Thursday, 29 June 2017

"Spot" the Pigs!

Sunday 25th June 2017
Tewkesbury to Gloucester

13.25 miles, 3 locks

Gloucester had confirmed that the 9 metre high tide had not wreaked too much havoc, so we were cleared to leave Tewkesbury as the lock opened after lunch at 14:00.  nb Manhattan was to travel with us - so much easier to have two in the lock and a degree of comfort for both boats once on the river having someone within hailing distance if things did go awry.  Manhattan led the way.

Looking back at Avon lock

The Severn for the most part is wide with high banks, so there is little to see

There was just one lock between the two towns - the Seven locks are all large and are worked by lock keepers, so all we had to do was thread ropes through poles on the lock sides and hold on

For a part of the river that is non tidal this shows that there was quite a tide today!

The wind it did blow as can be seen by the fate of this little dinghy

The closer we got to Gloucester we became aware of a degree of rubbish brought in by the tide, but nothing that was going to give us a problem
 The water, however, was very brown - Chris said it was like sailing through liquid chocolate!

Just over two and a half hours after we left Tewkesbury the wall outside Gloucester lock hove into view.  If the lock is not ready you have to moor up to the wall to wait.  The current is such, however, that you have to moor the stern first and the bow will then be pushed in to the side.  Do the bow first at your peril!

No such problems for us this trip as a wide beam was already in the lock, so it was ready for the two narrow boats to go in behind.

Up the lock and out into Gloucester Docks - we have been here before and even though we knew what to expect it is still a wonderful sight.  A real honey spot of a mooring

With a view along the Gloucester/Sharpness Canal to Llanthony lift bridge

We fought the wind and tucked ourselves into the corner, but what is that on the quayside this side of the white C&RT van?

It looks like a pig

and so it proved to be - something we would have to investigate the next day.

Monday 26th June 2017


A while back I mentioned that my camera shutter was not opening and closing properly - well things reached crisis point on the journey from Tewkesbury when it failed completely.  A focus error message was displayed and that was that.  I resorted to Chris' camera which I am not used to.  It is old and it is almost impossible to see what is on the screen in even the slightest bit of sun.  It does, however, still take good photos, but I really needed to replace mine, so the first job was to find The London Camera Exchange and see if they could be of assistance.  I wanted the same make - Panasonic Lumix as I have two good batteries and a charger, plus the fact that I understand how it works.  They came up trumps with the TZ70 - one up from my previous TZ60.  There are two above that - the 80 and 90, but they take much larger batteries.  I have to say they were very helpful and I came away very happy and my first picture - well it had to be of the store!

We had made one diversion on the way to the camera shop - into the Tourist Information Office.  We needed a map of Gloucester and we also hoped to find out about that pig by the docks.  We were not disappointed on both counts.

So why a pig?  Well not just one pig - there are 31 of them!  Most are in the city centre with a couple more in the M5 service area and the final one is at Adam Henson's Cotswold Farm Park.  They are all associated with the Three Counties (Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) Show.  An annual event that takes place at the Malvern Show Ground.  This year they were celebrating the Gloucester Old Spot pig that Alan's father was a champion of when he opened the Farm Park in 1971.  A tradition that Adam has continued.  So how many did we find - well just nine.  We loved them and may well go looking for some more when we return on our way back from Sharpness.
School Pig

Private Henson Pig

Piggy Bank

Constable Pig

Dame Janet Trotter

Hippy Pig

Pig Bot

After the successful camera shop we wandered in to the Eastgate shopping centre which has a market at one end where we came across a stall selling loose herbs, spices, olives, Turkish delight and many other middle eastern goodies.  I failed to take photos - we were too busy tasting olives!  We came away with two mixed spices to coat chicken (we have tried one and it is very good), some blades of mace and a small pot of olives, oh and two pieces of pistachio Turkish delight.  

It is only two years since we were last here when we visited the Cathedral, The Tailor of Gloucester and spotted other sights worth visiting.  If you want a reminder please look HERE.  I noted then that we did not get to The Soldiers of Gloucester Museum and the Folk Museum, plus we needed to return to the Waterways Museum.  I afraid we failed on all three counts, so will just have to come back again - no hardship I can assure you.  

