Friday 14 September 2018

Kindness and grumpiness in a period of less than 20 hours ...

And on Wednesday evening at Kilby Bridge while the four of us were eating the meatballs in mushroom and onion gravy (augmented with more mushrooms, a salad and pasta), a woman came past the boat looking a bit lost. She knocked on the window and asked if there was a David on the boat - 'yes,'I said, 'here he is'. It turned out she is Dale's wife - Dale of the horse rescue team. He had asked her to bring some ciders for David and flowers for me.
David with a couple of the gifted ciders - Julia claimed the one closest to the camera as it wasn't a fruit one ...

An orchid for me - how lovely!

Now how kind is that? Thank you, Dale, much appreciated! I gave Dale's wife the address of the blog, so I hope that she and Dale, Mark and Nigel have read about their good work!

Later I wondered why the horse had given up trying to stay in the water, and thought that maybe the big reverse thrust that swished water around its hind quarters made it think that the canal wasn't so benign after all. So if there was going to be any more swirling it had best be out of there! Do horses know the word 'benign'?

We moved on from Kilby Bridge yesterday morning heading for Fleckney. There are about 12 locks to climb through in a couple of flights - not all of them are close together, but they are certainly good to be using the bikes between. So David and Julia set off on wheels while Mick and I brought the boats along.
David on the folding bike - both he and Julia managed to get punctures in the same patch of towpath. Both fixed by Mick while we were in two separate locks - he's speedy gonzales at puncture repairs. He said Julia once got 6 punctures in a day - CRT must have been chopping but not clearing hawthorn bushes or brambles or something similar ...

At the first lock we caught up to a single hander and I asked him if he'd be prepared to let us through and our land-based crew would crack each lock for him as we left it - that would help him and would mean we could move along speedily. David and Julia were happy to assist him, and in some cases one of them waited for him, opened the gate, closed it and started filling the lock so he could climb up and finish off. That made his life easier and didn't delay us at all - mainly because David and Julia are very efficient.

All was going well until we came to Spinney Lock, where three things combined to cause hassles - in particular for me. Mick was in the lead with Julia at the lock, David was cleaning up at the lock behind us and emptying the lock for our single-handing friend. The lock we were approaching had a boat coming into it from above:
  • there were two boats in the lock above that whose skippers didn't want to wait to let us come through and hence only use one lock-load of water, but came down the lock with the result that the short pound was overflowing with water cascading over the lockgates in front of us before the boat got in and Julia could close the gates;
  • there was a boat tied up on the lock landing - AAARRRGGGHHH!!! And not only that, the boater had a mooring rope tied across the the path to the fence!!! That really riled me up, as it's the sort of thing that David would not see, especially while on his bike - if he'd ridden into it, he would have been tipped off. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!
  • Mick managed to get in in front of him, but there was no space behind it for me to tie up, so I jumped off to hold the boat in to the shore (unable to tie up). However then the lock started to empty and I couldn't pull the boat in to shore, and what's more I couldn't hold it steady - it started moving backwards to where I could not get back on it. I had to call for Mick to come and help haul it in.
  • when he came up across the bridge yelling at me and asking what my problem was and what business of mine it was where he moored, the resulting altercation (almost all my own work - not my finest hour) was loud and forceful with him ending up throwing my water glass into the stern area of my boat and telling me I was a shit, telling Mick (as I steered out of the lock) that all women are mouthy but I was worse than most (probably not wrong there)
  • interestingly he had three explanations for why he was moored on the lock landing:
    • his engine was bust (David)
    • he arrived late the previous night and his hip was bad (me)
    • he arrived late and his back was bad and he hadn't woken till the first boat went through (that boat had set off from Kilby Bridge about half an hour before we did) (Mick)
      • so if he'd woken when the first boat came through (probably about 10.30 - not the crack of dawn by any stretch), what stopped him getting up and moving then? Was it perhaps because he lacks consideration for the rules and for other people?
So a raucous display - I could have handled it better, and I usually do. No excuses, and I must improve ... One thing I could have done was to stay well back from the lock and hover rather than getting off and attempting to hold the boat. I would still have been angry about the rope across at shoulder height, but would have been less stressed if I hadn't had to haul the boat back to the side.

