Thursday, 26 May 2011

Back at Lincoln

Early this afternoon we arrived back in this splendid city and in spite of thick squally rain showers all around, its worthy crown, the magnificent cathedral on top of its steep hill could be seen all the way from Bardney.... A most wonderful sight!

Towards the end of a shower.
The black at the top left is my umbrella

We tied up right in the city just a hundred yards before the Glory Hole Bridge, at the old trip boat mooring under a willow whose green fronds weep right down into the river. I was able to nip ashore to the Post Office to collect my mail, before feeling our way out into the wide Brayford Pool and on to the visitor moorings beyond the road bridge.
The heavy but abrupt showers continue as I write, clattering on the roof and deafening against the cratch cover!

The sculpture of a Cow....

....and the real thing!

The Glory Hole, Lincoln

No Signal

The one drawback with mooring at Bardney is the complete loss of signal for the phone and internet connection. Consequently the following though written on Tuesday, I’ve only managed to transmit today on arrival at Lincoln. I hope you don’t get too muddled whilst trying to sort out the chronology of it all!

Tuesday 24th May
Boston to Bardney
We finally left the quiet and pleasant Boston moorings yesterday morning. The Sun was shining beautifully in an almost cloudless sky as we got underway and there was just the very softest of breezes blowing from the west in little flurries.
However this idyllic situation was not to last, for within the hour the sky had covered over with large cotton wool cumulus cloud, misleadingly white on the top but looking black beneath and the wind increased rapidly from the west to gale force. Relatively speaking ‘Futurest’, with her small draft, no keel and high windage was at its mercy and for most of yesterday we were heading at about forty five degrees towards the west bank of the river in order to compensate and maintain our course down the centre.
One had to concentrate at the helm all the time though, as one could never rely on the fickle breeze remaining constant. At one minute the gale would be screaming across the river at force 8 but within seconds it would drop to nothing meaning that the course was then over-compensated by forty five degrees. So if one’s attentiveness had wavered at that particular moment one could rapidly find oneself within seconds crashing heavily into the west bank as a result.
I had to keep alert until we reached Tattershall Bridge moorings, where at about two o’clock, I was happy to call it a day.
Though there is nothing here except a modern steel and concrete road bridge that replaces its more beautiful arched red brick predecessor, which still stands nearby but is no longer used, it was very quiet, except for the whistling of the wind around the ship, the groan of the floating pontoon as it worked against its pylons and the creak of the mooring lines as they strained to hold ‘Futurest’ snugly alongside.
Inevitably the stormy shower came in the end and for ten minutes we were bombarded with the sound of heavy rain battering the steel roof and sides of the ship. However the noise of the downpour on the vinyl cratch cover I found quite soothing as well as thrilling, especially when no rain got inside at all.
Afterwards the sky cleared of all cloud and the wind died to nothing, presenting to us a very beautiful evening. Such a contrast to the day.
By the moorings there are one or two houses and a pub that was open but not very busy. I couldn’t see anybody inside at all but the doors were open and the lights were on. There was a shop that sells fishing tackle only, an old red post box of G VI R vintage and a sign outside another house saying ‘Fresh Eggs for sale’. I bought a dozen of these this morning before I left and plan to try a couple of them tonight.

The Calm after the Storm at Tattershall Bridge

Tattershall Bridges to Bardney
This morning having bought my eggs, which look beautiful, we were underway at ten and the weather followed a similar pattern to yesterday; there were few clouds and no wind as we left the moorings, but within the hour it was blowing a gale. However the going wasn’t quite so bad since the changed direction of the river meant that today we were heading more directly into the wind. We made good progress and arrived here at the Bardney Pontoons at two o’clock. Since that time, the wind has died completely once more and the Sun shines contentedly from a white, blue and shades of pink mottled sky. A few minute ago I took some photos of the sunset.

