Monday, January 04, 2016
Monday, August 31, 2015
Sunday 30th August
First Kingfisher of the day spotted at 08:30.
We waited until a ‘likely crew’ came past – well, there were two of them and both in their seventies, but they looked efficient – and we set off down Hatton sharing with them. We got into a good rhythm using two open gates to enter the lock and only one to exit. The sea otter was very manoeuvrable using it’s bow thruster. In one lock we shared with a young swan who was so determined to get to the next pound that it rushed in as I opened the top gates. We managed to complete Hatton in less than three hours so thanks to nb Blue Horizon for your company. They pulled over once they were out of the bottom lock so we continued on alone.
As we crossed the aquaduct over the River Avon, I wondered whether we would ever be able to come all the way to Warwick up that river. I expect it would be a lot easier than having to use the Stratford followed by Hatton as we had just done.
We had promised ourselves Sunday lunch at the Cape of Good Hope but we cruised past and down the two locks well before lunchtime so continued on in the increasingly worsening rain. Lunch was taken by bridge 43 – in ‘The Moorings’. Not the cheapest Sunday roast we’ve ever had at £15.00p per head but good Purity beers, bread and olives to eat while you wait and a good roast with lots of nicely cooked vegetables made us feel better as we watched Jannock getting soaked outside. The other pub opposite is not quite so accessible as there are no mooring rings like outside ‘The Moorings’
We hit Lidl for a spot of cupboard replenishment before setting off again once the rain had cleared up. We stopped on the fourteen day moorings just before Radford Semele lock as we don’t have to get to the Blue Lias until the second weekend in September.
Saturday, August 29, 2015
Saturday 29th August
. . . . until I saw that CaRT use them to hold lock gear together.
We set off at about 9:15 and made our way northwards through 18 locks, the weather has been great – not too hot and not raining – just what the lock wheeler ordered.
At Lowsonford we happened across the Antony Gormley statue which Brenda immediately christened ‘Mr Rusty’.
We finally made it to the top of the locks, having noted that our ‘pre-historic’ copy of Nicholson's does not show Lock 24 at all. So according to that we only passed through 17 locks rather than the 18 we actually did. We stopped at the service block for a water fill from a quite slow tap. Whilst waiting, Brenda raided the overloaded plum tree there. Then out onto the Grand Union and head South towards Hatton. Shrewley tunnel was very very wet inside and I was glad to be back out in the sunshine, to dry off, afterwards.
We moored for the night at 3pm on the 48hour moorings above Hatton flight. We then went for a walk down to the locks.
Friday 28th August
We left Stratford in the sun, we were ahead of the other leavers and found an easy run up most of the locks before it got busy towards the top of the Wilmcote flight.
Graham wanted to ensure we left the basin before the hotel pair, Duke and Duchess, set off as we didn’t want to follow a bow hauled butty all the way up to Wooton Wawen. It turned out that they were staying in Stratford until next Wednesday and so we need not have worried about the prompt start. The family running these boats are very nice folk, and their dog a delight. The guests we spoke to were all pleased with their holiday. We had some good chats. See www.hotel-narrowboats.co.uk It’s great to find people so happy and enthusiastic about their business.
No kingfishers during our trip today although Graham did spot one fishing later opposite our overnight mooring at Preston Bagot. The trip north was a pleasure with the sound of woodland birds as accompaniment. Graham had bought a lardy cake from Huffkins (almost opposite M&S in Stratford) and had declared how good it was. I got to find out a lunch today and decided its purchase had been a very good idea.
The Southern Stratford canal still has evidence of it’s previous ownership by the National Trust as there are still NT plaques fitted in the walls of some of the locks. Some of the bridges are a bit challenging as well.
Once moored for the night, Graham took the Di Blasi back to Oddingley to fetch the car ready for the next leg of our trip
Thursday, August 27, 2015
Thursday 27th August
We left our lovely overnight mooring at Luddington, hoping to get the Stratford upon Avon as yesterdays overnighters went on their way – that was one plan that worked.
It was a sunny morning after yet more rain overnight, the Kingfishers were out early as well. As we left Colin P Witter lock we came across this unusual method of feeding swans. If you do it from a canoe you are able to soak the bread in the water and feed it by hand to them.
