One hazard of the canals is, as any boater will tell you, variable internet supply. Not a problem that would have troubled the IWA in the postwar years, let alone the working boats of the 19th Century. But in today’s world it’s pretty important, especially if one has a blog to write!
All of which is a roundabout way of explaining why these last blog posts from our journey are being written post-facto, in the comfort of the marina. We have experienced a mixture of poor signal (Foxton/Harborough area seems particularly bad) and ever diminishing data allowance. We get 64GB a month from EE, which you would think would be plenty, but it is amazing how quickly it goes, especially when uploading photos and movies.
So, Days 16 and 17 took us all the way to Foxton Locks, with an overnight stop at Kilby Bridge, where we used the facilities (good, clean). We have done 101 locks on this round trip, with always the same formula: Louise operating the lock gear and Andy steering the boat. However, some of the locks in this stretch really required a two-person effort on the gear, because they are extremely big, with gates that will not stay shut. Consequently, Andrew did a lot of climbing out via the ladders in the side of the locks, operating gates/paddles, then rushing back to the boat:
The wind and the rain do not help in these situations! But we are an efficient team, and we got through all the locks pretty quickly. We have been this way before, of course, and were pleased to see that the Canal and River Trust had repaired a lot of the gear, including one lock which we had reported to them last October.
Not all the journey was rural. We passed through several Leicester suburbs after Aylestone, including Glen Parva and South Wigston. Our favourite pastime in these sections is looking at the gardens. The houses are mostly small council houses, but many people who are lucky enough to have canal frontage do make a big effort. Here is Louise’s favourite:
And here is a montage of various others:
One thing that never changes is that there are always birds outside demanding food. This family of swans pecked the side of the boat to get their reward!
Locks are beautiful places, whether encountered in the late summer sunshine…
…or in the early Autumn mizzle.
The boating life is active but also serene, and occasionally one comes across a little mystery. This pair of boots, found early in the morning by a lock, was completely abandoned:
We assume it was some kind of artwork in homage to Samuel Beckett.