Saturday, 5 August 2017

Celebrations

We set off again yesterday, 4th August, but what have we been up to since we were last afloat?  Well apart from loads of appointments – doctors (Chris got the all clear from the consultant and has been discharged from the hospital), dentists, hairdressers etc we have been having a good deal of fun as well.


But before I go on – do you remember the Lancaster that did a fly past when I last posted?  Well it came back again the next day


I even managed to get a shot of Chris on Tentatrice with the Lancaster flying past

So to the fun - there were two day trips on Tentatrice.  Both were from Droitwich Spa Marina to Netherwich Basin, Droitwich – a staircase lock, a single lock, the M5 culvert, another single lock and that takes you to Vines Park where there is a lock with a swing bridge before the final two swing bridges before the basin.

The first with our friend, Thalia along with our neighbours, Norma and Tony, who put our bins in and out and generally keep a weather eye on our house when we are away.  

Norma and Tony were keeping Chris company 

Whilst Thalia (a seasoned boater) was put to work helping me as well as taking a turn on the helm.

Now why is that you only ever seem to meet oncoming traffic at the most inopportune moment.  This is the M5 culvert and despite us both sounding our horns they just cannot be heard.  There is just room to pass in the middle, so no damage done.

Those of you who have been through the broad lock at the entrance (from east to west) of Vines Park (the one with the swing bridge) will no doubt have been as frustrated as we have been that you cannot open the gates wide enough to allow the use of just one gate due to a silt build up.  C&RT having been saying for ages that they would do something and lo and behold they have! 

I guess it is work in progress as the gates at the other end have not been done.  Maybe one day!

As I was closing these gates two swans with four cygnets sailed into the lock and would not go back out.  By the time I had shut the gates and swung the bridge back into place they were tapping on the gate at the other end to be let out!  Needless to say, I obliged.  


Just two more swing bridges and the next stop is the basin.  I walked across to the basin from the last swing bridge, a route that takes you past the Volunteer – a replica of the old Wyche Barges used for carrying the salt that is used as a picnic area

I was sorry to see the following notice.  I have to say the damage at a brief glance (I was expected to take ropes etc, so no time to tarry on the way) was not obvious, but how sad that people feel the need to vandalise things.  I have been pretty appalled at the vandalism of a lock beam on the Walsall flight. The end of the beam was sawn off and thrown in the canal.  The flight was closed for a few days whilst C&RT repaired it.  Sadly in around 24 hours after it was repaired it was sawn off again.  

The burning question when you get to Netherwich Basin is always the same – will there be space?  Well today – yes!!  Take your pick!

After a very good meal in the Gardener’s Arms we headed back again.  The weather was wonderful all day and the journey back plain sailing with just one bit of excitement as the bottom of the staircase locks – we had to share it with something we have never shared a lock with before – a rather long grass snake.  You have to look carefully, but it is there between the lock side and the boat.


Fortunately, as the water rose it was able to escape through the grills and hopefully made it to safety somewhere.  


We made it back to the marina without further excitement - the end of a wonderful day.  Thanks Norma and Tony for all you do for us and thank you to Thalia for the muscle power!

Our son and two of our grandsons have birthdays in July, so we do try to have a ‘Boys Birthday Bash’, however, despite us being home for the best part of four weeks it was not to be this year.  Due to other commitments ( a guide camp for Molly and birthday party for George) this year's events were a week apart.

Part 1
Our birthday boy son, Mark, arrived for a weekend from their home in Derby with his wife, Jo, daughters Molly and Evelyn and son (another birthday boy), Noah.  We went out to Pizza Express on the Friday evening.  Saturday our daughter, Sarah, husband, Paul, and their sons George (birthday boy) and Jamie came for breakfast, so we did have a few hours together.  They were put to good use as we spent almost a couple of them skyping Chris' brother and family in New Zealand.

These were one of George’s birthday presents!

George had his party that day, so they left us mid-morning and the rest of us went for a walk with dogs to Clent Hills that afternoon.  Monty loves walking with children who will willingly play ball!

She will even carry the dog downloads!

We had a barbecue that evening – a very British one that had to be eaten inside!  Sunday morning we went to Lickey Hills – yes the clue is in the name of both walks!  Mind both are lovely with lots of opportunities for children to run, climb and explore

And Dad can join in too

This looks quite precarious (shame that someone has de-faced it)

But not quite so bad from the other side 

 These stones provided a lot of fun and challenge

Mind you Dad had to climb up to help Noah down!  

Fun was also had on the zip wire whilst Chris and I were left to hold the dogs and take a break.

After lunch they headed for home – the end of a fun weekend.

Part 2

The following weekend it was George's turn – Sarah, Paul, George and Jamie joined us for our second boat trip.  

Jamie (aged 5) did help push a few gates

And wind a few paddles

But he was probably happier watching everyone else doing the work

Or helping Grandpa steering – from one staircase lock into the next is an easy way to start – no chance of getting lost


So where was the birthday boy?  Well George did do his share, I just failed to catch him in the act – well most of the time


I have been reliably informed that he did do some steering whilst he was on supervising Grandpa, but I have no photographic evidence – I did, however, hear the thump when there was a slight argument with the tow path edge! You will have to come back and have more practice, George.

And so to Netherwich Basin – this was a Saturday, so would there be space.  Not as much as last time, but more than enough.

We then took our picnic out to the park before heading back to the marina.  No snakes or swans this trip. 

We did not choose the best day as there was a canoe race – the full 21 mile Droitwich ring – this was the first one we came across.  They have to portage round the locks – it is a long way from the top of the staircase locks all the way down to the lock just before the M5 culvert.  

She made it 

In she got

And off she went

That brought back memories for our daughter (as had her brother the year before) who took part in the Devizes to Westminster canoe race one Easter around 22 years ago.  For the juniors (under 18's) it takes place over 4 days - Devizes to Newbury, to Marlow, to Teddington and finally along the tidal Thames to Westminster.  125 miles and 77 portages.  No mean feat I can assure.  We felt small enough in a narrow boat on the tidal Thames, but in a two man canoe it must have been terrifying.

There was a good variety of craft and they just kept coming

Breathe in

The one place we treated with real caution was the M5 culvert, so slowly did it and we had the airhorn at the bow which the boys took great delight in sounding.  Fortunately, it was all clear.

It was a wonderful day out - one for the family album - Dad issuing instructions to get their backs into it!

Just after we moored this happened.

The plan was to go to their house for a barbecue (we provided the food, but they have a gas barbecue – a lot quicker than our Weber), however the food was cooked in the oven and we ate inside!

There was one other special event towards the end of our time at home, but more will come about that later.  For now we are back afloat and will (we hope) be out until mid-October.  

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