Friday, 22 May 2015

A surprise, The Police and a party.

We two boats left Torksey early in the morning for the quick flit along the way to catch up with our other Boating Buddies at the next town along the Fossdyke Canal at Saxilby.  

Look carefully to see NB Yarwood in front

Its straight alright, after the bendy bendy tidal Trent.

So its hard to believe I know but it seems the Romans built this canal, hence its so straight, to my new Reader in NZ, yes the Romans from two thousand odd years ago, howzat for a spot of history eh?  
When we arrived at Saxilby, this was the sight that met us

Group Captain and Lesley being questioned by the Police!

It turns out that this is the designated day that 24 trainee Police Officers are sent to Saxilby to patrol in pairs and practice Policey stuff, we were surrounded and kept falling over them at street corners.  
Small bit of drama when we three went on a expedition to the 
Co-Op when a lorry was trying to pass a row of parked cars and an oncoming Chelsea Tractor had forgotten how to reverse 
(Or refused) then six Police Officers rushed to sort it out, almost tussling together to wave arms and point fingers.  Lorry released, CT remembered how to reverse and all ended happily.

After that Co-Op was a breeze but the sky was threatening and when we had finished it had started to rain.  Joe had materialised to carry the shopping for Lesley and it just seemed a good idea to take shelter in The Angler on the way back.  

Home again and the rain came and went and came and went then much later Joe was there knocking at the hatch asking to borrow Redbush teabags....? An odd request as I have never seen him drink tea, but I would give him the pillow off my bed if he asked.  Then a Lesley sent me a photo of Amanda, I just thought she had muddled her fingers on the phone as I do all the time.  Finally when all doubt had gone that I could have ever worked for the intelligence services, Lesley rang to say she is here!!!  We scooted along to Yarwood to find my best friend in their kitchen drinking Redbush tea.  

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The funny thing is that her husband David was expecting her home at the time she said and had put the kettle on in Norfolk, but here she was supping tea in Lincolnshire!  He can see where she is on his phone under such circumstances and knew exactly what she was doing.  
The Clarences had invited all the Convoy along for dwinks so Amanda came too to meet everyone.  Lesley was the clever one who remembered to take a photo, where is it Lesley?

From L to R Clarence, Seyella, cruiser then WaL and bringing up the rear Yarwood

Amanda had to depart of course because of that job thing she has, but we'll see her again soonish.  She is now under the impression that travelling in a convoy with strangers who have quickly become good friends is one long party.......

Liquid lunch and afternoon tea today and Spanish omelette for supper.  Plus chocolate that Amanda restocked me up on, Thank you.

Thursday, 21 May 2015

A Duke a puncture and Morecombe & Wise

Torksey has proved to be a most pleasant place to stop, for one BIG thing there are moorings that are most friendly and welcomed to us little narrow boaters. 

Long straight moorings with armco and bollards, welcomed change.

We all spent a most pleasant late afternoon on WaL drinking tea and other and eating Ginger and white chocolate crunch.  Maybe a glass of wine I can't be sure. But it is jolly to be travelling 'En masse' so to speak.

The next day we had an excursion on wheels, a Brompton Bash.  That was the three of us Lesley myself and David went off together on a short ride to a nearby village or really now a hamlet maybe of Kettlethorpe.  The Clarences and The Seyellas had gone on ahead to Saxilby as Derek needed 3G and little here. 

Kettlethorpe was the one time home of Katherine Swynford, who not only starred in Anya Seton's book written in the 1950's but she founded a dynasty The Tudors, she did have a little help from a Duke, but its all in the book HERE   

Sad to say there is little of the medieval hall left at Kettlethorpe save the gateway.  Its quite a thought to be in the place where she walked and raised her children.
The current house there was built much much later, but the barns we could see were pretty old.  Its all private property now so we stayed on the church property.

In the church there is plenty of information on Katherine, her husband and the Duke, to Lesley and myself all very interesting and I have just started to read the book, Lesley has too but for the umpteenth time in her case.

Had some repairs this lovely old barn next to the gatehouse

Morecombe and Wise in fancy dress, notice the stylish feet?

