Thursday, September 25, 2008

From Sawley to the Soar

Crossing fingers didn’t help improve the weather, so on Tuesday we moved on, through Sawley Lock and onto the Trent. Carol came with us, with the intention of staying with us till we’d got Corbiere’s left cabin side painted. The day was cool and overcast, threatening but not delivering rain all day.

Sawley Moorings
Arriving at Trent junction, we took the right fork, on to the Soar. The last time we were here we went straight on, heading north to the South Yorkshire Navigations.

Trent Junction

Redhill Marina
We pulled over and moored between Ratcliffe and Kegworth Shallow Locks. Not a suitable spot for painting, but the idea was to move to the Shallow Lock moorings (not in use as lock landings in the summer), and paint the side over the next couple of days.
So yesterday we moved both boats the last mile to the lock, and got set up to paint. It was the worst decision we could have made. The weather was cool and overcast, but no rain was forecast. But the gusty breeze picked up debris from the high bank and dumped it onto the wet paint. And working at below waist level was uncomfortable, so we couldn’t get co-ordinated and the finish suffered.
We were both disappointed with the job, after all the work involved in preparing the cabin sides, but decided that there was no point in applying a second coat until the first is flatted back. We won’t be able to do that for a few days, so it’ll have to go on hold. We’re going in to Pillings Lock Marina for 3 weeks, starting tomorrow.

So today we parted company, Carol taking Corbiere back to Shardlow, and us heading further up the Soar.

Bye, Bye Carol.
We’re going in to Pillings Lock Marina to give us a secure base for the next couple of weeks. My sister Sue and her family are coming over from New Zealand, I’ve got the Great North Run looming, and we’ve booked a holiday for the 3 of us at Fylingthorpe near Whitby. So we need somewhere safe to leave the boat while we’re away, and also while Sue is here, as we’re likely to spend a lot of time elsewhere.

We had a very pleasant 4 hour cruise, up through Kegworth Deep Lock, through Loughborough and moored about a mile from the marina.

Timely arrival at Kegworth Deep Lock
In the Lock
Kegworth Deep Lock is, as it’s name suggests, deep. Around 13’ deep in fact. It replaces the old lock which is infilled alongside, and Kegworth Shallow Lock, made redundant following adjustment of the river level to help flood control. The shallow lock is only now used in the winter, and when water levels may rise rapidly.

Kegworth Old Lock
Moored boats on the river near The Otter.
Filling the water tank at Bishops Meadow Lock on the edge of Loughborough.
Moored near Millers Bridge.
We’re aiming to arrive at the marina around noon tomorrow, then I’ll go to collect our hire car in the afternoon, after we’ve settled in.

Locks 6, miles 13

Monday, September 22, 2008

Mags gets a year older and the weather returns to normal.

We spent Saturday night at Sawley, opposite the marina. Being a warm sunny day there was an awful lot of boating activity, a bit more than we’re used to. The towpath was busy as well, so, the forecast for Sunday being the same, we elected to go back up onto the canal for a bit of peace and quiet.

Sawley Marina at night
It was Mag’s birthday on Sunday. ** years old today! Happy birthday my generous, loving, supportive wife. I don’t know what I’d do without you.

There was a bit of a queue for Derwent Mouth lock, but when our turn came we shared the lock with a very nice South African family. The son lives and works in the UK, the parents were across from Stellenbosch for a holiday. Francois, the stepfather, is a runner, too. But I’m not in his league. He’s training for a 200km race, run over 4 days. That’s over 30miles each day! Makes my 10k’s and ½ marathons look a bit puny. Good luck mate!

We were tied up above the lock by lunchtime, just in time for a phone call from Kay (my sister) to say they were coming to see us. I walked up into Shardlow and met them coming down. The dogs, Meg, Ruby (St Bernard) and Elvis (mongrel, with large ears), had a good play on the way back to the boat. Kay (and Ruby) found out that Ruby can swim!
The canine cavorting continued most of the afternoon, with odd rest breaks, while the humans tried to catch up with the news.

