Saturday, 29 August 2015

Still lingering at Saul

Friday evening's sky which heralded a lovely day on Saturday
Our planned bus trip to Stroud proved to be not possible.   Geoff reconnoitred the bus stop and discovered it was further away than he thought and it was decided that by the time I had walked that I would not have the energy to walk around Stroud!!!   Also the bus trip was about 50 minutes and we either had to take Barney or not have too long a day.......  so all things considered it was not to be......

The weekend had a planned rowing regatta up as far as Sims Bridge and movement would be severely restricted so we set off towards Saul.   A dry bright, albeit windy, trip of 5 miles, needless to say wind on the nose.........just like our sailing days!!!

This time we decided to moor about half a mile short of the junction as it was a lovely open mooring.  Too chilly in the wind to sit out on Friday but Saturday was a different matter,  a lovely lazy day for me with much sitting out, reading etc.  First we walked up to the junction to avail ourselves of the showers and breakfast at the Stables cafe.......this is getting to be a habit...third week on the trot.

This notice in the car parks at Saul is ambiguous
You can have 72 hours for £10 but you cannot stay overnight!!!  (See para 5 )
Geoff and Barney then went on a long walk whilst all I did was sit and read with a few domestic jobs thrown in.......sweeping out the boat.....two loads of washing......does it never end......

Saturday nights sky...what does this herald???
This morning we had a long chat with one of the the lock keepers at Saul.   Amongst other things he said that he expected it to be very busy at the junction over this Bank Holiday weekend but this has not been borne out by the number of boats going past us.   Geoff's walk took him past the Ship Inn (and a pint) at Framilode at 12.30 and he was the only person in the pub!  

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Yet more rain!!

Monday & Tuesday were days to batten down the hatches, read books, do crosswords, and occasionally take it in turns to take Barney out with the occasional domestic chore thrown in for me just in case I became too complacent.  The ironing and cleaning a couple of the blinds were successfully accomplished.    Luckily with the Farm Community shop now open in Frampton we could at least brave the weather and get a paper etc.
Wednesday was forecast to be an improvement so we set off when we though the worst of the rain had gone through.  We used the sani station and went up to Sainsburys in Gloucester to do a stock up.
Luckily their trolleys are not the sort that wont go past a certain point so I was able to get right up to Petroc.  However I had to call for Geoff''s assistance on the last leg as the trolleys don't steer very well on rough needs one at the front and one at the rear when loaded!!

We then turned round to find a suitable mooring for the night.  We had arranged to call in at A&D Marine Services by Hemstead Bridge.  Our shower has developed a hot water.....which I am not keen to live with.   It doesn't seem to bother Geoff as much...
At first it was thought that it was a minor problem but further investigation indicated that the thermostat had gone.  Peter at the boatyard was extremely helpful and they would have been willing to fit the new one but that means us hanging around until the spare part arrives and it is bank holiday weekend........twas ever thus.
So I am resigned to luke warm or even cold showers until for at least two weeks.  !!!
We had thought we might have a visit from Boe during the next couple of weeks but the thought of no hot showers is likely to deter her.

Moored adjacent to Sims bridge behind a pretty sailing yacht..
a sight not often seen on the canals.
Today, Thursday we took the bus into Gloucester.  The number 12 goes from the main road which is just a 5 minute walk up from Sims bridge.   After visiting the town we walked down to Gloucester Quays.  This has been much more developed since our last visit 6 years ago.....unless it is just our memory.   All we remembered then were the various outlet stores but now there are lots of cafes etc and it was all hustle and bustle, really very pleasant.

Gloucester Cathedral
No pictures of the interior as we were cheapskates and didn't want to pay an extra £3 for a camera licence!  The inside is fairly spectacular.  The columns are some of the thickest we have seen and the ceilings are some of the highest we have seen.  Sadly we just missed the mid day Holy Communion in one of the side chapels.  It started at 12.30 and we arrived just 5 minutes later.

Tomorrow we are contemplating a bus trip to Stroud as we don't think we have ever been there.

