and without wheels), so I bought it for her - after all I need to make life a little easier for the girl - and she appreciated too!

So she was now able to give it a try.

Firstly apply the T-cut with the polisher, then take it off with the polisher.

We thought we would give it a go without turning the engine on - instead relying on the power input from the panels.
collecting the sun and charging the batteries

The sun was out in full force and the amps were just flowing uninterrupted to the batteries, the voltage increasing just nicely - the polisher seemed to not be using a great deal.

Diane then thought she would hand apply the wax before buffing it up.

Midway through this, I made the mistake of going out way too early and almost put my foot in it - when asked the question "can you tell where I am up to?" , I gave an answer which suggested that the waxing part of it was having less than the desired outcome.
It simply was that the T-cutting had brought the gloss up so much from a low point that when viewed at a sharp angle it all looked good - viewed front on and it was much better after the wax.
spoilt girl!

A brilliant save - if I do say so myself.

The end result is a great finish; the polisher worked well with only a small power usage; and best is that the service life of the user has increased - which means that Diane keeps polishing and I keep out of her way - gotta love an outcome like that (I do)!

She managed to get her own back later on with her pointing out that the blacking needed some attention since she had last done it - I was sensible not to point it out that she had done the majority of locks since then due to her sore knee; needless, she pointed out that because her knee was sore from her doing the blacking she wouldn't be able to do it this time - no way out of that.

So on hands and knees and the starboard side (right hand side) was reblacked - and it looked good - I even had the extra set of eyes to tell me where I had missed - I didn't need Paul to tell me.
hard at work - you can see the effort by Diane earlier with that reflection

After all of that we managed to take it a little bit easy in the chairs outside - it had been a pretty good day.
The solar panels had done their job, but we suspect that the polisher may have taken a bit more out than we first thought. Given the amount that it needed to be used this time we were pleased not to have to start the engine.
Later on, it seemed that we were all out enjoying the late afternoon

The prospect of rain for Thursday suggested that any window of opportunity should not be overlooked - we needed to fill the water tank at Yelvertoft - to keep it topped up, especially after the on-route washing cycle that had been set in motion shortly after our release from the moorings.

The weather held, and so we decided that that last 2+ miles to Crick would be set as behind us as we headed to our mooring space and catching up with Sur and Undie (sorry that should be Sue and Andy).

Two smiling faces on Festina Lente greeted us - not sure if it was that they were glad to see us or they were happy with their upgraded moorings - hoping it was the former, but I suspect a bit of both.

They did wander down with Diane to our designated spot - which did seem closer to Braunston than Crick; we pulled Ferndale into the side - fortunately there was pilings to  moor up to; the plank came out for better access to the boat; tea was made and we chatted for a while.

The afternoon was a chance to do the necessary things like elsan duties and a general tidy up.

Later on we ventured up into the village for a meal at The Wheatsheaf - the ale was very nice indeed as was the meal and the decor of the pub. The menu was a bit limited for those who did not fancy beef, lamb or pork variants but we managed - managed well enough that we couldn't fit any dessert in (except for Andy, who declined to be the only one indulging).

who's that there!

In order to balance things up, we popped into The Red Lion on the way back for a quick pint - it was agreed that there was more atmosphere there and a look at the menu showed a lot more variety.

there seemed to be a bit of unusual colour to the sky

Friday came and even though we are in a fairly shaded spot, the light outside was bright enough and early enough (on a cloudy morning) to let us know that morning had arrived.

Work beckoned; Diane slept until it was coffee time; we both decided on a reasonable time for breakfast and also agreed on a bit of a walk.

The first part of said walk being along a public footpath through fields (some shared with cows) and on into Crick - we also were seeking out a third pub which the Nicholson's was  telling us was there. We found it and found out there was a craft and fayre market there on Sunday - so no doubt what we will be doing then.

We managed to find our way back via another public footpath and the towpath, with coffee at The Moorings - one of us enjoying a bacon and sausage bap in the process.

