Wednesday, 26 March 2014


Well the 6 hour round trip to Manchester was worth it today.

I've been discharged by the oncologist!   YAY!!!

Time to celebrate............. hic

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Market Harborough

Well the weather's certainly changed!  It's been murky dismal all day and we cruised in drizzle wearing waterproofs for most of the day.

These were our neighbours last night. How can something so cute and cuddly make SO much noise!!!! They woke me at 6.00..... lamb chops were definitely considered for tonight's dinner.

We're now ensconced in Market Harborough Basin for the next week or so.

So far I'm impressed with the moorings. We had a lovely welcome from a couple of boaters who invited us to the local "Spoons" for tea and the pontoons and facilities are amongst the nicest we've encountered so far.

This is "Frank The Plank" a canal art/sculpture that is also a sun dial... and right beside our mooring

Everywhere is immaculate and there are lots of beautiful planters around, so much nicer that some marinas we've stayed in.

We've got another trip up to Manchester tomorrow for my final acupuncture treatment and also a check-up with my oncologist then on Thursday Chico is going on his holidays to a local boarding kennels ( I haven't told him yet) as on Friday we're going on holiday! We're off to Paris for a few days. See you when we get back.

Monday, 24 March 2014

A lorra lorra locks

When I took Chico out at 7.15 this morning it was -3.5'C and the grass was all white and crispy. He was NOT amused, did what he had to do and went straight back in his bed where he stayed until it was time to set off. By that time the sun was shining and the frost had melted but there was a bitter wind blowing which has made today's travelling a bit uncomfortable at times. I try not to use the bow-thruster but boy was I glad of it today. I got pinned against the lock landing on several occasions and if it hadn't been for the thruster Roger would have had to keep coming back down to shove the boat off.

Several of the locks were overflowing

and a couple of them could do with some redial work

but on the whole it was an enjoyable trip. Well what more could you need than blue skies, beautiful scenery and a man to do all the hard work? As almost all of the locks had been set against us he was glad when he did the last one....14 in one day is enough for anyone.

We're now moored above Kibworth Top Lock. Tomorrow will be lock free but we'll still need an early start to get to Market Harborough marina where we're going to be staying for a while.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

The April Showers are a bit early!

More glorious sunshine again today, but interspersed with heavy showers and even hail at one point! Must be nearly April.

The river level has dropped back to almost normal, all the markers are well in the green and the weir at Freemans Lock is barely trickling.

Leicester City football ground is right beside the weir and lock

Which numpty decided where to put these bollards on the lock moorings at Whetstone Lane Lock?
If you tie a rope round them no-one can get past. Maybe it's a new anti-cyclist initiative?

We didn't see another moving boat all morning but just as we'd finished having lunch at Whetstone Lock a Canaltime hire boat arrived. They'd been moored in front of us at Castle Gardens but had had a late start as they'd been into town for breakfast. There were 2 couples on board, 2 sisters and their husbands, and we paired up and shared the next 4 locks. One of the couples was really interested in our boat. He wants to buy one and retire but can't persuade his wife to give up work.

They were really nice people and very competent steerers having had several boat holidays before. I still can't believe how few boats are about. We've only seen 3 moving boats since we left Loughborough.

We moored up just below Double Rail Lock in a beautiful spot overlooking the fields. The Canaltimers carried on their way. In true hire-boat style they wanted to get as many miles done as possible before it got dark. Unfortunately, not long after we'd moored up the heavens opened again only this time it was BIG rain and hailstones so their trip wouldn't have been very pleasant.

In between the showers I've been tidying up my flower pots. The pansies are still going strong and have been flowering non-stop since July. The dwarf tulips really are dwarf....I didn't expect them to have virtually no stems, but I suppose they're perfect for the roof as they won't get bashed when we go through low bridges.

I've also been getting stuck into a new crochet project. I'll show you when it's finished.