Sunday, 23 August 2015

Still loitering near Saul

a delightful mooring with a good view of the Severn Estuary again
and on the opposite bank Frampton on Severn Church
bell ringing practice Thursday evening which was lovely
Sadly Thursday was not sitting out weather.   Friday morning we moved back up to Saul hoping to moor just before the first bridge to make it easy for our visitors, however there was no space.   Luckily I had walked on ahead and reported back to Geoffrey this sad fact  (he had kept his phone not only handy but ON ...a rare occurrence)   As it happened he was just passing another good spot a bit further back and a boat was just pulling out...our luck was in and so we pulled in and realised we were behind Archie again.   Almost twin boats together.  A much better spot for us although a little further for our visitors to walk to.
Maggie & Wally arrived late lunchtime and we repaired to the Stables Cafe where we had a good lunch.  A catching up afternoon and they left us early evening for the drive back to Wales.
Saturday dawned a much brighter day so it was out with my chair & table and book.   However by mid morning I was driven inside again by the hot there no happy medium??
Fran & Keith arrived mid afternoon so more catching up to do before repairing to the Bell Inn at Frampton for supper.
They were staying in Gloucester for the night (babysitting their grand daughter whilst son, daughter-in-law & grandson were singing in the choir) and offered to collect us in the morning to go to the service in Gloucester Cathedral.  It was tempting but the forecast was for a lot of rain and it meant leaving Barnaby for a bit longer than we usually did so reluctantly we declined their kind offer.
The forecast rain duly arrived and so it was a day for battening down the hatches and TV & papers etc.......
Weather permitting the plan for tomorrow is to tootle up to Gloucester and stock up at Sainsburys for the forthcoming week.   However we are not so badly off in this area now as yesterday the new Community Shop in Frampton opened and although prices are obviously higher than the supermarkets they do have a good range and most importantly fresh fruit & vegetables.    There had been nowhere south of Gloucester that we could stock up on fresh produce.

Thursday, 20 August 2015

The day the rains came

Wednesday was what one might call a washout!!  However we were so lucky as the rain did not reach us until mid morning.  In fact when I awake there was bright sunshine but the clouds looked ominous.  We decided to depart our excellent mooring and head back to Sharpness.  A pleasant trip and plenty of mooring at the end and we were all tucked up nice and snugly as the first drop of rain arrived.  Oh boy did it rain....there was a brief lull mid afternoon but then it came back as heavy as ever.

The forecast for today was not brilliant but we decided to set off after Barney and I had walked to the funny little shop in the dock area.   We wanted to position ourselves closer to Saul as we were expecting visitors on Friday and Saturday.

Looking inland up the Severn estuary at low tide as we went for our walk
and in the other direction the outline of the Severn bridges.
We turned at the end.  Under that bridge is where we would presumably go
 if we were brave enough to tackle the estuary trip down to Bristol
The marina at Sharpness
We stopped briefly at Purton to fill up with water and I took the opportunity to walk up to see the little church there.

A tiny church but very peaceful
The stay was not as brief as we had intended as it must have been the slowest filler we have come across!!
All of the bridges seem to have the old bridge keepers cottages in this same style.
The rain held off luckily, although as we were nearing where we wanted to moor the clouds behind looked very threatening.   We were back close to our previous lovely mooring, just a little farther back, the view of the Severn still good but a lovely stretch of mown grass this time.  Sadly today there was to be no sitting on the shore.  This time the rain was not as heavy and relentless but still indoor weather.

Thursdays trip
Total distance:5.73 miles 
Elapsed time:2h35m23s
Average speed:2.21 mph (2.21 lock/mph)

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Too nice to move

This nice open mooring with lovely views was too good to leave so we stayed over.
We had ordered the paper from the little cafe in Frampton so we had a walk up there to collect and stayed for coffee & decadent!

Several of the houses on this stretch have these funny little huts on top...any ideas??
Lots of sitting on the bank and reading today .......ain't life hard......
The forecast for tomorrow is rain again..... is this what this sky heralds?
Nearly dark but our resident swan family are still wide awake
Even still preening themselves

Monday, 17 August 2015

shortest trip of the year

Frampton on Severn parish Church
Not a breath of wind
We left Saul with no particular plans other than towards Sharpness.   However after half an hour and just over a mile we spied the ideal mooring.   Out in the open and wonderful views across a field of cows to the Severn Estuary.  The sun was shining so once moored up it was out on the tow path with my chair, book etc.  Since there was plenty of space we positioned ourselves a reasonable distance from the only other boat moored along the stretch.   We had to choose our spot with care as it was a rough mooring and we needed to pick a spot where we could safely get ashore, especially Barney.
I had only been settled a few minutes when a man from the boat a bit further down came to say he was very sorry but he had some angle grinding to do.  He had tried to put himself where there were no other boats because of the noise and along we came!!
I told him not to worry we would live with it.   In the event it was not too bad, he didn't start until much later and I took myself off for a long walk with Barney for part of the time.

