Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Friday 18 August 2017

Friday 18th August '17

Well we are now home so I've just got to fill in the last couple of days and hopefully get the photos uploaded.

John got hold of the camera while I was tying up for the pump out, I definitely need my hair cut!

More nice CRT workers oiling the lock mechanism. Seeing how much difference it makes I think we need to start carrying an oil can around with us, in fact I think all boats should do the same. It would make locking much easier.

We also saw a CRT chap walking along the side, noting down licence numbers and boat names. They seem to have been doing a lot of work on this because we tend to notice boat numbers, mostly to marvel at how old ours seems to be getting. We have noticed that a. most new boats are wide beam and b. LOTS of old boats have been newly licenced, This is good news because it means that if more boats are paying their dues, then the rest of us aren't subsidising them and the more money there is to improve the waterways.

A mill at Loughborough that is being used, seemingly by a health trust. More likely to be offices we suspect rather than a hospital.

Starting to turn at Loughborough. There's an arm to the left that goes down to the town and there are facilities and mooring there but we were on our way to Kegworth at the time so didn't explore.

John enjoying the sun and me with the washing out. It all dried including the family quilt that I made a year or so ago. It came up beautifully.

Plane coming into East Midlands, proof that we're nearly home. You can actually see the quilt hanging up in this one. I love it. I'd asked all the children and grandchildren to buy me fat quarters of fabric that they liked and then I put them all together into a quilt to remind me of them all.

We had a lovely evening with Sarah, who brought the mail including the revised Persi book, and there's a mistake on the second page! Argh!

Approaching the junction where the Grand Union Canal (River Soar), the River Trent (to Nottingham), the Erewash Canal and the River Trent that is about to become the Trent and Mersey Canal all join. The sky looked horrible but it didn't rain amazingly. It turned cooler though (much).

It looks as if the entrance to the Erewash canal takes regular knocks! There's quite a current around there so I'm not surprised actually.

The start of the Trent and Mersey canal, the first time we'd done it on our own boat. We used to do this most years in the time share boat until we got our own, it felt different. In a very good way.

We got up to Shardlow and moored right outside the pub and went in and had a lovely lunch then headed on up to just past Weston Lock. I'd forgotten how horrible these double locks were on this canal, far fiercer than the Grand Union. We moored up just before it rained.

This morning we got up and headed for home, only two locks and about eight miles to go. We shared locks with a Swiss family who were having their first canal holiday and they seemed to be enjoying it. We got to Stenson and the heavens opened with a vengeance.  Really hard, heavy and cold rain poured down on us. Then it dried and started again as we came into the marina entrance, what a welcome home!

I've walked Paddy around the perimeter, picked up the mail and taken him to the field, He's smelt every blade of grass on the way I think. It's good to be home.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

Wednesday 16th August '17

On Monday we did a shop at the local co-op and got the boat tidy. Then we went over to the White Horse where we were meeting Robert and family.

We'd been over the night before and it was heaving with thousands of noisy children and their families and we hadn't been impressed. We went to the Old Plough around the corner and had a lovely chat with the landlord, we tried a new malt. It's a Highland Park but called Origins I think. It costs twice as much but is really amazing. A shot was nearly £8 so we won't be doing a lot of it but you have to try these things. They didn't open on Mondays but some locals came in and assured us that Monday lunchtime would be a lot quieter.

The pub had a play area so we sat outside. Baldor loved his hoodie and wouldn't take it off even when it got warmer.

Halden looking so much like his dad at that age.

Einarr looking more grown up each time we see him. The had didn't last long by the way.

Three little monkeys!


At last, the three boys together!

And now I've lost my internet connection!

Anyway yesterday was a lovely day. The sun shone and it was really hot again. We got as far as Barrow on Soar which we hadn't been to before. I had a little look while I was walking Paddy but didn't get to the town as it was a bit further from the canal than I went but it looks a really interesting place.

We found a wharf where we were able to get fuel and a pump out so we are all set now.

Today it's been a bit more overcast but still warm. I got three loads of washing done that are all blowing away merrily on the back of the boat. That's one thing I shall really miss back in the marina, but apart from that I'm ready to get home. John is still happy to be out, I'm not exactly unhappy but just excited to be getting back. I've got so many sewing projects I want to be getting on with, and I need my machine out and electricity to run it!

