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.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Weekend in Pershore

Saturday was a bit of a washout weather wise, no sitting out on the river bank for me.  However there was a distinct improvement on Sunday/  We went to Pershore Abbey church in the morning and then Geoff and Gill arrived for lunch.  A very pleasant afternoon in the sun, only venturing inside to eat the main course.

I had visions of shopping in the Retail market on Monday morning as there are a couple of good butchers inside.  However I had forgotten that it was only open Wed-Sat.  Luckily there are couple more butchers in the high street and I almost managed to do most of the rest of my shopping without going into the dreaded ASDA............just had to go in for my lemon juice which was imperative for my early morning cuppa!

Rising up one of todays locks the signs were interesting.
It is hard to believe the waters rose that high when the river is so benign at the moment.
We passed this large residence with beautiful lawns rolling down to the river...
But it appeared the Canada Geese had taken it over
We reached Evesham just in time for lunch with virtually our pick of mooring places.  It has been very quiet on the river today, wonder where all the boats have gone.

Moored opposite the weir above Evesham lock.
This was not our intended stopping place BUT after spending the afternoon on the town moorings which were fine, Geoff discovered he couldn't get a TV picture on either terrestial or SKY!!
Since the second episode of Cold Feet was on tonight it was decided to up sticks (or mooring pins or something) and go through the lock as there were moorings on the other just on the other side.
Moving once we are settled for the night is not something we are prone to do.....
Well the TV picture is fine but the mooring place is less than salubrious.......

Friday, 9 September 2016


Eckington Bridge...Wednesday morning as we departed.
As we left we were undecided as to our destination...Pershore or the picnic site moorings just before Pershore lock........

Just one lock at Nafford to negotiate.  This is the one where you have to open the swing bridge which goes over the lock before ascending.  

As we left the lock this was the sorry sight we saw
Couldn't quite work out how the boat arrived there!
When we reached the Picnic site mooring they were completely empty so that was an easy decision.

Sunset at the mooring.
We had been joined by one other boat by then.
On Thursday morning we had visitors for coffee.  Tony & Di together with their friends Mike and Ilona were en route for a day out in Worcester.  Luckily the early morning rain had cleared so we could all sit out on the picnic tables.....great spot to moor.

After their departure we went through Pershore lock and moored by the playing field moorings.  
Another delightful spot and a lovely town.  It is only marred by the fact that the only reasonable sized supermarket is Asda which is not my favourite.  However the town makes up for it in many other ways.

Friday lunch time saw the arrival of more visitors.  Maggie & Wally arrived.  We managed to partly have lunch outside..but Maggie and I were driven in by the rain........the showers didn't last long so Wally put up his umbrella and carried on and Geoff decided to keep him company.

Yesterday I happened to look at our Avon licence which we purchased as we came through Tewkesbury.  We paid for a 2 week licence but they have put the wrong ending date on it and only given us the week.  However it does have the price we paid so if anyone queries it I am hoping that will suffice.  We plan to use the whole 2 weeks to get to Stratford.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

Long weekend in Tewkesbury

Tewkesbury Abbey 
Friday evening we had good fish and chips from the shop close to our mooring.

Saturday dawned dull and dreary as promised although the rain did not arrive in earnest until later in the day.   By that time we had enjoyed an excellent cooked breakfast in Melanies cafe in the High Street....highly recommended.

I had also enjoyed a pedicure in the high street with a great back massage at the same time!!

Sunday was church at the Abbey followed by an excellent lunch with Geoff & Gill Smith and daughter Helen.  Geoff kindly chauffeured us to and fro to their house in Bredon.

Monday dawned wet and dull so we decided to postpone our departure a day.  That was probably a mistake as Geoff then decided to go for a long walk with Barney and on his return he slipped whilst getting aboard.  He did the proverbial, one leg on the boat and one leg in the water.......he gave himself quite a shock.  It is a good job I did not witness the episode as I have this terrible failing....I cannot help laughing at these events.......the laughter comes quite unbidden and is not normally appreciated by the unfortunates!   He now has a sore back......

