Sunday, 30 June 2013

Sunday 30th June 2013
The last day of June dawned bright, sunshine streaming in through our curtains.
After a leisurely breakfast we set off and joined "Brass Buckle" cruising towards Zouch Lock. The river is quite busy again today and there was someone already dropping in the lock when we arrived, and as we left boats were approaching so we didn't have to shut the gates.
At Bishop Meadow Lock we both used the facilities to get rid of some rubbish before continuing on  to Loughborough.
It seemed strange to us not to stop in Loughborough, we have done every time we've been along here, but today we have decided to carry on to Barrow on Soar instead.
At Bridge 38, Nottingham Road Bridge, there's what looks like an old mill building which now displays the sign "3M Healthcare". On this side of the bridge is lovely little ivy covered house.

Barrow Deep Lock was the last we would share today as Brass Buckle was carrying on to Sileby.

At Barrow Mill Basin we stopped just long enough to chuck a can before finding a spot to tie up for the night. It's a fine spot, right by a weir where kids are playing in the water. Thankfully the H&S police haven't found out about it yet.
I took a wander up into the village, but it was mostly shut (Sunday).

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Saturday 29th June 2013
On Friday, despite the pouring rain we decided to shake the dust of Nottingham from our feet. Sitting still for a week was just too much.
Donning full wet gear we prepared to leave. I turned the key and the engine purred to life. The new starter has definitely made a difference, the old one must have been struggling for some time. The engine spins easily and quickly, starting almost instantly.
We chugged through the downpour for about an hour until Beeston lock came into view. the service block here is on the off side, near the lock. We needed water and to chuck a can, so I pulled up on the landing and did all the necessary. After that we had to pull back and find a mooring on the towpath side. Luckily there was one quite close to the lock where we could also dump our week's accumulation of rubbish in the boater facility.
This morning, with the weather looking decidedly better than yesterday, we set off through Beeston Lock, sharing it with "My Darling Boy" returning to Sawley Marina from having its bottom blacked.
 We shared Cranfleet lock as well before waving farewell as we turned onto The Soar at Trent Lock and headed south.
Ratcliffe on Soar power stating looms large here, we remember coming here several years ago to visit the IWA show. We bought our saloon chairs there.
The little blob you see in the sky is actually our fake butterfly on a wire, a pretty Christmas present from a friend.

The first lock here is Redhill Flood lock, the river is a pussycat at present so the lock was open.
Just before Ratcliffe Lock we caught up with another narrowboat, I can't remember its name, but they were going very slow, I thought it might be because there were moored boats around, but after sharing the lock with them we soon learned that slow was all they did. No point in hurrying past them because of the locks, so it was just down nearly to tickover and be patient.
Kegworth Shallow Lock is another one which is only shut if the river is high, so today it was open. Kegworth Deep Lock was very busy, when we arrived there was a pair coming down, a plastic boat waiting to go up and as they went in another pair turned up to come down and finally as we entered the lock another pair turned up behind us. Blimey, it's like Clapham Junction around here!

Soon after Kegworth we found a lovely spot to moor for the night, there are several boats here, I suspect drawn by the beauty of it. this is the view from our hatch

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Thursday 27th June 2013
Yippee! There is the sound of a purring engine throughout the boat!
This morning RCR said that the starter had been repaired and they would get someone to fit it as soon as an engineer became available.
About 1.30, knock, knock on the boat, and there they were. Less than a hour later, turn the key and away it goes.
We also had another stroke of luck with the generator this morning. I've been wondering what to do with this expensive, big and heavy object. I started it up this morning, and it settled into its stride ok while I ducked into Sainsbury's to get something for lunch. I'd only been gone 30 seconds when Cath rang to say that it had suddenly started to race, and that the electric had dropped out.
After looking around it, I tried to start it again, but it wouldn't go. I then thought I'd give it chance to cool down before trying it again.
After about 20 minutes I finally persuaded it to start, but there was no output, and no lights on it. I rang the service department who diagnosed inverter failure.
So, what does one do with a generator that has failed after only 4 uses, and that you no longer need anyway? You take it back and get your money back, result.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Wednesday 26th june 2013
Still chasing the starter motor. This morning RCR recovered the old one from the company that said it was BER and have now sent it to another to see what they can do.
I started the genny and we got a wash load started. With water now becoming an issue I took the new barrels over to the garage and washed them out before filling them. I'm having to use the water hose set up by the garage to top up cooling systems, so it doesn't run very fast. I managed to find a bit of hose long enough to use as a syphon so that I don't have to tip the water into our tank.
After lunch we took a walk towards town, diverting to take a look at the base of the castle.

