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Monday, 30 June 2014

Sharing to Shardlow and Sawley.

We started the day by walking to the garden centre that you can get to from bridge 15. It has a lovely collection of plants and the cafe looked very inviting, but we resisted. So many garden centres have very few plants these days and tryt to flog you furniture, gifts, dinners and equipment and have the minimum of actual growing things. Swarkestone Garden Centre definitley had more than usual. We bought a couple of begonias to place in the teapots that we have that have cracked for various reasons. When I came to try to drill holes in their bottoms for drainage I failed so will have to obtain a drill to do the job before planting them.

We got off about 1100 and stopped for water just a little further on before Swarkestone Lock. By the time we had penned down there was another boat just arriving at the top so we decided that we would go slowly and make a pair it the next lock. We trundled on and passed a kestrel and later a jay but were unable to get photographs of them despite being close to us. The mile posts on the canal are marked between Shardlow and Preston Brook. The actual end of the Trent and Mersey Canal is not Shardlow but Derwent Mouth which is about a mile further away.

The milepost is actually a newer one. The genuine ones have a little plaque at the bottom 'Made in Stone' where as this one was made for the Trent and Mersey Canal Society.

By the time we arrived at Weston Lock they had caught up. A hire boat was penning up as we arrived. He had only opened one ground paddle of a double lock as he didn't want to have the boat thrown about, but was wondering why it was taking so long to fill. These gates all seem to leak at the bottom gates. He was soon on his way and we were penning down with 'Blue Moon' in the pen with us. 

We continued together through Aston Lock where there was another hire boat arriving at the bottom of the lock. He was tied up very near to the bridge with a very loose centre rope. I explained that there was a very big flow when the paddles were opened so he should handg on to the head line. I hope they both had a good time. I can't remember what it was like the first time I did a lock but there is always nervousness about doing it right,especially when others are watching. I don't think that ever changes.

A very strong flow from the lock when the paddles are opened to lower the lock.

We continued on to Shardlow and shared the lock once more. This time there was no boat coming up so we had to shut the gates ourselves! 'Blue Moon' were stopping over in Shardlow and we were continuing on to Sawley. We passed through Derwent Mouth Lock and were back on the Trent. We passed under the M1 motorway bridge and were soon through the flood lock and into Sawley Cut. We tied up on the visitor moorings and later went for a walk to the 'village' and had a pint of 'Magic Sponge' from Twaites at the White Lion and a Golden Pippin from Copper Kettle at the Harrington Arms before heading back for tea.

Passing under the M1 on the Trent. The current is very little today so we hope we will have no problems with water on the Soar.

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Doubling back.

We are off again and it feels good. Mind you we didn't rush into it as, after all, it is Sunday. I went and got the paper and we listened to the Archers before setting off. It had been very busy earlier so wondered what the day would bring, but actually setting off later seems to have worked in our favour as we had a very easy time of it.

 I was attracted to the avenue of trees across the Shobnall Fields park.

Dallow Lane Locks was very soon upon us and we were soon on our way down. Both sides of the bridge that are almost over the lock have murals painted. It is another project that has been instigated by Shobnall Parish Council (among others) that were also involved with the Kingfisher Trail. The murals are covered with perspex and so far seem to have survived interference.

 Only a little further is Horninglow Basin where there are more murals painted. The wall with the art work has the A38 dual carriageway above it. It wouldn't be my ideal mooring I don't think.

Just as we got to the next lock at Stenson the heavens opened some what and we got a bit of a soaking. C&RT had just left after reports of something or other but had just left after finding nothing. I expect that it was because it fills so slowly. A lot to do with the big leak in the bottom gates. On the way up we met somebody that Helen had worked with in the past. On the way down we met somebody who had just from our home town. A very small world round here.

The rain lessened but we carried on as we wanted to stop above Swarkeston. By the time we had got sorted the rain had stopped and we decided to go for a short walk. We had seen the Summer house that is all that is left from Swarkestone Manor. I wrote before but it is thought to be a pavilion for viewing either bull/baiting or more likely bowls. It is Jacobean in origin and the square area enclosed by a low wall is called the Cuttle.