Still hindsight is a wonderful thing, and at least I know that I don't scare easily, even when faced with a big angry shouting man.

Wednesday 12 September 2018

Who's got the list?

Well, at 3am it was us apparently, although I didn't notice till I got up to go for a pee at about 4.30.

David told me then that he'd tightened the ropes too much after the horse adventure, but at 6am I went out to loosen the back rope (in my nightie and jandals) and realised the water level was down substantially on last night and we were grounded. So it wasn't the ropes.

I suggested that David head down on the bike to the lock behind us to check if the paddles or gates were open. While he was finishing getting dressed, getting the bike out, sorting out the required equipment,  I went up to check that the paddles on the lock in front of us were all down. Yes they were.

So off David went on the bike, found that the top gates were both wide open and the leaky bottom gates were draining the pound and marooning us, not very high and not very dry. He sorted that by letting some water out of the lock: sometimes, as boaters will tell you, the gates open because they are lightly balanced and need a bit of water pressure in front of (or behind them) to stay closed.

Back he came, and then we got to work getting the boat off the bottom. Ropes undone, front pushed off and floating free but the back was stuck. We did a number of 'on the count of 3' David pushing and me leaning out on the offside. After 4 giant coordinated heaves, off we came. I was pleased as it was faster and less faff than letting water down from the lock.

As we rose up in Double Rail Lock (aka Horse Falls Lock), I looked across the paddock and there was the protagonist in yesterday's adventures happily munching away on grass with its mates - interestingly they were all quite a way from the lock.
'Our' horse is on the left

I think it was saying 'Be off with you, you interfering woman.' But I cannot see a band-aid on its leg, so clearly it's OK.
As we arrived at Kilby Bridge we tied up as the service point was occupied, but just as we were almost done the second boat pulled away, so we untied (I bravely left the chain behind in the armco) and scooted over to do a pumpout, empty the elsan, get rid of rubbish - no recycling bins, boo - and fill with water. I also took the opportunity to sluice off the roof. A cream roof takes more care than a black one, I note...

We are now moored up awaiting Mick and Julia. Julia phoned a couple of hours ago to let us know the boat was grounded - she was on the towpath, Mick was onboard and going nowhere. I called back a bit later and they were on the move and through Whetstone Lock, so we expect them to arrive in the not too distant future.

It's dinner on Waka Huia tonight. I have made meatballs in a mushroom and onion gravy, but I fear there's not enough, so it may have to be entree. I will check the freezer for more culinary delights to become a main dish.

Update: Mick and Julia arrived after a two hour delay being grounded between two locks further down the cut. By the time the CRT guys arrived to let water through, they were in Whetstone Lock and OK. Julia tells me that the horses were back over at the lock by the time they came through, so clearly they were not too psychologically scarred by the experience - unless of course, it's a case of when, as a horse, you fall off a lock, you get straight back on again ...

Tuesday 11 September 2018

Horsing around near Kilby Bridge

Yesterday morning David appealed to my better nature (yes, I do have one) and asked if we could move off into the countryside, even though we had agreed to stay in Leicester another two nights so we could go back to the lovely Indian restaurant, Jamal. I agreed on condition that he let Mick and Julia know without a tea-towel over his head, instead of relying on me to be the bearer of the news.

So we left Leicester and headed further south.
Above the lock at Aylestone. I didn't get off the boat to look at it, but on the horizontal beams it says Aylestone Globe. If the cut is close to the Enterprise Rental Car office at Aylestone, I will walk down and have a look when I pick up the car week after next.
There in the centre is the first pair of autumnal trees I've seen so far this season.

At first we both kept making stupid mistakes - me in the boat and David at the locks - we were sharing locks with a small narrowboat, probably no more than 25 feet long. And for some reason, I had lost my usual good sense:
  • at one point on a series of tight bends I managed to get too close to the bank on the starboard side and lost the water, so ended up getting caught on the other bank as well!
  • at one lock, I had forgotten that the water came out of this particular one in a helluva rush, and I'd come up too close to it hoping to hover and not have to pull in to the indented lock moorings. Result: the boat was pushed all over the bloody auction! And I had to get over to said indented side to pull it in, anyway. GGGRRR!!! Excessively stupid on my part!
Things did improve though, and for David this occurred at Kings Lock when he got the bike off the foredeck and cycled between locks. And my performance improved then too. I think it was an acclimatisation thing - for the last few weeks, we've boated in close formation with Mick and Julia, and we had an established pattern that worked beautifully. Without them, we both tanked for a while until we got back into our own rhythm ... While the small boat was roped in the locks fore and aft, I found that if I stayed back and had the little boat centred against me, I could hold Waka Huia steady and not smash across the lock at all.