 I think the foundations are fairly solid

The drinking exploits of our soldiers may have started here
 The thing to see here is this old pub. As the sign claims, it is supposed to be very old
When we returned to the boat there were people moored up fairly near so I had to apologize to and warn them that I was going to run the genny for a while.
Still no further word on the starter motor.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Tuesday 25th June 2013
We're still sitting tight in Nottingham awaiting news of a new or repaired starter motor.
 On Monday we took another walk to the railway station and caught a tram up to the arboretum for a wander around. Being 'in town' I suppose it's small of necessity, but still it's a pretty place for a look around.
 The bandstand receiving some attention
 Are these guns to defend the arboretum?
 Lovely carving on a tree trunk
The lake
Later we went back into town for small spot of retail therapy.
 The Town Hall, Nottingham
Old Market Square, Nottingham
Back at the boat there is still no news of a repaired or new starter so I rang RCR. it seems that the repairer reckons that the motor is beyond economical repair, so they are now trying to source a new one.
In the afternoon we once again became "the neighbors from hell" as I ran our genny to do a wash and charge the batteries. Luckily, as it happens, we don't have any near neighbors, so I don't feel so bad.
This morning I looked around to see if I could find a hand car wash place because they are usually glad to get rid of any old chemical drums, and I find them great for both fuel and water. If we stay here much longer water will become a bit of a problem so I need something to fetch it in.
We're in luck, there's one not far away and I snaffle a couple of drums, they will need a lot of cleaning out, but at least I can now go up to the Sainsbury's garage and replenish our water tank, so showering and laundry can continue.
The latest news on the starter is that Vetus want over £700 for a new motor! Of course that's out to lunch, I really don't know how they justify that price. I'm sure we can do much better than that, but it may take time.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

Sunday 23rd June 2013
Just for my piece of mind we called out an engineer (RCR) to have a look at our problem. After poking and testing he came to the same conclusion as me, the starter motor is f*****.
He's taken it away for refurb and hopefully we'll get it back Tuesday or Wednesday.
In the meantime we have the problem of the loo cassettes needing emptying regularly. I took a wander up to Castle Marina, only a few hundred yards, and they have kindly said that it's alright to use their elsan point. Now the only thing not set up is water. We'll have to be careful with the use of it. The nearest supply is a mile and a lock away, so that isn't going to happen.
The weather here is foul at present. I gather it's like that all over today. Hopefully tomorrow will be better and we'll go and have a look around the arboretum.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Saturday 22nd June 2013
Yesterday we had fine time, walked into town and then caught a tram out to the Victoria Centre. We could have taken a bus, but Cath likes trams, so we had to try it. They don't accept wrinkly passes on the tram, so I had to fork out money, oh how sad. The best deal was to get an all day rider, at £3.50 each. The tram lines only go from the rail station to two places as yet, but the line is in the process of being extended.
The reason for choosing the Victoria Centre was that there is a John Lewis there, and Cath needed here fix. At least we did find something she wanted, a cooking thermometer to help with her marmalade making.
We had planned to set off again this morning, but disaster has struck. I went to start the engine and it failed. All the symptoms seem to point to a flat battery, but the voltage is still ok at 12.7. Of course this drops dramatically when you try the starter, but I would expect that. I then tried jump leads from my leisure bank, but that made no difference so I'm starting to suspect the starter motor.
This caused a bit of panic this morning because we've had two days from the batteries and expected to charge today, and do a wash load.
With no quick fix on the horizon I decided to bite the bullet and buy a generator to tide us over. A trip to Machine Mart and I've bought a 2 Kw Clarke inverter gen. Not renown for their quality and longevity, but affordable. It's now chugging away on the back deck feeding our greedy batteries.
The problem of the non starting engine still has to be addressed.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Thursday 20th June 2013
Looking at the dire predictions from the Met Office last night we decided to get a reasonably early start this morning.
Duly we fell out of the pit at 7.00 and after breakfast we set off at about 8.00. Stoke Lock appeared in sight just before 9.30, so instead of leaping off and self operating it we decided to wait for the lockie, it would be only a few minutes.
Quickly through, we continued on our way, passing under Radcliffe Viaduct which carries the Nottingham to Grantham railway line.