Frampron church 
Frampton is a much bigger village that I had imagined and has the longest village green in the country reputedly.    There are a lot of lovely cottages and houses, 2 pubs and a hairdresser.   Until this weekend there was no shop, the village shop shown in our guide book having closed.
However they have now opened a cafe and community shop.   Provisions looked a bit basic, but coffee shop part looked nice.  So I have ordered a paper for tomorrow and we shall walk up for coffee...they have home made cakes as well.....

Total distance:1.27 miles 
Elapsed time:0h32m10s
Average speed:2.37 mph (2.37 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 16 August 2015

Family weekend

We were nicely positioned for our weekend visitors, Emma & Dave.   Friday dawned wet and miserable.  Even Barney was not inclined to walk far.
Emma & Dave had planned an early departure from London but Dave became snowed under with work and they ended up leaving London in the late afternoon rush hour.   However since it rained with us one and off all day they did not miss anything spectacular.
We ended up having a much later supper than our normal, but good fun all the same.......this of course led to much later night than we are used to!
Saturday we cruised back up towards Gloucester to shop at Sainsburys.  Our plan for next week is to go back slowly towards Sharpness and provisions are not easy to come by at that end of the canal.
We then retraced our steps a little way to where we had seen some very congenial moorings.   Unfortunately they turned out to be Long Term Moorings.  The visitors mooring didn't look nearly as nice, and there were hardly any boats on the long term, and no boat names or paraphernalia on the shore so we took a chance and moored.   No one disturbed us and we had a lovely evening....a Pimms evening!
Some people were lying where they are not allowed......Pimms influence
The next morning as we were having breakfast there was a knock on the side of the boat!...It was the bridge keeper from the adjacent bridge asking if we knew we were on long term moorings.   However he was very affable about it and said just move on when we were ready.    He also said that the boats were not there very often.  Pity we shall not be able to moor there on our way back up to Gloucester......can't be caught twice.

So back to Saul to use the sani station...they have showers and loos which are very useful when we have extra people on board.   There was space on the mooring we had left yesterday.

We then walked down to Framilode and had a good Sunday Lunch and after a bit of relaxing on our return Emma & Dave left for the drive back to London.......not to be envied.
Please don't let me up to a comfortable seat.
Sundays trip

Total distance:4.14 miles 
Elapsed time:1h22m51s
Average speed:3.00 mph (3.00 lock/mph)

Thursday, 13 August 2015

To move or not to move.........

The forecast for today was dire but this was last nights sky
Sue and her sister Carol were planning to come with us for the trip to Saul so we were all watching the weather forecasts with intent.  With what they were saying, if we had not wanted to be in Saul for Emma & Dave's arrival tomorrow, we would have stayed put and sat out the foul weather.
However although dull and a bit breezy this morning there was no sign of the forecast rain or thunderstorms.   An executive decision was therefore taken to make a run for it and if we were beset by anything nasty there are lots of places to pull in and sit it out.  A phone call to Sue & Carol and they were with us by 9am.

we left behind another Cornish Boat which positively dwarfed Petroc
Flowers galore....and I am not allowed any on Petroc!!

Sue sampling the delights of narrowboating....
she thought she could quite take to it.
We went through the bridge to use the facilities but then turned back through as we had spied a congenial looking mooring space ......
....behind our old friend Archie
Actually not 'old' friends as she has new owners Chrissie & Mark.   Like us they are pottering up and down this canal for a while.  
Lunch on board, helped by the provisions Sue & Carol had brought including fresh salad ingredients from Carol's garden, and then farewell to our visitors.   Great to have a catch up with old friends whom one has not seen for a long time.

Contrary to the forecast we had not had a single drop of rain!!   Although looking at the TV later we saw that a lot of other places had not been so fortunate.

