Wednesday, 24 September 2014


We remained at the moorings at Trent Bridge in Nottingham for a whole week with our solar panels happy to soak up the almost continuous sunshine. We never had to run our engines at all in order to charge the batteries.

We were lucky enough to have visits from numerous friends. Ray arrived one evening complete with dinner for us all, which we enjoyed enormously. Thank you for your kind and generous gesture Ray. 

On a further evening we spent a very pleasant few hours with Mel and her friends Ann and Sharon in a noisy and absolutely heaving West Bridgeford pub called ‘The Stratford’ (I think).

On four other separate evenings we had visits from Neil, Jane, Pina and Ken, Peter, Jay and Andy so we did very well for friends thinking of us. During the daytime we went on many walks and on one occasion biked as far as the Attenborough Nature Reserve which was most rewarding.


A Lapwing at Attenborough Nature Reserve


In the end we dragged ourselves away from Nottingham on Wednesday 10th September and whizzzzzed down to Birmingham in eight days. It was fast for us; well… I call an average speed of 1.61 mph almost speeding anyway and with a total of sixty locks, I think we did marvellously well. We didn’t do our usual dawdling trick either and spent only one night at each of our moorings.


DSCN1285  Approaching Trent Bridge

Departure from Trent Bridge


So we fled up the River Trent and then onto the Trent and Mersey Canal to frenzied Fradley Junction without batting an eyelid. Here we joined the Coventry Canal as far as Fazeley Junction, turning finally onto the very quiet Birmingham and Fazeley Canal.


DSCN1312  Entering Keeper's Lock on the Fradley Flight

The tiny Bridge 50 at Keeper’s Lock Fradley Junction


DSCN1313  The Swan at Fradley Junction

The ‘Swan’ at Fradley Junction


DSCN1314  Quiet mooring at Fradley Bridge on the Coventry Canal

Quiet mooring near Fradley Village


Nearing Birmingham we passed beneath busy ‘Spaghetti Junction’ at Salford Junction where the traffic noise was deafening and navigated with care onto the Aston Branch of the Birmingham Canal System.



Disney-like Tolson’s Footbridge on the Birmingham & Fazeley canal


This was on the last day’s passage up to Old Turn Junction in the centre of the city, right by the National Indoor Arena. It meant that we worked a total of twenty seven locks in that period of eight and a half hours, including the eleven of the Aston Flight and immediately afterwards, another thirteen up the almost subterranean Farmers Bridge Flight, beneath closely packed and built, high multi-storey buildings.


DSCN1321  Entering Aston Branch at Salford Junction

Entering the Aston Branch at Salford Junction


DSCN1326  Subterranean Lock on Farmer's Flight

A subterranean lock on the Farmer’s Bridge Flight


DSCN1329  The NIA in the far distance

At last! The roof of the NIA at the top in the background


All that happened last Wednesday, the 17th September and since then Janis and I have been enjoying Birmingham enormously. We have visited the Museum and Art Gallery and taken tea in the beautiful Edwardian Restaurant on most afternoons. We have spent a lot of money in the extensive outdoor and indoor markets.

On Friday Ray revisited us and after dinner we three went to the Crescent Theatre to see ‘The Lord of the Flies’, a chilling and thought provoking adaptation of William Golding’s novel.

On Saturday afternoon Janis and I ambled down to New Street Station to welcome my delightful friend Nushara who lives in Thailand, and her friend Benchamas. The two ladies earlier in the week had  visited London on business and before returning home I was thrilled to know that they wanted to come to see me. Neither lady had visited Birmingham before so they were very happy also to come all the way to see some of the city in the short time they had available. As well as their good will they brought lots of gifts with them too so the least Janis and I could do was to offer them a bed on board for the night, which they accepted and I hope enjoyed. The following morning after coffee at the Edwardian Restaurant they caught the train back to London for their return trip to Thailand.

Two hours later we had a quick visit from Peter and Rick, who had stopped off on their way to Liverpool from Stratford-upon-Avon, where they had been to see a play. Rick’s sister is a member of the RSC and had been in performance there. My brother David, who lives at Stratford and is a keen Shakespearean has told me that the lady is a very accomplished actor.

Today we’ve been on our own so we’ve been able to catch up with tasks that needed to be done, like blogging for example and this morning in cooler sunshine, we walked the four miles there and back to nearby Lidl in order to replenish our provisions that  were getting low.

That set us up quite nicely for the day and later this evening we are off to the Crescent Theatre once more; this time to see ‘My Boy Jack’ about the unfortunate World War I career of Rudyard Kipling’s son. It sounds moving but powerful.

Saturday, 6 September 2014

At Newark and Nottingham

We remained at Newark for nearly a fortnight but before we left finally, we allowed ourselves to drift astern from the Town Quay, downstream in the swift current, about fifty yards to tie up at the Pontoon Moorings on the other side of the river to top up our tanks with fresh water.


DSCN1241  Newark Castle

Newark Castle


IMG_1197  'Roots and Wings' passing through Newark Bridge

‘Roots and Wings’ beneath Newark Bridge

Also two forty volts electricity was available here and though the bright sunshine on our solar panels had kept our twelve volt batteries fully charged up till then, we celebrated for a few days in the sheer decadent pleasure of having the higher voltage on board with a water point alongside. We revelled in the luxury of having the immersion heater giving us continuous hot water which made the use of endless showers and washing machines so much more pleasurable. There was no feeling whatsoever of the anxiety or guilt that normally accompanies life aboard a twelve volt ship.

Since Newark is Janis’s adoptive hometown, we stayed here for so long in order to see all her old friends, of which there were many and all made me feel very welcome as well as their old friend.

Thank you to Lorna and Patrick; to Tina and Steve; Jenny and Shazz; Jane, Mel, Anne, Ray and Peter. It was lovely to see you again and thank you for your many kindnesses.

We wrenched ourselves away on a fine and calm last Tuesday morning and made our way up the wide glassy Trent through Newark Lock by the imposing ruin of King John’s Castle, past sleepy Farndon and through the large locks at Hazelford and Gunthorpe. We were happy to tie up for the night on the upper landing of the latter.

After a short walk up the village main street and back, we were happy to turn in early for a good start the following day. Though the street in which we walked contained only quiet residential properties with a small parish church at the inward end, many people were at the river side, where one pub and four posh looking restaurants, all neighbours, were vying for customers. This part of the river seemed so popular at this time of the day.


IMG_1203  The calm, flat, wide River Trent

The wide, calm and glassy River Trent


Egyptian Geese


IMG_1208  Approaching Trent Bridge prior to mooring at County Hall Steps

Aproaching Trent Bridge, Nottingham



The remains of old Trent Bridge, now on a busy traffic island


A fine looking visitor on my after deck


Wednesday dawned another calm day and we were able to make good progress up to Nottingham, tying up at the steps outside the County Council Offices at the wide and imposing Trent Bridge in the early afternoon.