Once moored up safely in the basin, we had lunch and then wandered into tourist land. We had our sights on the museum of Mechanical Art and Design in Henley Street, we went round twice, it’s good fun and great for kids. The rain came down whilst we were in there – result!. We highly recommend it. Graham loved the Lego clock that actually worked properly.
Some of our blog readers would appreciate the knowledge that there is a similar museum in Basel, Switzerland. The Museum Tingvely.
Back to Jannock for a quiet sit out with a cuppa, until crooning street performers joined with chattering tourists to make sitting inside preferable. This decision was reinforced by another rainstorm suddenly occurring.
Stratford is pretty in the sun – shame about the tourists.
Wednesday, August 26, 2015
Wednesday 26th August
We had loads of rain overnight but work to a dry grey morning. We then set off for an un-eventful day, rather too full of tricksy locks. One even had a lively wasps nest in the grass lockside. (Quick – hide all that jam!)
By one-ish the sun had properly come out and it was a pleasant afternoon. It was even later when we spotted the first Kingfisher of the day, and then just like London buses, another flew past almost immediately. Graham got a picture of this Raptor sat in a pear tree – possibly having a doze, who knows.
We decided to stop for the night above Stan Glover lock as we decided it would be nice and quiet. We are amidst the weeping willows and chattering ducks opposite the weir, and at the bottom of someone's garden. We should be about one hours run from Stratford. We plan to get there to find a mooring once others have left tomorrow morning – fingers crossed.
A quiet night in tonight as there is no where to go here.
Tuesday 25th August
Mooring in Pershore : good moorings park-side at the town. There is a swimming pool for kids to let off steam, a good supermarket, Weds to Sat there is an indoor market, the town beyond has all you’ll need including a launderette. Of special interest to Graham was the Brandy Cask public house with it’s own brewery. In the interests of research a visit had to be made, a good local pub.
After the rain of the last couple of days it seems the local child-life is going hungry. Kingfishers were on the flit and I found myself looking at a beautiful fox. She had what may have been a plump pigeon in her mouth. She was not going to lose my gaze. She trotted about here and there, it was obvious that she had no intention of giving us any clues as to where the entry to her den, or her cubs no doubt were.
Minutes later a large raptor flew low across the river, just above Graham’s head. He only saw the shadow on the water. In it’s talons it had a rat or small rabbit. It flew into the trees and no doubt the open beaks of its brood.
And not to be forgotten, Bredon hill hove into view again, and again, and again. I think it’s following us. We pulled in to use the Sani station marked on the approach to Evesham in Ye Olde Nicks. It would be useful if the “Permanently Closed” sign was where it could be seen from the river and where it is not going to be obscured by herbage growing around it. Never mind, the blackberries we gathered made the stop worthwhile. More jam was made.
We moored for the night in Evesham, finding the moorings furthest from the town and nearer Abbey bridge the quietest location. Off to meet the Officers and crew nb Lord Toulouse for a slap up meal at the unlikely named Indian restaurant Rilay’s. I’ve heard of Anglo-Indian cuisine but never Irish-Indian. Sag Aloo anyone? Or is that a racist comment?
Monday, August 24, 2015
Monday 24th August
Graham was up and visiting the town at 8am. Into Tesco for breakfast milk and then the local butcher opposite for faggots. Today we’ve seen plenty of kingfishers.
Literature took over as the day, and rain, moved on. We wondered if Lewis Carroll had ever made this trip as the faster we moved forward towards Bredon Hill the further it seemed away. We passed it on our left, it was then ahead of us to the right. And then it re-appeared behind us. Shame the rain didn’t oblige similarly. The Red Queen would have approved.
As we arrived at Strensham lock there was a wide beam going up ahead of us, well I say going up – they may have done had the closed the bottom paddles ;^) They then left the lock leaving the top gates wide open even though I had asked one of them to close the offside one.
We pulled over onto the picnic area moorings below Pershore bridge but then realised that the road there was very noisy and that the Avon guide said there were other moorings above the lock, so we untied and moved up through the lock. As I was opening the ground paddle three blokes appeared stating that they had just fixed the jammed open weir to try and recover the level above the lock. It was then that I noticed the pound above the lock was about half a metre down on normal level with a couple of moored cruisers heeled over at precarious levels.
