Chesterfield Map

This year we are planning to travel the River Trent to West Stockwith, then up the Chesterfield Canal to Norwood Tunnel and back. This will be our second attempt to reach the Chesterfield as we failed to get there in 2012.

There is a good description of the canal on the Canal Junction site. You can see a detailed route plan on the Canal Planner site. When the route comes up, click 'Calculate Route' to see the details.

We are going earlier than usual this year in order to attend the society wedding of my nephew (and godson) Jon and his beauteous betrothed, Katie Bonnell, in deepest Hampshire on May 23rd. We will leave Phoenix on May 15th and arrive in London on the 16th. Up to Derby next day to get the boat fettled up and provisioned then off to the wedding! I probably won't have time to do a journal entry until after that.

Mon 18th May
We arrived at Heathrow after a bumpy but otherwise uneventful 9 hour flight. Heathrow was unusually empty when we arrived - a posse of immigration officers were lined up with no customers except us. I left the airport without picking up my garment bag with my expensive wedding suit inside. I am getting so ditzy lately, expect more Rogerisms of this type. After an hour or so at the Premier Inn it dawned on me that we were one case short, so I trogged back to the airport by bus to collect it. The security check to get back into the baggage hall was intense - I was scanned, probed, wanded and strip searched (well, almost). I recovered the case OK.

Now we are in Derby and the weather, which has been fine up until now, has descended into gray, gloomy dampness. The boat electrics are working fine. The solar panels kept the batteries fully charged all winter, so we used no shore power. Have not had time to check out anything else yet, but the spider population seems to have dwindled.
Trent Map

Thu, May 28th
The wedding was a blast, marred only (for me) by an upset stomach which lasted the whole weekend. The location was perfect; a huge barn constructed of pinned beams in the old style but actually quite new and purpose-built for weddings. The civil ceremony took place in an adjacent chapel. Here are a few photos of the hundreds taken that day:
Best People
Jon, the Groom, with his Best People

Shinee &B
Shinee and my nephew, Josh

The youngest (and cutest)  >
of the Bridesmaids  >
Riverdale Barn, the Venue

Bride &
Katie and Jon, Newly Wed
R-L Barb, Angela, Michael (hidden),
Shinee and Josh

A Mariachi Band revved up the Reception

Me and Barb  >
R & B
Now we are back on Mercia Marina, prepping the boat for a big cruise. The usual crop of minor ailments, most of which I have fixed. Basil was filthy outside, of course, as he has been sitting here all winter. It took me three days to scrub him up. A Boat Safety Surveyor comes tomorrow to check Basil out for another five year certificate. Fingers crossed. We have settled into Mercia as if it really is our second home. The place is humming. There are new shops and a gourmet pub/restaurant on the new Boardwalk. Most of the berths are taken and there are new holiday homes on the east side of the marina.

Swan Family Negotiating the Difficult
Entrance to Mercia Marina

As usual, wildlife abounds here. The resident swans have produced five cygnets who visit us regularly. They are cute little fluffy things - much younger than we usually see them as we are here a month and a half earlier than usual. As a result, the weather is pretty cold and very changeable. Storms march across the Atlantic and deluge us often. They are interspersed with sunshine and showers, the usual mix that keeps the meteorologists up at nights. They often get it wrong and are rarely accurate for more than 48 hours ahead. Still, we have managed a few hours sun on the deck and several walks in the surrounding countryside.

We have been to our favorite restaurant, Nadee, to the Boardwalk and to the Green Man in Willington, the nearest village, a ten-minute walk away. Of the three, the Green Man was a little disappointing. The Willington Co-Op (grocery store) has relocated and doubled in size, much to our relief. We can get most of our supplies there now instead of getting a bus to Derby or Burton.

Tonight we are going to the Boardwalk with our friend Robert Neff, the Marina manager and Bali fan.

Tiny Cygnet
June 5th
Dinah SignUndoubtedly, the highlight of our few days in London was a visit to Lady Dinah's Cat Emporium. Barb has been trying to score a reservation here for two years and she finally succeeded. It was hard to tell who was enjoying themselves more, the cats or the humans. Cats may not be trainable but they sure know how to show off! They ran, jumped, played with their toys, sprinted inside a huge wheel, and climbed on to shelves high above us. They posed cutely for photos with that feline "Aint I beautiful?" look on their faces. Occasionally, they deigned to let us pet them. They had a captive and captivated audience.

