Day 23, Stoke Bardolph to Shardlow
If you look at that four-way junction where the Trent meets the Soar, we're now on the fourth bit of it. We came down the Soar, up the Erewash and back; up the Trent and back, and are now finally on the Trent and Mesrey, on the 'homeward' leg of the journey. We've travelled the other end of the T&M, but this is new territory.
Back on the main canal system, I noticed a couple of changes immediately. Firstly, the boats are nicer. No more gin palaces, some old working boats at last (today I saw Bletchley and Argus (didn't know they came this far), a Cowburn and Cowpar boat (which I think was Swallow but to my shame can't quite remember for certain), and Slough, to add to my sticker album, complete with funnel. Even the modern boats have a far greater preponderance of nice ones.
The other thing is that the people are friendly and interested. In the hour or two after we stopped, three people started chatting with us, asking about the boat and talking about theirs. While people on the Trent were by and large perfectly polite and pleasant, there was none of that real friendliness and enthusiasm.
However, I did like the Trent better than any other river yet (in which we include the Thames, Nene, Great Ouse and last and least, Soar). Don't really know why. Friendly BW lockkeepers; lots of good facilities, plentiful and easy mooring all helped. Plus a general absence of riverside residential development, the remnants of industry, and the fact that the sun shone most of the time, even if the wind also blew for most of it.