Tuesday, 6 November 2018

And back again - 28th - 29th October 2018

The bottom blacking went to plan.  The other job to be done was a service on the Eberspacher - remember this photo taken on the Braunston flight - it was definitely not working as it should have been:

Sadly it was deemed terminal, so a new one had to be fitted.  We are still awaiting the bill!

The journey back to the marina was to be very much a family affair.

Sunday 28th October 2018
Tardebigge New Wharf to The Queen's Head, Stoke Pound
2.5 miles, 30 locks

Saturday was a really wet and miserable day so it was a relief to find a dry and relatively warm day dawning on Sunday.  Our daughter in law (Jo) and her three children (Molly, Noah and Evelyn) had arrived on Saturday to spend the first part of half term with us whilst Daddy was left at home to 'bring home the bacon'.

Chris and I moved the boat from outside the dry dock to the water point at Tardebigge New Wharf.  The plan had been to load the boat from the cars - there was quite a bit of stuff with four of sleeping overnight, 6 for lunch on Sunday and 9 on Monday).  Jo and I were then going to leave Chris on the water point (it is not a busy one) whilst we pre-positioned a car at the Queen's Head,  So far, so good until someone came along needing water!  We left Molly with Chris to help move the boat across the cut and moor up.

As soon as we got back we joined them and headed for the first lock hoping for a couple of minutes to get ourselves prepared.  Sadly that did not work either as a boat loomed up behind us, so we had to go.  Sandwiches were made very speedily during the 700 metre transit from lock 58 to 57.  Then it was all hands on deck and go for it until we reached the bottom lock.

Just a few pictures to mark the day

Molly. Jo and Noah

There was a surprising amount of traffic - sadly for us most were going down, but we did pass a couple coming up.

We still have our supervisor 


Molly, Jo and Evelyn

Jo and Noah

 It took us a little longer than usual, but 4.5 hours is not too bad a time for this flight, especially as all the locks were against us - well apart from the two when we passed boats going up.  We usually stop in a lock to have a quick lunch, but no chance today with two boats hard on our heels.  It is the first time (and I hope the last) that I have carried my sandwich round in a bag and eaten it as locks filled and emptied!

The boat immediately ahead of us stopped before the bottom and we then caught up with the one ahead of that.  It was no wonder they were slower than us - the lady who was doing most of the locking was walking with the aid of a crutch!  Understandably she was not crossing lock gates, so her helmsman was working the non towpath gates.

To our surprise we had the pick of the moorings, so moored in our place of choice - away from the pub and dog kennels, but not overlapping the lock landing this time!

Next job was to retrieve my car which is when we discovered that we had left Jo's car keys in my car at Tardebigge!  There was nothing for it, but for me to walk the 2.75 miles back.  Monty did not complain! I clocked up over 25,000 steps and completed 11 miles, so felt I could enjoy my dinner.

Once I returned we headed home, changed and went out to Pizza Express for dinner.  There we met up with our daughter, Sarah, son in law, Paul and their two boys, George and Jamie.  We had an excellent meal - a great way to end a busy day.

Molly and Jo stayed at our house whilst Noah and Evelyn came back to the boat.  Noah has wanted to spend a night on the boat for a long time, so he was a very happy lad.  We always forget just how long it takes to prepare the extra bed and then put it away again the next day!  We discovered this time that the shower is a good space to store the back rests from the dinette that are not required when it is a bed.  There was certainly more floor space and less to fall over.

After all that exertion we all slept well.

Monday 29th October 2018
The Queen's Head to Droitwich Spa Marina
4.5 miles, 15 locks

Once Jo and Molly arrived back at the boat we set off for the Stoke flight of 6.  Someone was smiling on us as it was dry again - a little chillier, but definitely no wet stuff.  Sarah, George and Jamie were dropped at the bottom of the Stoke flight by Paul,  having pre-positioned a car at the marina - they did ensure they brought the car keys with them! They walked up to meet us,

so we had 9 pairs of hands to help with the locking!  A few too many in some ways, however, as Noah said, it made a great fun family day out.

Many hands really did make light work and with very few boats on the move we had an easy run.

Molly, Jo, Sarah, George and Jamie walking towards Stoke bottom lock

Evelyn preparing the bottom lock

Noah taking a break
At least with the locks being separated on this trip you do get time for a cuppa
Just to prove I do exist and do occasionally take the helm!