The cast iron span on the right here looks as if it may be a repair or and afterthought but it is in fact original. When the line was built the Trent Navigation Company demanded a 100ft. clear span for their boats, so a conventional multi arch viaduct was built, but this cast iron span had to be used to get the clearance required.

Holme Lock is the last, or first if you're going north, on the commercial river. It is accompanied by these huge control gates on the weir, seen here.

Close to Trent Bridge, the Nottingham Canal rises off the river through Meadow Lane Lock. You're then immediately into the urban environment, buildings and businesses crowd around the canal. There are also plenty of modern apartment buildings vying for a view of the water.
next up is Castle Lock, and then the visitor moorings start. We chose one close to the supermarket, not far from a footbridge across the canal to access the road into the city. We'll do a little exploring tomorrow.
Here's our present position.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Wednesday 19th June 2013
Back on the water road again today. The weather started off a bit overcast, but at least it wasn't raining.
Setting off we passed under Newark Bridge and alongside the Castle

At Newark Lock we met up with Awesome Wonder and shared the next 3 locks.
Outside Newark is Newark Marina. It seems to be full of plastic, and some of them look like real gin palaces.
Looking back towards Newark you can see the spire of the church rising from the flat landscape.

Just passed Averham Weir we met Tony Wonfor, the chap travelling the country in a very makeshift boat raising money for Macmillan Cancer Support. if you haven't heard of his story try here 
he's also on facebook, but I don't do facebook so can't give a link.
I had hoped we'd see him in our travels but hadn't checked lately to see where he was. It was a bit of a shock to see him heading down the river towards us. We flagged him down to have a chat and donate. What a guy!
The weather continued to improve and soon it was baking, lovely, I can stand any amount of this.
We continued along, through Hazelford and Gunthorpe locks, and after taking water and chucking a can above Gunthorpe we've moored up for the night on the Visitor moorings by The Unicorn Hotel.
If anyone's interested this is where we are:

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Tuesday 18th June 2013
A grand day. The sun shone and we're in a lovely place. Newark is wonderful. We wandered into town this morning and did a bit of shopping. Later we had a look to see which restaurant we fancied for a meal out tonight. We chose Rushton's, a lovely little place on Stodman Street.
A good choice it turned out. Great food, good service, I hope we will return the next time we're in Newark.
The man came to repair the power pole this morning and now we and Itchy Feet, the boat astern of us, are amicably sharing the single 16 amp outlet between us.
Not so amicable is the chap behind them. At 11.30 last night he started his engine and when asked to shut the noisy thing off got very rude to the lady doing the asking. We didn't know about the altercation until this morning, but did hear the engine, I thought it was from the other side of the river though.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Monday 17th June 2013
We had word that mooring in Newark could be problematic as it was a popular spot so decided not to be a late starter.
After depositing some rubbish and chucking a can we set off for Nether Lock, only about 5 miles away.
It was a joy not to be in a convoy and off the tidal bit of the navigation, allowing us to chug along at a much reduced pace.
A call on the radio ensured that the lock was ready for us when we arrived and we were soon approaching the mooring pontoons hoping for a space.
We were lucky! There was one slot left and we snuggled into it. There are power hook-up here so out with the lead and card. I misread the pole at our stern, it has one 16 amp and one 64 amp plug and I mistakenly thought I didn't have access to the 16 amp one. I took the lead to the pole in front and and all went well.
Later the boat in front left and two others came and breasted up in that slot. They both needed power and asked if I could use the pole at our stern. I had noted my error about access so said ok and started to move my lead.
No good deed ever goes unpunished! That pole has a fault on it, and now I've let the other go. All is not lost though, Starlight Express has said we can have the pole for a few hours tomorrow to do a wash load, and that's all we need.
Another thread to the story, I went up to the C&RT office to report the fault, and although they were closed (open 10.00 to 12.00 only), someone let me in and have now called an electrician so maybe it can be fixed tomorrow.
This afternoon we took a walk into town and I took a few snaps.
A striking chimney