The Summer House is now owned by the Landmark Trust and looks like a lovely place for two for a smoochy week away together.

Our walk took us through the quiet village of Swarkestone with some lovely old houses and a view of the bridge across the Trent. Apparently Swarkestone was the furthest south that Bonnie Price Charlie got in 1745. It seems he decided that the hordes of Englishmen he thought would swarm to his banner to support his claim to the throne did not materialise. He turned north and to eventual defeat at Culloden. Everywhere seems to have some history to it, doesn't it.

The 18th centuary five arched bridge over the Trent at Swarkestone. The first Himalayan Balsam I have seen this year.

We stopped for a pint at the Crew and Harpur. I had a pint of Fever Pitch IPA from Marston's but it was very so so. Back to the boat and a lovely tea rounded of with a rhubarb crumble using the rhubarb I brought from home.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Hale and well met.

The rain this morning put us off stepping into town early so after topping up with water, getting rid of our dirty oil thanks to the Burton Boat Company we were ready to sail. However we had a text from Marilyn and David on the 'Waka Huia' that they were passing and we should meet up. I had just gone to confirm we could take fuel and walked back to the boat when they arrived at the marina and so we walked round to show them to the boat. We had a nice chat, tea and cakes etc and got to know each other and generally chewed the fat. The rain had stopped so we all trooped of to inspect their boat. We thought that it was the first boat we had been inside since getting our own and it was interesting to see how the other half live! Their boat looked very long as you could see right down to the bow from the stern and ours has a bathroom about two thirds from the stern. Inevitably the party had to break up as we all had chores to do. They were both very happy to be off and running as they have had a few problems with engine etc but with it all solved they are looking forward to the next months on the cut. Hopefully we will meet up again somewhere.

L to R David, Marilyn, Tony and Helen

We then finally took on our fuel under their covered entrance that must have been the Bond End Canal and Trent and Mersey stop lock. Full to the brim and all bills paid we were ready for the off. However the cut was very busy so I had Helen indicating when there was a gap for us to p[op out. Mind you she seemed more intent on having a natter with somebody on the bridge!

Waiting for a gap for us to come out and turn right back towards the Trent.

We didn't go very far, only about half a mile to Shobnall Fields off side visitor moorings. There is a lovely park with trees and the perfume of the flowers on the lime trees was very strong. I checked out with our book and they seem to be a mix of large leaved Lime and Crimean lime trees

Shobnall Fields visitor moorings.

Strongly perfumed flowers of the large leaved lime.

After lunch we went for the walk to get the bits and pieces we needed.  We passed the stock pile of beer that was ready for sale if England had got through to the knock out rounds of the Football World Cup, but is obviously not required any longer. I think we can expect the price of beer to fall soon. (In your dreams, it is just the empties!).

Just a few pints laying about here.

Just opposite the National Brewery Centre is this building. It is the disused Magistrates Court with and entrance for the public and one for the Justices. It doesn't look used even though it is butting up against a new Police Station.

 On the towpath side opposite the visitor moorings is the Kingfisher way that is a walking and cycle route along the towpath and there are a pair of these carvings to mark the start.

I had worked out our route and as we were in now hurry we didn't bother moving on today. It will be nice to underway again tomorrow and see what befalls us then.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Back aboard.

After a previous blog about railways and canals sharing routes I thought I would just see how many times I actually crossed a canal on my trip back to the boat on a journey from Hull to Burton on Trent. It started off with a lengthy trip under the Humber Bridge and along the Humber Estuary. Not strictly crossing canals but such good views I have included it. The first canal we crossed was actually the Market Weighton Canal. We then cross the River Ouse that travels to Selby and York and onwards to Ripon. At Goole we crossed the Dutch River (River Don) that is tidal and then straight away the Aire and Calder Canal. Next comes the Stainforth and Keadby Canal at Thorne. We actually then crossed the River Don Navigation twice and then the River Don it's self three times.

