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The Odyssey 2019: Day 3

Posted by alexgreyauthor on 10 July, 2019

Smeeton Road Bridge (Br. 72) to Castle Gardens, Leicester

Sunday, 26th May

Setting off from Saddington – I really liked this mooring.

The moorings at Bridge 72 were wonderfully quiet and we had a good night’s sleep. There is always something special about waking up on board and hearing no external noise apart from birdsong and the wind in the trees. Ah yes, the wind, it proved to be a pain in the proverbial all day and on Monday too!

I don’t recall what time we set out, but it was quite early by our standards – we had managed to find an engineer who could replace the fanbelt and do a few other bits of engine maintenance after the Bank Holiday, but we needed to get to Loughborough, which was easy for him to access.

It’s quite a few lock miles, so we needed to shift, our target for the day being Leicester.

Most of the journey from Saddington passed through beautiful and tranquil contryside, but we were soon in the suburbs. Actually, as suburbs go, they’re quite pleasant, right up until you get to St Mary’s Mill lock, which is particularly dingy.

Saffy had a splendid day – she has done less boating than Alex so she still gets very excited by everything. The canal is very rural, but every passing dog, canalside garden and settlement now knows Saffy’s name as she let them all know, loudly, that she was in the neighbourhood! By the end of the day she was exhausted – more experienced boating hounds know to pace themselves, but newbies wear themselves out by overdoing it in the first 2 days πŸ™‚

The wind was a B*&&%^ nuisance all day, making some lock landings a bit tricky, especially above the last lock by Leicester City Football Ground, where the wind and weir combined to give the boat quite a shove in the wrong direction. Luckily we were ready for it, with Richard helping to secure the front rope so that I could bring the boat in and secure the after rope as well.

It really is a lovely waterway…

As it happens, we arrived in Leicester in good time and took the last mooring on the Castle Gardens pontoon. We haven’t moored there before, but it has the reputation of being the most secure mooring in Leicester – we were quite surprised to get a space. It was lovely to have the park right there for the greyhounds. We’d just moored up and were planning our next move when a very friendly boater moored on the steps of the Straight Mile opposite came across to warn us that we would be able to get out of the gardens between 8pm and 8am – he’d moved his boat across because he needed to get to the station early the following morning.

We were a bit perturbed by this news, but then we spotted a CRT notice that boaters could come and go via one of the park’s pedestrian gate which is locked with a CRT padlock (operated by a BW key). I was about to go off and do the car shuffle, which meant that I’d be back after lockdown when we just thought to check whether the padlock worked – it did not – eeek! If I’d gone, I would have been locked out, though in that scenario at least Richard would have been on the boat with the hounds. If we’d both gone out for dinner, the hounds would have been locked inside with us outside and I would have been frantic! We did report it to CRT only to get the reply, some days later, that the padlock regularly breaks, but no-one seems particularly interested in keeping it fixed – meh!

Though Pochin’s Bridge has seen better days…

We ate on board rather than risking being locked out of the gardens. It was very tranquil having the park to ourselves once it was locked, though I didn’t dare let the greyhounds off lead – although the gate and fences are secure from humans, a greyhound might have been able to squeeze through the gap between the main gates and the posts, and Saffy is something of an explorer (Alex runs back to the boat, which is his mobile “safe place”).

Being locked into the park was not a big deal as we had plenty of food and drink on board, but it did make me feel a bit discontented as it cut down our options for car shuffles and exploring the city. I did not sleep well – there was a lot of noise from passing revelers in the wee small hours of the morning and I worried about the boat moored opposite on the Mile Straight. I lost count of how many times their shouts woke me up – each time I looked out of the side-hatch to check whether the boat was unmolested. Of course it was absolutely fine, the Mile Straight is acknowledged as a safe mooring, though I was happy to be on the secure moorings.

Secure mooring pontoon at Castle Gardens – handy refuse and recycling bins too.

Photoblog:

We have some friends and family who like nothing better than the sight of a vintage tractor – if they’d been on board they’d have moored up opposite and stared at this all day long!

Bit of overflow, though the river sections were well in the green when we passed through…

Reflections…

Big skies – a harbinger of things to come on the flatlands of Lincolnshire.

I think this is a nesting box for owls.

Saffy crossing a lock gate – not something we encourage, because greyhounds are so clumsy when they’re not sprinting!

There is something special about the light coming into late afternoon.

Alex wondering what this bit of art outside Leicester might be πŸ™‚

Bit grim here…

Iconic view on the way in to Leicester.

There are some interesting bridges in Leicester.

Alex, just because!

 

 

 

 

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