Open Day at a lock

What to do on a dull Sunday? The Canal & Rivers Trust have set up these open days where members of the public can wander along to a lock that has been drained and is undergoing some restoration. Having spent weeks negotiating these beasts, I thought it might be “nice” to go and see the bottom of one, as you do. Freeman’s Meadow Lock is a huge animal. It’s adjacent to a massive weir and Leicester Football stadium. We passed thru it, twice on our Summer trip, see blog passim and (

Anyway, CRT had advertised this open day ( and so we went – only 30 mins away . . 

What are they all looking at?

Note the wooden beams holding back the water …

and the rare sight of the absolute bottom of the lock!

Quite an engineering feat with a floating crane … they replaced the top gates.

shiny new oak gates

another rare sight – the culvert (what lets in the water when you open the paddles)

The wooden beams at the top of the picture are also holding back tons of fresh river water … the guy in the fluorescent suit was the engineer in charge and assured us that the new beams would be a dream to handle!

What else do you meet at the bottom of a lock??

Lots of helpful chat . .  esp from Darren Green . .

It was all very interesting but hopefully the last time I find myself at the bottom of a lock!  We walked on to the next lock at St Mary’s Mill

Discovering New Walks

We were guided to a new farm shop (Smith’s at Chapel Brampton ) by our neighbours (John & Christine) and it was quite good – even arranged for a supply of Toby’s dog food (Forth glade, Chicken & Tripe).  They said they could beat the online price and since I wanted to support a local firm, I agreed. So we were back to pick up 54 days worth of food!! We also noticed the old railway passed nearby.  It used to connect Northampton with Market Harborough – one of the more controversial of Mr Beeching’s cuts.  There is a steam railway here ( and they run trains in the season. So we walked a mile or two . . seemed so sad that all this very useful transport system was just ripped up, so short-sighted … as Flanders & Swan sang . .  “Slow Train … no more” see below


It’s now a popular cycle & walking track of some 14 miles.


The First Snow of the Winter

Well, it’s been sub-zero here and we’ve had frosts but this was the first snow which fell late last night, as forecast.  Not a lot but enough for Toby to roll around in and lose the ball.

This end of the marina is still frozen

chance for some arty pix

No, Viv hasn’t been speared – just her walking stick with a knob on the end.

Our end of the marina – mainly ice free – the ducks, geese and swans can swim freely here.

trying to copy the same photo taken last year – not quite enough icicles?

I bought 160 kg of coal yesterday – thinking we may get frozen in!  I also bought a bag of reconstituted logs – HotMax, only £5.50 for 20kg – give it a go! They do seem to be good and can get the morning dormant fire back to life in 30 mins … any fool can be cold!

Beam Me Up

Finding new walks for the dog is always a challenge. The very wet weather has turned our “dog field” into a quagmire and bits of the towpath walks are no better. So where to go?  We like the country park at Daventry and have been investigating the Brampton Valley Way – a 14 mile ex-railway track between Northampton & Market Harborough.  We decided to visit the section at Great Oxendon – as it had a tunnel!!

Nice little website dedicated to the tunnel – including a gallery of photos – the last shows a train in 1981!

What they didn’t tell us is that is controlled by aliens … 

Don’t go in Steve … . oh, no, a beam of light appears … .

Oh no … first to get beamed up is Toby …

And then Steve!!

Then they were back – but were they the same????

Who could really tell … .

Beer Theme Continues

As retirees or just some guys having a belated Gap Year, we try and get at least one day out a week.  This week we planned to find the George & Dragon in Stoke Golding, which is owned by the Church End Brewery, see

A local brewer whose beers we have supped at the Wheatsheaf in Crick and found much to our liking. It’s near Nuneaton and so that was our first stop – quite a surprise and although not as twee and villagey as Market Harborough, it did have more to it than Daventry or Northampton.  The pub was really a good find; the rural location plus 6 or more real ales and homemade food was just what we wanted:

So what beers do they do … Vicar’s Ruin, What the fox hat, Arthur’s Wit, Goats Milk … . their website lists em all!

I had a pint of Stout Coffin and then a half of Nut brown, whilst Viv had Vicar’s Ruin:

They only do food at lunchtime (there are 3 pubs in this we village but they seem to have come to some understanding … one pub has an Indian restaurant . . so evening food sorted) but it is all home made – even the hand cut chips. We opted for pies – steak & ale and chicken & mushroom – both proper pies with a complete casing of shortcrust pastry!

It was grand day out, the Ashby canal runs nearby and we walked the dog along there for an hour  … . the weather worsens from now on with rain for Thursday and then a diving down of the temperatures below zero.

New Micro Pub – Daventry

Well, new to us. A neighbour mentioned this pub and on our day out this week we tracked it down – hidden away in Prince William Walk, the Early Doors pub is a small and plain place serving 5 or 6 beers straight from the barrel.  The owners were off on a holiday – first one in years – next week, so all the beers were discounted to £2.50. Great little place . . 

Hidden away off the main street.

Toby then got his reward for being dragged around the streets – a walk around the reservoir . . 

There were a few gold finches on the bird feeders but then this chap came along . .

Viv took some great shots of Cracks Hill from the marina on our return … looks like cold weather coming . . 

Imperial Russian Stout

There’s a nasty breeze and the windchill dips below zero. Time for some internal warming and Steve’s home brewed stout. It’s taste is “wow!”. Very rich. Very hoppy… . I’m getting licorice, hint of Victory V, dark bitter chocolate . . and at 7.5% very quaffable! Have experimented on the neighbours – let’s see what they think!

More Soar

Another short video from the Summer trip along the Soar … including the odd dragonfly … warms us up in these cold & windy winter days . . 

A Reminder of Summer

A short reminder of the gloriously hot Summer of 2015 – we took Adagio out in August. This is a short video of the river Soar, coming down to Leicester.

Thanks to David for pointing me in the right direction for publishing videos. Not something we often do owing to the limits of bandwidth when out & about!