Friday, 23 September 2016

And so to the top at Kingswood Junction (Lapworth)

One of those beautiful days on the canal.  It was a really crisp autumnal morning (especially at 6.45 when I took Barney for his early morning stroll!)

Unrelievedly there was no one ahead of us and the locks were mostly set in our favour.   If they weren't it was due to leaky top gates.

This is when we think we are really blessed....sun shining, lovely surroundings
Ahead is the lock with a bridge overhead carrying the M40...those poor commuters
and the hum of the traffic is quite loud.......
In fact we didn't see another boat until we met one coming down from the top lock.   It was manned by 5 men one of whom asked, me as he walked by Petroc waiting close to the bottom of the lock, if I was waiting for them to come out of the lock!!!!

The water point is directly as you leave the top lock and surprise surprise there was our second boat of the day!   There is not really room for two boats to tie up without blocking the entrance to the lock so we pulled in and waited patiently for him to finish.......he was washing his boat....very thoroughly!!
When he had finished and put his hose away he obviously had designs on a remedial cup of coffee so he asked me if they were OK for a while................................I was very polite with my reply...................Geoff told me afterwards that he had said to him that he was always getting disturbed when he was doing things like that so Geoff told him he should get up early in the morning and do it!!

We were not disturbed whilst watering but I could not persuade Geoff to treat our boat to a wash so after we had filled up with water we went round the corner and found our mooring.

This is where I depart for Cornwall tomorrow.  Geoff is planning some time here and also going up to the bottom of the locks at Knowle (just south of Solihull)

Total distance:2.15 miles 
Elapsed time:3h26m37s 
Average speed:0.62 mph (3.24 lock/mph) 

Thursday, 22 September 2016

More locks

Just 8 today...we are taking the ascent from Stratford to Lapworth in easy stages.

We had a boat ahead of us so it was slow going but the weather was fine so it was a pleasant morning.

We managed to moor at Lowensford opposite the Fleur de Lys pub at the opportune time of 1245 so it seems silly not to go for a pint......well pint for Geoff and 1/2 for me!

Absolutely no phone or wifi signal the only downside.........

Total distance:3.81 miles 
Elapsed time:3h9m0s 
Average speed:1.21 mph (2.80 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

A much easier day!!

Another vast 3 miles covered!!!
However this time with just one lock and a couple of aqueducts.  Last time we came over the Edstone aqueduct it was in a strong wind and I was not over impressed.....Despite it being a calm day I elected to walk first thing and so managed to walk to the end of the aqueduct.  The footpath is set down from the canal with a stout fence so I felt quite secure!

The water is still slightly down after yesterday's debacle so we touched bottom going through the narrow bridges.

We  filled up with fuel and gas at the Anglo Welsh base at Wooten Wawen.   A certain amount of negotiating was required to achieve both....reverse into get fuel then back off and reverse into the little aqueduct adjacent to the base to get the bow accessible to change the gas cylinders.

Enough action for the day we had a nice early stop at the Wooton Wawen moorings.

Total distance:3.27 miles 
Elapsed time:2h3m26s 
Average speed:1.59 mph (2.08 lock/mph)

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Back to the Canals

The weirs at Stratford make a good water playground for the swans
Bright and early start today, well not exactly bright but yesterdays rain had gone at least.

We crept down the river past Shakespeare's theatre and towards the lock into the one else was stirring....
we had hopes of being first up the locks.
So much for that we rose into the basin a boat pulled away from one of the pontoon moorings just ahead of us......still no problem as we were intending to stop at Valley Cruisers after 4 locks and fill up with diesel, buy a new gas bottle and empty the loos.   I had phoned them on Sunday to check that we could do all those things there.

Geoff had an extra assistant at this lock!!
When we reached Valley Cruisers we had our second disappointment of the day...they were shut
A phone call to their Coventry base elicited the information that they were short staffed and the man from Stratford had had to go to Coventry until at least mid afternoon!!

Never mind, onward we go, albeit with much muttering from the skipper!!

After the next lock it really did turn to worms........Boats were queueing up and we discovered that the whole flight had come to a standstill....someone had left a paddle open ( we think yesterday evening) and there was a distinct lack of water.......

3 1/2 hours later we were on the move again......thankfully the weather was OK.   No rain and a pleasant temperature, even a little bit of sunshine.  

By then we had abandoned our goal of Wooton Wawen and stopped at the first suitable mooring place which was at Wilmcote.  

Total distance:3.82 miles 
Elapsed time:8h33m14s  (A much longer day than planned...)
Average speed:0.45 mph (2.20 lock/mph) 

Monday, 19 September 2016

Last lazy days on the river

Riverside at Stratford below the lock
Lovely weekend for our last few days on the river.  Still quiet with boats until Sunday late afternoon when it did fill up a bit.

On Saturday I took myself off the the cinema, a rare occurrence, to see Bridget Jones's Baby...had to be done if only to see Colin Firth.....

