Thursday 5 October 2023


Beautiful Dylan

 Langley Mill to Trent Lock 12 miles, 15 locks and 2 canals.

Dylan was due on the 7th September and arrived on the 7th, at 1.39pm weighing in at a respectable 7lb 6oz. Mother and baby doing fine. They were in and out on the same day, wonderful.

In the couple of days from our arrival to his birth we kept ourselves busy, when the 3 other boats left the basin we moved across and into the sunshine, much better for keeping our batteries topped up.

We heard that the Cromford Canal Society were working on the bit of the canal just past the end of the boatyard, so we took a walk to see what was occurring. On this stretch there will be 2 new locks which will take the canal up and over a culvert, and then under the A610 towards Ironville. It is the start of trying to connect the two ends of Cromford canal to each other, but they have many obstacles ahead.

The first being the Butterley tunnel, which used to take the canal under Butterley reservoir and into the Butterley iron works. Then it is on towards another, the Bull Bridge Viaduct at Ambergate.

Butterley Tunnel

We chattered to the volunteers working there and they were happy to explain what they had done, and were doing. It was really interesting, but I doubt I will see the project completed in my boating lifetime.

It was a lovely day so we headed of to the pub, The Great Northern. The Captain was very happy as they had Gorilla Stout by Blue Monkey brewery on, and we were joined by a couple of the volunteers, so our chat continued, and the same next day.

Over these couple of days the news from CRT about water levels got no better, but on the 7th they said things were looking up, so our plan was to see Dylan, Adam and Julie over the weekend (letting Mum and baby have some quiet time together first) and then head off either Monday or Tuesday. We also had my sisters party to attend on the Saturday.

Things of course didn’t go to plan. The news from CRT next day was that, once again blaming ‘vandalism’, the water had dropped and the canal remained shut.

On the upside Adam invited us to visit Dylan that day and came and picked us up. We had offered to get the bus as far as Clay Cross, which is only a couple of miles from were he lives, but he insisted, so we spent a wonderful afternoon with them. Julie is a great Mum, and Dylan is just perfect. He stayed fast a sleep in my arms the whole of the time we were there. I know I am gushing, and its not really a boaty story, but you will have to forgive me.

So we were stuck in the basin, the weekend came and went, the party was fun, and Sunday was quiet, but the update on Monday didn’t make happy reading, the canal remained closed. Although CRT did say there had been significant improvement of water levels, and were optimistic the canal would open next day. However it was not to be, and the next update said water levels had fallen and for once they didn’t blame vandalism, but said they would be ‘undertaking remedial work’, whatever that meant.

So we were stuck for another day, one good thing, it meant we could catch up with our friends Chris and Sue. They came up to Langley Mill for a few pints, a curry at the Royal Ghurka, and a reet good chin wag.

The food was excellent but the service a little strange, but it didn’t matter, we had a great time.

We had hoped the canal would reopen next day and got up early (9am) to do some final bits of shopping, but again the news wasn’t good, so we are stuck for another day.

I know in one of my earlier blogs I was accused of CRT bashing, after I questioned if they knew what they were doing in relation to structural breakdowns, which seem so much more prevalent this year. They seemed to have moved away from pro-active maintenance to reactive. So things are only being repaired when they break, rather than being checked and maintained to ensure the canals stay open. The Captain has a notification app on his phone, which alerts him to stoppages on the canals for what ever reason, and it has been going off continually this summer. And one of the main reason CRT gives when something breaks is ‘Vandalism’. Now I know on some occasions this will be the case, but CRT seem to be using it as their go to excuse, rather than admitting that their lack of maintenance is to blame. I have, in the past, done my best to support CRT, but I am getting to the end of my tether, and I am starting to question if they have their priorities right, as money seems to being spent on everything apart from properly maintaining the canals. As proof of this I have a few examples of what I consider to be a waste of money. Firstly, unnecessary consultations to fix things that aren’t broken, ie the mooring time limits in Birmingham, or the way they calculate how much we pay for our license, the second such consultation for this in a couple of years. 3 CRT employees painting lines in a car park that is hardly used, 2 were waiting for the 3rd to bring the paint, and then it took all 3 of them to paint half a dozen white lines, and a few yellow lines to identify the parking bays. Finally the number of directors on over £100,000 a year, (12), 2 of whom were appointed this year. CRT is meant to be a charity, so money should be spent more wisely in my opinion.

Rant over.