Off to visit the Brandy Cask tonight as it’s a pub with a brewery out the back.
Sunday, August 23, 2015
Sunday 23rd August
Note to self:- mooring opposite a newspaper distribution depot is not conducive to a happy crew. Well, a happy wife, who rather enjoys a good night's sleep.
By suppertime, Saturday, all the beeping vans, (not a euphemism) had gone away and the Stalagluft strength lighting had been reduced to Parkhurst escape prevention levels. The herring gull teenager who was yelling because its parents had given up feeding it had given up and gone to roost. Peace at last.Until 3am. The Sunday supplements turned up and sleep was banished. Later the Sunday Blab had to be redistribited, which took us to 6am. I hope you enjoyed your read of world trivia and stuff wot really matters, I'm hoping to doze in locks today.
Sleep deprivation so damages the brain that it's outlawed under the Geneva Convention. That said, I was sure I was hallucinating at Commandery lock. As Worcester Cathedral called the faithful to prayers I saw a man on the lock beam beating up a swan with a bicycle he'd taken from a small child. No, really. Mr & Mrs Rambo-Swan were objecting to another swan in the pound and giving it thorough pecking. Graham managed to herd the swan into the lock, shut the gates until Jannock approached, let us in to share the trip down and let the swan into the safety of Diglis basin. As we left Mr & Mrs Rambo had herded another victim into a corner for the same treatment.
All was fine and we worked our way through the very heavy gated wide locks down from Diglis basin and went onto the river Severn. Once through the first river lock the clouds started to form and corrupt the previously clear blue sky. At 12.00 it got dark and we wondered if we'd see Noah floating downstream. I felt a sudden urge to go in and make plum jam, in the dry, and left graham in charge of navigation (and getting very wet) The urge wore off some 4 jars later, just as the rain stopped and Graham turned into the Avon.
This is an attractive little town, with a lovely Abbey church and all facilities. We ate mulberries, fresh from the tree in the abbey grounds they are delicious, why does no-one grow them?
Saturday, August 22, 2015
Saturday 22nd August
We left Oddingley, having loaded all our stuff onto Jannock, with Brenda admiring the house that was for sale alongside the canal.
As we approached Tolladine lock we’d observed that this year’s sloes are plumpest we’ve ever seen. Graham had to try one as he thought that they may have been a very dark plum. He reported back that they were nasty, sloes indeed. But, I’d spotted some juicy plums on the offside and set off to scrump them. Later we had to own up and offer them back to their owner. G met the farmer pulling out weeds from his hedgerow i.e. the bank alongside Blackpole lock. He asked if the farmer owned the field alongside Tolladine lock and he said yes. We owned up to stealing his plums but he was happy since he in unable to harvest the ones overhanging the water. It turned out that he plants fruit trees into his hedges when Aldi have a few un-labelled plants left at the end of an event. He offers them a quid for each unlabelled plant and then plants them in the hedges around his field – lucky dip fruit growing. Brilliant! Plum jam tomorrow.
Now here’s a thought – bridge graffiti – instead of councils painting a block colour over offensive messages and pictures, they could try using a couple of colours and leaving a random pattern, disruptive camouflage as it were. Block colour leaves a blank canvas, but an eejit’s invitation to partake of un-pleasant activities would be harder to see if super-imposed over a “pattern”. Just saying . . . .
Sunday, August 09, 2015
Saturday 8th August
L & J set off towards the Birmingham and Worcester canal as I went in search of milk. We bade farewell, not likely to meet again (emails to follow)
As I returned from the shops, G was anxious for a quick get-away : 3 other boats were preparing to leave. One of those was a butty and so progress through the locks would be slow. We therefore made a quick getaway and caught up L&J on Florence. At the staircase locks we met a hireboat coming down. Despite having done a few they hadn’t much idea. The two ladies were very decorative and watched as their two menfolk steered and flapped about doing ‘lock things’. G asked if they had another windlass, as that could be fetched and the next lock readied. The ladies had said that they were in a hurry to get to Droitwich for shopping. It being 11:00 and they’d had no breakfast. Despite buying loads from Lidl yesterday they had forgotten bacon, the sausage, eggs and mushrooms were ready to go but as they had no bacon they couldn’t have breakfast. The lack of food was obviously taking it’s toll, once they got to the next lock (which was full ready for them to use, but no-one had gone ahead to open the gates) they emptied it and then once they realised they had to refill it again.