Sunday was church in Holy Trinity otherwise know as Shakespeares church.  This is where he was baptised, worshipped and is buried.  There was a large choir and good hymns but the sermon largely passed me by.....mainly because I couldn't hear most of it.   I thought my deafness was becoming worse until Geoff said he had had the same problem......(maybe we both are!!)   It wasn't that we couldn't hear the sounds but the speech was just not clear despite the microphone the lady vicar was using.

This was followed by an excellent Sunday Lunch in the Old Tramway Inn on our side of the river and away from the crowds in the town.  This is a dog passionate pub, not just dog friendly, so Barnaby was made a great fuss of and I suspect received several treats.

The plot was to depart early Monday morning to start on our way up the locks........however as with all plans they can be changed.    We awoke to rain and more forecast throughout the day.  We are not in a rush so we have decided to stay over a day.

I read in the paper today that in order to ward off the onset of Alzheimer's I should be considering a new pastime, maybe learning a foreign language or learning to play the piano.......much better for me that all the crosswords and sudokos etc that I do!!!!!!  However tomorrow it may be a different story so maybe I wont rush just yet.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Unexpectedly sunny day in Stratford.

The forecast for today seemed dire so were cannot believe how lucky we were.
Stratford in the sun whilst we listened to the news
 telling of other parts of the country having torrential rain and flash floods
We even managed to sit outside at the pub we wanted to suss out as a possibility for Sunday lunch.  We walked to the Old Tramway Inn and it looked good.   I asked if they were dog friendly and I was told that they were not.........however they were dog passionate!!  They have water and treats provided......needless to say we are booked in.

It has been relatively quite along the river today, and as one can see from the picture very few boats, although there are 4 or 5 a bit further back.   We are wondering if there will be more boats and people over the weekend.

Thursday, 15 September 2016

onward in Stratford direction

Although the mooring was not the best,
 the morning view across to Evesham lock was lovely
 and if we walked just a little way along
 we did emerge into a reasonable riverside walk for Barney
The lighthouse at Offenham lock, our first lock of the day
otherwise known as the George Billington lock
All the locks on the upper Avon have two names, one of which is the name of the benefactor who helped finance the locks and the navigation.

An interesting layout for a boat
We passed cows wallowing in the mud and one poor beast seemingly unable to extricate itself.
We just hoped the farmer would be along soon.
Hot hard work for Barnaby too!!!
We had no idea what the mooring space would be like at Bideford as we knew there was only room on the recreation ground side for 3 boats.   As we approached we saw that there were already 3 there but as we dithered wondering on our next move, one of them hailed us and said he was leaving in a couple of hours and we were welcome to breast up until then.  What a nice chap!  This we did but getting Barney off was not easy.....we were moored opposite ends so he had to jump from our stern through their front and he was not a happy dog.  So after his walk I elected to stay ashore with him until we were alongside....not a great hardship as it was a lovely day and pleasant surroundings.

the view from our mooring at Bideford
Barney meets a few of his kind!!!
That is Barney right at the front
An early departure on Wednesday as it was forecast to be very hot again.  There are 6 locks between here and Stratford and if you have a boat ahead of you as we had they are hard work.  The required practice is to leave the exit gates open whichever way you are going so coming up behind a boat (that we never caught up with) Geoff has to close the two top gates before emptying the lock.  The locks are very wide so the gates are big and heavy......I am all admiration for these women who struggle with them whilst the bloke sits nonchalantly at the tiller!!!!
In these locks it is definitely a case of tying fore and aft and not our normal practice of one centre line we use on the canal double locks.....these are too fierce.  In fact I am so enamoured of the idea that I think we should carry the practice forward to the canal double locks.......will moot the idea to the skipper.......

Going under the low bridge at Binton
All things considered with the heat we decided to do four locks today and moor above the lock at Luddington.  A lovely mooring spot although it leads nowhere except into the village which has nothing there!  Good for a pleasant afternoon sitting in the shade watching activity on the river.

Mooring at Luddington
There was activity in the dark also as about 8.30/9pm we saw big lights coming towards us and it was difficult to make out what it was.  As it crept closer, having turned and was now reversing, we saw it was a trip boat with people seated at tables enjoying dinner......they moored themselves by the lock and everyone disembarked on the small island above the weir for a walk around!   That would have been quite pleasant on a summers evening but couldn't quite see the attraction in the dark!!  Yes the nights are drawing in........

Thursday dawned misty, somewhat of a change.
Not far to go today, just two locks......the mist was very slow to clear so a much chillier feel to the day.   The river is much narrower now and also shallower in places.

Approaching Stratford
the mist still lingering
After the first lock we pass the two weirs as we near Stratford and then the final lock and into the familiar part of the river below the church and the theatre.   Lots of mooring space so we had our pick.  

After coffee I paid a visit to the Trust Office in the basin and managed to change our 14 day licence to a 30 day for an extra £10.   We don't need all of the 30 days but it does allow us to stay down on the river for the weekend.  Our last few days on the river before back onto the familiar canals.