Saturday, 14 September 2013

We are off!

Monday 1st September
Droitwich Spa Marina to The Queen's Head, Stoke Pound
4.5 miles, 15 locks

Today saw the start of our first 'proper' cruise.  We were joined by another set of friends (Jane, Chris and their black lab, Kiera) who did their first trip aboard with us along with their granddaughter on 25th July.  We all boarded on Sunday night, so they are our first non family overnight visitors.  As they were sleeping the in saloon we took Monty into the bedroom with us - big mistake - he cried and whinged most of the night!  We are not sure is he did not like being hemmed in (he was trapped on the far side of the bed by the bow doors) or whether he wanted to be with Kiera. The next night we left all the doors open and he was fine, so lesson learnt - do not put him in a confined space!

Anyway I digress - the plan was for Jane and Chris to be with us for two days to get us to the top of Tardebigge - help we were very grateful for.  Yet again the weather was on our side - warm and sunny.  Sometimes too warm, but maybe I should not say that!

This stretch is all very familiar territory to us, so not a lot to say.  There were two boats coming down at Hanbury locks, so once again these were easy.

Jane and I walked from Hanbury to Astwood so Kiera and Monty could work off some beans!


 Astwood flight

They are getting used to waiting!

One of the Astwood locks
 We stopped at Pinders to collect our fuel dip stick.  We were hoping they might have the second shelf for the oven, but no, not yet.  I have to say it seems daft supplying a cooker with just one shelf, but that is how it came!  Then it was up the Stoke Flight which we know well from our time as VLK's.  An easy task with four adults on board.

The moorings at the Queen's Head are rather popular now it is open again, so when we arrived we were moored right opposite the garden, which was very busy.  It would have been rude not to pop over for a beer in the sunshine!

 A great spot, but further along would have been better - less noise from what is now a very busy pub.

 By the time we got back there was a space further along, so a dirty dart was made and we are safely moored again.  It does not look a lot further away, but it was far enough not to hear the music
 and the view the other way was much better

The Queen's Head is now a very busy pub, so if you are passing this way and want to eat I would advise booking as early as possible.  We met someone at the top of Tardebigge one Tuesday who was planning to eat there that night.  We advised him to phone which he did.  This was mid-morning and all they could offer was 17:30 or 21:30.  I booked on Saturday 24th August for Monday 1st September for 18:30 and I got the last table by the window!  Prices are not cheap (£12.95 for fish and chips (but the best I have ever had), £22.95 for a rib eye or sirloin steak), but the food is excellent and if you order between 17:30 and 19:00 (hence our early booking of 18:30) you get 25% off the food.  Also much to our surprise we were within 'Happy Hour' and got a fiver off the bottle of wine.  Each meal comes with a salad bowl which you can fill from a great selection and we had that as our starter.  No one had dessert or coffee, but none was needed as we were all full and went back to the boat for coffee.  The bill for four including the tip was £94 - for that we had 3 G & T's, one large glass of rose wine, 1 bottle of Merlot, 2 rib eye steaks, one lamb meal and a Cajun chicken burger.  They were all very good, so although not a cheap meal out we felt it was worth the money. Just choose your time.  The other offer they have is between midday and 7pm you can have two pizzas for the price of one.

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