Tuesday, 18 July 2017

A question regarding the route from Kingswood Junction to Cambrian Wharf

Sitting here doing the planning for our next trip which starts early August has been pretty straightforward.  We will be going from Droitwich Spa Marina to Lapworth, then onto the Grand Union to join the South Oxford (new to us) down to the Thames (Oxford to Reading is also new water to us).  Along the Thames to Brentford (with a diversion down the Wey and back) before re-joining the GU to head for home.  All dates seem to work (we have two events that are fixed, one of which we need to come home for) and we have a rough idea of where we want to stop.

That all works until we get to Kingswood Junction, Lapworth.  The route from here to Cambrian Wharf is completely new to us with what looks like a lot of built up areas around Solihull.  I know a lot of you will have travelled this way, so any advice on things to look out for and, in particular, safe moorings would be very much appreciated.

Any other hints and tips for the South Oxford and Thames would also be appreciated.

We have been having a good time at home with more fun things to come before we are able to break free and run away again!

Safe travels to you all. Thank you in advance.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Homeward Bound and What a Welcome!

Friday 7th July 2017
Diglis to Tibberton

5.5 miles, 14 locks

All good things have to come to an end, albeit temporarily this time.  Just two more days and we would be back in the marina where we will stay until early August.  There are appointments various to be kept, the most important of which is Chris's final (we hope) consultant appointment post bunion surgery.  At the end of July we are off to Pembroke for three nights to help the Cleddau (nb Boatwif) crew celebrate their 70th birthdays. 

It was just a short distance to the first lock of the day at The Commandery

Our first narrow lock since we arrived in Stratford on 15th June.
A refreshing change, but going straight in to 14 in one day did test me a bit!

Worcester seems to be trying to make something of its bridge holes

a splendid Worcestershire flag

It is just such a shame for people who lovingly created the art works that others see fit to deface their work.

I am sure this was not hiding in the bushes when we came this way two years ago

This is Lansdowne Park, the site of the Worcester festival in 2015 and we both feel that this rather lovely mural was not there then

At the next bridge a reminder of the festival we attended and a picnic we missed last year!

Moving on to the next bridge, yet more artwork, which has escaped the addition of unwanted graffiti - well for now at least

Just past Lansdowne Park there are some new canal side properties

We were very fortunate at this lock that this C&RT employee happened to be there as the cogs had become misaligned and needed some serious tlc which is beyond our field of expertise.

We were back to wide open countryside

with far reaching views

interspersed with the narrow locks

It was not the quickest journey as we were at the end of a long line of boats - as the C&RT man said 'it is Black Prince Friday' - they all needed to be back at Stoke Prior for early on Saturday.

We found a mooring at Tibberton and settled down for a quiet night in.

Does anyone (Irene?) know what this rather pretty butterfly is?

Saturday 8th July 2017
Tibberton to Droitwich Spa Marina
3.75 miles, 3 locks

Yet another hot and sunny day and back on a canal, so Monty and I could resume our normal practice of leaving a bit before Chris and walking ahead.  I do enjoy the peace, quiet and solitude to enjoy my surroundings

We jumped on board again just before Dunhampstead Tunnel - all 230 yards of it

Before we knew it, we were at Hanbury Junction - we had come through the bridge on the left.  It is a very sharp turn to enter the Droitwich Canal through the bridge on the right.

Just the three very big locks at Hanbury to do.  There was a bit of excitement at the top - they seem to have a mink running around.  We  had several sightings, but never with a camera to hand!

There is a new sign warning of the low headroom through the M5 culvert

I am always delighted to see voluntary lock keepers at these locks.  Today was a real bonus as we were the only boat, so had the services of both of them meaning I could get back on the boat before we went down the last lock.

So here we are back at the marina.  Once we had filled up with diesel we moored up. Our daughter came and collected me and took me home to collect the car.  All that remains to be done is clean the boat inside and more particularly outside, pack and head for home and go back to the real world for a while.