River Don Rail bridges.

We then crossed the Dearne and Dove Canal that is disused at the moment just above Waddington's Yard at Swinton. After Sheffield the canal interactions reduce but you do get a glimpse of the new basin at Chesterfield where the completely restored Chesterfield Canal will terminate. 

Waqddington's Yard at the first Lock on the Dearne and Dove Canal.

M1 Motorway bridge on the Sheffield and Tinsley Canal. The railway bridge is just round the corner.

What the Chesterfield Basin will look like in the end.

After that there was a crossing of the Trent and Mersey just after Willington. Really a good way of passing a a two and a half hour train journey.

We decided to stop another night at Shobnall as the weather looked a bit wet. It worked well as a friend had just got home from Singapore and wanted to come to see us as we were so close to his home. We had a catch up and went to eat at the National Brewery Centre. I was a little disappointed when we walked in as they had a limited range of beer on tap. I settled for an Imperial IPA from Tower Brewery in Burton. It was very nice, as was the food. It was just right, better than pub grub, plenty of it and a good price. I would certainly recommend it if you are passing. I am looking forward to getting off and underway. It was great to get back to the boat and see my other girls. It is great to be back.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Looking forward to a kip.

I am off back to the boat tomorrow and hoping that the trip is as trouble free as the one home. I do like a train journey and have to say that 99% of my journeys seem to be on time, and as we can order tickets ahead they don't seem too dear either. The trip to from Hull is nice as you pass directly under the Humber Bridge and alongside the Humber for a stretch and can often see vessels heading for Goole or down the Trent as they round the Whitton's off Brough.

Humber Bridge from the train.

As the train lines and the canals are not good at climbing hills they often share the same route and it while's away the time trying to spot the canals as you come to them. It was interesting passing through Doncaster and being able to relate the train with the canal as we had been there recently on 'Holderness'. The same in Sheffield. There is the fantastic bar on Platform 1 at Sheffield if you have a stop. It is called the Sheffield Tap and they have loads of different beers.

The bar of the Sheffield Tap on Sheffield Station.

I picked my daughter and friends up from the train today after flying into Gatwick from Croatia. Their flight was delayed five hours by the French air traffic controllers strike. They told me the time the train got in but as I was waiting I texted and asked if the time was about an hour later. I got a very grumpy text back disappointed that I couldn't even get the time right! She did brighten up though when she saw me waiting on the platform. I think that I have done most of the jobs I was supposed to do so I will be doubly glad to get back to the boat as I just haven't been sleeping well here. I seem to not get off 'till late and wake up early. It must be all the fresh air.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014


We have been talking about where we will be going next. We have decided that we will head south to London. We haven't really been south of Braunston really, and I expect that this is the wrong time to be going that way as my biggest fear is the lack of mooring places and having to just keep going until we find some where. First of we will head down the Soar and through Leicester and call in at Debdale to see the lads who built 'Holderness'. I will have a few questions for them, but nothing bad really just the best way to run cables etc as they know where the timbers and frames are. Then we will travel up Foxton and down the Grand Union to London.

Foxton Locks.

I'm not sure whether we will go up the Thames and back via the Oxford or save that for another time. The Thames river again sounds a bit of a hassle to find berths at the height of the summer which is when we will be there. I am willing to listen to advice on the subject if anybody has good advice on the subject. I like the idea of doing the tidal Thames from Limehouse to Brentford as to pass the Houses of Parliament etc would be a real treat. Actually I have been under Tower Bridge already, well the bridge was open.

We passed under Tower Bridge to tie up in the Pool of London alongside HMS Belfast on 'Salvageman'.

I think the 'Salvageman' was jointly the most beautiful ship I sailed on. This also gives me the chance to gratuitously post another photo as the one is below is the joint favourite. I sailed on two of this class.

I think that these were the last ships to be built to look like ships as containerisation had just started and everything didn't need to fit boxes then. This is 'Priam' and I also sailed on 'Patroclus'.