I even managed to cruise at tickover between Gees and Whetstone locks without grounding - something neither Mick or I managed on our way down the Soar a few weeks ago. The water level is a bit higher in that pound now than it was then - CRT have been letting water down, I understand from the volunteers at Kings Lock.

We decided to call it quits two locks before Kilby Bridge (before Double Rail Lock) - by the time we would have got to Kilby Bridge moorings, it was odds on there'd be no spaces left for a 62 foot boat, and I'd previously flagged on the Memory Map app that the moorings below this lock looked lovely. So here we are, in the countryside, no traffic noise, no sirens, no hooning motorcyclists. Just lovely!

However that does not mean to say that the boat hasn't moved today ...

At one point early this arvo (when I was still in my nightie - OK, I'd been out of bed for hours but was busy on all sorts of stuff on the net, talking on Skype to my lovely sister, ...) David called out to me that there was a horse in the canal in front of us.

The horse apparently had fallen into the lock beside an exiting boat - so a fall of about 7 foot!

The boater wasn't particularly patient, although his crew were, and he sort of herded the horse ahead of him, past us. He did stop when I asked him to, and two of his crew were on shore trying to coax it out of the water with carrots. However the horse was having none of it - it seemed to be happy enough, alternately swimming and eating reeds from within the water.

The woman had called the SPCA, who had registered it as an urgent call, but they never turned up - no wonder really, as it's a fair way from a road.

David went off with a rope, and I used the Mack truck horn to signal to a coupe of guys in tractors across the cut (quite close to where the horse had gone in). They came over and we had a shouted conversation. They tried to get in touch with the owners but they are in Spain currently. So three workers from the farm came over. David came back for a longer rope, some apples and a lettuce to try and tempt it out of the water. I decided I had to see the action, so locked up the boat and off I went down the towpath - complete with phone for photos.

As I arrived, one guy (Nigel) was preparing to go into the water to try and get a rope over the horse's head. I was put in charge of his phone, wallet and vapor smoke thing.

David and Nigel are watching from the bank while Mark and Dale (both out of shot) were trying to coax it out of the water before it disappeared through the second bridge away from its home paddock. If we didn't do something it might have gone to Leicester!

Nah, I like it in here just fine.

Sensible Nigel went in with his shoes on. But see how shallow the canal is?
 After some time, the horse decided it would head back whence it came, and we agreed that it would be better to try and get it out on its own side of the canal, otherwise getting it back to its field would be a bugger - I'd be willing to bet it couldn't walk across the lock gates 😝😜, and the only other alternative would have been walking it along the towpath and up the road to Wigston to the road leading to its farm - and that would have been impossible with all of the very fast traffic that comes through there.

Mark and David following the horse back towards the lock. Still one bridge to get through to be within coo-ee of its paddock. I'm not sure how effective baling twine would have been. But David went back to the boat and appeared again with a 15 metre rope - fortunately we have lots of ropes on Waka Huia - even more ropes than hoses ... (in joke, folks)

Still looking quite strong and at least on the correct side of the cut!

Nigel crossed the bridge to be on the same side as the horse's field - a brave thing to do as its approach was overgrown with brambles and nettles and I am fairly sure its length was overgrown too. And he was in short sleeves - clearly not a townie like us! David had considered crossing it before the guys arrived and decided it was impassable - sensible man!

As the horse seemed to be considering going for another swim in the direction of away from its own field, I suggested that perhaps I could block it from moving too far by jamming the boat across the canal. So a quick untie, and tiller on, and with the pram cover still up, I set off to get the bow on to the armco and the stern into the reeds on the offside. Mark was on the bow and Nigel was in the field, and they both had ropes.

There's Dale on the towpath, Mark on the bow, Nigel in the field, David behind the camera. You cannot see me because I had my head around the side of the pram-cover, steering. Oh says the horse, so that's the way it's going to be, is it? All right, you bastards, I'll show you!

