Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lots of comings and goings

We have had a very enjoyable and busy week since we last posted. We have welcomed several guests on board, visited relatives and thoroughly enjoyed the company of new found friends.

We said our goodbyes to James and Doug on Tuesday morning and headed off towards Mountsorrel. At the lock we met up again with David and Sheena on nb Tombee Too and cruised the remainder of the day with them, unfortunately in some quite heavy rain, although it did brighten up later on.
Unusual development at Mountsorrel with moorings

Jasper checking out the scenery
We travelled as far as Zouch cut and that evening we were visited by Johns friend Nick and his seven year old twin boys Jack and Hugh. They spent a bit of time with us and explored the boat and then we went and worked out how a lock raised and lowered a boat.

Hugh & Jack
Wednesday saw us head down through Kegworth, past the imposing Ratcliffe on Soar power station and onto the Trent, where surprisingly enough we met up with David and Sheena again at Sawley Locks. We travelled with them again and decided to call it a day just above Weston Lock as the biting wind finally won the day. They came aboard for a drink to round the afternoon off before we were joined by our friends Dean and Denise for the evening. It was great to catch up with them after some time.

Ratcliffe Power Station
Our mooring that evening was actually right opposite the end of the garden of Louise's Auntie Jean and Uncle Barry. Thursday morning was forecast to be windy and wet and it duly arrived right on cue. So off we went for a coffee with Jean and Barry and we returned a couple of hours later laden with some freshly cut runner beans and a big bag of plums.....well worth the little visit. We had so much produce, we shared it with David and Sheena and then arranged to travel up to Findern with them and have a meal at Nadee Indian Restaurant beside Bridge 21.

Stenson Lock
The weather really picked up and we had a decent afternoon trip. We enjoyed a drink aboard Tombee Too before our youngest son Luke and his girlfriend Annabelle also joined us....never ones to miss out on a free meal !!! The evening and the meal were excellent.

This morning we said our goodbyes to David and Sheena as they headed off before us. The last five days with them have been really good fun and it is scary how many things we have in common. We have thoroughly enjoyed their company and hopefully we will get the chance to do it again sometime soon.
David & Sheena nb Tombee Too
We then walked up to Mercia Marina and had breakfast at The Willow Tree coffee shop before meeting another of Johns workmates, Paul, and his partner Jane who were very excited as they were actually picking up their first boat, Lady Mellisa. It is quite similar to ours being an Aqualine and we had a good look round it with them before leaving them to settle in before they sail it back to Kings Bromley over the weekend. Best of luck guys !!

We finally set off late morning and have had a very pleasant cruise in some good weather. We passed Bruce and Sheila on Nb Sanity Again at Horninglow as they headed back towards Mercia Marina. We have moored for the night just above Wychnor Lock on the river section towards Alrewas, our last night before we head for home tomorrow. 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Leicester and a Chance meeting

We were up and about early on Monday morning for our eagerly awaited trip through Leicester. Over the years we have heard all sorts of stories about this particular stretch....none of them particularly good and so we were delighted to be doing the journey with David and Sheena on nb Tombee Too.

After we both shuffled across onto the services at Kilby Bridge, we set off soon after 7.30am and enjoyed the run down through South Wigston and towards Aylestone. The countryside was pleasant and everyone we saw was cheerful. There weren't many boats moving at all and the majority of the locks were pretty much in our favour.
BM and Tombee Too at Kings Lock
We were surprised to find two volunteer lock keepers at Aylestone Mill Lock, but they were very busy as they locked five boats through in the space of twenty minutes.

Boooo hisssss..The King Power Stadium. Home of the enemy.
On into the city.....
The Mile Straight
and out the other side.....

Belgrave Lock and Space Centre
The northern side of the city was probably the 'worst' around Abbey Park, with a number of lager drinking folk occupying benches by the lock at Limekiln Lock, not that they were bothered with us. Surprisingly, we spotted four kingfishers between here and Belgrave Lock. 