Mags, Kay, god-daughter Samantha and Paul, with the dogs creating mayhem.
They left in the evening, and our bit of towpath suddenly went very quiet.

It was entertaining watching the weekenders returning to Sawley in the GRP cruisers. An amazing assortment of sizes and shapes, cramming into Derwent Mouth lock.

We need to get the left cabin side of Corbiere finished this week, so this morning we headed back to Sawley and moored in the same spot after filling with diesel at the marina. But the weather has turned against us again, breezy and showery, so we couldn’t do anything today. Carol and Mags went shopping while I dogsat.

A cormorant keeping a beady eye out as we turned at the marina above Derwent Mouth
We’re hoping for an improvement for the next couple of days. Fingers crossed!

Locks 2 (the same one twice!) miles 2 (there and back again!)

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Meetings and Greetings.

We got the second coat of paint on the cabin side of Corbiere on Thursday. We had to move the boat to under the railway bridge just 100 yards down, not to avoid rain but the bright sunshine. In the sun the cabin was far too warm to paint; the brushes would have just stuck to it! The finish isn’t brilliant, but we’re amateurs, after all. It’s certainly better than a lot of boats knocking about on the cut.

Carol reversing back to moor up after the painting.
Yesterday we didn’t do so much, just odd jobs around the boat. In the evening Carol and her brother Phillip and sister in law Dawn arrived. P & D stayed overnight and brought Corbiere down to Sawley with us today.

It’s been a beautiful day again, blue skies and no wind. Where was this weather in the summer? Still at least we’ve the opportunity to take advantage of it now. I feel for those people who booked boating holidays and had to endure the lashing rain and winds we’ve had.

Cruising to Weston

Weston Lock
At Weston Lock we had a surprise, someone shouting from the opposite bank “Are you Seyella? We read your blog!” Thanks Sue and Mike, it’s great to meet people who read what we are up to. But I was admonished for not putting much on recently. So, in recompense, here’s a picture of you two. Have a good trip.
A queue of boats waiting to come up made the lower lock landing impossible to get on to, to pick up Dawn and I. I managed to hop on just against the lock bridge, but poor Dawn had to walk down to the next bridge to hitch a ride.

Waiting for CorbiereSuccessful collection
A lot of boats coming up the canal meant that we had an easy trip. Each lock (apart from Shardlow) was just being vacated as we arrived, and with boats waiting to come up, the crews were helping us through.

Well timed at Aston Lock
Shardlow was quieter than expected.
Near the flood lock there’s a chap with a miniature railway in his garden….
We said goodbye to the Trent and Mersey Canal at Derwent Mouth, crossed the Trent/Derwent river junction and arrived at Sawley at just after 14:00. Carol and Sonja were waiting to meet us, I think Carol just wanted to make sure that Phillip hadn’t scratched the new paint….
Give us another couple of fine days and we’ll get this cabin side done too.

I’ve put another blog link on the list on the left. NB Lucky Duck. Check it out, Amy and James are very entertaining writers, but unfortunately not as the lucky as the boat name implies…

Locks 4, miles 6½

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

What a difference a week makes….

I’ve just realised it’s been a week since I posted last. Sorry to all those who log on regularly, but we’ve not had a lot to report. At last the weather seems to be improving, although it’s cooler the rain seems to have eased for a while.
This means that it’s PAINTING weather, but more of that later.

Lets see; since last Wednesday; the coalman rang and said he’d deliver on Thursday afternoon, so we moved the few hundred yards to the water point near the BW maintenance depot, filled up with water and topped up just as the delivery arrived. I feel a lot better now we’ve got fuel stacked on the roof. We look like proper live-aboards again.

We took the boat down to the junction with the derelict Derby Canal and turned around to return to where we moored for the last couple of nights. The short stub of the canal that remains in water is used as a base for Swarkestone Boat Club, but they’ll have to relocate if the planned restoration of the canal goes ahead.