After starting off this year on the Stainforth and Keadby at Thorne and then travelling to Sheffield and back, up the Trent and 'doing' the Chersterfield, and then the Fossdyke and River Witham, and then the Erewash we really did get a culture shock when we started on the Trent and Mersey and we passed boats every day! and even had to cue at locks!!! However I think that I have been on the canals long enough now to be chilled with this sort of thing so we will give the deep south a go. I have heard that they talk funny down there, that the beer is flat and costs north of £4 a pint and you can't get a decent fish and chip supper to save your life. I'm hoping that there will be some saving graces to make it worth our while. I'm sure there will be, and I will enjoy showing where we have been and what we have been doing.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


I was wondering what to write about today but then remembered reading that UNESCO have requested ships to fly ensigns at half mast on Saturday 28th June as a sign of mourning to remember those who died during WW1. Further they also invite vessels to sound their whistle/klaxons/horns etc at 1700 UTC (GMT) (Which is 1800 our current BST) to mark the time of when the first shot was fired of that conflict. I assume that many will comply on the canals as well as the high seas. Mind you there seems to be a profusion of flags, many of which are not exactly the correct ensigns to fly. Some get very vexed by incorrect flag etiquette. I suppose by rights we should all fly the red ensign as the canal boats will be registered with C&RT in the UK. There are circumstances where a blue ensign or a blue ensign defaced may be flown, I think for such people who may have been and officer in the Royal Fleet Auxilary or Royal Nay and those belonging to Royal Sailing clubs and the like.

On paddle steamer Waverley.

I have thought about raising a flag aboard 'Holderness' but really decided against it in the end. I toyed with the idea of flying the new East Riding of Yorkshire flag to go with the name and place name. I didn't know we had a separate flag from the rest of Yorkshire but apparently it is a new thing. Of course it should be raised on 1st August every year as it is Yorkshire Day.

East Riding of Yorkshire flag.

I think that if I had a boat the actually had a mast I would seriously consider flying a flag. It seems that the county flags most seen are Cornwall, Yorkshire, Lincolnshire in no particular order.


Then there are the National flags. The Welsh seem to be the most willing to advertise where they are from, and then the Scottish. Mind you I don't know why they need bother as normally you only need to hear them speak to know! The Antipodeans also seem to carry there ensigns and I have also seen Norwegian and Danish flags. There seem to be many people from America that are interested in our canals and so many must come over on holiday but I don't think I have seen a Stars and Stripes on the cut despite talking to many and I admire the way they fly the flag so much in the States. I wish the St George's flag of England was flown much more now it has been reclaimed from the BNP, EDL and other organisations that brought it into disrepute.

I remember during my apprenticeship it was our job to dip the ensigns when passing warships and other Company ships. It would mean racing down to the stern and waiting till almost passing then running the flag down, waiting until they reciprocated and then bringing it back up to the fly. I haven't seen that done in 35 years now. We also had to raise and lower the flags every day and keep them clean and tidy and many smoke-o's were spent sticking up the tattered fly of flags. Maybe that is why I don't want to fly a flag on the boat!

St George's Flag, the Flag of England.

Monday, 23 June 2014


I have received the latest Boaters Update. I think that C&RT are trying hard on the communications front and by letting everybody knowing what they are doing, why and when they are doing it must only be a good thing. The fact that they welcome comments is also good. I hope that they get some good ones as well as what I expect will be the majority of bad ones. Helen and I have offered our services as 'Boating Buddies' where people in C&RT offices join you for a day to see what life on the canal is all about. They surely will do their job with more insight if they have been on the cut and hopefully relationships between 'us' and 'them' will be made and barriers broken down. If you are interested drop an email to Damian Kemp at,                      

Picture from Canal World Forum posted by L. Hogg, of left to right Laurence Hogg (owner of 'Barnet'), Jonothan Ludford and Oddette Myall from the C&RT Office. This was a Boating Buddies trip from this time last year.