The elegant Dog Rose

Two nice surprises today! One was the sighting of an Arctic Tern. They are not usually found inland but we are not that far from the North Sea here so he wasn’t so out of place. With his black capped head I thought at first he was a Little Gull, which I’ve seen plenty of on this river. Their size and markings are similar but in this case there was no mistaking the long tail streamers of the Arctic Tern as he soared with little apparent effort in the wind. It was a wonderful display!
The second surprise was the sighting of a single Whooper Swan on the bank. Unfortunately I didn’t have my camera ready since he looked just like a Mute Swan as we approached; about the same size and with the familiar long slim neck. It wasn’t till we were abeam of him that I noticed his bill was very different to that of his cousin. There was no indentation at the top where there is usually a black bulge on the Mute Swan; the predominantly yellow bill presented a straight profile from the top of his pure white head to the end of his bill, which was tipped with a contrasting black. It could have been a Bewick Swan which has a similar bill in shape and colour, but this I am told is a much smaller bird with a shorter neck. However by the time I had my camera ready for shooting he was way astern of us and with his back to us looked just like a Mute Swan again.
This is a problem with the ordinary digital camera; it is never ready for use whenever one needs it. If one leaves it on, after a while it switches itself off to conserve battery power and in one’s haste to take the next picture this isn’t noticed. But even if it is still on when it is picked up, it takes so long, after the trigger has been pushed, to get focussed and set up that nearly always the photographic opportunity has been lost forever. Nonetheless they are good! The benefit is that so many pictures can be taken that by the law of averages, one or perhaps even two, might turn out to be real gems.

Sunset at Bardney Moorings

Sunday, 22 May 2011


The Skipper’s feeling sorry for himself at the moment.... Has been all over the weekend.
Whilst coming in to moor alongside ‘Medos’ at Chapel Hill, he put his left foot out to try to fend off from the other boat, but somehow got it caught ... the silly fool!.... and his heel was  grazed. It was a daft thing to do and he should have known better. He knows quite well how to handle me and should have done it right in the first place, as he normally does and it then wouldn’t have happened.
He was able to ‘first aid’ it and dress it okay and it seemed fine until we arrived here. Then he walked for miles on it when he went shopping on the first day and the heel of his trainer rubbed the spot and made it more painful. So he decided on Friday to find a doctor to look at it to make certain that everything was alright.
This time he’d managed to dig out his old leather clogs, without a back piece so his wound stayed clear. I could have told him to do that in the first place, before he’d done any walking... It would have been a much more sensible idea! Then he traipsed for miles around the town again, trying to find a surgery who would look at the heel.
None could fit him in at such short noticed so in the end he took a taxi to A&E at the local Pilgrim Hospital and they saw him, though he had to wait for about three hours.
The doctor who inspected the heel did have it x-rayed and then, since there was nothing broken, put him on a course of a week’s antibiotics to avoid the threat of infection.
So whereas we were going to leave here on Friday morning originally, the ‘Old Man’ has decided to stay for the weekend just to make sure the antibiotics are working.
So here am I, stuck like a lemon against a wooden, weed encrusted pontoon again..... Before this we seemed to be doing so well too..... I could spit!
In a way though I’m quite glad he’s preoccupied as it means that I can get a word in edgeways on this computer... I haven’t been able to do that for ages.
The trouble is, the Skipper’s too soft for his own good. He was quite happy to walk for miles around the town looking for a surgery and every one of them put him off. If it’d been me I would’ve demanded at the first one that somebody sees me and not move until they did! He’s far too happy to see everyone else’s point of view as well as his own for my liking.
It was the same on the Trent when he tried to rescue that other boat. I’d have just gone straight past, knowing that the tide was ebbing and the rash skipper should have known better than to try to cut corners anyway at that state of the tide. He was quite safe and would just have to wait patiently until the flood tide refloated him.
But not our guy... He had to go in to help if he could and we finished up going aground ourselves. It was alright for him... While waiting to refloat he was able to have a cup of tea and a nice friendly chat to the other party. Never thought for one minute I expect of me stuck in the mud... possibly damaged mortally for all he knew. Huh!
Ah well!  Hopefully we shall move tomorrow.