We were glad of the fire

Evelyn, Sarah, Jamie, George, Jo and Molly
We motored on to Hanbury Turn where we pulled over and moored up to have a well earned lunch
There were sandwiches to go with the sausages and pork pies!
After lunch it was a quick right turn on to the Droitwich Canal and the last three locks at Hanbury.  There were two volunteer lock keepers on hand to teach the children how to operate side ponds.

A quick line up for a photo before we dropped the first lock

 Volunteer lock keepers can turn their hands to a multitude of tasks including acting as a photographer to capture our rather large party of lock hands plus the helmsman!  We are always grateful for any help we get along the way.

First stop in the marina was to fill up with diesel, so we have a full tank for the winter.  Sarah drove Jo and I back to the Queen's Head to retrieve our cars whilst Molly helped Chris to return Tentatrice to her mooring where she will stay until at least March.

Once Jo and I returned with the car we loaded up and headed home for a busy half term week as you will see in the next post.  We will return in due course to do some much needed cleaning (10 pairs of feet leave a lot to be desired!), retrieve the bedding for a wash before storage and the composting loo for its annual deep clean. We have other jobs to do over the winter, but our first priority after half term is getting the house ready for a decorator - a good time to have a much needed clear out.

It was a great fun two days - a journey we could have done on our own, but it is so much better with company.  Thank you all for your help.

Monday, 22 October 2018

There ....... 20th - 21st October 2018

A quick update on what we have been up to since we returned to dry land apart from the usual round of appointments (dentist, doctor, hairdresser, optician etc), laundry and finding homes for all the 'stuff' we brought back from the boat.

We arrived home to find we had some unwelcome house guests - a wasps' nest in the eaves over the garage.  A man with a van was called

Suitably attired he exterminated them - I am glad to report his efforts were successful.

Saturday 13th October we all met up as a family to celebrate a birthday. We had a long table in the corner which was great, but rather dark when it came to taking photos, so I don't have many good ones.  The meal was excellent and the staff very attentive. 

Our son Mark, daughter Sarah and her son Jamie

Molly and her brother, Noah

and their sister - a very pensive looking Evelyn.  It looks as though she is looking at some sort of electronic device, but that was not the case - they are not allowed at the table and long may that continue.

After the meal we all went to the bottom of the pub garden where they have a teepee which was empty - we made good use of the space and enjoyed some more time together before the taxis arrived to transport us home.  The photos are all rather dark - it was certainly cosy in there,

Our son, Mark and daughter in law, Jo - Mum and Dad to Molly, Noah and Evelyn.

Sarah's eldest son, George with our son in law in the background.  I failed to get a better one of Paul.

The weather had been good all day and we had a great evening. This was our first evening meal out together - manageable now that Jamie is that bit older.  We spent time together on the Sunday, but huddled inside - the walks were abandoned due to torrential rain!

The only other event of note was Monty having to go 'under the knife'.  He has a history of lumps and has had two removed in the past which were sent for analysis and came back as benign.  When a new one appeared early this year on the top of his head near to where his collar sits it was decided (in consultation with the vet) to leave well alone unless it caused problems.  Over the summer it grew and was catching on his collar and bleeding, so it had to go.  In the meantime two others had appeared - one under his right front 'armpit' and the other just above where his tail meets his bottom.  Surgery was performed last Monday, so he still has his stitches in, but he does not seem in the least bit bothered by any of it.  At his post op check we got the okay for him to be off the lead as long as he was not allowed to bounce around with other dogs or chase a ball.  I really thought he would look very odd with three bald patches and a fourth where the cannula goes in, but he has so much fur around his neck and bottom that those holes are not visible at all.  It is just the cannula spot and under his right front leg that look a little odd.

And so back to boating.  Tentatrice is booked in to have her bottom blacked commencing Monday 22 October, so just seven miles from Droitwich Spa Marina and a mere 45 locks!!

Saturday 20th October 2018
Droitwich Spa Marina to The Queen's Head, Stoke Pound
4.5 miles, 15 locks

With food and clothes for just one night, we left home Saturday morning heading for the marina.  All was quiet in the next morning and we were ready to leave a little before 11am, but horror of horrors, suddenly the marina spun into life with not one, or two, or three, but four boats leaving just as we were untying our ropes!  We would be turning left to go up the Hanbury locks.  Sadly so were three of the four ahead of us!

