Trip reports 2000
Although not strictly part of this log I should record New Year 2000
Our original intention was to go to a bash at the Public Hall Evesham organised by the Millennium Group due mainly to lack of help in the organisational side of things and poor ticket sales the event was cancelled 4 days before year end. Sankey Marina were having a doo so we went there £20.00 per head plus drinks, 5 course sit down meal, games, silly hats and fireworks at midnight, really good crackers with presents I got a nice pair of 2000 cuff links and the company of the Stych family all 6 of them made for an excellent finish and start to the new millennium.
Friday 21st January 2000
Itís quiet at work so have decided to take Saturday off and have a chug. We have not been out since Christmas although we have popped up to the boat once just to check on things. Itís Friday 6.45pm and we arrive in the cold and dark, the fire was left ready made up and a single match soon had it roaring away. As the boat is connected to mains we switched on the small heater to put some extra heat on and the boat was soon lovely and warm. Lasagna, cabbage and garlic bread for dinner with an evenings TV and to bed 11pm.
Saturday 22nd January 2000
We wake, breakfast and get ready for the off, the engine starts fine. Have now got the knack of putting the battery switch to ĎALLí and then starting works fine. At 11am I move off the mooring. The wind blows me all over the place and because of the lack of turning space I cannot get the boat round, in the end Paul pulls the bow rope and I maneuver the boat using the engine to gradually get round and out of the small entrance onto the canal. Itís now 11.20am we turn right out of the mooring and head for Welford. About 1 mile on we stop at a boat and butty. Nb ĎWyloí houses Derek Pearson who makes chimneys and fenders and things, Paul has suggested we stop and ask him to make us a new chimney, alas he no longer makes to measure, seems like we will have to have the whole lot replaced if we are to stop the tar like liquid that builds up in the chimney, from running out down the side of the boat and ruining the paintwork. There are no locks on this stretch and itís very pleasant, the view is good there are cattle, sheep, horses and farmers ploughing the fields. Itís very cold bitter strong wind but dry mainly and sunny. At bridge 42 North Kilworth we turn right onto the Welford Arm it is hailing but not for long. This arm is quite high up and there are good views and the occasional sheltered section with trees either side. There is one lock and then at the very end, a Marina boat yard and quite a lot of boats. We moor at the very end at 3.30pm we are freezing inside the boat itís lovely and warm. Wendy goes on a recki to the village and I read the paper. The recki reveals that the village pubs are not available for food that night unless we want to eat posh which we donít the best pub is the closest just 50 yards from the Arm end in the Wharf Inn. At 7pmish we toddle along in the pitch black to the Wharf which, is most welcoming Guinness, Red wine to start the Surf and Turf for me which included prawns and scampi and Haddock and chips for Wendy, all excellent as was the service. At 9pm we were back on the boat TV and then bed.
Sunday 23rd January 2000
I have not had a good night Wendyís snoring actually woke me up, how can she sleep through the noise she makes? At 10am after watching Frost on Sunday we rise and after breakfast of scrambled egg and smoked salmon we leave at 11am. Today is bright, sunny and crisp cold but not like yesterday, the wind has dropped. As the journey progresses it turns colder and we have some rain. Wendy and I take it in turns to steer and then go in for a warm in the cabin. The fire has stayed in for the whole of the weekend itís now 2.30pm and we have just gone under bridge 17. We have caught up with another narrow boat that is going very slowly ETA Crick Wharf of 3.15pm might be delayed a bit.
Between the end of January and the end of March 2000 we visited the boat on several occasions but only went out once more and that was only a short trip to Watford locks and back. Generally we would arrive at 6.30-7.00pm on the Saturday we went to the Wheatsheaf in Crick village with Paul and Leslie Managers of the Wharf. They are good company one of the weekends when we did not go to the pub we ate on board and watched TV. A very good picture on all channels improved the 240v lighting on board and as we had an electric hook up ran the fridge on 240 as well.
