Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Leaving Leicester

We stayed in Leicester over the weekend where Joe's daughter Abby and her other half, Wardy, joined us.  They had arranged to stay at the Holiday Inn which is adjacent to the Castle moorings and travelled up after work on Friday.  We got together on the Saturday and had a wander around the City including the wonderful market in the City centre.  Being Camra (Campaign for Real Ale) members they had identified a number of pubs that needed to be checked out and we dutifully accompanied them...just in case something untoward occurred..
Saturday evening we went to Kayal on Granby Street for their renown South Indian cuisine.  Our visitors then left on Sunday afternoon but come Monday morning we had another visitor who travelled by train from Stamford (Lincs) and was staying the week!  Yes boaters, a visitor for a whole week!  This would test the new sofa bed and seating arrangements aboard Yarwood!
Val duly arrived at Leicester rail station where I met her and found a taxi to take us back to Yarwood.  It isn't too far to walk normally but Val had recently had an operation on her foot and was brandishing a crutch so walking anywhere was a little restricted.  We stayed in Leicester Monday as I was thinking to take Val to Kayal for a meal but in the afternoon the heavens opened and the wind howled so we chickened out and I cooked aboard Yarwood.  Our guest still got a curry, but perhaps not quite as good as a Kayal.
Come Tuesday, a quick dash to Tesco to stock fridge and larder and we were off.  Leaving Val on the boat pottering around, I walked the dogs and did the locks stopping at Blaby overnight. 

 Joe 'assumes the position' - back of lock at an angle. we have found that this works quite well in the double locks, I can open the paddles in a certain sequence and Yarwood is not knocked about at all.

 Val, pottering on the phone..
She is meant to be dusting and polishing.. you just can't get the staff!

 A carefully placed work boat..widebeam workboat mind you, dumped on the lock landing and making access/egress just a tad difficult.
 Moored up Kilby Bridge
Wednesday we pushed on to Kilby Bridge where we moored up and headed for The Navigation Inn for lunch.  There was a great atmosphere in the pub with a goodly mix of boaters and locals.  We met a couple of boaters, Jo and Robin of Nb Harold, who were heading our way so arrangements were made to tackle the next twelve locks to Foxton together in the morning.

The Navigation Inn  Kilby Bridge

Friday, 10 October 2014

Mission accomplished...Hello Leicester

We left on Loughborough Thursday morning in high winds and slight rain, we arrived Barrow-on -Soar  Deep lock in moderate winds and a downpour!   No photo's of that bit of the journey because some dumb cluck forgot to replace the memory card in the camera..
Okay yes, that was me!
We had arranged to meet up with Geoff and Mags aboard Nb.Seyella.  Geoff was providing lunch, delicious homemade soup and I was providing fresh doughnuts, Tesco's finest, not homemade mind you.  Mags is fond of doughnuts, I named her the 'Doughnut Queen' so when we meet I always try to bring doughnuts to the party.  Nb. Seyella is one of the boats joining us in our crossing of the Wash next May, its was Mags idea,  so we were sorting out arrangements and timescales etc.  Geoff is also about to do his Short Range Radio training so we left him with the course handbook as bedtime reading. Enjoy Geoff.

 Meg, Seyella's boat dog came calling
 Yes, Geoff is STILL in shorts

Nb. Seyella as we passed this morning, no sign of Mags

This morning we didn't set off early, Joe had a lie-in and I got  a bit of laundry out of the way before we re-filled with water at Barrow services ahead of the weekend.  The sun had come out, a bit breezy still but sunny so not complaints from me.  I stayed aboard, as did the dogs for the first stretch as Yarwood could travel faster than we could walk.

 Leaving Barrow-on-Soar

 Sileby Lock
 River views
 MGM boat builders at Thurmaston
We stopped above Thurmaston lock and grabbed a cuppa and a sandwich before continuing our journey.  The last four locks coming into Leicester had the top gate left open which was a bit of a pain as I had to close the gate and then empty the lock.  I spotted the miscreant (how polite is that?) after the second lock and not more than twenty minutes ago the little *xz* moored in front of us. Deep breadth.

 Ninja terrapin at Thurmaston lock.  This is the second one I have seen in the last week.

 The National Space Centre

Safely moored up on Castle gardens

Thursday, 9 October 2014

River crossings and a night out

After a quiet night in Shardlow we prepared ourselves and boat for the rivers. We were about to drop down off of the Trent and Mersey canal on to the River Trent, cross the mouth of the River Derwent where it joins the River Trent and then turn south on the River Soar towards Loughborough on the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union canal.

 River preparations - anchor out and attached to fore stud just in case, life jackets on, just in case

 The traffic lights at Shardlow flood lock are not on red indicating that both the Trent and the Soar are navigable,  we are clear to go.