The last ask Update asked for thoughts on lock etiquette and this time they are asking for the same for moorings and asked whether you should share mooring rings? I can not for the life of me think why anybody wouldn't want to. Surely you would lose far to much space on a mooring. Once we left the Trent and have arrived at busier waterways I have been observing the speed of boats passing moorings and indeed the boats that are moored. I have come to the conclusion that boats appear to be travelling much faster if you are sitting inside your boat and only see them flash past a window. If you are outside and see the approach and passing it always seems to be slower. I therefore think that people do get a little uptight about the speed of boats, and sometimes this may be without justification. Of course some boats do speed, but again from my observations I think many do slow down but often not early enough so the bow wave is still as if on the higher revs and so still causes displacement and drag on the moored boat. Much better to slow down at least two boat lengths away. This obviously also depends on your initial speed, further away the faster you are travelling. I reckon that once you are abreast the moored boat you can increase speed again as the speed will obviously take time to pick up.

You wouldn't want to be sitting down to your dinner when this passed!

Looking at the moored boats I also see that many should take more care with mooring arrangements. For the best results I like to have a line leading a good distance ahead and astern, over two metres from the bow/stern. If I have a choice I also like to have this line leading from the off side of the boat. I see so many boats tied up with very short lines that are almost perpendicular to the boat and this will never give longitudinal stability (sounds good that doesn't it) to prevent surging as boats pass. You can use bow/stern springs instead of bow/stern lines but then can only use the towpath side leads and so not as much 'pull' into the bank. Rarely have I used bow/stern lines and a spring but this gives even better stability. Once again I think passing of moored boats is just a matter of treating others as you would want to be treated but before you start glaring pay good attention to your moorings, and keep them tight! It is no good tying up one day and expecting them to still be tight and keeping your boat still two or three days later.

Container Ship Mooring - SCPS

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Humber happenings.

As I drove with my Mum to an appointment at the hospital for her to have a bit of day  surgery we passed the Humber that was flat calm. It would be a good job too as this weekend has been the P1 Powerboat Superstock Championships. Businesses in Hull have funded their own entry called 'Hull Speed Ahead'!

NEED FOR SPEED:  The Hull Speed Ahead powerboat on the River Humber.      Picture: Jack Harland
'Hull Speed Ahead' on the Humber.
Jack Harland, Hull Daily Mail.

Yesterday Associated British Ports (ABP) were carrying out there PR duties by holding an open day of the eastern docks. It is 100 years since King George Dock was opened as mainly an export facility for coal. It seems a shadow of it's former self but it is good the veil is lifter occasionally and the people of a port city become acquainted with what actually goes on as normally docks are enclosed by high walls and the public are excluded.

Port Open Day to Mark Centenary of Hull's King George Dock
This is King Geoge Dock in the early sixties when the British Merchant Navy was at it's height. I served my apprenticeship with the company that owned the ship on the extreme left, Alfred Holt's Blue Funnel Line, and sailed on ships very similar to the one shown. I also sailed for the company that owned the tugs in the right foreground, United Towing and Salvage. Mind you tug development had moved a long way by the time I worked for them. The grain silo in the middle distance was only knocked down a few years ago.

The NHS came up trumps with a Sunday surgery and all in all we were in and out in three hours so can't complain at all. When we came by the Humber on the way home the sea breeze had picked up a little and there was a bit of a lop on the water to make things interesting for the power boats.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Travelling by train.

We  were up a bit later than normal. It was like been on holiday! I did the chores and packed. That reads throw stuff in a carrier bag and make sure I have all the charging units for the stuff I am taking home. Life's essentials seem to have changed these days. 

Shobnall Marina Burton on Trent with our boat far right of the top tier.

We took our time walking to the station and as we passed St Paul's church there was such a commotion we wondered  what was going on. It looked like a bird of prey being mobbed for it's catch. Watching for a while it seemd that a kestrel had a good catch but it was it's own young that were mopping it. It looked like they were nesting on the tower of the church and there were two possibly three chicks that had fledged. It was a  nice sight to see.