The horse wasn't stupid  it could see that there was no escape and a successful bid for waterborne freedom was diminishing, so it found a clear patch on the bank and hauled itself up into the field and trotted away to join its friends.

OK, we know it may well have done this on its own. But with a few boats moving, it wasn't likely that it would make its way back to home base without encouragement.

So we are all taking the credit for its rescue - please don't burst our bubble!

The farm guys had the vet coming out to check it over as it had damaged one leg on falling in to the lock.

We are heading up the Double Rail lock tomorrow, so it'll be interesting to see if the horses come to visit us as they did last year. See this post:   We photographed today's horse last year too ...

Sunday 9 September 2018

We're definitely heading south now

We made it to Birstall on Friday so that we could go to The Dining Room Indian restaurant here on Saturday. David and I went there a couple of years ago and thought it was great. And the reviews still seem to be good. I hope it lives up to our recommendations as Mick and Julia are fiends for Indian food, and we won't live it down if it's not up to par! Sunday note: Yes it did live up to expectations – a very good place, and what is really neat is that you can take your own alcohol. That is a big saving. Last night, just for food, we paid £80, inc tip, for the four of us and we all had poppadoms, starters and mains, and there were a couple of naans as well.

Just heard some people on a boat going past saying "Cor, that's a nice boat, innit? Unknown No 3" - so not talking about Waka Huia then ... Not to worry, a replica working boat does look far more impressive, there is no denying that!

The first instance this season of boating in the rain occurred for us as we reached the outskirts of Loughborough on Thursday - David and Julia had walked on, so when the rain started I couldn't get my coat (or get David to fetch it). I got colder as I got wetter, and more grumpy with and about the single boater who slipped his mooring as soon as he saw we were about to leave the waterpoint at Bishop Meadow Lock, then seemed to be travelling at dead-slow or stop and took at least three weeks to get to and into the lock (that's three weeks for each operation) and then he took (even with David's and Julia's help) a further 4 weeks to leave the damn thing. Mick said all he could hear from behind him as we waited in the rain was me yelling the same phrase as the fisherman had yelled at me at Sawley facilities area - also in full ... My bad! I was so pleased there were moorings available for us outside the former Albion pub, as I was past moving any further!

We were going to stay in Loughborough overnight on Friday but the forecast was for rain all day so we left late morning, after I'd been to the osteopath. A five hour cruise to Birstall, with me anxious about whether there'd be moorings. Quelle surprise! The moorings were totally empty when we got here. But within 5 minutes of our mooring up, two boats came in from the opposite direction and took two spaces and a third boat turned up not long after.

I could have put another coat of paint on the runnels after we moored, but I thought the call of sitting down was imperative (having just spent £50 on the osteopathic treatment that morning and then spent 5 hours standing and steering); so out came the chairs and the ciders and chardonnay and we found a sunny patch. Unfortunately the house right next where we were moored had 3 dogs who were all barking and distressed – the owners weren't home and the dogs were outside. As four former dog owners, we tried talking to them in a soothing way, but to very little avail. They did stop when David tossed almonds over the wall to them, but soon resumed. We chatted with a couple walking their dog who said it was a common occurrence there. My hunch is that owners generally don't know it occurs, because as soon as the dogs hear the car come down the street, they stop, anxiety over as the pack leader is home.

However after trying verbally to allay the dogs' anxiety, I thought that perhaps showing them another dog might work. Bad idea ... I suggested to the next couple coming along that perhaps they could lift their dog up to show it to the barking ones. The response was not the jovial one we had expected. We were told that the dogs lived here, and perhaps we could move our boats. I did tell the guy that we were more concerned for the dogs' welfare. After that, I became concerned for Mick's welfare as I kept seeing steam coming out of his ears. 'Yes,' he responded, 'that did piss me off.'

Yesterday afternoon, he brought a poem for the blog - he says it's written by Anon, but seeing as he delivered it to me, and I think I recognise his writing, and I know he hadn't been out this morning to collect it from anyone else, I think it's a safe bet either he or Julia wrote it ...