We are at Kegworth, moored at the shallow lock, that is only used as a flood lock in the winter and so we're actually on the lock moorings. We can tell we're nearly home as the planes are coming in to East Midlands Airport close to us, and we normally see them from the other angle!

Sarah is coming over for tea tonight which will be lovely. There is a car park right by the lock which is why we moored here really. It'll be lovely to see her again.

Sunday 13 August 2017

Sunday 13th August '17

Wow - a long and busy day but very satisfying. We've done 13 miles and 16 locks, thanks to Richard and Karen on Dreamcatcher who we've been travelling with. The lock paddles and gates are all very heavy and doing it as a pair of boats certainly helped tremendously.

The weather was idea, quite hot but a regular breeze and intermittent cloud cover. All in all a very good day.

Richard preparing for a selfie at Gees Lock - his surname apparently so it had to be done!

We had some really shallow pounds and at times it meant that it was difficult to get in and off the moorings at locks, it got better as we went down towards Leicester and once we hit the Soar there was obviously no problem at all.

John and Karen at one of the locks, having a bit of a chat, she doesn't like steering the boat so Richard and I might have had a chat or two, when we weren't busy navigating the boats, but there's no photographic evidence!

There were quite decent gaps between the locks so John and Karen were able to come aboard for the pounds. John and I couldn't believe how rural it was, this was taken when we were quite a way into Leicester on the map, and it was like this for much of the way.

For those, like me, who wouldn't recognise this is the King Power Stadium, Leicester's football ground. There was a big cycling event on today, John thought it was promoting youngsters getting active. There was definitely drumming involved! The lock next to it was horrible, and quite difficult to pick the crew up from afterwards. Richard and I became pretty good at getting in and out of the locks together, it must have been quite beautiful to watch!!!!!


This is the secure mooring that if we come again, we shall use. You need a water ways key to get onto it from land and it's a floating pontoon, so we might well use it. I'd like to come down as there's a lot to see in the city, but we'd been really put off by peoples comments about it. Generally we felt that we'd been to lots of worse places!

This was an attractive bridge that we went under in what was presumably pretty much the centre of the city.

This was more like what I'd expected, a bit more like Stoke on Trent, showing the past industrial side to the canal.

We passed a whole series of these murals. They were of different scenes and I liked the fact that they were encouraging artists to be expressive in a more positive way than the endless graffiti that we see so much of.

This one was a bit further on.

I loved this, a mill that had been really well restored and was being used. It always makes me sad when I see lovely old buildings just falling into disrepair. I know it's not cheap doing this sort of work but it's so rewarding to see it when it's done well.

The chimney that used to be used by the Wolsey factory, one of only two buildings that appear to remain.

This was the other one, hiding behind the trees, a tower of some sort. Not sure what it might have been used for, John thought water maybe, but I'm not so sure. If you know please leave a comment!

The penultimate lock and it was full and the gates were open! almost ALL the locks had been empty up to now and this was a sight for sore eyes (and in John and Karen's cases, sore arms).

Nearly there! Hooray!

This daddy swan had been ahead of us, chasing another swan, with his mate and their goslings following sedately on. We saw him and the other one in the reeds, John thought they were mating, but I believe that swans mate for life so I think that he was seeing the other one away from his mate. Whatever there was a lot of splashing and noise going on. This was after the event.

We are now moored up at Burstill and are going to stay here tomorrow so that Robert and family can visit us again. There's a pub just around the corner so we're going to check it out before John collapses!

One funny incident, someone coming up the locks at some point said that the pound had emptied because a drunk had gone through the night before and left the paddles open. Mmmm, I wonder if it was anyone we knew?

Saturday 12 August 2017

Saturday 12th August '17

Just a short post, no pictures as I haven't had the chance.

This morning I took Paddy for his morning walk and when I got back I was sure I saw someone at the lock below us. We had breakfast and no boat came through, but when I went to get the back pram cover down, I could hear an engine puttering away, and there in the lock was a boat, diagonally across the lock, one top gate open one shut and no-one in sight. I called down to John and we assumed that it was a single handed boater having a quick cuppa or rest break.
We got the boat ready to go and there was still no sign of anyone so John went to investigate and I tied the boat up again, and followed him, fearing the worst to be honest.
John called out to me that there was a chap inside, lying down. Convinced that we had a body on our hands, I told him to go and check for signs of life. He said that the chap was breathing but seemed unconscious. I ran back and got my phone and rang 999.
John in the meantime went to the stern and worked out how to get the boat out of gear,but it was an old trad engine and he couldn't turn it off.
The ambulance lady on the phone asked me to go inside and check the man's breathing. I started to go in but noticed his had down his trousers and a strong smell of alcohol and so I told her I wasn't comfortable and she told me not to put myself in danger. I looked in again and he was stirring so I told her he seemed to be coming to. He looked at me and said. "Have you got permission to be on my boat?" I yelled at him that I thought he was dead, had rung the ambulance and was trying to help. And then I left the boat. John went in and he was quite abusive to him, again asking him what he was doing on his boat. John explained that his boat was in a lock and that he was going to pull him out, but that the engine was running. The guy asked if that was against the law, and that's when John gave up. He pulled the boat out and secured it and we left him to it.