April 1 2000
We traveled to the boat and dropped off provisions and clothing for our journey back to Evesham the following week. We then traveled by car to Rudeley for a dinner party at Mary and Brianís house, a great time was had on the Saturday night 3 other couples friends of Mary and Brianís way back joined us for the party. At 2am on the Sunday morning Wendy, Steve, Vina and I left the house and walked to Brianís boat ĎSHYTALKí a 60ft narrow boat they bought in November 1999. We slept in bunks - not very comfortable. The following morning (Sunday) we went back to the house for breakfast and at 12 noon left to travel back to Evesham. James gave us a lift back to Crick and Brian came to, we left the Wharf at 3pm in bright warm sunshine. The engine took a bit of starting I am having to start with both engines and domestic batteries, the engine battery on itís own will not start the engine. It may be because itís cold and has been for months, we will see how it performs this week although I suspect we will need a new battery. All other systems are working perfectly. As itís now officially summer on the canals Watford locks are open till 5.30pm and we arrive in plenty of time a friendly BW man helps us through the first lock and we have to wait for another boat coming up the staircase. I dump the rubbish in the skips provided and spy a 10 foot or so sign one that fits on top of the boats you see at boat shows it says ĎIntro Ė Boat Buildersí now Intro have recently gone bust so the sigh has clearly been discarded, we ask the BW man if we can have it and told yes but keep it covered a lot of people have lost money at Intro and best to keep it out of sight, we put it on top of the boat folded flat and under the poles and plank, no idea what we are going to use it for but it will come in handy one day. At 5.30pm we arrive at the Stags Head Watford Gap and moor up it starts to rain. At 6.30pm we go into the pub for dinner Cumberland sausage, mash and peas followed by Lemon Meringue pie and a couple of pints of Murphyís for me and Stuffed Trout followed by CrŤme Caramel for Wendy washed down with dry white wine. All excellent. At 7.30pm ish we toddle back to the boat through the pub gardens, I say pub but itís a restaurant really, itís run by an Italian family and is very popular. TV and then bed, we have pushed the single beds together to try out having a double again, itís tricky getting in on my side, up against the bulkhead. Even though itís noisy from cars and trains we are soon asleep.
Monday 3rd April 2000
We wake late and get up late. The weather forecast is not good heavy rain, snow and very cold. At 1pm after breakfast I flash up, the reluctant to start engine and we move off. Itís raining and cold. We travel on down the cut meet 1 boat going the other way at a bridge 'ole' and nearly collide but not quite. It starts to snow after 45 minutes we reach the junction and moor up. My hands are like ice. The TV picture is very good so we sit quietly by the fire reading. I phone the ĎNew Inní the nearest pub to check food availability that evening no problem. The fire is good and soon the boat is very warm before we left Crick Paul had fitted a new inner chimney to our existing chimney to stop the brown sticky stuff that is produced by the fire from collecting on the outer chimney and running out the bottom and down the boat, so far itís working very well not a drop is running down. At 8pm we set off for the pub which, is about 10 minutes walk, itís still bitterly cold and stop start rain and snow. The pub is busy Guinness for me and red wine for Wendy we order our food but the rack of Lamb Wendy wants is off, she orders fillet steak instead, same as me, it arrives after 20 minutes or so and we tuck in. My steak is fine but Wendy has got beef not fillet we donít complain as we are hungry and itís acceptable, when we leave I pay the bill and am only asked for £16.00 which, I quickly pay as itís about £10.00 under the correct amount. Back to the boat by torch itís lovely and warm. The beds have gone back to singleís the double didnít quite work out. The sleeping was good the getting in and out wasnít, we sleep soundly.
Tuesday 4th April 2000
Up at the crack of 9am and away at 10 sharp after breakfast of baked beans on toast. John phoned this morning and informed us that the Avon was in flood and shut. Heavy rain over the last couple of days, the news gave details of heavy snow in the south for us itís not to bad cold but dry. In Braunston tunnel we meet 4 boats going the other way but alas none going our way so we descend the Braunston flight alone. Boats are going the other way here to so the passage down is easy and we arrive in Braunston at 12 noon. Itís still wet and cold and as we approach the turn we stop at the Ďfuel bargeí for diesel £20.00 get us 83 litres. We turn onto the Southern Oxford and head for Napton Junction, Wendy steers at this point and I go inside for a warm by the fire and a read of the paper. At Napton we turn onto the Grand Union and down the short distance to Calcutt locks, as we approach w boats are coming up and we have to moor. The wind is so strong that Wendy cannot hold the boat from the jetty with the centre rope and I end up across the cut on the other side of the lock. One through the first lock another boat comes along and we wait for it in Lock 2 I now take over the steering and continue to Stockton Top Lock and the Boat Pub, mooring directly outside, TV picture is great on BBC2 and Channel5 but less than acceptable on the others. We eat in the pub that night T Bone steak for me and Chicken in White wine sauce for Wendy, all very good. The boat is nice and warm upon our return the fire heats the boat well and so far the chimney is still working well. We sleep soundly.