The boat club at the junction with the Derby Canal
The canal is dry from the first bridge on, but the route for the first mile or so is clearly defined. The towpath has been adopted as a cycle way.
One of the obstacles; the A50 crosses at what would be water level.
Further on there must have been an aqueduct crossing this stream which would need to be reinstated.
I didn’t go any further, the route disappears into a mass of new residential development. It goes into Derby, linking up with the Erewash Canal at Sandiacre. When restored it would be part of a short ring, taking in a bit of the Trent, and the Erewash and the Trent and Mersey canals.
Saturday we moved back to Willington for the services, and I indulged myself on Sunday night with a takeaway from Happy Garden. I reckon this is the best Chinese takeaway we’ve come across.

Back to Willington.
On Monday we retraced our steps, back through Stenson and stopped above Swarkestone Lock, then, after Carol arrived yesterday morning, moved down through Swarkestone Lock and moored just below. There’s a good concrete edge to the canal here, ideal for working on the boat.

Swarkestone Lock. You wouldn’t want to fill it this fast with a boat in!
Catching up with the gossip in the lock
We did a bit of final preparation work in the afternoon, then today it was mask the windows, wipe down the panels, and get painting.

The first coat goes on…
And is finished an hour later.
“What’s all the fuss about… it’s only a bit of paint….”
Weather permitting another coat will go on tomorrow, then we’ll move towards Shardlow, find another suitable spot and do the other side.

This week the Royal Yachting Association, British Marine Federation and Inland Waterways Association issued a joint statement outlining how red diesel pricing will be dealt with come November 1st. The full statement is here, but the gist is that boaters will be asked to declare the proportions of fuel used for propulsion and domestic purposes. The supplier then works out the cost, domestic use fuel at the same duty rate as now (9ppl+5% VAT), propulsion use at the higher rate of (50.2ppl+17.5%VAT).

I’ve been keeping a log of usage since March, and this indicates that we have a split of 53/47, propulsion/domestic. If a boater is unable to declare their own proportions, a split of 60/40 will be assumed.

Locks 3, miles 6

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A short cruise to Swarkestone

Yesterday, as forecast, was pretty wet. We’re stuck at the moment on the 22 mile length between the river section at Alrewas in the west, and Derwent Mouth in the east. Both are closed due to flood conditions on the River Trent. So our trip onto the Soar is temporarily postponed. Still, there’re worse places. We’ve access to the services and shops at both Willington and Burton on Trent from here.

In between showers the guys at Stenson, opposite where we moored, relaunched NB Gorgeous George after she (he!) had her bottom blacked. Using a trailer and slipway is a lot easier and quicker than dry docking.

Gorgeous George ready for the water

In (s)he goes….

And out comes Emi-Lou for the same treatment
All in about 15 minutes.

Carol joined us today on a short cruise to Swarkestone. I’ve arranged for a local coal man to deliver to us near the lock, Thursday or Friday to suit him, so now we’re only 10 minutes away but still on an out of the way bankside mooring.
Stenson lock was a bit of a shock to the system. Over 12 feet deep, and the first proper wide lock since June.

It’s been the best day for a while, warm with sunny spells and a gentle breeze. Real autumn weather. Who was it who called it “the season of mellow fruitfulness”?

Here’s a sight you don’t see so often these days. Haystacks! Don’t they look better than the ubiquitous black wrapped bales….

Locks 1, miles 2½

Monday, September 08, 2008

Running in Sheffield and a short cruise to Stenson

We had an afternoon at Dad’s in Sileby on Friday. I picked up the car from Enterprise in Burton on Friday morning, moved the boat down to the green in Willington then we set off for a visit. It only took 35 minutes.
We went out for lunch, then at teatime Kay, Paul and my god-daughter Samantha, and Andy, Nyree and children Megan and Luke all turned up to say hello. So we had a good old chinwag, catching up with all the news.

I had a look at Andy’s new business unit in Wymeswold. Much better than the last place. He runs a steel fabrication company, so if you ever need anything doing – A-Weld – it’s in the book.