Another couple came up as we were going in the lock so we shared four locks with them and have agreed to get through Leicester together tomorrow.

I have tried to get a Tesco home delivery but there are no slots today so that's that. Store cupboard meals for a couple of days.....except that there's a pub here so we'll probably eat there tonight.

You never know what you're going to find on the canals! Should be lots of pictures tomorrow as there's long gaps between the locks and so John will be steering.

Another pound has been emptied below us somewhere so hopefully tomorrow will see it sorted.

Friday 11 August 2017

Friday 11th August '17

We've had a very busy couple of days and have finally done some real travelling for a change.

Yesterday was lovely. We left early in the sunshine. There was a bit of a nip in the air and you certainly know that autumn is coming, but it was great to feel a bit of warmth for a change. We had a long stretch with no locks, so I took the opportunity to stay inside for a bit and do some writing. Persi number three is coming along nicely.

5We were approaching Husbands Bosworth tunnel and the trees were giving us a preview of what it would be like! Even with all of them overhanging you can still see that it's sunny above.

Before we knew where we were we arrived at the top of Foxton Locks. These were the first locks I ever went through and I can remember the lock-keeper explaining how to manage the boat in a lock and I've always tried to do it as he told me. We had to join a queue and we were number five. There were two boats coming up so we had to wait for them. For those who don't know, Foxton is a set of ten locks, set in two staircases of five locks each. There's a space for a couple of boats to cross in the centre but otherwise, once you start you just keep going from one chamber to the next.

Rather lovely statue at the top of Foxton Locks. Surprised how big the horses were, but then given the job they had to do I suppose they were pretty big.

Coming into the top lock, fantastic view! Beautiful day.

When you're in a staircase lock chamber the up gate is necessarily very tall. I was a bit worried at the leaks coming from this one. When you know that there's all that height of water behind you, you want it to stay there!

John was joined by a lovely young couple who were on honeymoon. He was a civil engineer and was fascinated by the locks and how they all worked. They ended up going down the whole flight with John, helping out with opening and shutting the other gate, and John explained exactly how it all worked to them.

We went over to the pub by the lock for a meal last night which was lovely. Not sure what's happening to me but I had fish! I'd also had fish for lunch. This is not like me at all.

We went for a walk this morning as I wanted to go to the museum to buy a plaque for the back door of the boat showing we'd done the locks. Another one for the collection.

I was able to see the locks from a slightly different angle. This was from one of the bridges by the gates, looking up to the top five locks.

Today wasn't so nice as yesterday but at least it stayed dry for us.

We came through another tunnel today, there are quite a few on this stretch, each getting slightly shorter as we go further north, for some reason.

We came around a corner to the first lock of the day and there was a hire boat waiting to go in. We shared the lock and I was chatting to the lady on the boat about them wanting to get their own boat and saying how we had been in the same position. John was chatting happily to the guy as they did the gates. We left first at their suggestion saying that we'd prepare the next lock for them.
We got there, got the lock full (we'd been following a boat going down so they were against us) and I got the boat in, no sign of them. John held the boat while I ran back until I could see the lock but no sign of the boat, so we went on, on our own. Very strange. Neither of us got the impression that they weren't happy locking with us.

We stopped for lunch and another boat went past us, but not them. When we started out again we found that boat mooring up and I called out to the woman if she'd seen the boat, Apparently they moored up just under the lock!

We got to the next set of locks to find two boats waiting. Apparently CRT were having to run some water through because some little darlings in Leicester had opened some gates so there was an empty pound further down.

Here we are moored up against the second boat that was waiting.

Here are the two boats setting off once the CRT had come up and shut the paddles again. The couple on the blue boat had only bought the boat a couple of days ago and they had a lovely little dog called Sherlock!

