Mountsorrel

We’ve only ever passed through here – not thought of stopping, so that was the plan today, if there is room as there’s only a short piece of mooring by the big pub The Waterside Inn (Everards). It was a delightful cruise with a chilly start but the sun was out and the river was wide & deep, allowing us to almost catch up with Raven! Warp factor 8, I think but no complaint from the engine or the stern gland, which was nice.

Short video – shot of the view from the stern – lovely cruising weather.

A few chaps enjoying the river Soar too

Very serene

And Viv drives too

Paired up in Sileby lock

And finally, Mountsorrel – some tamarisk, ceanothus and weigelia!

And the lunchtime pint!

The pub was geared up with a bouncy castle

Not quite sure of this, taken from another angle??

Watermead Park then Mountsorrel

We chugged along merrily with the tug Raven – 5 locks to Watermead Park – chance for the dog to have a much promised swim & a meal in the pub.

A much cooler and very windy day – Steph zoomed off on her boat Raven

Nice artwork at North Lock, where we had a bit of a queue

Just past that Lime Kiln lock – the prop got fouled – it was a complete sari!!

Arrived at Watermead and Toby gets a swim and to pose in amongst the buttercups

A victory roll after a long swim

Steph has a dog too – Midge!

Is this giant hogweed???

Geese and their new goslings

Moving on from Leicester

We enjoyed four days in Leicester and our new companions (Steph & Mike on Raven) were planning to head off and so, it being a good idea to share these awesome locks, we decided to join them.  Meanwhile, we’d had another visit to the Criterion (with Raven) and I cycled down to the Abbey Pumping Station (museum) – all very interesting.

Meanwhile, jolly big “crocodile” spotted in the canal

The beautiful Abbey Park

Complete with some amateur Bollywood productions

Lots to see in Leicester – this one’s for Jenny – marvellous looking church:

And arched doorway, reminds me of St Peter de marefair?

The Abbey Pumping Station museum – still gets steam up!

Marvellous beam engines . . . and a whole museum of all things “Leicester”

The little Bickerton, folding bike was a very good buy – zooms around the (flat) paths.

I filmed a very mucky section of canal, just below Lime Kiln lock

And just above, in contrast, some fancy new moorings in a small arm leading to Leicester College.  New VM?

Trying to frighten off the hoards of pigeon – bit diminutive this rubber snake.

To infinity and beyond

Well, according to Viv, it certainly felt like it. We normally do 2 or 3 hours but today we did nearly six hours. But then, we had company. This really make’s a difference. The Canal & Rivers Trust (or Cyclist & Ramblers trust as some call it), would say you must share to save water but to be honest, it halves the work.

Yes, you have two organise getting two huge metal boats, 65 feet long into a lock but the gate moving and paddle lifting is shared. I saw that Danny & Anne on Waterside Lodge, were making moves to go – they were the boat moored behind us at Kilby. So I asked f they’d like to share locks.  How far were they going? Oh, all the way to Leicester. Hmm, twice as far as we’d planned but OK, weather forecast is good, in fact very good, so off we chugged.

It was such a pain doing all 5 big locks on our own that we jumped at the chance to do more – shared, albeit 12 more locks!

Danny was waiting at the next lock (lock 30)

Makes such a difference sharing – is that the naughty Viv crossing the lock gates again?

Our companion – Danny. Ex army chap – good company.

Yep, big locks.

Always tricky parking two huge boats in front of a lock

You could tell we were getting close to “urban” when you start to count the garden gnomes

And sheds

Oh, and it IS a wide canal, allowing for widebeam boats, met this charmer as he rounded the corner at Mach 2, glad I fitted my new QE2 horn!

The delightful St Mary’s Mill lock – only one more to go

Mooring #1 – Castle Gardens – OK but we’re two abreast here and it’s noisy and no water . . . so, after a recce on foot, I decide to move 100 yds around the corner to Friars Mill

A much nicer mooring. Full sun, empty – so odd, being a visitor to a city and having a mooring all to ourselves.  Secure too – two padlocks to get in and out. Plus water and supposedly electricity, although still not connected over a year later.

