Brightening Up

We eventually set off after lunch yesterday.  I was triggered in to action by a wide narrowboat going the same way as us, and I assumed in to the lock.  After we had set off I saw that they had moored between us and the lock, but we carried on anyway.  As we approached the traffic lights were showing red, but I could see the lock was set our way, and a lock-keeper leaving his lawn mower and heading for the control room.

Once the gates were open I brought us in, making a point of moving to the same side as the lock-keeper.  Once he’d ascertained that we’d not done this lock before he explained a few things to us.  The main one was that we needed to attach our ropes to the wires that ran down the inside of the lock.  He also gave me a card with the phone numbers for the lock-keepers – handy if you want to let them know you’re coming.

Control wire.  The stern deck of a narrowboat is resting close to a lock wall.  A rope tied to a dolly on deck is wrapped around a vertical cable covered in blu plastic which is recessed in to the lock wall.
Control your Boat with the Blue Wire

While we were preparing, the wide narrowboat I’d seen earlier had arrived.  The lock-keeper spent a long time explaining things to the crew.  It sounded a bit tetchy at times, but the lock-keeper’s good humour resulted in smiles on both sides.  It didn’t help that the conversation had to be shouted across the lock, the skipper was not entirely sober, and his crew were young boys.  When everything was settled the descent in to Holme Lock began.  It was a long way down, and went quite slowly.

Holme Lock.  The top gates of a lock tower above the lock chamber as viewed from a boat inside.  The rear wall below the lock gates is significantly higher than the gates themselves, and much wider than it is high.
Holme Lock from Inside

During the descent I suggested that our companions should exit first.  We were in no hurry, and it made sure I knew where they were.  Once clear of the lock, I pulled back on the throttle to enjoy solar-powered cruising.  The propellor was turning fast enough to allow me to steer, and the water was flowing fast enough that we were travelling at typical canal speeds over the river bed.

At a bend in the river I saw a kingfisher flying low along the opposite bank.  Despite me calling out, Clare missed it.

We arrived above Stoke Lock fairly soon and spied an excellent mooring on a floating pontoon.  I remembered to turn up stream for mooring and was surprised at just how quickly we turned once I had the bow in the shallows and the stern further out.  By careful positioning we managed to get the solar panels in full sun through a gap in the trees for the next few hours.

Sunny mooring.  A narrowboat is moored on to a floating pontoon at the side of a river.  The tree-lined banks of the river extend to the horizon.  There are light clouds in the sky above.
Pontoon Mooring above Stoke Lock

The sun was hot enough that we got chairs out and sat in the shade on the pontoon.  Clare pointed out a kingfisher flying low along the opposite bank heading back to where I’d seen the earlier one.

This morning I suggested we get the tandem out (first time for a while) so we could go for a short explore.  We followed a mix of quiet roads and paths and found ourselves at the next lock down the river at Gunthorpe.  After a little look around we had a drink in The Unicorn (no other establishments were available) before heading back to Bartimaeus via shops in Burton Joyce.

The afternoon was not as sunny, but still very hot.  I had been fretting about getting the diesel tank cleaned, so I forced myself to make a few phone calls during the afternoon.  I was very pleased to get a positive response from a very helpful sounding man at a boatyard.  Tomorrow we will set off back to and through Nottingham to see him.  I will be very relieved to get that dealt with.

By dinner time it was still tempting to sit outside.  For the first time I tried using our dining table in conjunction with the deckchairs.  It worked very well, I expect we might try this again, especially as the weather is set to stay even warmer in the coming days.

Outside dining.  Two large fold-up chairs are on a floating pontoon.  In front of the chairs is a a square table on a single leg with a tripod base.  The table is at about the right height for the chairs.
Off Boat Dining Space

After dinner I commented that all I needed to round off the day was a kingfisher. A few minutes later Clare pointed to one flying along the opposite bank.  Another repeated the manoeuvre a few minutes later.  And then one flew over our heads and away towards the lock.