The ‘Boston Stump’ in the afternoon sunlight

Sunset at Boston

Thursday, 19 May 2011

The 'Boston Stump'

‘Futurest’ and I arrived in Boston early yesterday afternoon and are tied up quietly to a floating pontoon that is the British Waterways’ Visitor moorings.
We are right at the edge of the town. Ahead of us is the tall tower of St Botolph’s Parish Church known affectionately as the ‘Boston Stump’, which was visible for miles along the straight course of the river as we approached yesterday, while behind us is the lush green, flat and fertile wilderness of the Fenlands.
Along the right hand side of the river opposite to where we are moored is a mature tree lined road with Victorian built detached houses, indicating the heritage of an old prosperous town, while the river itself, though there is no longer any sign of commercial vessels on it that helped produce this affluence, is filled now with large white leisure cruisers and the odd narrowboat such as ourselves indicating to some degree that the town is still flourishing.

The Moorings at Boston with the ‘Stump’ in the Background

The River Witham at low tide below the ‘Grand Sluice’ Lock

On the passage yesterday from Chapel Hill to Boston the most memorable part is that it was composed of three long lock-less stretches of wide river as straight as they could possibly be with the end of the longest, of about five miles, all but disappearing over the horizon. Perspective certainly made the end of the reach too small to see with the naked eye. It was a different boating experience entirely to that which I am used to on my own small and meandering South Oxford Canal.
But it was quiet and peaceful and apart from the wildlife we never saw another soul to disturb our reveries. The Sun was shining mostly in a fluffy white and blue sky while the cold north westerly breeze that we have been experiencing for days now, decided to veer into the infinitely warmer south western sector.
Life all around seemed pretty good!

Evening twilight on the Witham from Boston

I have just been reminded this morning that I possess a first class guide of this area. My good friend Robin, who now lives in Queensland Australia, has just emailed me. Robin and I go back a long way but this morning he has been telling me of his boyhood days living in this area of Lincolnshire. He and I were in the Merchant Navy together and the last time we met was fifty one years ago on a ship called the ‘Gladstone Star’. We sailed together then and the voyage was quite memorable. In about a month’s time Robin and his wife Jan are coming to the UK for a holiday so I hope we shall be able to meet up sometime/somewhere before they have to return to Oz.
It will be delightful to see you again Robin!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Bardney to the Kyme Eau

This evening we find ourselves at a small hamlet called Chapel Hill, which is mostly caravan site I think. We are moored at the junction of the River Witham and the Sleaford Navigation, otherwise known as the Kyme Eau.
From all reports the latter is a pretty little canal that used to run for about fifteen miles all the way down to Sleaford. But apparently, though the canal is navigable officially for about seven and a half miles as far as Cobblers lock, after a mile and a half from the mouth and after the first lock, the waterway narrows considerably so that beyond this point there is nowhere to turn round for coming back. Most boaters if they are on their own, only go as far as this first lock.
To get right to the end at Cobblers lock one needs to breast up backwards to a companion boat so that one of you tows the other down to the end and the other does the powering back. A bit like the old fashioned steam railway trains with an engine at each end. A neat idea I think! On the way back from Boston I expect I shall want to go down as far as I can anyway to see what it’s all about.
Today, though the sky has remained mostly and darkly overcast and we have been treated only occasionally to happy glimpses of the Sun, with the wind blowing more gently from a southern direction, the air temperature has been much warmer. Hopefully for good have we shaken off the strong north westerly breeze that has been chilling our very bones for many days.
We’ve made good time covering twelve miles in three hours. But this of course is nothing on the type of wide river that we find ourselves now.
There has been plenty of wildlife again; diving Grebes that don’t allow me to get close enough to take a decent picture of them and Herons, Swans and Mallards by the score with the odd Little Gull appearing now and again soaring in the wind.
We’re beginning to see more water bird families now too and certainly the Mallards are busy and the Greylag Geese. There have been one or two Swans and also Coots sitting on their nests but as yet no little ones have been seen.
I had a nice surprise today though, when I spotted for the first time a male Shelduck (Is that a Sheldrake?) He was up on top of the bank and when I first saw him I thought I was looking at the silhouette of a large Mallard, but as soon as I put the binoculars on him, his dark head, predominantly white body and bright orange neck band immediately proclaimed him for what he was. He wasn’t as bold as the Mallards either and flew off before I could get close enough for a decent photo of him.
We came into moor early this afternoon but the pontoon wasn’t long enough to take us on our own so we are moored alongside a boat called ‘Medos’ owned by Dave and Dee. The former noticed my fancy rope work on the Swan’s neck and confessed that, in vain he has been trying to make a Turks Head for ages. He asked if I would show him how I did mine. So this evening we’ve been sitting in the Boatman’s Cabin with our bits of string doing three part Turks Heads. I think he might have got the hang of it now.
Then just as I began to write this I had a lovely surprise when my friend Ann, who owns ‘Miss B’ on the River Wey, gave me a call. It was lovely to hear her voice and it cheered me up enormously.