We passed the Town Hall that actually started out as the Liberal Club and St. Paul's Institute. The Old Town Hall was condemned and the council were holding meetings in the back room of the Angel pub. Lord Burton offered them the Liberal Club. It was handed over in 1892 but still offered the programme of the Liberal Club. The original building is everything to the left including the bell tower. The more decorated wing to the right was  added in 1894, paid for again by Lord Burton. Further room was again required and a more modern art deco style building was opened  further to the right in 1939. Since 1974 it has actually been East Staffordshire that have been based here. When we passed on Thursday there was still a party of disco going on in the old Liberal Club part  of the building. The statue in the square opposite is quite rightly that of Lord Burton.

The Midland Railway Grain Warehouse No.2 has been  converted to a Travelodge and is still a lovely building and it is great that a use has been found for this industrial building. It was built between 1880 ans 1890 to house the grain used by the brewers that was brought in by the railways.

The train journey went well  with a change at Sheffield with a 20 min wait and then straight through to Hull. All in all about three hours. I then got the bus home and had a nice natter with an older lady whose husband used to work at the same place as my Dad, whose birthday it would have been to day, and who was actually born in Burton on Trent! There were a few coincidence in that lot and could be thought of as quite spooky by some.

My Mum looked well and  fed me a  good  meal so all in all a good day.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Gone for a Burton (sorry!)

It was a lovely quiet night. I am so glad we moved away from the moorings as the railway line sounded very loud as did the road and the pub. Mind you there wasn't much noise from there after about 2100. I wonder why? I walked to the garbage drop just as England equalised but learned in the morning it wasn't to be.

This morning we started the day with a haircut for me. Helen wants me to look my best for my Mum. I think my looks don't grow that much to make much difference, but she enjoys it, so as  a favour to her.... And it saves me £5!

We set off at a slow pace and regularly passed boats coming the other way. This is Egginton Wharf. The A38 runs just to the right and the railway is a little way to the left. Not my idea of a good permanent mooring.

The canal crosses the River Dove on an aqueduct and this is the old road bridge with the A38 just the other side. There wasn't much water in the river today. I have spent many hours around Dove Dale and the river in the Peak District and is an area I love. Here it is just a little way from its junction with the Trent.

We only had one lock today. We have now done 203 locks since we set off this year and this was the first narrow lock. It was lovely as the beams are so much smaller, the gates are so  much lighter and the whole operation is quicker. As we penned up there was a boat waiting to come down and they told us that there were huge queues between here and Fradley Junction. We were quite glad as we were only going another half mile or so. We were going to moor in Shobnall Marina so that I could go home to see my Mum. The entrance is very narrow and we moored up first to ascertain our place etc. It was a good job we did as there was a little bridge across the covered cut through to the basin. We managed to get in through the gap and on to the mooring without hitting anything. We soon had the electric wired up and had the washing machine on and the water ready to top up. It was such a lovely day the washing was dry in two hours. I then went to see the engineers and asked if they could do a couple of little jobs for me over the week.

The marina is actually built on the line of an old canal that joined the Trent and Mersey to the River Trent. The Trent had been navigable to Burton from the early 1700's and carried a fair bit of trade, mainly carried by the Burton Boat Company. When the Trent and Mersey was built The Burton Company wanted them to build a canal to the Trent but they were turned down. The Trent and Mersey through Burton was completed in 1770 and the Burton Boat Company built a connecting canal from the river to Shobnall of about a mile and half with a lock to bring it up to the same level as the T&M.. The Trent and Mersey would not allow them to connect to their waters so cargoes had to be transferred but trade did continue. Burton Boat Company broke the barrier down at night but were taken to court and it was reinstated. It wasn't until 1790 that a connection was established. Cargoes out were cheese, ale and pottery and in was iron and timber. The canal had become disused in 1872 and a mile of it was filled in. The basin was kept but by 1973 it had almost disappeared. Jannel Cruisers rescued it and made it into the business it is today.

