Wednesday, 21 August 2013


Droitwich Spa Marina to Hanbury Turn and back again
2 miles, 6 locks

We had a very important visitor today - Mark Langley from Waterways World.  His task for the day - to review Tentatrice.  We left home early and on arrival at the Marina, Chris deployed the hose for a wash and brush up on the outside whilst I hoovered inside and then cleaned the windows.  Jobs done it was time for a shower.  I went to the shower block first, had my shower and stood there dripping when I realised I had forgotten something rather vital - my towel!  What to do.  Put on the clothes I had arrived in and nip back hoping no one would notice I was dripping?  Well that was my first thought, but thankfully I realised I had my mobile with me. A quick call to Chris and he was able to come to my rescue - my knight is shining armour!

Mark arrived promptly at 11am.  A couple of hours of tea and chat along with a lot of photos.  Then we headed off to Hanbury Turn (the nearest place to wind (turn around)).  It was about a mile each way with the 3 Hanbury Locks each way, so it did take a good hour and a half.

We were 'snapped' from all angles

 and we were glad to see the VLK at Hanbury Locks - thank you David for your help both ways

We had a lovely day and look forward to seeing the article in the October issue out in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

A family day out

Droitwich Spa Marina to Netherwich Basin, Droitwich
8 locks, 6 swing bridges, 4 miles
A family day out - well nearly all the family.  We were minus our youngest Grandson (J) and his Daddy as J is only 21 months old and not really up for a whole day on a boat.  Next year we hope.  So the rest of us (our son, Mark, daughter in law, Jo, and their three children, M (nearly 10), N (6) and E (4.5) along with our daughter, Sarah, and her eldest son, G (5) set sail for what is becoming a well practised day trip to Droitwich Spa Basin and back again.  There is not much more I can add about the route, but I do have a fair few photos of the family fun.  We were hoping the day would be dry, but were not expecting the glorious sunshine we had all day.  Are we righteous I wonder?

Trainee crew - N,E,G & M
 A full boat
 Well it beats sending them up chimneys!
 G and his Mum, Sarah
 Moored up in Vine Park whilst....
 the crew let off steam
all tied up
  a balancing act
 Mum, Jo wants one in the garden
 Then off to the Gardener's Arms for a first class lunch - the children making a wish in the wishing well.  It was here that Sarah and son G left us as G had a birthday party to go to.

 Back to the boat for pudding
 There were clean plates all round
 The girls did the washing up
 Daddy sitting comfortably!
 My swing bridge assistant
They all had a go at 'helping' Grandpa steer

 We had a fabulous day out - the first of many we hope.  When we were mooring we are not quite sure what happened but there was a shout from Mark (on the stern) to Jo (in the bow) to come quickly as Noah had fallen in!  Thankfully it was only his foot.  It was a bit chaotic around the stern at the time - Grandpa and Daddy trying to moor up, Monty on the stern and some extraneous dog on the pontoon, so not perhaps surprisingly that he lost concentration and lost his footing.  I am glad to report that despite a dog within inches of his boat, Monty did not desert his back deck.

 Monty seeing his latest visitors off the premises

 Now a bit of a postscript - our neighbour on her first outing in the big outside world - Brunhilde aged around 4 months

She even came to visit, but fortunately Monty did not notice
 however when she is on her boat and he is on his he is happy to just sit and watch which is more than he does to the cat that lives next door at home!

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

A Darian dog's day!

Droitwich Spa Marina to Netherwich Basin, Droitwich
8 locks, 6 swing bridges, 4 miles
Today welcomed aboard two very special people in Monty’s life – his breeder (of the Darian Border Collie line) and her husband, Sheila and Chris.  Of course, today above all days we hoped he would be an especially good boy.  However, the first thing he did was get off his boat without being told, not once, but three times! Never has he done this before!  In his defence on each occasion it was when a fly swat was being used against invading wasps.  I gather his Mother, Folly, disappears when such implements of torture are wafted about, so maybe we can blame her?!  Mind it would have helped if he had come back on board at the first request instead of putting his bottom in the air in the attitude of ‘I want to play and you can chase me’!  I am glad to say that for the rest of the day he was quite a good boy and was very patient whilst we spent a couple of hours in the pub over lunch.

The trip was all plain sailing and was enjoyed by all of us – we really appreciated the day away from the chaos at home and also the chance to get to know Sheila and Chris a lot better.  The weather was kind – it only rained when we were in the pub garden under an awning.

Heading off with our guests

Sheila getting ready to push a gate - we do like to ensure our visitors don't get bored!

Chris gaifully employed
Do you think he was happy with his job?

We allow them some time to sit and admire the view.

