Just That Little Bit Further. 1st March

Mexborough Meadows to Doncaster Visitor Moorings

With breakfast out of the way we pushed over to near the hotel, ready to pick up our triple points shop. Being an hour early, I made use of the time to have a catch up with my brother on the phone. They have been busy, Josh has been on a school ski-ing trip and Andrew and Jac took advantage (of not having a 12 year old son in tow) and had an adult few days in Paris. They all enjoyed themselves thoroughly.

The Easter Bunny made a delivery too

Our delivery slot was between midday and 1pm, so we were a little surprised to see a chap off loading our shopping onto the towpath at 11.45am. First he suggested that the plastic crates would be picked up on our next delivery, first time we’ve heard this one. He seemed to be in a rush to get to his next address in Barnsley. What would we do with four crates? Mick suggested that he should wait and take them away with him, he was early after all.

We wanted to move on today. The thought of fishermen turning up in their vans for some night fishing was not appealing and with bad weather on it’s way we want to be further on.

No need for my key of power

Everything was stowed then we could push off. I walked ahead to go and open the lock gates, but as we got close the amber light turned to red and green. There were people up in the tower, so once Oleanna was in the lock I hopped back on board. 

We either keep meeting the same C&RT chaps or they all know that we’ve been to Sheffield for the Bi-centenary. This was the conclusion they came up with when we said we were headed to Sheffield a few weeks ago. It’s always nice to have a chat as your boat lowers in a lock. We found out that Exol Pride is due back in Rotherham on Tuesday and that the weather forecast is bad for Sunday and Monday. Once the chaps were done here they were heading to Sprotbrough Lock so could see us through there if we arrived before 3pm.

I can’t resist taking a photo

Thanking them we motored on arriving at Sprotbrough in time for lunch. We also wanted to see what all the fuss was with the butcher there. The ladies from NB Large Marge had sung it’s praises  a few years ago, yet on the same trip we’d not come across it.

Pretty something or other
The hill up into Sprotbrough is quite steep and the road very busy. Small blue flowers were fighting their way through the autumn leaves to show their starry heads in the verges. The Old Rectory looks clean and newly rendered. At the top of the hill we found Thorpe Lane and carried on until we got to The Pantry, Butchers Bakers Deli. It looked good from outside, however a touch disappointing inside.

Sadly not quite what we expected

Maybe it’s the time of year or week, but there wasn’t much to choose from on the meat counter. We’d saved buying a Sunday joint to get one here. Some Sirloin roasting joints for £20 plus were out of our budget, then there were two lamb shanks. These would do us, but not leave us with any left overs, part of the reason for having a roast in the first place. We bought the shanks and headed back to the boat. 
Going down

With weather on it’s way and a Saturday newspaper to get along with some more supplies (!) we decided to carry on and head into Doncaster. We’d just missed the 3pm cut off point for the C&RT chaps at the lock by a minute, when we arrived their van had vanished. No problem, except the top gates didn’t register as being closed on the panel and my key of power was retained! A few more button presses and everything must have lined up at last, I got my key back but the top gates creaked their complaints at me.

Under the East Coast Main Line

From Doncaster Lock we could see there were boats on the visitor moorings, a narrowboat and a couple of cruisers. Luckily there was space for us, but no chance of filling with water as the cruisers were obstructing the water point. With the forecast in mind we are likely to stay put for a couple of days somewhere ahead, so will want to top up tomorrow. 

Our choices of which Pennine crossing to take in a few weeks time has been narrowed down for us. The Leeds Liverpool will be closed near Burnley until May as a de-watered stretch has come up with more problems than at first thought. Our current thought is to maybe cross on the Rochdale Canal, we’ve not been that way since 2014.
Last of my sketches were done ready to scan tomorrow and the last ball of yarn used on my latest knitting commission. This just needs the ends weaving in and somehow blocking, at 40 x 40 inches I may have to commandeer the mattress for a day and hope I have enough pins for the job.

3 locks, 6.85 miles, 1 wind, 1 assisted lock, 6 boxes wine, 1 disappointing butcher, 2 shanks, 1 gap in our meal plan, 1 bored cat, 1 don’t see what the problem is with pontoons, 3 sketches, 12 portraits, 1 commission cast off, 1 skein wound, 1 tension square started.

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