Overall, the run from Kilby Bridge was most enjoyable, undoubtedly helped by travelling with David and Sheena and we certainly wouldn't have second thoughts about doing it again. 

We arrived at our intended destination at Watermead Park mid afternoon where we had arranged to meet James and Doug from Nb 'Chance'. They are at MGM boats at Thurmaston administering some TLC to their boat. We moored opposite and Doug was soon over to say hello and invited on board for drinks, soon to be followed by James taking a well earned rest from rubbing down the paintwork. We chatted for a while and Louise introduced James to 'Cheeky Vimto' a concoction of port and blue WKD. We arranged to meet later for drinks and a meal. 

We were welcomed aboard their lovely boat later before heading off out for a meal. Our first choice didn't do food on a Monday, so off we went to Paprika a huge Indian restaurant nearby. We had a lovely meal and a great time despite seeming to be the only ones eating. Not only was the restaurant huge, but the portions were so overwhelming that none of us got close to finishing. We ended a terrific night with coffee on board BM.
James, Doug, Louise & John. 
We had a thoroughly enjoyable time was great to finally meet up and we really hope we have the opportunity to do it again very soon. 

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Lazy days at Welford and Foxton.

We decided to spend a few easy days on this peaceful stretch of canal and make the most of it. Friday morning was bright and still and we enjoyed the run up to Welford Junction, sharing the steering and dog walking as we went. We turned onto the Welford Arm which we haven't done for about three years, and soon were at the end on what is the highest point of The Grand Union Canal. We used the services and walked into the village to do a bit of shopping. By the time we got back, the skies darkened and the rain soon followed and so we decided to stay put. 
Welford Lock
It seemed as though everyone else had the same idea and by late afternoon there wasnt a mooring spot to be had. We ended up having a meal in the Wharf Inn - a good old boating pub if ever there was !!
Mooring at a premium at Welford. 
We had a meeting arranged with our friends Chris and Gratz on Saturday at Foxton around midday, so we left in the drizzle in good time, enjoying breakfast on the move. We only met three or four boats on the run to Foxton and couldn't quite believe how quiet it was when we arrived. We met up as arranged and enjoyed a drink and chat on the boat before we decided to descend the flight. We were able to go straight in and the lock keepers happily did all the paddles (probably to stave off the boredom of there being hardly any boats) whilst Louise and Chris did the gates and Gratz and I put the world to rights on the rear deck and discussed our respective retirement plans (she's got 11 days more to do than me which I kept reminding her of)
The obligatory Foxton snap

We had a very nice light lunch in the Bridge 61 pub, another proper boaters pub, and a very nice pint of Langtons Inclined Plane before Chris and Gratz joined us up as far as Debdale before we said our goodbyes. We continued on and were joined by an abundance of kingfishers. We must have seen five in the short time it took us to reach Fleckney where we moored just before Kibworth Top Lock for the night.
Today we have travelled down as far as Kilby Bridge. We did the trip with nb Tombee Too and crew David and Sheena. It made the trip very enjoyable and made light work of the locks. Unfortunately the weather gradually deteriorated, although the promised rain didn't materialise as badly as predicted, but the wind was difficult at times. 
The medieval church at Wystowe
Tomorrow we will travel with them again as we head through Leicester. It will be a first for us to travel through the city by boat and although we know it is a long day ahead of us we are quite looking forward to the challenge. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Busy Braunston and a cracking view.

Again posted late due to lack of signal

Thursday 12th September 2013

The forecast for Wednesday was for rain from early afternoon, so we set off early hoping to make Braunston before it arrived. The canal was very busy with traffic. We passed nb Darley and nb Whitby moored up in Rugby and then had a clear run through Hillmorton where there were friendly volunteer lock keepers on each pair of locks. The clouds started to darken as we approached Braunston and we were surprised to find it so busy in the village. I know it's Braunston, but at 12.30pm we were lucky to find the last spot at the far end of the marina, otherwise we would have had to enter the flight of locks. We stayed put for the rest of the day as the rain came as forecast. We did enjoy a late night wander into the village which lured us and the dogs into The Old Plough for a couple of beers.

