21 September 2012

(7) UK - Foxton Locks




Today dawned grey and glum - typical British weather unfortunately! Anyway, if one waits for decent weather in UK, you will go nowhere and see nothing so off we set as planned to visit the famous Foxton Locks. The lady Tom-Tom took us meandering through country lanes bordered on all sides by farmland. Along this route, the hedgerows were not too high so we could see the cows and sheep and vast expanses of land stretching as far as the eye could see. Along many English roads one sees nothing as the hedgerows are so very high. It makes me feel closed in and detracts from the feel of "country" in my opinion. It's all very well being able to pick luscious blackberries from the hedgerows but they certainly spoil the view.

The areas of Rutland, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northamptonshire are all rural away from the bigger towns - it's pleasant with little traffic unless you get stuck in a traffic jam in Market Harborough on a Friday! Even then, it does not take to long to escape again.
Foxton Locks is a unique staircase of 10 locks and carries the narrow boats either up or down the 75 ft hill. It is fascinating to watch, plus rather scary!
I watched with great interest as we are doing another canal trip soon but the lock-keeper told me that each canal may have a different system so that was not much good, was it? Let's hope I can manage the paddles and the lock gates. It will get me fit if nothing else.
The line is now known as the Grand Union Leicester Line which is a combination of the 200 yr old Leicesterhire & Northhamptonshire Union Canal and the old Grand Union Canal. Locks are intriguing to everybody and this set going uphill, is certainly no exception.

There is a lovely piece of art along the towpath of a boy and his horse:
"Towing a boat all day is very tiring for our horse. My dad doesn't let me sit on him as it would tire him even more"

Another plaque of Canal Life in 1900 says:
A bower of wild roses in June and a hell of ice in Winter" by William Holloway

Narrow Boating these days is mainly for pleasure/holiday - it was much tougher in the 1900's!


We popped into the Museum and Shop but the guy in charge was so busy talking on the phone that he totally ignored us, despite the fact that we browsed the ''shop" shelves trying to find a map of the canal we are going to. We eventually walked out in disgust.
At the top of the locks there is a coffee shop, down below another small pub and better shop than the Museum one and on the other side the Foxton Locks Inn and Old Boathouse. The Boathouse was not open on this drizzly day - however, the Foxton Locks pub was warm and cosy and my parsnip soup went down a treat!
Some pubs in UK seem to be rather expensive now with mains up to 19 pounds - however, the starters or lighter meals are usually much cheaper. In a place where there are a number of pubs, for example Stamford, the prices are much better - perhaps more competition?
It rained all the way back to Barnsdale Country Club.............!!!!




So now we are doing the boring and mundane task of the weekly wash and we hope to have some clean clothes EVENTUALLY come out of the German washing machine that is going on and on and on.....maybe it will never stop?

© Judelle Drake

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