Dinah's is in Shoreditch, a 20 minute walk from Liverpool Street station. It is an 'up-and-coming' area of London with dowdy streets of small shops and houses and a decidedly arty looking populace. It needs some shoring up to get out of the ditch, we decided.
Dinah's is also a respectable tea shop and people enjoyed sandwiches, bagels, scones, cakes and tea while watching the cavorting cats.
Cat 2 Tea

(except signs)
Cat 1
Cat 3
Future Back Injury in Progress

All ten cats have their own 'bio-plaques'
This one is for Wookie, who happens to
have the same name as Barb's sister
Anita's first cat
Cat 4


The first night in London we met up with Colin and Sue, old friends, in an unusual Indian restaurant, Chettinad,  on Tottenham Court Road. It specializes in Dosas, large crepes with spicy fillings. We stayed in the Hub, a new micro Premier Inn close to Leicester Square. This was a big mistake on my part - I hit the "Pay" button before I realized it was not a normal Premier Inn, a chain we usually like. In addition to the size, the room was controlled by a crazed computer which I christened Hub Hal after the recalcitrant computer in '2001'. I won't bore you with a full review but you can read it on TripAdvisor.

On the 2nd evening we went to the Harold Pinter Theatre to see "Sunny Afternoon", a musical based on the early life of Ray Davies, his brother Dave and the other two members of the Kinks. In their heyday they lived in the shadow of the other famous bands of the era like the Beatles, the Stones and the Mersey Beat bands, but they were the authentic voice of working-class London at the time. In a delicious twist of irony, the self-proclaimed 'Socialist Band' were banned by the Unions in the USA. Only now are Ray Davies' satirical lyrics on songs like Dedicated Follower of Fashion, A Well-Respected Man, etc., fully appreciated. He was also capable of writing great sentimental songs like Waterloo Sunset and Lola. While the backbeat was familiar blues-rock, The Kinks had a radically different sound from their peers, with Dave's crashing guitar riffs and Ray's tenor voice rising clearly above the mayhem with his witty lyrics. The band at the theatre did a creditable job of recreating the Kinks sound, while also acting the crazy drama of their lives on and off stage. It was fun.

With Liza in Maxwells, Covent Garden
While in London, we also met up with Liza, another old friend who traveled all the way from Bury St. Edmunds to meet us in Covent Garden. We spent a pleasant few hours hanging out with her before going to the Apollo Theatre to see "The Audience" starring Kristin Scott Thomas, the bilingual actress,  as the Queen. The role was previously played by Helen Mirren who is now reprising it on Broadway. The play, by Peter Morgan, is a wry look at what may have happened at the weekly confidential audiences enjoyed (or not) by eight of the twelve Prime Ministers who have served during the Queen's long reign. Winston Churchill was the first and David Cameron the last. Morgan wrote a new scene for this production last month after Cameron unexpectedly won re-election outright with a slim majority. The Scottish National Party cleaned up in Scotland at the expense of the Labour Party, and the Nationalist anti-Europe and anti-immigrant party UKIP won 12% of the votes but few seats in Parliament because of Britain's 'first past the post' electoral system. It's going to be an interesting time in British politics.
Typical London Pub
Quiet ReachNow we are back in rural Derbyshire, on the marina, far from the madding crowds of old London town. Summer is here, at least for a while, and we are basking in sunshine. Robert took us to The Winery in Burton-on-Trent last night, something of a radical departure from the mores of this town of famous old breweries. It's all in the water, dontcha know? We are walking the ancient footpaths and towpaths, gazing at the canal upon which we will soon depart for distant vistas. (Geez, I can wax so lyrical after two glasses of vino). Next, my old schoolfriend Peter and his wife Jane, whom we barely know, will be joining us as we depart on Tuesday, 9th for what may be a long voyage to the Chesterfield Canal. Wish us luck. More soon....