Right back to our journey. The next day we were hoping for an early update, but of course we didn’t receive anything until mid afternoon, the good news was they were reopening the canal, but only between 9am and 4pm for the next 3 weeks, so this meant it was too late for us to get past the affected lock that day, but the Captain took the decision to get as far as the Gallows in Ilkeston, and continue our journey to Trent Lock the next day. There was plenty of water on both days, and we met a number of boats travelling up the canal who had been stuck for nearly 2 weeks waiting to return to their home moorings in the basin. Everyone was in high spirits and happy to be on the move again.

We got to Trent Lock without any issues, but harping back to my rant, I have been doing this stretch of canal every year for the last 9, and the lack of maintenance on the locks is starting to show badly. Extremely stiff paddles, and heavy gates that simply don’t want to move, due I believe, to the amount of weed in the canal and a build up of silt in the locks, and I will say it again, the lack of pro-active maintenance.

A couple of pints in the Steam Boat of course, and we saw 2 beautiful kingfishers on our way down which helped brighten the day.

Homeward bound now, but that’s for the next instalment.

Monday 18 September 2023



The Erewash Canal

Trent Lock to Langley Mill via Shardlow, 18miles, 21 locks, 1 river and 2 canals

For Bank Holiday Monday we decided to head for Shardlow village, there are a couple of good pubs and moorings. We managed to moor outside the Malt Shovel and New Inn on the recently restored moorings.

Of course we headed to the pub, first the Malt Shovel, no darks on so only one in there. Then the New Inn, I don’t think we have ever been disappointed in here and this didn’t change, they had Old Peculiar Chocolate on so one very happy Captain. The food menu is good and we have eaten in here in the past, but just a pint today. As we were finishing our last pint a couple came looking for a table for 4 (it was quite busy). As we were sat at a table for 4 and leaving shortly, we invited them to join us until their son and daughter arrived. We had a lovely chat and it finished the afternoon off on a happy note.

As most of you know, our reason for heading up the Erewash to Langley Mill is the imminent arrival of my first grandchild. As most of you also know, babies come when they want, and not to suit your plans.

We had an added problem that Hallam Fields lock on the Erewash has been closed on and off for most of the summer due to low water. It was closed when we reached Trent Lock, but reopened after the bank holiday, so we really needed to get past it as quick as possible.

We didn’t make the best start on the Tuesday, as we overlay more than usual. Then we needed to get a pump out at Shardlow Marina, so it was 1pm before we actually started our journey on the Erewash. Then the heavens opened and the rain didn’t stop. It was miserable and slow going, with low water and lots of weed hindering our progress, but we managed to get through the problem lock and moor near the Gallows pub as usual, but it was 8.30pm by this time, so no pub for us.

Next morning seemed brighter, we joined Music Weaver 2 and its crew of 3 in the first lock, then the heavens opened again, I am truly p*****d off with the weather this year.

Luckily the rain stopped, and the sun came out before the next lock and things looked brighter.

There was more water, but the weed still continued to be a problem. The Captain heaved a sigh of relief when we got through the final lock, into the basin and on to the Cromford Canal, but there was even a problem with low water here. They were pumping water up from the pound below the basin to rectify the problem, and this took all afternoon and into the night.

Last lock into Langley Mill basin

We moored by the water point (this is allowed here but not usually the done thing) joining 4 other moored boats. The place the Captain really wanted to be was opposite the water point. The boat there was only staying 1 night, so we intended to move over when they left, but the boat in front beat us to it. This caused a few issues with the solar panels as we were under a tree, but not a lot we could do. So the singing kettle had to come out, always good to have a back up.

Well now we were in the basin until something happens (we may have to overstay the 7 days, but I think we have a good enough excuse, don’t you?)

First thing the Captain did after a day of rest was take the flexible coupling off the prop shaft, it was not in a good way. The round bolt holes were no longer round and look more rugby ball shaped, and the actual body of the coupling was beaten and battered. He ordered a new one to be delivered to Langley Mill boat yard. Dan and Vicky who run the yard are great, and both had popped over to have a chat when we arrived, so it was no problem having it delivered there.

The knackered coupling

We did however have another issue, when the seal had gone, water had leaked into the bottom of the engine bay and mixed with some oil there, this meant we couldn’t simply pump the water out, you don’t want oil in the canal. So we needed some containers to pump the oil water mix into, so we can dispose of it responsibly at a later date. The Captain solved this by going to the local car wash, were they had some 25ltr drums which had held cleaning fluid, perfect.

Our first visitors came on Friday, Sandy and John, I was at school with Sandy and we had kept in touch after. John, we had never met, they had only been together a couple of years. We had a lovely afternoon catching up, we went to the pub and I did a buffet for tea. They had never been on a narrowboat before, and unfortunately we weren’t able to take them on the planned cruise due to our engine problems, the lack of water and the weed. But there will be another time I am sure.