 Derwent Mouth lock, the last, or first, in the Trent and Mersey canal

 Calm as a mill pond, the River Trent.  We head down stream under the approaching ornate pipe bridge and the concrete span off the M1 motorway pass the marina at Sawley

Heading for Sawley locks
Lock control panel Sawley
 The lock complex at Sawley is automated, wonderful thing hydraulics! Press a button and the paddles open and press another and the rams open and close the gates.  I could wish for this on the Buckby flight!

 Ratcliffe power station

 Approaching Trent Lock.  Here at a bend in the River Trent we have the start of the Erewash Canal, that strikes north into the former coalfield of Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, Cranfleet Cut that takes you into Nottingham and the confluence of the River Soar where we are heading. 

 On the Soar
Ratcliffe lock
 Approaching our second lock, (we had passed through Redhill floodlock which was chained open, no flooding, no need for the lock to be operating), at Ratcliffe I could see a boat exiting the lock, how opportune.  We were greeted with, "I expected to see you, I read your blog!"  This time I did ask their names unlike my omission when I working through Fradley on Sunday.

 Here are boaters and blog readers Mandy and Graham, nice to meet you!
The rain had started by now and the wind a picked up a tad so the rest of the journey up the River Soar punctuated by heavy showers. 

 Kegworth Deep Lock
The lock filling is quite violent...I restricted the flow by only opening one paddle and keeping Yarwood pinned to one side.  We met boats coming down stream at the next lock at Zouch (pronounced Zotch) so were soon through Zouch cut and heading pass Normanton and approaching the outskirts of Loughborough.

Driving the Canada geese ahead of Yarwood's bow
The heavens opened after we came up through Bishop Meadow lock and off of the River Soar.  We serviced the boat and continued into Loughborough through the final lock of the day and before mooring up.  A quick lunch prepared and partaken of and I was off to Tesco to get some provisions.  It was then a case of getting ready to meet our guests for the evening, John and Louise of Nb. Blue Moon  or rather their new boat, Nb.Fiona B. 
We hit the town.
First a drink in The Albion, a canalside boaty pub that is different.. you just have to try it.
The beer is lovely and the landlord knows how to keep it, none of this cask marque too cold real ale, but rather served at 54 degrees and perfect.   We were recommended, by the landlord of the Albion,  to try the Grand Thai restaurant which is adjacent to The Swan in the Rushes pub in town and we were not disappointed, a real treat!  We returned to the Albion for a nightcap, rude not to really, before taking our leave of our visitors and returning to the boat.  A lovely evening, delightful company, good beer and great food!

Last nights mooring.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Moving on, Leicester beckons

The weather forecast for Monday was dire, rain and high winds clearing in the afternoon.  High winds and narrowboats are not a good combination so we opted out of doing battle with the elements and stayed put.  Toastie warm with the newly fitted Refleks stove lit we enjoyed a leisurely breakfast and watched Sunday's episode of Downton which Joe had cleverly recorded - I am always impressed by Joe's dominance of electrical gadgets because if you line me up against a gadget the gadget invariably wins..
All Monday morning the only boats to pass us were hire boats until things started to clear up about lunchtime, we decided to move.  By the time we had slipped Yarwood's lines we were third in a queue for the lock with another hireboat fast approaching and taking their place in the queue as well. Boat two and three, Speckled Hen and Yarwood, went up and helped boat 'one' through the lock and repeated this at the next four locks!  The lead boat never seemed to make progress and as the wind picked up again hovering at occupied lock landings became problematic for Himself.  We made Burton-on-Trent, our planned destination, but it was a frustrating journey.

 Leaving Alrewas
Sign of the times perhaps...

At last, Burton-on-Trent
We moored at Shobnal  and I must say that I was very impressed by the number and condition of Burton's moorings, well done that town - any chance that you could influence the elders of Nuneaton??
This morning we pulled pins and were on our way by 7.30am, our mission, to get to Shardlow.  we were fully kitted out in wet weather gear but the rain eased after an hour and we made good progress, no lock queues today thankfully.  We serviced the boat at Willington and I dashed into the village for some milk will the water tank filled.  By the time we got to Shardlow we were cold and wet, the sun was breaking through, we had covered over sixteen miles but, we had made it.
 Stenson lock, all double locks now
 Shardlow lock, the last for today

 This is peculiar, the walk boards  on the Shardlow lock bottom gates are 'inside' the lock rather than the customary position on the other side of the gates

Yarwood heads across Shardlow basin seeking a mooring for the night.

Monday, 6 October 2014

Now it's all rush and I am not popular..shucks

One of us, it might have me, named Leicester as a suitable place to meet Joe's daughter Abby next weekend.   One of us, it might be me, is not very popular because we are now having to get a 'wriggle on' to get to Leicester!