Here it is:

When boating on the River Soar
Be careful where you choose to moor.
Some folk in Birstall are quite keen
For you to move and ne'er be seen.
It seems OK for their dogs to bark
But don't understand when you're having a lark.
Better you move to another site
For some people you meet are not polite.  

It was a blobby and bloggy day for me - too wet to paint, so I did the post that appeared yesterday. David walked all the way into Leicester to visit the National Space Museum, only to find that it was closing at 4pm (it was then 3pm), so he didn't go in. Then he walked back. Mick and Julia had caught the bus into Leicester in the afternoon and checked out the mooring options - all three areas were pretty much empty and our choice for today (well, at least David's and mine) was Friars' Mill.

Dinner at The Dining Room (very enjoyable - I was going to include photos but they are all portrait and therefore look like they are sideways on, so no photos, sorry!) and then a fun walk home to the boats. We took a route that was meant to be a shortcut - you know the kind I mean. But much quieter than the direct route so that was a bonus ...

It rained overnight, so this morning I could wipe down the roof using accumulated rainwater! That surely can't count as the forbidden washing of new paint for 6 weeks!

We were away by 10am today and got to Leicester at about noon. We are now moored at Castle Gardens after David and I stopped at Friars' Mill to top up with water - we coulkd barely squeeze in between two boats whose owners were very accommodating and moved as much as possible to allow us in - Paul on Tilly 2, and a couple on Calm Down.

We had a slow trip in through the outskirts of Leicester - it seems sensible to go slowly through the rubbish that floats on and below the surface - and I hate to stir up whatever is lurking on the bottom. As it was at two locks, I had to avoid a) a piece of fence that was floating in front of me and  b) a wooden panel. I am not sure why people view the river as a rubbish dump, but they do. It's bad enough thinking what it does to the prop and how ghastly it is getting my hands down in the weed hatch to clear it of unmentionable crapola. But it's worse watching the swans and ducks and herons making their way through the detritus that pollutes their habitat.

Saturday 8 September 2018

Who is guilty? Me, I'm afraid ...

The apartment building we were moored across from in Nottingham

I can't remember which day we left Nottingham, (Monday I think) but I do know that David and I had made a repeat trip to the Skechers shop to buy another couple of pairs each. They are cheaper than in NZ by a country mile. (A bit like Castillo Blue cheese which in NZ costs about $8 for a half round pack, and here it costs £1.50. If I was allowed to bring cheese back into NZ, I would fill one suitcase with it ...)
We had a bite to eat in the Pret a Manger and saw this sign across the road. Must have been the site of the former poultry market area, I think
We managed to find our way back to the river on a quieter route than we had gone into the city centre - one thing that being on the cut and river results in for us is a loss of tolerance for traffic and city noises. Castle Gate in Nottingham is a quiet, pedestrian street that goes from the city centre to the castle (strange that, given its name), but you do have to cross a dual carriageway, and then the way down to the river goes past Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem, one of the oldest pubs in England.

The publican was outside sweeping up leaves and (mainly) cigarette butts and was very chatty and helpful. So inside we went for a look around.
The publican can be seen sweeping to the left of the red bin - he explained to us that the pub and the caves near it were the stopping off point for crusaders from the north on their way to Kent to go and (my words, not his) spread the scourge of one brand of monotheism in places that already had their own ... He said (his words, not mine) that there were over 90 caves that were reserved as accommodation for crusaders.

David crossing the road with shopping bags - crossing on his own, so it's a good thing Julia wasn't there! The publican can be seen again, still sweeping.

Says it all.

In the bar downstairs, the white walls and roof are part of the caves
In the dining room upstairs
There must be a further storey abouve where we were. This is the view upwards from the entrance to the dining room.
Partly outside and partly in the caves

That did delay our return to the boat, so M&J were already putting up their fenders and untying ropes by the time we got back. So it was a hurried preparation for departure - didn't want to be left behind!
We saw this lovely boat moored on the outskirts of Nottingham - it is beautifully maintained.
A stop at Beeston to get water, empty loos; and then after the lock, a stop to buy diesel. While I was filling with water, David had walked down to find out exactly where I had to pull in. It was still a bit confusing, but we did it, and I am really glad it wasn't me jumping off with the rope as the pontoon was extremely bouncy. We also bought a 15m rope and 4 magnums - David and I ate ours immediately but put two for M&J into the freezer for a surprise treat.