We then went in to town to suss out the lay of the land. The town has a lot of distinctive buildings that seem to have been built in the first part of the 1800's. It is obviously a beer town with lots of maltings and breweries around the place. there is also frequent aromas of the process to wet your appetite.

An example of the type of architecture around Burton on Trent. We managed to get a map for Helen and after a pint at Lord Burton, a Weatherspoons, it had to be Bass, we went for a curry that had no licence. It was great and just the right amount too.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

A long 'short' day.

Yesterday I thought that we would only have about three hours travel today, but that isn't how it has worked out. Last night we walked into Weston on Trent and found the Coopers Arms. To get there we walked past St. Marys Church which looked lovely in the evening light with a gorgeous view over the Trent. We also walked past the Ukrainian youth camp 'Tarasivka'. It started as a camp for the military that ran the railway here during WWII and for the bridging school that practiced over the Trent. After the war Ukrainian refugees took it over and is now still used in the summer as a youth camp.

View from St. Mary's church Weston on Trent.

The Coopers Arms is a 17th century mansion and was used as a barracks by Cromwells troops. I had a pint of Blue Monkey BG Sips and a pint of Coopers brewed especially for the pub by Leather britches Brewery. When we got back It was ominous that the there was no hot water! I left it until the morning.

I got up early and realised that there was no power to the Hurricane heater. It must be something easy but to trace it all takes time and everything has to be moved to get access. In the end it turned out to be a fuse holder that had had a wire pulled of it. It was soon fixed, thankfully. We were soon off after that and on our way to Swarkstone. Just before we saw the Swarkstone Pavilion or The Stand. It is about 200 m away from the ruins of the old hall. It is though to be a pavilion for a bowling green or even a bull/bear baiting area. It reminds me a little of the gatehouse at Tixall Wide.

Swarkstone Pavilion from the canal.

Not much further on was the lock and we shared with another boat. We were stopping for water just afterwards so we said goodbye. The wharf here is just at the other end of the Derby Canal from Sandiacre on the Erewash Canal. There is a nice toll house here with a little warehouse and a crane.

Warehouse and toll cottage at Swarkstone. I think the crane must have been moved as it doesn't even plumb the canal side or even for stop planks!

At Stenson Lock Helen met somebody she had worked with ten years ago. It really is a small world on the canals. Not long after the lock we came across a boat that had come adrift at one end so there was a delay to re-moor it. We soon arrived at Willington where we were to stop. We missed the start of the moorings and didn't fancy mooring outside a pub on football night so we found a nice spot just round the corner. Just as we were coming up to moor there was a bang and I thought something else had been broken. It turned out that one of my newly bottled raspberry and elder flower cordial had exploded. It is making bubbles. All I can think of is that I should have boiled the raspberries first as they must have yeast on them as the plain elder flower cordial is okay. It made a sticky puddle and glass shot quite a distance!

After lunch we walked the mile or two to Repton. We had to cross the Trent over the Willington Bridge that was constructed by locals in 1839 to save having to cross the Trent at Swarkstone or Burton on Trent. It was a toll bridge until 1898. 

Willington Bridge over the Trent with Repton church in the distance.

We bought a guide and wandered around the town. It is dominated by the Repton School with the different parts of the school and boarding houses scattered around. To live in the fees are £10146 per term and to be a day pupil is £7500! There are several interesting buildings other than the school but perhaps the best is St Wystan's Church. Repton was the capital of Mercia and the the oldest part of the church is the 8th century crypt. It was constructed during the reign of King Aethelbald 716 to 757. It was two thirds underground and had a spring with in it suggesting it may have been a place of worship even earlier. Aethelbald was interred her as was Kind Wiglaf and Wiglaf's grandson Wystan who had been King and had been killed by a kin in 849. He prefered religion to being a king and had his widowed mother to be regent in his place. His body was said to be found in a shaft of light and he became a bit of a cult, became a saint and Repton became a place of pilgrimage after he was interred there. So much so that they had to open up another entrance to the crypt so the pilgrims came in one door and out the other. It is about 16 ft square and 10 ft high. with nine bays.