Our neighbours for the next few days all showed up this morning - the boat on the outside breasted up; the boat behind got themselves into the inch-measured spot with a little bit of jiggling and as boaters do when they get together stopped for a chat and in the process both batteries and toilets came up.

Sue, Andy, Diane and I were off for dinner over toWest Haddon to a pub called The Pytchley - SdandA having sampled the fine dining there last year.
Only problem was the getting there - at almost 3 miles it was too far to walk - so only way was to bus it there and taxi it back.
That would have been all fine and good - but the 20 minute wait for the bus just happened to coincide with the skies opening up and luckily there were a couple of umbrellas; the bus was late and just after we had given up and crossed the road to head back it appeared.
Frantic waving to the driver and he stopped - there were also some passengers getting off - we boarded, he knew where we wanted to go, the bus stopped outside the pub for us - all was well again.
The meals were all excellent - Andy and Diane enjoyed there steaks and Sue enjoyed her salad interspersed with some lamb chops and all at a reasonable price.

So taxi it back to Crick, and by this time the rain had stopped and it was a reasonable evening.
Off to the beer tent and the start of the entertainment for the boat show.

With 46 ales and 9 ciders on offer there was only one way to approach this - methodically, which is how Andy did it - from the top; Diane started the ciders from the bottom; Sue and I were randomly picking numbers.

We were joined by another couple Diana and Roger - there was room at the end of the table and they were in need of some seats.
They are not yet boaters but wish to be, so a lot of the conversation was about what we liked best, what we would change, what we would add, places we had stayed, problems and I seem to recall there was some talk about toilets - welcome to the club.
No doubt we will see you both over the next few days.

All the while the entertainment was going on, but not without us also appreciating it all and of course another ale in hand.

Eventually at a time past our usual time, we headed back to the boats.

Here's to another three days of the same.

10 Miles

Totals: 2491 Miles, 1796  Locks, 79 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Where was the rain that was promised?

Tuesday 20th May2014

With time on our side to reach Crick by Friday morning, we have been keeping a eye on the weather apps and also the weather reports on the BBC.

Feeding one of the locals before heading off

They were all reporting rain for Tuesday, with the likelihood of it being clear during late morning.
Our plans were set; after a bit of a shower that really wouldn't have wet anything we headed off - our plan being to cruise on a not so brilliant day so that the following sunny day we would be able to take another rest day and let the panels charge the batteries.

Off we went, leaving the moorings at the top of Foxton Locks; it was warm enough for the shorts to be on - this was tempered with the fleece keeping the upper parts a bit warm.

The previous day after mooring up I had needed to go down the weedhatch to remove a fair length of fishing line which had managed to attract a bit of rubbish with it; so as we were moving today there were some times when we thought that I may not have got it all or something else was hanging on, which made steering difficult at times.

can anyone tell me the name of this tree?

just so cute!

So much so that we needed to stop and check - nothing found and everything was OK after that - whatever it was, may have dropped off when we pulled over - I don't think I imagined the problem.

scenery like this makes it just simply lovely to be cruising

It was only a 7-mile run today and just nearing the entrance to Husbands Bosworth Tunnel there was a familiar boat approaching - with the familiar figures of Jean and Andy (nb Josephine) - no time or space to stop, just slow right down and the friendly hellos and goodbyes that transpire when we are both moving in opposite directions.

Slower after the tunnel due to moored boats, but no problems; we were moored up at Welford Junction, where will spend 2 nights.
at Welford Junction - virtually on our own (there was one boat in front)

Strangely, and I say strangely, as we were not expecting it, for the rest of the day (apart from a little cloud) the sun remained out.

So, where was the rain?

7 Miles, 1 Tunnel

Totals: 2481 Miles, 1796  Locks, 79 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Monday, 19 May 2014

Efficient people don't make excuses - they do the job !

