Tuesday, 28 April 2015

And back again......

Stoke Works to Droitwich Spa Marina
3 miles, 9 locks

It was bright and sunny, but cold and blustery with the odd spot of rain and even a few hail stones! Not a bad day to boat and we think one of the better ones for this week, so we set off from Stoke Works to return Tentatrice to her mooring in Droitwich Spa Marina.  It was, I am glad to say, an uneventful trip, but oh how we enjoyed it.  Roll on 16th May when we head off for the summer.

There was boat traffic about including two boats traversing the Astwood flight with just one person doing all the locking for both boats!  Two very slow boats to China, but thankfully we crossed paths rather than following behind them.  Then at Hanbury locks there was another boat - well what can I say, where do I start..!  We were in the top lock and were joined by a VLK (volunteer lock keeper) who stayed with our boat to open the bottom gates whilst I went to the next lock to get it ready.  I spied a boat in the bottom lock coming up, so naturally, as the lock was empty, I went to open the bottom gates ready for them.  I really do not know what went on at that first lock, but they took an age.  They left the gates open (thankfully) but left both paddles up!  By the time they reached the middle lock both crew were on board - for those that do not know Hanbury the locks are possibly 200 yards apart, so not exactly an arduous walk.  They are very deep, so if you go into a lock on the boat it is not an easy job to get out.  In they came and there they stayed just waiting for things to happen round them!!  The VLK had joined me by that time and went back up to the top lock with them and once again I think both crew stayed on the boat waiting for the VLK to do all the work!  I don't know if he got thanked, but certainly there was no word of thanks to me or even recognition that I might actually have been doing something to help them!!  We quietly went on down to the bottom lock and back to the marina.

Not many photos today

The pretty lock cottage at the lock before the bottom Astwood lock is coming alive with spring colour

They are still flying the flags of the USA

Wales, the UK and Canada - but these pictures are better than the last lot with no washing in the background!

Hanbury bottom lock which shows how deep these locks are and also how close together which was why I was so astounded that one member of the crew on the boat coming up did not walk!

Back to the marina and the new office is open and the old metal cabin has gone.  The offices are lovely inside if a little basic at present.  There will be a waiting area for boat crews downstairs with chairs that are relatively comfortable - they do not want to encourage one to tarry and disturb the working of the office.  For chat and socialisation they are going to furnish a boaters lounge upstairs with coffee machines etc.  Definitely a valuable addition to the marina.  It has come a long way in 4 years, is always busy and virtually full.

We had to wait until we got to the marina to see any ducklings - a family with five youngsters

and a Mum with just two

So that is it until 16th March when we head off for the summer - first north to Tixall Wide via Birmingham, Fazeley and Fradley Junctions.  There we will meet up with Boatwif and the Captain from nb Cleddau.  Then back down to Worcester for the Worcester boat festival on 12/13 June - if anyone reading this is going, please let us know and we will look out for you - we are booked in for the weekend.  It is our home canal and they are celebrating their bicentennial - something we felt we could not miss. From there down the Severn to Sharpness and onto Bristol (weather, tides and pilot permitting), next along the Kennet and Avon to London with diversions down the Basingstoke and the Wey before we think about heading for home. That should keep us out of mischief for a while.  If you see us, do give us a wave and say hello.

Monday, 20 April 2015

Family Outing & some thoughts about life jackets

Saturday 11th April 2015
Droitwich Spa Marina to Stoke Works
3.25 miles, 11 locks

Just a quick trip back to Stoke Works accompanied by our daughter, son in law, their two boys (the Bromsgrove Boys) and our eldest granddaughter from Derby.  The sun shone, the journey was uneventful, but fun which was the aim of the game.  This was a first trip to include locks for the younger of the Bromsgrove Boys.  He is now 3.5 and was up for helping for a while. There were plenty of people to help him watch a DVD when boredom set in!  The other two Derby grandchildren were supposed to be with us, but sadly missed out due to upset tummies which don't go well with boating!  Just a few photos for posterity.

 Just to show that Monty has not forgotten his 'locking drill'!

Now to life jackets.  I was doing a stint of volunteer lock keeping on Easter Monday and somehow (I still don't really know how) I ended up in the canal just below a lock.  Because I was on duty for the C&RT I was wearing a life jacket.  The water was very deep and I have to say that I was very glad that the life jacket did it's stuff and popped me up to the surface.  I must have hit my leg on the underside of a boat I although I did not realise I had hurt myself until I had 'squelched' my way the mile back to the car! It is still being dressed as it became infected, but it is on the mend.  I visited minor injuries the next day and they gave me a tetanus booster (something we had not thought of).  I am a good swimmer, but the shock of unexpectedly finding myself underwater really made me appreciate the life jacket. We always wear ours on big rivers & at sea (well the Wash!), but at no other time.  It has made me wonder if we should round locks - particularly long flights.  It was dry underfoot & I had sensible shoes on, so it can happen any time.  Food for thought perhaps?

If the boaters I was with read this - thank you for your help and concern - it was really appreciated, especially escorting me back to our car.