Lincoln to Bardney

Written at Bardney Moorings on Monday 16th May
On and off today it has been raining for most of the time and blowing a gale from the west and as I write now, snugly made fast to the visitor pontoon on the River Witham at the little fenland village of Bardney, it has just begun to rain again.
The passage from Lincoln apart from the weather was quite uneventful though I have to disagree with other travellers that I’ve heard from, who declare this stretch is too boring. It is made up of long straight reaches yes, and does have the same high banks that we encountered on the Fossedyke. However the water level is lower here relative to the land so one can view the surrounding landscape quite happily over the top. Whereas the high banks on the Fossedyke were earthworks or levees and the land on the other side was down and hidden below them. We’ve descended through two locks since leaving Lincoln not because the contours of the land have changed but because the level of the Witham is lower than the Fossedyke. Hence the difference in the view.
Had we been heading into the weather today conditions would have been terrible as the fresh, gusting to gale force, wind was flinging the rain along before it. Even the Swans, who normally need a long runway to get airborne were managing to get off the water within about three body lengths and as many wing flaps.  Their normally inscrutable faces mind you, were looking a bit surprised as they swept upwards and over us so easily.
As it was, we had it all behind us and we were rolling along on the swell. To keep the wet from entering the Boatman’s Cabin, I repeated my previous procedure on the Trent; I closed the after doors behind me on the top step, slid the lid right up to my stomach and hoisted my umbrella over my shoulder to keep the nearly horizontal rain from entering from behind.
The nearby commuter villages of Washingborough, Cherry Willingham and Fiskerton we passed in rapid succession though they were only visible at a distance and were not actually on the riverside. Even the centre of Bardney Village is a twenty minute walk from the pontoon where we are moored.
Earlier I walked ashore to find the shop that the ‘First Mate Guide’ indicated was in the village, to buy some bread and milk but found that it had shut down. However instead I found a large Co-op that had opened recently which was a better idea anyway with their larger stock of provisions. Small village shops tend to have very little.
I walked across to visit the local parish church of St Laurence and was most impressed with it. It has been well looked after, but relatively unaltered structurally since it was first built in the Fifteenth Century. However the Victorians had had a go as is usual and not only added stained glass in the windows but also painted a beautiful mural around the chancel. Recently this has been renovated and the result is startling but lovely I think.
There was a lady called Jenny in the church as I arrived repairing one of the door curtains and she was happy to behave as my guide all around the church. It was she who told me of the existence of the Co-op after I indicated that I was disappointed that the shop was closed and she also went on to add that the village was much quieter these days since the local sugar beet factory had closed down. There were lots of businesses not able to exist anymore and the previous local workforce was finding it difficult to readjust.
I am lacking a strong signal again today so the photos which I have taken will have to come later but I was most impressed with Stamp End lock in the centre of Lincoln; it is like nothing I’ve seen before. Though the bottom gate is quite conventional with paddles (or sluices as they are called in this part of the country) the top gate is an electrically operated guillotine and works very efficiently, even though as one passes beneath one gets showered with drips of dirty water. So long as one has a BW key it’s fine and easy to work.
Weather permitting we shall set off again tomorrow morning though I’m not sure how far we shall get. We shall need at least two more days travel till we get to Boston for sure. But that is the beauty of this life; every day I have the option of being able to make it up as I go along without having to discuss it with anybody else..... Except ‘Futurest’... Maybe I should consult her. But that is never much use. Being inanimate she never answers me back.