Now this is only what is left of the medieval hall.  Still impressive, worthy of a Footballers pad I'd say.

On the way home, David got a puncture, so we took cover in a pub, I am not completely sure if the two things were linked...

My favourite Hake for tea with sweet potato wedges.  Food of the gods. 

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

"Lets stay together"

All rather excited this morning,  we are all going out onto the tidal stretch of the river Trent.  We were all up early, the dogs walked and life jackets on,  well almost all had their jackets on.

The lock doors opened and we moved forward, the lock keeper had another boat to come in behind so we all breasted up at the front.

So L to R   Sheila Margaret and Lesley  (Only Sheila without a jacket here but she soon put hers on.)

Here come the Boys, L to R Derek, Geoff Joe and my David.  Looks warm doesn't it?

The gates opened and away we went, no racing today, it had been decided by Group Captain Geoff (So called as he is the only one who has been here before),   decided that we would all stick in close formation as its tidal, well I think that was the reason.

Hard to see but directly intron of one another Seyella, then Clarence, then Yarwood then tail end Charlie (us)

Looking behind at the zonking great weir here at Cromwell Lock

All in close formation

Now it looked warm, but let me tell you it started cold and ended up bloody freezing. You might notice all the ladies were in their boats,  David gets bored and lonely so I stay up with him, well going off to make coffee.  Did I say it was cold?
The tidal stretch is ├╝ber bendy, so the wind stays with you and is alternatively in your face then behind you, then pushing you off course.
Then this came past

I used to fancy having a go at this.... 

The wash from this teeny made us fairly bounce!

This crew had full ski wear on

This was interesting, there were extensive buildings.  To do with malting I wondered...

So this stretch was about 17 miles long approximately and we had a time to arrive by at Torksey Lock if we were late, the tide would have been too low for us to have got into the lock and we would have to moor outside the lock on the floating pontoons with only the very steep piling walls to look at until the evening when the tide changed and came in again to "Float" us over the cill and into the lock.

Look at our angle, we were being carried somewhat down river...

All safely made the turn you can see.... 
I helpfully suggested to David "Look darling, we're missing it... " 
"Its fine", he said then an "Oh shit!" and whacked on the juice a bit, we did get a wee bit closer to that grass bank.  
Green light from the lock and Bish Bash Bosh we are all in.

Last ones in.  Notice the triple gate arrangement.

Group Captain on his roof, Lesley actually holding hers and my boat's ropes, I was holding a dangly bit between our two boats

David and Joe at the rear clinging on, still room for one more small one in-between 

As we left, I called out a cheery thank you to the lock keeper, he replied that it was HIS pleasure to have his locked filled with narrowboats as it docent happen very often.  
Out we crept past lots of moored cruisers (who make me nervous) and on around the corner where we all had space to moor up in a row.  Straight inside for hot broccoli and stilton soup, heating on and a bit of a thawing out session.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Big Boys and traffic lights.

Newark Castle do Guided Tours, I discovered this slightly accidentally as when David and I were looking around the castle gardens/grounds the previous day,  I noticed that there were modern walkways up high in the gatehouse section, in looking for the doorway to the walkways I open a door and was greeted by Flossie the Castle Warden, who informed me that this was actually her office!  She was a lovely lady and seeing our disappointment that it was all locked up advised us to return the next morning and she would do a Guided Tour for us.  
So this morning four of us arrived to be joined by another couple who were Boaters too! 

The castle has a rich history and although only 20% survives after being "Slighted" by Oliver Cromwell after the English Civil War, the stone work then removed and re-used around the town.

The Gatehouse and the Bishops apartments were above

Wooden floors above long gone

Not dungeons but castle cellars used to store all the food and drink

Side view of the Gatehouse
Picture of Newark Castle in its day, only the riverside wall and towers remain sadly.

Several mediaeval houses are still standing in the town, like this one

The Old Bakery where we had a delicious lunch.

 After watering up on the other side of the river all four boats left Newark

Lesley and Geoff about to catch ropes to help us water up.

