Monday 7th to Sunday 13th Feb. 2011

Our week begins at Loughborough, outside the Albion Inn. The wind is blowing a hooley and rain clouds hover above us waiting for someone to put their head out.
While I worked on an LM317 circuit for a broken ipod, V went to the flicks to see The King’s Speech. The film was good but my circuit was useless, back to a zener diode methinks.

Tuesday we moved back to the boat basin next to the student accommodation to cut down on the walking (me to Wilkies, no sense in over exercising is there) and a decent mooring for car parking for Claire and Ter who popped over for a meal.

Wednesday and we’re off. Excitement kicked in after sitting still for a few days. I tend to faff about if my routine is broken and I wasted several journeys down to the pointy end when stowing the bits we don’t use while cruising.

V likes to chivvy me up by starting the engine and reminding me to fit the tiller arm. She lets-go for’d while I let go aft and she’s back on deck with the first cuppa before we’re up to cruising speed (6.43kph to the nearest hundredth of a klik).

Down to the first corner and whoooah, canal blocked. Piling is replacing Defra rash along the towpath to our first lock. The concrete sides have been gradually slipping into the canal and making interesting dismounting at the lock so we’ll all be glad of this bit of action.
piledriving

You know what it’s like when you’re fresh and rested, you go too far on the first day. We were going to stop at Zouch but the sun was out so we piled on the miles and finished the day at Trent Lock, outside the Erewash.

trentlock

Nothing to report on the journey apart from a pair of undies around the prop. Not one of ours, and certainly not a pair fitting anyone we knew, so we binned them.

Thursday
We stopped for the day because the forecast was rain. Being sissies we stayed indoors apart from a bit of work to fix the chimney.

Our original chimney lasted five years but the handle fell off and holes started appearing in the inner skin so we bought another one at Sileby. Identical in every way, apart from the brass work. The new one worked well enough until day two when I noticed tar leaking from its base onto the boat roof. Every day has been the same, enough dribble to stain the roof and cabin sides. I checked the chimney’s dimensions and found the only difference was the inner skin being ½” shorter on the new chimney.
new chimney

A piece of tin (ex flatbed scanner case if you must know, I don’t sling anything if I can help it) rolled into a tube and shoved inside the inner skin and protruding an inch did the trick. Sorted, no more tar dribbles.

Friday promised to be a dry day so we donned warm clothes and headed upstream into the breeze. Through the lock and into Sawley Cut where we met coal boat Callisto and stopped for fuel for engine (83p) and fire (£8.50) before returning to the river for the short cruise to the Trent & Mersey Canal.

Purposely taking a wrong turn at Derwent M outh we followed the Trent as far as we dared, up to the boatyard just before the B5010 road bridge.
navigationend

Nothing much to see but I’d promised myself I’d do it someday and it was a pleasant enough cruise, river deep and wide with a reasonable flow that assisted the journey back down.
Almost rolled her on the corner as we turned into the canal, too much helm and too much coal on the roof but as she started to go over I thrust the tiller t’other way and she righted immediately. Phew, that could have delayed us a couple of weeks.

At Shardlow the parking was perfect, half way between the New Inn and Malt Shovel and it wouldn’t be right to pass through without seeing Mark (ex nb.Lorimar) for a few minutes and swap an old battery for new.
shardlow

While I sat on the stern deck repairing the splash panel I was engaged in conversation by comedian/singer Tony who announced it was open house if we fancied a drink and a smoke at his place.
Very kind of him but as it happens I was taking V to the New Inn to ask her to be my valentine over a cajun chicken. Didn’t get an answer until she’d been served the sweet so it cost more than I’d hoped but hey, it was worth it, she said yes.

The first hireboat (what was Canal Time) of the year went past in the evening reminding us it’s half-term coming up soon. They moored on the other side and if they’re lucky they shall have our company in the locks tomorrow. Someone made the observation that hire boat crews are keen as mustard so it’s worth hanging around the lock entrance until one comes along because they do all the work. That sounds like taking advantage but might be worth trying if you’re single-handed.

Saturday is fried breakfast day and while the pan was warming up the hireboat set off – darn-it.
Now we’ll have to empty every lock before we use it.

As it happens we caught them up on our last lock of the day and it turns out that the skipper does big boats on the Humber. It didn’t take long to get him to tell me what I wanted to know about the lower reaches of the Trent and the possibilities for narrowboats on the Humber.
Until he mentioned it I hadn’t considered the River Ancholme for cruising but now that’s suddenly looking very attractive. Has anyone been there recently in a 60 footer?

It is well known, apparently, that locals take their boats onto the Humber’s pebble beaches at low tide for repairs and bottom blacking and this is something I just have to look into. But V will only allow me to take her and the ‘house’ down there if I can prove that three others have done it (and survived).
So I’m looking for reports of successful beaching on the Humber (please, anyone!).

The Six Nations Rugby is looking good this year isn’t it. A good result last game and an even better one today against Italy.

Now I’m no cook but I know a thing or two about hot food. V made a Jamie Oliver 30 second, sorry, 30 minute meal the other day and it got me thinking. Do wild animals eat chilli peppers off the bushes and if so what does it do to them. It has a strange effect on me a few hours later but I do love them. While we’re on that subject do wild animals eat curry leaves, like the ones on madras and vindaloo bushes and does it do funny things to their tummies?

Sunday is a layby day, we lay by the towpath and let the weekenders get on with it. This being the T&M we shall have some near misses no doubt.

Tomorrow we’re off in the direction of Fradley where we’ll hang a left and shoot on down to Atherstone to make the log jam down there even worse. We’ve nothing against rafting up so keep your curtains drawn, we might be tying up next to you.

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