Part of Newark College teaches violin making and repair

 St. Mary Magdalene
St. Mary Magdalene

Looks like a fine place to drink

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Sunday 16th June 2013
A lazy start this morning as we didn't have to get started until afternoon. The weather forecast gave a 20% chance of rain all day and the sky looked as if they could be right.
Another boat had joined us on the pontoon last night, and they also we heading for Cromwell today.
At just gone 12.30 we all started engines and four of us headed off into the river. For the first half of the journey the water was slack and we made about 5 MPH. As we continued the flow of fresh from Cromwell started to make itself felt and we were slowed to 4 MPH.

There is a water ski centre along this strip of river and they were out playing.

Somewhere along the way we picked up another boat also heading our way, I don't know where it came from, but it wasn't at Torksey when we left.
We all arrived at Cromwell at about 4.30, and the lockie penned us through. Two of our group were continuing their journey, while the remaining three of us decided to break for the night here.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

This rigged sailer was moored at Keadby. I wonder how often she sails. At least there are sails there ready to use.
This morning the lockie came around checking the boats were ready for the passage. The lock gates were open and the bridge was swung at 09.00. There were three of us who were all heading for Torksey and we crowded into the lock.
When the gates were opened I followed the other two boats out onto the river. The incoming tide was looking fairly sluggish as we headed south under Keadby bridge and then the M180.
It was interesting watching the two boats ahead of us, Rioja and Midnight Express, they were obviously friends and travelled along side by side down the river. Keeping straight seemed to be a problem for them as they weaved around a bit.
The passage took us about 4 1/2 hours and apart from a couple of short showers and the wind making the water a bit lumpy, it was an easy trip.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Friday 14th June 2013
Up with the lark (well nearly) again this morning in order to miss the forecast rain. Moving up to Thorne lock and swing bridge Cath decided that it was my turn to lock wheel. Thorne is another of those 'Bridge over lock' jobs. To go down you first must fill the lock and open the top gates, this unlocks the bridge barriers, and when they're closed the bridge is then unlocked and can be pushed open to allow your boat to enter. The bridge must then be closed before you can shut the lock gates.
Thorne lock and swing bridge

A little further on is Princess Bridge. This a modern pedestrian bridge allowing a short cut instead of following the road. Very swish looking, but that's about all. The first time we were here we discovered that the safety gates are a bit of a pain to get into the right position, a design fault for aesthetics not practicality. The next time through it there was a notice saying "Don't try to close the bridge. There is a fault. Open the bridge and call -------- for someone to come and close it". Ok, things go wrong, but two weeks later we were back and it still wasn't fixed. Now it's nearly two months and it still isn't fixed. I believe that this is not the fault of C&RT, it's the town council who own it.
The rest of the trip to Keadby is through open country, where the wind blows hard. There are several swing bridges along here and the wind makes either mooring or casting off very difficult depending on which side of the cut you are. 
On the way down we saw three stages of swan life.

