Thursday, 27 October 2016

And Finally....

Wednesday 12th October 2016
Tardebigge to the Queens Head, Stoke Pound
2.5 miles, 30 locks

Today we were to be joined by Jane, Chris and Monty's pal, Kiera once again.  Worcestershire managed to slow their progress with a number of roads closed, but they made it safely and after a quick cup of coffee we were off.  Jane asked me how many locks and looked somewhat shocked when I said '30 - the 10 you did with us at Audlem 10 days ago were just a taster!'.

I am afraid there is no such thing as a free ride when there are so many locks to do, but it was dry and bright despite being a little chilly to start with.  Quite a few of the following photos are self explanatory - I just love this flight which is just as well as we have to do it so often!  It is quiet, safe and very pretty.

This is one of Monty's favourite places - up on the top of the reservoir - lots of room to run and play.  It has a different meaning for Kiera - she cannot resist disappearing and re-appearing dripping wet after enjoying a swim!

It was shortly after the reservoir that we stopped for lunch - hence the need for the Tesco top up yesterday.  Crew need to be sustained!!  Kiera had to be 'wrapped' before being allowed inside to dry off.

Then it was off again and all hands to the pump

The only thing I hate about this flight is going past this house and running the gauntlet of

these two - they both bark and Monty feels honour bound to reply and if he is not on his lead his feet go up on the wall, so the dogs are nose to nose - too close for comfort for me, so he is taken past as fast as I can go.

And here we are with Chris M at the helm about to go round the final bend.

 The last lock is in sight and just check out that sky - still bright and sunny

However if you look back as the boat approaches the lock the sky tells a different story all together.

But we made  it in to the lock and

and out the other side to the mooring that Monty has bagged without getting wet.  We had literally all just got inside and sat down with a well earned cuppa when the heavens opened.

Thankfully it did not last long as Jane and Chris' car had to be recovered, so after a brief rest Chris M, Monty, Kiera and I headed off back up the flight to get it.  This flight is so familiar to us that you don't really expect to find anything new, but today we did - this bench has appeared since we last came this way

I don't think I would fancy swimming in it now!

This may be new - at least I have not noticed it before.

Some things I am glad to say remain constant.  Chris and I often see this elderly gentleman with his little dog Fred. We think the man must be in his late 80's, if not in his 90's and we think he does the walk from the road at the top of the flight to the reservoir when ever it is dry, summer and winter.  He takes his time and stops on this bench for a cup of tea.  How far he has to walk to get to the tow path we have no idea, but he must walk at least 1.5 to 2 miles most days, which is probably why he is still able to.

If you come this way by boat I would urge you to stop and walk over behind the C&RT buildings (either go across the top lock top gate or walk round from the water point) and check out the work being done by the Worcester Birmingham & Droitwich Canal Society on the old lime kilns.  Today as we passed C&RT were helping out removing some of the waste soil at the site to be used as backfill work in the Shernall Green Area.  There had been an open weekend at the kilns, which sadly we missed.  It is a large ongoing project and all done by volunteers.

This is by the lime kiln site and must be one of the most unusual post boxes in the country?

 And finally - another new bench by the water point at Tardebigge - much needed as the old one was more than a little tired.

Just as Chris and I arrived at their car the heavens opened again, so someone was smiling on us somewhere.  We had dinner in the Queens Head before they headed home.  Thank you both for your help - the time just flew by and so had we as the trip from casting off to tying up had taken just 3 hours.

Thursday 13th October 2016
The Queens Head to Droitwich Spa Marina
4.5 miles, 15 locks

Once again we were lucky enough to have a willing helper - Thalia was with us early morning and once again we were off in dry and relatively warm conditions.

The week before half term and most of the Black Prince fleet are 'at home' by the bottom lock at Stoke Prior.  We stopped briefly just after that lock to collect the new window from Crafted Boats (formerly JH Pinders & Sons).  Sadly when we went to fit it a few days later we found it was 1 cm too small, so another is on order and in the mean time Chris's emergency repair is still holding up.

I am always glad to see this lock on the Astwood Flight - it means we are nearly 'home' and it is also one of the prettiest locks we pass through.

It is always a riot of colour

and so well tended

And then on to Hanbury to find that in addition to Thalia we had not one, but two voluntary lock keepers to aid our passage.

And here we are at the marina entrance.  Typically there is always a boat when you don't need one!  It was only the second one we had seen all day!

Still we made it round, went to the office to fill up with diesel and buy some coal before heading over to our mooring on the south side of the marina.

Once again someone was smiling at us - we were all sitting down for lunch when the heavens opened!  I then ran Thalia back to Stoke Pound to her car before going back to get Chris, Monty and a few necessities before we headed to our daughter's with a take away to celebrate her birthday.  A fitting end to a good trip which started and finished with Thalia as extra crew - thank you again for your help.

Final stats for this trip:

348.5 miles, 290 locks, 19 swing/lift bridges, 17 tunnels, 28 aqueducts and we have passed under motorways on 13 occasions. 

We rarely got wet - we think the wet weather gear only came out on three occasions, which is pretty amazing.  The highlights were Llangollen and Chester as well as meeting up with friends, family a couple of fellow bloggers and our time cruising with nb Cleddau & crew - it is becoming a tradition that has to be encouraged!!  All in all a great success.

So what have we been doing since then?  Well appointments galore - the first was the optician for Chris and he now has 2 new pairs of glasses and is delighted to find the world is once again clear and focused!  Then for both of us blood tests (annual MOT's), flu jabs, hair cuts, chiropodists and still to come dental check ups and blood test follow ups with the doctor.

We have spent quite a few days and nights back on the boat cleaning, polishing and painting with our ever faithful supervisor ensuring we did it all correctly.

First things first - pressure wash and then paint below the gunwales

Steam clean, scrub, wash, wax and polish the roof.  I have to say it is a good view from up there!

Just as we were about to turn the boat round to do the other side these two adventurers ventured forth, but I am glad to say that as soon as they realised what we were doing they retreated and kept well out of the way until we had winded and tied up again.

So are we finished?  No I am afraid not.  The tunnel bands need a coat of paint and there are few rust spots that need attention and then there is inside - I have made a start and a really big deep clean, but we will be going back again over the next couple of weeks, but on a daily basis as we pay a low rate of mooring fees which means no staying overnight for four winter months.

So why did we not stay this week to finish off?  Well we had far more important and fun things to do. Our daughter in law brought Molly, Noah and Evelyn down yesterday and we take them back home on Saturday and will return here on Sunday.  This evening George and Jamie are coming for dinner and a sleep over - the first time all five have stayed with no parents.  The youngest is nearly five, they are all well behaved and helpful, so it should be fun rather than mayhem!

And absolutely finally for this year - I have been taking photos of boat names of our grandchildren, but it has taken me until this summer to get the full set of five:

There are a plethora of Mollys of varying types

A couple of Georges

We really must take George to Birmingham to have lunch on 'his' boat one day!

Just one Noah

and Evelyn

and finally the one that eluded me - James also known at Jamie - I came close with this

and as Eric Morecambe might have said here I have all the right letters, but not necessarily in the right order!

and then at last on 18 September this year we went past this one near Swanley Bridge Marina.

 Total stats for 2016 not including France:
437 miles, 507 locks, 37 swing/lift bridges, 29 tunnels, 28 aqueducts and we passed under motorways on 22 occasions.  

There will be a blog about France in due course, but probably not until after Christmas as there is a lot on for us between now and then.  So I will wish you all a rather early Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year!