<< Quiet Reach of the Trent and Mersey Canal near the Marina
Cat Up a Tree
Kerry's cat Obi up a Tree at Mercia Marina
With Robert at the Winery in

<< Cute Poodle on the Towpath
June 14th
Tea Clipper
Floating Tea Room on the Trent and Mersey

Finally we are off up the cut (to use the vernacular) with Peter and Jane aboard on our way to the Trent and, maybe even unto the Chesterfield canal if we are lucky. Jane and Peter had a harrowing journey up the M5/M42/A38 from Devon but soon relaxed once ensconced aboard Basil boat. They brought gifts of fresh eggs from their farm and home-made quiche. We took them to Nadee the first evening for the usual sumptuous Indian feast before setting off next day down the Trent and Mersey canal towards Nottingham. Peter has extensive sailing experience so he adapted readily to steering a narrowboat, though he was spooked by the tight gaps, proximity to other boats, and how the stern swings out more than the bow when leaning on the tiller. He was very self-deprecating about his abilities but actually did very well. Barb and Jane got on like a house on fire, and Peter and I caught up with some very old times at school in the early 60's.
George, Owner of Nadee (in black, back
to camera) Entertaining his Friends.
Tight Squeeze through Shardlow
Peter Guides Basil through Derwent Mouth Lock


The first night we moored in the country above Shardlow. The village is normally packed with boats but next morning there were not many, so we could probably have fit in. In any case, the mooring was beautiful and we had an invigorating walk to the Clock Warehouse for dinner. Next day we motored on to the River Trent at Derwent Mouth and had lunch at Trent Lock, one of my favourite spots on the whole waterways system. I have covered it extensively in other journals, so I won't blather on about it here.

We went on to Beeston in perfect weather and stayed for the night. In fact, it was so nice that we stayed there all next day after saying goodbye to Peter and Jane and went for long walks in the adjacent Attenborough Nature Reserve and up the Trent Valley Way in the other direction. The Reserve was opened in 1966 by David Attenborough, presenter of BBC nature programmes for decades and brother of the late film director Richard Attenborough. The Reserve is not named for him, however, but for the adjacent village of Attenborough. On the walk up the Trent we witnessed a lady who jumped fully-clothed into the fast flowing river to grab a football for her son. The things Mums will do for their kids!
Jane and Peter at Cranfleet Lock
Working Cranfleet Lock
Teatime at Beeston
Next day it was on to Nottingham. We moored in the town center and went to French Living, an excellent French bistro near the Market Square that Robert recommended. By now the weather had deteriorated and we took a taxi back to the boat in pouring rain. Next day was even worse and we hunkered down in the boat. Barb suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and does not suffer wet, cold weather gladly so we were not in the best of tempers as we finally cast off at 2:30 and escaped Nottingham in the dreary drizzle past pubs full of drunken yobs, decaying buildings and rusting bridges and out, once again, on to the big wide Trent. I stood upon Basil's deck in the pelting rain, pointing northwards in the gloom. We were unable to find moorings at Holme lock, the first big lock on the river, but the lock keeper said there were plenty at the next lock. So here we are in a beautiful remote setting on a pontoon all by ourselves among huge trees flanking both sides of the river, and the sound of birdsong all around. In spite of her depression ("this may be the last year I will do this"), Barb produced a really excellent dinner. A cornucopia of various salads, cheeses, smoked salmon, quiche a la Jane and Rosemary bread. Food always tastes so much better out in the wilderness.
River Trent near Beeston
Ye Olde --
Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem Pub in Nottingham
-- and Ye New
Modern Streetcars in Nottingham
French Living
In the French Living Restaurant
Stoke 1

<<  Basil Moored in the Rain at Stoke Lock ^^
June 21st
After Stoke, we continued on down the River Trent to Hazleford, a beautiful lock situated on an island in the river. The closely manicured grass paths on the island are still teeming with bunnies, but the weather continues to be bad to abysmal, so we could not enjoy it in the sun as we have in the past. On downriver to Newark, one of the most picturesque towns on this, or any other, river. The castle dates from medieval times and the town prospered as a port from the 16th century onwards so it sports a collection of fine architecture from half-timbered to Victorian.