I invite my old workmate Chris to come for Sunday lunch, and he readily accepted, but then there was a change of plan, as he had heard the Red Arrows were meant to be performing at Chatsworth on the Sunday at 6pm. So I cooked some of the dinner, he picked us up and took us to his static caravan not far from Chatsworth, where we cooked the rest of dinner between us, sat out on his decking to eat, and then headed to Chatsworth. He hadn’t however got his information quite right, the Sparrows were just doing a fly over rather than a display. We got there just in time to see them shoot by. It was a lovely afternoon.

Now we are playing the waiting game for 2 reasons, the birth of my grandson Dylan, due on the 7th, and the Erewash canal is shut again due to low water. Vandalism again if CRT is to be believed.

That’s all for now folks

Wednesday 6 September 2023



Torksey to Trent Lock 56 miles, 12 locks, 1 river.

We left Torksey a little later than we thought. This is all down to there being enough water to get over the cill in the lock, and the lockees control when you can go.

Once on the River Trent again we headed off to Cromwell lock for the night. The Captain had been concerned about strange noises coming from the engine, and whilst I took a turn at steering, he had a look down into the engine compartment. Luckily he spotted the problem immediately, the seal on the prop shaft had come loose, unfortunately this allowed water to enter the bilge, not a lot but it still needed sorting. Of course, being the very clever fellow he is, he had a spare, but obviously couldn’t fit it whilst we were cruising.

We got to Cromwell lock without issue, and locked up. We managed to find a spot on the pontoons for the night. This did entail some excellent steering by the Captain, as we had to squeeze into the space on the pontoon down the side of another moored boat. The Captain of the moored boat popped his head out and congratulated him on his great driving.

Next day we headed to Newark where the Captain replaced the seal and hoped that was that.

My phone decided to throw a wobbley and had me living in Chile for a while, I got this phone in June, and never have been 100% happy with it, but this was the strangest thing it had done. It returned to normal eventually.

As a treat after replacing the seal we headed into Newark for a pint (of course). Firstly The Prince Rupert, a decent dark on in here, and then Just Beer, and not disappointed again. We met another boater there who informed us that one of the locks ahead of us might be closing the next day. The Captain checked the stoppage notices on the CRT website but couldn’t find anything, so we decided to wait and see what happened next day.

At the first lock (Newark Town Lock) we found out that Hazelford lock wasn’t closed, but there was no lock keeper on, so we would have to operate the lock ourselves. Not a real problem, I have done this type of lock before. The biggest issue is getting on and off the boat.

At Hazelford, getting off wasn’t an issue and I went up to see what was occurring. There were a lot of boats moored in the lock entrance but no one seemed to be using the lock. Then the noise started, the booming sound that can only belong to the Typhoon, also known as the Eurofighter. I love these aeroplanes, and this one was giving me my own display above the lock.

The Typhoon

The lock is huge and seemed to take an age to be ready for the Captain to enter. As I got the Captain into the lock the display finished and I was sad, but I soon cheered up when a Spitfire and Hurricane came into view and started a display all of their own.

Spitfire Below, Hurricane on Top

As this finished the lock was ready for me to release the Captain, and try to get back on the good ship Avalon Two. Due to the moored boats the Captain couldn’t get to the side and let me come down one of the ladders. Eventually we came up with a plan. A large working barge was moored at the end and I could get on to that using a ladder, then I had to walk round the big open empty bit in the middle until I reached were the Captain was waiting, and then a big step down on to our boat. I wasn’t happy, but had to put on my big girl pants and bite the bullet and do it. It wasn’t as bad as I thought, but I wouldn’t like to do it again.

As we set off a biplane started its display, followed by the F35 Lightning, which is the replacement for the Harrier.

We made it to Gunthorpe but there was no room on the pontoons, so we ended up mooring on the wall. Difficult for me to get off so we had a quiet night in. As we moored the last display of the day was The Red Arrows, or fondly known by us as the Sparrows. What a great finish to the day. The flying display was for the National Air and Space Camp being held at RAF Syerston.

The Red Arrows

Next hop to Nottingham. We moored near Curry,s again and caught the bus into the city centre, I needed birthday cards. We had a pint in the Bell again before trying Wonder Pho, a Vietnamese restaurant. We both had the Bun Hue Pho, which is a spicy soup noodle dish with mixed meat and vegetables. It was very spicy but so tasty.

