Monday 8th to Saturday 13th November 2010
We’d slipped our moorings on Sunday, cruising peacefully upriver through sleepy Thurmaston to the official moorings at Birstall.

Birstall was quiet enough, the occasional dog walker from the houses nearby, the odd cyclist in skin-tight lycra doing the 100yds dash and an assortment of beaks pecking the boat on their way to the reeds at dusk.
An eery mist developed as the shadows grew longer, which really needed a fancy camera to do it justice but you can use your imagination.

Well it was fairly quiet if you don’t count the three youngsters on the bench seat outside the boat. They seemed to have a penchant for cola with an added ingredient that loosened the tongue. They left at bedtime, which was nice.

Monday’s early departure didn’t fool the weather, it caught up and soaked us to the skin. To make matters worse the wind drove the rain down the neck and up the trousers.

Speed-wise we made very good progress until leaving Belgrave Lock where a sari leapt onto the prop. It makes a change from carpet.

It’s high risk for prop-stops from Belgrave to Limekiln because the houses that back onto the river treat this as their rubbish dump. We’ve seen rubbish bags flying over the garden wall and when the contents spill on the way bits of kitchen waste catch in the shrubs growing at the water’s edge, where they slowly decompose.

We pulled over at Memory Lane Wharf (upstream of Limekiln Lock) to check we could still get water at the tap under the stone lintel. But we shan’t be filling up here again, the water tap has gone and the pipe truncated. Oh thank you very much whoever is responsible for that. What with no tap at Castle Gardens we have no water supply on the journey through Leicester. Was it really a year ago that the brochures came out extolling the merits of Leicester as a waterside attraction for boats, walkers and residents?

It’s getting worse not better.

We were both a soggy mess by the time we left the river at Kings Lock and we ended the day by changing into dry clothes, stoking the fire and raising drying lines for wet coats and trousers.

Tuesday carried on where Monday left off, drying coats and shoes.

Wednesday brought fine weather and our friend Richard from Blaby. Richard, and Rosemary, have been on the boat before but this was the first time when we’ve been on the move. Richard is ex-RN so it was lovely to pipe him aboard, show him the mess (no not the mess, the Mess) and pass him the tiller while I did the captain’s bit.

I think he enjoyed it, even though he wasn’t in the Tropics.

We passed a couple of BW linesmen wandering along the towpath below the old railway line at Whetstone, not the guys we knew from Kilby Bridge depot but guys who had come all the way from Tamworth. I thought this was Newark territory.

Thursday was damp but the shopping had to be done so I packed V off to the shops while I stayed behind and dubbined my shoes.
We were pleased to see Mike and Jo (nb.Sarah-Kate) early in the afternoon and catch up on their news, while the evening brought Paul and Dawn for a meal and news of friends and happenings in the Blaby/Glen Parva area.

After all the speculation and objectionable building plans over the years we welcomed the news that the County Arms site is being considered for retirement accommodation.
Having said that, another local told us that planning permission hadn’t been granted so all may change yet again.

Didn’t the wind blow Thursday night! Thought we were going to discover fresh firewood in the morning but it brought nothing but twigs and leaves, most of them stuck to the boat’s roof.

Friday wasn’t bad as far as the weather goes so cruising through Wigston was its usual pleasure.
Couldn’t help noticing some enterprising person from Eyres Monsell has destroyed the recently repaired fence panel at Dunn’s Lock. I begrudgingly announce the re-opening of the shortcut between the housing estate and Blaby.
Oh well it lasted a year. Might have had better chance of success if anti-climb paint had been applied at the same time.
Talking of lock ‘adjustments’, we shall soon be able to cruise without the BW key along the south Leicester section. Someone is collecting padlocks, the chains are still there but apart from a couple of gate paddles the padlocks have all gone.

Expecting to meet the coal boat at Kilby we were rather surprised to see Callisto appear just as we left Bush Lock. I thought a second boat was part of the posse but I realised, when we pulled away after taking on diesel, that there was no connection, he was just sharing locks on his way to the Trent.
Whoever you are, sorry for hogging the lock if we made you late.

And finally we made it to Kilby Bridge for water, dirt dump and a mooring. A few familiar faces here and a choice of location meant we felt at home from the moment we arrived.
There’s a small matter of a stoppage to the east but that’s all that keeps us from reaching Foxton and Harbro’, the starting point of our Spring cruise.

Saturday was our day off, well my day off because V still had cooking to do. Mid morning brought John and Jean from way down south, bearing fabulous gifts to eat, drink and smell.
They both have very interesting jobs with loads of stories to tell, some would make your hair curl but I’m not allowed to repeat them so you can guess as much as you like, but having signed the Official Secrets Act my lips are sealed.