We decided to leave most jobs until tomorrow and have a relaxing afternoon when Chris' ears pricked up at the unmistakable sound of a Merlin engine.  We both rushed up on deck, me with camera in hand and to our delight flying right over our marina was The Lancaster which is part of the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight

Round  it went

and then came back for a second pass!
 As much as we would like to think it came to welcome us home we know that there was a big event on at a local hotel - Chateau Impney, but we can dream!

Monty needed another walk and as we headed towards the M5 we came across the marina swans with their family taking an outing of their own.

On our way back the Red Arrows flew over to complete our day and this our Summer Cruise part 1. They were too quick for me and unlike the Lancaster did not make a second pass, so no photos I am afraid.

So where to next?  That is to be decided.

Final Stats for this trip:
167 miles, 142 locks, 28 swing/lift bridges, 5 tunnels, 2 aqueducts
Best bits - Stratford, The Avon, Tewkesbury (particularly the Abbey), Gloucester, kingfisher sighting,  some great walks and three sets of visitors - our daughter and family, Patrick and Angela and 5 WI ladies
Worst bits -  the leak, breakages - one brandy glass, television, camera, cocktail stick, watch strap & a laptop.  A total of 6, so that should be that we hope! Being used as target practice by birds various - the worst being the gulls in Gloucester.  Sadly they rarely miss and despite constant wiping down, we have a big cleaning job on our hands!

Overall Stats to date since we started in July 2013:
1961.25 miles, 1966 locks, 162 swing/lift bridges, 74 tunnels, 76 aqueducts and we have passed under motorways 73 times.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Finstall Cross WI afloat!

Thursday 6th July 2017
Worcester Racecourse to above the Diglis locks, Worcester/Birmingham Canal

2 locks, 3-4 miles

Well not all 60+ of them!  I joined our local WI shortly after we moved to Bromsgrove.  A totally new experience for me, however when you move at retirement it is important to make new friends. Long gone are the days of meeting Mums at the school gate, so I decided to give the WI a go and what a good move that was.  They are a very active WI with a lot of things going on.  Also I somehow managed to get myself invited to talk about the trip we did across The Wash in 2014.  The Severn and Tidal Thames followed the following year and being suckers for punishment they invited me back again to tell them about the Canal du Midi last year.  One of the 'sub clubs' I belong to is the book club - a great way to get to know like minded ladies in a smaller group, plus it has introduced me to some books I would never have read without them.  Some were great and some were not, but a great discipline and something I really enjoy. One thing we have always said is we are always very happy to have visitors and I am delighted to say that I got a message asking if 5 of them could meet us in Worcester on 6th July to do the journey up to the Commandery on the canal in Worcester.

The weather was perfect - hot, sunny with very little breeze.  They arrived around 11:45 laden down with goodies!

The reason the miles are not exact on this post is because we headed off towards Stourport just to give them a slightly longer cruise.  They are all local ladies and know Worcester a lot better than we do.  I found it fascinating listening to them talking about the places we were seeing.  I had never realised that there is a large park at the far end of Worcester Racecourse - somewhere they used to take small children as a reward for good behaviour after a trip to the shops!  It set me thinking and I realised I had never had to do that.  Why not?  Did we have exceptionally well behaved children - no they were the same as most children the world over.  It took me a while, but I eventually realised that we had been in the north of Scotland when they were small and we did not have shops!  Well none that required a great deal of time to visit.  When after four years we moved to Norwich on our first visit I found the choice in shops totally overwhelming and had to give up and go home!

Two sat at the back with Chris

and three at the front.  Coffee/tea had been provided as we set off.

