Thursday, 16 July 2009

Bye bye bandits

If the entry into Leicester is worrying, the exit is plain depressing. Turn the corner from the city centre moorings and you're into huge industrial decrepitude and decay at Frog Island (right). And it gets worse. The old canalside factories of Wolsey (purveyors of underwear and fancy jumpers to royalty, Scott of the Antarctic and numerous golfers) click have been pulled down and only a few chimney stacks remain. The whole area – including the canal – reeks of industrial death. The waterway is an oily, slimy black, and littered with rubbish. From a canalside house a rottweiler watched the dirty water while across the cut a bedraggled heron who'd mistakenly chosen Leicester instead of the Thames as his home tried to eek out a living on poisoned fish.
It's a massive social and encironmental problem to bring life back to the area. For sure, British Waterways' dabble in 'canalside apartments' won't work here – who wants to look out on this sh*t! And I wonder how much real impact the nearby National Space Centre, impressive as it looks, will have.
The southern entry into Leicester certainly has been regenerated but it's still bleak and inhospitable. Blank faced apartment blocks and a busy road cut off the canal so the chance for a vibrant, waterside cafe culture has gone. (So bleak is it all, in fact, the building we thought was a prison turned out to be De Monfort University!
Anyway, Leicester's gone and after cruising through a widening River Soar as we near the Trent we're now moored at Mountsorrel. It's a large village/town with four hairdressers, a beauty salon and two garages – but no food shop!
It does have a pub, The Waterside Inn, at the lock clik. Just one piece of advice: if you fancy the eight inch Yorkshire Pudding with casserole filling and chips, well settle for the five inch or you'll have to be pushed back to your boat in a wheelbarrow. Who needs a shop?

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