WaL was in the lead, for the short distance to Newark Nether Lock on the northern outskirts of Newark. 
 The geography of this lock is peculiar, try hard to imagine this.  Firstly the wind had picked up AGAIN,  the river here widens then takes a sharp left turn, at the same time the railway line goes overhead, and there is a weir flowing pretty fast too on the left, some of those nice metal posts here, no rubber attached of course so as you come around this sharp bend, facing you is that weir and a narrowing of the river and due to the railway bridge overhead, 
a very narrow way to pass through.   There are traffic lights here and a sign saying DO NOT APPROACH IF LIGHTS ARE RED.  

So knowing that Lesley had contacted the lock telling them of our approach David was a bit discombobulated to then see the red light, (I actually wonder how the lock keepers would ever know you are there as the lock is further around and unsighted of this 'Dog leg' of a corner....
I phoned Lesley again quickly as I could saying the lights were on red while David did a sterling job trying to hold WaL in the wind, away from the metal piling and not be dragged towards the weir, his wife was a tad twitchy...
So in the company of Clarence as the light turned green Hurrah we started through the narrow space and guess what, as our nose entered the bridge space the lights turned red again, shocking language from the captain with a declaration that there was no turning back now, we received a hefty clump from the piling and the blasted wind and WaL crept through.  As we made the right hand sharp turn to lock itself the gates opened and we entered slowly, the lock keeper was walking towards me as I sat in the cratch with the bow rope in hand all ready to attach WaL to the lock wall sides...
This lock keeper asked me if I knew we had just come through a red light?
Yes said I
Never ever come through a red light again he said in a voice worthy of a headmaster, now Reader ordinarily I am  the calmest most non confrontational person afloat, but to have him talking to me thus I was a bit cross, I may possibly have let rip, (anyway a good thing Amanda wasn't onboard or she might well well have climbed up and flattened him), I did point out to him that we had been waiting, the wind was battering us towards the weir etc etc and most importantly the bloody lights had gone green then red again...  

I have been the butt of jokes ever since Reader from the other crews laughing and David laughing the loudest.  Another time with no pictures, I was too busy in the BRACE position.

So into Nether Lock, I heard D tell another driver that I would need an especially large gin tonight.

Geoff and Margaret passing us out of Nether Lock as they knew the way.

Joe whipping past too trying to beat Seyella

Big Boys racing

Another quite big boy 

So just a short run to Cromwell Lock where we breasted up leaving room for another narrow boat, all to be ready for 9:30am the next morning to go through Cromwell onto the tidal section of the river Trent, 17 odd miles to Torksey where we turn right onto the Fossdyke.

Supper was courgette and chorizo pasta and yes a very large gin.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

Day off in Newark

So the day dawned bright and sunny.  David and I set off to explore Newark.  
We went to the bus station firstly to find out times to Southwell, but firstly a wander around to look for The Old Bakery,   HERE  and it was as good as they say.  It was,  I had homemade ravioli and a slice of rhubarb and custard cake.

So onto the bus for Southwell.  We were to visit the National Trust Workhouse here.

Looks quite pleasant.
This one one of the first of this type, in that 60 neighbouring parishes sent their poor here.  The conditions were so dreadful that it was only as a very last resort that people would go into it.  

The wall was sufficiently high that no inmate could see over it.
It was a very interesting visit but rather depressing too.      Husbands and wives separated, mothers and children parted to be reunited only on Sunday afternoons.

Next to see was Southwell Minster.  Now I had never heard of this town but it in possession of a zoning great cathedral.  Kings and queens visited here on their route to visit the kingdom.
Sadly I have no photos of the minster and I am not really sure why.
Beautiful grounds all around the minster too and some very posh dress shops too.

After the bus ride back to Newark and David wanted to try this place   HERE    He said the beer was brilliant, this pub does not sell spirits so I had lemon and lime cider!  It was really nice.

WaL is just in sight on the right hand side of the riverbank, use your magnifying glass.

Oh by the way this is the tiller after Martin fixed it yesterday.

Pretty good eh?