Next port of call was Trent Lock for the bank holiday weekend, the Steamboat had entertainment on so we decided to stop a few days there. On the way to Trent Lock we discovered that the new seal had also come loose, this made the Captain think there was more to the problem than he first thought. He managed to tap it back into place. We moored on the wall just by the lock and next day the Captain investigated more thoroughly than before, and came to the conclusion that it was a combination of the flexible coupling on the prop shaft, and one of the engine mounts had dropped due to a nut coming loose. He tightened the nut and decided to wait until we got to Langley Mill before removing the coupling to see the state of it.

We headed off to The Steamboat on the cold Sunday afternoon, we very happy with the duo that was on, The Sugar Tree, they performed an eclectic mix of songs from all over the world. Although there were only a boy and girl performing, it turned out that the actual Sugar Tree band has about 5 or 6 members who perform together or separately. It was a great afternoon, if a bit chilly, but the rain held off.

Wildlife, kingfishers have been in short supply this year and the Captain had spotted more than me, and this was the case on this occasion, but I did managed to spot a Great Spotted Woodpecker with its distinctive red white and black plumage. It has really been the year of the Little Egret, and we spotted 5 of these lovely snowy birds sat together on the side of the Trent.

Great Spotted Woodpecker

That’s all for now folk’s

Saturday 26 August 2023


A misty morning on the Trent

 Doncaster to Lincoln 59 miles, 5 locks 3 canals and 2 rivers.

We enjoyed visiting Doncaster, its a lovely lively town with a few good pubs and a Cosmos. On Saturday after we had moored up and had a rest we headed into town to find we had missed Doncaster Pride, but there were still plenty of colourful people milling about, and most of the pubs had joined in with gusto. We decided to try The Hallcross, the Captain could see from his real ale finder app, they had York Chocolate stout on by Rudgate brewery. The pub was busy and we decided to sit outside, but it was so windy we only had the one in there, and thought we would try the Red Lion a Wetherspoons, hoping it would be quieter. It was not to be, we managed to find a seat, but the pub was heaving, so just the one in there too. Then it was off to Cosmos, an all you can eat world buffet. We really like Cosmos, and were not disappointed on this visit at all, the choice and quality of the food was excellent.

We stayed put next day and went to the Draughtmans micro pub on platform 3b at Doncaster railway station. It is housed in what was originally a ladies waiting room, with beautiful tiles and even better beer. The Captain was very happy, with Small Black Flowers by Pentrich Brewery and a good pint of ABK lager for me. Then back to the boat for a Sunday roast with all the trimmings.

Monday and the rain was back, so just a short hop on our way back to Keadby and the mighty River Trent

On our way to Thorne next day, as we approached one of the few locks on this stretch there seemed to be a queue. I jumped off to see what was occurring. Bramwith lock is unusual, in that it has 3 sets of gates and can be used for short boats, or by opening the middle gates large boats. There were 2 narrowboats waiting, Chrisden and Outlaws Dream, a large sea going boat Amyjay, us and then a small yoghurt pot turned up. The 2 narrowboats had tried to get in the short lock, but found that one of them was too long, so needed to open the middle gates and use the full length of the lock. Well not only did they get in, we all got in, so that’s 5 boats in one lock. That’s the way to do it !!!

We stopped at Thorne on the visitors pontoons for the night and headed for the Canal Tavern once again.

Back to Keadby next day as we had a very early start on Thursday. We met NB Derwent Lass at one of the swing bridges, they seemed to be struggling to understand how the swing bridges worked. The ones on this stretch tend to be manual, but you need to use your BW key to release the locks on the road barriers and bridge locking mechanism, I went along and explained the process. They told me they were heading out of Keadby next day to join the Chesterfield canal at West Stockworth lock. However they stopped at the next bridge for lunch never to be seen again.

Thursday morning came and I groaned when the alarm went off at 5am, but we needed to be up and off. The lock keeper was ready for us at 5.45. We we were joined in the lock by Chrisden and Outlaws Dream once again. Out on to the tidal Trent and we took the lead as we have done this trip a few times now. 28 miles to Torskey, and we kept an eye on the boats behind us to make sure we didn’t lose them. It took us a respectable 4 ½ hours, and we were able to lock up and onto the Fossdyke canal and head for Saxilby. The other 2 boats were staying on the pontoons below the lock and going to Cromwell next morning. We got to Saxilby and moored on the newly refurbished visitors moorings. We had a plan. Saxilby has one of the best fish and chip shops on the system, and a couple of decent pubs, so that was tea sorted. Then surprisingly Chrisden and Outlaws Dream turned up and tried to wind, but the canal wasn’t wide enough at this point, so they moored up in front of us. After a discussion they headed off up the canal until they found somewhere to wind and then they were back, just before we headed to the pub The Anglers. After a couple of pints we headed back calling at the chippy on the way. There was no sign of them when we got back.