A return visit was made to the Mariner's Chapel - a place of such serenity it is a joy to visit.  It is almost incongruous situated as it is among the warehouses.

There is a leaflet inside that gives details of some 're-ordering work' that they have planning permission for.  This is the first major work on this iconic building for many decades.  They are adding a disabled toilet, a kitchen area, storage cupboard, new lighting & heating, carpeting and seating (moveable, stackable chairs).  I guess that means they will lose those lovely pews, but the idea is to make a more flexible usable space more suited to the 21st century.  The total cost will be £86,000.

We came across this outside The Soldiers of Gloucester Museum

This notes that 2015 was Gloucester's 'Big Year', however we were here that year and neither of us recall seeing this chap or this 

I cannot believe we missed either (the second is right by the mooring pontoons), so have to assume they were put in after 2015 as a memento to their 'big year'.

On Monday Marilyn and David arrived on Waka Huia along with their two travelling companions

One of the mainstays of our life is Monty which means at least two good walks a day.  Whilst we love the moorings in Gloucester the challenge they present the dog owner is finding grass first thing in the morning and last thing at night.  The nearest we have found is about a 5 minute walk from the boat, no problem for us, but does demand some dog leg crossing first thing in the morning!

The place we go to is 

I lost count of the number of times we went there, but on one occasion Monty and I did the full circuit, which was actually shorter than when we did an out and back.  Even if you don't have a dog it does make for a very pleasant walk. Pictures can be found in the link to the 2015 blog post above.

One other thing we did not expect to find in such a city - a sand sculptor

I have to say it was very good.

All good things come to an end and it would be time to move on the next day.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Feeding the Soul, Mind and Body

Friday – Sunday 23rd 25th June 2017

The first thing to do once safely moored is to visit the lock keeper in their little hut by Avon Lock to pay our dues (£3 a night) and to discuss our transit down onto the Severn on Sunday.  I am afraid the one thing we never gave a moments thought to was tides.  For the most part the Severn is only tidal up to the Partings, where it splits into two arms just north of Gloucester.  Our chosen day for transit to Gloucester happened to be the highest spring tide of 2017!  This would mean we could not leave until around 2pm having called the lock keeper in Gloucester to see how much rubbish had been brought in with the tide.

If you walk to the end of the lock you get a good view of the river Severn - left to Gloucester

and right to Worcester. There are a few moorings on the river, however the side is very high and not ideal for Monty.

So what is there to do in Tewkesbury?  First to feed the soul the Abbey is a must.  A truly magnificent building inside and out.  I would have loved to have done the tower tour, but none were available when we were there.  The added bonus for us is that they allow dogs inside, something we really appreciated.  I have to say that a well behaved dog on a lead is probably less bother than a bored toddler!  I have memories of trying to keep a very bored three year old amused when taking an elderly Aunt (yes she was older than I am now!) who wanted to stop and read everything (something I now appreciate) when we visited Norwich Cathedral many years ago.

Just a few pictures to give you a feel of the magnificent interior

This is a view of the ceiling in a mirror - very clever and very effective

We were rather taken with this sculpture outside the Abbey

There are many splendid buildings to admire

It was not just the building below that drew our attention - how many years ago did Green Shield Stamps cease to exist?  What a wonder this internet is - I now know that they started in 1958 and ended in 1991, being most popular in the 60's and 70's.  I can certainly remember pouring over the catalogue with my parents deciding what they were going to get when they redeemed their stamps.  What I had not realised until now that eventually people could supplement their stamps with cash to purchase from the catalogue and that when the stamps were withdrawn the catalogue was re-branded as Argos! If you want to know more look HERE

On Friday we shared a ploughman's in The Berkeley Arms - and very good it was too.

Apologies for missing off part of 'shall' on the right, but a good sentiment nevertheless.