Sunday, 15 May 2011


I was awoken early this morning at our moorings in Lincoln just as the light was beginning to seep through my porthole. It was not due to the sound of loud thunder, as I might have expected from the recent weather report, but from the lonely but lusty call of the male Blackbird singing his heart out from somewhere close by. He was happily announcing the approach of another glorious spring day. He must have been loud for I could hear him very clearly, even though I was well battened down in my well insulated steel tube.
He stayed for about a quarter of an hour and then I went back to sleep to awake at six thirty with the light streaming in through the same port. I could see blue sky and noticed that there was no wind. Could this be a foretaste of the day?
But since then, the wind has increased and is quite blustery again while the sky is filled with blackish looking cumulus cloud. It is still chilly with the wind from the north west and I expect we shall have more showers ere long. It’s a good day to remain on board.

The Fossedyke, built by the Romans in AD 120.
Like their roads, it’s as straight as a dye for miles across the flat Fenland!

Back in Torksey, we had to wait on the outside of the lock for sufficient tidal water to float us over the lower lock cill, until Thursday afternoon. But then all went well and we tied up for the night only a few yards on, at the visitor moorings on the other side of the lock, ready for a good start the following day.
As we set off for Saxilby, our first stop on the way to Lincoln and five miles from Torksey, it was cloudy and the chill north westerly breeze was gusting strongly. But the Sun shone brightly and the wildlife on the water didn’t seem to feel the cold like I did. The Mallards and Swans did their usual dunking routine with the water cascading over their heads and off their backs.
The former were doing lots of mating too and on one occasion the poor female was completely submerged for quite some time, so that I feared for her final survival, with the combined weights of two males on top of her, who seemed to fight bitterly with each other for their right to be the one to mate. However when she surfaced again she was quite unperturbed by the commotion and as one male chased the other off furiously, she just dunked her head, shook herself and her tail vigorously while flapping her wings, and sailed off quite unconcernedly in the other direction.
The village of Saxilby has quite a few shops as well as pubs, including a large Co-op which I went ashore to use. We stayed here for the night and after topping up at the fresh water point yesterday morning, we set off for Lincoln, a run of about six miles arriving early in the afternoon.

Arriving at Lincoln

I hadn’t been to the city for many years and have only been once before, while we were on holiday at Skegness when the children were small but I do remember being impressed by the cathedral then. It is a magnificent building, to rival any other in the country I think; or at least the ones that I’ve seen. The city was teeming with people around the shops in particular but the long steep exhaustive climb up to the cathedral and castle didn’t seem to deter people either; everywhere was very popular.

The long steep climb up to the Cathedral

Two things were different since my last visit thirty years ago. The first was that an entry fee was now payable to view the cathedral whereas before a donation only, had been desired. And the second difference was that the real Magna Carta was there to see last time, whereas yesterday there was just a facsimile on display; the real one is currently out on tour. However I was unable to read either the original or the fake so it didn’t make a lot of difference.
I spent a couple of hours there altogether, had a cup of tea in the cathedral restaurant before making the long descent back to the ship. I had looked at the castle in terms of a visit there too but on noting that the entrance fee I had paid already didn’t include this as well, I just looked in at the large well manicured lawn from the entrance gate then turned around and walked away.  
Back at the ship I used the rest of the day catching up with emailing and telephoning as I had a decent signal to use, for a change.

