Tuesday 30 August 2022

Over and out for now.

So we continued to make our way up the Staffs to Worcester canal.  Frequent Flyers to this blog will remember that this is a favourite, should we have a spare fortnight, we might well "Pop" down to Stourport....  But as it happens we had been away a little longer than I would usually like to leave my mother (She is just about to celebrate her 92nd birthday, along with my own daughter, and three grandchildren all of which have their birthdays within a week of each other) so we do have to get a bit of a lick on now.

Goodness we were delighted to get into this single mooring at the time in total shade just below
Bumble Hole locks

Next morning setting off early, 

Dawn, a sight I don't often see but David does regularly.

In the cool evening yesterday we had cycled up to the supermarket at Swindon, on the way back several 'yoophs' were sat on a bench alongside the locks.  Of course they had left their rubbish behind, cans and the like so while the lock was filling and David scrubbing his back deck I collected it all up and as quietly as I could put it all in the wheelie bin of the cottage here.  Hoping they didn't have a barky dog.  It was dawn after all.

This attractive house has been developed but they have kept the old shed ....

All too quickly we arrived at Bratch Locks, not staircase locks but very nearly.  The Lockies are due on at 8am but we were there before 07:30.  I was a bit nervous a the thought of operating them as I've not done it unsupervised before.  I went up and read the sign.  Then read it again.
Then a cyclist arrived and as he drank from his water bottle I just casually asked if he happened to be a lock keeper?
He walked towards me as he took off his T shirt and said Yes I am!  He put on his blue Volunteers shirt.
Not only was it not his scheduled day to work but he'd seen no one else had put down their names to work so he had dropped by to lend a hand.  What a good guy.

Up in the first one.

Watching this swirling whirlpool is hypnotic and draws you closer

I can't remember now exactly where we stopped to complete the journey as you may have guessed by now Reader we are home again and all those birthdays have been celebrated.

There was further fun to be had at the end of our run as we met up with Joe & Lesley first owners of NB Caxton and Amanda and David the new owners of the new NB Caxton.

We all met up in the sweltering heat at Great Haywood on her maiden voyage.

Lesley took this one  so is absent from view.

This is Tucker a new edition to Lesley and Joe's family, baby brother to Marsha.

Very proud owners and they should be too for Caxton is absolutely gorgeous inside and out. 

So the 'Boat Sharers' have finally become Boat Owners.  
They are off to Canada very shortly to celebrate retirement, spend quality time with their baby grandson and see some more of the country.

We hope to do a bit of boating with them on their return, possibly in the spring now but certainly when we've all had lots and lots more rain to fill the reservoirs.

Pet hate

Now we all have pet hates don't we?  Here is one of mine.  CART work boats in general, not when they are actually working but when they are not and are moored awaiting being moved further along perhaps.  But Reader how many time have you come across a CART boat moored on a lock landing?  Well I have quite a few times and I find it irritating.  This one below is moored perfectly legally on a CART work boat mooring but just look how short it leaves the waterpoint landing.
Now we didn't need water today but even so.  I do think that there should be space for a full sized boat to moor up on at water points.  I think it would be kind too of CART to put in a few extra water points after they have taken one out of service.

We couldn't have fitted on here with the position of the two boats either end.

Iconic shot of Kidderminister lock.  One day when its not 40C we'll go visit this church.

We made our way from Stourport today, yes leaving very early again.  I had popped into Lidl last evening and enjoyed the air conditioning there so we didn't have to face Sainsbury's here.  In the past the moorings have always been full at Sainsbury's but yes you've guess it not today.

Although we had to wait below this lock for several boats and I had gone up to help, when it was our turn no boats anywhere and no help for me but that's the way the cookie crumbles.

I just wanted to moor up under trees along with most other boaters today, we were heading for Wolverley and The Lock pub.  As we got closer the moorings looked busy but a big tree had a space beneath.  We hopped on it and moored up.  The captain of the boat in front walked back and offered us to go into the lock next as they weren't quite ready....  I declined but thanked him for the offer saying that its was far too hot now to carry on, yes he said we are only going on to Kinver and stopping...  Kinver is a good 2-3 hours on and some shaded moorings which I estimated would be full by the time they got there.  But that's folk for you.

I don't know how I spotted this but I did.

Got it?

I haven't seen a Kingfisher in ages but here is one

I've photographed before of course but I just love these echoes of the former boaters lives, I always put my foot in the worn stones.  

I think the locks had been recently repainted along here, all the anti-vandal locks have gone, hopefully will be replaced. 

This was our mooring this morning! (I took this the following day moving off but can you feel the shade, goodness it was wonderful)

In the late afternoon we strolled up to the pub for late lunch  or early supper.  It was packed still.

