It’s quarter to ten in the morning. They did the daily checks. My engine is warmed up (not that the engine got any cold, last night). Fenders are on the roof.
Off we go. To tick off another canal: the Erewash Canal. It’s even a new canal for me!
I’m quite happy to start off with.
Then, after a couple of yards I sense trouble. Yes, there is water underneath the whole of me. But that will be the only positive thing for the rest of the cruising day.
Oh, no, there is one thing more: lot’s of blackberries…!
Other than that there is too many of all kinds of negative things.
After 15 minutes I force Lawrance (he’s on the tiller, today) to stop. My prop is covered in something. It looks like tumbleweed to me. But a water tumbleweed. It tumbles through the water, and the canal (and at the moment my prop) is full of it.
I heard a boater call it mattress weed, but I think that looks different. Unless it’s the roots of the weed. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.
Nor ALL the yellow water lilies, and ALL the green ‘hair’. I feel like I’m in an overgrown village pond.
And I thought the Leicester Branch was bad?
At the so-called S-bend, at bridge 3, all the sudden I hear someone shout: “Caution! You should not be in this area! LEAVE NOW!”
What does he think? I can step out of the water, walk on the towpath to the bus stop and take the next bus back to Trent Lock?
And again: “Caution! You should not be in this area! LEAVE NOW!”
By the time the tape starts again, I’m almost out of earshot.
At the first lock we encounter the next problem. Everything on the lock is locked. To open with the watermate key. And not, like anywhere else, by putting the key in the hole and turn it a bit. No, all the anti-vandal locks have to be unscrewed. And, of course, rescrewed after use.
Magda, the unlocky of the day, JUST manages to do the first lock, hardly manages to do the second lock, and needs lots of help to do the third lock. No, not to turn a key, to close the bloody gates!
By then, Magda and Lawrance already have made the right decision: to the first winding hole, and back to Trent Lock.
It’s nice to tick off a canal, but this is ridiculous. Too much greens and browns (the tumbleweed). Too shallow. Too tricky to moor in Ilkeston, because it’s holiday season, and the youngsters are out en mass. Locks are too heavy. And besides all this: I think it’s way too hot.
So, after Sandiacre Lock, Lawrance turns me around at the junction with the Derby Canal, and does the two locks on the way back to Trent Lock. Magda is steering me into the locks.
I struggle back to Trent Lock. What a waste of 4½ hours, diesel, and wear and tear of the crew and me.
Can we go back on the river Soar, please?