Friday, 9 August 2019

A Home Visit for M.

Wednesday 7th to Friday 9th August 2019 in Lincoln.
A very quiet three days. M had to go home for two nights and left R in Lincoln with MM. M found a very easy way back by taking the train to Peterborough from where the Thameslink trains originate. They go straight through London to Redhill so it was a one change journey - couldn't have been easier or quicker.
R was left with the problem of a dwindling diesel tank and a rather full poo tank. The marina in Brayford Pool is full of expensive cruisers but it is a bit lacking in facilities. No diesel, no pumpout and, as we already found out, no visitors' moorings in the Pool.
We had noticed a C&RT sanitary station on the way into the city, so R took MM back there, only to find that the pumpout facility was not working! The only option was to take MM two miles further back up the Fossdyke to Burton Waters Marina, which has full facilities.
The marina is more like a town on the water with lodges and houses, most of whom have their own mooring outside. While there were many "town houses", there were also many larger properties - and lots of large cruisers. The marina is huge!
They were very helpful and soon MM was full of diesel and water and empty of poo. Hooray!


After our weedy trials on the Erewash(out), R was amused to see that the marina had its own solution to the weed problem in the form of a purpose built weed cutter and picker-upper. The skipper was a pleasant chap - he could make a fortune on the WeedyWash!
Back at Brayford Pool in the centre of Lincoln, R moored up MM in the marina. We decided that, because we both have to go home on 14th, we might as well put MM into the marina throughout, as there are such limited longer-term visitors' moorings here. MM is a bit dwarfed by the wide beam behind her but you can see the towers of the cathedral on the hill behind.
As R was walking back to MM, he saw our friends Dave and Lynn's narrowboat, "Lynn G", coming across the Pool towards the River Witham exit. They hope to moor on the river and R said that we would try to come down to find them later.
R walked down beside the River Witham to check out the lock on the east side of the city with its rather intimidating guillotine top gate. On the way down, he saw this very striking sculpture suspended over the river.
M returned on Friday evening and we went to Wagamama for dinner, which is built out over the water of the Pool.
It gave us a very pleasant view of the sunset as we enjoyed our dinner.
Three days: 5 miles, 0 locks and 3.1 hours. MM is now plugged into shore power.
Trip: 267 miles, 132 locks and 150.2 hours.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Lincoln Castle and Choral Evensong.

Tuesday 6th August 2019 in Lincoln.
A clear blue sky promised a good day to follow - and it was, we had a splendid day.
Our path into the City centre along the south side of Brayford Pool, took us past the campus of Lincoln University. How fortunate are the youngsters who come to study here!
Everything is new, bright and clean - a far cry from most of the student accomodation of our youth. MM is moored up alongside a long row of new purpose built student accomodation blocks. M had a peek in and declared them to be positively palatial.
We set off up the hill towards the cathedral. The road that leads up to the cathedral from the city centre is called, very appropriately, "Steep Hill". We were told that it is the sixth steepest residential street in the country; it also goes a long way up. You round a corner, thinking you have arrived, to find yet another steep cobbled street continuing upwards. But it's a lovely walk.
Finally, we arrived at the top in the cobbled square between the castle (to the west) and the cathedral (to the east); except for the cars, it cannot have changed a lot over the centuries.
We decided to visit the castle first, thinking that it probably wouldn't take that long as most castles like this consist of a few piles of stone and little else. How wrong we were! We ended up spending most of the day in the castle.
We joined a tour, which was due to start at 11:00am. Paul, our guide, duly waited for the last of the eleven chimes from "Great Tom", the five ton bell in the main tower of the cathedral before he started.
The tour was excellent, lasting about 90 minutes and taking us all around the castle grounds. It is always astonishing how knowledgeable the volunteer guides are.
The castle was originally a "Motte and Bailey" Norman stronghold started only two years after the Battle of Hastings on a commanding site previously used as a fort by the Romans. The "Lucy" tower, that dominates the south wall, is the location of the original Motte.
The Bailey is thought to have been much larger originally and to have included the land upon which the cathedral was built. The current walls were probably created at the end of the 11th century as an "Inner Bailey" and, at the same time, the wooden Motte was replaced by the stone tower.
After the tour, we had a refreshing cuppa in the café - slightly interrupted by the fire alarm, which meant that we all had to evacuate for a quarter of an hour!
Since a recent renovation, you can now "walk the walls" all the way around, a distance of over one third of a mile. A "must do" that provided wonderful views, not least of the cathedral.
On the south east corner is a second mound and a second tower. The main part of this tower dates from around the 13th century but the rather quirky turret on the top is much more recent. It was built in the early 19th century by John Merryweather, the governor of the prison that stands in the castle grounds.
He was a keen astronomer and it is believed that he housed his telescope in the tower. The tower windows also looked out over the women prisoners' exercise yard and it seems that he made full use of the view as he is reputed to have fathered at least two children with female inmates under his care!
If you look very carefully at the photograph above, you will see R waving from the top of the tower.
In the middle of the castle grounds is this very large bust of King George III. It was originally a full length statue 15ft tall, commissioned by the 4th Earl of Buckingham to celebrate George III's golden jubilee in 1809 and placed on "Dunston Pillar", which is itself 92 ft tall. The statue was removed by the RAF during World War II as a hazard to navigation. The bottom part is in storage.
In the castle is a "vault" that contains one of only four original copies of the Magna Carta. The Bishop of Lincoln attended Runnymede in 1215 and received a copy of the original charter so that it could be read out in the cathedral to the people. They know that it is Lincoln's copy because it has "Lincoln" written twice on the back. It has been here ever since.