The Cathedral from the west

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Newark to Torksey

We have a weak internet signal today, moored on the pontoon in Torksey Cut, so I shall just about manage to transmit text. The photographs will have to follow later.
We’d arrived at Newark last Saturday and I planned to stay there on Sunday anyway, so I could do some sightseeing. I would leave for Cromwell Lock at the head of the tidal River Trent on Monday morning. However I found I needed to use the post office and as that wasn’t open on Sunday I decided to stay an extra day and then travel on Tuesday.
But I managed to do the post office and all the necessary seeing of sights by noon on Monday, so phoned Cromwell lock and they advised me to travel down to them, only a couple of hours away, that afternoon so that I could go through the lock, at the right state of the tide, at 0930 on Tuesday.
So straightaway I let go and off we jolly well went.
It was a lovely run on the lovely wide river. The Sun was shining in between fair weather cumulus clouds, blotted out occasionally but mostly showing its happy face through.
But soon from the south and moving rapidly in our direction there was a build up of tall black cloud showing the telltale streaks and poor visibility beneath a low base. There was a chance it might miss us but it looked doubtful as the cloud covered such a wide area. Within minutes the wind increased from the south to gale force building up quite a following swell. So there was no doubt now that we were destined for a bit of wetness.
For a few seconds I left ‘Futurest’ in auto pilot (well I left the helm anyway) and dashed all over the ship making sure all was well battened down. Having donned my wet weather kit, I then stood on the top step of the companionway, closed the back cabin doors behind me and slid the hatch to, so I was wedged tight in the hole, though with gaps at the sides. I have a long tiller and can steer easily from this position.
I was anxious to keep the heavy rain from getting into the Boatman’s Cabin and filling the after bilge, which is what happens if everything is left open. Even though there is an automatic pump down there I don’t like allowing the after cabin to get wet generally. So as the first heavy spots of rain arrived I put up my big umbrella, pointed it into the fierce wind and this kept us all nice and dry while the rain bucketed down on us with a savage vengeance.
It became very dark and the thunder clapped loudly right overhead. Visibility was reduced to about two boat lengths in front of us as the hail speared down all around. It had picked up a lot of momentum on its way down from thousands of feet up.
But then about ten minutes later, just as quickly as it had begun, it stopped raining and the Sun shone brilliantly just as if nothing had happened.
After that we soon arrived at Cromwell Lock and though the rain had disappeared from the horizon the wind was still showing us its strength from the south. It hadn’t abated at all and I had to turn about in the wide water adjacent to the pontoon above the lock and weir, in order to counteract it and at the same time stem the current to come alongside nice and gently. With fingers crossed it all went well for me.

Yesterday morning as scheduled at nine thirty I entered the large Cromwell Lock in the company of another fifty seven foot narrow boat and after a drop of seven feet we were let out at the other end somewhere in the distance (I exaggerate very slightly!). My companion shot off quickly as they all invariably do and he soon disappeared in a white wash ahead.
The weather was fine again with no threat of black clouds at all and even though I was taking it easy with ‘JP2’ we were still flying along at about 5 knots on the ebb tide. Villages passed by on either side but because of the high banks at this stage, we didn’t see much of them except for the top of the odd church tower as it passed swiftly by. The banks weren’t steep though and cattle were frequently seen in the water up to their bodies drinking contentedly. Woolly sheep with bleating lambs were also at the water’s edge drinking, though they weren’t bold enough to get their feet wet. The birdlife was prolific and every species of waterfowl was represented I think, including a Kingfisher who flew across ahead of us.
About a mile from Torksey, deep in my reveries and contemplation I began to negotiate a left hand hairpin bend in the river, keeping well to the outside of it, where the deep water was likely to be and it was here that I came across my swift footed friend from Cromwell Lock stuck fast on the inside of the bend. It looked as if he had been trying to cut the corner. As he had raced so far ahead me from the start he must have been aground there for sometime, which on the ebb tide meant that he would be well fast by now and have to wait till the tide turned to refloat him. Though the white water at his stern was churning furiously and he was trying to pole himself off, nothing seemed to be happening.
However though he would probably need to be patient and wait till Nature refloated him, it would have been very churlish of me to just cruise past without offering a hand. And as he was still surrounded by water there was a chance that I might be able to tow him off.
But it was to no avail with the strong southerly breeze and the flow of the tide I did manage to manoeuvre close enough for him to attach a line to my bow but by then I was fast aground too and nothing would budge me either. ‘Futurest’s stern was in clear water but no matter how much I tried; no matter how much poling or rocking, she wasn’t going to budge her bow; both boats would now have to wait for the turn of the tide!
I contacted Torksey Lock on the VHF and they said that the tide would be turning in about ten minutes so it could be a wait of up to two hours before we were released. By this stage my new friend was aboard ‘Futurest’ with the gap between the two boats too wide for him to get back. So I made us a cuppa and we sat in the cratch and chatted to his wife across the ten foot gap for an hour or so. But I could see the water rising again and quite soon I started ‘JP2’ and we managed to get clear, eventually towing him off too. He was able to step back aboard his own boat and both husband and wife were most grateful for my help but soon shot off ahead of me again in a cloud of spray almost; they were well delayed by now of course. But an hour later when ‘Futurest’ and I chugged quietly into Torksey Cut they were both on the pontoon to welcome us and take our mooring lines.
It had been another adventurous day.

