Sunday, 6 October 2013

Party Tricks and Lots of Locks...

The little bit of painting that Deb described in her last blog 
increased. Port side gunwales sanded and re top coated, taffrail, the same (needs another sand and coat but at least its the correct colour now). And then on to the tiny dings and chips on the port cabin side - mainly along the top rail. I masked off 103 small squares of prepared paintwork keeping the patches as small as possible. Two coats of primer and two of new blue paint. The square patches are still obvious close up but after a couple of weeks I will start polishing them in. The only alternatives are to let her rust, or pay a professional painter £6k to do a proper job.
Its all in the prep (hopefully)

I had just about taken the masking tape off when Doug and James arrived with their guest, Birgit, on NB Chance. Of course we were hoping that they would find a visitor mooring space a few hundred yards away as the now majority repainted Chance would put most brand new boats to shame let alone our rapidly approaching fourteen year old LJ. We moored chipped and faded bow to 'where's my shades' shiny bow and admired all the hard work that James had put into his paint work. 

Whilst I was DIYing outside Deb was baking a massive lemon cake for afternoon Tea. The weary travelers popped over for afternoon tea and a catch up before we all met at the Navigation Pub later in the evening. We had a great afternoon and evening of good wine, great food and even better company.
How come Doug's glass is always empty

Us lot with the lovely Birgit visiting the guys for a few days from Germany

The portions in the pub were larger than expected for the price and my madras at less than £6 was a bit of a bargain and loaded with chicken. After a couple of drinks we were all too full to manage any pud so headed back to Chance for a coffee and polish off some more of Deb's cake. Deb and James then performed their narrowboat party pieces. Deb being able to stretch to her full height and just about touch the roof with her finger tips, and James the same; only kneeling down!!
Deb doesn't appreciate just how hot it gets up there!

We left Kilby Bridge at a reasonable 8ish the next morning for a long trip through Leicester. It was raining heavily but forecast to dry out towards lunch time. It was a long and difficult trip for Deb who really struggled with some of the locks but there was no way she wanted to swap roles, navigating locks are bad enough but weirs as well! The locks on this stretch are constant but about half a mile apart so she rode her bike nearly all the way to Leicester, some of the journey in full waterproofs. I switched off and let my tiller arm do the navigating, it was a bit like the old journeys to work when you arrive and think 'I don't remember that at all'. 

A bit of pampering and a lay in the next day soon had her sorted out and we were heading off to explore Birstall and the surrounding waterways. We needn't have worried about levels on our first river mooring, the previous days rain had had no effect at all and the River Soar looked particularly low in some places. Birstall is a pleasant enough very small town/very large village. Very clean and tidy with all the day to day facilities that you could ask for and only about five miles north of Leicester. Being sandwiched between Loughborough and Leicester its an area that should be a bit pricier but we notice a large, well looked after 1930's semi with big bay windows for sale at £145k and an old Victorian end terrace near the canal for similar money. Every one we met seemed really chatty and friendly especially the lad who owns the local green grocers 'the purple pair' definitely worth a visit with fresh produce, knowledgeable suggestions a prices just over what you would expect in a big market, about half the price of super markets. We took him up on his offer to spend over £8 and get 500g punnet of strawberries for free. He also delivers for nowt!
Healthy(ish) day after night out

Birstall Green Grocers

In the couple of days that we have been here we have also had a stroll around the southern end of Watermeade Country park (and managed to avoid the rain showers) and a bus trip into Leicester city centre. We've been to Leicester a few times now (xmas shopping last year) and it has quite a lot of charm and character for a city, usually you have to trek around to find the old bits behind all the glass fronts. Highlight though was a walk out of town to the golden mile. A bit like Birminghams 'Curry Triangle' but better.  A great vibrant and brightly coloured community mainly descendants from the Gujarat region of north west India. We stopped for a cheap but filling curry choosing an establishment where we were the obvious minority with the aim for authenticity and we were not disappointed. I handed over £10 for our two meals and we made our way back to LJ for a last night before going with the flow (of the Soar) towards Loughborough.

A walk in the park

Great place for a picnic

Loads of lakes

Even a special duck/goose loo

Art work opposite MGM boat yard

Can you guess what it is? Zoom in!

Deb does royalty

Leicester Cathederal

'Can't sleep? - why not go down to your local spice warehouse!'

Proper curry served the proper way (as cheap as £3 in certain places!)


  1. You had me wondering why a green grocer would be called 'the purple pair' - and then I saw the photo of the sign!

    1. Yeah the guy said he was being a bit cheeky when he named it so I thought I'd use his double entendre :-) I think it keeps him smiling

  2. Hi Deb and James,
    thank you very much for your warm wellcome and the delicious cake on board of Lois Jane. It was very nice to meet you. May be we will meet each other again in the future. Looking forward of it. Will be a pleasure to me. Have a great time and take care. Love Birgit from Germany.

    1. You'll always be welcome for coffee and cakes aboard Lois Jane Birgit. We look forward to seeing you when you next visit the UK - James & Deb