The Royal Hop Pole is now a Weatherspoons

A place of interest to Dickens enthusiasts

Tewkesbury is a town that is rightly very proud of it's history and the famous battle of 1471. Many buildings along the main street display coats of arms

Some (but sadly not all) have information in the window with details of whose coat of arms it was in 1471 with some details of their life, family and death.  Well thanks to the wonder of the internet I was side tracked again to the web site of The Tewkesbury Battlefield Society and what a wealth of information there is to be found HERE.  It looks as though the street banners are very new as they appear to have been created every Monday afternoon from January to 6th June this year.  Having found this site, I think we have to go back to Tewkesbury as there is more to discover.  A little light reading to feed the mind.

We think the society's efforts are definitely worth while - they certainly make a statement as you look along the street.  As this is so recent, it has to be hoped that information about them all will be added in due course.

There are several bookshops to feed the mind - this one does have a 'proper shop' as well as this rather charming alleyway.

Despite quite a few of these signs there are still a multitude of eateries and watering holes to be found in the town to feed and body

 Some have already been mentioned - I took this picture because of the name.  Our boat was built by JL Pinders & Son (now trading as Crafted Boats) and they have built three boats for the same couple - Theoc, Theoc I and Theoc II.  We did meet them once and I am sure I knew the reason for the name, but I cannot find anything on the internet to help and whatever they told me has flown from my brain never to be recaptured I am afraid.  Having looked at the website for THEOC HOUSE, I think it is somewhere we will go next time we visit the town.

Yet more food for the body - on Saturday and Sunday there was a food festival in the Abbey grounds which certainly gave us a view of the Abbey that is not normally seen.

There was a lot of fast food on sale as well as a large food hall full of things to tempt one to part with your money.  We did have a look round, but came away empty handed as nothing really took our fancy.  It was the rightly famous delicatessen in the main street, 1471, that made us open our wallets - they sell Chaume - a French cheese we both like which is hard to find these days.  The proprietor took great delight is telling me he had a whole one out the back.  Sadly there is no room for such a delight on a narrow boat.  We left with a small piece and some wonderful granary bread - a simple meal, but thoroughly enjoyed by us both.

Lunch was partaken at this dog friendly Italian café - somewhere we would both recommend.

Round the back of the Abbey there is a camp site that was hosting a Steam Rally - we did not attend, but this delightful vehicle made its way along the main street as we were passing by

What was there of interest at the water side?  Well interesting happenings at St John's bridge as the boat on the left was trying to moor in a rather tight space.  I am pleased to report that no contact was made and the mooring effort was successful.

Mooring at times was at a premium and on Friday evening nb Kings Gambit breasted up with us

They had a very important crew member - Harley - a male look alike of our sometime crew member Kiera.  He is a beautiful dog and very well behaved, but feeling very sorry for himself as he had hurt his left front leg and had had to visit a vet for treatment.  They are fairly certain it is a ligament problem that will right itself given rest and time.

There were other times we were alone

but never for long

It is not often you see one of these on a canal or river!  I had to take it through the window, hence the dodgy colour.

At this time of year there is usually a local family who pays a visit or two.  I really must get some oats or other food, so I can feed them.  It does upset me how many people still feed water birds with bread.

For us there are always Monty walks to be done.  One day I took him along to St John's Bridge, just because I wanted to see what was there  - well a good view looking back at the boat

and then this rather sad view of what was a "bear's" garden

Leading at the corner to Ye Olde Black Bear

Sadly shut and it does not look as though the oldest public house in Tewkesbury is going to open anytime soon.

I am afraid it is a very sorry sight

Apart from that there was not much else and certainly nothing approaching Monty acceptance, never mind Monty heaven.  There is a park near the Abbey which he enjoyed, but the best walk was along part of The Severn Way

Wide open space with a great view of The Abbey and the weather was cool enough for ball games - real Monty heaven

You don't see much of the river - just glimpses here and there

It is accessible at some points, but despite being fairly warm there is no way Monty is getting his feet wet!

Further round tucked away you get a stunning view of the weir

All in all a thoroughly good few days in a place we loved and will go back to.