We ate a decent meal in the restaurant by the lock, and witnessed the transit of a huge piece of power station equipment, probably the largest load that has traveled the Trent in many a moon. The river was once a thriving artery of waterborne transport but that has sadly dwindled to nothing. On the pontoons at Newark we were able to hook up to electricity and we met new friends, Henke and Coby from Holland on their boat "Double Dutch". We arranged to venture out on to the tideway with them next day.
Margaret, the Lock Keeper at Hazleford
Lonely Mooring at Hazleford Lock
Henk and Coby aboard Double Dutch
Newark Church, Bridge and Castle.
One of the most photographed scenes in England.
(but that didn't deter me :-)
Big Load
Unusual Huge Load Entering Newark Lock

Navigation Note:
The Trent tideway is pretty scary to me and most
narrowboaters. Many will not venture on to it, and
those who do, like us, are very careful to be properly
equipped with life-jackets, an anchor, a marine radio,
and up-to-date charts showing the channel. Flares
and navigation lights are recommended. The river
is wide and deep and the current is fast, particularly
on the flood tide. Large cruisers and working barges
(much fewer now) kick up a big wake, and wind and
weather add drama.

Down through Newark Nether and Cromwell locks the next day for an easy passage on the ebb tide to Torksey. We were a little faster than Double Dutch but we kept them in sight and checked on Torksey Castleeach other by radio. Torksey is a remote but lovely place on the river and we both moored on pontoons below the lock to await the tide next day to take us down to West Stockwith and the entrance to the Chesterfield canal. We liked Torksey so much that we broke away from Henke and Coby and stayed an extra night, riding up and down on the tides. We walked up the arrow-straight Fossdyke a mile or so and ate an excellent meal in the Wheel House Restaurant by the lock. Torksey lock, at the entrance to the Fossdyke,  predates (1672?) almost every other lock on the system and is a classic of early engineering. The Foss Dyke was either dug by the Romans in 120AD or improved by Henry I about 1121. Historians disagree. The remains of Torksey Castle (left), built in the 16th Century are just down the Trent a little, though somewhat removed from its course, which has wandered away.
Dusk, Waiting for the Tide at Torksey
Ancient Torksey Lock. Note the Unusual
'Capstan' Gear to Open and Close the Gates
The Roman (maybe) Foss Dyke Carries
Boats to Lincoln and Beyond

The next day we swam out on to the Trent again, just before high tide. Progress was slow at first but we soon gathered speed as the tide ebbed. The gale force wind was so strong that, at times, Basil heeled over so far with the wind and tide pressure on his side that I feared he might capsize.  Meanwhile, Barb read her book in the cabin unconcerned by the drama enfolding above her. By the time we reached Gainsborough we were ripping through town at a speed unheard of in a narrow boat.  I tried several times to reach West Stockwith lock by radio. Finally, I got in touch by mobile phone and breathed a sigh of relief as the lock keeper told me he was expecting us with the lock open. As we sped past the lock I executed a U-turn and beat up against the tide, crabbing across to the lock. I was amazed how much power was needed just to make headway against the current. The Lock Keeper stood upon the bull nose and guided me in. I approached the lock slowly and then swung in on full power. There was another boat in the lock and I somehow avoided hitting it or the lock wall. "Well done!" the Keeper said. "Thank you", I said calmly, though the ancient heart was beating hard in my chest.