The following morning, but you can see that the garden was in full sun with barely any effective shade

Then it dawned on me that the building is white, the umbrellas were white and in the later afternoon gave hardly any shade as the sun had sunk so low.  We sat for a while but gave up pretty quickly and went indoors to the "Dining room" where we had the room to ourselves and waitress service.  What a relief.

Supper was their signature burgers.


Mad dogs and Englishmen...

This morning pretty early David had moved the car from somewhere to Stourport or even Kinver, sorry I forget.  He'll soon tell me when (If ever) he reads this.
But anyway he arrived back before 7am and burst into the boat saying that a boat two down from us was moving off and if we were quick we could share the two big locks down onto the river with them.
I was dressed in a flash as this was a good opportunity to halve the work.

Luckily, they were wanting to turn their boat as they had come up a couple of days ago from the Severn onto the canal, (decided against mooring on the almost empty moorings at the Racecourse) and now were facing the wrong way, they took a while to complete this manoeuvre owing to a couple of misplaced widebeams moored in the basin here.  By the time they were in position we were waiting for them.  They would be continuing south and the river Avon and us northwards so it would just be these two big locks together. 

These few photos were taken yesterday afternoon as we walked to the cathedral.... can you feel the heat?  I can still.

Nice boat, nice colour, nice apartments David!  I'd love one.

In the way widebeam and more nice apartments.

Diglis Basin, hard to photograph it all but straight ahead are the locks down onto the river.

The inner basin, more BIG boats.

I've fancied a winter mooring here but today looking at these tiny pontoons and undesirable posts to moor against I've gone off the idea.

David alongside the first double lock.  We had thought the locks were closed until 8am, but no signage anywhere.

Lovely old sign post, southwards to Tewkesbury and Gloucester and northwards to Stourport.  The sign needs a bit of TLC.

The calm river looking south, this pontoon is for the lock landing, another just out of view was full.

On the Severn somewhere or other.


So here we are, immediately out of the lock.  I'm told these houses all flood.

Up a short way from the city centre.

So this below is Bevere Lock, well actually we are through the lock and around the corner.  But I had been saying to David for over a mile KEEP LEFT KEEP LEFT for below is the sign the NB had missed a few days ago.  I suppose I can understand how it just didn't register with them, but at the same time on rivers you must have your wits about you at all times and your eyes peeled.   

Zoomed in a bit.  That boat following us you can just make out had also been warned by me.

The trip was quite uneventful.  Not much wildlife to be seen, too flipping hot I guess.  We only saw one or two boats more.  I did some of the driving to relieve David of the boredom, but saying that we both this that this stretch is far more interesting than the much longer run down to Tewkesbury which in our view is deadly dull.

So we were as speedy as you can be on the river, shortish waits for the locks to open their gates and at Stourport I jumped off onto the pontoon to a) locate the lockkie.  b) prep the first lock but no lockkie in sight and so as David hovered on the river, in sweltering heat I ran up to the top lock where I could see a boat ready to come down.  I ran up to him in my life jacket in the extreme heat, asked the waiting boat if he minded us coming in the bottom lock which he didn't at all then ran back down to signal to David who was wondering what had happened to me...

Two locckies did appear from right over the other side of the basin where they had been doing some painting or somesuch as hardly any boats anywhere.  

We wanted water, so waited while another boat completed his filling.  Curiously he also filled a water container to water his plants with, then a half litre water bottle he had at the tiller.  We were bemused that he didn't use canal water for the plants and indeed tap water for the drinks bottle but that's folk for you.

So we finally had filled up, did the deep single lock to get us up to the Staffs and Worcester canal and moored up in the shadow of a small pub and a few tall trees where the sun began to move behind quite soon after.  We'd thought of going on a smidgen but from coming off the river, completing the basin locks, watering up, the lock up to the canal and mooring up had taken almost as long as the river trip up from Worcester and I was bushed.  
I have discovered that this extreme hot spell does not agree with me.
Is it my age? (Over 21). 


Friday 26 August 2022

Down into Worcester.

 A warm day was coming so we left early so as to avoid the worst of the heat, although from memory I thought the moorings were in the sun in Worcester. David was thinking of mooring on the river but I preferred the idea of the canal.
It was a lovely run, rural not many people about, except at one point when masses and masses of young men, teenagers started filing out a gateway and over the canal via a footbridge as we were in one of the locks, they were all in uniformed gym kit and it was later that the penny dropped.... David said they were part of the Worcester Rugby Club, perhaps the Youth Academy wing?  

The locks were mostly in our favour due to a boat exiting the top lock on our arrival.  Marvellous.