It was only a short cruise and then we turned round and went back to leave the river to join the Worcester Birmingham Canal at Diglis where there are two big locks.  Three ladies (from the right - Thalia (a seasoned boater), Jenny and Janet) got out to help push and pull the gates

Jenny had a go with a windlass

Whilst Susan (left) and Jenny (yes out of 6 ladies three of us are called Jenny/Jennie!) stayed on the back deck to supervise Chris.  Chris knows Thalia well, so all he had to do was learn who was Janet and who was Susan and then if he said Jenny he was okay!

All too soon it was time to get back on board and make the very short trip to the water point just a few hundred yards along the canal.

Just one thing of interest whilst we were locking - two small dogs with their own paddling pool!
Whilst Chris was busy filling and emptying as required, the rest of us broke out the sandwiches I had made that morning, some mini pork pies, cocktail sausages and pork & apple bites (the reason for trips to M&S the day before), along with drinks, chicken drumsticks and cakes provided by our generous visitors.  A veritable feast was enjoyed by one and all - and we did feed Chris as well!

The plan had been to go up one more lock to moor at The Commandery, however mooring space up there is limited, so Monty and I walked up to recce.  Sadly it was full.  We had already pulled forward off the water point, so that is where we stayed for the night.

 Bags were gathered together, Chris was pressed into action as a photographer

 and it was time to bid them farewell
It was a really great day - you are welcome again ladies and thank you for coming to share our dream with us for the day.

Friday, 7 July 2017

The Severn Bore....

Monday 3rd July 2017
Gloucester Docks to Tewkesbury Town Moorings
13.25 miles, 3 locks

No we did not view the Severn Bore, the River Severn, however, once they open the doors to Gloucester lock

and you travel along the east channel of the River for about 2.5 miles where the un-navigable west channel joins the east channel (The Parting) to become the one river again

which becomes wide

with high sides and rather boring(!)

There must be a problem with silt at the "Parting" as almost blocking our way on to the main river was this set of dredging machinery 

It is amazing how low in the water the lighters are when full - you would not want too many waves!
This is about a mile or so upstream where the silt is discharged

This small sailing boat tacked across from one side to the other several times, thankfully stopping before there was a disaster.

The monotony is broken when you get to the lock at Upper Lode just before Tewkesbury where we joined Waka Huia's travelling companions - two boats we had been 'leap frogging' with for many days.

We had decided to break our journey in Tewkesbury whilst they continued on to Upton upon Severn. The lock keeper had given us the go ahead to moor below the lock into town on the moorings the big hotel boat (The Edward Elgar) uses

Thankfully we did not stray too far too soon as the lock keeper was advised that Elgar was, unexpectedly, going to arrive at 17:30, so we would have to move up to the town moorings, so up Avon lock we went.  Unlike the French lock keepers last year, here they are far more helpful and do not expect crew to get out of their boats to deal with ropes.  A hook on a rope is passed down for you to place your rope on and up it goes, they wrap it round a bollard and pass it back.  Oh so very civilized -  it would have saved me a lot of running round last summer.

So this time we turned right out of the lock and under two bridges to reach the town moorings.  They are certainly better sited for both the town and Monty's walk along part of the Severn Way (across the bridge in the photo)
The downside is all that green stuff - some are nettles, not in the least user friendly when you are wearing sandals, but most is some sort of weed that one gentleman called 'asthma weed'. It is not something we have come across before, but it certainly did not have a good effect on me, but thankfully we would only be there for one night.

I doubt that we will ever get another shot of Tentatrice and Tewkesbury Abbey in the same photo

So off along the Severn Way we all went - in the ten days or so since I last came this way, the grass has been cut.

and this time, when Monty went down to the river he was brave enough to get all four feet wet and take a drink

This time we cut across the fields from the weir instead of re-tracing our steps as I had done previously.  So where did we end up?  By Abbey Mill bridge which is almost closed due to flood prevention works.  A local we were chatting too said it was only supposed to take a few weeks, but it has dragged on and on with no end in sight.