Today was a much better day so after some shopping which included two huge pork chops from the butcher, we set off. We fuelled etc at Tewkesbury Marina and then had a gentle cruise through one lock at Strensham.

Passing Gill & Geoff's village of Bredon
 Double locks now but we were lucky enough to share.  Our goal was the picnic site at Eckington Bridge.  Here we were again fortunate as there was only room for one boat and it was empty.  The rest of the space was taken up by work boats who are working on the bridge.

Geoff settled down for his normal siesta after lunch (what a creature of habit!!) and I settled myself with chair, crossword etc on the bank in the shade for a peaceful afternoon.....or so I thought.   A man and his son were fishing some way behind Petroc.  6 year old Henry took a liking to Barnaby and spent most of the afternoon trying to get Barnaby to play whilst chattering away to me.  He was a very nice little boy so one could not be rude but he was also a very talkative little boy!!!  Hence not such a peaceful afternoon.

After supper we had a surprise visit from Geoff, Gill and Helen who came aboard for a cup of coffee.

All in all....not bad day.   Onward towards Pershore tomorrow.

Total distance:7.61 miles 
Elapsed time:2h21m33s 
Average speed:3.23 mph (3.65 lock/mph)

Friday, 2 September 2016

Goodbye Severn, hello Avon

We set off down Gloucester lock on a rather grey morning windy morning, but the forecast for Saturday was worse.
The run up the Severn is somewhat devoid of interest
Just the occasional enclave
We pass a couple of pubs, one of which looks inviting apart from the fact that there is nowhere for a boat to moor!
I am not sure where these boats find congenial to sail around here!
Geoff looking cheerful despite the fact that he would
have been content to stay on the G&S forever
Barnaby in his usual very inconvenient resting place whilst we are underway.  He never goes below when Petroc is on the move.

We were amazed (and delighted) to find that there was not another boat moored at Tewkesbury.   We had our pick of places and chose to return to our favourite spot just to the right of the lock where there is a nice sitting out area and very convenient for Barney.  How lucky can we get....we arrived just before lunchtime and very soon afterwards the boats started arriving from all directions and by late afternoon all the moorings were full and even two moored down on the lock waiting pontoon.

The weather improved gradually and it turned into a wonderful evening.
Wind all gone and the water looks like oil
So we have bought our 2 week licence and will set off up the Avon on Monday.

Total distance:13.33 miles 
Elapsed time:4h1m3s 

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Last night on the G&S canal

Pre dinner drink in Gloucester Docks, Petroc in the background.
After a lovely couple of days with grandchildren I returned to Petroc last night.   The journey from Gloucester was uneventful and only about 1.5 hours....the journey back was quite different......and it was all my own fault!   I had to change at Didcot parkway and some of the trains were running late by approx 15 minutes.   I positioned myself on the correct platform and my train duly came in on time (or so I thought) and I got aboard.   I looked for my reserved seat but saw someone sitting in it, however there was plenty of space and I spied a better seat anyway so luckily I didn't say anything. First stop was Swindon so I suspected nothing, however the second stop was Chippenham and that was definitely not've guessed it....muggins was on the wrong train!!  I have never done anything like that before.   This train was not going to Gloucester.  It was for Bristol and running 15 min late so came into my platform just ahead of my train which was just a few minutes late.........
I had to wait for the next train back to Swindon and then wait there for the next train to Gloucester......which when it arrived was a little two coach job with no toilets!!!!!
Today has been a better day for me but not for Barney.  He had a his check up at the vets with his gungy ears.  This involves the vet looking closely down his ears with his little look see thing, well you have never heard such a howling........and it started before the poor vet was down the ear.
Luckily the ear is on the mend so we hope not to have a repeat performance.
We then moved up to shop at Sainsburys and later came into the dock area to position ourselves for the run up the Severn tomorrow morning.  We are right on spring tides so the lock keeper says we need to leave the lock at 9.30 and we should be able to carry the tide up.

We are moored on a pontoon and the position is not ideal for Barney but ideal for a pre dinner drink!!

The forecast is not brilliant but sound slightly better than Saturday so may have to grin and bear it and get wet tomorrow.   We shall see.