We'd been going to moor at Trent Lock, but Julia walked from Cranfleet Lock to check out the situation and came back to tell David, who had walked too after he'd cleaned up at the lock (that is boater talk for closing gates and dropping paddles) to come back and tell Mick and me that we should moor up where we were as there were no rings left at Trent Lock. So a new mooring spot for us all between Cranfleet Lock and the first bridge, just after the long term moorings. Very pleasant. I cannot remember what we had for dinner that night or where we ate it, but I am sure it was a shared meal. M&J will be consulted and I am sure they will know.

Just so you know there is livestock in the fields ... I thought this little one was very attractive.

At Cranfleet mooring we had come up with a plan on how to use up/enjoy/schedule/organise the remaining days before we have to be back at Foxton, and it looks like this:

Of course it has already been amended, and amended back and then amended again. But if you don't plan then you don't have a baseline to make sure everything fits in ...

David and I needed water, M&J needed groceries (they don't have a freezer, poor darlings), so they headed for Long Eaton via boat (to pontoons at Trent Lock) and then by bike and on foot. We stayed put until they were back on board and I put the first coat of dark blue  topcoat on the runnels beside the cream topcoat. (Looks good, but there's another coat to do and the weather has been changeable since then.) We then headed to the services beside Sawley Lock and saw Dave and his wife who run the fabulous Lock-keeper's Rest micro-pub that I have blogged about previously. I did tell them that 3 of the four of us had been keen to stay on so we could visit again on Thursday, but that one (pointing discreetly at DMcD) had blanked that idea. On leaving the water point/pontoon, I followed the instructions on the noticeboard and headed upstream to the buoys strung across the river, then went to turn. For the first time ever, I have been audibly shouted and sworn at by a fisherman - he used a phrase I often used with the acronym FFS, but he didn't speak in acronyms. He hadn't heard our boat coming and I hadn't seen his lines (invisible filaments) or him (hidden by a tree), so he had to reel in quickly - still had time to swear though. I did apologise, but he wasn't up to accepting apologies ...

We then headed off down the Soar - what a lovely river it is.

Our first lock was a tad eventful. David and I were in front as Mick and Julia had a bit of a dosy-do movement when leaving the pontoon at Trent Lock as they let another boat move on to it as they were leaving. When David and I approached Ratcliffe Lock there was a yoghurt pot tied up right by the lock entrance with the stern of the boat sticking out in direct line of the lock entrance. See the picture:
I managed to get around him to let David off on the left, instead of the right, and suggested that the guy had better move as there was a steel 70 foot boat approaching and without intending to, he'd crush him given he was across the lock opening. His response was to start untying rapidly but he told me he'd f***ing punch anyone who crushed his boat. He boated off in the direction of away quite quickly though, so he never got to witness Julia with a swinging windlass in her hand ...
Not an elegant drawing, but you get the picture: said yoghurt pot was in a stupid place and in jeopardy ... Given there was about 50 metres of available bollards for the men to tie up to away from the lock mouth, his threats were a bit facile.

We had planned a BBQ for dinner and you can moor at the Kegworth Shallow Lock which is a flood lock and left open unless there's a flood (and I think that perhaps it's closed during winter months). An ideal mooring for a BBQ as it comes complete with BBQ area and deck while leaving a clear area for walkers and dogs.

Ideal BBQ area, with BBQ chef and improvised dog barriers (barriers to stop dogs getting to the BBQ, not barriers made of dogs, cos that would just be silly, wouldn't it?) Two barriers are made from pieces of the ladder/plank that we donated to Mick and Julia - David didn't want them, so they had to go. It was either give them to M&J, or put them in the recycling.

I know David was checking out something important but I am not sure what. Julia was avoiding having her face showing and Mick was cooking. It was a two hour period of intense Atkins diet - meat, meat and more meat, i.e. burgers from Braunston (yay for a freezer), pork spare ribs (the main focus of the J&M shopping trip to Long Eaton), Braunston sausages (see, it pays to have a freezer), and fillet steak from the Braunston Butchers (freezer again). We had buns with the burgers and bread with the sausages, but the only veges were the mushrooms that Julia cooked inside and the onions I fried. And somehow, our hearts are still beating ...

