Monday, 30 July 2012




2012 marks 40 years of ‘solid oak’ friendship so it’s our Ruby Jubilee year – ‘Ruby-Juby’!

We were so young!  So innocent!  So un-pudgy!

John and Mick met at Teacher Training College in Chelsea and Lynn ( the baby of the foursome at just 17!) and I were the ‘Groupies’!  At college John was nick-named ‘Woody’ on account of his specialism being in woodwork and Mick was nick-named ‘Divi’ – I’ll leave you to work that one out for yourself!5615_142883581211_3797493_n[1]


Every year, when we are cruising around they come to find us and we spend time together.

This year – tomorrow in fact – they are coming to Newark and we plan to cel-e-brate! 

Newark is a really nice town with lots of bars, restaurants, shops and interesting historical ‘stuff’ so we are all looking forward to the next few days.

To make things easier we have organised to go into a marina.  We also need to find a vet for the dogs to have their annual boosters and ……John has already been on his ‘Magical Mystery’ bus tour from Newark to Retford and has collected his new specs.  According to him he was still the youngest passenger!

Friday, 27 July 2012

How the Years Fly By …….


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To be precise:-

Established on 27th July 1974.  That means that today we’ve been married +++++++++  OMG!  38 years!

That might explain where the podgy cheeked, wrinkled old lady who seems to have taken up residence in the bathroom mirror has come from!  I keep ignoring her hoping that she will go away but she’s very stubborn!!

So, Happy Anniversary (and well done!) to us from us!

Monday, 23 July 2012

Fairs Fair …….. isn’t it?

Naive of me I know but I would like to think that the provision of facilities across the system would be the same – you know, fair.  This, fellow boaters, does not, however, appear to be the case!

Over on The Nene and Great Ouse are, so far, the only places we have come across where boaters can do a FREE self-pump out.  Or at least you could two years ago!  And, it’s only over here in this neck-of-the-woods that we have come across the opportunity to get an electric hook-up (with the use of a pre-paid card) outside of a marina.  Then, of course, there’s those marvellous floating visitor pontoons on the Witham and, in places, on the Trent.

The shape of things to come? …………..

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What is it?  What is it?  This, dear friends, is a new Smart Meter.  Gone, apparently, are the days of needing a pre-paid card in order to plug into the National Grid.  I read somewhere that the C&RT are installing 400 of these across the system but I suspect that most of them will be where there are permanent moorings – for instance they have already been installed at both Torksey and West Stockwith Basins.

This one could be very unusual because it has replaced an old conventional meter at an ordinary 24 hour visitor mooring spot at a place called Drakeholes on the Chesterfield.  Quite how you get to use it I haven’t managed to find out yet!  Obviously you key in a special number but we could see nowhere to put in a card so it can’t be anything to do with debit cards.  I’m guessing that you have to register to use them and then you will be allotted a user number?  Card reader maybe?  I must resist getting too excited as I’m not anticipating seeing too many around!


Wish List ……..

  • These meters…   To be able to utilise a provision like this every so often when cruising around?  Civilized Boating!  Boating in the C21st!  Intelligent Boating!  Why can’t they be available in prominent places across the system – Braunston?  Fradley?  Banbury?  Bancroft Basin?  Yes, I can see that vandalism and abusive use by the ‘Linger-Longers’ could be a problem but if they were placed where there was at least some level of supervision?  Wouldn’t it be good though?
  • C&RT pump-out facilities placed at regular intervals on all canals and rivers.  I don’t expect pump-outs to be free – that really is naive – but I do expect to be able to pump out when we need to rather than having to rely on marinas and, in some cases, be totally ‘ripped off’ by them.  Wouldn’t it be good though?
  • Plenty of safe, pontoon visitor moorings on all rivers.  In terms of good old Health & Safety I would have thought this essential?    Our colleagues over on the Nene and Great Ouse these last few months should not have had to put up with wading and paddling ashore!  Wouldn’t it be good though?

All this of course means ££££££££££££!  So, UP would go the Licence Fees yet again!  And, of course, some boaters don’t want to go on rivers so why should they pay towards the installation of floating pontoons?  And some boaters don’t want to use hook-up points – they’re happy running their engines or using generators to charge their batteries.  And, not all boaters need pump-outs as they use cassettes so why should they worry about insufficient facilities?

