Thursday, 27 August 2015

Birstall and beyond

We stayed two nights at Birstall, intending to spend some time in Leicester, exploring the town and visiting the Richard III exhibition near the Cathedral. We also wanted to have a good Indian meal out. But only the last of the three was achieved.

I went into Leicester yesterday and was disappointed that the road works, building works and crush of people was such that I felt quite overwhelmed by the noise and bustle. So exploring the city centre wasn’t proving to be a pleasure and there just seemed to be shops, shops and more shops. I was impressed tho with the clock tower in the centre.

I made my way, eventually, to the cathedral and found the building where the Richard III exhibition was on show. To me the best bit was the sand sculpture being built outside the foyer. But I am getting ahead of myself. 
This sculpture was being constructed out of damp sand. The young woman doing it was amazingly talented.

I was really looking forward to the exhibition as I was sure that the view of him would have been amended - the Shakespeare play that is how many of us were introduced to him, while an excellent drama, suffers a severe deficit of truth from being based on the fictitious account of Richard’s perfidy put about by Henry VII who wrested the throne from Richard’s rightful heir.

But on entry, after paying £7, one of the first things I saw, stated as fact, was that the princes went missing during Richard’s reign. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

So I left, feeling very disappointed. The young woman at the desk told me, when I grumped a bit, that they had presented both sides of the story and were leaving people to make up their own minds. That would be fine, if one view wasn’t already proven to be untrue.

I freely admit that I didn’t give it a fair suck of the saveloy, as the gross saying goes in NZ. So if any reader has viewed it all and came away with the impression that Richard was wrongly accused and poorly treated by Henry VII and the history as promulgated from that point, I would be interested to hear from you. Honest, I would!

I think my sensitivity about Richard isn’t about him so much, but about how history is always written by the victor, and is in many cases recorded to justify inhumanity, dishonesty, oppression, rape and pillage – find a word to describe poor behaviour and add it.


So there was only one of the three wishes remaining. And last night we went to a wonderful Indian restaurant in Birstall. It’s called The Dining Room and the food was wonderful – and beautifully presented. They are a BYO restaurant, so you can take your own alcohol, as they don’t sell any. That is a good saving, given the mark up on it in restaurants. It’s a very popular concept in NZ, but we don’t see it much over here. By the way, there is an off licence right next door so you don't even have to carry your booze far ...
David's samosas - don't they look delish? The third one is atop the other two and is supporting the salad. I have never seen such lovely presentation in an Indian restaurant.

My onion bhajis - also delicious. They are sitting on some yoghurt and the brown heart-shaped garnish was a mix of something with wasabi, I think. Just yummy! I don't usually want to eat the salad garnish but that was begging to be eaten, so I obliged.
This morning we decided to move on from Birstall. Our original intention had been to stay there over the Bank Holiday. But yesterday John and Vanessa told us that they had been informed by a CRT guy that the mooring is only 48 hours. There is no signage stating any time limit so we had assumed 14 days. However we weren’t surprised at the 48 hour limit, as it is a lovely place and would be very popular with boaters wanting to avoid mooring in Leicester.

So I went off to the Coop while David tidied inside and readied the boat (aerial down, pram cover down, fenders up, third rope untied). A full granny trolley and 40 minutes later I returned, and did the engine checks – I am in charge of keeping the solenoid screw thingie tightened so while I am down there I might as well check the oil, the gearbox, the stern-gland greaser. One thing I cannot reach to do without severe contortions is empty the container David has under the stern-gland, and I am excused weed hatch duty as well, in the main. If the water is really cold then I am the weed hatch queen, as David seems to suffer more than I do from its painful effects. He’s obviously a more sensitive soul than I am.

Our plan was to get water and moor up just after the Thurmaston lock but while filling with water (a palaver in itself as the water point was invisible – turned out to be behind a boat moored and taking on water) the woman told us that the guy moored on the visitor moorings had two large, unrestrained dogs that poop all along the mooring. Ah, no thanks. So on we came to alongside the Watermead Park. We have armco, man-made lakes (former gravel pits) over the hedge, walkers and their nice dogs coming past, a wide open mooring that allows the batteries to be topped up for free by the sun. And to make it even better there are blackberries also available for free!
Our mooring. David is relaxing while I am on photo duty. Shortly after this photo was taken a woman came along with her lovely red setter called Kia. Although not spelled the same, they named her after the kea in NZ - they got her after a trip there and decided she was just as cheeky as the NZ kea. She seemed very demure to us as she sat and waited patiently for her owner while we all chatted.