Ah, and there’s Viv at the window! Meanwhile Steve goes off to take more pix and call in at the Criterion – on the way, ish.  They appear to have lots of beer

But he did pop into the Spar and brought home some much needed vittels – Krit and the ingredients for Margaritas!

And a happy Viv!!

Rural Idyll

Well, a rural idyll for Steve as he drove the boat whilst Viv did all the locks AND walked the miles inbetween. Result – we got to Kilby bridge but both Viv the Boggle, totally shattered. Just not used to this. It was a very pleasant chug. No wind and a warming drop of sunshine. A few miles plus seven locks – a few where the gates just wouldn’t stay shut! Good old Viv.  There was Newton Top lock, Spinney, Top half mile, Bottom half mile, Turnover, Tythorne and finally our favourite – Bumblebee Lock!  Years ago when we lived near Nottingham and yes, Steve was still obsessed with canals, we drove an hour to find this oddly named lock and walk miles of towpath to get to it.  A few hundred yards further on we moored up – just short of Kilby bridge as it’s bound to be a busy place – Saturday night & the Navigation Inn opposite. Here will do us. Twelve more locks and ten more miles to Leicester!  Another day.

Viv working hard on these giant locks

Seems to be plenty of water about – good – one time we came thru here and went aground.

Toby, bless him, gets off at every lock and walks miles

Viv working the lock and crossing the gates . . . did she hold on?

At last, 2.5 hrs later, the last lock for the day – Bumblebee lock

And here’s Viv & dog ready to help

This is what we call & cry out “Crocodiles!” – as a warning to the helmsman that’s there rubbish in the canal

Final stop – just before Kilby bridge. Weather station – up, TV aerial – up & finally, feet up!

Drones, hares & big locks

We met up with an old friend Paul, who used to be on nb Rhiannon and is now sailing nb Monica and just happened to be at the top of Foxton locks when we were at the bottom. He popped round for a cuppa after our trip to the Bell. He also flew his Mavic Pro drone over the boat (around 0730!) and took this superb picture:

Well done Paul & I hope we can get some video shots of us chugging along when we next meet up.  Meanwhile we saw two hares in the opposite field

We chugged on to Saddington tunnel & then a pit stop for re stocking the larder at bridge 73 (Fleckney) and a visit to the local Co-op.

We did meet a boat in the tunnel – why won’t they wait the less-than-ten-minutes it takes is beyond me. And then we had five BIG locks to do. Viv bravely said she would work them and Steve steer. It was a tad windy and the gates kept re-opening. Bit of a pain but only 5 today then stop at Wistow.

Viv does the winding up and gate shifting

And the gates won’t stay shut – Viv is very diligent and will always walk all the way around to close them.

By the third lock (Taylor’s) is this house with it’s yurt. I think they were gearing up for a bit of a “do”, wedding perhaps? And at this lock help arrives – a lady from the boat Triskaideka (13), hurrah, Viv gets help and they saw us coming, so have left the next gates open for us.

Thanks – see you again.

Last one Viv! Then everyone back on the boat.

Hmm, bit of a leaky one this.

Here come the crew . . . no more locks today

Half an hour of chuggin and we reach a clearing with views of the old St Wistan’s church and a nice armco mooring.

The main line railway is behind us but it is a nice view here

More Staying Put

Still in Foxton. But moved down thru the locks – first boat thru at 0915 – no other traffic. Marvellously quiet. Steve’s turn to drive – Viv does the wheeling . .

Oh, here’s one from the night before . . . Bridge 61

Must send this camera back, it’s stuck taking pictures of pubs . . . The Bell Inn at Gumley.

A nice 25 minute walk down the locks and along the canal . .

Nice range of beers (Grainstore, Sharp’s, Timothy Taylor, and Dorset Knob)

Back down the locks . . .

Quite a view from the top . . .

