Saturday, 31 January 2009

At the walls of Burton

That's it, we are on the move as Caxton heads out for yesterday's journey, the dogs trailing behind with their two human minders, Jill and I no less...

We travelled nine miles yesterday from Weston-on-Trent through Willington and moored just a couple of miles short of Burton-on-Trent. We tend to seek secluded moorings both for the peace and quiet we crave and the safety of in the countryside where Daisy the Cat of NB. Matilda Rose and four dogs are safe.
Passing under a bandaged bridge. BW had posted notices to explain to Joe Public what had happened to the bridge, when it had happened and what 'plans' there were to repair the terrible damage to a 200 hundred year old bridge. Reading between the lines I think there might be a tussle going on about who was liable for the damage..

Caxton and Matilda Rose breasted up together at Willington services. Moorings were few and far between and not suitable for an overnight stop for us though the moorings may well suit others. We had a late lunch in the Rising Sun, shopped for a few essentials in the local co-op and left town, mooring just past bridge 24a, a couple of miles further on.

Last nights mooring.

Friday, 30 January 2009

We're back, let's rumble!!!

Arriving back from our walk today, Floyd jumps straight onto Matilda Rose's well deck and whines for his playmates to be let out. All hell lets loose then as they mock fight, mouth each other and hare about. It is such a joy to see dogs enjoying themselves like this.

Back in the groove

We are back in the 'cruising' groove after our extended stop over at Loughborough due flooding, or Kilby Bridge because of ice. After travelling yesterday, today is a day off to do jobs, get off the line and see some of the countryside we are travelling through. Leaving Joe and Graham to cut up a supply of wood that Jill and I had liberated yesterday, I went off with Fletcher and Floyd for a couple of hours. We walked along the canal to Swarkestone Lock, 3 miles or so, wandered off along a couple of tracks but it was too sticky underfoot to do much of that so we resumed our walk along the canal and returned to the boats, six miles in all.
The towpath is in excellent condition as this section is part of the Sustrans cycle route.

Below the derrick at Swarkestone Lock. I just love seeing these relics of a bygone age in good condition.

As write this Joe is replacing the o rings on the vacuum cassette after yet another 'incident'; we are rapidly losing confidence in the bloody thing! Worrying about whether you can use the loo without having to spend hours cleaning up is not conducive to happy boating.


We had an easy day yesterday, covering a little under four miles and only three locks but two of those locks required both Jill and myself behind the balance beams just to get them moving. The top gates at Aston and Weston lock were both p*ssing water in because of faulty gate paddles.
Above, an example of an unloved lock gate..

Caxton moored just below 'Fine George's Bridge'... now where did that name come from?

Here is a view along the canal from Bridge 10 just as we set off on our afternoon ramble up into the village of Weston-on-Trent.

Which way Dad?

Weston's 14th century church on the outskirts of the village. Below, evidence of the rise of the 19th century non-conformists in the village...

The Old Plough. Before setting off on our walk Jill had phoned the landlord to check on opening hours and whether the dogs would be welcome in his pub. The answer being Yes, planned our circular walk with refreshments in mind.
Here Joe has been asked to buy a round, a state of shock has set in...

And here they have both come to their senses and an act of obeisance to their womenfolk naturally follows! Yeah right, one can only wish...

Is it a canoe?

An interesting bow shape spotted at Dobsons Boatyard, Shardlow Wharf.

Camera Charged

The fool in charge of the camera - yes, that would be me -charged the device overnight and captured some pictures of the historic inland port of Shardlow as we set off Thursday morning.Above and below, the 18th century Clock Warehouse restored in 1979 and now a Pub.
Lockgate Stoves are based in this old warehouse above.
The Malt Shovel pub, built in 1799.
The Malt Shovel with an 18th century warehouse attached. On the opposite bank of the canal was, until fairly recently, a large independent brewery of the same era, now sadly demolished and replaced with housing.

Here Caxton is heading out of Shardlow after watering - Matilda Rose is still on the waterpoint in the background.

And, here the lock is prepared for our departure.

Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Here we are this morning at Sawley Cut visitor moorings. It poured with rain all night and we were concerned that rising levels on the R.Trent would prevent our leaving Sawley. A call from British Waterways at nine confirmed that the Trent was still open but the R.Soar had been closed again. We decided to head off after filling up with diesel at 63p a litre at Sawley Marina. The chandlery manager served us with diesel and petrol (for the gennies) and he was a really pleasant and helpful chap - sorry I didn't get his name, most remiss of me..
Here is Caxton and Matilda Rose in the Sawley Flood lock heading out towards the R. Trent and its junction with the R. Derwent and passing under the M1 motorway. Joe says that crossing the R. Derwent was "interesting". Feeling the boat kick about under our feet and watching Matilda Rose fighting the current ahead of us I would have found an alternative word to "interesting" but ever the one for understatement is Himself. We worked through Derwent lock and moored up for the day walking into Shardlow for a good look around in the afternnon. No pics this evening as some dumbcluck, that would be me, forgot to charge the camera...

What a Beauty

I was rather taken by this Dutch barge named Actief that we passed yesterday. I would like one of these beauties one day....

