We have enjoyed our time here so far, exploring the local towns and villages, and as the weather (hopefully) continues to improve we hope to use our remaining time here to catch up on some maintenance.
Back in January we were invited to visit friends Keith and Cheryl up in Duffield in the Derwent valley, after a delicious Sunday lunch prepared by Keith, we had a walk around the village climbing up to the Hollybush Inn at Makeney. The pub is very old with twisting corridors leading to various bars, and little seems to have changed for centuries.We continued down the road the the King William where we were entertained by two very adept guitarists. Returning by bus we ended a very enjoyable day with coffee at Keith and Cheryl's and we were also pleased to meet their daughter Miranda.
During January we were pleasantly surprised to have a visit from old friends Toby and Marge, who called in to see us on their way back from Birmingham.
Carsington Water and Ashbourne
During late February the weather improved significantly and although the nights were cold the day time temperatures were more like summer.
We decided to take a ride up to Carsington Water, a large reservoir serving Derby and the surrounding towns, it was quite low, a hangover from last year's lovely summer. The reservoir is not fed by any major streams but by water pumped up from the river Derwent during winter and times of flood, acting as a supplementary supply during the drier periods.
We had a stroll from the visitor centre, with its museum and small array of shops, round to the large dam wall creating the 35,412 megalitres volume flooding the valley.
Carsington brought back a few memories for me, as it was here, several years ago, that I was introduced to windsurfing. My brother in law, Andy, suggested one day that it would be good to spend the day here as he is an accomplished windsurfer, and that I would be able to hire all the necessary equipment to have a go.
We duly arrived and Andy prepared his kit, whilst I strolled down to the visitor center to see about hiring the items required.
I was presented with a surfboard, sail and wetsuit, the instructor showed me how to connect the sail and board before sending me on my way to enjoy my days swimming!
Things got off to a bad start as I had never used a wetsuit before, and after struggling in I stood there thinking typical of the watersport types with far to much room at the front of the groin area, they must regard themselves as so well endowed! It was only when I stood holding the end of the long neoprene strap on the zip and thinking my arms aren't long enough to pull such a long cord and get the zip up to my chin, that it dawned on me that I may have done something wrong. The answer came crashing to mind when it dawned on me that I had put the suit on back to front, and hastily tried to drag the suit from my body, hoping no one would have noticed me. Looking up I became aware that there was a car park full of people sat in their cars watching me with incredulity.
Finally correctly attired in my wet suit I wandered down to the shore surfboard and sail underarm. Dipping my toes in the water, I pushed the board out ahead of me and then tried unsuccessfully to climb aboard, further adding to the mirth of my spectators.
Eventually I was on board and stood upright gingerly trying to hoist the mast and sail into the vertical position, finally succeeding and suddenly hurtling across the surface, without a clue of what to do next, it was time to turn, how hard can it be you may ask, well extremely is the answer and as I hauled the sail round I instantly found myself floundering in the water.
Mr Smart-arse shot past on his board, bone dry and sunglasses on, whooping as he skimmed along, it was at this point that I decided next time he comes past me he would be joining me in the water.
After spending hours of mastering the technique of making a turn I decided that it was far simpler to fall in, turn the board round the get back on. I got into my stride, adopting my new found skill, and before I knew what had happened I was confronted by the rescue boat insisting that they tow me back in. Looking round I realised that I had ventured way beyond the limit for windsurfers and in my excitement just hadn't noticed.
Back to our more recent trip, we left the lake and its memories behind, calling into the small market town of Ashbourne on the way back to the boat.
Ashbourne is a lovely little town, however as it was a Monday and given that it is popular with weekend day trippers most shops were closed.
There is an interesting notice board in the centre relating the history of the town and how in 1745 the forces of Charles Edward Stuart passed through during the Jacobite rebellion, ransacking the place as they did so. Unfortunately for the town, the forces soon returned, after having reached the valley of the Trent to the south, then deciding to give up their assault on London, further ransacking the place.
During the fine weather I was able to get a bit more fishing in, with some fine catches of Roach and Bream, I decided to have a go at spinning, using a lure to see if I could catch a Perch or small Pike, the water was gin clear and whilst returning the lure towards the stern of the boat I noticed a huge Pike following, I hastily withdrew the lure as this monster was at least 3 feet long and I am not sure I an equipped to deal with such a fish.
Returning to small hooks and a float I continued my pursuit of the smaller more manageable fish. It became apparent that the monster Pike had scared all the smaller fish away so reeling in I decided to call it a day, just as I was about to withdraw the bait the monsters little brother struck with alarming speed, grabbing my landing net I managed to land the fish, proud of my first ever Pike.
Whilst here we have visited Calke Abbey, now a National Trust property sat in extensive grounds.
The weather was again, glorious so we decided to explore the grounds taking one of the many waymarked routes around the parkland.
This part of the canal has been renovated in readiness for it reunification with the network, it boasts the only lock on this canal, dropping the level to the old coal basin that has also now been renovated, and will, hopefully one day make a great mooring spot for visiting boats.
|Moira and its lock and basin|
Friends Duncan and Jude called down to see us for a few days, they stayed at the Dragon B&B and we had an enjoyable time with them, we took the boat out and up to Burton on a beautiful sunny day returning to the marina at dusk.
|Duncan at the helm|
As I write this blog the fine weather has been replaced by wet and stormy weather so we are spending our remaining time on maintenance in readiness for our imminent departure.
|Tank Cleaning Tea Break|
We have really enjoyed our time here and I have to mention The Rising Sun public house, landlord Neil is working hard to make a success of the pub and is always most welcoming, we have had a few great nights in there.
|Spring blossoms at Mercia|