We left the castle and walked across to the cathedral, which is in the middle of an extensive renovation programme. The west face is still magnificent even with its covering; close up, the detail is staggering.
We decide to devote a whole day to the cathedral another time but we stayed to hear the choral evensong. The cathedral choristers are on holiday but the choral evensongs are being sung by a series of visiting choirs. We were told that there is a two year waiting list for choirs wanting to sing in the cathedral - hardly surprising! The choir this evening was from the USA and they were extremely good and very disciplined.
Today: MM had the day off.

Monday, 5 August 2019

Arriving in Lincoln.

Monday 5th August 2019 in Lincoln.
As we left Saxilby, it began to rain but luckily it was only a few showers. We passed a C&RT working party clearing vegetation from steps leading up to the road. They are in there somwhere! "Where's Wally"?
Hooray! The sun came out soon after. The long straight canal is representative of the Fossdyke down to Lincoln. The Romans, who built the navigation, tended to keep to straight lines.

There are many non-navigable "feeder" drains that flow into the navigation. None of them seemed to be flowing significantly.
The approach to the centre of Lincoln and the Brayford Pool is not the city's best face. There is a mile of (full) permanent moorings followed by about ten 48 hour visitors' moorings (again full). We went into the large basin but found that there are no visitors' mooring there at all, so turned round and went back out the way we came in.
We were able to squeeze in to an empty mooring space right next to the noisy road bridge, so we moored up and went in search of the Brayford Harbour Master's office to confirm our mooring in the marina for next week. As all the visitors' moorings are 48 hours, we decided to book MM in for two weeks paid mooring from Wednesday as there is no hope of staying on the free visitors' moorings for that length of time.

We set off on foot to explore the lower level of the city, having decided to save the Cathedral hill for tomorrow. However, the Cathedral, high on the hill, majestically dominates the skyline and can be seen for miles around. One can understand its spiritual significance to pilgrims, past and present.
The railway line runs right through the middle of the lower city with crossing gates for pedestrians and vehicles. A new bridge over the railway gave us a good view of the line. We heard a train approaching and were surprised to see this little train come round the corner. M thought that it looked from above like R's model railway!
Where the River Witham leaves Brayford Pool, it passes under an unusual bridge, known locally as the "Glory Hole". That is the way that we will go when we leave Lincoln for Boston.
We walked up the narrow steps next to the bridge and found ourselves in the middle of a very crowded pedestrian street that winds its way all the way up the hill to the Cathedral.
The Brayford waterfront was equally busy on this lovely sunny afternoon and full of restaurants, bars and shops - including a Wagamama (for M) and a Costa (for R).
However, M saw a sign saying "Monday fish and chip special", so we stopped there - at the Royal William IV pub on the waterfront. And jolly nice, it was too.
This "fountain" puzzled us as it seemed overly complex just to spray the locals with its wind-blown water in the saucers. It looked as if it ought to do something clever. It turned out that it does! It is actually a clock that turns full circle once an hour like a minute hand and then, on the hour, it chimes. Tomorrow, we will come back to see if it really does.
The marina is chock full of cabin cruisers as you can see. There are two pontoons for narrowboats at the far end, which we will pay to use. One cannot help thinking that the very scarce visitors' moorings probably significantly benefit the marina's turnover.
On returning to MM, we found that one visitor's space had opened up a bit further from the road bridge so we moved her a little further from the traffic noise.

