Thursday, 15 May 2014


Thursday 24th - Wed 30th April 2014 - Playing catch up before we head off on 23rd May!  This was our first trip of the year.

Thursday 24 April: Droitwich Spa Marina to Queens Head, Stoke Pound
4.5 miles, 15 locks

I have no idea!  Well maybe because we can! 

Last Christmas I bought Chris (and I!) tickets to see the roadshow of IASIHAC in Birmingham.  For non-Radio 4 listeners this is a comedy programme – I am Sorry I Haven’t a Clue – they say it is the antidote to panel games - we think it is very clever and funny.  We have been lucky enough to catch quite a few live recordings – something that gets harder as the years go on.  If you do not get through to book within half an hour of tickets going on sale you are too late!  This is a roadshow, so will not be broadcast, but will follow the same format. 

Anyway, I digress.  The decision had to be made of how to get there.  Car which would take around 45 mins each way or boat taking a week?  We decided on the boat and set off on 24th April along with a friend we have met here through our VLK (Voluntary Lock Keeping) role.  It was good to be on the move again. 

We set off with dull, murky weather, but ended in glorious sunshine.  We moored by the Queens Head at Stoke Pound.

 The three of us went across for dinner.  Yet again a great meal, but you do need to book well ahead – it is good to see it so busy 9 months after it re-opened.  If you are coming this way the telephone number is 01527 557007.  Mon to Fri if you order between 5pm and 7pm you get 25% off, or you can have 2 pizzas for the price of two, but book well ahead.

Friday 25 April: Queens Head, Stoke Pound to below lock 58, Tardebigge
2.5 miles 29 locks
Up bright and early and we were ready to go just after 8am. 

The boat behind us was just that little bit quicker and beat us to the first lock, but despite being just two of them they were very efficient and pulled ahead of us.  They were probably 30 years younger than us, so we did not feel too bad about that! 
You can see how murky it was - this shows Thalia doing some lock labouring for us!
Today was Monty’s second birthday and I guess 5 hours of running along the tow path is a pretty good present when you are a Border Collie!  This was his first proper boat trip of the year and what a difference the last 6 months have made – last year we were keeping his lead on around the locks, but no more unless things get very busy.  He stayed with me as I locked ahead and would just lie and wait (even when I was on the far side of the lock) until I was ready to move.  He is virtually bomb proof with bikes, runners and other dogs and will ignore them all.  

This was a very common site today and we were all glad it was chilly and damp, so no pollen around.  

It was grey and overcast for the first 3 hours, but then it rained and rained and rained.  Poor Monty had to be washed down in a bucket.   We should have stopped and put on our waterproof trousers, but it did not seem too bad to start with.  We were wet through to the skin.  The washing machine had to be put on and these two pictures say more than I can in words.  

 Monty was so tired he hid his head under hid paw when he retreated for a well deserved nap!
We all had lunch and then Thalia went home in a taxi – I have to say she was a great help and we hope she will come aboard again in the not too distant future. 

Tardebigge is our home territory and we love the flight.  If anyone has ever been put off by the number of locks – don’t be.  They are not that hard (Lapworth we find much harder) and taken at a steady pace they are a joy to do even in the rain – well maybe not a joy!  It is a very pretty and peaceful flight. 

Saturday 26th April to Monday 28th April
Below lock 58 to just before Tardebigge tunnel, a trip across the cut and back again and down to below lock 58 again
0.5 mile, 2 locks

Chris and I stayed on board on Friday night and had to make a decision about what to do next.  We had hit a couple of snags with the boat, one very minor, but the other was to do with the water.  We had been advised by the boat builder that it would be fine to leave the water in the tank over the winter which we did, but it tasted a bit musty despite the filter and it also had bits floating in it.  When Monty refused to drink the water (he will drink out of puddles!) we decided we needed to take it seriously.  So Saturday morning we moved the boat up the last lock, winded and reversed down to be opposite the water point.  Our daughter came and picked me up, so I could collect my car.  Shopping and a rescue of our other car from Droitwich was achieved and then we went back on board for the night.  Sunday morning we moved across to the water point and drained the water tank, before filling her again – it took getting on for four hours!  It was a success and Monty is now drinking the water again and we can put the bottled stuff away for any future emergencies.  We moved back across the cut, moored up and went home for an early supper and we then drove to the theatre.  All in all a good decision as had we been walking from the boat we would have got soaked.  The show was very good – all that we expected of it.  We spent Sunday night at home.  Monday was more shopping, then to the boat waiting for our next set of volunteer crew to arrive!  We just moved down lock 58 and moored up for the night.

Tuesday 30th April
Below lock 58 at Tardebigge to the Queens Head, Stoke Pound
2.5 miles, 29 locks

It is very quiet at present with very few boats moving, so we did not rush to get going.  This was the first trip on a narrowboat for our friends, so instructions were given on locking etc. They are quick learners and were great lock hands – we did the trip in 3.5 hours. 
It was very hazy first thing

Monty sat himself on the towpath to await the off. 

Tim and Monty waiting

It turned into a warm balmy day.  The only downside to the good weather meant we could smell the rape crop.
Our crew hard at work

It turned into a lovely day

We went past the narrowboat graveyard 

C&RT arrived 

Spring is here 

We made it 

We moored up at Stoke Pound and went back to the pub again for another good meal.

Wednesday 30th April
Stoke Pound to Stoke Wharf
2.5 miles, 3 locks

Just a very quick nip up the Stoke Flight to the boat builders at Stoke Wharf for a few bits and bobs to be sorted.  It is all still under warranty, so now is the time to get things done.  Another few days with good friends – it is amazing how many willing volunteers there are around to be press ganged into hard manual labour and they all seem to enjoy it!

It was a beautiful morning as we pulled pins

Mo is in charge

Our fellow C&RT volunteers - boating or painting??? I think we had the better deal!

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