The van in the background was collecting a party of very elderly folks after they had had a day out on the Pamela May (Trip boat).  On our way in the morning they were being off loaded from the van onto the boat and we had a rather longer wait than usual before we could open the swing bridge as wheel chairs and a lady in fine fettle, but making her way slowly with the aid of two sticks crossed.  We were told they were running behind and we were only too happy to wait.  On the return above we were assured that they had had a great day out which was wonderful to hear.  I do hope if I get to be that elderly that someone will take me out for a day occasionally.

Now some say that ladies can talk.....
.... well the two Chris' had a good go at putting the world to rights - I hope it is a safer place tonight?
still chatting!
Mind to be fair I think Sheila and I did our fair share as well - we were just not caught on camera!

And Monty - well as usual he did a lot of waiting very patiently at locks

His patience was rewarded as I walked with him from the last lock back to the marina - the towpath around here is worth walking if you can.  There are a lot of these on what is called the Wychaven Trail

 The answer is on the back

One a bit further along after the marina asks what sounds you can hear - the answer they have is bulrushes dancing in the breeze and birds singing.  Sadly all I could hear that day was traffic!  They are a welcome addition to a walk and I am sure have helped teach some youngsters (and maybe the not so young) a bit about this restored canal.

Then there is this sign - very useful for boaters you might think
However the reeds are so high it cannot be seen from the water!
Monty and I made it back to our berth, but where is our boat?

No we still cannot see her

Ah there she is...

Once we were safely moored and had a welcome cup of tea, Monty saw our guests safely off the premises.  Sheila and Chris can just be seen to the left of the building in the distance - that is our rather swish facility block.
Thank you to both of you for a grand day out.  The work in the house should be finished tomorrow and we can then start the big clean up - no pressure - it just has to be done for Saturday when the family are coming to stay!  7 of us for overnight and 11 for a BBQ at lunchtime!

Postscript 1: we have new neighbours at the marina with a boat name I am particularly enamoured with
Postscript 2:  There was a voicemail message when we got home from the man at Waterways World.  He is hoping to visit us in the next couple of weeks to review our pride and joy, so keep watching this space and as soon as we know which issue it will be in, details will be reported here.

Next trip: Sunday 18th August - same route, but with the family this time.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Thanks to the forgotten keys.......

JL Pinder & Son, Stoke Prior to Droitwich Spa Marina.
4 miles, 11 locks

We did not get wet!  A late start as Chris finished off the painting in the kitchen before we headed off to Pinder’s to take Tentatrice back to Droitwich Spa Marina.  Chris’ car had been left there waiting our return, however, when we got to Pinder’s someone remembered he had left the keys to his car at home!  I left him to sort out the boat with Bob (boat builder) and went off to get them.  The rain was relentless with the windscreen wipers frequently on full speed.  Keys retrieved, I returned to Stoke Prior and by the time we set off the rain had stopped. A fortunate lapse of memory.  Chris' senior moment of the day - mine came later.
The first thing we had to do was go up Stoke Bottom lock,

and go back down again.  Coming up behind us was nb Lady Hannah
who I had helped up Stoke Locks when I was doing a VLK stint a few months back.  He was doing a single hand stint at the time. We also met them at Tardebigge top lock yesterday.  They kindly finished the lock for us and off we went.  

The rain held off for the rest of the trip which was fairly plain sailing.  We met a Canaltime boat coming towards us crewed by a UK couple and Australian friends. Sadly, although they said they had enjoyed the week as an experience they all said they would never repeat it, so four less converts.  The Australian gentleman said it was like driving in Cornwall – all high hedges and no views. 

He needs to get out more!!  Mind you this did make me realise that autumn is round the corner.

We were not sure what was going on here at Hanbury Turn
but there was certainly a lot of blue smoke.
I was pleased to see the VLK, Dave, at Hanbury locks when we arrived around 16:15 – we thought he might have gone home.  I had checked our VLK calendar, so knew that Dave was on duty today, but 16:00 is the notional knocking off time.  We certainly appreciated the help.
 I had jumped ship at the top of Astwood flight . After the second lock my waterproof was returned to the boat.  As I got back on board as we left Hanbury locks (Monty needed a walk) over 2 hours later Chris' comment to me was 'that is a very nice inside out t-shirt'!  Evens then on the senior moments today!

We are now safely moored and we are staying on board overnight as we are off on our day trip to Droitwich Spa with Monty’s breeder and her husband tomorrow.  We left Monty for the first time (apart from trips to the toilet block) whilst we went to Waitrose.  He made a lot of noise!  Our neighbour did say it was not continuous – Monty is going to have to get used to this life afloat.  Chris and Monty have walked down to the M5 bridge to check the water levels - the verdict is that they are good, so we should have no problems tomorrow.

The snags have all been sorted and we are happily re-united with Tentatrice.  They even managed to get rid of the scratch along the side.