I'm writing today from the first available mooring past Kibworth Top lock, which any self respecting boater will tell you, is the last of the broad locks until we rejoin the Grand Union at Norton Junction. Every time we do the Leicester Ring, I forget just how many locks there are and I'm thankful to be relaxing in a comfy chair with the hard work behind me.
We left Sawley on Monday morning in bright sunshine. The volunteer on lock duty told us that they'd had over a hundred boats through that pair of locks on Sunday and I was glad we'd waited so we could enjoy the peace and quiet of this lovely stretch of river. We found a one-boat mooring on the Soar, with a lovely view of the power station across the water, and a handy willow tree in case the promised heatwave arrived to turn the boat into a sauna. The clouds hung around stubbornly and, although it was warm, we had a nice cooling breeze, so we decided to risk a walk over the fields into Kegworth before it got too hot. At the third stile the sun came out and roasted us all the way to the Co-op and back. I was glad of the shade when we climbed the last stile and found the boat sweltering in the full glare of the hot sun – Tricky and I sat out on the bank until the boat cooled down a bit.
Tuesday was another beautiful morning and the river was sparkling and burbling in the sunshine as we pottered along down to Kegworth Deep Lock. On the other side of the lock, a fox sat waiting patiently to be fed. It showed no sign of fear as I crossed over to close the gates behind Carl and it followed me as I walked back to open the paddles. That wily fox was making a good living posing for photos and being fed scraps by the passing boaters. I doubt it would have been impressed with a cheese sandwich which was about all I could muster up at short notice. The temperature soared as we moored in Zouch cut, waiting for our boating friends to arrive. Terry and Liz live close by and we were hoping they would fancy a cruise into Loughborough so we could get a bit of breeze through the boat and maybe find some shade. Luckily, they had the same idea and we ladies settled in the bows with a cool glass of pink stuff while the boys had a beer on the back. The extraordinary heat continued and we moored in Loughborough Basin and departed to the 'White Hart' where there is a shady garden, cool cider and scrumptious food – what better way to spend a hot afternoon. We took advantage of the balmy evening to cruise out of town and moor in the countryside, leaving the noisy town mooring to a pair of visiting Canadians, who were staying for a few days to visit the Bell Foundry. More of them later.
The mornings continued to be misty and cool and I relished the coolness as I trotted along the tow-paths with Tricky. The hot nights have made it difficult to sleep and I've thought longingly of those crisp, cold mornings that I know are just around the corner. The River Soar is so very lovely through Barrow and Mountsorrel and we shared the locks for a little while with a couple who were only out for the day, taking strawberries and prosecco to their favourite mooring, to celebrate the last of the summer in style. We loitered outside the Hope and Anchor and met our old friends Keith and Jan for coffee. We found a shady spot and set out our tables and chairs in the middle of the tow-path. We had to shuffle about sometimes to let cyclists and walkers through and I dare say they might have mumbled a bit under their breath, but we were too busy talking to take any heed. Later that afternoon, we arrived in our old home town and moored once again on the Water Park, ready for the long slog through Leicester. We'd decided to take a day off on Thursday to visit our friends and restock our provisions – the Co-op do really well out of us! The day was overcast and muggy as we walked through the village and up the hill, passing by our old house and thinking how different our lives would have been if we'd stayed there. We visited our friends and came away loaded down with home-grown tomatoes, cabbages and apples – no scurvy on this boat with those lovely goodies! Thanks Jan and Keith – we'll be back soon.
There was no time to put my feet up and play scrabble on my phone. As soon as we arrived home, I had a message to say another visitor was on their way. We tidied the grass cuttings and assorted spiders out of the bows and made ourselves presentable and very soon the lovely Celia arrived to see for herself what this boating lark is all about. We swept her off along the Soar for a mini cruise in the late afternoon sun, the weather was perfect and the river looked beautiful as we swept under the ring-road towards Belgrave. Finding the winding hole was a little tricky, but Captain Carl didn't let us down and we chugged back to Birstall in time for Celia to join the rush hour traffic back to Lincolnshire. Come back soon Celia.
It was raining Friday morning and I'd almost run out of dog food so we decided to stay put and I caught the bus into town for Minced Morsels and came back with a Panasonic Lumix camera. I know, its not going to be any good for Tricky but I'm really happy to be able to take decent photos at long last. I'm hoping for Kingfishers but so far I only have a pair of Canadian Lovebirds. Do you remember the couple who were visiting the Bell Foundry in Loughborough? Well we met them again, coming up through the lock in Birstall on Friday afternoon and they were having a bit of trouble with the heavy gates. Shirley-Ann and Mike are taking their hire boat around the Leicester Ring from Sawley (their boat is called Sawley Tempted – how cute!) It was half past one in the afternoon and Shirley-Ann told me that they were carrying on through Leicester that day. I was horrified – those locks are hard work, I have to gird my loins and take a run at them and Carl and I are a good few years younger than them. So we cast off our lines and set off with them, the sun came out and Leicester did its best to look welcoming as we struggled through Belgrave and along the Mile towards the Football Stadium. We arrived at Kings Lock in the early evening and collapsed into their boat for rum and coke before returning to our boat for a hasty chicken curry, leaving Mike and Shirley-Ann to their tinned beef and veg pie. It's been a pleasure to spend time with such lovely people and we'll miss them tomorrow as they go up Foxton locks on their way back to Sawley. I am totally in awe of their amazing energy and spirit of adventure; they're sailors, mountaineers, skiers and naturists – I didn't enquire too much in to that last one, but Mike had a twinkle in his eye when he wore his 'Nudists are Cool' sweat shirt to the pub last night!
After all this excitement, I'll be mostly resting tomorrow – I might wander over the fields to the Fleckney Co-op, just for a change.
Love as Always
The Floating Chandlers
PS I have taken loads of photos with my new camera but I haven't worked out how to download them yet. Maybe next week!