Wednesday 5th April 2000
We wake to sunshine and itís warm. We descend Stockton Locks quickly as they are mostly with us and as we near the bottom we spy Guy Morgan working on the paintwork on Thorn. We stop and invite him for a drink which, he readily accepts. We look at a 70 foot very traditional narrow boat which is for sale. Interesting to go inside but too big and the layout is wrong for us. We give Guy a lift to the ĎTwo Boatsí pub and have a beer or two a very pleasant stop for us all. The sunshine comes and goes I get talking to a woman in the pub from a narrow boat which is behind us and she tells of stories getting things caught in the propeller, I glibly joke that we must keep away from them as we have had no problem with prop fouling for years. We say goodbye to Guy and continue on and descend the Bascote staircase with the boat form the pub. Itís now hot and sunny the view from here are lovely a lot of work is being done to the tow path here and it looks great. We start to hit the outskirts of Leamington and decide to stop for the night at ĎThe Mooringsí a new pub which, is canalside. The food here was very good itís sort of up market pub Harvester type place. The service was a bit confused no clear person in charge but they were all cheerful and helpful. Very good TV picture.
Thursday 6th April 2000
We wake late and as this mooring has water decide to fill the boat with water and give her a wash as well. Breakfast would have been at the new Tescoís in the town but as we started to leave it was obvious that we had something round the propeller, must be a jinks from the people yesterday! I spent an hour getting a plastic vegetable bag off the prop. The water was freezing and I dropped a knife into the cut while doing it eventually we get underway. A quick stop at Tescoís for provisions and off we go through Warwick up the two locks at the Cape which are against us and them onto the mighty Hatton Flight we enter the bottom lock at 1pm I walk on and empty the lock in front as Wendy steers the boat. Itís hot and sunny, about 50% of the locks are with us we meet only one boat ahead because as we get further up all the locks are full and need draining before we scan continue. At the start we tie up but opening the paddle on the same side as the boat pushes the boat to the side so tying upis not necessary, near the top we pass the new BW workshops very impressive. We reach the top at 5pm not bad on our own. My feet are killing me! Itís time for me to rest and I sit in the bow with the paper, a glass of Guinness and a fag. Wendy has phoned Sarah on route and we arrange to meet at Tom O the Wood a nice canal side pub itís getting chilly now but still sunny. We pass through the open country side we see 2 Kingfishers one with a small fish in itís mouth, we canít decide whether they are mates or fighting over the fish, I take a phote but doubt if will be very good. At 6pm we arrive at Tom o the Wood and moor up, dog mess greets us on the towpath bow and stern. I shower and change and watch a bit of TV very good picture before meeting Sarah in the pub. The food at Tom o the Wood was good as always and we had a smashing evening with Sarah catching up on all her news. Back to the boat at 121pmish and slept soundly.
Friday 7th April 2000
Up earlyish and away. We follow the canal a short distance to Kingswood Junction where we turn onto the South Stratford. We stop for water on the newly refurbished water point and then head on down. The lock gates are heavy and they all need filling, they seem slow to fill and empty. A lot of work has been done on this stretch over the last few years and many gates have been replaced. The going is slow but the weather is hot and sunny. We meander through the countryside only seeing the odd boat. Wendy and I share the steering and lock preparation we pass the Fleur-de-Lys pub, where we have stopped many times before. On down through Preston Bagot newborn lambs are everywhere in the fields. At lock 38 the last on this stretch 2 ducks come close to the boat tame as anything they are rewarded with some bread. We stop at Wotton Waven and Wendy goes to the craft shop and returns with lamb burgers, potatoes, Treacle tart, apple tart and bakewell tart. Tonight we eat on board. At 5pmish we arrive at Wilmcote and moor up. Wendy showers and washes her hair and cooks the dinner, I potter the TV picture is very good and we have an excellent dinner and evening of TV.
Saturday 8th April 2000
Two years ago today was the day of the great flood in Evesham, today is hot and sunny and we are not expecting a repeat performance. We leave at 9am we are heading for Stratford, we slowly wind our way down I do the locks and Wendy steers we are followed down by 2 boats full of lads, a little worse for wear, after a heavy night me thinks, nice lads though. I see a cat carrying a small rabbit, the cat drops the rabbit on seeing me I try to shoo it away but the rabbit is to weak to run away and the cat is reluctant to leave itís kill. My face is burning from the sun, as we approach Stratford it is evident that the water in the canal is very high and at lock 54 the water was cascading over the back lock gates and indeed over the lock at one point emptying took a long time as the water coming over the back gates was only marginally less than going out of the bottom gate. We arrive in Stratford at 2pm and take the last mooring. The new barge for down and outs the Double O Depot takes up 70 foot of the mooring by the bridge hole and entering the basin difficult, what a stupid idea to have a barge in the first place drop in centres for down and outs would be well away from major tourists areas will the do-gooders ever learn. In time I expect when the £100,000.00 investment has proved a waste of time and money. James joins us briefly at 3.30pm he has ridden over on his Yamaha R6 motorbike. Lovely day for a ride we sit and enjoy the hot sun reading the papers and having a burger from Macdonalds. At 6pm we go to the pictures and see Erin Brockowich with Julia Roberts excellent, we try and find somewhere to eat after we come out at 8.30pm not easy Sheep St. every restaurant is full apart from the French one, and we are not eating French! We wonder down to the new No 6 in Union St. and thatís full to we have a couple of drinks in the Slug and Lettuce and then up to Meer St. and the good old Curry house which we get in no trouble. A good curry was had by all and then back to the boat. Oh forgot to mention also tried Coxís Yard Restaurant to eat and that was full.