Total distance:7.35 miles 
Elapsed time:2h32m53s 
Average speed:2.88 mph (2.88 lock/mph)

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Lazy Day on a beautiful mooring

Last night sky with it's red tinge gave, as promised, a lovely day
Looking out from our mooring over the Severn Estuary
I took the walk with Barney this morning to find the funny little shop in the dock area.   I cannot believe it makes a profit.   A few basics for sale but nothing fresh.  However surprisingly they sell newspapers and even more surprisingly they had Daily Telegraphs and even accepted out tokens for it.
Under that bridge is where we would presumably go if we were going to do the trip down the estuary to Bristol
However that was never the plan!
We had another surprise visitor this morning.  Jim Parker who used to work with Geoff back in the mid seventies knocked on the window.  He lives in Bristol and had discovered my blog.  He took the car so far and then cycled down to see us.   A morning of reminiscing followed.

Our plan is to go back to Saul tomorrow as we are expecting Emma and Dave on Friday for the weekend.  Sue and her sister Carol are planning to join us for the trip.  However there could be a big fly in the ointment.   The forecast for tomorrow and Friday is dire....thunderstorms and heavy rain.  
We had already decided that the worst scenario was that we would have a wet 2 hour trip but another boatie has just come past and told us that a severe weather warning has been issued,  Apparently when this happens they can close the canal because some of the bridges are difficult to open and that would not be welcome news.   It is only a problem because of wanting to be back at Saul for Emma and Dave.  Other than that we would just sit it out here...once again the best laid plans of mice and men.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Finally reach Sharpness.

So we resumed our journey down to the end.
No sunshine but no wind either and it was dry
So no complaining.
As we went through Patch Bridge the lock keeper called out a message which we could hear very clearly.  It sounded as if the bridges at Purton might be closed.   Since I had had a CRT notice to that effect yesterday it seemed plausible, although the notice had only said delays and not shut.
To be on the safe side I called the bridge keeper.  We were told to come on down, they did have problems but we should be able to pass through.
Purton Upper Bridge
We made it through but then had to wait until it was closed and the bridge keeper had cycled to
 Purton Lower Bridge to open that one.  
Not much further and we reach our destination
Seen here is one of the supports of the Old Severn Railway Bridge.
Click on the link above for the whole sad story.

We had our pick of the best mooring place as they were very few boats.    A quick text to Sue to say we had arrived just a day later than planned.   She was staying with her sister Carol nearby so just before lunch they both arrived to visit.  Sadly Carol had to leave almost as soon as they had arrived but Sue stayed on and we had a great time reminiscing about our days in Larnaca Marina nearly 30 years ago.....sounds terrible when I put a figure to it!

The weather was kind to us and it was a sunny afternoon and into the early evening
which we rounded off with a gentle glass of Pimms.
Total distance:4.39 miles 
Elapsed time:1h25m31s 
Average speed:3.08 mph (3.08 lock/mph)

Monday, 10 August 2015

Not as far as planned

The day was beautiful as I took Barney for his early morning perambulation, but the clouds on the horizon indicated that the weather forecast could be right.  There was talk of torrential downpours in the South West, although the front should have weakened by the time it reached us.

We decided to wait a while and let the front go through.  Things looked more promising soon after 11 so we set off.   Barney and I managed to get about an hours walk along the Severn Way before hitching a lift on Petroc as the first further drops of rain started.   We had been walking at a pretty spanking pace to try and keep up with is not quite the same as when we walk on other narrower canals.

No sooner were we on board than it turned really miserable.
Heavy drizzle and a wind
So soon after passing through Cambridge Arms Swing Bridge we decided to call it a day.   Needless to say once we were securely tied up and had the pram hood up and were nicely cosy below the rain stopped.   But by then it was close on lunch time and we could be bothered to move.   So a quick phone call to Sue Fletcher whom we were hoping to catch up with when we reached Sharpness was made.   The revised plan was to make it to the end by tomorrow coffee time.

The best laid plans of mice & men!

