Thursday, 1 June 2017

Droitwich St Richard's Festival 2017

Tuesday 25th April 2017
Droitwich Spa Marina
1.5 miles, 5 locks, 3 swing bridges

The day had arrived to test out 'The Boot' - would we manage - well yes with no problems at all. It is not far and is a route we know well.

We have a resident swan in the marina - there have always been two, but so far this year we have only seen one with no sign of a nest, but maybe the other one is hiding somewhere with eggs/youngsters - I do hope so.  This one, however, gave me a start as I was standing at the bow holding the rope ready to cast off when it suddenly nibbled the back of my shoe!  Was it trying to get rid of us I wonder?!

And so we were off for the first time in 2017

Always a welcome sight - a boat coming towards us - one less lock to set

Into the first lock and on our way

After three locks we have to go under the M5 through the very low culvert.  As it has been so dry recently we decided to risk leaving the cratch up (we are high at the bow and usually take it down). Inch by inch Chris crept forward with Monty and I in the bow (ballast and look outs - we know our place!).  Would we make it

Yes just with just a few inches to spare

Just two locks and three swing bridges and we arrived in Netherwich Basin to find plenty of spaces to choose from.  We were very early for a festival that did not start until the Friday, but Chris had a consultant appointment on the Thursday, so we wanted to be in place before then.  It is an easy job to walk back to the marina (Monty is a good guide!) to get the car and we have found a good safe place that is free to park which is a bonus.

Monty's verdict about being back on the cut - well it is just too much like hard work!!

Sometime ago Bruce and Sheila from nb Sanity Again were coming through Droitwich and I gave them instructions to turn right out of Netherwich Basin until you reach the end of a row of white and blue cottages, then turn left along a ginnel and at the end you will find the Gardener's Arms.  I know they got there, but they must have wondered where I got the idea that they were blue as well as white as......

when we got there this time it was discover that the pretty blue shutters have gone!

The consultant appointment went well on Thursday - Chris was released from the boot.  The only shoes he could wear at that stage were sandals, but a big improvement on the cumbersome boot.

St Richard's Festival
28th April - 1st May 2017

I covered a lot of the preparation and events of this festival last year - if you missed it have a look HERE

This year they hired a marquee which included men to put it up and take it down - a big job the volunteers did not have to do and very smart it looked too.

Our help was more limited this year due to Chris's foot, but we did do a bit here and there.  I decided to do some exploring of Droitwich on my walks with Monty.  The main route out of the back of Vines Park leading to The Gardener's Arms crosses a bridge with this rather lovely view of the River Salwarpe. Can you spot the rather odd white shape on the left bank?

Yes it is a toilet being used as a plant pot!

We followed the footpath beside the Gardener's Arms to a railway crossing

With good clear views

both ways making trains easy to spot

We stopped, looked and listened and then proceeded on to find a choice - a cement path to the left or a path through woodland straight on.  We took the latter

which took us up to St Augustine church which, sadly was closed

but it was worth the climb for the views

It is quite an extensive cemetery

and very peaceful

When we came down again out of curiousity we followed the cement path - if you ever come this way - don't bother.  It leads to a housing estate that has the M5 as a very close neighbour.

Another walk took us along the tow path south to bridge 7 at Salwarpe - a walk Monty and I did last year, but there is a new edition on the towpath this year by Coney Meadow Reed Bed

 - this rather lovely picnic bench.  I do wonder how often it is used?

 When we got back we saw that 'site construction' was going on apace - a portable loo and a very primitive (it did the job)  elsan right by Netherwich Basin.


and boats were arriving - more each day.

The trade boats included Sandra and Barry on AreandAre

Helen and Andy of Wand'ring Bark with

the Jam Butty

Saturday I did a stint for Canal and River Trust on the main swing bridge opposite Waitrose - we are there to open and close  it for passing boats - not an arduous task especially as there were four of us and only about four boats all day!!  In the end I presented myself to Bill (below left) who is the Worcester Birmingham and Droitwich Canal Society co-ordinator and was asked to man one of the entrances/exit to Vines Park.  Chris helped out selling ducks (more about these later) for the Canal Society as it was a job he could do sitting down.

Bill above was marshalling the procession to the main Salt Well for the 'dressing of the well ceremony' that takes place each year on the Saturday.

The man with the mitre is 'St Richard'

What a wonderful sight spotted going down the main road by the park

The weather was kind on Saturday and Sunday, so it was a busy and colourful event.

The marquee was well used with various choirs and bands (not forgetting the ever ready supply of beer!).  Two of our grandsons stayed overnight on the Sunday. There was supposed to be a ukulele band on at 5pm and as George had played the ukulele at school I took them along, but for some reason the band failed to materialise. so after a very healthy tea of hot dog and chips we went back to the boat

and ended up playing ludo on my tablet.  Yes that is a big black plaster cast on Jamie's arm - he broke it on the first day of the Easter school holidays at gym club.  I had visions of him diving off some big piece of equipment, but no, it was a cart wheel that went wrong!  He broke the tibia and fibula and surgery was required. The cast only came off a week ago and I am glad to say that all seems to be well - young bones mend quickly.

Their parents came over on the Monday and we did the rounds of the festival.  First stop was to see Sandra from AreandAre - they had their faces painted last year - this year they opted for a glitter transfer on their arms.  As you can see they had raided the box of badges we have on the boat that date back to the 80's when we used to have hire boat holidays with our children.  They also look half asleep - maybe they did not sleep too well on the boat!

The transfers were very effective and lasted a good long while.

Monday was just as wet as it had been the year before. Monty and I did a very wet mini agility course

And then entered the 'Most handsome dog' class

The rain undid all my grooming efforts and he just looked a very wet and miserable soul with his lovely prick ears plastered back on his head.  Not up to our fourth place that we got last year I am afraid!

And so to the final event of the Festival - the duck race.  Large metal barriers had been placed across the river to catch

the 1025 ducks that raced along the river.  I am afraid that none of the five we bought got a mention

Once they arrive men in large waders

Scoop them up

and place them in large black bins

which are hauled up to dry land to be put away for next year.

Finally the barriers are retrieved and the river returns to its normal serene self.

Despite the rain on Monday it was a festival we really enjoyed.  The amount of work the volunteers put in is a credit to the Canal Society who were wholly responsible for the event this year.

Tuesday 2nd May
Netherwich Basin to Droitwich Spa Marina
1.5 miles, 5 locks, 3 swing bridges

It was time to head for home on a gloriously warm and sunny morning

We left at the same time as nb Marianne, also going to the marina, so we were able to take it in turns to work the swing bridges.

We were soon at the M5 culvert.  In view of the amount of rain we had had we decided to err on the side of caution and take the cratch down.  Once again it was slowly does it and in we went edging forward a bit at a time.  I was at the bow as look out and it was then we discovered just how little you can see

as this boat appeared in front of us - a quick reverse and a check with them that no one was behind them and off we went again.

we made it!

with a little room to spare

Just three more locks and we were back at the marina

Our 'stuff' was placed ready to go in the car when Monty took possession of his bed - probably ensuring he was 'packed' into the car with everything else.

A gentle start to 2017, but a very enjoyable one.

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