I should have asked them what time they had started off this morning, I doubt it was all the way from Worcester as they looked fresh and springylike!  

We didn't meet any boats that I remember until we were on the outskirts of Worcester proper.  I was walking to the next lock and it turned out to be much further than I thought, but gave me plenty of opportunity to look at peoples gardens.  I caught up with a CART workboat and a volunteer who was locking him down.  Suddenly they were in the centre of the wide canal not moving....  They'd got something around their prop,  I half wondered if David would be able to pass by them.

I carried on past them to the lock and prepped it for whoever appeared first.  It was the work boat.

A nice chap volunteer, but I inwardly screamed in horror as he "dropped" the paddle, not a full and dramatic drop but a hand supported drop... I think he noticed me wincing and he said oh its quicker if you hold the bar... 

He did come back after the work boat had left the lock and raised one of the heavy paddles for me so he was half forgiven, but only half.

Part of the run down in between the locks.

Finally David coming around the bend after the CART boat had gone.

This was the first view of the cathedral.

The Armoury right next to this last lock.  I really wanted to visit it but of course, it's closed today and tomorrow... same five years ago.

Part of the basin, can you feel how hot it is?  We decided to moor on this right hand side, my choice for although its in full sun now the tall buildings right opposite later will shade WaL

At the last lock of the day, a boat entered the empty lock that the CART boat vacated and I got chatting to the lady crew.  They had had a bad day yesterday.  They were coming south on the river Severn and at Bevere lock I think she said there were signs up in the river saying KEEP LEFT, "I don't know how we missed it but we did"  so this was a vintage narrow boat, deep draught and heavy.  They got stuck on the sandbank of the bend there, several boats coming past tried to tow them off.  Six hours they were stuck there!!!!!  In the end "A rig" from Stourport came and got them off with the eye-watering bill of £600.  
A sobering lesson to us all.

We moored up, put on comfy shoes and went off to visit the Cathedral.  We walked via the main two locks onto the river, it was hot and  little shade along there.  Heading north alongside the river and dodging the sun to stay in the shade.

We had a nice look around the cathedral and sat awhile in the cool of the cloisters having refreshments.

David had googled craft ale pubs and found one nearby.  We went.  There was a choice of a wooden plank to sit on outside or the inside.
I choose inside.  The three single men and one dog sitting at the bar didn't move so seeing the available beers and soft drinks was difficult.  I asked what soft drinks they had and the barman waved an arm saying these, he served my ginger beer with the top off the bottle and an empty glass.  I then asked for ice.  I walked over to a table which had the comfiest seats and waited for David.
The music was vile. The wall paper was black with gold skulls on. the decor was random and odd.  Now Reader when I met David I was a barmaid and this venue was the ugliest, the most uncomfortable and  the barman useless.
I declined a second drink.

We abled back to the well stocked fridge on WaL and an even better stocked wine cellar.  I had hinted at pizza as we walked past 4 pizzerias but no.

Tomorrow's forecast was a sweltering upper 30'sC, David wanted to be up and away well before it got hot for the two plus hours trip up the Severn to Stourport and in the shade again.  

Supper was falafel, couscous, coleslaw and salad.

Early nights, my feet ached, my hip ached and I couldn't wait to lie down after the much longer walk we had done than I had expected and slept with the outer doors of the semi trad back closed but the other doors wide open. Phew it was a warm one too

Tuesday 23 August 2022

Chauffeur driven for an outing

 It's a curious thing having a water tank on a boat after coming from a house and not having an endless supply, makes you appreciate water more. 
I know our tank is on the small size David is asleep or I'd tell you how small it is, some boaters are vast ones and they can last a fortnight, ours is much smaller for when we had WaL built we knew nothing going into the process blind and stupid, however we were and are thrilled with WaL but we do have a smaller water tank.  
I am mildly irritated that CART appear to take out the odd water point and not put any new ones in, or not have a long enough space for full sized boats to fit onto when filling up.   Anyway we had last filled up last in Hopwood several days ago, we'd had guests onboard for one night, one load of washing and I'd washed my hair....

Oh my gawd Lisa we've hardly any water and there's no more until Worcester...

Now Reader I have mentioned in the past we carry and large water container, I think its 5 litres so not enormous, but will suffice for washing up and filling the kettle.  We especially use it on the Thames, where there are water points where they don't permit boat hose pipes to be used and other water points where the hoses are like fire engine hoses that fill your boat in 20 seconds.

David went cap in hand, kettle and water container in the other hand to the wee marina behind us to ask please sir could we have some water please please?

