Our trip from Loughborough took us 3 days, although it is only 16miles and 11 locks for me to do.
The Captain had planned it this way, as he wanted to use the pump out machine at Leicester Marina on the Friday, and we had planned to be in Leicester itself on the Saturday. We had hoped to meet up with Heath and Jennifer, but unfortunately they were away on holiday in their new camper van. Hopefully we will see them in the summer.
After visiting the marina we moored at Birstall for the night, but with difficulty, as a hire boat had left a right git gap not leaving us quite enough space, so we had to moor the best we could. We didn’t venture to the pub as it was hard for me to get on and off the boat.
The 4 locks into Leicester, were a few years ago, some of the worst maintained locks I had ever had to deal with, and I did contact CRT about them. There has been some improvements, and we were lucky enough to pair up with another boat for the first 3 called Koi Carp Diem, the Captain and crew were heading for Foxton locks to help out a friend who had broken down.
At the last, and the very worst of the locks, North Lock, we caught up with another boat Eau de Vie and Koi Carp Diem joined them in the lock. Leaving us to do it on our own.
There are so many things wrong with this lock. I turned in my windlass and choose to take the boat into the lock instead. I am so glad I did, as the Captain had major problem getting the gate open, and he is a big strong fella.
But we made it and headed for Castle Gardens, on the way we checked the pontoons at Memory Lane moorings but nothing seemed to have been done since last year, CRT are meant to be building a sanitary station here, which is really needed. Disappointed we were.
We passed Friars Mill mooring and there was space which was good as Castle Gardens was full, it didn’t help that a large CRT work boat was moored on the pontoons taking up much needed visitors moorings. So we winded and returned to Friars Mill. Last year there were a lot of stories about access to these pontoons, and the first thing I did was make sure that the waterways key opened the access gate, it did. Even better the water had been turned on again. So we were set for the night.
We joined narrowboats Winging It and Jaracanda. NB Matilda turned up later and we helped them moor before having a chat.
It was date night so we headed into town, calling first at the Blue Boar, an amazing real ale pub that also sells Samuel Smith beer. It was heaving and so noisy, but the choice for the Captain was amazing and Taddy lager for me. Then onto the Salmon, another fantastic real ale pub but a lot quieter than the Boar. We had decided to go to Zizzi’s for tea. Unfortunately my meal wasn’t up to scratch, but the waitress was marvellous and sorted it out. Then didn’t charge me for my meal. Very good customer service.
We left Leicester on Sunday, and this is why this episode is called happy days. We did 8 miles and 11 locks, but the gongoozlers we met made it a very special day. I had help from both young and old. Many questions were asked and answered. Everyone was smiling, the sun was out. A perfect day. We even helped some people magnet fishing retrieve their magnet when it got stuck between 2 rocks and they couldn’t dislodge it. The fishermen were happy to.
We did meet 2 very different groups of teenagers, the first were cheeky, well mainly one of them, and wanted to get on the boat, but no way jose, this is our home. The second were respectful and listened and asked questions politely and helped out when ask. One made my day when he asked how old I was and then guessed in my forties, ahhhh bless him, for those that don’t know I am actually 59.
Monday was a quiet day, and after 4 miles and 8 locks we moored in the MONW for the night.
Tuesday was an interesting day, we had 6 miles, 5 locks and Saddington Tunnel (880yards) to do to get to Foxton Locks. At the last lock we met up with some volunteer lockees, and they had a very important guest with them, Phil Mulligan who is the CRT regional director for the East Midlands. Now earlier in this blog I mention reporting the problems with the Leicester locks, and I did this by emailing, yes you guessed it Phil Mulligan, and I got a substantial reply from him. So it was great to but a face to a name. We managed to chat about various issues, the main one being the sanitary station and moorings at Memory Lane. He said they had been the bane of his life for the past 3 years, but was hopeful that within a year it would all be sorted. Fingers crossed he is right.
We also mentioned the up coming riverside festival in Leicester, and the suspension of the mooring there as there was no notification of this on the CRT webpage. He was most surprised and said he would look into it.
I complained about North Lock, and he and the lockees all rolled their eyes already knowing all the problems at this lock. Again hopefully it is on his to do list, well at the top I hope.
It was a very interesting meeting and he seemed genuinely interested it what we had to say.
We were lucky the rain held off until we got to Foxton and moored up outside the Lock Inn. We also managed to dodge the showers when we headed to Bridge 61, a little real ale pub that sells Langton Brewery beers on draft and in bottle. The Captain is very partial to their Bulls Eye stout, so a couple before tea.
We decided to stay at Foxton the next day, before heading down the arm to Market Harborough and a curry at the Bengal Kitchen and a pint at The Beer house with Dave and Sandra Biddle, some old boating mates who have given up life afloat and now have a motorhome. This change in life style means they get to spend time with their lovely daughter and grandchildren.
Foxton Locks next time folks.