We went for a walk around one of the lakes and the park is beautiful. There are a few representations of dinosaurs at various points which I've just discovered on Wikipedia is because a fossilised ice age mammoth was discovered there when the site was a quarry!

I reckon there's a lots more walks to be explored as long as the weather holds over the weekend.
One of the little 'beaches' - lots of goose poo so I wouldn't be letting kids swim in it, but maybe I am just too careful. At each wee beach and in between, there are seats for people to sit and enjoy the views. It is called King Lear Lake as it is believed that Lear was buried under the River Soar which is very close by.

This bridge goes over the river and links a couple of the lakes. We met a couple, the woman of whom has the same bike as David. He got some info from her husband, and we have decided to buy a basket for the bike too - he'll be able to carry the windlass, the cord and anything else required. Her front mudguard is held on with the brackets being positioned close to the bottom of the mudguard. That is going to be actioned on board Waka Huia tomorrow, I think.
This statue is of King Lear kneeling over the body of his murdered youngest daughter Cordelia. I cannot remember who the two men are. Will update this when I go there again tomorrow.

So all going well, we are here for a few days. The towpath is wide enough for the table and chairs, and the canal/river is wide enough for boats to by-pass us easily. We seem to have got the only decently deep part, as another boat tried to moor up as we were returning from a walk, and they kept getting grounded.

David has been busy this afternoon – it is amazing what fasting will do to a man anxious to keep his mind active and engaged and not thinking about food … It was a bit disconcerting for me tho, as he has been using the tools - including my battery drill!
The tools are out. Take no notice of the bike being upside down - it's easier to store inside that way ...

The result is that he has fitted the second telescopic aerial pole to the front of the cratch, removed the clumsy looking block of wood that was keeping the original pole off the foredeck, and we now have a pole for the TV aerial and a pole for the internet booster thingie. 
He is rather pleased with himself, and justifiably so! (Those of you who know him will see that his belly has reduced significantly.)

Who is that man? Maybe he's channelling my dad, as that is my dad's shirt he's wearing!
David behind bars ...

Next thing is to get him on to participating on sanding and painting the rust spots … He has said we should start at separate ends of the boat for that task and meet in the middle, but I reckon with the weather situation, we are better to have one of us sanding and the other getting the bare metal covered immediately.

We do need to get on to it, as there’s not much time left.


Jenny said...

Hi Marilyn
I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Richard 111 - he was very loyal to his brother King Edward 1V. And I don't believe that he ordered the deaths of the young princes either. My view is that "someone else" may well have had them killed, thinking that Richard would be pleased. But it always haunted him - I believe, as he had earlier pledged support for them. That's my view, anyway.
In case you haven't guessed, I'm a bit of fan of royalty history.

Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Jenny, Have you read "Daughter of Time" by Josephine Tey? It seems to prove that the princes actually didn't go missing till after Richard died. As pretty much all of his family and supporters were put to death by Henry VII afterwards, the case seems fairly clear that the latter wanted to be sure there would be no resurgence of Plantagenets ...
I've never been much of a history buff - it needs more of an eye and ear for detail and names (with different ones for the same things ...) than I have the patience for. But my Aunt Daphne was a Ricardian, and I picked up an interest i this particular aspect from her.
Glad to read on your blog that the weather is warming up - I am looking forward to seeing how my garden has coped and if the severely trimmed camellias have fought their way back! Big hugs, Mx

Ray Eddington said...

Hi Marilyn. Loved your saying about sucking the sav. Makes us think of New Zealand.
Ray & Leonie (Firefly NZ)

Ray Eddington said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Marilyn McDonald said...

Hi Ray and Leonie, Good to hear from you! Have to admit you were in my mind when I wrote that ...How are you doing? Mx