Friday 16th  May to Monday 19th May 2014

The rest finally came and we had a bit of a day off - when I say we I really mean the management.
Us plebs are always busy - got through the sitting down and tapping at the computer work stuff; then there was the weekly engine checks (still fine);  the weekly battery checks - this was the first real one since the panels went in, and with the engine not switched on at all, the batteries were AOK.
At SmeetonWesterby

Almost doesn't look big enough for a boat, let alone 2 to pass

No fences between her and the cows...

...yes, these ones

After all of that I had a bit of a sit down to rest before we called it a day and went inside before some of the bugs rested on us.
these guys, along with mum and dad joined us 

The planned BBQ was postponed - there didn't seem much point cooking on it for just one of us whilst the other wasn't feeling the best - so Diane still cooked her things but in the oven.

Saturday was moving day - Market Harborough being the end point - Debdale Wharf the intermediate stop.
We only needed to saunter down the 1-2 miles to Debdale Marina, having left earlyish, we made it for 9 o'clock  - trouble was that they didn't open until 10am.

Not a problem - moored up, kettle on, sun was out, book out and enjoy.

An hour can go very quickly sometimes under the right circumstances.

As was promised, the lovely lady of the marina (whose name I will learn sometime) arrived and everything was underway.
Our needs of diesel and a fresh gas bottle were relatively insignificant compared to the occupants of another boat moored in front - their 4 leisure batteries had given up the ghost and needed replacing - they were hoping that new ones (of the right type) could be sourced and fitted as well.

For us it was about a 20 minute exercise; the natives were all very friendly indeed - I had earlier been chatting to a chap who had been to Oxford and back (a 4 week trip) and whilst waiting for me to part with the payment for services well delivered, Diane was talking to a guy named Steve (off nb Rodanty) about many many things, but none of them related to toilets (as she explained to me).

So then onto Market Harborough - with only just over 6 miles to cruise and a couple of swing bridges to get through, the sun high enough to be warming in a summery way, we felt the first signs of a lovely summer on their way, and moored up just after 1pm.

Our first need was to venture down into town and find Boots where Diane's prescriptions should be ready for pick up - well they would have been if the person to whom she had spoken about getting them there had made a note of it all. Seems that the scripts arrived from the doctor but they didn't know anything about them - they rang the surgery who didn't check their own records - the very same on-line information where Diane had meticulously completed all of the information - but no, their reply was for the pharmacy to send the prescriptions back.

Diane wasn't very happy about all of the explanations from the pharmacy but a bit more pleased with their solution to order everything she needed and they would contact the surgery on Monday morning.
I sat back and didn't get involved as I know that I would not have been complimentary about the ineptitude of the whole thing.

After all of that we decided to have lunch at one of the local eateries - Zizzi - where the attention to what we needed was the antipathy of that shown earlier. The lady looking after us was absolutely fabulous - and you do not mind the bill (and showing suitable appreciation) if the food is excellent and the service is of a high standard - which it all was.

The FA Cup Final beckoned and we settled down to see if Hull could do a similar job on Arsenal as Wigan had achieved a year ago - sadly it ended 3-2 against Hull, but it was an extremely entertaining match - we felt sorry for Joan and Jim (nb Two Jays) who are long time Hull supporters.

Another rest day on Sunday - but there seemed a need to do a bit of shopping along the way, prior to lunch out.
So many people were about and with another glorious day, who could blame them.

Diane enjoyed her roast lunch, but I have been hit by a familiar stomach bug again and even the soup on its own held no appeal. It doesn't seem to affect me other than within 10 paces of any food - just as well because there was a little work that needed doing which was finished - Diane carefully and intently holding down the sunchair on the towpath whilst I got through with it.

That morning I caught up with the intrepid couple that we had met at Debdale Marina in need of new batteries. The guy was very happy with the outcome - 4 new batteries supplied and fitted for a very good price - no fuss, no problems - you have to appreciate people who know what they are doing and do it well.