The following day we were going to stop at some lovely moorings (apparently ...) past the Otter pub which is after Kegworth Deep Lock (now labelled Kegworth New Lock), but other boats had scrounged them. 
This is Kegworth New Lock - the old one to its right was known as Kegworth Deep, so the old name has stuck to the new one.
This is one of the boats that was in the position we wanted. I include it here because of our friends Dean and Phaedra in Oxford NZ
So we moved on to Zouch to have lemonade scones, cream and strawberry jam for brunch. I'd decided a change from cheese scones was required, and used Anabel Langbein's recipe. As she mentions using plain or gluten free flour, I sent the recipe to Jaq Biggs before starting cooking prior to departure.

We moved on then to Loughborough, but at Bishop Meadow Lock Mick got heaps of reeds around the prop and removed them.

A foot and some reeds - I am sure you can tell the difference

The lovely house that's for sale by Bishop Meadow Lock

He hoiked out some more from the lock and I carried on doing so, but then I committed the crime of which my guilt is absolutely clear - I left the boat pole (Mick's) against the fence while I carried the reeds and tossed them over the fence. And then I left it there while I got back on the boat and moved to the water point; then I left it there while we filled with water, and then I still left it there while I took photos of the lovely house that is for sale, and then I continued to leave it there while I untied and got back on the boat to cruise away.

Mick was looking for it yesterday when we were in the lock at Barrow on Soar - similar clearing operation in the lock required. On the journey here they worked out where they had last seen it and determined that I was the guilty party. No point in going to trial - I pled out: Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa ...

Monday 3 September 2018

A sort of quick catch up

Please excuse the random formatting of this post - I wrote most of it in Word and then copied it over into the blog. Then edited - the same formatting does not apply, so it looks a bit scattered and messy - sorry, Sarah, in particular ...

Since coming back from Shardlow, we’ve had a blobby but sometimes busy time:
·      Irene and Ian (Free Spirit) moored behind us at Sawley for a couple of nights, and came for dinner the second night (first night they were doing some beer festival thing at the Harrington Arms but had dinner at The Nag’s Head first.
·      Waka Huia and Unknown No 3 overstayed at Sawley moorings as David and I were waiting for Ed to come and sort the screeching noise we had on start up – the engine, not us … (Turned out to need a new pulley - problem solved.) And for him to fit the additional solar panel – it’s on but not connected up yet; (he sorted that today, as well as fitting a new water pump - much quiter quieter [edited thanks to the eagle-eyed Mick] and faster - and re-connected the immersion heater wiring which we got him to disconnect when we first met him – too many options for heating water and too many conditions to remember re when we could use each one.
·      We also overstayed because the CRT elsan point at the locks was out of order, as was the one at Trent Lock, and at Loughborough, and we had reports of the one at Beeston being out of order too; so no elsan emptying between Kilby Bridge and Willington – CRT’s bad! Julia was monitoring the situation at the Sawley Locks each day and phoning CRT to remind them. It was a bugger really as it was out of order before, during and after Bank Holiday weekend, and there were lots of boats out. Rest assured, it had been sorted come Friday morning when we departed.
·      Mick, Julia and I did a trip into Long Eaton on the bus for some shopping (the Skybus that goes from outside Sawley Marina is excellent and, for those without a bus pass, the return trip is £5.60.
·      Then another day Julia and I went on our own (unaccompanied by any chaps) to Long Eaton and then decided a bus trip (Skybus again) to Nottingham was called for. We decided once we arrived that the purpose of the trip had to be Thai food, as we didn’t want to shop – we found Zaap Thai on google and then asked a couple of friendly community constables where to find Bromley Place. Yummy food, lovely NZ sauv blanc, and then caught the bus back. David and Mick had to fend for themselves dinner-wise that evening as the ladies who lunched didn’t need anything else …
Part of the kitchen at Zaap Thai

Part of our yummy starter platter to share - I forgot to take a photo before we started eating the pork and prawn dumplings and the fish cakes