And so, back to the tranquility of Stockwith Basin and the Chesterfield Canal. This canal is weed infested and shallow and we are making less that 3 mph. We have gone from a water freeway to a dirt road. Basil  limps along, requiring frequent prop clearance, and much patience is required. The journey is alleviated by the moorhens and swans with their new offspring. So-oo cute, though one swan saw us off his territory by flying at the back of the boat in high dudgeon. We looked to eat in restaurants or pubs, in vain, so Barb is conjuring up spaghetti with our few remaining ingredients. She is totally off this boating life so some miracle, in the shape of sunny weather and narrow locks, must come along to save me!
Perfect Mooring - Outside a Friendly Pub
in Stockwith Basin
The Safety of Stockworth Lock
Swan Family and Visiting Goose
Boat Inn
Outside the Gate Inn, Clarborough.
Tonight's Mooring but NO FOOD Grrr!
June 26th
This canal would be a pig, except that's a slur on pigs which are nice friendly animals. The Chesterfield is mile upon mile of shallow water and choking weed, fringed by farmland, windswept and rainy. One day I stood on deck encased in three layers of clothes and a rain jacket and I was still cold. The temperature never rose above 13C (56F) all day. This is more like February than June. One day we worked locks in a hailstorm. The countryside creeps past at 2 mph and Basil labors along with his prop permanently tangled in weed. There are a few cute villages but the main towns of Retford and Worksop are blighted post-industrial relics with boarded-up buildings and poverty-stricken populations. I wouldn't like to moor in the center of either of them. The natives, however, are generally friendly now that we are 'oop North' and are always ready for a chat, sometimes for hours. The youths are unemployed, boisterous and look dangerous with their shaved heads, tattoos and piercings but they are probably not as scary as they look.
Entering Worksop
Working Locks in a Rainstorm...
Rain Closeup
...or Why Barb is Sick of Boating
The general conditions have humbled me and I join Barb in insidious boating gloom. It will be some time before I want to start another odyssey like this one, if ever. The weather is the main depressing factor. After 30 miles and three days we had yet to arrive at the scenic part of the Chesterfield that we saw by train in 2009.

Above WorksopFinally, after Worksop, conditions began to improve. The weather was better, if not great, and the locks became prettier and more frequent. We found a good mooring below Deep Lock (left) which had a pub with a nice restaurant right next to it and a Sainsbury's supermarket not far away. Now we are moored up at Shireoaks on a pleasantly quiet mooring. There's a set of three little locks in the middle distance and a marina adjacent with toilet, shower and rubbish facilities. Shireoaks is named after an old oak that stood at the intersection of three counties: Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Yorkshire. The canal winds through all three.
Norwood Tunnel
The Closed Portal, Norwood Tunnel East End

Last Reach
Last Reach of the Restored Section

Crispy Duck
Crispy Duck
We decided to abandon boating for awhile and we took a train to the end of the canal at Kiveton Park. Here the tunnel collapsed and caused the closure of the canal in 1907. The Chesterfield Canal Trust has done sterling work to restore the canal to navigation up to the tunnel including rebuilding over twenty locks in the massive flight leading to the tunnel. Beyond the tunnel, several sections have also been restored, including the final section to Chesterfield basin but these are not yet accessible from the rest of the system until the tunnel is opened out and navigation restored. They are well used by trip boats, trail boats and canoes, though.

At Kiveton Park yesterday we walked up to the closed tunnel portal and back three miles to the boat down the impressive 22 locks set in beautiful country. We saw only one boat moored at Kiveton and one on the move up the locks. For once, the sun shone intermittently upon us.

Reflective Heron
Chief Lock Shifter Takes a Break
Pastoral Scene
Thorpe Treble Locks

This morning the engine electrics suddenly failed while I was running the engine to charge batteries. The engine would not stop. I stopped it manually but then it would not start and all the instruments were dead. I was unable to trouble-shoot the cause so I called River and Canal Rescue and an engineer came to our aid within two hours. He quickly found a blown fuse and an intermittent connection in the wiring loom behind the engine. A multi-way plug had parted. A common occurrence on Beta 43 engines, apparently. The rain descended as we were working on the engine so we are holed up for the day watching TV, reading and writing this Journal. The forecast for tomorrow is better so we may get a train to Sheffield to sample life in a big city.

July 5th
We DID go to Sheffield for the day on June 27th and the city (England's fourth largest) was a pleasant surprise. Instead of the gritty, grotty post-industrial Northern town we were expecting it was a vibrant modern metropolis full of young people enjoying an outdoor life. The terrain was surprisingly hilly - serrated rows of buildings marching over hill and dale. There is an impressive array of art museums, theatres and other cultural venues. We visited the Winter Garden, Millenium Museum and the Graves Gallery. We never strayed far from the city centre, so I am sure grittier areas still exist elsewhere. We walked down to the canal basin where an attempt has been made to restore the old warehouses but the basin was full of boats in bad shape and there were no other people to enliven the scene.
The Approach to Sheffield from the Station
Artwork Outside the Winter Garden
The Famous Crucible Theatre
Victoria Quays, the Canal Basin
SteamBack on the boat, we turned around and began the slow descent of the weedy ditch back to the River Trent. We took our time and the weather continued to be spectacular. What a difference from the outward journey! The canal shimmers in the sun, surrounded by bucolic vistas of farmland stretching to the horizon on the Lincolnshire side and rolling hills on the Nottinghamshire side. The water is clear, undisturbed by boats, and it teems with fish. I saw some quite large chub and aggressive looking pike in addition to swarms of roach and tench. Huge tentacles of weed erupted from the bottom threatening to ensnare Basil's propeller. I had to clear the prop of the foul stuff each day, but we never actually got stopped by the weed or the dreadful collection of rubbish through Worksop. Progress was slow, however, about 2 mph most of the way. We saw only about one boat a day on the move, what a difference from the relatively crowded Midlands canals!