And so to Monday - when will this weather end - apparently it will be Tuesday if the reports are correct, but for now we will take it.
glorious cruising

and the countryside looks good as well

Cruising to the junction; take on some water; ready to climb the Foxton locks;  let the lockies know we are there - "you can come in straight away" - and we were set - a little over an hour later, no fuss at all and we were up through the locks, moored up and Diane had the washing fluttering in the breeze and we were walking down to the pub - Bridge 61 Inn.
one of the prettiest scenes anywhere

Resting in the comfy sofa, looking out through the opened windows - a drink and a light bite - the hard work was worth it - if only Diane's food order had not been forgotten - she had to chase it up.
Later on sitting out on the towpath with the last of the warm sun still about, with just about nothing at all to be concerned about - reflecting on all that the last few days have given us.

We have a lot to be thankful about!

14 Miles, 10 Locks, 4 Swing Bridges

Totals: 2474 Miles, 1796  Locks, 78 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 151 Swing Bridges

Thursday, 15 May 2014

When the rest finally comes!

Tuesday 13th May to Thursday 15th May 2014

Our plan was to take it a little bit easy on Tuesday - a rest day, if you like - that's a day where you don't do too much at all - that is the theory, right?

She had a bit of a hankering for a Chinese meal so we ventured back from whence we had been the day before - having seen a lovely buffet available - The Real China - not so sure that the name necessarily was an accurate reflection, but the food tasted pretty good and the price was also good.

After that we needed to get a bit of exercise in and walk off some of the food we had just consumed. Diane's old phone needed to be unlocked, as this will be the one we will use back in Australia later in the year - probably also in New Zealand and the US.
We found a place to get it done; left it whilst they sorted it out; went to another phone shop to find a new case for her (the first one didn't have any for that model).

It had been suggested to us to take a look at the New Walk section of Leicester for the Georgian architecture - as this involved a bit of a walk we looked at it favourably - the "street" itself is lovely - it really is a "walk" - no traffic at all with the houses and buildings facing out onto the street; visited a museum there - a mixture of many things without any in great detail.
The architecture was Georgian for some of the buildings but really a bit of a hotch-potch of styles.

We wandered back to pick up the phone and then found our way back to the boat to collapse and rest.

The following morning after a quick trip to Tesco (to replenish the milk reserves) we upped ropes and headed off.
We were a bit in pursuit of a boat that preceded us by 5 minutes so that we could share the locking with them.
We managed to just catch them as they were about to exit the first lock and thereafter shared the remaining 11 for the day on our way to Kilby Bridge.
On the other boat (a hire boat) were Mum (never did find out her name) with partner Dave and her son, Tom and girlfriend Gemma. They had set off from King's Lock earlier in the morning towards Leicester so that Mum could see the city, turned once they got there and started heading back (that was when we saw them) with the intention of making it to Market Harborough - by our calculations this was something like 24 miles and 28 locks (double locks at that).
It all is starting to look lovely again in the spring sunshine

We enjoyed the travel with them as far as Kilby Bridge and wished them well on their quest.
Kilby Bridge services

We needed to rest, water up and use the elsan (not necessarily in that order); the eagle-eyed skipper spotted a lunch-time special at the pub and for ₤12 we had lunch and drinks and shared a dessert.

The rest of the day was just that - rest.

Thursday came - blue sky, warm sunny conditions - perfect for a little cruising.
We noticed after we had set off that one of the boats moored up the previous night and pointed our way, had left already - no likelihood of any locks in our favour.
They were all big and heavy and with almost half of them having top gates that wanted to stay open the progress was slow.

Eventually we were through the 12 locks and with the Saddington Tunnel negotiated we were ready to moor up just after the Smeeton Aqueduct, on the off-side (where we stayed last year) - and will spend 2 nights here as well.

With those 24 heavy locks behind there will be 2 of us looking forward to a bit of rest.

16 Miles, 24 Locks, 1 Tunnel

Totals: 2460 Miles, 1786  Locks, 78 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 147 Swing Bridges

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

What a Load of #$&^@% Rubbish

Sunday 11th May to Monday 12thMay 2014

Headed off from Loughborough, a bit windy, cloudy and chance of rain - not a chance really - it started not long after we started.