After a quiet night we headed for Lincoln, and instead of going through the Glory Hole we moored on the visitors moorings near Brayford Pools. Glory Hole is the nickname of High Bridge, the oldest medieval bridge with houses on it in the UK,_Lincoln

We had arranged to meet our friend Phil Hancox and his new girlfriend Karen at the Cardinals Hat. Phil lives on his boat like us, Karen still has a house, but seems to be taking to the boating like a duck to water. We had a great time and hope to see them again.

The Cardinals Hat is a great real ale pub, and the Captain was very happy with Small Black Flowers stout by Pentrich Brewery (again), and Mena Dhu a Cornish stout from St Austell Brewery.

For once we actually arrived somewhere when something was going off (we are usually a week early or a week late). It was Lincoln Pride. A very lively, colourful noisy and well attended event. We watched the parade and when it had finished decided to head to the market hall, only to find it was undergoing refurbishment. Shame but we did pick up a lovely piece of pork for our Sunday roast from a local butcher.

We spent a quiet afternoon, and surprisingly for us didn’t venture out for a pint.

Sunday and it was D Day for the Lionesses, and we were ready to watch them in plenty of time, well the Captain was watching, I was cooking with one eye on the match.

We all know it didn’t finish the way we would have liked, but they did their very best, and you can’t ask for more than that.

After the match we headed back to Torskey. We were booked back out on the Trent next morning. To give the |Captain a break I took over steering for a while, the canal here is straight and wide, just the way I like it. It was sunny and to help the Captain lent me his baseball cap, but a strong gust of wind swept it off my head and in to a watery grave. Oooops. Will have a buy him a new one.

That’s all for now folks

Tuesday 22 August 2023


Sykehouse Lock

Thorne to Doncaster via Goole, 35 miles, 5 locks, 5 swing bridges, 3 Lift bridges and 4 canals collectively known as the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation.

At last we are getting some decent weather and the sun has decided to grace us with its presence. YIPPEE

Setting off from Thorne was slow, this was down to the first swing bridge, its a strange one, electric but you are responsible for shutting the gates. These are similar to the ones used in railway stations, with 2 gates which meet in the middle. If you don’t get them to click in place, then the bridge won’t move, and they can be awkward sods. It took me 2 attempts, and then you wait, the bridge is sooooo slow swinging open, I could have dozed off whilst I waited.

But we were through and on to the next obstacle, a lock with a swing bridge at one end. As we got there I could see a couple scratching their heads, they couldn’t get the bridge barriers to release to stop traffic and pedestrians. Off I went, read the instructions, well almost. They were coming down the lock, so we had to open the sluices, fill the lock, and then open the lock gates before the barriers would release and we could open the bridge. What a palaver. But it didn’t end there, to operate the lock you use a BW key, but to get your key back everything has to be shut up again, even if there are other boats waiting to use the lock. Well that’s unless you are willing to lock everyone else through and then get your key back. A simple solution was to swap keys, so we did, and then I swapped again with the next boat waiting to use the lock. Not the best system in the world. But hey ho that boating for you.

The swing and lift bridges on this stretch are all completely electric so all I have to do is insert my key and push a button. Great.

We decided to moor above Sykehouse Lock, this lock has a swing bridge in the middle, but it only requires pushing open and doesn’t require the lock to be empty or full. As we had lunch a narrowboat entered the lock coming our way, and that’s where it stayed as the top gates wouldn’t open. The Captain went off to see if he could help, and soon after I followed. They had already rung and informed CRT of the issue but were still trying to get the levels to equalise so the gates would open. Then 2 more narrowboats turned up. It soon became apparent that we would have to wait for CRT to sort it out. A very nice young man came all the way from Rotherham full of apologies at how long it took him to get there, I personally thought he had done very well. He soon had the gates open and the trapped boat was free. We decided to lock down whilst he was there just in case there was a problem next day, we didn’t want to get to stuck.

The run down in Goole was quiet for me, as there were no locks and only 2 bridges to do. The Knottingley and Goole canal is very wide and straight. The visitors moorings at Goole were full, but we snuck round the corner and moored on what looked like moorings that belonged to the marina, but there was no signage to say what was what, and a boater in the marina said others moor there, so we stayed put.

Goole is the most inland port in the UK, the port opened in 1826 but the town dates back to 1306. The barges that were used to transport coal were called Tom Pudding’s, and this is relevant later, the Tom Pudding Hoist which was used to transfer the coal into waiting ships is still standing, and the 2 distinctive water towers have the nicknames Salt and Pepper.