Total distance:3.13 miles  
Elapsed time:1h5m36s 
Average speed:2.86 mph (2.86 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 9 August 2015

A weekend of visitors in Saul

After an early small shop we departed our adequate but hardly salubrious moorings
just down from the Sainsbury's moorings
They had obviously been used previously by much bigger boats than us
We soon reached the first of the mechanised work for Geoffrey
However this first one at Hemstead was not mechanised.
The bridge man had work to do.
It was a bright and beautiful day, the best we had had for some time.
There seemed to be good moorings at most of the bridges.
It was 6 years ago that we last came down this way and even Geoff's memory is not doing as well as normal.

We were glad of the good weather as we were expecting our friend Ronnie at coffee time.

Everything except the kitchen sink
Must get comfortable
We had chosen to travel on a day when the National Angling championships were being held along  the canal.  Luckily we had set off early and since their start was not until 10am (I think), not many of the lines were out.  They were still getting settled.  Not being of the fishing persuasion we find it incredible to see the amount of paraphernalia they trundle along with.
Since the canal is so wide it is not the problem it would be elsewhere.  The odd line that was out is easily avoided.

We reached Saul by coffee time and Ronnie arrived a little later.   We then had a delightful day catching up.  Ronnie and I went for a walk in the afternoon leaving Geoff to his siesta.

We walked across the fields to Framilode which is right on the Severn Estuary
Our path follows the course of the old Stroudwater canal which closed in 1954.  On reaching Framilode there is a hamlet of houses, a pub and a church
St Peter's Church Framilode
We checked the times of the the service for Sunday for Geoff & me.  It confirmed the 11am as stated on the has been known to be wrong!  We were in luck as they only have a service every other week.

The walk turned out to be a little longer than anticipated as we decided to make it a circular walk by going part way along the estuary and cutting back inland.   Nearly 3 1/2 miles which is stretching it for me.   This meant that both Ronnie & I were walked out and Geoff's plan of a walk to the pub for a pre supper drink was shelved.   Instead we sat and drank our Pimms in the cratch.....such a hard life.
Supper on board rounded off an excellent day.

On Sunday Geoff took Barney for a good walk before we set off for church.
Just beyond the next bridge he discovered Archie (ex Clifton Cruisers)
The new owners were not around
He also seemed to have had a fascination with ducks on his walk as there were several photographs of them!
We went a slightly longer road route to church.  Geoff thought it would be easier for me as it avoided the 5 thoughtful......

We passed Saul Church
and some very old cottages..this one from 1858
A lot of restoration work has taken place in the church since we were here 6 years ago.
They apparently raised £85,000 and the roof has been done and this beautiful altar cleaned up.  
It was Family Service with Communion.   A small but very welcoming congregation.  
We were surprised to have a gentleman come up to us during coffee and say 'Ah hello again you come from St Merryn'.
This a someone who has a holiday home not far behind our house and we had met him 6 years ago.  he actually recognised us.....
Chatting to Vernon who is retired clergy and has been here for 20 years, we discovered that their next venture is to remove all the pews.......they have already moved some in the middle to make room for wheelchairs and some at the back to make a communal area for coffee etc.   An interesting venture.

A drink in the pub followed where we had a comfy seat and a read of the Sunday papers.   Geoff is having withdrawal symptoms as for the first time for ages there is no shop for the Sunday papers.  In fact there is no shop at all.   The one in Frampton on Severn has closed, although a new Community Shop is due to open next weekend.  

Back at Petroc we had more visitors.  Christine & Mark the new owners of Archie stopped to say hello.  They were en route to the marina to try and find a printer.  Since I had one on board we invited them back later in the afternoon to use it.

I then set to to cook our Slunch...I think that might be the correct word.  It was a delayed cooked breakfast which we normally have on Saturday.  Since it was now approaching 2.30 Slunch seems a good term.

I was just about to serve it when we had another unexpected but very welcome visitor.  Derek Straw a friend from RAF days.  Derek had seen from my blog that we were under an hour from his home and decided to call.  He joined us for coffee and we had a couple of very pleasant hours....more reminiscing.

Soon after his departure Mark & Christine came back to do their printing and to partake of coffee/tea and cake.   The cake was courtesy of Ronnie who had turned up yesterday with a chocolate fudge of Geoff's favourites.   Not reminiscing this time but plenty of boat chat.

So a weekend full of visitors...and more to come

Total distance:7.39 miles 
Elapsed time:2h21m37s
Average speed:3.13 mph (3.13 lock/mph)