Saturday, 22 March 2014


It's been another gloriously sunny day but that sunshine was quite deceptive as it was also extremely windy and bitterly cold and we were bundled up in hats and gloves for the journey.  We set of fairly early as we wanted to get to Leicester before lunchtime and passed close by the National Space Centre on the way.

We had our own display of formation mallard swimming for "Sport Relief"

I love mooring in city centres. The building in the background is the Holiday Inn who charge £106 a night whereas we get prime moorings for FREE!!

I was surprised how quiet the city centre was. Last time we were here in JULY 2011 the centre was buzzing and there were lots of lovely independent shops and a huge market. Today there were lots of empty shops and the market has shrunk to about half the size. I suppose it's a depressing sign of the times.

I liked this wedding "cake" that we saw in the Original Pie Shop. It's a 3 tier pork pie....perfect for a friend of mine who's getting wed next year.

Friday, 21 March 2014


It was a beautiful sunny morning and VERY windy but that didn't deter us from moving. We stopped at Sileby Mill boat yard for diesel, coal and water and are now moored up for the night just below Birstall Lock.

The guys renewing the moorings by Hope & Anchor Bridge are doing a really good job and it's good to see they're re-using the old bollards.

Their work boat could do with a bit of TLC as it was blowing our thick black smoke. The driver had to turn the engine off while we passed.

On the stretches between locks I did a bit of baking. I used up last night's left-over mash and made potato cakes and I also made a couple of small Mediterranean chickpea, olive and rosemary loaves which we had for lunch.  I adapted the recipe from this one and it was delicious, definitely one to make again although next time I think I'll use more olives.

While the oven was on for the bread I also knocked up a rhubarb crumble. I haven't seen any fresh rhubarb in the shops yet so I used tinned which is one of my store-cupboard staples.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The day the Beacon went out

I can finally reveal the real reason we came to Loughborough back in December.

We've known Ally Myers who is one of the directors of Beacon Boats for several years, mainly from after-show sessions in the beer tent at Crick Boat Show. In late Autumn her business partner "Bugs" had a serious stroke and was unable to continue fitting out the boat they were currently working on so she got in touch with Roger on the off chance that he was available and willing to help her finish the boat. As we had no definite plans for the winter we decided Loughborough was as good a place as any to visit and stay, little knowing just how long we'd be here when the river went into flood on New Year's Day!  Ally had someone doing the woodwork and Roger helped out for a few days with the electrics and plumbing and on Tuesday this week "Bisbigliando" was finally launched.

 The new owners christened the boat with a splash of Hobgoblin ale

before Roger took them for their inaugural test cruise.

Obviously with Bugs having had a major stroke he's not able to work for the foreseeable future, so with much regret they've decided to call it a day and close the company. Just as when we closed Crown Narrowboats 4 years ago, they can hold their heads up and be proud that they have gone out still solvent, with no debts and with their reputation intact.

It was a standing joke between Ally and Roger that she was definitely the boss and he was one of her I made him a "Minion" hat which he wore for the craning.

I got the pattern from one of the crochet blogs that I follow. If you'd like to make one for your favourite little minion you can get the pattern HERE

Now that the boat's been launched and Ally no longer needs us we can finally leave the area, so tomorrow we're starting off towards Market Harborough. We would have gone today but I had another appointment back in Manchester. This time it was a surgical follow-up rather than acupuncture but having to get up at 5.45 and trudge up the M6 was a real pain. I'm really looking forward to cruising again so let's hope the wind and rain die down overnight otherwise I'll be digging the thermals and waterproofs out again.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Where has this week gone?

I didn't realise it's a week since my last blog post, I just don't know where the time has gone!

We've done quite a bit of cruising this week, travelling up and down the River Soar in fantastic sunshine. It's one of my favourite waterways, but it'll be nice to finally leave the area at the end of next week as we start making our way towards our next stop-over at Market Harborough.

We stayed a couple of nights at Mountsorrel as it's convenient for car hire for my acupuncture appointment in Manchester, a couple of nights at Barrow Upon Soar visiting friends plus we had a fleeting trip into Loughborough to sort out a few things at the bank before returning to Cossington again to take advantage of the super-fast internet speed.