·      Then we discovered The Lock-keeper’s Rest at Sawley Locks on Bank Holiday Monday – what a fabulous little micro-pub. If you haven’t been there, do go. They shut on the BH Monday at 4pm, but I was locked in and didn’t get home till 6pm. Well, the chardonnay was Australian and oaky (a Hardy’s), the company was hilarious and very kind. David and Julia came looking for me but I was being walked home by Lyndon and Nigel who made sure not to let me walk close to the water … And I went to bed straight after dinner, and while Mick, Julia and David thought they were punishing me by not responding to my questions from the bed, I was actually asleep almost instantly.
Nigel and his partner in the Lock-keeper's Rest
Lyndon and Kevin (I think), with Dave, the landlord, seated behind Kevin

Nigel and partner

·      We had to overstay until at least Friday morning, so we could go to the Lock-keeper’s Rest again on Thursday … I left money on the bar for Nigel's and Lyndon's next visit.
·      We have painted the roof cream and I have put some grey primer over the parts that got white undercoat on that need to be the Great Eastern Blue; Mick has done a sterling job scumbling the piece of metal he attached to the duck hatch doors and he’s masked and painted the lid cream so it doesn’t get too hot and have the glue dry out. He also used some proper painting masking tape instead of the one I used that was extremely sticky and very messy/difficult to remove, with a follow-up of white spirits to remove the adhesive – of course, that was because we didn’t take it off as soon as we’d painted as hinted at by Mike Coates back at Mercia … Doh!!
The second coat of cream went on at Sawley - after two primers and two undercoats

I think this was taken shortly after we left Sawley - taken at about 9am, after we'd done a pump out and descended the locks

The view as we left Cranfleet Lock area - that is a little side area that is probably very shallow as there are notices warning boats away from it.
Similar view but with the lock in the background
Icky photo of me - I am sure I wasn't that tight lipped through the photography experience ...

·      We had 2 days at Beeston with an early dinner one day at the Victoria Hotel, and a bus trip in to Nottingham to introduce the chaps to Zaap Thai – a successful outing.
   Mick came over with some latex gloves in a handy toilet roll-innie to keep them safe, and looked puzzled when I asked where my poem was. I had to remind him of our first boating trip together when we went down the Llangollen, and I managed to slide (scrape is more accurate) along the side of a boat (called Windflower) in the strong wind - then yelled for Mick to come and sort it. He swears to this day that I disappeared inside away from the wrath of the boater. I swear I didn't, but Mick couldn't see me through the red haze of his own blushes and the red mist of Windflower's skipper's canal rage ... Anyway, while at the pub, we wrote the man a song, and delivered it on to his foredeck in a toilet roll-innie. There, now you are all caught up on the history - I am safe telling this story as I bet the boater is dead of apoplexy or old age or something similar... 
  So back to the boat Mick went (keep up - we are now in Beeston and this took place yesterday morning) and wrote me a poem:
"  Here are some gloves
    I think there's eight pairs
    I've left them at
   The top of your stairs.
   Remember when painting 
   To observe their proper use,
   Because covers for wet rollers is just plain abuse!"

Mick looking pensive - not often we get a view of his eyes. But he had to see clearly to compose poetry ...

And the roof is cream!! I think David is removing masking tape - it took some time

·      We are now moored up in Nottingham, having realised that David’s estimate of 48 hours from Sawley to Debdale was based on flawed mathematics (well, he DID fail Stage 3 Maths 3 times …) and the actual figure (calculated by me on Thursday arvo in the Lock-keeper’s Rest, after one chardonnay) is closer to 22 hours …
David and I have had an alcohol free weekend. I know - shocking and unexpected, eh? I realised I had had too many chardonnays in too few days, so called a halt for myself. Soda and lime is an adequate substitute, at least for a few days!
·      We’ve had Ed back today to finish off the solar panel stuff, fit the new waterpump and re-connect the immersion heater. Morning tea was crunchy lemon muffins and lunch was French Onion Soup, with cheese on toasted homemade bread.
·      Mick and Julia are currently out on a mission of their own – collecting a few more ticks in their Wetherspoon book. We are on dinner, but I am not sure how much they will feel like food by the time they get back. We shall see, folks.
·      If dinner is desired, it is going to be beef stroganoff with mashed potatoes and carrot salad. I did save some muffins too.

And today is our lovely daughter's birthday. We left a message on her phone this morning in which we sang to her. When she phoned back she hadn't listened to the message so we asked if she wanted us to sing again - she declined! Strange ...