Darley & Whitby
Today has been glorious. Early mist greeted us but we set off up the lock flight with nb William about 8am. They are from Derbyshire too and actually live very close to where John works so there was plenty to chat about. They were heading for Whilton Marina where they were putting their boat of 14 years on brokerage as boating was becoming difficult. You couldn't help but feel for them as they clearly wanted to continue. We dread the day when that decision comes for us...hopefully a good way off yet !!
Idyllic setting at Norton Junction
Once through Watford we enjoyed a cruise up through Crick Tunnel before stopping near to Bridge 14 and taking a walk up Cracks Hill. A really worthwhile trek with some fabulous views over the surrounding area. I'm not sure who were more tired when we got back to the or the dogs.

View from Cracks Hill with BM bottom left
View dominated by wind turbines...I quite like them. 
We stopped off briefly at Yelvertoft and walked into the village hoping to pick up some meat from the butcher, only to find that he has inconsiderate. We have moored for the night in a lovely spot near to Bridge peace and quiet. Just how we like it. 

Onto the North Oxford

** Posted late due to no 3G...bloody technology

Tuesday 10th  September 2013

The last few days have been a real joy and a good wind down for us. We travelled the remainder of the Coventry Canal on Tuesday morning, passing Caxton moored up in Nuneaton. Unfortunately no sign of Paul or Elaine as it would have been nice to meet them and tell them how much we enjoy their blog.
The Manly Ferry aka Caxton
The turn onto the Ashby Canal was very tempting especially as we haven't been up there this year, but I'm sure it won't be long before we visit it again. I've never quite understood Charity Dock and it seems to get more cluttered with sad looking craft every time we pass, but I couldn't help but chuckle at this little fellow perched on the bow of one of the boats. I even considered putting an offer in for
him, but was strongly advised not to !!!!
Marston Junction - The Ashby Canal
Can't see what the problem is myself !!
We stopped of at Hawkesbury and used the services before continuing onto the North Oxford. The Greyhound was very tempting for lunch but willpower won the day (it doesn't happen very often). We eventually moored up just beyond All Oaks Wood for the night.

Sutton Stop

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lovely weekend....but there's always one.

Well we are finally untied and off on our late summer holiday. Two weeks to negotiaite the Leicester Ring should be quite pleasant and relaxing. We are later than usual for our last main trip of the year due to other events and also it happened to be our eldest sons 21st birthday at the beginning of the month and it was considered to be rude had we been not been there to celebrate it with him.

Note we said it should be relaxing....boating is always relaxing, but this trip has things going on at home in the background as we have 'tradesmen' in at home providing us with a new kitchen and bathroom whilst we are away. Bringing it all together to make it happen has been an absolute nightmare and today we must have made and received half a dozen calls about matters which have already been discussed. We can't help but ask ourselves whether we have done the right thing, but its too late now and we just hope we can enjoy our holiday in a stress free environment.

Over the weekend we had our good friends Steve and Madeleine with us. They met us at the marina at Kings Bromley on Saturday afternoon and we had a pleasant cruise down as far as Huddlesford, mooring up just before the heavens opened. A nice meal in The Plough in the evening before retiring for the night.
Early morning skies at Huddlesford
Sunday morning was sunny and still. We had breakfast on the move as we had Sunday lunch booked at the Samuel Barlow at Alvecote. We were lucky at Glascote Locks. We were straight through, passing another boat between locks, but by the time we had ascended the bottom lock there were three waiting to follow us up. We arrived at Alvecote in good time and met with Steve and Madeleine's daughter Eleanor and her friend Rebecca who joined us for lunch.
Now that's our idea of a pub !!
A very popular pub and thank goodness we had booked. 30 people had booked for 1pm, but the quality of the food was excellent and the service very personal and friendly. 