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Window of Opportunity

The green light! "I've just heard back from British Waterways, they are opening the River, do we go?"
A quick meeting of the planning committee, a quick look at the guide books, fingers and toes produced for the counting of miles and locks and hours, and a decision; We can do it - so we're off.

A view of the church of St. James at Normanton on Soar from the River.

The estimate was that it would take four hours to get from Meadow Top Lock at Loughborough to Sawley Cut, it took three an a half hours. We left Loughborough at 1.30pm and moored at Sawley at 5pm just as a gentle rain started.
On the R. Soar going past Kegworth. Nb Matilda Rose ahead.
Ratcliffe Power station cooling towers that dominate the landscape.Trentlock Sailing Club House on the junction of the R. Trent and the R.Soar.

Turning onto the R.Trent with Matilda Rose in the lead.

Looking back towards Sawley Locks..
Nosing through the Sawley moorings to find a place to rest for the night..

Monday, 26 January 2009

Basket Case

A wee trip with the dogs into town to the local Dunelm store, £4 invested in a log basket - beats the old coal bag..

Boat Cuisine or Haut Cuisine

Travelling in convoy with Nb. Matilda Rose and sharing the odd meal together has opened up a refreshed interest in food and food preparation - look away now Greygal - The Matilda Rose crew are confirmed carnivores whilst I am decidedly more inclined to the vegetarian selection and as I am Head Chef and Bottle Washer aboard the good ship Caxton, Himself has to tow the line and eat vegetarian food a good deal of the time. So while the Divine offerings on MR are things like venison, roast butternut squash, caramelised shallots and apple crumble with custard here on Caxton it is Thai tofu curry, buckwheat pancakes stuffed with spicy sweet potato and baby spinach, vegetarian kofta curry and yogurt dips.
Jill and I have been preparing meal plans for each week which really focuses the mind and, purse, when shopping and helps to reduce waste.
So this weeks offerings aboard Caxton are:
Home made fishcakes, lentil and apricot stuffed aubergine, macaroni cheese, steamed syrup sponge, haddock mornay, seafood risotto and vegetarian chilli.
Is this the good life? It has my vote!

To the woods..

Here is the result of a couple of hours work this morning. The Caxton crew, along with the crew of Matilda Rose, including the four dogs of course, cut and chopped enough wood to keep the home fires burning for a couple of weeks at least.
Here are three dogs and three humans sorting and splitting logs before loading them into baskets - see how the dogs are concentrating on the task..

And here below is Floyd helping his Dad.
Altogether a very satisfying and productive morning.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


I am confused. A single voice is a squeak in the wilderness but join together with others, focus and organise and now you might make someone hear - whether they listen is quite another thing of course. So do I join the Safe Our Waterways campaign or the Inland Waterways Association, or both, or neither? Thoughts on a postcard...

Hold Fast

This is the red light that illuminates my cabin at night. No, we are not moored in Amsterdam and No, I am not trying to earn a few coppers on the side.... or the 'back' for that matter. I am eagerly awaiting the day that I wake to a green hue bathing the walls of the bedroom because it will mean we can cruise again. We are though quite comfortable here awaiting the River Soar's mood to change but having got accustomed to being on the move this stationary life is just a tad frustrating. The River has not burst its banks but the current is very fast and furious and handling a narrowboat in those conditions would be somewhat hairy and very foolhardy.. So we wait, and we walk, and we clean the boat, and visit the town, and we read.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Dear Minister

Dear Minister
I have recently been in correspondence with the local council for Loughborough (Charnwood) about the condition of the towpath in the town. The nuts and bolts of which was about the level of dog fouling, the lack of bins and the lack of civic pride and action in clearing up the mess. I received the expected response that the towpath was the responsibility of British Waterways (BW) not the Council. The correspondent for the Council chose to miss my point that it is local residents, not boaters/licence payers, that walk 'local' dogs that create the mess. This is a circular argument that will go on and on unless someone 'at the top' resolves these silly turf wars re funding and responsibility. Towpaths are a tremendous facility that have been adopted by non-boaters for recreation, be it walking or jogging or cycling or fishing; and quite rightly so. But the cost of maintaining the towpaths falls squarely on the BW budget. So while BW install dog mess bins and teams to clean up after lazy local residents, remove graffiti from historic bridges, household waste and shopping trolleys from the navigation as a boater I don't get a lock gate replaced, dredging done and vegetation cut back! It cannot be beyond the wit of man to put in place a satisfactory financial protocol that achieves its end, i.e. excellent facilities for all users of urban towpaths. Perhaps you are the 'man at the top' who can find a solution rather than simply bat the 'problem' somewhere else....I truly hope so.
yours sincerely

Lesley K

Be gone you scummy boaters

This is a stretch of the River Soar looking back towards Normanton-on-Soar. Across the River are the tail end charlies of the Normanton-on-Soar Boat Club moorings. There is an attractive Inn with River frontage - but no moorings and there are these...

Emergency moorings should you and your 20 ton bath tub get into trouble on a raging river.
I suppose if you are in the proverbial then these emergency fence posts are a God-send, lashing yourself and boat to these amidst an angry torrent surely beats the local water meadows but the welcome of a proper mooring adjacent to some form of civilisation is not to be had a Normanton; I wonder why?