We live in a society where fairness is of extreme importance and rightly so.  How about having a Grade 2 type of licence then?  You could opt to pay more in order to utilise certain facilities?  Mind you, if everyone paid their licence in the 1st place perhaps there would be enough money in the kitty to provide these things anyway! 

Oh gosh!  Digging big holes comes to mind!  I think I had just better STOP there and ………………….. carry on dreaming!!

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We are in the basin at West Stockwith ready to leave tomorrow.

The bank is perfect, the weather is perfect, the mood is perfect.

The captain has been carrying around all the ‘stuff’ necessary to re-paint the back section of the roof so …… let’s J.D. I.    (Just Do It!)

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By the way:–  on our way here we saw the ‘lost’ cygnet – still swimming in the wrong direction but alive and looking well.  I had visions of nets, pillow cases, large shopping bags, bicycle baskets and things but …………. decided, in the end, to leave well alone.

Still no new specs.       

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


We have sought a bit of respite and taken sanctuary for a few days with The Retford & Worksop Boating Club whose moorings are arguably the best on the canal.  For a small fee we have a good bank, electric hook up and all other facilities close to hand.  We thought we would take the opportunity of doing some chores – me, domestic and John, painting.  No luck with the painting as it just keeps on raining!  Yesterday, with the exception of about an hour in the afternoon, it rained from the moment we got up to the moment we went to bed.  Poor old England is certainly taking a soaking this year but there are always those worse off than us.  Japan and Russia have had serious flooding too and what about the USA?  I didn’t realise until yesterday what dreadful drought conditions they have been suffering.

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The Retford & Worksop Boat Club was formed back in 1962 and have been instrumental in campaigning for the preservation and restoration of this canal.  They are based in what was once The White Hart pub next to Clayworth Bridge and welcomes visitors.

Clayworth is a lovely little village – two pubs and a C12th church (that’s a guess!) but, sadly, no shop.  Well, that’s what the lady in the church said but our Nicholson Guide says differently.  John has gone off to explore!  Last time I sent him off on an errand he came back injured!  (He’s been gone a long time!!)

From the outside the church in Clayworth is similar to other old village churches but inside there’s quite a surprise.  The walls surrounding the area of the altar are painted with scenes from the Bible.  The artist was Scottish and apparently this is the only church in England in which she did paintings like these.  It was good to see old box pews still in situ too – so many have been taken out and replaced by ghastly plastic stacking chairs!Ch3 017 (600x800)

Above the door of the church is a very grand sundial displaying a sobering message for us all:-

“Our days on the Earth are as a shadow.”

……. a reminder of just how transient our lives here on Earth are!

  Is this another furtive message encouraging us to make the most of our time then or is it advising us to behave ourselves as we never know when we might meet our maker??!!

My lovely family of swans are now one less!  One of the cygnets has got itself separated from the others.  I saw it happen yesterday.  It obviously panicked and went charging off looking for the rest of the family but ….. in the wrong direction.  They all swam up that way later on in the day and I hoped that when I saw them again they would  be re-united.  Sadly, no.  There are still only seven cygnets.  Crying face

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Loitering with Intent

The ‘intent’ in question is the organization and receipt of new specs for ‘himself’.  Everything seems to take so long!  A few days ago, when the rain was still falling in torrents and the Trent was back on ’Flood Alert’, we decided that the little town of Retford with its choice of opticians seemed too good an opportunity to miss.  Since then we have had some sunshine and the river has calmed down again!  Never mind – if one needs to loiter, this lovely canal is a good place on which to do it.

We’ve certainly been supporting the local businesses!  Our bar bill last Friday was nothing less than shameful!!  And the general market in Retford (Wednesdays and Saturdays) ……..well!  My mum would have loved it!  Gill – you can get them here too – not just in Newark!  Tomorrow’s market is ‘Antiques and Collectibles’.  Now, I know I have nowhere to put anything but there’s no harm in looking is there?!!

Nothing else to report – as I say, we are just loitering. 

In July’s issue of ‘Towpath Talk’ there is yet another bit of boating terminology to add to my collection – ‘The Linger-Longers’.  The author of the article attaches this term to those boaters who overstay on moorings – in particular on the Regent’s Canal.   We’re not doing that but we are lingering in an area for longer than we normally would …………. with good reason.  The optician who did John’s eye test said that he used to work in Norfolk and that there are copious numbers of glasses submerged in the silt of the Broads!!
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A walk on the wild side.
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The prop didn't much like the old bike tyre!
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A lovely family.