We found nice country moorings and decent pubs and restaurants to eat in, notably the Gate at Clarborough with moorings outside, and the Blacksmiths Arms in Clayworth, where we rented a mooring with electricity from the local boat club. The Blacksmiths is a stylish gourmet restaurant with good, but not stellar, food at a high price. My hake on black pudding mash was marred because it was lukewarm on arrival. The canal is a bit of a food desert so endeavours like the Blacksmiths should be applauded even if the execution is not perfect.

Now we are moored in the deep basin at West Stockwith once again, outside the Waterfront Inn, awaiting the arrival of my brother Michael and his wife Angela who will accompany us back up the Trent Tideway to Newark. Barring accidents or breakdowns, the trip up the tideway should be much less dramatic than the trip down. We will run with the flood tide up to Torksey on Monday and again with another tide the next day to Cromwell Lock. The weather is predicted to be mainly fair with occasional showers or thunderstorms.

The news on TV and in the papers is full of the ISIS attack on holidaymakers in Tunisia, the depression in Greece and Wimbledon tennis (to which we are glued most afternoons). We were heartened by the gay marriage and Obamacare wins in the US Supreme Court which were well covered here.
Blue Sky
Blue Sky at LAST!
The area used to be a mecca for brickworks,
this is probably one of the old brick factories.
Alone on a Quiet Country Mooring
Ranby - not much here, the Chequers pub
is now closed and up for sale.
The Life Aquatic
The Gate, Clarborough
Sharing the Last of the Chesterfield Wide Locks
Flood Gate
Automatic Flood Gate at the Mouth of the River Idle
WS Basin
West Stockwith Basin

  July 11th
We made our way up the tideway with Mick and Ange aboard. As we exited West Stockwith lock Basil rolled so far when we hit the tide roaring up the river that I feared we were going to capsize. The galley drawers flew open and Barb was clinging to my video camera tripod lest it slide off the hatch. Should make for some good footage. It would not be very dramatic for a sailor, but unnerving in a narrowboat. The tide was carrying tons of dead trees and other junk but we managed to avoid all of it. Things calmed down after Gainsborough and Mick steered most of the way to Torksey. We had a good meal in the White Hart pub nearby. We hovered on the pontoon that night and waited for the noon tide next day to take us up to Cromwell lock and the relative safety of the non-tidal Trent.
Gorgeous Piper Dutch Barge in Torksey Lock
Ange, Mick & Barb Walking the Fossdyke
On the Tidal Trent

Next day found us in Newark again, carting huge bags of washing to the cleaners and sampling the local restaurants. We could not get TV on the boat so we watched the Wimbledon semifinals in a pub. On Thursday 9th, Mick and Ange left us by train and we stayed in Newark for a second night. We ate in the Danube - a cafe where all the food and wine comes from countries on the Danube. It was excellent - best meal so far on this trip.

Now we are plodding slowly up the river. Fiskerton last night, a posh village protected by a huge flood wall. Very popular mooring, we were breasted up with another Piper boat on the outside of us. Their boat is 23 years old and still in great shape.
Moored Beneath the Flood Wall at Fiskerton
Several Grand Houses Flank the River
Friendly Horses and Riders at Fiskerton
Now we are moored on the low wall at Hazleford lock. The beautiful setting is marred somewhat by a bunch of loud, hard-drinking, smoking, music-playing rowdy rednecks in front of us. Went for a walk around the lock island and watched Serena win Wimbledon for the nth time.  Entertained Jack, the cuddly Yorkie with the nice, quiet well-behaved people behind us who are really glad to have us as a buffer!
The Impressive Weir at Cromwell

Walking Hazelford Island
Visitor Aboard - Jack the Yorkie
July 23rd
The rednecks left next morning, so we had Hazelford to ourselves for the next day. A routine daily engine check showed coolant overflowing from the engine header tank, cause unknown. Another sleepless night going over and over the possible problems in my head! Might be a ruptured calorifier coil, etc., etc.

