Thursday, 24 May 2018

A bit of a scrape

Day 5, Hallam Fields lock to Great Northern Basin

It all felt much harder work without Doug's assistance! An extra pair of hands really comes into its own when the locks are wide and other boats few and far between.

Still, we plodded on today (well, Jim and Ricky plodded while I boated) and we arrived at Langley Mill at about quarter past one. By the time we had winded and tied up next to Trout it was nearly quarter to three and the really rather cold morning had given way to blazing sunshine - so much so that we had to erect Ricky's sunshade (a Wilko's child's beach sun shelter fashioned around the folding picnic table) and drape him in wet cloths.

Of course I was prepared for the low bridges of the Erewash. Of course I was. I had the titch pipe on and had taken all the cans, flowers etc off the cabin top. The trouble was that at bridge 19 (Potters Lock) I was so concerned about getting the headlight through the middle of the arch that the cabin slewed a bit to the side by which time I was crouching down and not steering very effectively, and impressively scraped the paint kettle chimney cover, and more upsettingly, bent the tiller pin and, just grazing the corner of the cabin, snapped one of the old hooks that holds the doors open. Boo.

The legendary Indian restaurant here at Langley Mill is under new management since we were last here (OK, that was five years ago) and sadly they no longer offer the curries with strawberries etc in that Jim really likes. We had a takeaway from there and it was fine (not as good as Walkley's Rajput) if on the dear side. We ordered online, which was very simple and convenient. I've tried that a couple of times before but this was definitely the simplest and clearest.



Wednesday, 23 May 2018

Short and sweet

Day 4, Trent Lock (above) to Hallam Fields Lock (below)

Another short but sweet day's boating today, but for once we have more time than we need to get where we're going so have the luxury of taking it a bit easy.

This morning we were joined by Doug, fellow Foundation Year practitioner who works at Nottingham. He'd cycled down from his home in Ilkeston because a few weeks ago I'd gone over to Nottingham to talk about setting up a journal for the Foundation Year Network, and over a coffee had mentioned the boat and the fact that we were going up (and indeed back down) the Erewash, and he sounded interested, so I roped him in.

For someone who hadn't narrowboated before Doug was a natural, getting stuck straight into the locks (which was a real blessing as they are even heavier than I remember) and taking instinctively to steering too. Within about four hours we were almost back at Ilkeston, so we tied up for a pub lunch and decided to stay here until the morning - a good decision, as this afternoon has been really hot.

I know I like the Erewash but I tend to remember the mills and buildings and forget that much of it is quite rural, and we're in a very attractive setting tonight, next to woodland and wild flowers, and hopefully far enough out of Ilkeston not to be bothered by any people. The towpath here is most popular with cyclists, apparently quite a significant through route. Can't complain though as our newest crew member is one of them!



Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Wind chill factor

Day 2, Fradley to Burton
Day 3, Burton to Trent Lock

Oops, a bit of catching up to do. Sunday saw us take a leisurely dawdle to Burton on Trent, where we tied up on Shobnall Fields - a lovely mooring which we've never used before, other than to re-seat the rudder which I'd unshipped reversing onto a lock landing (lesson learnt - well, nearly; did the exact same thing a couple of years later on the Avon).

On Monday I needed to be at work, so I got the train from Burton to Sheffield on Sunday night and returned Monday teatime. The journey went very smoothly, which was nice.

And so to this morning. We set off decent early, just after seven, and made reasonable time, coming onto the Erewash at half past three. After two days of magnificent sunshine, the cold wind this morning came as a bit of a shock. Rather than shedding layers as the day went on, I was adding them, until I was up to five, including fleece and padded shirt. After lunch though this gas started to warm up a bit. From Stenson we shared the wide locks with Fair Megan, whose crew were very experienced and made it a very efficient and enjoyable process - until it was Jim's turn to steer half way through the day, and I really struggled with the next two locks - so Jim took over again in the interests of efficiency. This meant that I was at the tiller to take the turn onto the Erewash though and I really went for it - big sweep, lots of revs, and came in and stopped perfectly - albeit with shaky knees. We've tied up as we promised ourselves on the visitor moorings just above the lock, and at last the towpath has changed sides so Jim can polish the other side of the cabin :-)

Tomorrow we will be joined by a fellow member of the Foundation Year Network who works at Nottingham and lives near the Erewash at Ilkeston, and who was unwise enough to express an interest in the boat. He'll cycle down to meet us in the morning and travel up at least some of the way with us.

