A busy week

Monday 23rd July 

We travelled down to Gloucestershire today to go to a Thanksgiving Service for the life of our friend Edward. I had known him since the 1970s when I was a fresh-faced young Sales Engineer and he worked in the Electrical Design Office of R.A. Lister. Joy first met his wife, Hazel through a church group and we have remained friends with them ever since.

It was a sad occasion of course but it was nice to look back on the good times. He had fought his illness for a long time and endured treatment without complaint which was typical of his character.

Afterwards we called in for a cuppa with Lis & John then stayed overnight with our friend Allison and had a meal at The Fox in Yate.

Tuesday 24th July

We returned to the boat this afternoon after calling on more old friends, Tony & Chris who despite their busy day insisted on giving us lunch.

Wednesday 25th July

A ‘rest day’ with a little grocery shopping.

Thursday 26th July

A trip down the motorway again, this time to Banbury, I had an appointment at the college Motor Vehicle Dept where I used to work and got two new tyres for the car and fitted a shock absorber while Joy met up with a friend from art group.

We all rendezvoused at the GM club with fellow boaters Barry & Ruth for lunch, afterwards the ‘girls’ went to Art class while Barry & I were tasked with shopping. We all met up again for a soft drink [really] at The Old Auctioneer before saying our farewells.

Our next appointment was with Jill & John for tea which was Greek themed and we spent the evening catching up with each other’s adventures.

Our journey home was not so good though as there had been an accident on the M42 and we were held up in stationery traffic for ages and got back much later than expected.

Saturday 28th July

It was Kings Bromley Show today and we enjoyed joining the local community at the show-ground, we were introduced to Staffordshire Oatcakes, not at all what we imagined but a very nice filled wrap/pancake.

Dangerous Steve

Our favourite act was Dangerous Steve who kept us laughing with his banter, his knockabout crazy balancing  act and his thrilling fire and chainsaw juggling not to mention the blindfold motorbike and side-car riding finale.
It was a tremendous crowd pleaser and fun for all the family.

Sunday 29th July

Another special day today, our 46th wedding anniversary! We went to church in the morning, came back to the boat for lunch and in the afternoon went to see Mamma Mia, here we go again at The Red Carpet Cinema and later a fabulous Thai meal at Nipa, all at Barton Turns Marina. A great day all round.

Monday 30th July

A trip into Birmingham today to Jer’s boat to meet up with our grandchildren Morley & Iona. We went 10 pin bowling with them & Louise while Jer was at work.

After lunch we hijacked his boat and cruised it down to the Black Country Living Museum where he joined us after work. Louise had whipped up a Cottage Pie for tea which we enjoyed then swapped cars ready for tomorrow while Joy played cards with the kids before bed.

Tuesday 31st July

We had a great day at the Black Country Living Museum  with a ride on a trolley bus and lunch at the Bottle & Glass, Dudley pork pies,  cheese & onion cobs washed down variously with pints of mild, rhubarb cider or water.

So well fed and watered we made our way back by car, while Jer & co boated back to his mooring.

Phew, what a week, we need to go boating to relax!

 

Settling In

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already been here at King’s Bromley Marina for a week now and so far we’re loving it, the picture above is our view from the front of our boat. Just a few steps away is a little island [just above centre in the aerial view] where you can have a barbecue or just sit and relax in the shade.

It’s very peaceful here and has a ‘village’ feel about it, whereas Sawley was more ‘housing-estate’. This is probably because high usage moorers like us are sandwiched between those who use their boats less often.

There’s been a fair bit of admin to do, advising our change of address to companies and officialdom! We’ve explored both Lichfield and Rugeley to some degree, visiting Wade Street Church, Lichfield on Sunday where we felt quite at home, we’ve discovered Whitehouse Foods in Rugeley, great for fresh meat and groceries (not to mention misshaped chocolate biscuits) a handy Morrisons and an ironmongers to rival Durcan’s, back in Dursley.

There’s always jobs to do on a boat and with the luxury of mains electricity I needed to create a way to charge our front set of batteries from the mains as a back-up from solar power or running the engine. You see… I’m a belt, braces AND elastic waistband kind of guy!

I found a second-hand caravan charger on eBay which I collected from Leicester, and mounted it in the front step locker. As this was already occupied by our radio speakers I had to make a new front for the locker to accommodate both, which anyone who knows my carpentry skills would know was a risky endeavour.
I found Mike Baker Timber who cut an off-cut of plywood exactly to the right size which meant I only had to cut the holes in it. No work of art, but not too bad though I says it as shouldn’t.

Next week is looking busy already, but more of that in the next episode!

Just a heads-up, we will be changing our blog address soon as this one is getting too full [of pictures] it won’t look any differant but Volume II will be https://narrowboatwrensnest.wordpress.com
Not to worry if you click through from Facebook or use wrens-nest.com to find our ramblings as those will still work.