We hope they made sense of the flood lock in Droitwich which has a swing bridge across the middle of it.
We continued up to the junction with the Worcester and Birmingham canal where we turned right to head south. We immediately stopped at Hanbury wharf to fill with diesel, luckily just before they closed at 13:00. We then went on to Oddingley to moor on a 14 day mooring. This village has a good murder mystery plot as it’s history. Rector murdered in 1806, he raised the tithe and met his god rather sooner than he’d planned as he was shot. 24 years later a body was found in a barn – the murderer. He’d been hired to kill the rector and was then killed himself by his hirer & the local farmer. Both were dead by then so no charges brought.
Friday, August 07, 2015
Friday 7th August
We moved down through the lock onto the waterpoint first thing to give nb Florence time to be up at at em! Suddenly it was like Piccadilly Circus wigth boats everywhere – not easy in Stourport basin. It put us in mind of country dancing with all the forward and back, crossing on the diagonal, face your partner and finish off with a bit of doe-si-doe. At one point we had a queue of four boats for the first staircase lock but once the last ascending boat had cleared we started to move down quite quickly. First Jannock and then Florence emerged out of the bottom lock onto a millpond – also known as the river Severn.
Once out onto the river Graham took the opportunity to give Jannock a good wash whilst clean water was available ;^)
An uneventful cruise down through two locks until Hawford junction where we turned off onto the Droitwich Barge canal, more new territory for us. Sharing the double locks was pleasant as we were able to be sociable, a rare treat whilst boating, but those big gates were quite heavy to get moving.
We moored for the night in Vines Park, Droitwich. A pleasant overnight spot, not more than a stones throw from the finger post erected due to monies raised during the tenure of one Andrew Dyke (and the luvverly Wendy) as Chairman of Wychavon District Council. An interesting and attractive erection!
We took a wander up Droitwich high street, more takeaways than you can shake a fork at, and a charity shop quarter. A swift pint in the Gardeners Arms and then back to Jannock. A good stop for take-outs, pubs, a Waitrose and Morrisons with water available on the secure (BW Key)pontoon.
Thursday, August 06, 2015
Thursday 6th August
Wildlife of the day – A buzzard. Sat very still, shoulders hunched, upon a branch not 6” above the canal. Was it fishing, drinking or having a bathe? Perhaps it was doing work experience as a Kingfisher.
We set off from Wolverley at 9am, just as the drizzle finished and made our way through Kidderminster to Stourport. The bottom gates on Caldwell lock leak so much that even though a boat had just left I had to open all three paddles to get the lock full again. The top gate was a lot easier to close than open ;^)
We moored up behind nb Florence in Stourport, L & J were meeting someone for a lunch appointment and as we have volunteered to be with them going down the Severn we had the afternoon off. We re-vittled Jannock and then went for the full mooch. Sadly the indian takeway opposite the co-op, a fond and amusing memory from 1999, is no longer; we chose to believe that they’ve done well and moved to bigger and better things. In the town centre we found the best stocked shoe shop we’ve ever seen. They are one pair of gents casuals less now. Down the high street towards the river and Stourport turns into a micro Blackpool with burger bars galore. On the river bank there is a funfair and a popular park. The sun came out enough for there to be sploshers in the paddling pool and wasps in the jam sandwiches. We returned to Jannock via the marina. The last time we saw the Tontine it was a rather run down building – a hotel? Now converted to homes it looks rather grand. The new housing in that area cheers Stourport up a lot.
The Chandlers had 2kg powder fire extinguishers on special offer – how convenient since we find we need one.
CaRT facilities – free shower, washing machine and drier and a loo. How many people does it take to have a wee? Two – one to wee and the other to lean on the outside of the door so you can lock it for a bit of privacy. Hint! keep moving or else the light goes out and it gets very dark.