Look carefully and you can see a little hairy dog peering around the edge of the boat looking for me. I see this so many times each day but it still makes me smile.

As I came out of the lock I had to get into the side because two boats were coming through breasted up together. They found they couldn't quite get through the bridge together and so they had to untie. One boat had broken down, the young couple had only bought it a few days before and were having to get it to a boatyard where it could be repaired, poor things. It reminded me of us having to tow a young couple in exactly the same situation, luckily with no locks. This couple had to pull the boat into the lock and presumably tie up again when they got through. We didn't like to tell them that there are some really narrow stretches ahead of them, with deep reed beds on the tow path.

These locks fill up really quickly until the last couple of inches when the pressure is low. Here I am a couple of yards away waiting for the lock to fill. It occurred to me that this is probably an angle that not too many people would have seen before.

This is something I haven't seen before. Plants growing so far down in a lock. I wonder if it's because the locks tend to leak so much that the walls are damp but not underwater like most locks would be when the locks are left full.

We were hoping to moor between this lock and the next but there were no pilings just deep reeds. Luckily there was just a boats length at the end of the lock mooring and we managed to squeeze in there. Very luckily as it turned out because by the time we got moored and the back up, it had started to rain. We've got Leicester to get through probably on Sunday, and everyone has warned us not to moor there, so we're trying to work out how to time it right. Just hope that it isn't raining.

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Wednesday 9th August '17

A few days have passed, mostly in pouring rain and time spent watching Harry Potter, waiting for the rain to stop.

This large family of swans were hanging hopefully around the boat as we were setting off for the top two locks. I don't tend to feed swans as they are so ungrateful. They get really ratty when you stop so it's easier not to start in my opinion. There are enough people throwing bread at them!

Coming into Stoke Breuerne on a Monday morning is a lot quieter than on a weekend! The last time I did this there was a sea of faces looking over the lock at the boat and me. Paddy went ballistic. It's made worse by the fact that there is a very large weeping willow hanging over the opening of the lock so that you can't really see what's ahead of you until you are there. This was much nicer.
We stopped to get water and John popped over to the museum to buy a mug to replace the one he broke a few weeks ago. He wasn't getting away with that!

We stopped at Wheedon Bec as there was a small Tesco there and I needed a few bits and pieces and John decided it was time he went down the weed-hatch while I was gone. I got back and he was still struggling with it. Someone had kindly allowed their rotten cheap tarpaulin to get into the canal and it was wrapped around the prop. It was coming away pretty much strand by strand and John was getting hot and bothered and was aching as it's not a comfy position to have to be in, plus feeling around under cold canal water isn't something that you'd choose to do. I stayed and tried to give him some moral support, but there's only so much you can do. So I took Paddy out for a walk and got back to find him still under there, still pulling strands of blue out of the water. It took him two hours in the end and even then there were some bits that had more or less welded themselves on, which he had to abandon.

We stayed there for the night.

Yesterday morning was horrible so we curled up and watched the fourth Harry Potter DVD, had lunch and then started off. It had looked as if it was getting better but it actually started to come on heavy again once we were going but we wanted to get to the top of the Buckby Locks somehow.

As we had set off there was a boat behind us in the distance, it quickly caught us up and obviously didn't believe in slowing down for moored boats as every time we did, it caught us up again. Infuriating. John said he was a tosser but unfortunately when we got to the bottom of the locks, we had just missed a boat going up and this bloke came up and asked if he could come up with us? What was I meant to say? With hindsight I should have said that we were going to catch up the boat in front at the next lock but because I couldn't think of anything else to say I said yes. Ignore the next bit, it's just me having a rant, start again at *

What a mistake that was. John and I have got a good system for going up the double locks and it works well. By now it was pouring down. This bloke was on his own. Normally not a problem, Jason where are you now?? This chap was the slowest most pedantic person on God's earth. he did nothing to help apart from closing his gate when he came out of a lock, so John was having to empty the lock, open both the bottom gates, close both of the gates and then open the paddles, then walk up to the next lock to start again.. Occasionally this chap managed to get himself up to open his paddle but it was such a palaver. He told me he was an experienced sailor.....he might have been but not on a narrow-boat.

John and I were getting wetter and wetter, John was getting more and more tired. I eventually tried to shame this guy into getting on with things telling him that John was doing all the work, he said something about not doing things quickly and that was how he'd got to be 69. I pointed out that John was 71 and doing all the work. I then turned my back and ignored the nasty little man.