Shows you where we be! Here’s two short videos:

One of the giant gates in between locks:

And t’other of Viv winding the lock paddles – goes a bit wonky at the end as I forgot the boat would sink down . . .

Finally nearing the bottom and bridge 61 – from which the pub gets its name

Couple of 100 yds along and a very quiet, rural spot

Next to bridge 63 and an even shorter walk back to the Bell Inn

Boat looks very small here but it’s a pleasant mooring for one night.

Across the wee bridge to Gumley . . . later for dinner!

Moving On

Yes, Bank Holiday over, temperature records broken! Quite a scorcher and dozens of boaters chugging back to their moorings. Gail set off for North Kilworth wharf to get some work done on Monday and we stayed on, leaving 9 ish on Tuesday morning. Aiming to be nearish to Foxton (take on water, offload rubbish and er, take on beer).

Gail & Jess wave goodbye on Sleepy Otter.

With a cruising time of 5 hours scheduled for today – we have time to bake a loaf (3 hrs) and put the gammon on the slow cooker (5-6 hrs).  With the engine running we have up to 3kW of mains power. So everything gets plugged in to recharge too.

Excellent bit of kit – you can remove the top pan and brown dished first.

Here’s a happy Viv taking the helm with her new hair style.

Fairly quiet day for traffic – lovely scenery . .

Ubiquitous heron – this one just didn’t fly away or even move

Rolling hills – all the sheep were under a tree, chilling.

Skipper not scowling for once.

A rare Summer’s day in England – sheep grazing, oil seed rape (canola) and church spires.

Final mooring for the day – 100 yds before bridge 60 and the flight of staircase locks at Foxton.  Time to walk the dog down to Bridge 61 (otherwise known as the pub).  Meanwhile here are the results from the galley – one loaf (50/50 white/wholemeal) and that gammon joint (still £10 from Sainsbury’s):

Day Two – Staying Put

With temperatures soaring to the 20’s we decide to stay put. Solar energy keeping us topped up on the battery front plus Viv’s solar kettle providing us with 3 x boiling water for tea or washing up, brilliant.  We popped along to see our good friend and marina neighbour, Gail, for afternoon tea plus a walk around the little wood to keep Toby happy.

Not a lot of bluebells but some – it is an idyllic little wood

Gail and her dog Jess were moored just below bridge 27 so we stopped for afternoon tea.

Steve tried his best to photo some Bluebells – star filter again??

Meanwhile back to the perfect mooring – I think we’ll stay for another day or two

 

And . . . They’re Off!

Yes. And about time too. The weather’s set to change and the fire’s going out. Viv’s back from Wales today, which is “May the Fourth be with you” day and I’ve surprised her by getting the boat ready (pumped out & refuelled), so we can leave within the hour and at 1450, we did.

Where to? Well, it is the Bank Holiday weekend, so we’ll head out to our favourite spot – just after Bridge 27 at Elkington and stay put – and watch the Bank Holiday traffic go by. Friday was OK but Saturday – what a stream of boats: Huncamunca, Artful Dodger, Northern Soul, Good Company, Ophelia, English Rose, Northern Promise, Prudence, Nightjar, Amelia Rose, Oxford Landing, Atlas, Emily Rose, Blue Roan, Bueno Vito, Sylvia, Mr Toad, Ubique, ?, Summertime, Imladris, Mistral, Manatee, Witch & Anchor, Good Company, Iris, Granthams, ?, Pennine, Wandering Willy, Chiltern, Killowen, Wandering Willy, Mirror Blue, Enigmatic, Wrekin, Spurwing, Tess, Holopip, Mr Crabtree (twice).  Make that 42. In about 8 hours!!

A very tranquil spot – weather station up. Thermal kettle on & boiling too.

Time to pot up the tomato plants and re-do the peppers which have faltered in the so-so Summer but today and then next few days will see temperatures soar into the 20’s.

Steve in shorts – fields of rape and a very happy Toby, about to walk around his favourite woods.