Stopping for water and to dump the rubbish at Barrow Boating we noticed that their day boat was fitted out with a shrine.

They are licensed to carry out ash scattering trips which are very popular with the Hindu and Sikh communities. I think the ceremony must involve coconuts as there are lots bobbing about in the river around here.

The river level has dropped dramatically over the past couple of weeks and the flow over the weir at Sileby Mill is a fraction of what it was back in January

I still wouldn't want to moor my boat here though!

The glorious sunshine has given us some spectacular sunsets and tonight was no exception.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

Perfect cruising weather

With the morning dawning bright and sunny we decided it was too nice to sit around surfing on t'internet and set off cruising towards Leicester.

The River Soar is really beautiful on a sunny day but there was a distinct lack of boats, either moving or moored up. Where is everyone?

We stopped to take on water at the Hope and Anchor pub at Syston but the tap was so slow we managed to cook and eat lunch and have a pint sitting outside the pub while the tank filled by less than a half. In the end we gave up and carried on.

The sun had brought out hundreds of people who were walking or cycling in Watermead Country Park and we had an audience of gongoozlers at every lock.

Not wanting to go quite as far as the centre of Leicester we turned round just below Belgrave lock and retraced our journey back to Thurmaston where we moored below the lock, beside a rusty iron sculpture.

Hopefully this glorious weather will last a few more days. Wouldn't it be great if it lasted all summer?

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Out of the Black Hole

We've been stuck in an internet "black hole" for the past couple of weeks hence the lack of any blog posts. Our normal download speeds are around 5Mbps but in Barrow on Soar and Mountsorrel we were only getting a measly 0.17Mbps. To be honest, it's been a bloody nuisance as we rely on t'internet for the majority of our communication and entertainment.

The River Soar is really beautiful and I love it around here, but it goes into flood with the slightest amount of rainfall....and we've had a lot recently. The level fluctuates drastically and can go up or drop 8 inches overnight quite easily. We've gone to bed planning on moving the next day only to find the markers back in the red in the morning. We moved from Barrow to Mount Sorrel as soon as we could only to get stuck there for another week. The weather improved drastically and has been glorious for the past few days but we couldn't move as I had another acupuncture appointment back in Manchester on Wednesday and we needed to be in an accessible spot to hire a car.  I'm happy to report that the acupuncture is working and I now have full, almost pain-free use of my hands again and my feet are also rapidly improving. I was very sceptical about acupuncture but it certainly works for me!

On the days we haven't been able to move we've been taking Chico for lots of long walks in the glorious sunshine.

It's been perfect drying weather too so I've been catching up with the laundry and the whirly-gig has been wizzing round in the breeze.

The weirs are still very high but the level is dropping so today we moved to Cossington where we were amazed to find the internet speed like lightening.

This was the mill -race on the lock approach at Silby Mill. The current was quite strong, but not as strong as when we came up here last week to get a pump-out. When we needed to turn the boat around to go backto Mountsorrel we just stuck the bow into the flow from the weir which then spun us quickly 180' without any need for any engine power.

Spring has definitely sprung. There are many trees in blossom and snowdrops are everywhere.

There are even daffodils and primroses in the hedgerows. It's just beautiful!

So here we are, moored just above Cossington Lock.

The sun shone all day and after we moored up we went off exploring the surrounding area. There are miles of marked footpaths both up the canal and also over the fields and around the many fishing ponds. The fields are still very boggy after the floods but there are signs that things are finally starting to dry out. You can see how high the river level rose by the amount of debris that has been deposited on the towpaths.

We may move on again tomorrow, or we may stay here another day. I've got lots of things I need to do on t'internet while the connection speed is so good, so that may be the deciding factor. I've been getting itchy feet all the time we've been stuck, must be the water gypsy in me, but now that the cruising season is well and truly underway I can't wait to be on the move again.