Graham then spent the rest of the afternoon rigging the anchor and mending the decking tiles.
Wednesday 5th August
Today we had the honour of being invited to celebrate the birthday of someone we had just met! The crew of nb Florence were pulling onto the same overnight mooring as us last evening. We met up again with ‘the Ladies that Plonk’ (so called after the lovely sound of their engine) at Stewponey lock and we chatted with them at every lock until Kinver. Brenda had an inkling that she knew one of them and Yes, she did, but she was not who Brenda originally thought she was. They got talking some more and found that their paths had crossed in various directions. They were stopping for lunch at the Vine, Kinver, to celebrate a birthday. We were invited to join them. We then got around to talking about our very fluid boating plans. They did not want to go down the river Severn so would turn round to return to Napton via Birmingham. We said that we would accompany them down the Severn to the Droitwich canal which would allow them to return via a different route. Whilst passing through Kinver lock we spied a mobile farrier shoeing a pony in the field next to the lock. After lunch we continued down past the lovely sandstone walls to finally moor for the night below Wolverley lock. I then went on the Di Blasi to fetch the car from Swindon and move it to Kidderminster. In the evening the ‘ladies who Plonk’ came onto Jannock to complete the day of birthday celebrations with pancakes and jam.
Wednesday, August 05, 2015
Tuesday 4th August
Just as we were thinking about setting off, another boat came up through Greensforge lock so we didn’t have to turn it to pass through. As we were opening the bottom gates another Northbound boat arrived – excellent.
As we are in wandering mode, we decided to visit Stourbridge today. The Stourbridge Arm is another canal that Jannock has not visited before and so another was coloured in on the map inside the back doors.
We passed up through Stourton top lock we spotted the memorial garden barbeque area used by Simon’s crew a couple of weeks ago. At the turn into the Stourbridge arm there was a broken down boat tied to the lock landing which made turning a 62 foot craft into the arm very difficult and the
bow thruster boat pole had to be used to get the bows round. Just as I’d got the bows sorted another crew opened the paddles of the bottom lock and the water flow started pushing the stern towards the moored boat. Thanks folks!
The arm is pretty weedy and several bursts of reverse were needed to clear the prop but the lily beds are lovely as the flowers have just come out. At the top end of the arm, outside the bonded warehouse, the winding hole was like a wind tunnel with a very strong wind blowing up the canal pushing the boat towards the end. This made the turn interesting. We moored on the visitor moorings and then made a quick re-provisioning visit into the town.
Back down the arm and onto the Stourbridge canal where we stopped for the night out in the countryside. At our chosen spot, nb Florence was aground and having difficulty getting into the bank. We went a little further on and moored against the piling. Brenda then assisted them to get free and moor just in front of us. A lovely quiet spot with the added bonus of me spotting a Terrapin this morning.
Monday, August 03, 2015
Monday 3rd August
Plan C version 2 achieved today. We went landside and visited the Black Country Museum in Dudley, a very good day out as the Jannock junior crew found out a couple of weeks ago (scarily one of the museum staff remembered them!)
Top tip – use Tesco vouchers to buy your entry, get ‘senior’ concessions, and if your vouchers are too much for the entry value (no refunds given) ask for your £3 car park token to be included. The money we saved bought lunch as well. This went to plan B because although we wanted to have the legendary BCM fish and chips, the queue was so long that we went to the Institute and had faggots, spuds and mushy peas instead. Definitely the tastiest faggots we’ve ever had and no queues. Compare the picture of the street with the F&C shop when we first got to the museum with the later lunchtime picture below.
G. having failed to take me to the Crooked House yesterday, we went there again on the way back from BCM and it was closed due to a wedding event. Oh well – the visit was obviously not to be.
Once back at Jannock we set off down to Greensforge to get some water. There was a single 48 hour mooring free next to the water point and so we moored up there and filled Jannock’s tank whilst on the mooring.
This evening we popped into the Navigation for a quick pint ( a good selection of four ales) before going for a rural ramble. Graham came face to face with a young badger – not sure who was most surprised.