We ended up staying put in Nottingham a bit longer than we’d originally intended.  When we first arrived we found an excellent spot to allow us to get on with painting, just as the weather at last turned suitable for doing so.  I ordered the paint in November last year, at the time thinking we were a little overdue for using it.  A man walking on the towpath struck up conversation about the boat and I mentioned it needed a bit of paint.  He happened to come by a while later when I had the sander out – “I thought you were meant to be putting paint on”, he quipped.

A second reliable painting day meant there was no excuse not to get the bulk of the painting done.  In the past I have patched relatively small sections below the gunwale, not least because we only had a small tin of touch up paint.  When that ran out, I ordered a much larger tin to allow me to paint the entire length below the gunwale.

Partly done. A narrowboat is moored against a low concrete bank.  The paintwork below the gunwale is a patchwork of grey undercoat at the stern of the boat.  Around the middle of the boat the paint below the gunwale is a uniform dark blue.
Painting – Stern Before, Aft After

While I was doing the dark blue below the gunwale, Clare had the light blue paint out to touch up the places where that needed attention.  First on the list was the top hatch, recently remodelled. The total area was nowhere near as large, but the light blue is often close to another colour, so requires more care.

Painted.  A narrowboat is moored against a low concrete bank.  There are no patches of undercoat visible - the painting appears complete.
Bartimaeus Properly Painted Again

A day spent exploring Nottingham Castle was an excellent way of making sure the paint was dry before we touched it.

The following day I started the day with the light-grey paint.  There are only a few places where this has suffered any damage.  It isn’t exposed to locks and bridges, so it’s mostly from dropping something such as a windlass or chain.  Another day’s sight-seeing allowed that paint to dry thoroughly too.

This morning, we successfully picked up our postal votes.  I’ve known of Poste Restante for many years.  Before we moved on board, I was surprised to find it still exists as a service and thought it could be useful.  In the intervening years there has always been another way of getting things delivered to us, so this is the first time we’ve used it.  The staff at the Post Office seemed to take great pleasure in providing the service – I’m sure we’ll use it again.

Early in the afternoon we heard shouts of “sorry” followed by a loud thump as a large plastic boat bashed in to the side of Bartimaeus.  I was sure there was no harm done, but my first thought was “my paint work!”  It turned out that the engine was playing up, so the owner was helpless to prevent the collision having been caught by the current and the wind.  He eventually got the engine going well enough to drive past again – we wished him well.

Less than an hour later, a large fuel boat banged in to us too.  It was a traditional working boat with a bow that is as high as our cabin – alarming to see approaching the window.  Usually the drivers of these fuel boats are amazingly skilful, so this was quite a surprise.  The crew were very apologetic, and again no harm was done, so smiling and being friendly was the only sensible option.

I’d already been getting a serious case of itchy tiller, so I took these incidents as a strong hint that we should be somewhere else.  It was only half a mile to Nottingham Castle Lock.  Clare hopped off to get the lock ready.  While she was doing so, another boat appeared behind so we shared the lock with them.  It was a bit of a fiddle getting out because a log was stuck behind the gate on my side.  By the time we’d got out, the log had come out too, and the other boat was ahead of us.

Lock gates.  A large pair of lock gates at the bottom of a lock are nearly closed.  Between them a large log is escaping in to the canal below the lock.  The gates are covered in weeds.
Log Locking Down

We caught them up at Meadow Lane Lock which takes us back down on to the River Trent.  Our companions said they were mooring just below the lock, so we parted ways.  The river feels a lot bigger on the exit from Nottingham than when we left it at Beeston.

Up river.  Looking back up the River Trent.  On one bank there is a jetty for the lock.  Moored boats sit at another jetty upstream.  A three arch bridge crosses the river further up.  A narrowboat driving upstream seems very small in the wide river.
The Trent at Nottingham

I hadn’t planned to go very far, but I was happy to now do so at a gentle pace.  The river was wide, gentle and easy to navigate.  A group of small sailboats gave me minor cause for concern.  I know the “sail before steam” rule means I have to give way to them, but I can only do that if I can work out where they are going.  Tacking boats are very hard to predict.  Fortunately they were mostly going downwind, but they seemed to almost match our pace.  A judicious use of reverse allowed one of them to cut across our bow when he headed back to his base,

We soon reached Holme Lock and decided to moor up just above it.  As usual with a river lock, there is a weir to avoid.  At this lock it is also essential to avoid the artificial rapids constructed as a canoe slalom course.  Some posts blocked the entrance – I’m not sure the defences were commensurate with the problems that could be caused by getting it wrong.

Rapids.  A concrete course with water rushing down it.  There are slalom poles hung above and standing waves breaking in the water.  This is no place for a narrowboat.
Not Intended for Narrowboats

The mooring is very peaceful in contrast to the centre of Nottingham.  There are sand martins flying just downstream from us and the setting sun was visible across the river.

Dusk.  A line of trees mark the far bank of a wide river.  Behind the trees the sky is bright yellow fading through pink to blue higher up.  The ripples on the water disrupt the reflection of the sky.
View from Holme Lock Mooring after Sunset