The Last Day

It has been great having Heather and Benny aboard. They both are so used to the canal boat routine that either of them will drive, cook, work locks or shop. There’s no anxiety about whether they will like the trip, or what food they will eat or whether they might misunderstand an instruction and hurt themselves. (Not that I am a worrier!) Heather even blogs! But all good things must come to an end (and bad things I hope) and their plan was to leave us in Leicester on Friday.

The approach to Leicester is very rural but with spaced out locks, so usually we boarded again between them. We passed an Ortomarine boat, Count for Nothing, moored up, then when we were in a lock, their crew, Mike and Yvonne walked passed and recognised Bartimaeus and stopped to introduce themselves and have a quick chat.

Count For Nothing, another Ortomarine boat

We saw several buzzards and reflected that this trip had been high on raptors, with the peregrine falcon in Market Harborough and we had seen kites, buzzards and a kestrel on the other days. I had been looking at Heather’s photos of birds (from other holidays) and she had a great one of a barn owl. Both love nature so that has been a common interest throughout the week.

Heather decided to helm today and doesn’t need any guidance and can drink and drive.

Heather drinking her coffee in the lock and Shane on the phone, happy to leave her in charge of Bartimaeus.

As she drove another boat caught my eye. It had a very pretty array of plants on the roof. We have acquired mine and parsley pots this week with keen cooks and Pimm’s drinkers aboard.

Heather and lots of other flowers on a boat

Heather had hoped to see a water vole or otter which was an ambitious desire, but she had enjoyed what she did see. She felt there had been fewer herons than usual but on this last day we saw a few cormorants. We were now driving on a river so cormorants were more likely. This trip has had lots of fluffy cygnets if no water mammals, and on this day we saw a large brood of goslings on the bank.

Shane and Benny and I took turns at locking. Benny was getting some photos of himself on holiday so I took one of him riding along and one of him enjoying locking.

Benny and Shane, the red team on locking duty

Mostly we worked the locks ourselves but at one, there were volunteers, and some in training, and having seen no other boats that day they were keen to get the practice in. They advised us on where secure moorings were in Leicester. We reached Leicester in time for lunch. We moored briefly for me to buy bread. Someone had left a lot of bread and seeds on the path, probably to feed pigeons and I saw a young rat run away as I headed to the road. We thought it unlikely we would got on the secure moorings and would normally be quite happy to stop at this spot, but the rat and lunch notions were not thoughts that went happily together for me so we moved on and found we could just squeeze on the end of the so-called secure moorings. They are not accessible from the street and this jetty was next to the canal gardens and boaters could pass through them using a key.

Benny and Heather had time to explore a bit before catching the train so we set off through the gardens. We have been before and covered some of the same ground but it was a very pleasant start to our walk into Leicester centre.

Heather was interested in finding the Richard the Third resting place, recently found. The carpark where he was discovered now has a museum in top of it dedicated to him. Many historical placards had a picture of a statue of him so we were on the lookout for that too. Shane and I hadn’t seen it last time. We found him, just outside the visitor attraction about Richard the Third. Heather was able to admire it and Benny assumed the position, with his cap for a crown.

She decided not to bother with the visitor centre and was happy to have found a reference to him. The place is famous for things other than him but despite it being one of the early events, it is one of the newer attractions. A much more modern style of artistic depiction was not far away, while the statue made reference to his last day, this was a more obvious depiction ofhis death in battle. I’m not sure why the battle is still raging around a skeleton though.

We had time to go back through the historically protected inaptly named New Walk, back through the gardens to get their luggage before heading to the station. I hadn’t been to the station before but it had a grand facade with arrivals and departures and an entrance and exit gate for each.

Exterior of the station

Our visitors are having their last day here, but a less violent and less final one than the famous Richard. So it is goodbye to them, but we are heading north so hoping it won’t be too long before we see them again. They are welcome to revisit but perhaps we will visit them. The canals do go to Sheffield.