Saturday 31 January 2009

Just through Willington

Willington, supposedly, should be full of promise-but it didn't really work for us. The visitor moorings, as so often happens, have been given over to winter moorings & we had to bash in pins, through the town (well we didn't stick pins through the town, obviously), in very unstable verges. We had to stop as we were desperate for food and we needed the shop & something to eat. Never has the larder been so low & we have family visiting for lunch tomorrow. Did the essentials and moved on towards bridge 25. Now need to leave at 8.30am to get to the water park at Branston (far side of Burton Upon Trent) before the family get there-we're currently in nowhere land, without vehicular access, as is our wont. We really are quite irresponsible!! I'll find some photos and stuff, but as of now we are far to busy stuffing chickens & chopping veg. Well, we thought we'd meet up at Willington but it didn't work out. Such is life.

Friday 30 January 2009

Glad to be off the Rivers

I took these photos of the River Trent about 3.30pm today. Despite having had very little rain recently, I would NOT want to be on this lot on a NB. We're in Derbyshire now; our yellow post footpath markers have disappeared & the dog poo bins have come back-together with rickety styles. Saw a footpath sign yesterday, "Lady Bower Resevoir 55 miles". Does that make us officially "up North"?

Little Muttley doesn't stand much chance against Floyd, but when his dad comes in to help.......woops there goes another rubber tree...

Thursday 29 January 2009

Shardlow to Weston Lock

Having ventured into Shardlow yesterday & found the village shop a cauliflower or two short of any vegetables anda distinct lack of footpaths off the cut, we decided to move on to bridge 8 below Weston on Trent.
On closer inspection of a photo of Lesley stood on Caxton's roof during our prolonged stay at Bishops Meadow Lock, she appears to be doing something strange with a piece of wood (double click for bigger photo if you're feeling brave)!
I also don't know what she and Graham were doing along the tow path in Shardlow-especially as this was BEFORE a visit to a pub.
A couple more shots of Shardlow and a 3 mile trip to here (3 locks) + waterpoint saw us moored up & lunched & ready to head off on a circular walk to Weston in search of fresh veg at the shop. The shop doesn't exist anymore, neither do the ones ahead at the villages of Swarkestone or Barrow on Trent (it would appear), so the new currency on the cut is food....I'll trade you one courgette for two leeks or half a savoy cabbage & two portabello mushrooms for a haddock fillet...I'm sure we'll not starve, it just means that the catering committee has to work a bit harder.

This is Weston's church.

The Old plough Inn was still there and we were given a great welcome by the new tenant who'd only been there 10 weeks. The menu looked interesting & different although we didn't eat there. He (the landlord) was very friendly & quite undisturbed by 4 muddy dogs & 4, even muddier, humans. A great day and lovely to do what we love doing the most-off the boats (well, not the drivers), walking the dogs & operating the locks as we go. I've really missed this whilst we've been holed up and on the rivers. Talking of rivers, we can see the Trent all over it's bank and swooshing down the valley - we really did only JUST get through in time. I think it will be awhile before the rivers are re-opened.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

Another dirty dash - from Sawley Cut

Woke this morning to this Heron perched on the gin palace opposite-he must have sat there for nearly an hour.
Whilst peoples were filling up with diesel at Sawley Marina & the lovely Vanda at BW was warning me that the river Soar was closed again and the River Trent was likely to be closed shortly & that if we wanted to get through to the Trent & Mersey Canal we should already be moving, my suggestion that we get diesel further up on the Canal (no one desperate) fell on stony ears,


ambled up to set the Flood Lock, now well up the amber, & came across this Angling Club sign - I prayed that this was not an omen of Derbyshire to come.

This picture of Caxton (behind us) crossing the Rivers Derwent & Trent into the mouth of the Trent & Mersey Canal looks crazily serene, but look at the water to port &, if we had been closer, you would have seen biceps bulging against the pull on the tiller & rather white knuckles!! As we entered Derwent Mouth Lock the boards were on red and, as we moored up & walked into Shardlow, all traffic lights behind were firmly on red-both rivers closed.
Lovely architecture down the banks of the canal & loads of pubs, but not much to see away from the towpath.

Tuesday 27 January 2009

Going Green!