Friday, 15 May 2015

A marvellously good egg.

Wooded hills and open meadows were the order of the day, it was cloudy though which made it cold.  We set off in advance of the other three boats as we had to stop off at Farndon Marina just outside of Newark to have the engineer there look at WaL to see if he could help.   

One good thing about the boat yard is the nice wide entrance but as the visitors dock was taken up by a small cruiser getting diesel plus the wind was gusting too so we took the decision to moor outside the marina on one of two floating pontoons while we waited for Martin the engineer to become free.
He came over to us and the first thing he said was "Oh you are much longer than I thought"  First thing to do is to get the boat into the service bay, this meant reversing into the marina entrance filled with cruisers and simply being polite one has to say they are not made of steel..... I was slightly terrified of breaking a couple of them but David was filled with confidence. I was next to him clutching fenders just in case, he set off, wind gusting, river flowing boats sticking out but it was a faultless display of wonderfulness and I began to relax.

This is a before picture and tomorrow I will take an after shot that I forgot to do.

Now Martin is now one of my new best friends, he says yes to all things and is a thoroughly good egg.

Wonderful Martin.  I lent him my gardening kneeling mat.

Steel plate to protect the paintwork

Then with a colleague standing on the wee stool footrests and heaving like a thing possessed on the tiller and it came good.  We were surprised and thrilled with the results.  Wonderful Martin even after it had cooled rubbed it down and sprayed it with primer which is a matching grey.  I gave him my best coffee and best Italian Biscotti which he liked.  
What a star he is.

So time was getting on now and after fond farewells we gritted our teeth and headed out right into a cold north wind into our faces for the remainder of the trip into Newark, it would have been twenty minutes less but the lock keeper kept us waiting, I thought he was filling the lock for us but no, he admitted to have been looking the other way and didn't see us floating about avoiding boats and buildings.

Finally the lock had emptied but still another ten minutes as he and David were laughing together and didn't see the lock had finished!

This below was us arriving to the moorings we breasted up against Clarence, this photo was snapped by Derek from Pizza Express where we soon joined them for warmth and hot soup basil and tomato plus I managed to choke down a slice of tiramisu.

NB Seyella you weren't the only ones who re-lit the stove that night.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

The morning after...

There is a certain joy of travelling in a convoy, this was confirmed to us this morning when Geoff arrived with his blowtorch that he keeps onboard, (Reader we only have a tool box collection of three screwdrivers, thats all), 
and Joe was on hand too for brute strength all to mend the tiller.

Glorious day. Geoff heating, Joe creating a pull on the tiller, David holding it firm.

Fletcher and Floyd watching

Getting as much heat as possible onto the bent section

This looks odd but all part of the brute strength brief.

After a grand effort to which we both were most grateful, but it hadn't worked.  Plan B was to call into a boatyard.  The phoning began, the first one called in our new Nicholson Guide is now a Tearoom!  David said we had found their website and she said they have been meaning to get that changed.  Two more calls and one near Newark said they could help.
So away we went, at 9:55am when we had a loose booking with yesterdays duty lock keeper for 10am for our three boats to enter the lock, this is because of the considerable works going on here and a temporary bridge going over, this is removed for boats but not that quickly.  However a boat had gone past us ten minutes earlier and I had assumed that the single boat would have waited for us to join at the appointed time but no, we waited 15 mins or so for the huge lock to refill and finally exited Holme lock at 10:40am.
The weather was lovely and I ticked off a first sighting of two birds in my book, a Lapwing and a Sand Martin.

Yarwood on the right, Seyella central and Clarence on the left

Lovely countryside, see Lesley with her feet up?  Almost unknown.

Clarence on the left, Yarwood centrally and Seyella as Tail end Charlie

Reader we would have breasted up but no other boats around.

We landed and after fannying around with ropes and fenders, we sat in the sun drinking tea supplied by Mags again......
There was a roar that all would recognise and this flew over doing back flips and Looping the Loop.  
Made my day complete.

A Spitfire, impressive or what?

Supper was Hake wedges and french beans with chocolate trifle.