Sunday, 8 May 2011


Well the Skipper’s excelled himself over the last two days.... We have actually covered twenty three miles!
Bless him... I didn’t know he had it in him!
Though it was wonderful being on the River Trent again, even just tied up, I was glad that on Friday morning he decided to get organised and we were on our way from Trent Bridge.
I have to be honest; I was so glad to see the last of that blooming cricket stadium. Though he only went the once I was forever anxious that he was going to be there every day and we were going to have to stay in the one place for a week or more.... Well you know how long those silly matches go on for.
But we left nice and early .....well nine o’clock-ish anyway.... on Friday morning. Unfortunately there wasn’t much Sun but there was a warm southerly wind up my tail and I felt very good. I know the Skipper was happy too, as he was singing with great gusto Sir Joseph Porter’s song in ‘HMS Pinafore’ to my perfect engine beat.... Just about the right speed it was!

A Greylag family... with three Parents?

The locks on the river are all much larger now and when we arrived at the first one, Holme Lock, the skipper was pleased to discover that from now on down the river all the locks are manned by lock keepers and work on VHF channel 74. So he got his set out so he could hear all the chatter and announce our arrival at all the locks.

Great Crested Grebe

Quite a party of us in Hazelford Lock

Another narrow boat locked with us at Holme called ‘Wings and Roots’. It was skippered by a New Zealand lady called Janice and actually she was a perfect travelling companion for us as she went at the same speed and consequently stayed in close consort with us all the way to Newark.
I have to say, this is something that me and the Skipper do see eye to eye about (big faint eh?) the speed we travel I mean .... At least when I can get him to move at all that is! So long as I’m actually moving I have no interest in going fast at all, as befits a lady of my age I think.
I can go faster than any of them if I want to, but I see no point. These youngsters with their high revving oriental engines are on the wrong race track as far as I’m concerned and should be on the road instead! I’m thankful that the Skipper feels the same. He likes to be able to see what is going on all around as he is going along.... He’s a real dawdler with his binoculars!
In our two day passage there was quite a bit of traffic going our way but we were both happy to see them rush past and it was obvious that ‘Wings and Roots’, with the New Zealand flag bravely fluttering, was exactly the same.
We tied up on Friday afternoon at the visitor moorings just before Gunthorpe Lock, right outside the popular ‘Unicorn Hotel’. In the evening the Skipper went ashore for a pint... He deserved it bless him. He’d done very well.... for him! It was such a beautiful warm night that people were spilling out of the front door of the pub onto the road and into the gardens. It was what summer’s all about really.

Greens and reflections

Yesterday was the same peaceful travelling, though it soon began to rain after we’d left the mooring. But ‘Wings and Roots’ and us were happy to dally along as all the others rushed by. The river though wide now was very snaking in this part of the country and there were lots of large weirs that were trying their hardest to drag me over. There was lots of wildlife around; more than usual..... Great Crested Grebes that dived for food and stayed under water for so long. There were Black Cormorants too with their long necks and a white circular patch beneath their wings.
But eventually the Sun came out again, just before we arrived at Newark and here we said goodbye to our travelling companion as she went into the Kings Marina, where she lives.
Then the Skipper and I performed a smart turnabout in the river adjacent to the Town moorings and came alongside the high quayside, stemming the flow of the river, which was quite fast at this point.
And here we are now safe and sound for the day but I think he wants to move on tomorrow...
And you know my feelings about that!