The dating agency

 The consequences

The final result

Close to end of the cut there is the unique sliding railway bridge. This was open for us because of the land slip at Hatfield Colliery, near Doncaster. I believe that work to restore the railway line is ahead of schedule and the end of July is now the target.
We're now tied up a Keadby, and the lock keeper tells us that 09.30 tomorrow is the time to set off  up the Trent for Torkey.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Thursday 13th June 2013
Despite the dire predictions of the Met. Office we've had a good day.
Setting off fairly early this morning we turned the corner at Bramwith Junction and headed for the lock mooring. There was a wide beam ahead of us preparing the lock for themselves so I went up to assist. A C&RT man then turned up saying that their workboat was just coming around the corner. With his wide workboat in the lock he asked if we would move Lyra so that they could moor on the single lock mooring when they came out.
By now 3 other boats had turned up going the same way as us, two narrow, and one wide so it was decided to use the full length lock and get us all in. At Bramwith the lock is in two parts. One part is short, about 62 ft. the second is wider and much longer. Lyra moved into the short chamber, the top gates were shut (because the C&RT man told us not to try filling the second chamber with the doors open), the bottom gates were shut and the paddles on both top and middle gates opened. When the lock was full the top gates were reopened and all boats floated in.
The two narrow beam craft were continuing on to Keadby while we needed to stop for the services so we told them not to hold the bridge for us. Shark, the wide beam, volunteered to close the lock for us all as they were ending their journey here.
After using the facilities the lady from Shark also operated Bramwith swing bridge for us. Lovely people!
The journey to Thorne from there was pleasant, and we arrived before midday. No rain had fallen!
I then took the trolley into town and raided the local shops. The butcher looked good so I got some steak for Friday night.
We've had some showers and a bit of thunder this afternoon but we have remained dry. Tomorrow we hope to make it to Keadby without getting wet as well.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Wednesday 12th June 2013
Setting off this morning at about 8.15 we planned to go as far as Sykehouse lift bridge.
The sky was overcast, but the forecast predicted only a 20% chance of rain. The trip to the turn at Knottingley, is a pleasant little run. The canal edge in Knottingley has been planted with some lovely flowers.

The turn at Knottingley, where you can continue straight on through a lock down onto the Aire, is marked by an established shipbuilding and repair yard, John Harker's

Passing Kellingley Colliery, the navigation continues through open country with the condensing towers of many power stations visible in the distance. The closest of these is Eggborough Power Station. It looks as if someone is trying to take over from them.
Is that the backup for when the fire goes out?

Whitley and Pollington locks came and went quite quickly. Polliington lock was receiving some maintenance, and the engineers kindly operated the lock for us.
Now where did I drop that spanner?

Turning onto the South Yorkshire Navigations, crossing the River Went, we decided not to bother stopping at Sykehouse lift bridge, but to carry on and finish this stretch of canal which contains 6 swing or lift bridges and a lock.
Throughout the morning the wind had been rising, and as we turned south it was straight on our bow, strong enough to raise white horses on the canal.
At the end of this stretch of canal there is an aqueduct across the River Don, guarded by two enormous guillotine gates

Shortly after crossing this we moored up for the night.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Tuesday 11th June 2013
Once again we're off, hopefully this time for the whole season.
As per usual, a fine week or so before we set off and the minute we pull the pin the rain starts. This morning was dull and we hadn't gone 3 locks before the rain started. It was very light at first, but the wind made it much more unpleasant. I ended up putting on another layer of clothing. Keep reminding me, my calendar hasn't stopped, and it really is June and not November.
At Knostrop flood gates we saw the first cygnets we've spotted this season.

Just before Fishpond Lock there was a C&RT workboat making a lot of noise, pounding away at the towpath with the bucket. I can only assume they were compacting some loose stuff they had put there.

