Sunday, 2 October 2016

Running For Home

Morning All
A beautiful day

Now I've got my breath back, I thought I'd fill you in on events since my last Jotting. I can honestly say that it's a while since I worked so hard. I don't recommend the '50 Locks in Three Days' diet as a way of life, but it shifted a spare tyre and at least one of my chins as we raced back to our home mooring last week. Why all the rush? I hear you ask. Well, its the phone call that every boater dreads – someone very dear is taken ill and you want to get there as soon as possible. We set off from Market Harborough early on Friday morning, Carl on the tiller and Tricky and I trotting along the dewy tow-path, hoping that the weather would be kind to us. There was a crisp freshness to the morning and a Kingfisher flashed brilliantly along in front of us, wishing us a safe journey. I took this as a good omen and tried not to think about the hard slog of 50 broad locks standing between us and home.

I spent Friday morning pottering in the cabin as we chugged along, making a pasta sauce for later and downloading the practise shots I've taken with my new camera. I'm very pleased with it although, on reflection, I may have to refrain from taking 'bursts' of pictures. I have a great many boring, green photos with no central image. I did manage a panoramic shot, which pleased me no end, but I'm sorry to say I still managed to take pictures of my feet and some blurry butterflies which aren't going to make it into the family album. Thank heavens for digital photography and the delete button. Remember how we used to post off our films to Trueprint and get a folder of disappointing pictures back – I'm glad we've moved on from those days.

We managed 19 miles and 19 locks on the first day although we were flagging a bit by the time we caught up with Kevin and Nicola just through Kilby Bridge. Broad locks are so much easier with two boats and, with their help, we got as far as Gee's Bridge on the first day. I'm not sure they wanted to start off quite so early on Saturday morning but they didn't fancy the slog through Leicester on their own either so we all set off together, in the early morning mist, towards Blue Bank Lock. The sun came out and cheered us through the backwaters of Aylestone and the Leicester Mile was busy with rowers as we left Freeman's Meadow Lock and passed through the heart of the city. There were a few early morning drinkers hanging around Limekiln Lock and then we were through Belgrave and out onto the Soar, swooping along through the trees and under the bridges, speeding along with the current towards Birstall. Our boating partners left us here and waved us off as we slipped through the Water Park towards Thurmaston – we were sorry to leave them behind but there wasn't time to miss them as we reached the next lock just in time to join a band of pensioner pirates for the next part of our journey. A very sprightly 85 year old was celebrating her birthday and joy of joys – their hired boat was fully crewed. We made cracking time through the next four locks to Mountsorrel and I had time to dress Tricky in her skull and crossbones bandana and get out my pirate hat and plastic cutlass so I could do a bit of 'Avast there' and ' Aaaaar – Jim lad' to entertain the birthday girl. We left them giggling and chortling at the Waterside pub but we couldn't linger as we wanted to get to Zouch or further before dark. We pressed on towards Barrow-on-Soar where we met a couple of cyclists on the water, they were out for a back-breaking afternoon of pedalling on one of those floating bikes. 'That looks like hard work' I called out to them. 'We've been out since Tuesday - is it far to London?' came the reply. Well, you have to have a sense of humour to pay good money for a bike ride on the river!

Our luck still held as Barrow Deep lock came into view and we saw there was already a boat in the lock waiting for us to join them – the day couldn't have gone any better. When we finally moored just above Kegworth Deep Lock, I was wondering where I would find the energy for another early start especially as the weather forecast was for overnight rain with intermittent showers through the next day. I woke early when the rain started drumming on the roof and Tricky and I dragged ourselves out of bed and trudged up to the first lock. Neither of us wanted to be out so early in the gloomy drizzle, we both had wet feet and Tricky couldn't wait to jump aboard at the first available opportunity. I couldn't blame her and I felt pretty miserable too as we left the Soar behind and turned onto the River Trent. Sunday was the hardest day. I won't go into the dull details of broken paddles and queues at almost every lock except to tell you that the hi-light of our day was seeing our friends Pat and Malc – they came to find us in their car and helped us through two locks before whizzing back to the mooring to catch our ropes as we finally reached home.

I'm pleased to report that Mum is home now and getting on with things in her usual stoical fashion. We are staying with her and happily pottering around, admiring her lovely garden and putting back the spare tyre and double chins with trips out for coffee and cake. Our autumn cruise didn't quite go as planned but we have really enjoyed our trip to Market Harborough and back. We'll be hanging up our windlasses for a while so that's about all from us for this year. Thanks to all of you who have read 'The Jottings' – I shall miss you all and look forward to writing again when we cast off once more.

Love as Always
The Floating Chandlers

PS Just outside Foxton there is a house overlooking the canal with a Latin inscription on the gable which reads 'Sero, Sed, Serio'. I was curious enough to google it and the translation made me laugh, apparently it means 'We're richer than you' – well that's a matter of opinion matey!

A pretty bridge on the Market Harborough Arm

Lovely to have Ian and Di aboard at last - come back soon.

Translates as 'We're Richer Then You' according to Google  
Someone went for a dip and left these behind! We passed these lonely boots on the way and they were still there on our return.  

Captain Carl lends a hand with a heavy gate