Went to bed last night with the vague hope that we might get away from Bishops Meadow Lock as it hadn't rained for a day or 3. Set the alarm & dressed & breakfasted early before the earliest possible call to Vanda at BW around 8.45. She didn't hold out much hope - the Soar had gone down a bit yesterday but the Trent..well. Retired back into slob mode & finished my book whilst Graham surfed and Joe ambled into the Post Office & Lesley & I planned menus & shopping lists for the haul into Sainsburys. 12.00 the phone rings it's Vanda, "we're opening the rivers". **** I haven't walked the dogs. B****r we haven't any water. What a shambles; it was 1.30pm before we were organised to leave with 9 miles and 6/7 locks - so disorganised we weren't even sure of the exact number-dark by 5 ish!!!
If you look carefully at MR in the starting blocks waiting for NB Caxton you can see a GREEN light instead of the red we've been waking up to.
Then, like number 2 buses, there were green lights everywhere.
We hung a left into the huge Trent (passing the entrance to the Erewash canal).
Then through another green light at the, rather formidable and somewhat confusing Sawley Locks. Fortuately Lesley had come across this before and had a BW key on her-you can't get off at the lock "moorings" without using a ladder so I really didn't want to try & get on & off again for the key. It was all a matter of pushing buttons on a control panel but it took a while to sort out (especially reading instructions in wet ink without your reading glasses -can't they leave a pair of universal readers for the aging population?) and didn't quite work as it said it should; not helped of course by comments from the drivers of two boats, "it's not filling" "we're still not going up" "do you want us to come and work it?" All such comments were soon silenced , however, when we mentioned windlasses & orifices....
So here we all are, 3 hours later, safely moored at Sawley Cut. You can go quite fast downhill on rivers.

Saturday 24 January 2009

Look at Graham's Buns!!!!!!!!!

I've just remembered why I married this man - have you ever seen a more perfect set of buns? Oh dear - I think I'm turning into a lardy ass. Greygal eat your heart out but I promise I'll burn it off with some serious logging tomorrow. It's not a myth -even the skinniest of asses that eat healthily (temptation of these buns excluded) & walk MILES, put on stones when they stop smoking.

Friday 23 January 2009

Water, water everywhere.........

...thank God some drops to drink! Guess what? We're still here and after last night's rain likely to be for some considerable time. It's funny how you can spend years in a house & think nothing of it; quite content to escape on the odd holiday. Then you move onto a boat and decide to continually cruise and either weather conditions or BW stoppages dictate that you will stay somewhere for a week or two and you are in danger of feeling deprived. Get a grip woman - we have water available (albeit in a slightly tricky manoueuvre), we have a copse and a chain saw in reach; a supermarket in a 2.6 mile round trip; a grotty pub about one mile trip and a good one on a 5 mile round trip; Daisy has a monumental mouse park & we can walk the dogs for England (albeit across waterlogged fields). Is this deprivation?........I think not. Is my life miserable? it hell. New recipes to be tried out tomorrow..might even find time to finish my book or get the water colours out; cupboards need sorting and boats need polishing.

Wednesday 21 January 2009

....and we're STILL here

Except we have moved up to Bishops Meadow lock in anticipation of getting the all clear on the Rivers Soar & Trent around lunchtime..except we didn't.....everything is still in the red. Met fellow blogger Trevor & his Border Collie, Bill off NB Beau, whilst hovering around the lock & scratching our heads.

This little patch of new territory (all that is available to us currently) once again highlights the incongruity of Leicestershire. Fabulous rolling, open countryside of pastures & woodlands, picturesque villages, beautiful architecture in the towns and fantastically well marked footpaths with well maintained gates and styles (just follow the yellow posts). This one is just below here and a new copsed area has been planted either side of a paved walk. Wonderful!

Then, in between the two, is this!

And opposite (photo withheld in deference to the squeamish) is a piece of grass containing a BW sign and a water point. I am not exaggerting when I say that it is not possible to put my size 5's down on that piece of grass without standing in dog shit. When I was 19 I went off to Paris as a very excited teenager to see what was reputed to be one of the most romantic cities in the world - I came back from the city of dog shit very disillusioned. Sadly my memories of Leicestershire (North of central Leicester anyway) will be the same: memories of rubbish & dog shit-what a shame. Stratford canal has poo bins & free poo bags at every lock & footpath intersection - no problem there.

Not that these two mind, not a care in the world!

Tuesday 20 January 2009

We're still here!

Made a phone call to the BW office this am - Rivers Soar & Trent both still in flood, so walked the dogs back to Pillings Lock to see what was happening on the actual river. Lesley & I had it half in mind to walk back to the welcolming Navigation PH back at Barrow for a glass of coke. However, the water was all over the towpath & anywhere it could get really - not wanting a coke that badly......
....we turned back & off the towpath to let dogs do what dogs want to do. One of these 3 has the ball, but I don't think they much care which. When you're up for a rumble that's all that matters!

... and then there is the dog whisperer (I wish I could get Muttley's attention like this) & then Fletcher, of course, fell in the cut but fished himself out this time.
Well, no rain today & if it holds off tonight, maybe we'll be able to make a run for it ahead of the imminently forecast several days of heavy rain. It all adds to the spice of CCing in the winter-we just need to get onto the Trent & Mersey.

Monday 19 January 2009

Still at the whim of the Soar

We've had a good time in Loughborough, thoroughly enjoying the railway & the architecture in the town. Today we were ready to leave, but the flood warnings were up and the BW office said they were unlikely to come down today, so we cruised into the basin in the town centre, topped up with fresh veg, wine and water, returned, winded and ended up back where we started this morning. Honestly, this river goes up & down quicker than a w****s drawers!