The rain came and went several times before we passed through Lemonroyd lock. Between there and Castleford it started in earnest, but only lasted for about 30 minutes and then cleared up to just cloudy.
We had a bit of trouble at Lemonroyd. the lock went through its cycle but then wouldn't open the bottom gates to let us out. After about 10 minutes of trying I called C&RT who said they'd send someone. We kept trying the gates and finally they responded. I called C&RT again to cancel the assistance.
We cruised on through Castleford and Bulholme locks, past Ferrybridge power station and have moored for the night at Ferrybridge.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

Sunday 9th June 2013
We've just got back from Market Overton, in Rutland where we were attending the wedding of John and Sarah.
I hired a car for the weekend and we drove down on Friday. Friday night there was a gathering in the local pub for a meal and drinks. On Saturday morning Cath and I drove over to visit Lynton at Eastwell which was only a 30 minute drive away. It was good to see him again, and those dogs of his are mad. With 2 wolves and 2 munsterlanders he and Brian really have their hands full. The wolves are fairly big, but not as boisterous as the dog munsterlander, who jumps all over anybody present. I'm surprised he has any tail left the way he swings it around in the house bashing into everything.
Saturday's wedding went off with hitch, well they did get hitched, but you know what I mean. The evening celebrations went on long into the night, and the food and wine seemed to just keep coming. Needless to say I did imbibe rather a lot of the latter.
This morning we drove back to Leeds and I then took all our fuel barrels to the garage in Normanton. We're now stuffed to the gunnels with diesel ready for our expected departure on Tuesday. Well, that's the plan anyway. Tomorrow we'll shop and get everything ready to depart, and then hopefully we'll pull the plug and set off on Tuesday morning heading for the River Trent, and south towards London. Let's hope that this time we get away clean and that the weather is kinder than it was last year.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Monday 3rd June 2013
The fine weather continues, so we 
decided to take a train journey to Harrogate for the day.
Cath needed a new pair of shoes for this coming weekend's wedding and couldn't find anything suitable in Leeds. Knowing that there's a "Hotter" shop in Harrogate, and she likes them, that was the main reason for our trip.
While there we took the opportunity to enjoy some of the lovely town park areas. I also visited the spa Museum. Disappointingly it was quite small, but you do get a chance to sniff the local spa water. UG! it's awful! And they used to drink it for health. The smell is really bad, sulphurous is the best description.
Luckily the gardens have better things to sniff. The park we visited was busy with lots of young people and mothers with small kids out enjoying the sunshine.
Must just mention the lunch we had. We chose a place called The Montpellier and went for the Yorkshire Plate, a sharing option. It contains ham, beef, pate, cheese, and crusty bread and butter with a little salad. If you get the chance it's well worth the visit, there was plenty of it and all seemed good quality.

I've added this picture which I forgot to put in the blog from our weekend at Woodlesford. These are the wares of a water dwelling wood carver who is moored there. It makes a change from gnomes for the garden.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Saturday 1st June 2013
So far, (9 hours) June has been a fine month. Let's hope it stays that way.
We've had a productive week so far doing a few jobs that I reckon need a bit of warmth to get me off my posterior.
The big one of these was the long standing problem of Lyra being over ballasted at the stern.
The real problem was the fact that the ballast was under a tiled floor, and breaking up the tiles isn't an easy job. Then, of course, they have to be replaced.
Taking my courage in both hands I attacked the floor and finally exposed the bare board. A run to the local boaters' rubbish point to get rid of the bulk of the detritus and then unscrew and lift the board.
Now it was just a case fishing out as much of the steel ballast I had originally loaded in there in the mistaken idea we were too light.
I wasn't looking forward to disposing of all this heavy bar so was delighted when Mike came along and asked what I was going to do with it.
You can't do that! It must be worth money. It's only a bit of mild steel bar says I. I'll take it of your hands he said. Done!
With as much as I could remove now sitting on the pontoon Lyra has come up nearly 3 inches, and for the first time I can remember the top of the rudder has broken the surface.

All it takes now is to re-lay some tiles, but that will wait because we have just received a call from Damon saying that his foot has swelled up so badly that he must go to A&E, will we look after Daniel while that happens.
One small glitch on the horizon is the washing machine. It's just broken the dryer heater so that has to be sorted ASAP.