A day we went in different directions. First job was to move across the canal to the water point to fill and empty as required and to take delivery of a Tesco shop. Mid afternoon our daughter, Sarah, came and collected me to take me home where there were jobs to be done - mail to go through and grass to cut to name but two. She returned early evening and we went out for a Mum/Daughter meal out. It was good to catch up with her and even better that she stayed over.
Sunday 30th September 2018
Tardebigge to the Queen's Head, Stoke Pound
2.5 miles, 30 locks
Sarah followed me to the Queen's Head and then returned me to Tardebigge. Kiera's owners, Jane and Chris, arrived mid morning to collect Kiera who was over the moon to see them both. They had just one small task to do before they left - there were 'kennelling fees' to pay - a mere 30 locks to negotiate!
The four of us work well together - very few photos were taken. One is always just busy when doing this flight. Chris was working ahead whilst Jane and I worked the bottom paddles and gates for my Chris. Monty and Kiera just kept on supervising,
Most locks were against us, but with four on the job it did not present much of a problem. The reservoir is, as you would expect, quite low. It still proved an irresistible draw to Kiera who just had to have three swims!
We met a couple of boats coming up and one voluntary lock keeper who was working with an ascending boat - we certainly did not need help
Then there was a group of Bromsgrove Asda employees doing a sponsored walk. If you see this - I hope you all escaped blister free and made a good sum of money.
We stopped at one point for a quick sandwich eaten whilst we were in a lock - we needed to eat early as we were booked in to have dinner at 5pm at The Queen's Head.
There is always what we call 'the dog house' to go past. The dogs seem to be permanently on chains and kept outside. The noise when dogs go past is deafening and Monty feels he has to answer back, so has to be kept on a lead as we go past. There have always been a lot of aerials on this house, but we think the one at this end is new - it is huge
Jane and Chris worked really hard - I only managed one shot of Jane and none of Chris as he was always ahead of us.
Just to prove I do exist - Jane took one of me at work! We were obviously both in the pink today!
We made the trip in just over 3 hours - not bad for 30 locks. Mind you the second boat we met ascending, the crew of three were taking their second boat up Tardebigge that day. Apparently they did the first in 2.5 hours which is pretty amazing. They were younger than we are by quite a lot of years, so I still think our effort was pretty good. We managed to moor just past the lock landing at the bottom of the locks. It is well away from the pub and, more importantly, from noisy boarding kennels. I took Jane back to Tardebigge to get their car, she followed me to Droitwich and then took me back to The Queen's Head - an enormous bonus to have our car in the right place for us tomorrow.
The meal in the Queen's Head was excellent - they failed on the delivery of the glasses of wine we had ordered. They arrived as we had nearly finished our meals, but to give them their due, they were full of apologies and did not charge us for the wine. It is not the cheapest pub around, but we have never had a bad meal their since it became one of the Lovely Pubs chain.
We had a great day together and we are very grateful for their help. Thank you both.
After our meal together they left to head home with Kiera. Monty slept all evening, but we are sure he is missing his friend. The two dogs are really good together. What has always amazed me is that they never try to take the other's food. Kiera is welcome anytime - she is a good 'ship's dog'.
Monday 1st October
Queen's Head, Stoke Pound to Droitwich Spa Marina
4.5 miles, 15 locks
A boat had arrived down the Tardebigge flight whilst we were away having dinner yesterday evening. They were moored on the lock landing, so we assumed they were going to go for a quick getaway. It must have been preying on my mind as I woke around 05:00 having had a bad dream where we were racing with them trying to get to the first lock - the result was we crashed and our boat turned right over. Chris did pop up, but the boat was lost! It was one of those dreams you cannot get past and that was it for sleep until about half an hour before the clock went off! We both heard a boat heading off around 07:30 and assumed it was the boat on the lock landing, so we did not hurry ourselves.
When we emerged about 08:00 the boat was still there and we moved off about an hour later with no signs of life from the boat on the lock landing.
Never mind that the boat had not got ahead of us - the first five locks in the Stoke flight were all against us, so it was never going to be a quick final journey. The sky was blue, the sun was out and we settled down to enjoy this very familiar journey.
A first for us - some very different gongoozlers on the Stoke flight!
Once down the six Stoke locks we go past Crafted Boats (formerly known as J Pinder and Sons)
where there is a new paint tunnel to reflect how busy they are
This was the place of Tentatrice's birth
A bit further on there is a huge housing estate going up. The line of buoys is narrow,
but we obeyed the instructions to keep between them
It is an enormous site and will be interesting to see how it progresses
Lock 18 is always a welcome sight with the lock cottage's lovely garden and three jolly gnomes to welcome us home
Monty has to either stay on the boat at this lock or be on a lead - he stayed to supervise Chris
At the bottom lock a boat arrived, so one less set of gates to close
We turn right at Hanbury junction onto the Droitwich canal - we are nearly home!
As we are very occasional volunteer lock keepers at Stoke Prior which means we have access to the volunteers' calendar, so we knew there would be two VLKs on duty at Hanbury. This flight of three are very deep, have side pounds and have at least one, usually two VLKs on duty every day.
Peeking through the bushes is our marina. Nearly there!
We are always grateful for help with these very deep locks and it was not long before we got back to our mooring. A quiet afternoon was on the cards. Tomorrow we start to pack up, load the car and transfer back to our 'winter life'. This is not quite the end for the year - we have to take the boat back to the top of Tardebigge to have her bottom blacked for the week beginning 22nd October. Then back again - just another 90 locks to go!
It has been an amazing summer (maybe with the exception of the Wash crossing). The stats are as follows:
4 swing/draw bridges,
19 Aqueducts (I am sure there may be a few small ones I missed)
under 7 motorways (definitely better than being on them).
Before we do the trip back up to Tardebigge and back (we are looking for volunteers!) I will work out how many nights we have been on board, the waterways travelled and maybe even the counties. I do know that we have now visited the furthest east on the system (Brandon, Suffolk) having already done the furthest south (Godalming) and the furthest west (Llangollen) - just the furthest north to tick off!