Yes, welcome my friends, to life pottering around the pontoon. The brakes have been applied (if you can do that on a narrowboat) and we lie serenely on Jay 22 here at the very picturesque Mercia Marina. They advertise the Marina as being in the Peak District, which is a bit short of the mark if you look at a map of the area, but it is very pleasant and pastoral round here, with Burton-On-Trent a few miles to the south west and Derby lying to the north.
|Jay Pontoon. We are about half way up, on the right|
|Firework Night at Mercia Marina|
Our next door neighbours, Ian and Sarah, on NB Thomas, have made us welcome. Ian is the Marina Rep for our pontoon, so is a handy bloke to know and last Wednesday night we invited them on to TCW for a drink and what must have seen by Ian as a bit of a “grilling” as I asked question after question about the place and its facilities. They have an elderly cat on board: in fact their boat is named after the cat – “Thomas”, who is very friendly, and we hope to welcome him on board as well as time goes on.
We haven’t adopted a routine yet, but I have no doubt that will evolve after another week or so. It’s very quiet, which is quite unusual for the canal, as the railway line is not far from us, and the A38, which is a busy road, runs just to the north, and though you can hear both from time to time, neither is obtrusive.
Pat has spent much of her time on her latest creation. She bought the wool in the Rag Market in Birmingham and launched it to the unsuspecting public this morning.
|Pat's latest Arran creation|
I want to investigate the leisure centre further this week. Our days on the move were quite physical, and now we are sitting around a lot, watching the rain beating on the surface of the water, we need to get some exercise, so when we visit this week we will check out what’s on offer. I used to do Water Aerobics when I was recovering from my broken back, and I noticed they do that there, though I don’t think Pat is too keen. I was always the only man in the class.
The weather has been very changeable – very autumnal in fact, so it’s been a real mix of everything over the last week, but we have found opportunities to clean out the engine bay and do some essential painting. Willington village is about a 20-minute walk, or a five-minute ride on my bike, so we are able to get any supplies that the marina shop cannot supply.
Meeting people in and around the marina has not been a problem. Everyone seems to have at least one dog, though it’s generally just a few minutes small talk. I have registered on the Marina Forum, and will start posting this week, to see if there is a ukulele underground cell here, which I hear might exist. It seems though that the forum is not used much these days, but it’s worth a punt.
I know there is definitely a Uke club in Derby that meets twice a month. There are a lot of winter moorers who came in on 1 November, and some are probably in exactly in the same boat as us – “know nobody but want to”. Then there is Christmas to consider. Ian tells me that there is a bit of battle around the marina for the best show of Christmas lights. Evidently our neighbour on the other side sports a huge reindeer on the roof of his boat, so we need to plan a strategy. We intend to stay on the boat over Christmas and hope there are opportunities for a party or two.
One aggravation is our mobile phone signal. Both of us are having making and receiving calls on the boat, so if you are trying to contact us, leave a voice mail, and we will get back to you ASAP. Alternatively send us an e mail. Evidently the only provider with a decent signal around here is Vodaphone.
Finally, we were watching the regional East Midlands news last week and the programme featured Google who are extending their “Street View” mapping option, to include tow paths and Google employees have been traipsing around the country with a special camera array on a backpack taking the snaps required. They were filming at Trent Lock, our old stamping ground, where TCW was built, and blow me down, they interviewed our pal Irene, off “Free Spirit” who was moored up there. You just can’t keep that gal out of the media.