There were two volunteer lock keepers on duty, so it was all as efficient as it could be, the weather was clement (misty, a little chilly, but dry) we were not in a hurry, so no problem and time to enjoy chatting to fellow boaters and the VLKs.  By the time we got into the first lock there were three more boats behind us.  I had managed to ascertain that the three boats ahead of us were turning right at Hanbury heading towards Worcester, whilst we were turning left.  We did hope that would mean there was no one immediately ahead of us for the next 12 locks.

This is the latest decoration at the top of the Hanbury flight

At Hanbury turn there is a lovely new wall that was under construction when we left in April

The next flight is the six locks at Astwood and joy of joys as we arrived a boat was exiting the bottom lock - all six locks were empty, so a very easy run up for us.  It has never happened before and probably never will again, but we were grateful.

The next flight at Stoke Prior also has 6 locks and lo and behold as we approached the first one there was a boat coming out!

Would they all be ready for us?  Sadly not as there was a boat going up the next lock ahead of us, but I guess 7 out of 12 locks in our favour was pretty good going.

When we arrived at the Queen's Head in glorious sunshine there was a 21st birthday party going on in the Teepee and also being Saturday night we wanted to be as far away from the pub as possible.  It was all rather crowded, but we managed to squeeze in at the far end before the first of the Tardebigge locks.  Although the day had been lovely the fire had been lit and we were grateful for its warmth on what turned out to be a chilly night.

Sunday 21st October 2018
Queen's Head to Tardebigge
2.5 miles, 30 locks

It was a typical misty Autumn morning, but with the promise of a decent day ahead of us.  You can see by this misty photo that we really did have to squeeze into the last mooring - stern button to stern button with the boat behind us and even then we were overlapping the lock moorings by a few feet.

Not something we would usually do, but there was still a lot of space for anyone else who needed to use the lock landing.  Late afternoon a cruiser came and moored there overnight, but to give him his due he was off at 8am.

We knew that the cruiser would be ahead of us, possibly another who had gone through the bottom lock late afternoon (you can moor overnight a couple of locks up) and another (nb Ernest) moored further back, but we were waiting for family reinforcements, so were in no hurry to get going.  Our daughter, son in law and their two boys were coming to lend a much appreciated hand - well eight hands!

Ernest set off a short time ahead of us and with so many crew on our boat it was not long before we caught them up.  Jamie and I went ahead and offered to lock ahead for the Ernest crew - an offer that was gratefully received.

Jamie is a very proficient lock worker - he can wind some of the paddles up on these small gates and is more than able to wind them down (I always have my hand on the spindle just in case!)

Having had two breakfasts (!) pushing these small gates is a doddle

and just occasionally he was left in charge of Monty

We had many and varied conversations in our hour or so working together.  I discovered his maths is pretty good as well - he asked me how many stitches Monty had had.  I said I was not sure, but probably 3 at each site - as quick as a flash he came back with a total of 9!  As time went on the need for sustenance was apparent - he was 'starving'!  We left Ernest to it (we were over half way by then) and went back to Tentatrice where we all took a short break in a lock for a quick lunch.

Paul, George

and Sarah did their fair share of work as well

The boys raced up to the top of the reservoir - I snapped a picture of George and something really odd has happened as there appears to be two of him!

The reservoir is very dry

in fact it looks as though someone has taken the plug out!

There was one unusual sight near the reservoir - the horse is looking away as they were approaching a van where some fishermen were loading loads of fishing and camping gear and he/she did not like it.  The rider ended up getting off and walking the horse past them - she said she did not fancy ending up in the lock!

George beginning to start early celebrations as we near the top

 Eventually there was cause for real celebration - lock 57 - just one more to go!

How often does one get quite such a blue sky in late October as we looked up to Tardebigge church

As the boat approached the final lock off to our left came the unmistakable sound of a shepherd's whistle and sure enough there was a collie earning its dinner

Finally we were out of the top lock heading to the water point past the winding hole at the wharf on the left.  Chris was left to empty rubbish, yellow water, do the pots and sort the boat out whilst I went to rescue our car.

The weather had been amazing - Paul's car said it was 19C as he took Sarah and I back to her car, so she could take me to Droitwich to get ours.

We were, as we always are, very grateful for the help, but it also makes a great fun day out, helped enormously by fantastic weather.

Once I returned with the car we reversed back to moor up near the dry dock (at the back of the winding hole) where we left the boat for Crafted boats to move into the dry dock on Monday).

Chris went across today (Monday) to collect the stern hatch so he can rust treat and paint the underside whilst the boat is safely under cover, so that will keep him busy this week.

Next week - well she will have to go back down to the marina again.