Salt and Pepper

Ton Pudding Hoist

It was quite a walk into Goole, I am very sorry to say that what we found was a sad neglected town, the shops in the pedestrianised area are mainly closed, and what looked to be a large market hall is no longer in use. We did however find a great micro pub called The Tom Pudding (now you see). They had Jolly Collier stout by Jolly Boys Brewery for the Captain, and a great selection of bottled lager for me. They were a friendly bunch and we had a great time.

There is a large Tesco, so after getting a few bits we got Mandy’s taxi back to the boat. £5 but well worth it.

The good weather continued when we left Goole the next day.

The curse of Sykehouse lock raised its head again, as we approached we could see a couple of boaters loitering at the control panel, so I hopped off to see if I could help. It was not good news, nothing was working, and the control panel only showed a fault light. Nothing for it, I had to call CRT. Whilst we waited we were joined by Nadine, an ex-sailing boat, and Hurley Mist a small yogurt pot. The queue above the lock grew too. Eventually a guy from CRT arrived, but he had problems and resorted to doing the lock manually, but he got us through and off we went. We were in the lead when I realised that Nadine and Hurley Mist had stopped, there was obviously a problem, so we waited at the lift bridge to see if we could help. Nadine’s engine was overheating, it is what is called a raw water cooled engine. With this type of engine water is taken from the river or canal to cool the engine, and it would appear that there was some sort of blockage stopping the intake of water. The Captain and Hurley Mist Captain offered all the help they could, whilst I dog sat a lovely but noisy pug called Daisy. But nothing could be done, so Nadine’s Captain took the decision to return slowly to Goole. Unfortunately when my Captain checked the CRT stoppages Sykehouse lock was still out of action for them to get back, and as was the next bridge on our journey had also developed a fault. What a day !!!!

Nadine turned round to head back, and we continued on and moored by the bridge in the hope it would be repaired next day. Amazingly CRT turned out just after tea and sorted the bridge so we could continue on our way next day. The controls are in a small brick building with a tin roof, and because there was no ventilation so everything overheated and shut down.

The rest of the trip into Doncaster went without a hitch, but when we reached the visitors pontoons they were full. Bugger. Then a very nice Aussie couple on NB Elbereth (Wollongong) offered to let us brest up against them for the night, so we did.

That’s all for now folks

Thursday 10 August 2023


 Nottingham to Thorne, 83 miles, 10 locks, 2 swing bridges, 2 canals and 1 river.

Well what can I say about my last blog, well the title caused a few ructions. I was accused of click baiting, CRT bashing and all sorts of other things, but oh boy, did a lot more people read it, yes and liked it, yes. So I will address some of the issues raised, the title was not meant to be click bait, it was just the way I was feeling when I sat down and wrote the blog. CRT bashing, I understand that CRT has a hard job to do, but I do question what it has been doing to look after the canal infrastructure for the last 10yrs since it was formed. There have been so many problems this year, around the network, and this part of our journey just bought it all home to me. The guys on the ground do a great job, are always helpful, and if they can will sort problems out quickly. Anyway I have had much fun reading the comments on Facebook, and just hope that people who discovered my blog through this one title read more.

Another reason for the title of the blog is the terrible weather we are having. We are fair weather boaters, but I don’t think we have had a day when it hasn’t rained at some point, and I am fed up of getting wet and having to wear a coat. I have managed to wear my shorts but at times have been very tempted to put my jeans on, unheard of during the summer months. And much to the Captains horror I have suggested putting a fire in to combat the dampness. It has also put us behind time wise, we have decided not to go to Ripon or York as the Ouse has a terrible habit of flooding, and we don’t want to get stuck. So instead we are looking at maybe going to Goole, a place we haven’t visited, Sheffield, Doncaster, Lincoln and maybe Boston.

Back to our journey. We spent the weekend in Nottingham. On Friday Adam and Julie came, and we met our Philipino in laws for the first time, Julie’s Mum Linda and her sister Jennifer.

Saturday was a quiet a day but a special day, as I got my freezer. YIPPEE A very very nice gentleman from Currys wheeled it on his sack barrow to the boat and took the packaging away too. So I gave him some of the cake I had just baked. We headed to the pub to celebrate, the Trip of course.

Sunday and time to meet up with Jess and Stuart, they were coming to the boat for Sunday lunch. They arrived with the wonderful news that I am going to become a Grandma again in February, I still told them I am to young, but I am so happy. They asked me not to put it on social media, but it was Ok to share the news on here. They have decided to go old school and not find out what they are having, so looking forward to the surprise when it arrives. We had a lovely afternoon with them. So happy days.