Thursday, 5 May 2011

Trent Bridge

Today we find ourselves on the River Trent proper, moored at the steps just to the south of the magnificent Trent Bridge. In fact 'Futurest' and I are right in front of the County Council Offices.
We left the mooring outside Sainsbury’s yesterday morning with the idea of travelling north down the Trent, hoping to make Gunthorpe, about eleven miles away before the day ended. However we needed fuel as I have explained previously, which meant we had to wait simply ages before we were able to get onto the fuelling point. This delayed us no end and by the time we went through Meadow Lock onto the river it was too late to be comfortably certain of arriving at Gunthorpe by nightfall.
As there were plenty of moorings available just above Trent Bridge I made a quick management decision on the spot (not something I’m normally used to, especially these days!) and decided to stay the night there. We have been here ever since.
In spite of the fact that we had been moored for ages outside a large branch of Sainsbury’s and I had thought we were well stocked up with provisions, by the time we arrived here, I decided that we needed some milk before we set off down the Trent so I went ashore to find a shop yesterday afternoon.
However I only got as far as Trent Bridge Cricket Ground, only a few yards from the boat, before I decided to leave the shopping till tomorrow and pop inside to watch a match that was going on.
When I was a lad and watched all the Test Matches on television, never did I realise that one day I would actually see a match live at this venue. Lords or the Oval perhaps, but not Trent Bridge. It was much too far away.
Though the wind remained chilly, it was a beautiful sunny day once more. So in I went and was most surprised to find that it was such a beautiful ground.
Nottinghamshire were playing Yorkshire and the latter were batting in their first innings on this, the first days play. I stayed for about five hours and was thrilled by the standard of play. Only one wicket fell while I was there and yet the bowling and fielding was brilliant. But as I left at five thirty the two batsmen were well up in their scores. One was nearing a century and the other his fifty. It was proving to be a good match I think.
Because I still needed to find the shops I decided to remain at these moorings for a second night but tomorrow we shall be on our way..... Definitely!
The Co Op that I found today wasn’t particularly well stocked but I did manage to buy the milk so we should be okay for a while now.

Nottinghamshire v Yorkshire at Trent Bridge

The new ornate Trent Bridge....

.....and all that’s left of the old medieval version

As I went ashore to find the shop for milk, purely by chance as I was crossing the busy road I came across the remains of what must have been an earlier Trent Bridge that once spanned the river. The remains are situated in the middle of a very busy, two laned arterial roundabout. There is no plaque to explain their history but from the way the bridge is facing leaves me in no doubt that it previously spanned the river.

Looking across the old bridge.

An arch of the new bridge can be seen in the distance

County Hall and Cricket

Well at least we’re on the River Trent again so I suppose that’s something! But this Skipper of ours does have some odd ideas.
Only on Tuesday was he getting all poetic about leaving the city and getting back to rural parts and when we left the mooring yesterday in beautiful cruising weather, I was really looking forward to a long day’s cruising in the wide and deep river.
However we needed to fill my diesel tank before we progressed any further and had to wait for over an hour while the boat ahead of us seemed to fill up everything that needed filling and emptied all the rest that needed unfilling. So by the time we’d finished at the service pontoon we had lost nearly two hours cruising time before we had even started.
But at last we reached the bottom of the Nottingham Canal and as we passed through the lock I was overcome almost, by the wide river in front of me and was so glad to feel enclosed in its arms again.
It was thrilling to be back!
But instead of turning left and heading downstream towards the north, as I thought he would, what does he go and do? .... He turns right, passes under Trent Bridge and moors against the steps.... Right in front of the County Hall.
I didn’t know what he was up to but from the self satisfied look on his face when he’d finished, I do believe he was expecting the dignitaries to roll out the red carpet, down the steps for him! .... The silly old fool!
As it was only just after noon when we arrived I thought he must have in mind some big exciting project to do on board; to make me look prettier or something and I could forgive him if that was the case.
But no after his lunch he went ashore and was gone all afternoon; didn’t arrive back till six.
He’d been to watch a cricket match between Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire !!!
Now what man who is remotely sane, would want to watch ..... A cricket match!
I could understand if he’d gone to nearby Nottingham Forest Ground to watch a football match to see those swarthy foreign footballers with their big bulging thighs, doing their thing.
Ooh Err! I wish I was human sometimes so I could indulge my fantasies. But to look at a lot of skinny men in white clothes doing lots of boring things on a cricket field, I cannot see the point of. How utterly dull and unexciting. Perverse too, rubbing their ball in their groin! What do they think they're doing?
Today he has gone off to find food so I don’t expect we shall be moving now till tomorrow at least.
Oh dear! He says he’s gone off to find food but I’ve just had a horrible thought!
I hope he hasn’t gone back to that cricket match, which apparently goes on for goodness knows how many days. I really am anxious about the man’s sanity sometimes.

Me on the River just above Trent Bridge

Looking across the wide river