Today: 5 miles, 0 locks and 1.8 hours.
Trip: 262 miles, 132 locks and 147.1 hours.

Sunday, 4 August 2019

The Very Large Tidal Trent.

Sunday 4th August 2019 in Saxilby.
A beautiful sunrise, reflected in the river, greeted M when she got up to make her morning tea.
Last evening's lock keeper was very relaxed and said that, as the river is eight feet above normal, the tides between here and Torksey Lock (the entrance to the Fossdyke) make very little difference. There was so much water, you could almost ignore the map of the channels.
This morning's younger lock keeper was much more cautious and would have preferred for us to wait until high tide after lunch. Another boater, who knew the water well, pursuaded him to let us go just after 11:00.
Because the river level had dropped about a foot overnight and the tide was still rising, the river flow was not as fast as it was yesterday, so our progress was swift but not quite as spectacular.
This whole area sits on huge gravel beds and, in the past, 300 ton gravel barges regularly worked up and down the river. All that is now left is the loading conveyor belts and chutes sticking out into the river. Nowadays, it all goes by road. Pity.
The gravel industry has largely been replaced by power generation with huge power stations dotted along the river. Apparently, this area can supply up to a quarter of the nation's power needs.
The river's course northwards is quite tortuous as illustrated by our guide books. Nicholson's on the left is the standard canal guide book but the chart on the right is the up to date river chart that shows the correct (red) line to take to avoid the shallows, of which there are many. Normally, running aground is a real risk if you do not follow the chart, but today with so much "fresh" (extra water) in the river, water depth is not so much of a problem.
The fact that it is important to have the latest chart is illustrated by the fact that Nicholson (this version is 2012) says go to the west of "Butler's Island", while the current river chart says go to the east as the west is too shallow!
Where there are significant problems, such as sunken islands, large warning signs give you good notice.
In just under three hours, we completed the 15 miles to Torksey Lock and the lock keeper opened the gates for us. It turned out that there was just three inches difference in levels between the Trent and the Fossdyke, so the lock didn't take long to fill!
Behind us were the huge floodlock gates, which have been closed on and off this past week. We were amused to see a collection of teapots on the lock gates!
Leaving the lock, there were no apparent moorings that would fit a 60ft narrowboat. Too many cabin cruisers! We decided to go on to Saxilby, about five miles further on, where the lock-keeper said there are good moorings.
Even at Saxilby, most of the moorings were taken up with cruisers but we managed to slip in with a few feet to spare.
Our reward was a pair of gin and tonics, Guy is concentrating very hard trying to work out how to make them (after all these years, he still can't get it right). "You just can't get the gorillas", said M.
We were very amused to see how marginal was the clearance between some of the cruisers and the low bridges. Only just!! The skipper's relief was clearly audible!
Today: 21 miles, 2 locks and 4.7 hours.
Trip: 257 miles, 132 locks and 145.3 hours.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

More of the Non-Tidal Trent.

