I have just come back from a well-deserved break in sunny Barrow-on-Soar, staying at Jan’s flat. Barrow is actually an interesting village in many ways: first, it’s alive and not dead like some villages; people actually live there as opposed to being commuters who are only really around at weekends; secondly it has a number of interesting buildings including the so-called ‘Roundhouse’ – actually an octagonal building – which used to be a lock-up, the inevitable workhouse, and a building called Bishop’s House which seems to have been constructed out of anything the builders could lay their hands on; it’s an incredible mish-mash of tiles, stone and timber all covered over with a layer of local clay. Weird. And then there are the fossils. Barrow sits on a large area of land which was once underwater and the whole region is rich in fossils, the most famous of which, the Barrow Kipper, now rests in Leicester’s New Walk Museum. The guided tour I followed takes you around a number of sculpted fossils embedded in walls, including a trilobyte which, the guide helpfully informs us, did not exist in Barrow. Go figure. But it’s the canals that are the making of Barrow. The river Soar and canalised parts of it, run at the bottom of the village and there’s a pub on the waterside as well as a cafe and lots of mooring by the lock.
I did a lot of walking by the river: the first day, I walked as far as Mountsorrel and the second, I made it to Swithland Water. It’s interesting to watch the boats, and on that first day I saw what looked like a Hindu funeral: I guessed they were going to scatter the ashes on the water as they do in India.
Swithland water is beautiful and atmospheric: trees sweep down to the water’s edge and far off, the trains come over the bridge with a haunting whistle. However, you have to walk miles to get to the waterside and Severn Trent, who own it, are unwelcoming to visitors to the point of being hostile: there’s only a short part where you can see the water, there’s nowhere to sit and if you sit in the car you have a lovely view of the wall and not much else. A couple of fishermen had broached the wall to sit on the shore, but I didn’t feel like doing that; I was, however, much in need of a rest so I lay down on the only patch of grass and relaxed for a few minutes. And then I was off: back up through the woods, along past the old quarry where there’s a monument to the stoneworkers who worked there; past the Beacon (I think these were originally built to warn of Napoleonic invasion) and back between the houses to Mountsorrel Buttermarket.
This morning as I was taking my last walk along the canal before returning home, I ran in to a friend who has a boat. He is usually moored at Thurmaston but he and some other friends were taking a trip: he offered me a ride but sadly I had to decline as I needed to get home.
Daniel is now almost recovered. He had the all-clear from the ENT clinic today and he is looking much better.