 

Arrived at King’s Bromley

Where was I now? (Didn’t Tom Forrest used to say that when introducing the omnibus edition of The Archers?) Oh yes, we had just left Langley Mill with shiny new blacking and moored at Potters Lock. During the evening the local kids seemed to regard the lock as their own private swimming pool, but were not a nuisance.

Wednesday 4th July

Today was a day of two halves, we left Potters Lock at 8:30 am and covered the 6½ miles & 6 locks as far as Sandiacre where we arrived twenty to twelve. We moored in the shade of a tree, had lunch and rested for the afternoon, then got some provisions from Lidl.

Our plan was to gently do the three locks down to Long Eaton in the cool of the evening.

All was well until Dockholme Lock where another large group of kids were swimming, although they opened the gates for us and were polite a few of them had no concept of the dangers of jumping into the lock with a 20 ton narrowboat and we had to suspend operations until they were out.

Joy was quite unnerved by this and called the police as we were concerned for their safety, especially in view of the lad who was drowned earlier that day at Colwick Country Park. The call handler had no idea where  Dockholme Lock was and although they promised someone would call us back no-one did! We arrived at Long Eaton just after seven and spent the night beside the main road again.

Thursday 5th July

A later start today, at 10 am and we made our way down to Trent Lock past a long line of moored boats through a section infested with blanket weed which wound itself round our propeller impeding our progress. Eventually we were there after watering up shared the lock with another narrowboat before joining the River Trent,

Another steam launch at Sawley

through Sawley Lock, past Sawley Marina and back onto the Trent & Mersey canal at Derwent Mouth lock.

By 12:30 we were moored in the shade at Shardlow and spent the afternoon and evening not doing very much at all.

 

Friday 6th July

Back to an early start today, leaving at 8:10 am hoping to do the last five broad locks before it got too hot. Aston lock was leaking very badly meaning the water level was very low all the way to Weston Lock (We reported this to C&RT but once again our call was not returned).

We cleared Stenson Lock by 13:00 with the help of two cheerful volunteer lock-keepers and planned on mooring at Willington for the afternoon but so had everybody else, despite trying a couple of likely gaps neither was big enough, one guy moved his boat to try and squeeze us in, but to no avail, so we pressed on for another hour and a half and stopped at Horninglow visitor moorings, on the outskirts of Burton on Trent which were completely empty.

Saturday 7th July

We decided to have a day off from boating today after the exertions of the last few days, I went off on a little adventure catching the train from Burton back to Long Eaton to retrieve the car with a bus ride either end. The train fare was £9.50 for a 30 minute journey but the carriage was quiet and air-conditioned, it took me via Derby and strangely I was facing forwards going there and facing backward to Long Eaton. It was an easy journey back by car which I parked in  the C&RT car park at Horninglow.

In the afternoon we travelled back to Derby to visit Dunelm to buy a breakfast bar stool, but the one we chose was out of stock but they had one at their Burton store so it was back there to make the purchase and it was £6 cheaper there, than it was priced at Derby!

Sunday 8th July

This morning I took the opportunity of varnishing a couple of pieces of plywood, which I had bought whilst at Langley Mill to make a gang-plank, more of which anon.

We took a trip down the town this afternoon and were surprised (and Joy was delighted) to find several charity shops open.

We had arranged with our son, Jeremy, to shuffle our car to King’s Bromley Marina this evening and had arranged to meet him there at half past five. So we drove down and waited, and waited, finally there was a phone call from him, “Aren’t you there yet?”, “Yes we’ve been here ages” He thought we were coming down by boat and was waiting at the marina entrance while we were waiting at the car park entrance!

He drove us back to Burton where we re-visited The Manzil Indian restaurant where we enjoyed another fine meal with him and his girlfriend Louise before returning us to the boat for tea and chat, oh and Jer solved an updating problem with Joy’s tablet and it runs much faster now.

Monday 9th July

Back to boating today with six narrow locks down to Alrewas
[Ol-ree-wos] following a guy in a cruiser which he had bought only 3 days earlier, he had a lady with him whom he had also only known 3 days.

She told Joy her ‘life-story’ at one of the locks and it transpired that she had been very ill and given only a few years to live, but her health had improved after following a vegan diet and was determined to live life to the full while she could!

Tuesday 10th July

This morning we left at 8:20 and before 10 and four locks later we were at Fradley filling up with water from the slowest tap we’ve ever used before mooring opposite.

The lock-keeper at Keepers Lock recommended The Laughing Duck Cafe which is adjacent to the water-point so we arranged to meet our friends Carol & Ted there for lunch, it was a good choice with good food, good service and reasonable prices, in fact Ted said it was the best Ploughman’s Lunch he’d had in years. The café is apparently under new management so well done to the new owners.

