Blog Surfer

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Boozin' and Cruisin' through the East Midlands (Part 4)

 Day 7 - Friday

Leaving Nottingham meant that we were now officially heading back to the marina - first stop Trent Lock for lunch. Again we passed by the Boat & Horses in Beeston and again it wasn't the right time to stop, being about 10:30am. Once we exited Beeston Lock onto the main channel of the River Trent we discovered just how windy it was that day. It was so windy that our 'life saver' ring blew off the roof despite being laid down flat. Hopefully, this gives some idea of the wind when we moored at Trent Lock.

This time we decided to visit the Steamboat for lunch for a change.
Considering it was now a Friday, the Steamboat was still much less busy than the Trent Lock had been 24 hours earlier. 

It soon became apparent why. The food is more basic (a plus in my book!) and both food and drinks were cheaper than in the Trent Lock, but everything else was just a bit off. I've always liked the quirky d├ęcor in the Steamboat, but it looked tired and unloved. It's a family run place and whilst the landlady was left on her own behind the bar (occasionally disappearing to take food orders to the kitchen!) her husband (I assume!) was watching telly with his mates in the corner. Sadly, I've witnessed this scenario too many times and it always results in disappointing service, a drop off in clientele and eventually going out of business - all in a place that should be raking it in!

Still, we'd had our fill and set off towards the Trent & Mersey Canal for a relatively uneventful trip to Swarkestone, passing through Sawley and Shardlow...apart from me (as steerer for the afternoon) invoking the wrath of a fellow boater just outside Shardlow. He'd stopped to help re-moor a boat that had gotten loose and drifted across the cut. I didn't realise this (until I was told later!) so when he tried to pull out just as we were getting to his position, I naturally didn't let him out!

He really sounded off at me and, once I'd understood the situation, I let him pass by and a little later I let the cruiser go past who'd also been helping. Then, when we got to the next lock (double width) we ended up sharing it with the narrowboat as the cruiser didn't want to share. We had a nice chat about it and became 'best of friends' for the rest of the times when we encountered each other over the next few days!

It was getting a bit late by the time we got to Swarkestone Lock, so we moored below it and set off for the long stroll to the pub, getting there by 9pm...just!

The Crewe & Harpur is a pub that I've reported on before (#204) as has Life After Football (here). Our first visit was back in 1986 when it was a proper village pub, but now it has expanded to become a Marston's Rotisserie pub and hotel. The food was good and the lager was cold, so progress hasn't spoiled the experience!

Day 8 - Saturday

Our lunchtime destination was the village of Willington which has been well covered by Life After Football and me in the past. There are three pubs within 100 yards of each other!

First up was The Dragon which has become more of a restaurant than a pub, but they managed to find a table for us despite it being fairly busy. The food and the beer were both very good, but we decided to take the long stroll to one of the other would have been rude not to!

We couldn't quite tell whether the Green Man was open or not, so we went into the Rising Sun for the first time in very meny years.

We hadn't missed much! The bar looked to be the only room open. It is definitely a locals pub and somewhat of a stark contrast to The Dragon, but a village needs both types of pub to cater for the wide range of people you can get.

And then it was time to get back to the boat and head off for a Saturday night in Burton-upon-Trent. We had one goal in mind, but as it is a long walk from the canal we popped into the Oak & Ivy for a 'splash 'n' go' pitstop on our way to the Cooper's Tavern

I failed to get my fellow travellers to veer off into the Devonshire Arms for a quick pint (even though, last time, I'd struggled to get them out of there...before they'd experienced the Cooper's!). It was packed, but we managed to grab a table just as a group was leaving. Apparently, the Bass was very good as was my pint of Joules (one of their seasonal beers). This was also the first time we discovered that we could take our drinks to the Indian restaurant next door (Apne) we did.

After a lovely meal, we strolled back to the boat, but not before another pitstop at the Oak & Ivy to break up the walk!

More than halfway through the trip and we still have the delights of Atherstone and Coventry to relate!

(To be continued)


  1. Yes, licensee chatting with his cronies while work needs doing is always a bad sign in a pub.

    It can also be a problem with free houses that, once things go off the boil, there's no Area Manager to chivvy them along.

    1. You know it, I know it, any pub goer knows it and yet it still happens time after time...very frustrating to see!

  2. A full house Pete!!! I've been and blogged on all of those and I have to concur re The Steamboat...the tumbleweed was whistling through when we went in and the beer was average at best..
    The Oak and Ivy is in my 'to blog' list as I've been there just going to tick it off in the next couple of weeks....Top work sir
    The Coopers is legendary, The Crewe & Harpur functional and I prefer the Rising Sun the The Dragon!