Sunday, 24 May 2009

Sawley to Ragley

An early start after a long traipse with the cassette. Reminds me of that Top Gear episode with the caravans where Jeremy Clarkson empties a cassette and asks why anyone would want to go on holiday and empty turds out.

Thw wind always seems to whip under the M1 bridge and the gravel pits beyond. As always I am happy to get into the Trent & Mersey entrance where everyone can relax.

Always somany nice boats at the marina at Shardlow. We tie up to have a walk through the village but then start up for Burton. I have no idea where we are heading, but we need to get a mooring somewhere on the T&M or Coventry for a few weeks until we can get further south.

Aston lock is easier than it was a few weeks back, but we warn an approaching boat that it may be difficult. We get into fresh territory beyond Bridge 11 and enjoy the middle Trent Valley. There aren't as many pubs as we would like.

Swarkestone approaches. As a few weeks ago, I'd really liked to have explored the old arm leading down to the Trent and the old locks on the Trent itslef at King's Mill, but we needed to keep moving. Walking the old Derby Canal would also be an idea. Oh well. Another time.

We are being watched by a fair Bank Holiday weekend crowd at the lockside, which we all hate. not only do we get asked stupid questions constantly, but idiots swarm over the gates and paddle gear and then get ratty when politely asked to move. The situation isn't helped by my stupidity in not lifting the fenders and we jam between the gate and our lock companion. Much throttle frees us and we slide in smoothly. Tom's windlass slips and the paddle drops with a huge clatter of spinning gears; at least the crowd scatters. It used to be so time-consuming getting the kids through the locks, but now Tom is an old hand and can manage all problems with ease and that scowling teenage nonchalance that keeps idiots at bay. Who wants to engage a sulky 16 year old with pleasantries about whether you can "cross the Channel in your barge?"

We also come across Mark, a mysterious man who has just bought a small boat with a wonderful old Lister engine.  He steers and acts with great exaggerated flourishes. 

A need to allow GCSE revision requires an early finish and we moor up at the Ragley Boat Stop at 4pm, as does our new-found friend Mark. Everyone takes to him, including a lot of the families in the pub garden. He is constantly showing people over his new pride and joy. While he is proud as punch over his engine, I am increasingly concerned about our BMC 1.5. It's clearly not firing properly and even though it's been serviced, the load over the last few days shows that all is not well. I have already spoken to a man from Calcutt Boats, BMC specialists, about a proper assessment in a few weeks. Hope it lasts that long, to be honest. 

Helen and I enjoy a few beers - although the Pedigree isn't great - while the children do their own thing onboard; revision presumably. We eat at the Boat Stop that night, a prerequisite for a free overnight mooring. The food is OK but not great.


9.3 miles, 5 locks

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