The inaugural voyage of 2017 was heralded not by the usual pop music from a travel speaker, but by something a bit louder and, I like to think, classier. Passing boats would have been serenaded by a sometimes in-tune, but more often squeaking, saxophone. Maybe it was fortunate that it was January, and Double Fracture largely had the River Trent to herself.
A new year has brought with it new crew, and Steph was keen not only to get to grips with the locks, but also reacquaint herself with the brass instrument of her youth. I still had a saxophone after a half-hearted attempt to learn as a teenager, and whilst Steph was a flutist primarily, she had saxophone-y ambitions also.
So there we were, making our merry way down the river, trying desperately to string two recognisable notes together, as well as make our lunch date in Beeston on time. And look cool. Our timekeeping was better than our music-making (and we were 15 minutes late), which in turn was more successful than the looking cool. I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to play a brass instrument and maintain just the one chin, but it is not that easy.
(That said, Steph pulls off the boating musician look annoyingly well.)
Our lunch date was at The Victoria in Beeston with a fellow midwife, Annette. And what a lunch. This is food worth travelling at three miles an hour down the river for (it would also be worth getting in a car and driving 20 minutes for). Smoked haddock and prawn lasagne with liberal dollops of cheese and crème fraiche is my new favourite dish, and will be burning in a boat kitchen near you soon.
Back on the river, I realised I hadn’t accounted for the sunlight. It was an overcast day, so when the sun dipped below the horizon, darkness followed very quickly. Happily, by this point we were chugging down the Meadow Lane section of the canal, and street lights lit the way. And even more fortuitously, Forest had been playing that afternoon (and won – the stars really were aligning) and so the City Ground flood lights guided us to a mooring spot by the bridge. Without them we would have relied on phone torches – I am not confident that puny ray would have picked out the mooring rings.
Securely tied to the steps (or as secure as my knots get), we could get on with the saxophone encores. I’m sure my neighbours will be thrilled to learn of my new hobby. If I ever see them again. The return trip is going to be without crew, just me and five locks not to drown in.
This blogpost was brought to you by ‘Baker Street‘ by Gerry Rafferty. Obviously.
*Brass solo really