Friday, 17 July 2009

A quiet day at the office!

We're moored up outside The Malt Shovel at Shardlow on the Trent & Mersey with an empty bottle of wine on the table. If you'd asked me at 8 o'clock this morning this is the last place I'd expected to be tonight.
It had rained most of the night at Mountsorrel but the morning was one of those dry-but-it-could-rain-any-minute moments so we set off, swearing to stop at a hint of rain. We reached Loughborough still dry and moored in the basin surrounded by buildings clearly designed by a colour blind architect as you can see. They're student apartments at £87 a week including Sky, wi-fi and leather furniture. Time for me to go back to college!
An hour was enough for the shopping sights of Loughborough and we headed on amid darkening skies. Somehow the thunderstorm we could hear and see was always a mile or more away – until we passed Zouch and Ouch! it hit us. The full works - lightning all around, thunder, a deluge of rain and even hail. Thomas Cook must be rubbing their hands - all those 2010 Mediterranean holidays being booked!
Just how does a narrowboat – or more particularly its steerer – fare in lightning? I don't know but I know I lowered the tall engine chimney to make it less of a target. Finally we got to Redhill and moored, for the night we thought, in the scenic shadow of Ratcliffe on Soar power station. Nice.
But the rain had stopped and I was worried (I always worry) about the Soar or the Trent rising and trapping us so I persuaded Vicky we should press on. The big Trent crossroads, described in terrifying terms by Nicholsons Guide, was no problem but poor little Star was beating hard up to Sawley against the flowing stream.
I thought Sawley would be far enough but a boater we met in the lock there insisted we should press on to the security of the Trent & Mersey just a couple of miles on. But what a couple of miles; the rain was beating down and the Trent was in full flow. Poor little Star scarcely seemed to make forward progress as we crawled up the river.
At Derwent Mouth the Trent and Derwent meet in a violent whirlpool of competing currents. We pushed through them to the peace of the T&M ahead. One more lock and we were there. The engine relaxed and so did we.

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