Friday, 6 July 2012

The Final 5 (ish) miles

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As planned we got out the bikes on Wednesday and cycled to the bricked up eastern end of the Norwood Tunnel, which, as can only be expected, is all very overgrown.

From Stret lock (where we got stuck) to Shireoaks Marina there are another seven locks.  The canal along this stretch is all very ordinary – the best bit is the excellent cycle path alongside the canal.  Shireoaks Marina looked very nice – small but nice.

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Onwards and upwards after the marina are another eight locks.  The first lock is Boundary Lock and shortly after going through this you go over the Ryton Aqueduct and then ………….. pay attention, Ken, ……you are in Yorkshire!  Seven locks in the Turnerwood Flight follow.  It’s a very nice flight of locks but all a bit enclosed by trees until you get to the top where there are some lovely, lovely little cottages over-looking a small basin.  Ch2 006 (800x600)

Fifteen locks of the Thorpe Flight lie ahead and there is a mixture of single, double staircase and treble staircase.  They are really pretty and didn’t feel as enclosed as the Turnerwood Flight.

The last two miles up on the summit I found to be very disappointing.  It’s all very overgrown and very enclosed – no views from up here!  And, no where ‘nice’ to moor either.  I can understand why Richard and Linda on n/b “Mary H” didn’t stay but turned around and headed back to the marina.  You can read what they thought of taking their boat to the top on their blogsite:-

We headed off to the village of Thorpe Salvin where we met up with our friend, Ron and his colleague in the village pub called “The Parish Oven”.  The pub is built on the site of the old village farmhouse where villagers used to take their bread to be baked in the farmhouse bread oven.  Apparently no other pub in G.B. shares this name.  A lovely dog-friendly pub.

For those who like to do long-distance walks:-  The Cuckoo Way follows the tow path for 46 miles from West Stockwith to Chesterfield and must rate as one of the prettiest canal walks there are.

The weather today is utterly miserable – it seems that the whole of middle England is swathed in relentless rain.  There are so many flood warnings!  We are moored next to a little orchard owned by a pub called “The Chequers" awaiting the arrival of Mark, a very old friend and Kim, a very new one!  As a result of being moored amongst trees we have no TV or radio reception but, at least I am able to listen to the tennis on the internet.   Grateful for small mercies and all that ………………

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Plan B

We’ve always been a No 1 but not today!  Today we became No 56!  ?????  The 56th boat to get stuck in Stret Lock!  Now, whether this is:-

*since the opening of the canal on June 4th 1777, or *the re-opening for navigation whenever that was or *since the Millennium or *so far this year – who knows.

What I do know is that we watched another boat go happily on it’s way up and another boat come happily on it’s way down …….. but this was not to be the case for us.  Why?  Why?  Why?  Neither of them looked any narrower than us!

We did see the sign:-

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“That’s OK,” we thought.  “6 foot 10 inches it says, 6 foot 10 inches we are!”Plan B 018 (800x600)

In we went – or rather, half way in!  There we ground to a halt and could get neither in nor out!

In the end we had to seek the assistance of ‘Canal & River Trust’ workers – these trusty employees had been made redundant by BW one day and re-employed by the C&RT the next and, to prove it, they were wearing their nice new T-shirts displaying embossed logos!

Having done this many times before, they flushed us out easily but we could go no further.  We have been forced to turn around – it’s the end of the Chesterfield for us and we are both very disappointed.  An article by WW ( 2009) stated that all locks are now 7 foot wide – obviously, not so!  One of the chaps informed me that this particular lock is going to be ‘sorted out’ in January 2013 so, he said, “Come back next year.”  At that point I could cheerfully have hit him!!  Just for a split second I regretted giving him a cup of coffee and a choccy biscuit!  It could, however, have been worse!  Apparently, some boats have needed to be winched out and others have even needed the services of a crane!

SO …… Plan B.  No good sulking is it?  In situations like this – when things don’t work out how you want them to – a salvage operation needs to be implemented.

SO …………….. we have moored up this side of the lock (amazingly we have got into the side), put on the washing machine (which was going to be doing over-time on hook up in Shireoaks Marina two miles further on) and, tomorrow we intend to cycle to the end of the navigation at Norwood Tunnel just to see what we have missed out on!

Are not Plan B’s all about making the best of a bad situation?