Next day (July 13th) we motored up the Trent in truly horrible weather. I got soaked in spite of all my rain gear, so we gave up at Gunthorpe and stopped there for the night. There was an emergency in the lock as we entered. A woman got her finger caught in the loop of a snagged rope while her husband drove on unwittingly. Her finger was severed before she could free herself. We moored on the pontoon at Gunthorpe just as she was being escorted to hospital by paramedics. Her husband told me they were on the scene two minutes after the lock keeper dialed 999. We saw him several times over the next few days and he reported she was doing fine and back aboard. I asked him if it had put her off boating forever and he said "Not so far, but we still have to go back via that lock".

Next day was much nicer and we went up to Barb's favourite Trent mooring at Holme Lock. Here is the National Watersports Centre with its white water course, race 'track', slalom course and water-skiing lake. The skiers are pulled round the course by overhead cables running through pulleys. There are miles of walking trails and we set of for the nearby village of Holme Pierpoint with its old church and hall. We moored at Holme for two nights.
Toad Hall
Toad Hall, Holme Pierpoint
Toad of Toad Hall
Barb Steers up
                    th Trent
Barb Steers us Up the Trent
Finally, we dragged ourselves off the gorgeous Trent and into the grotty end of Nottingham and what a contrast! I was sad but Barb was glad as she has been bored on the river. No locks to operate, as they are all operated for us, and little opportunity for walking or other exercise. We pumped out our toilet tank at the very friendly Castle Marina and did a mammoth restocking in Sainsburys, the first supermarket since Newark. Had a good meal in the Cumin Indian Restaurant on Maid Marion Way near the Castle.

On July 17th we went on to Beeston, just outside Nottingham. We had stopped here at the beginning of the trip on June 10th with Peter and Jane. We stayed 2 nights this time.There is not much in town; a couple of pubs and a small shop but it is nicely situated on the Trent and next to the huge expanse of the Attenborough Nature Reserve, a series of old gravel pits that is now home to thousands of migratory birds and other animals. The pub on the Marina by the river is very cozy and serves good food at a reasonable price. The lock landing on the river side was completely full of boats mooring for the night - in contravention of a notice which clearly states "Mooring for Lock Landing Only". This is very dangerous as it forces boats to unload their crew on the difficult offside of the lock near the weir. We noticed a lot of this antisocial and ignorant behaviour this year.
Deepest Nottingham
Crowded Lock
Boats Illegally Crowding the Lock Approach
at Beeston
Cricket Match in Progress at Attenborough

Back on the Trent again for the final river sections before entering the Trent and Mersey canal at Derwent Mouth lock and staying there the night. From here it is a bit of a slog through four really brutal locks - Aston, Weston, Swarkestone and Stenson. I had a bad day and made rookie errors at Shardlow, where I opened the gate paddles before the ground paddles, and at Weston, where Basil got soaked and banged up a bit as I opened a ground paddle much too fast. No damage done, though, except to my ego. We stopped for a last night at Weston and trudged up the hill to the Coopers Arms in the village where I dined on fish & chips (3 stars on the Raven scale). Barb had something much healthier.
The Sign Says "PRIVATE - Members ONLY"
Members of the Swamp Society, presumably
Zero edge
Nouveau-Riche Ducks enjoying their
Infinity-Edge Pool
Basil's Bank
Basil Safely Back on Basil's Bank
Now we are back on our berth in Mercia Marina and beginning the process of winterizing the boat and getting ready for our departure on August 6th. I found a lot of air trapped in the cooling Ducksystem, so hopefully that is the cause of the earlier overflowing problem. The weather continues to be really unsettled, we have had very little summer this year. The rainfall has been less than usual but there have been too many gray, cold days and too few sunny ones. I am more sanguine about the weather than Barb, who is royally fed up with it and with boating in general. This will probably be my last journal entry unless something interesting happens.