One further thing to note - Ricky is getting better at this boating lark. He still barks sometimes when we're doing locks, but much less than he used to; he's a lot happier than he was staying on the boat while Jim works a lock, and he's a lot calmer about being on the back end while we're both at the stern. So that's good too.

We might get to Langley Mill tomorrow, or we might stop along the way.




Saturday, 19 May 2018

Perfect weather

Day 1, Alvecote to Fradley

We started the day with the planned car shuffle, and have delivered Uxbridge Volvo to Braunston, returning Bluebird to Alvecote. Bluebird is a different car now, thanks to the new (actually not at all new) auto box which Jim bought me for Christmas.

We set off in Chertsey at 10.20, and tied up below Hunts lock at 17.45, having taken it nice and steady. The weather has been perfect, just hot enough, and glorious with hawthorn blossom and rhododendrons. We got stuck on the bottom once, very seriously, and had to beg a tow off after about half an hour struggling. But overall it has been a very pleasant day, and an excellent start to the holiday.



Friday, 18 May 2018

Hooray, hooray

It's been a long time coming, but finally, in the immortal words of Boney M, it's a holi-holiday.

Here I am at last, at ten thirty at night, sitting in Chertsey's back cabin, replete with a Barlow dinner, writing a photo-less BlogPress post. Tomorrow we'll be doing a car shuffle to Braunston and then setting off for Langley Mill.

As I drove down this afternoon, I stopped on the way for petrol at Morrisons on the A61, and who should pull in behind me than Adrian of Warrior. That has to be a good omen, I thought.

Sadly a number of friends that we were hoping to meet up with at Langley Mill, or even on the way there, have now decided not to come for various reasons, but others have been seen heading that way, and we can be sure that Bath and Dove will be there.

Well, it's been a long day, and I've made up the bed, and the holiday starts tomorrow...

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Lying low

Finally, on Saturday, the weather was good enough to do a vital job on Chertsey.

When we go to Langley Mill, we'll be mooring above the lock, so we'll need to get under a very low bridge. So we needed to put Chertsey back into 'Erewash mode', as we last did for our visit in 2013, and again for the Stratford in 2014 (I ask myself why we bothered putting them back up inbetween).

Doing this involves untying all the top strings, removing the topcloths, untying the sidecloth strings, lifting the top planks down onto the cross planks, taking out the stands, laying down the mast, removing the deckboatd, and, in Chertsey's case, taking down the frame that supports the top plank over the back end. Then, putting the supports under the cross planks, the boxes on top, the top planks on top of the boxes, retying the sidecloths, cutting a new length of translucent sheet (and the best way we could think of doing this was by unrolling it along the top plank), putting the topcloth on at the front, and retying the top strings.

So, we needed a day with no rain, and no wind. Only Saturday fitted the bill. We had half hoped that if we could get it done quickly enough we could proceed on to the postponed HNBC AGM at 2pm, which was only 20 minutes away from Alvecote. In the end though we didn't - Chertsey was done by 2.30, but we were a bit knackered and decided to go back to Sheffield for a cup of tea instead.

Chertsey still needs a massive clean up before we go off to Langley Mill, and the interior is in a state of absolute chaos, as all the bits of superstructure that have been removed (and I forgot to mention the plywood partitions that keep Ricky in), including the false cratch-like framework from the back end, are in the hold, leaving very little room to move. We want to take them with us though, as we'll be going straight on to Braunston after Langley Mill (yes, the joys of the Soar), and I'm hoping to get everything back up while we're there. In 2014 we did the reverse with the splendid assistance of the extended Herbies.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Forgot my anniversary again!

April 1st 2006: my first blog post.

I've been blogging for over twelve years.

Weeks, even months have gone by without a post, but even in my most fallow year I managed 44 posts - and 297 in my most prolific.

That's a total of 2,068 posts so far. Not bad, all told.