Saturday 3rd August 2019 at Cromwell Lock.
After topping up with a "few bits" in the neighbouring Waitrose, we set off mid morning. We were rather reluctant to say cheerio to lovely Newark but heartened by the knowledge that we'll be coming back this way in a few weeks.
It was necessary to go up river for a short distance to turn round, as we had turned and moored up with our bow facing the fast river flow. We turned just below Newark Town lock where we had an excellent view of the old lock beside the new(er) one.
R had warned the lock keeper that we were only turning and not to open the lock for us. He thinks that the lock keeper was a bit disappointed as very few people have used his lock in the last couple of days!
On our way back, we passed Lynn G and saw namesake Lynn waving to us through the window. We hope we shall see them again in Lincoln in a few days' time.
What a surprise at Nether Lock! The volunteer lock-keepers, Jane and Nick, moor their narrowboat "Long in the Tooth" at Aston Marina only elevn bays from our own mooring. They both know Nick, in our opinion, the Best Marina Manager in the Entire Universe!
We sent the above picture to Nick at Aston and he sent us back this photograph.
Only one part of the Trent goes through the middle of Newark, the rest goes round the outside and this is the confluence where the two bits join up again. It underlines just how big this river is and how fast both bits are running.
Cromwell Lock was our destination today. Above Cromwell, the Trent in non-tidal, below it is subject to the coming and goings of the tide in the sea over 53 miles downstream.
Another boater, already moored up at Cromwell, very kindly helped us moor up facing into the powerful stream.
The speed of the river can be judged from the fact that we covered the five miles from Nether Lock to Cromwell in less than 45 minutes!
Today: 5 miles, 1 lock and 3.5 hours (including power over two days).
Trip: 236 miles, 130 locks and 140.6 hours.


Friday, 2 August 2019

Lovely Newark, a Temperance Ghost and "Bad" King John.

Friday 2nd August 2019 in Newark-on-Trent
As neither of us has ever been to Newark, we decided to spend the day exploring the town so we set off on foot.
Dave and family on "Lynn G" were moored up in front of us and we realised that, in introducing the family yesterday, we had omitted to include ten year old George. Still, he seemed quite relaxed about being missed out.
Just over the bridge is a beautiful building, which looked like it ought to be historic - but was actually only built in 1882 by Viscountess Ossington in the Tudor style as a temperance coffee house to lure people away from pubs and alcohol. In 1978, it was sold and completely renovated with apartments upstairs and a (licensed) restaurant downstairs. Workmen complained of ghostly happenings, which they put down to the Viscountess' displeasure at there being alcohol on the premises. So much so, that the workmen refused to work on the house after dark! A good wheeze to get home early?

The castle and its gardens are open to the public and both are free. A rare find these days! We paused to admire this model of the town with all the names repeated in Braille.

The castle looks very imposing from the riverside, but only the curtain wall and gate house remain. The royalist castle was captured by Cromwell's troops and he ordered it destroyed - but for reasons unknown, it was left intact - until the locals used it as a quarry and removed most of it stone by stone to build their houses.
The castle and gardens were opened to the public in 1887 as part of Queen Victoria's Jubilee celebrations and the gardens were refurbished in 2000 including the installation of an elegant bandstand.
Two splendid trees in the garden stand out. The first is a magnificent Linden tree whose broad limbs afford welcome and shady seating.
The second is a beautiful Tulip tree planted to celebrate the coronation of HM Queen Elizabeth II.
Within the gardens is Newark's Registrar's office and today there was a wedding - of a couple that had been together for 27 years before deciding to tie the knot. Clearly not a couple to rush into things!
The gatehouse and tower contained an excellent exhibition on the history of the castle, including the fact that "Bad" King John died in the gatehouse tower at midnight on 18th/19th October 1216. He is buried in Worcester Cathedral and we visited his grave last year, so we have come full circle.
We could look down on MM and Lynn G from the empty windows of the castle.
The town centre proved to be a delight. The canal guide books describe it as the loveliest town on the Trent - and rightly so. Most of the centre is pedestrianised and full of little winding lanes, stylish arcades and small shops, with very few "chain stores" in evidence.
In the centre is a large market square, with a market of some kind held six days a week. The square is overlooked by the church spire of St. Mary Magdalene - a very large and imposing building.
However, one sight that you don't often see is a School of Violin Making and Repair!

Cream Tea in the Old Bakery was a must. A teacake and capuccino for R and a warm scone (with home-made lemon curd!) and a pot of Darjeeling tea for M.
The perfect way to round off a lovely day.
Today: MM took a rest!