We said goodbye to our guests and then headed on through Polesworth and moored before Grendon in a very peaceful location.
Steve, Rebecca, Madeleine and Eleanor
I have been reading blogs tonight and catching up on what folks are up to. The Manly Ferry and Maffi are two of our favourite blogs and both have recently named and shamed other boats who make life a misery for the rest of us. Well, we'd like to add a third. Nb Sark is the name. Whilst we were sat out on the towpath enjoying the world passing us by, we could hear a boat getting ever closer for  some considerable time due to the high revving engine.  When it eventually came around the corner into view the bow wave was one of the biggest we've ever seen. We looked in amazement as it continued to travel towards us with a token drop in the engine revs, but still far higher than any 'normal' boat. We just stared and looked in bewilderment as they obviously found it most funny and clearly knowing they were in the wrong. 

This morning we ascended the Atherstone flight which was as busy as we have ever seen it. As we exited Lock 6, who should be tied up on the lock landing but our friend nb Sark. By this time it was 10.30am and plenty of boats would have passed but still it sat there tied up and looking like having no intention of moving. Bloody ignorant.
Sark moored on lock
By the time we reached the top of the flight we had started to encounter some of the working boats coming away from the Shackerstone Festival held this weekend. We passed Nb Tench and then butty 'Australia' being bow hauled by a young lady on her own. We didn't envy the huge queue of boats waiting to follow her down. One boat was waiting a couple of hours before it finally started to descend the flight. After lunch and some shopping we headed off again, calling in at Springwood Haven to discuss a problem with our inverter when it is hooked up to the landline. Extremely helpful and knowledgeable and fingers crossed it is problem fixed.

Tomorrow looks like a decent day and so we will press on through Hawkesbury and onto the North Oxford. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Music to our ears....back to boating.

We can't quite believe that it's September already. We are getting ready to set off on our last big (for us) trip of the year this weekend. It's nine weeks since we finished our last trip and the weather has been glorious since then. We have met friends out and about on their boats during this time and longed to be out on the cut ourselves in the sunshine and all we have managed since has been a couple of days here and there which has been very frustrating.

We have been busy though with another of our The blog at the minute resembles the pages of N.M.E. rather than a boating blog, but for us they are good way of recording memories. Our last post detailed our fabulous weekend at Henley on Thames at the Rewind Festival and in this last week we have seen musicians from either end of the music spectrum - one just starting out on what we have no doubt will be a glittering career and the other, a music icon.

So, from the playing fields of the Derbyshire village of Doveridge last weekend, let us introduce you to JJ Rosa. Remember the may well have heard it here first. Described as a mix of Jimi Hendrix and Amy Winehouse her sound is unique and the reviews she has had so far all indicate a really bright future. Originally from Stockport and now from London she is about to release her first album. She went down a storm headlining this small festival which also featured Brian Nash the former lead guitarist of Frankie Goes to Hollywood who gave a great solo rendition of 'The Power of Love'.

JJ Rosa
To have a listen and get hooked, click on the  link.....JJ Rosa - Boy Boy. From there you can actually download a FREE 4 track EP...I wonder if she needs an agent ??

Last night we headed off up to Leeds and the brand new purpose built concert venue, the First Direct Arena. Impressive it is too and well worth a visit if you ever get the chance to see your favourite band there. So the music icon......his music spans five decades and some of his musicians have played with him from the start or very early days.....none other than Elton John. We have seen him many times and with Louise being in the fan club we are lucky to get seats close to the stage. 13,000 were packed in and the show lasted a little under three hours without a break. The last half hour we were right up in front of the stage dancing was just fabulous and everyone went home very happy.

Louise outside the arena
Just incase you didn't know who it was 
Signing autographs
So we are back to boating this weekend thank goodness. Of course, the forecast for the weekend is for some of the wet stuff. We are heading off around the Leicester Ring for a lazy fortnight from Saturday and hope to catch up with a few friends along the way.