We left Stourport last Monday and made our way to Kinver where we had arranged to met the crews of Nb. Rome, Graham and Evelyn Booth, and Nb. What a Lark, David and Lisa.  We took Tuesday off, perhaps not a wise decision in view of our current rush,  but the opportunity to meet and spend an evening together doesn't come round often enough to miss so we took ourselves off to The Vine for a meal.  Come Wednesday we were off at just after seven am, serviced at Greensforge and moored at Wightwick for the night. Thursday, another early start, service at Gailey and an overnight mooring at Penkridge and on Friday we pushed on through to the Trent and Mersey and dropped down and moored across from Shugborough Hall. Here we were joined by Chris and Richard on Nb. Mandalay so out came the chairs and we sat along the towpath drinking tea and eating biscuits while we caught up with each other.
It was a F1 Grand Prix weekend so we stayed put Saturday, watched the race Sunday morning and then set off again towards Fradley Junction. What a glorious day, the weather was superb, bright, warm and sunny, the crowds were out in force at the junction so there was plenty of interest in what was happening at the locks.  I met a blog reader at one lock but failed to ask his name which was very remiss of me, so apologies Sir, but thank you for your interest. 
Dropping down pass the junction on to the services we started to water when I spotted a chap with a dog walking towards us, it was Nev Wells and dog Leila of Nb. Percy.  Nev has been considering fitting a refleks oil stove to Percy so was interested to see how Yarwood's was fitted. Joe was equally interested in the folding chimney exhaust that Nev has just ordered for Nb. Percy so a pleasant technical talk hour was spent before Nev and I worked Yarwood down through the locks towards Alrewas and our overnight mooring.

 Floyd and Leila patiently waiting while their masters talk, and talk, and..

Nev and Joe discussing the chimney adaptor for the oil stove

I am currently looking out at rain and lashing winds on Monday morning and awaiting a lull before setting off again towards Burton.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

River Queen

We spent best part of three weeks on the Gloucester and Sharpness canal and loved every minute - though we have been advised not to talk it up too much in case we start a trend and everyone heads for these waters...
On leaving we spent our last weekend in Gloucester, with another visit to the Abbey and the sculpture exhibition and wander around the town. Come Monday we headed across the dock and dropped down through Gloucester lock on to the R. Severn again. Yarwood just loves rivers, with all that water below the base plate and a big prop to shift it with she is in her element and so are we. Our first hop was up stream towards Tewkesbury again where we overnighted on the R. Avon and awaited a visit from my brother Bob.

 En route we were overtaken by Gloucester Fire and Rescue who were out playing practising and creating massive wash in their rib

 Tewkesbury Abbey as we come upstream on the Severn. We go through Upper Lode lock and then turn off right on to the R Avon to approach Tewkesbury

 Leaving Tewkesbury early on Wednesday to head up stream on the Severn again towards our next stop at Worcester

Passing Upton-on-Severn and the Pepper pot church tower

 We have come through Diglis river lock and are head pass Worcester Cathedral

 Approaching Worcester town bridge we will be mooring up shortly adjacent to the Worcester racecourse where we stayed overnight for a fee of £4.  Early start again on Thursday and we were off upstream towards Stourport-on-Severn where we had a date with a man with a radio...or two and an exam paper.  We had spent the previous week engrossed in the on-line RYA VHF short range radio course and we were about to do the practical and take the test..

Passing under Holt Bridge en route to Stourport
We stayed in Stourport over the weekend where I managed to see a doctor that I had signed on with when Yarwood was built, the dogs went to the vet they saw three years ago for their annual 'MOT' and got all the anti tick/fly meds they will need to protect them in Spain over the winter and we did the VHF radio practical and somehow both managed to pass the assessment and get our Short Range Certificates to operate marine radios.
And, we had a very, very good take-out Chinese meal.

Friday, 12 September 2014

Culture at least

We went into Gloucester today with the specific aim of seeing the Crucible2 exhibition of modern sculpture that is on display in Gloucester Cathedral. What a truly brilliant venue for 100 pieces of modern sculpture. 
We didn't like it all...and why would you? 
But, we liked a lot!

 Cathedral tower
 The first installation we came across as we entered the Cathedral  Jubilee IV by the late Lynn Chadwick.

 The Thief by David Mach
 A bit of traditional sculpture
 Effigy of Robert Duke of Normandy, the eldest son of William the Conquerer
 Fallen Angel by Damian Hirst
 Fallen Angel...expand the pic and look at the detail which includes, a heroin kit, spoon, needle, etc. cuts to the arms from self harm...brilliant piece of work!

 The High Altar

 Vesqua by W Pye

 Anatomy of an Angel (Black) by Damian Hirst

 Damian's Hirst's Anatomy of an Angel again.
We spent just over an hour having a wander about but I will definitely be going back for another look as we pass through Gloucester on our way north.

Street musicians in costume...the Town Crier was also with them at the Farmers market held every Friday. 
We bought some goats cheese and sausages, had a coffee and headed back to the boat, all cultured our for now..