Carol & Ted joined us for the rest of today’s journey arriving at our new mooring at King’s Bromley Marina just after 3pm.

This week’s journey, 44 miles & 37 locks

In the Dock

It’s OK, I’m not up in front of the beak we are at  Langley Mill Boatyard.

Langley Mill Boatyard, is a traditional working yard based in the East Midlands at the junction of the Erewash, Cromford and Nottingham canals. The yard has been established for over 40 years, and is now under the ownership of Dan and Vikki Cauldwell, a hard-working, friendly couple whom we can heartily recommend.

Friday 29th June

Just after 9 am there was a tap on the boat & Vikki from the yard announced that they were ready to dock us, so we motored across into the dock and once positioned she and Hugh manoeuvred the gate into position to close the dock.

Supervising operations

The gate isn’t hinged (like a lock gate) but the steel structure actually floats, helped by air pumped into it and let out to let it sink once in position. Then the huge valve was opened and the water started to drain out dropping it into the river Erewash. At this point the traditional method of using shovelfuls of stove ash to plug leaks around the sides and bottom of the gate was employed.

Once settled on the steel bearers, and the access bridge securely in place for us to get ashore, Vikki set to work, first scraping then jet washing the hull.

Meanwhile I wasn’t idle and took the opportunity to replace the stern gland packing which stops water coming in around  the propeller shaft. Thank you, Joy for the flattering portrait, I think it shows my best side!

Meanwhile Joy was doing arty stuff and produced this lion using watercolour ‘crayons’  she also made some elderflower cordial from elderflowers foraged on Thursday.

When Vikki’s husband Dan came home, he welded on two new ‘sacrificial’ anodes (to minimise electrolytic corrosion) and cleaned off the sides with a rotary wire brush.
You can see the the valve that drains the dock in the centre right of the second picture below.

When it was a bit cooler, as the boat had got really hot in the sun, Vikki returned to apply the first coat of blacking, working until nearly nine o’clock, bless her.

Saturday 30th June

This morning Vikki cleaned off and blacked our tunnel band before the second coat goes on this evening.

We had visitors this evening, Maureen& Dave, friends who  live nearby and share our love for the Greek island of Skiathos (although I believe we have ever met out there once). We first ‘met’ through an early internet ‘Bulletin Board’ about Skiathos (long before Facebook), needless to say the island was the main topic of conversation.

Sunday 1st July

This morning Maureen picked us up at 10 and took us to her church (Newthorpe Baptist Church) where we were made to feel very welcome.

 

An interesting note from the churches history “In November of that year [1847] a baptismal Service was arranged for the first Lord’s Day in December. The baptism was to be in the canal. ” Made of stern stuff these old Baptists!

After the service Maureen took us back to her house where Dave had prepared a lovely Sunday Dinner for us. We spent the afternoon in their garden before returning to the boat.

Monday 2nd July

The blacking now completed, Vikki asked if we wanted to be back in the water today, or give it another day to cure/dry.  As they have another boat being docked tomorrow it made sense to wait until then.

I needed some adjustment to my new denture and a phone call to the dentist got me an appointment for this afternoon, so after lunch we had another trip to Nuneaton and I now have comfortably fitting teeth.

Lunch was home-made Greek Style Green Beans – Fasolakia Lathera with tiger bread from Lidl. There’s a recipe here although our’s comes from  the owner of Taverna Avli in Skiathos.

On the way back from Nuneaton we also dropped our car off at Long Eaton, ready for our journey back, and caught three buses back to Langley Mill. The connections worked out well and we had no more than a five minute wait at either stop.

Tuesday 3rd July

This morning we were floated and reversed out of the dry-dock, turned at the winding point disturbing the fisherman who consistently fishes next to the large yellow ‘No Fishing’ signs, then reversed [yes, I’m a glutton for punishment] to the wharf for a pump out, water & diesel.

That done it was straight ahead  for Langley Bridge Lock then we squeezed under Anchor Bridge 27 (or Bailey Grove Bridge as Dan called it) which was a tight call for us clearing the TV aerial & hose reel by a couple of inches and the roof boxes by a couple of inches more. There are a couple more low bridges on this canal  Long Lane Bridge No 25 next to Shipley Lock and Broad Street Footbridge near Long Eaton Lock.

At one lock we were engaged in conversation by a lady funeral director (so she informed us) who was very interested in how a lock worked as they were planning a narrowboat holiday next year with a view to purchasing one. As they were from Lancashire I told them about John Slee’s boat Epiphany which is moored in Garstang Marina it is newly re-painted and up for sale.

Oss in trendy outfit!