8th Century vault of Kings in Repton, capital of Mercia.

Christianity has been celebrated her in Repton since 653 when Elfleda new bride of Paeda, son of King Penda  introduced Christianity to the kingdom. In side the church is quite plain but has some very interesting artifacts and plaques etc and is well worth a look around as well as the crypt.

There seems to be several churches around this area that have a tower and a spire and St Wystan's is one of them.

The back of the main building of Repton School.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Engineering effort.

The day started overcast but not looking like rain so we were on for a maintenance day. The first job was to assemble all the gear. This isn't quite as easy as it sounds as some is under the seat locker, some in the engine hole and some in the after lockers. To break my self in gently I cleared out the gutters around the boards covering the engine compartment. If not removed periodically they would block the drains so water would flood into the engine hole. After running the engine for a few minutes to thin up the oil I started to drain the engine oil. The sump is fitted with a pump so you can pump it out directly into a receptacle. This was nice and easy, but after getting the most out I left it to drain out some more and started to remove the oil filter to fit an new one. It is the 750 hour service. The filter came off easily enough and I managed to catch most of the oil in a plastic bag. The new one went on and seemed tight. I also checked the air filter and replaced it. By now the remaining oil had drained down into the sump and I was able to remove it to the waste oil container.

The fuel filter also needed replacing. It is in a ludicrous place with the inlet and outlet hoses running down each side and the dip stick line running right in front of it. There was no chance to get a hand round it to twist it and as it hasn't been off since buying the boat it is very tight. I had the same trouble with the oil filter but I could get my hand round that one. I tried putting on a Spanish windlass to try to start it off but no joy. I will have to get a yard to have a go with a proper tool. I did check the first filter in line and it was as clean as a whistle so not too worried about getting it done straight away. The gear box also need an oil change. This is more difficult as the drain is very close to the base plate of the boat so not easy to get anything under it to catch the oil when the sump nut is removed. You can catch it but there is no way to get it out from under without spilling it anywhere! I had bought a pump to do this task. I tried to do it directly from the gearbox but this didn't seem to be very successful so I dropped the oil into a container and pumped it out of there. It was much quicker and cleaner that way. I saw that I should drain and replace the coolant/antifreeze from the engine. That is another job I will have to put off until another day as I don't have any coolant at the moment. I boxed things off and ran the engine to see if there were any leaks but all seemed good. So that was lunch time.

I have used Baldwin filters similar to this when replacing them.

After lunch it was time to start to run cables to fit the Smartguage I have bought. It didn't take too long to pull them through from the battery compartment into the engine hole. It was a little more difficult to get them from there into the cabin and to the site of its future mounting. I had to move the steps, empty the cupboard and then remove a wooden facing. The air vent had been removed previously and whoever had replaced it had ruined the heads of the screws so I couldn't get the wooden panel off. In the end I had to move the solar panel controller and use a little brute force to get it off. I then used the saw to cut a little off so that it would fit round the vent next time.

The offending vent is bottom right/ The blue box bottom left is the inverter/charger and the blue box top right is the solar panel controller. The silver box next to it is the Hurricane heater control box and next to that is the galvanic isolator. The wooden panel hides all the cable that come into the locker. The wires I have run are the blue and brown ones that are loose.

I ran out of time so stowed everything and left it ready to continue. I need to add in a 3 amp fuse to the two positives and then run them in a neat way to the control unit that I have to cut a hole for and mount.

Our output so far. The dark red is rose water that Helen is going to use in baking. The light red is elder flower and raspberry cordial and the yellow elder flower cordial. I think I have over done the lemon as that flavour seems to drown a lot of the elder flower taste. I will know better next time. They are still nice and thirst quenching on a hot afternoon like today.

It is a lovely evening and we are going for a walk and hopefully find a pub in Weston on Trent. We had a lovely evening once in the other Weston on Trent that is near Stone, so who knows what will happen when we get there.