Many thanks to everyone in Phoenix who makes these trips possible - particularly Lois, who has done a superb job of looking after our cat Marni and reporting every detail of her behaviour to us, and Judy, who looks after our house and visits Marni, and last but not least to past cat-carers Mary & Moe.

Postscript, August 2nd
Four days now until we return to Phoenix. Basil is part winterized and groaning with half-packed luggage. We did take time out to visit some of our favorite local restaurants and also for a day trip to Birmingham which we thoroughly enjoyed. The train ride there and back was nightmarish, however. The outward journey was packed and marred by a boisterous child and her trailer-trash mother with a voice like a foghorn who, at one point, publicly sprayed her own armpits with deodorant. On the way back, Birmingham New Street Station was packed with rowdy cricket fans celebrating a Test Match win over Australia at Edgbaston. The phrase "rowdy cricket fans" would have been an oxymoron in my youth but times have changed. We were packed into one train like sardines but it went nowhere due to a crew shortage. The next train was so late that we missed our connection to Willington from Derby and so had to get a taxi. I am now enmeshed with CrossCountry trains trying to get compensation from their truly abysmal 'customer service' department.

Enough of the whining and snivelling. Birmingham was bathed in sunshine and looked splendid. The City Centre is undergoing a multi-year redevelopment project so there is construction going on and new buildings everywhere. New Street will rival Grand Central or St. Pancras stations when it is finished, but right now it is a mess. We went to the Art Museum to see an odd juxtaposition of Andy Warhol and William Morris, the Victorian designer, in exhibition. The rationale is that they are both pop artists of their time, both had art 'factories' and produced art and design with mass appeal. Some of Warhol's most famous works including 'Marilyn', 'Blue Jackie', 'Gun' and the Campbell's Soup can were there, alongside Morris' wallpapers and some large, impressive tapestries depicting the search for the Holy Grail.

We sat and listened to a free jazz concert in the Symphony Hall foyer and then had an excellent meal in La Galleria, an Italian restaurant we found near the station. The staff were all Italian and very demonstrative and amusing.
The Swanky New Library of Birmingham
Jacob Epstein's Statue of Lucifer in the Art
Museum. (Click Here for a close-up)
5 p.m. Free Jazz Concert in Symphony Hall


Talked to Rick, Barb's nephew in Vienna, via Skype just now and reflected how the world has been shrunk by modern communications. Who would have thought, just a few years ago, that it would be possible to summon up a clear teleconference with someone in another country at the click of a mouse from a boat. We are planning a trip to the Galapagos with Rick so that may be in my blog future.

In British politics, Jeremy Corbin is the surprise leftie front-runner for the Labour leadership contest despite a barrage of attacks from the Blairite wing claiming he will make the party unelectable. How Blair and his cronies have any influence after the Iraq debacle is beyond me. At least Corbin is a real alternative to the Cameron blitz on the poor and refugees from Africa. He is a welcome change from the eager, freshly-scrubbed elite schoolboys that make up the current crop of British pols.

Xenophobia rules here; the UK has taken in fewer asylum seekers than France, Germany and most other European countries. Refugees are branded as criminals and welfare freeloaders. Meanwhile, the media here is having a ball with the US Republican candidates, with Donald Trump attracting the most mirth. The Observer today had a two-page spread showing all the candidates and listing their (non) qualifications to be President of the Most Powerful Nation on Earth.

August 16th

Mercia in Sun
We had a smooth ride home and saw spectacular views of Greenland, Baffin Island (right) and Hudson's Bay from 35,000 feet. The little white dots at the bottom of the photo are icebergs.

Now we are back in the oven that is Phoenix in August - 115F (46C) yesterday and a record 117F (47C) the day before. Mercia was basking in the sun when we left (see left), of course. On the whole, I'd rather be there, or even in Baffin Island!

<< Mercia basks in sunshine (August 2nd).
Baffin Island from 35,000 feet. >>
Finally, here's a photo of the strike point (hit it with a big hammer) for fixing a loose rudder on a Piper boat.