Just five locks today before mooring at 1:45 pm just outside Ilkeston before Potters Lock where I was surprised to find a couple of mooring rings hidden in the grass.

More Greek Beans for lunch, finish this blog and relax!

On the Erewash

We enjoyed the three days mooring allowed on the pontoons at Trent Lock and were amused by the Scout camp at the activity centre opposite whose’s favourite form of activity seemed to be canoeing or maybe kayaking, I never know the difference but they seemed to enjoy getting wet whatever it was!

It was quite an anticlimax when they departed Sunday afternoon but even that was exciting as there was no vehicle access to the centre so they all had to be ferried across the river.

Monday 25th June

Monday morning we said goodbye to the perpetual sight of Ratcliffe-on-Soar Power Station which is visible from all around the area. We saw no discharge from the cooling towers so guess it was not currently operating.

We swung left into the Erewash Canal and immediately negotiated Trent Lock. We did just that one lock and moored at Long Eaton and I caught the bus back to the marina to collect our car. We were moored alongside the main road so didn’t have the quietest of evenings but it was all right once the traffic died down.

Tuesday 26th June

In the morning we drove the car up to Langley Mill and returned by bus. We had about half an hour to wait but fortunately  we were able to shelter from the sun in the handily placed Great Northern Inn where we were able to quench our thirst.

The journey was quite easy with just one change at Ilkeston.

When we returned we waited until the heat reduced a bit and set off for Sandiacre to get three of the locks out of the way. Our mooring for the night  was against a road again with a junction adjacent, but we slept well enough.

Wednesday 27th June

Springfield Mill was converted to flats, back in 2006 from a Victorian lace mill.

We left Sandiacre before 9 this morning and did six locks, finding a nice mooring just past Potters Lock with open land opposite, so we spent the afternoon reading, sheltering from the sun in the shade of the boat. Later we heard a whoop of delight and looked out to see a young lad, who was fishing by our boat, had landed a fish but his delight turned to frustration as he couldn’t remove the hook from it’s mouth as it was leaping about so much. Eventually he was helped by a more experienced fisherman who was passing.

Thursday 28th June

Another five locks today took us into the Cromford Canal and the end of the navigation. We met several friendly fishermen on the way and we were engaged in conversation by a gentleman who told us that he remembered his boatman grandfather bringing coal from Birmingham, up the Erewash unto the Cromford.

The Erewash is a pretty canal, even the industrial areas seem well cared for and it’s good to see the old mills being used.

Sawley Missed!

Whatever have we been doing to have failed to blog for two and a half weeks?

Last Friday we drove down to Gloucestershire to collect our grandchildren for the weekend, we had a good journey down and visited several friends in Dursley before picking up the kids after school. The journey back was slow, to say the least, the Friday evening traffic on the motorways was horrendous.

On Saturday we all enjoyed Long Eaton Carnival and after the parade Iona & I went on the dodgems while Joy was persuaded to let a parrot sit on her shoulder, although she is not fond of flying creatures, this one was well behaved and kept still for her.

On Sunday we went to a car boot sale, part of the carnival event, had breakfast in the Marina Cafe before taking the grandchildren back to our son in Birmingham. Being Fathers’ Day, he treated us to a meal at the Red Leaf World Buffet in West Bromwich “Red Leaf World Buffet brings you an ever-changing variety of dishes from across the world. English, European, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Thai… “, where we enjoyed a great meal despite them being very busy.

Red Leaf World Buffet

Part of the reason for hanging around in Sawley was so I could be in striking distance of Nuneaton for some dental work which was booked. In February I had a couple of teeth out and now was the time to get a new denture,  so for three Tuesdays this month I have been visiting the Cottage Dental Practice for impressions, bite checks and next week hopefully a set of teeth that fit nicely. I have every confidence that Sachin will achieve that. Incidentally I discovered he has a practice in West Brom immediately opposite the Red Leaf World Buffet!

This Tuesday evening we met up with our friends Hilly & Peter, who we know from Gloucestershire but they now live the other side of Nottingham.

We met at the Esquina Spanish restaurant in Sawley where we enjoyed their “Tapas Tuesday” offer, then went back to the boat and chatted about our families & old times.

 

 

After being in the marina for three weeks we have decided that this one is not for us. Although the facilities were so convenient, we were put off by the jetties being only half the length of our boat making even filling up with water or changing a gas bottle difficult, involving walking along the gunwales and, heaven forbid,  in an emergency we had no alternative exit to the back doors.  So we are considering elsewhere.

Before all that though we have an appointment to dry dock the boat  for blacking it’s bottom and so next week we set off to explore the Erewash canal.

Sawley Lock & our new hand-turned Yew tiller handle

Meanwhile we have left the marina this morning and are now on the River Trent moored up on the pontoons outside the Trent Lock pub.

Life as Liveaboards