The very very nice people at Trinity Boats said yes of course come on in.  So David reversed back, it was a tight squeeze through a bridge hole as there was a work boat opposite them that was repairing the collapsed bank and tow path.  David got in without hitting it and had a pump out, then unable to turn around (Our water cap is in the bow 70' away) they managed to get a hose to our bow over three other boats from a liveaboard's mooring.

Fairly new ownership after the previous people gave up.
Trinity hire boats have new pretty pale blue livery and the fleet are being renewed.  So much so they are going all electric for hire boats.  I did ask if the general public could be trusted with this sort of equipment but they are fearless and jolly good luck to their business.
Lovely lovely people. 

Our mooring.


We went on a short distance to this mooring that David had spotted five years ago and remembered.  Quick showers, get changed and onto the bridge behind us to be picked up.

Our son-in-laws dad was picking us up for a trip out to visit The Malvern Hills.  I'd never been but David has once.

Well how bloody fantastic.  It was the start roughly of the incredibly hot weather and my golly how hot it was, no shade up there but the views around we interesting.  You look west and it is quite wooded, looking east and far more cultivated.
Nick had studied geology I think it was in the past and explained that should a fire break out on these parched and brown hills they would burn and burn I think due to the type of soil (maybe peaty) that would smoulder under the surface and reignite.  Something like that anyway.  I think it was a day of so later that a wild fire got out of control close to London destroying several houses.  Truly shocking and the what we have to face in the future.

Looking north.  The hills are actually a series of hills for some miles

Nick is very camera shy, David and Nicks partner Lynda plus Stanley.  This was looking north east-ish.

We had a lovely day if a hot one and thoroughly enjoyed learning about this area thank you both very much.

We were delivered back to the boat and tried to cool it down hahahahahaha but opened all windows, blocked the sun with bungs and eventually slept with the back doors wide open next to our bedroom.  

I got cold at 4am

Monday 22 August 2022

A rest and a ride

 So here we were at Stoke Works.  I had demanded a day off and I got that.  
I had found the flight yesterday pretty gruelling.  
This summer we have just passed WaL's 10th birthday which means I am ten years older and not getting any stronger plus I am blaming Covid too for my inactivity.  So yes back to gruelling and a day off.

David brought me morning tea and wisely left me to surface gently.  He had found Hanbury Hall a National Trust property on the map and it was agreed we should visit there.... on bikes.

I was nervous as I haven't cycled in a little while, or a big while.  But with tyres puffed up and a large bottle of water off we went with a slight detour to visit a church he had found this am.

St Mary the Virgin at Hanbury.  A really stunning place, the church sits atop of Hanbury hill over looking three counties I think it said with uninterrupted views in several directions.

I had to walk the last bit of hill but had pleased myself with my progress and my husbands patience too.  

St Mary the Virgin church Hanbury, parts going back to the C13th

Silly me thought the spires in the background could be Oxford, it was in that direction but we soon realised that a) Oxford was too far away and b) with the use of my zoom they were trees.

Evidence of recent burning probably for the Queens Platinum Jubilee. Malvern Hills in the distance.

Churchyard undergoing a bit of re-wilding.

Then back down the hill for a whizz to the hall.  Not a great deal to say about this one.

We had a light lunch in the warm sunshine then walked the bikes back through the park land where we had been told that the paths led almost directly to the canal, BUT NO CYCLING IN THE PARK, even though the path was a track for golf buggy type vehicles...  But we were good children and walked down the track, over three stiles, a challenging bridge over a stream with a stile at both ends which altogether made the short cut ages longer and shortened the tempers of us both.  Then you pop through a hedge and find yourself at the bottom lock of the next six.

These two arrived in the afternoon to fill and afternoon and to play locks.  

David and David

This flag was flying in the garden of this lock cottage below.  I had to look it up and I think its a very faded Worcestershire flag, the non faded ones are bottle green stripes

Gorgeous thriving garden

The hall was down hill all the way from the church and only a short distance.

That afternoon after the Boat Sharers arrived, we pulled the pins and set off towards Worcester.  

They are waiting for NB Caxton to be completed had a few more days to go so while they were kicking their heels around they popped over from friends they were staying with to do the five or six locks Astwood locks.
Well its only kind to allow them to do more work as they enjoy it so much.
A very pleasant interlude.  During the rundown David (Mine) had got off with his bike, got to the car and brought it down closer to where we ended up, a gorgeous mooring that we had passed several years ago when we went up this canal instead of down.

The Lewis's departed again or rather we drove them back to their car at Stoke Work and also took them up to the church of St Marys to see the view.  
They have to move onto their new NB in a day or two if all goes to plan. 

Supper was feta, spinach and red pepper quiche and lots of salad then strawberry and peach surprise.