John of course continues getting on with it all, he'd rather do all the work and get the job done, but I get infuriated on his behalf. We've had so many single handed moorers double up with us, and they almost all pull their weight, not this guy. I was never so pleased to get out of a top lock and sail away as I was yesterday.

*We got ourselves onto the Leicester arm and moored up as soon as we can. We were absolutely soaked right through.

Today we did much the same, Harry Potter in the morning, lunch and then we got through the Watford Locks.


Narrow locks - oh joy! Even better because there is a staircase of four locks in the middle of the seven so there's a lock-keeper to tell you what to do!

Looking up the staircase.

Looking down the staircase towards the bottom two locks.

There was one big difference when we moored today. John had lit a fire earlier and it was HOT in the boat. So lovely to come in to. Hard to believe it's August.

We're hoping for better weather tomorrow and we have a long lock free stretch to do. (Sorry about the rant)

Sunday 6 August 2017

Sunday 6th August '17

Hopefully I can get some pictures from Friday on here now!

John, Robert and Einarr at the Three Locks.

Einarr with the Paddington postcard we sent the boys from Little Venice. He gives it cuddles! I think I know what someone will be getting for Christmas.

Halden, Baldor and Michelle after lunch in the pub.

Baldor in a pensive mood!

Trying to get all three boys looking at the camera just didn't happen, but I got their backs OK!

Everyone back on the boat! Paddy was shut in the bedroom by the way.

Yesterday we started off in bright sunshine and were making quite decent headway. We stopped for water at the one lock at Fenny Stratton which is unusual because it has a swing bridge right in the middle and is also only 1'1" deep, hardly worth worrying about! John set the lock up and moved the bridge and as I got in it another boat turned up. It was a hire boat full of lads, who were really nice. It had just started to rain at this point. I made a comment about it and was told that it was due to be thunder between 12 and 3. it was now 11.30. We left them to close up the lock and headed onwards and I told John what they'd said so we decided to moor. We had to have a few goes, as it was very shallow along lots of the bank, and the others went past us. We got set up and went in, dried and had some lunch and decided to do some more Harry Potter. So there we were all settled down and cosy and just as the Weasley twins were about to give the Marauders Map to Harry I went to make a cuppa and discovered it was lovely and sunny outside. So we got going again. All along the canal, boaters and walkers had told us that there was a car in the canal under bridge 91.

We got there and they were right. It must have taken some working out to get it there, there's no obvious way to do it. Shame they can't put that intelligence into something more useful really.

We moored at Milton Keynes by one of the parks. I've always felt a bit snotty about the place. The only time I drove there all it was seemed to be an incredible shopping centre, surrounded by dual-carriageways and roundabouts. All I knew of the place was the OU (big fan) and the concrete cows, (not so much). Well we were both very impressed with what we saw. The park was extensive and had a cricket pitch surrounded by grassy terraces, there was an open air theatre which was holding an African Music evening which was great. There were different sorts of 'art' things and amazingly none had been defaced, and there was no rubbish. People were out dog-walking, pushing pushchairs, strolling along, cycling, running, jogging and there was generally a really good feeling about the place. We are going to stay for longer next time and do more exploring as the mooring was good as well.

Today we set off in the sun and it stayed out all day. There was a distinct autumnal chill in the air at times but at least it was dry.

A lovely quiet stretch of the canal, not a boat in sight and blue sky. Bliss.

John spotted these little chaps by a bridge next to a lock. There's something really endearing about alpacas. The goats are for you Robert!

A pretty bridge we spotted, there were even little niches in the sides. No idea why it should be there, our book was silent on the subject for a change.

We had a good day today, and did nearly 6 hours, travelling 14 miles and going through 6 locks. We are now just two locks down from Stoke Bruerne. That's made up a bit for some of the quiet days but the weather is due to be horrible on Wednesday (at least that was the forecast) so we might fall behind again. It's  horrible being on a schedule, we always try not to be but somehow end up that way as we are going home. I'm now looking forward to being back in the marina, and also getting back to the gym, I can't believe I'm saying that but it's true!

I keep forgetting to mention the abundance of fruit this year. It's going to be a bumper crop for just about everything, Sloes, elderberries, damsons, apples, all the trees and bushes are heavy with fruit. The old country saying would be that it's going to be a hard winter, but I shall believe it when I see it.