Passed a local cave dweller en route!

Thursday 15 January 2009

Dicing with the River Soar

Yesterday our hour of daylight saw us moored up by Thurmaston, outside Watermead Country Park, which was lovely paved footpaths around the lake. The forecast for the next few days predicts a lot of rain & turns this river into a no go area very quickly, so we decided on an early start to push onto Barrow and a "safe" bit should the river go back into flood. From Sileby Lock round to Mountsorrel lock it started to get a bit hairy & the indicator board was virtually on the red. Deciding that discretion was the better part of valour, we reversed back out again & moored up!

Daisy quickly made herself at home & so did we in the pub for lunch. Lesley & I left the fellas logging previously collected wood whilst we walked into the town in search of much needed haircuts-by the time our mission was accomplished, the wood was logged & the river had dropped, so we moved onto Barrow as originally planned arriving in the dusk with our nav lights on. I am having a day of rest tomorrow as I wish to spend 2 or 3 days exploring here and Loughborough. If the forecast is accurate we won't be allowed through Barrow Deep Lock anyway.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

A greater love hath no woman........

02 - 13 Feb 2009
Stoppage: Limekiln Lock 43Associated Regional Office: BW East Midlands
Install lock ladders
(Enquiries: 01636 675700)

Looking at above mentioned lock, one might wonder what's wrong with the lock ladder that's already there. Ask Lesley on NB Caxton - there is only one ladder on the opposite side of the towpath & the rungs don't go down to the bottom. Lesley knows because she climbed down it fully clothed-up to her armpits in ice & shit because Fletcher fell in!! So Lesley climbed down & held him until Graham caught up with us - neither Lesley nor I are srong enough to lift out 5+ stone of labrador. Both have fully recovered I'm delighted to say but it was extremely shocking & shows that you really need a plan with big dogs-ours have flotation jackets with handles for boat hooks but are light enough to lift anyway. At least she remembered to take her camera out first- two cameras in one week would have been a bit much!!

Having removed Fletcher & Lesley from the lock, we then removed the ton of crap above before we could get boats in. After Lesley showered we carried on in increasingly heavy rain, but no-one dared complain about being "soaking" because somebody had a monopoly on that-in fact that same person was wingeing about credits on photo spotting so, for the record, Lesley spotted the above milestone in the centre of Leicester as we left.

Went into Raynsway Marina for fuel and decided to stay as the river was starting to flood. We got a fantastic welcome from Dave & Dyllis who manage the place. Dyllis came to meet us with her gorgeous dog Sadie as she follows our blogs. I did say I'd mention how handsome Dave was and I wanted to have Dyllis round for a proper natter because we arrived somewhat wet & stressed and couldn't talk properly but, as so often happened, we ran out of time. Used up too much time retrieving and parking up cars, but it did give us a chance to see Graham's mum and one of his sisters. By the time we got back and found the river had dropped so that we could move on, we only had an hour of daylight left. So bye Raynsway and thank you for your hospitality.

Saturday 10 January 2009

Just in time

After all the shenannigans of keeping a car since xmas; off I trundled, arriving back in Norfolk about 4.00pm. At 5.30 the hospital rang to say mother's hospital admission was unlikely to go ahead the next day. I did explain that they might want to consider a number of factors when prioritising beds (given that my sister had already driven over from Wales in December and deposited her at the hospital for 7.00am-only to be sent home again at 4.00pm without op)! Conversation fell on stony ground. "Well ring in the morning," I did, "we don't know yet" I rang 2 hours later, "we don't know yet". 3/4 hour later, "come in". Arrived in upper corridors of vast hospital to be met by anaethetist, consultant and ward nurse, "why weren't you here at 12.00?"Deugh, grrrrrrrrrrrr! All is now sorted, however, they moved her to 2 different wards before I collected her in the morning-you really don't need that sort of stress; especially at the age of 90.
Meanwhile, back at the boats, another drama was going on. On Thursday, they were still exactly where I'd left them-totally iced in at Kilby bridge, together with nb Balmaha and a rapidly approaching date of Monday for the closure of Freemans Meadow lock ahead of them. Tales of heroic ice breaking took place to get them off of the canal onto the less iced River Soar. So I drove back in the general direction of Leicester & waited for an update as to where they were; eventually Daisy and I were reunited with our home.
Today we cleared the lock they are closing and moored up at the secure castle moorings in the centre of Leicester-look whats on the barge behind us - I think I know where those are going tomorrow morning! One VERY unhappy Daisy has been confined to barracks and is taking it out on Muttley as it's not safe for her whilst we are moored to this floating pontoon. Leicester centre does have some fantastic architecture but, having been away for 5 days, I just want to get back in to open countryside.
Couldn't resist this photo of someones equivalent of 27A!