We got back to Willington about 21:00, after a very pleasant afternoon. On Saturday we just chilled, watching the rain and getting ready for going up to Sheffield Sunday morning.
There was a lot of to-ing and fro-ing on the canal. Mercia Marina opened it’s doors? today, so quite a few of the boats that were hanging about made a beeline for their new berths.
The official opening is next weekend, but there’s still quite a bit of groundwork to do to make the place look presentable.

Mercia Marina.

Mags made friends with a young moorhen. He (or she) came for breakfast most mornings.

We arrived in the Sheffield in plenty of time and had a gentle walk to the finish point of the race, where I left Mags and Meg and jogged the short distance to the start line. The weather was kind, the bit of drizzle we drove through on the way had cleared and we even had a bit of sun towards the end of the race. I was a bit disappointed with my time, last year I got a PB of 44:43 for the 10 km distance, and fully intended beating that this year. But they’d changed the course a little, and the last 1 km was uphill. I got my strategy wrong, leaving it too late to push for the finish, and came in 7 seconds slower than last year. Ah well, there’s always next year…
A very enjoyable event, though. As with all the Great Run series, well organised and a worthwhile goody bag at the end. We even managed to park just 10 minutes from the finish, but at a price! £7.40 for 3 hours! Ouch!

Getting back to Willington, we timed it nicely for me to have a shower then settle down to watch Lewis Hamilton snatch victory at Spa, only to have it taken away again after the event following a controversial stewards decision. I hope McLaren’s appeal is upheld, Hamilton did all he could to stay within the rules, even conceding the lead after gaining the advantage over Raikkonen by being forced to take a shortcut to avoid a collision. Giving a 25 second penalty meant he effectively was placed 3rd, after out-driving everyone else on the track. He must be gutted.

Today we moved the couple of miles down to Stenson, to meet up with Carol. Not much traffic about, we did the trip at just above tick-over, enjoying being on the move again, if only briefly. No rain, and even some sunshine in the afternoon.

Sunny (for a change) Stenson.

The weather is set to turn bad again tomorrow, and then brighter Wednesday. So we’ll stay here till then, and then make a decision. We may move down to Shardlow on Wednesday, but we can’t get any further than that anyway. The Trent, not surprisingly, is in flood, and closed to boats.

Locks 0, miles 3 or so.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Waiting in Willington

Here we are, officially in autumn. The weather isn’t a lot different though, is it! One sign is the profusion of blackberries in the hedges. Blackberry and apple crumble, my favourite.

We’re still in Willington, and will be for a few days more. I’ve organised a hire car for the weekend, so we can get up to Sheffield for the Great Yorkshire Run on Sunday. It’s handy here, only 4½ miles from the Enterprise branch in Burton, and only about 50 miles from the run. And the amenities are good here in the village. The rain is pretty wet, though
It’s busy with boats, more than normal. Mercia Marina, on the edge of the village towards Stenson, is opening for business at the weekend. The official opening is the weekend after, but I reckon they're getting some boats in to make the place look less sterile. So there’re quite a few boats tied up waiting to go in. I was told there are around 50 boats relocating from Sawley Marina, on the Trent. This is a better area, when the river is in flood you can’t get out of Sawley. This is more of an “all weather” navigation.

Yesterday we went back the ½ mile into the village to use the BW facility block, then came back and moored again. We actually winded (turned around) 3 times, so we’re facing the village again. On Saturday we’re going to try to get on the 48 hour moorings in the village, so we’re nearer the car park for Sunday morning.

When I first started running I did at least 1 race a year for charity. Since we’ve moved onto the boat my circle of regular acquaintances has contracted, so, rather than “tapping up” the same people all the time, I made the decision to run just for me.
I’ve changed my mind about that now, if I’m going to run I may as well try to make a difference to someone else. The someone else I’ve selected is Cancer Research UK, and I’ve set up a web page on, so anyone who wishes to sponsor me can do so online.

It’s too late for the Great Yorkshire Run, but I’ve set it up for the Great North Run on 5th October. So if you feel you want to contribute to this worthy cause, you’ve got just over 4 weeks to log on. It’s fully secure, and supported by a lot of charities. I’ll put a link on the front page of this blog, so you don’t even have to find this post for the link. Thanks in anticipation.