We resumed our journey the next day, and head down the Beeston and Nottingham canal to its junction with the River Trent. At the lock here there is water and we decided to fill up our tank before locking down on to the river. As we came into moor the Captain put us into reverse, there was a big clunk and the engine stopped dead. This could only mean something serious round the prop. A very helpful gentleman off a moored boat came and helped us pull into the side. He had a lovely Weimaraner dog called Doris and was very nice. It turned out to be a huge piece of carpet, which came off without to much fuss surprisingly. After watering up we headed down the lock and onto the river and headed for Gunthorpe.

At the first river lock, Holme lock, I was reminded how huge these locks are, and even when locking down I am required to hold the boat steady at the front, using a runner set into the side of the lock and our front rope. Luckily most of these locks are manned.

We moored easily on the pontoons at Gunthorpe but didn’t head to the pub, The Unicorn, as it had been a busy few days.

On to Newark next day, and after 2 manned locks my luck gave out, as Newark town lock was unmanned. So off I got with my trusty BW key and tried to find the control panel. It was very elusive, but eventually I found it and we locked down without any problem. We found good moorings on the Kiln visitor pontoons. I was overjoyed to see a lovely crop of blackberries just waiting to be picked, and now we have a freezer, (which we seem to have plenty of power to run) I can pick them to my hearts content.

We headed to the pub, as we do, firstly the Prince Rupert, a favourite of ours, but there was disappointment for the Captain, no dark ales so out we came, then onto the Flying Circus, and repeat. Just Beer was our last hope, and bingo a great pint of Chocolate Old Peculiar for the Captain, this is a collaboration between Tiny Rebel and Theakstons, and very quaffable.

Next day after a late start we headed to Cromwell lock, were next day we would join the tidal Trent and head for Torksey, then on to Keadby, before joining the Stainforth and Keadby canal to Thorne.

We were joined in the lock next day by 2 medium sized yogurt pots, Orchid and Dutch Gem, who soon overtook us on the fast moving river. We reached Torksey in good time and headed to the pub, The White Swan, they seemed to be in the midst of decorating, but we enjoyed a couple of good pints, John Smiths for the Captain and Kronenberg for me.

It was a long day next day with 28 miles to do. The flow of the river was against us to start, but once the tide changed we were speeding along. It took us 5hrs. Getting into a lock on a fast flowing river is not easy, but the Captain did an excellent job and the Lock Keeper complimented him on his steering.

Keadby Lock

At Keadby is a most unusual railway bridge, called the Vazon bridge. It simply slides out of the way, you have to toot your horn to attract the operators attention and then off you go.

Robbie Cummings in his programme Narrowboat Diaries filmed the bridge sliding open by drone. If you fast forward the link to 26mins you will be able see how it works for yourself

After a night in the MONW and more rain we headed off for Thorne, we are back in the land of the movable bridges, and I had 3 swing and 1 lift bridge to do. I like the ones that are completely electric best, I just have to push a button and wait, but the first few were manual so a bit of a work out for me. At one you have to wait for the railway signalman to close the gates at the level crossing before operating it. Much fun and games.

At Thorne we moored opposite the boat sales yard, these are good moorings and near to the Canal Tavern, so that’s where we headed. Although no darks on for the Captain he made do with a Carling, and we had an enjoyable time. The menu looked very interesting and we were assured by the crew from Orchid it was excellent.

We spent the next day in Thorne, and after shopping decided to try a couple of the other pubs in the town, The Red Bear, very much a loud locals pub, and the Windmill, much quieter with a selection of real ales, but nothing dark and the Captain made do with a palatable bitter.

We ended up at the Canal Tavern, and it was heaving considering it was a Monday teatime. The food looked and smelt amazing. Thinking about giving it a go on the return journey.

Birdlife has been plentiful on this part of the journey, we have spotted amongst the usual suspects, Oyster Catchers, Lapwings and Egyptian geese.

Oyster Catcher

That’s all for now folks.

Wednesday 2 August 2023


Birstall Lock

Leicester to Nottingham, 39 miles, 25 locks, 2 rivers and 2 canals.

So Tuesday, and we were stuck in Leicester, Birstall Lock ahead of us was closed and so was Kilby lock behind us. We made the most of it and headed for the Salmon, a Black Country Ales pub, so we knew they would have Pig on the Wall mild on for the Captain. At the pub he had a choice Pig on the Wall or Woolley Bugger, a damson porter from the Izaak Walton brewery of Stone. He had to try both of course.

When we returned to the boat we had been joined by Lady Sienna, a hire boat from North Kilby wharf.

