Going Straight

As the weather gradually improved we have enjoyed the cafe again, without any players in it.  This time we chose the upstairs  terrace which has glass panels to give an uninterrupted view straight across the river and weir and we saw half a dozen cormorants and an egret while we had lunch. Some Canadian canoes launched off the beach and made very fast progress once they had left the shingle and got caught by the stream, one ended up facing backwards but managed to turn round. 

View from our terrace table across the river

Afterwards we strolled in the gardens, which were very productive. The flood wall provided them with protection from the wind too. There was an apple tree over 100 years old that must have survived floods. The wall looked like it was made to look old and in keeping with a Victorian walled garden but may have been constructed from reclaimed bricks. We can’t be sure. One of the flood defences near the canal was a similar looking wall and is 15 years old we were told by locals. A little statue looked like an attractive water feature that was switched off. On closer inspection it was a monument to a child who lived a hundred years ago and had drowned. It might not be a fountain after all, that would be a particularly poignant choice of memorial. It did have a water feature vibe all the same.

Memorial to Annie Shaw, “and all those taken by water” and a fig tree in the walled garden.

The garden was looked after by volunteers. There was an honesty box to pay for plants and I fancied a tiny tomato plant but we didn’t have change and I wasn’t sure if we were going straight back to the boat either and carrying it around for a long time was less appealing. I hadn’t had a great deal of success last year with my tomato plant but had ideas of what could be done better.

The promise of better weather brought the prospect of painting. Shane was itching to get it done but there is no point if there is rain in the forecast. We weren’t in a good spot for doing the sides. We thought it would be good to get to Nottingham with better edging and we could get to the Post Office recommended by customer services for post restante pick up. Again there was no point in going too early and towns are often more restrictive for mooring times. We stayed another night at Beeston and went for an evening stroll to catch the sand martins again. I had noticed that they fly around with wide high sweeps in the sky and occasional come low to the water and then dart into the nesting points. We couldn’t see the holes as they were below us but once they’d gone in they would either swap over their hunting time or come straight back out again a few seconds later so I waited for one to go in then filmed near where it disappeared.

Sand martin emerging from its hole in the wall

The next day we were heading off towards Nottingham. It wasn’t dusk or dawn but as we passed through the area we could see the tiny holes they may be using. How they fly in so fast is amazing. There were plenty in the air. I caught one flying past in a photo but it was just a blur. I tried videoing but messed up the on and off but thanks to Bryn for editing out my dirty washng and leaving me with a short video of the martins flying straight past.

A fly past by the brown arrows, a few sand martins,

We arrived in Nottingham and moored up in a good painting spot: a concrete edge for easy access and was right beside a marina entrance for easy turning to reach both sides. Shane had the chance to try out his new sanding tool for reaching tiny corners. He managed to sand and undercoat.The flat sander is fine for most of the surfaces but we had seen rust where the rail and roof meet, making an inside corner and a place where water runs. The new tool attachment got straight to the point.

When the boat was turned round he noticed that this side was very mucky so I washed it and it was sunny enough to dry so he could follow almost straight afterwards. We had more to do but good weather was set to continue so we could get top coats done the next day.

We went to explore Nottingham, definitely more fun than watching paint dry, but we had two tasks to achieve first. Whenever we step off the boat in a new place we go straight to tourism even if we are doing something practical too. Having achieved lunch and successfully picked up post labelled post restante (the man at the counter said he hadn’t seen anyone else use the service), we moved on to pure tourism.

Nottingham’s most famous son is of course Robin Hood, the stuff of legend, who isn’t proved to be anyone in particular since the first mention of him appears a hundred years after he is alleged to have lived. Still many historical circumstances in which the story is set are true enough. Several people are credited with being the inspiration or real Robin Hood.

The castle was not far away and a lot more adventure and real history was within. It is the same price for a single visit or annual pass so we had a brief trip in and an ice cream and promised ourselves another visit the next day, straight after finishing the painting.

We didn’t go inside on this visit but enjoyed the grounds and a staff member shared information about the building, what was on offer and volunteered extra tales. She caught us looking at a monument we had thought was a war memorial but it was not to hosts of men, though many are no doubt worthy of such, but to one particularly dashing young man who was a famous local pilot. He was a legendary super straight shooter too. He was alleged to be very successful but his luck ran out.