Monday 12th to Sunday 18th October 2009

After a brilliant weekend at Trent Lock – even Sunday turned out nice – we returned to our cruising plan and under blue skies, without a trace of breeze, we said goodbye to the River Trent and hello to the River Soar.
We nattered to a Canaltime hirer while we took on water and I laughed when he mentioned his reluctance to go down the river from Sawley because the maps didn’t show anywhere to turn the boat. The same thing happened to us in the summer when we couldn’t see where to turn a sixty footer on the Aire & Calder. Of course it all became clear when we got there, the navigation is so wide that winding points aren’t worth mentioning.

The cruise to Loughborough, with a stop-over at Zouch, went without incident and the boat basin was welcoming with plenty of spaces. Best O’ Mates was there as we pulled in, just off up the road like ourselves for a spot of shopping.

The night was spent at bridge 34 which seems to be gathering popularity as a stop-over between towns. Sunny days and clear skies at night produce blue-grey mornings with mist off the fields swirling across the water.
luffy B34

Pillings flood lock was open again after last week’s heavy rain but we were reminded that with the winter approaching normal lock operations would soon come into effect.
The uphill side of Old Junction Lock looked too attractive to miss so we pitched on the rings and spread out across the towpath with table and chairs making the most of the sunshine.
old junction lock

Thinking it was warm enough for paint to dry I sanded and varnished the utility room floor. Leaving the windows open to get the air to circulate I walked off looking for a distraction and hearing the click-click of lock paddle gear I poked my nose out to see who was coming our way.

It was Dave and Dil on Trundle with her fresh coat of bitumen (Trundle’s not Dil’s).
Well one thing led to another, chatting made the throat dry, wine fixed that and before we knew it the afternoon was gone. Aren’t boaters lovely.

The weather on Thursday was a complete contrast with wall-to-wall drizzle and to make matters worse the computer’s mouse died. Nothing for it but to get on with boat jobs or, at the very least, make lists of boat jobs and decide who will do them another day.

The weekend was a bit special with visitors from the south. Roger and Babs came up to see us and while the weather behaved itself we pottered about on the Soar.

Someone mentioned walking and I could see the subject wouldn’t go away by ignoring it so I joined the party on a tramp along fields, woods and country roads in a sweep around Cossington.

We chanced across the Royal Oak about mid way which was most welcome for resting the legs and reviving the spirits.

I have to say that having another boater like Roger to chew over ideas with is so, so useful. Problems shared are problems halved most of the time and a fresh mind on a troublesome subject often produces simpler solutions

Taking of fresh, we’ve a fresh topic of discussion these days – Signal Crayfish.
We’d just tied up one afternoon this week when V pointed at something in the water next to the boat.
Being curious I lifted this thing out and discovered a freshwater crayfish of the imported Signal variety. Well that’s what the fella on the bike said.

He had just the one claw (not the biker) but seemed very keen get me with it so I thought it better if he return to the water before losing a finger.

Aha, said the local guy, these are nasty imported crayfish, vermin, not nice to English crayfish and not nice to anything small enough to go in their mouths. Fish numbers are in decline, he said, because they eat the eggs. Nothing survives once these critters get a hold, so he said.
But then he dropped a bombshell, he said we must on no account put them back in the river, it’s against the law.
Oh dear said I and proceeded to get him back out again. But the next one had two claws. Anxious not to make things any worse I asked him what we should do with it. Eat it he said. 5 minutes in boiling water, then eat it and another twenty of his friends, with salad.

My first investigation into the matter of catching and disposing of ‘Signals’ has opened a real can of worms. It seems you can’t do anything right with them, they mustn’t be caught and if accidentally caught they mustn’t be released.

I can’t release him and I can’t be sure what I should do with him. I would put a collar and lead on him but he hasn’t got a neck. He’ll want to play in the water won’t he, does he eat the same things as us I wonder. Where will he sleep at night? We shall have to keep and eye on him at night too, don’t want him getting lonely but V’s tooth glass is already cramped without him going in there.
Where do we stand on the subject of signal crayfish, should we catch his brothers and supplement our meagre diet with fresh fish? Or are we stuck with him, doomed to be followed by the little fella for the rest of his days. Do they make good pets I wonder.

One thing I do know is that he’s vicious, go anywhere near him and both claws go up in the air. He’s not afraid of humans, that’s for sure.