Meeting friends on the cut; nearly losing an Elsan cassette
19 May 2022 | 2:31 pm

Oh dear - no blogging for three days. Various reasons, mostly that it got too late in the evening and I was too tired. Now we are on a lock-free stretch and Jan is happy to steer while I try to put some words to the photos I have taken.

And it's a good job I have the photos or I would struggle to remember what we did!  It seems a long time ago that we were on the River Trent, but it was only Tuesday.  I mistimed our departure from Sawley, with two boats passing before I untied.  There they are, in front of us, as we go through Sawley Flood Lock.
Sitting on a float forming part of a weir barrage was a bird.
I don't know whatr bird this is.
It posed obligingly for my camera.
I'm fairly sure this is a new sign pointing the way to the Trent and Mersey Canal. And the signage on the front of the Clock Warehouse at Shardlow has been redone too.
I spotted this tortoise (turtle?) swimming along too late to get a decent photo.
Not long after this was a field of confused-looking geese.
In a cage at the back of a boat was a pair of owls.
To my mind the cage seemed far too small.
As we approached Mercia Marina I spotted a familiar-looking boat. From reading their blog I knew that Free Spirit, with Ian and Irene, was heading our way.
We stopped mid-channel for a chat - it was good to meet up again. Incidentally, this photo clearly shows a problem which has developed with my camera. That is not a great black thundercloud in the sky, it's the lens cover not fully retracting when the camera is switched on.
So Irene and Ian were the first blogging friends we met on Tuesday; next up was Willington-based Andrew Denny of Granny Buttons fame.  We invited him for tea; he declined the food but we shared a chat and a drink.  It started to rain as he came on board.
At Horninglow Basin we stopped for water and Elsan. WeI nearly left the emptied cassette behind. When we arrived there was a boat already there, moored correctly at 90 degrees to the line of the canal. We pulled in opposite the towpath to attend to the Elsan. When the other boat had gone we pulled Jubilee round and watered up. It was only after I'd reversed round again to go that I glanced across and saw our empty cassette. Phew!

Shortly afterwards we called in to Shobnall Wharf (Marina?) for diesel.  Yes, I should have reversed in.  There is a nifty means of raising the small footbridge across the former Bond End Canal: an electric motor lifts the bridge into the ceiling.
Had I been able to buy 50 litres it would have been at the good price of £1.19 per litre. As it happened, we had done only 29 engine hours since the last fill-up at Debdale Wharf Marina and it took just 34 litres.
That's a consumption rate of less than 1.2 litres per hour. And that is due, in part, to my new practice of running at a cruising speed of 1000 rpm, in the past I used to run at 1100 rpm. Another factor, of course, is that we were coming with the flow of the Soar.
On the stretch by the noisy A38 a pair came past: the motor was towing Nebulae.
We hadn't finished with the Trent. Between Wychnor and Alrewas the river becomes the navigation. These cows came down for a paddle ...
... with their calves.
At Alrewas we tied up for the night. We went for a walk round the village, bought a reduced pizza from the Co-op and had tea. Not the pizza - that was for the next day's lunch.

Cows and cooling towers
16 May 2022 | 10:06 pm

We continued our journey north on the River Soar, on our own again through Mountsorrel Lock. When we got to Barrow-upon-Soar, however, a man called out to us as we approached the Deep Lock and asked if he could share the lock with us. Of course, we said.

Peter was single handing his boat, Odyssey, and was having engine problems. He had also managed to hurt his leg and had broken a step on his boat, so things were not going well. Peter was stopping by Loughborough Station to meet someone so we went past. We stopped ourselves just after the sharp right where Loughborough Basin is just to the left - and went to Lidl and Tesco. As we were having lunch Odyssey came past, so we said we'd come down more locks with him.

This northern end of the Soar is certainly the prettiest. Here's the classic view of the church at Normanton-on-Soar.
Just beyond the church was a riverside house for sale. Hopefully the upside-down Union flag indicates nothing worse than that the owners are sad to be leaving.
At one of the locks Peter asked if he could borrow an iPhone charging cable as he had broken his. As I said, things were not going too well for him. We were able to lend him the right cable and he was able to recharge his phone. This is us in Kegworth New (Deep) Lock.
I think this is my favourite photo from today at Ratcliffe on Soar: cows and cooling towers. (Strictly speaking I think they are heiffers, but the alliteration would fail.)
At Ratcliffe Lock Peter returned my cable and we headed onto the Trent. We wanted to get water, so we squeezed in by the approach to Trent Lock and used the water point on the corner. Thanks to Waterway Routes we knew exactly where to aim for which made it easier.

While the tank was filling I recced the three-day pontoon moorings just the other side of Trent Junction: good, there was one space left. I was just disconnecting the hose when a boat went past upstream, i.e. the direction we were going. Was he heading for the pontoon mooring? Yes. Oh well. There was a space between two boats just back from the water point I thought we might just fit in. We battled the wind and tried - but we were a fender too long. More battle with the wind, and we carried on upstream towards Sawley.
With Sawley Lock negotiated we tied up finally opposite Sawley Bridge Marina and were serenaded by a song thrush.
BCF friend Angie, who lives nearby, came for a chat and some apple pie and custard. It was good to see you, Angie, and thanks for the wine and choccies!

Have you ever seen anything like this before? Fish stuck between lock gates
15 May 2022 | 10:28 pm

The forecast thunderstorms last night did not happen, neither did the rain which was supposed to be during the morning. We walked from Castle Gardens to Holy Trinity Leicester for their 1030 service, at which the preacher was an evangelist recently returned from Argentina. John someone - I didn't catch his surname.
He spoke engagingly about, well, evangelism, i.e. telling people about Jesus.

Back on the boat we had lunch, then set off just as the rain started. It didn't amount to much and soon stopped. We carried on downstream, encountering one lock in particular - North Lock 42 - whose bottom gates were almost impossible to open, such was the amount of water leaking from the top gates. Fortunately a boat was waiting to come up the lock so, with three of us heaving on the balance beam, it succumbed.

I saw two things today I had never seen before. One was this swan carrying a couple of cygnets on its back.
Once we had cleared Leicester much of the journey was through watermeadows.
The other sight not seen before - and I probably never will again - was of a fish caught between the leaky bottom gates of Sileby Lock. Jubilee was in the lock and I had raised the bottom paddles to empty the lock.
As the water drained from the lock the pressure holding the gates together reduced. The gap widened slightly and the fish fell back into the water and disappeared.
It can have been stuck like that for only 30 seconds or so, just long enough for me to take these two photos. Would it have survived? Have you ever seen anything like that?

We tied up for the night just below the lock and walked round Sileby after tea. Is it a town or a village? The cricket club thinks it's a town; Nicholson calls it a village.

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