Now not only were the 2 locks I mentioned closed, but so was North lock, the first lock you get to after the moorings, but only for the day. Lady Sienna had been moored on Castle Gardens, but not knowing North lock was closed they had set off, when they returned they had lost their previous mooring so joined us.

Next day and the news from CRT was much worse than we expected. Birstall lock was going to be closed until the following Tuesday. The Captain went and broke the news to the hire boaters. As he did a boat appeared coming towards us. It turned out that it had managed to get through the broken lock with care. We made a quick decision to head down to the lock to see if we could get through and the hire boat joined us. I did make sure there were shops and pubs near the lock if we couldn’t get through

There were 3 locks between us and Birstall, the first being North lock, which in my opinion is one of the worst locks on the entire system. CRT were meant to have done some work on it to help with its problems, but hadn’t been successful and it took 3 of us to open the bottom gate.

We got to Birstall lock and CRT hadn’t chained the gates shut so we were able to enter the lock with great care, pulling the boats in one at a time. There wasn’t a problem with the bottom gates and we were soon out and free, we stopped at Birstall, but the hirers (never got their names), kept going to make up for the time they had lost. Hope they enjoyed the rest of their holiday doing the Leicester ring.

A couple of interesting things we passed on our journey to Birstall, a friendly ginger and white kitten, and someone giving a haircut on the towpath, giving a new meaning to mobile barber.

Birstall had 3 pubs, The Earl of Stamford, The Plough and the White Horse. We decided to try the Plough, as the Captain seemed to remember it had a decent stout last time we were in. He wasn’t disappointed, a very nice pint of London stout. We had a very enjoyable visit chatting the locals and landlord. It is a very dog friendly pub too.

Thursday was a day for bird life. I spotted a Green Woodpecker, a Little Egret and a Common Tern.

Green Woodpecker

After 4 locks we stopped above Mount Sorrel lock for the night and gave the Waterside pub a go. As expected no darks on but the food menu looked interesting.

As we set off next day a small boat was coming up the lock so off I went to help, they were a friendly bunch. Behind them was Serenade, one of the widebeam charity boats from the Peter La Marchant trust. The crew came up to help me lock down, and we were soon on our way. We passed their other widebeam Symphony later on

We stayed in Loughborough for a couple days and tried the Organ Grinder, a Blue Monkey pub on the first night.

Next day, after shopping we set of to do the 3 locks to Kegworth New lock, where we planned to moor for the night. At one of the locks we met Dandelion, a charity boat from the Baldwin Trust, it had a group of very enthusiastic kids on board, who were very ‘eager to help at the lock.

We were soon moored in a lovely spot by the weir above the lock, its only issue, it was right in the flight path for the East Midlands airport. We started planning our visit to Nottingham and catching up with family. It wasn’t that easy, Adam could only do Friday, Jess Sunday, and Di not the weekend at all. So after a bit of toing and froing we (mainly with Di) things got sorted, but it meant a bit of a detour for us up Trent Lock and on to the Erewash for a couple of nights.

Monday and after 3 locks we were moored on the Erewash. Whilst doing the lock a very nice lady asked if she could video us, most people don’t ask and we don’t mind, but its nice to be asked. She was cat sitting nearby and the video was for her elderly parents. Turned out she was a professional photographer.

Later we headed to the Steamboat to say hi to Simon and have a couple of well earned pints, they had Dark Drake by Dancing Duck for the Captain, happy days.

Next morning we headed down the canal to wind (turn the boat round) and moor nearer to Long Eaton so we could catch the bus into Nottingham the next day to meet Di. Disaster struck when we tried to wind. Something was round the prop, as we drifted in the centre of the canal the Captain went down the weed hatch to discover a thick fleece coat wrapped tightly round the prop. It took a while to free it, but eventually we winded and were moored up in a very nice spot.

Next day we caught the Skylink into Nottingham to meet Di and Mick, it was lovely to catch up with them.

Thursday was a very long day, well for us. Firstly we stopped at Trent Lock for water and bins, then headed to Shardlow marina for a pump out, we were going to use Castle Marina (which would have been so much easier) until we found out that the price had gone from £12.50 to £26, the Captain nearly had heart attack when he heard and Shardlow was only £10.

There are 2 locks, the first being a large river lock, and yippee, manned by volunteers, the next is a small flood lock, here we met NB Briony Rose, a boat we met at a lock in Leicester when they were heading to Kilby Bridge. They got stuck for a week between the 2 lock closures, so they were not happy.

So we started at 9.30am and were moored up in Nottingham at 4pm, a very long day for us, we didn’t head for the pub, just too tired.

Now looking forward to a pleasant weekend of family visits before heading back on the Trent, and hopefully onto Ripon.