Tuesday 4th July 2017
Tewkesbury Town Moorings to Worcester Racecourse
18 miles, 2 locks

We dropped down Avon lock back onto the Severn taking care as we headed to the right to ensure a full view of Mythe bridge before making the turn, to ensure we avoided a sandbar on the inside of the turn.

An essential item of equipment on large rivers is a life jacket including for Monty.  It is not something he likes or appreciates, so when it is put on he heads down stairs to his bed to roll around trying to get rid of it leaving a disaster in his wake.  This time the bathroom mat was also subject to his vain attempts to rid himself of his

his trendy green jacket.  He looks ecstatic doesn't he!

Today we went past an aggregate works that actually uses the river to transport the aggregate from the extraction site

to the depot

There were four of them plying back and forth - Pike, Elver, Chub and Perch

Our plan had been to moor at Upton upon Severn for the night, but is was not to be as the boat ahead of us pulled onto the pontoon and the water was too shallow for us to moor on the inside.

So on we went having made the decision to head to Worcester.  Hanley Castle is an imposing site.  Another building along this river (which I failed to spot - too busy concentrating on where I was going!) is Severn End which was the model for 'Brinkley Court', the country seat of Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia in a number of PG Wodehouse's Jeeves stories.  Wodehouse did have a real Aunt who was married to the vicar at Hanley Castle.

My day was made by a fleeting glance of a kingfisher whilst I was taking my turn on the tiller. No chance of a photo I am afraid.

As we arrived in Worcester a boat emerged from Diglis lock, so we were straight in and up in no time at all

On past The Edward Elgar whose Tewkesbury mooring we had had to vacate the night before

to moor near the racecourse which does give Monty a great place to walk.  The unexpected excitement that evening was sighting a rather large hot air balloon preparing to take off.  Sadly we don't think they made it as it was rather breezy and we certainly did not spot it in the air.

Wednesday 5th July 2017

Worcester Racecourse

As it transpired having to continue on to Worcester yesterday worked in our favour as our run of 'breakages' sadly continued - this time it was Chris' laptop.  A fault that has occurred previously, but then it was under warranty.  We found a computer repair man based near Shrub Hill station.  He was called and yes, he would try to help if we could get it to him.  All three of us set off on a hot day for the 25 minute walk (according to Google maps).  On we trudged hoping the google map plan was correct as neither of us is that familiar with Worcester.  At one point Chris spotted a policeman, so stopped him to ask for directions.  I have to say he seemed quite startled and had to stop and think.  He then said 'oh that is quite a long way', but proceeded to confirm we were heading in the right direction.  Thinking about it afterwards we think he was a plain clothes copper, but wearing his stab vest for ID and possibly more used to being in a car and not being accosted by pedestrians asking which way to go!

He had said we were looking for a Victorian building, so we were fairly certain we had got it right when we came upon this rather imposing building

It was the right place and the computer was duly delivered.

On our way back we came across this - now we have seen telephone boxes with defibrillators and local libraries, but never before with a cash machine!

We trudged back to the boat to drop Monty off, hoping to stop at the Café by the river for a coffee, only to find it was shut, so we had to DIY back on the boat.  It was not much of a fun walk for Monty but the racecourse was otherwise occupied and shut to mere mortals

Chris and I over the course of the day made two further outings into town - mostly to the M&S food hall as we were expecting a party of VIP guests the next day.  The laptop was, thankfully, delivered back to us early evening (at present still not working, but that may change as he is going to have another look at it), so we were spared another long walk.  As it was we managed to clock up just over 9 miles of rather boring pavement pounding.

Still back on the river we had plenty of entertainment - vast quantities of excited children racing.  We know they all have the ability to count up to four - very loudly!!

They also had to learn the art of dodging narrowboats

There were many rowers and canoes, one paddle-boarder and just the one dragon boat coming and


We also had frequent visits from a rather charming family of swans - they must have been last year's brood, but they were definitely a family group of Pen, Cob and three youngsters