Monday, August 31, 2015

Sharing Hatton with a Sea Otter

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 swan in lockto 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 avon aquaductRiver 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

I thought I was the cable tie king . . .

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 IMG_1886Union 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.


Alas poor Stratford, we knew it well Horatio

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 Edystonesome good chats. See  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 NTPlaquedecided its purchase had been a very good idea.

The Southern Stratford canal still has evidence of it’sNotALotOfRoom 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

You don’t have to be MAD to visit here but . . . .

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 wereswanfeeding 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 WatchBikemuseum of Mechanical Art and Design in Henley Street, we went round twice, it’s good fun aLegoClock2nd 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.

TheatreBack 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

Is that a Partridge (in the Pear tree)?

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 Cormorantlively 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, Raptoranother 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 RALockweir, 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.


The best blackberries were at the dis-used Sani Station

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 SatWier 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.

KingfisherAfter 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.

When we had passed over the lowered wire at Hampton Ferry it wasTheypaytheferryman immediately raised to carry two passengers across.

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

Why is Bredon Hill like Wormleighton Tower?

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.

As we set off the rain started. Met Office reckoned an 80% chance of rain –SSSI fender and that was most likely after 2pm. Red sky at night folklore promised a fine day as well. Science and myth both wrong.

Literature took over as the day, and rain, moved on. We wondered if Lewis Carroll had ever made this trip as the faster weBredon's cloud 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 There's a Kingfisher in there somewhereus, 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 abovePershoreBridge 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

Oh boy, did it rain.

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 Casualtyofthefloodsescape 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.


middayinAugustAll 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.  didIsayitrainedAt 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 raininggetting very wet) The urge wore off some 4 jars later, just as the rain stopped and Graham turned into the Avon.

As we had been unable to stop at Upton-upon-Severn for lunch , due to an acute lack of moorings, we finally got a Sunday roast at about 19.00 in the Royal MulberriesHop Poles Hotel, Tewkesbury.

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

A scrumpin’ we will go

Saturday 22nd August

We did it again – got to our chosen mooring spot, tied up after a day of glorious, scorchio sunshine and then the thunderstorm started and the rain plopped into the water.HouseForSale

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 Scrumpingreported 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. Scrumping2We 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

Farewell to the Droitwich canal.

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

Tis ard work up the barge canal

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 BoatWashpartner 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 FleetHoltwe 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 FingerPostthe 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

And in to Stourport.

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.

GardenWe 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 meetingCaldwell lock 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. Pie ShopOn 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.


A Happy Birthday

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 StewponeyLocksame 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 fluidFarrier 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 SandstoneWallwe 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

Another arm ticked off the list.

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.

MemorialBBQWe 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 clearLily 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.

TerrapinBack 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

A day at the Black Country Museum

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!)

RightValveTop 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. LunchThis 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.







Graham managed to get a fantastic picture of the sparks emitted when the chainmaker strikes his first blow on the red hot steel.Sparks

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.

SunsetThis 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.


Sunday, August 02, 2015

Plan C version 2

Sunday 2nd August

Compton is a lovely quiet overnight mooring. We awoke to the sound of the ducks and coots going about their busy lives.

Last night. with our brain cells fuelled with lasagne, wine, beer and a movie (OK it was Shaun the Sheep – the movie. Don’t knock it until you’ve Bratchlaughed at it) we find ourselves starting out on Plan C version 2 this morning. We are no longer going up all those locks to Birmingham, instead Graham will fetch the car this afternoon and we’ll do the Black Country Living Museum by car instead. It also means he can take me to the Crooked House Inn this evening – he’s been wanting to take me there for ages.

Some of the locks we did today were not your usual single type. The Bratch is set of three joined locks although technically not a staircase. We just love the architecture of the adjacent pumping station. Botterham, on the other hand, is aPumphouse staircase of two locks. Many years ago I had an altercation with the householder who lives below the locks there. She seemed to think I had no right to wait there on the lock landing and certainly not with the engine running. It seems she’s still there and still unpleasant to boaters. No sign of her today thank goodness.

We stopped for the night at Swindon, just south of the village, and Graham went back to Cross Green on the Di Blasi to fetch the car.