Still it was brief and with the birthday girl inside, it was only the crew that got a bit wet.

It was a nice pleasant cruise down to the first lock and by then the sun, as well as the skipper, had emerged.

We needed water so the Barrow Mill Basin was in an ideal location and especially so, because the cafe was open and no sooner had we tied up than she was in with her order for a sausage and bacon bap. After I got the water filling I declined on anything.

We encountered a group of young guys on a charity walk from Nottingham to Leicester - a distance of 50 miles, of which 30 were already down and the last 20 heading south were within their grasp.

Soon enough we were off and by Mountsorrel we had almost caught up with another boat (nb Rocquette) - they were exiting as we arrived - so it was nice to see them waiting at the next lock ready for us both to go up.

the weir before Cossington Lock - the river is flowing quite well
Cossington Lock was almost a disaster - as Diane was bringing the boat towards the lock she was struck with something around the prop - her gesticulations were not conveying the same meaning to me about the extent of the problem as she intended - never-the-less she managed to get into the lock and we agreed to clear it there and then which happened without any delay and we were off.

At Junction Lock we waited for two boats to exit, the second of these was nb Ophelia which was attended by Ann and Ken - Ann gave a friendly recognition that she read the blog - hope that you both are enjoying your time out for the week.

We moored at Syston - this being Sunday and her birthday and Mothers Day (in Australia) - I thought that I probably should take her out for lunch - the venue this day being The Hope and Anchor.

The menu was extensive, the meal was satisfactory without threatening the The Cotton Arms (at Wrenbury).

Despite some outside noise from the relatively near A road, we heard nothing inside and had a very peaceful night.

In the morning the weather reports were consulted and with rain impending just before lunch we decided that we would leave early to get into Leicester and hopefully a mooring at the Castle pontoon.

Today was very pleasant cruising with the evenly spaced locks, less wind than yesterday and the sun trying to find it's way through the cloud.

Since our out and back in the water repair job last week, we have certainly noticed that the boat is performing much better - the turning and responsiveness is much better (Diane was saying that she was exactly the same).

no explanation needed!
Once we hit the urbanised area of the canal - from Belgrave Lock - the level of rubbish increased exponentially - and just before Limekiln lock we came to a shuddering halt - well at least the engine did - the boat continued to drift.

the start of the rubbish - at least will by-pass the canal
Down the weedhatch and cleared a bagful of rubbish - started up and into gear - we moved about 5 metres and the engine stopped again.

1st load of rubbish

Down again with the right arm into the water - another bagful - prop cleared again - everything back together - started up, into gear, lurched forward but with no real speed - the language (at least in my mind) was unprintable.

2nd load of rubbish
We managed to get to the lock mooring so that I could have another look.

A third bag full of a mixture of cloth, clothes, plastic and other rubbish that did not belong in the canal at all.

3rd and final load - can't be much left - I've cleared their bloody canal
Leicester might be celebrating Mark Selby winning the snooker world championship and the Foxes winning the Championship, but rest assured the city should hang it's head in shame at the way that it decides to get rid of so much rubbish.
Leicester has been the worst of the major cities that we have visited so far.

Third time lucky; the prop stayed clear and we made it round under West Bridge to find the Castle moorings clear except for one boat.

fancy bringing the young 'uns up amongst all of the rubbish

We also beat the rush, as not long after, the boat that was there left and we were quickly joined by 3 others which filled the available space.

Despite everything else there are some lovely views around Leicester

if you have the mind to come this way it can be very nice indeed
As is now usual, we headed out for a bit of a re-familiarisation of the city.

We did the walking thing and on our way back we strayed into John Lewis for a timer for the kitchen - not finding one we liked we thought we might just check out the EE store and what deal we could get on a new phone.

If only we had bought the timer in John Lewis, but she does like her new iPhone.

the boat down below on the Castle Garden moorings

16 Miles, 10 Locks

Totals: 2444 Miles, 1762  Locks, 77 Tunnels, 32 Lift Bridges, 147 Swing Bridges