Sunday 9th April 2000
We woke to rain I walk up to the town to get the papers. Had to go right up near the birthplace as that was the only newsagent open. On the way back bought Macdonalds for breakfast. We left at 9.45am and went into the basin lock with another boat a 65 foot Black Prince hire boat crewed only 3 women all in their 60ís we came out first and headed for the next lock they followed. The lock was full with another boat coming up so we moored. It had stopped raining some time ago but it was very windy. The 65 footer was having all sorts of problems and it was obvious that the crew had not got a clue how to handle the boat. The other boat left the lock and our companions went in, it took some time to tie them up and them we went in. The 3 ladies Robyn Collins, Ruth Blakley and Gayle Lander were all from South West Australia and were here on holiday 1st time on a narrow boat and not enjoying it they explained they had had little instructions and they had ordered a smaller narrow boat but on arrival had been given this large 65 footer, a 6 berth. We decided to help them and at each lock they entered first and we followed. They banged and bumped and even got caught on the lock gate on one occasion, and so it was with very lock all the way to Bidford-on-Avon. At one point they managed to hit a tree on the approach to a lock and smash one of the windows. They also took a chunk out of the paint work, they really were trying to control the boat it was just to big for them and the engine seemed under powered to me, probably fine for the canals but not enough poke for the river Avon with a very strong flow and high wind. And so we reach Bidford-on-Avon the 3 ladies were going to stop here but decided to stay with us so we can help them. Each lock is the same they bang and bash and get tied up and then we follow in. Eventually we reach Evesham lock and we moor up directing the other narrow boat to the opposite bank. Trevor the Evesham lock keeper decides other ways and tells us to move and put the Black Prince where we are, we move and in trying to get out of the way get caught by the wind and pushed into the trees by the lock. They go into the lock and eventually we follow. The usual banter with Trevor follows. We proceed to the Waterside moorings and tie up. Black Prince finds it impossible to moor and I go on board and moor the narrow boat for them. Time 5.30pm the ladies are very grateful for our help and offer to buy us a meal that evening we accept and have a very pleasant meal at Riley Curry Restaurant on Waterside. A perfect end to a very interesting day.
End of books
Saturday 12th August 2000
On Saturday evening at 6.40pm, John, Janet and I left Evesham in Johnís car and headed for Rugelely. Wendy had already gone ahead the day before to take all our bedding and provisions. We arrived at Nb Shy Talk at 8.00pm ish and unpacked Johnís stuff. Wendy had prepared ham and pineapple pizza for our evening meal and with a few beers and glasses of wine to swill it down we were soon ready for our beds. Shy Talk was a hire boat in a past life and is fitted out with 8 bunks. Wendy has already chosen the stern end 4 bunk set for us, with our own bathroom and John an Janet get the Bow set with their own bathroom including the shower. We sleep soundly.
Sunday 13th August 2000
We all wake up early, 6.30am. I guess we are all excited about the weekís holiday in front of us. At 7.56am we leave the moorings. We have done all the pre chugg tests and everything on board is running and working as it should. A lot of work has been put into the engine and electrics, not to mention the salon area in Shy Talk since we were last on board. The weather is dry and quite warm. John and I share the steering and the girls sit in the bow. The canal goes through some lovely countryside and the views across Cannock Chase are spectacular. We travel through some wooded areas as well. At Colwich we pass the big houses with rolling gardens that run down to the canal and we enter our fist lock of the day. There is a boat in front of us and a small queue of 3 boat going the other way. We chat to the other boaters, as you do. Once through the lock we chug again and now in glorious hot sunshine. At the Great Haywood Junction with the Staffs and Worcs we stop for water. Last time we were at this junction, we turned down onto this canal, in the poring rain and moored at Tixall Wide. We now carry on up the Trent and Mersey and onto canal we are unfamiliar with. We sit and enjoy the views and the peace. There are not many locks on this stretch and we progress well. We pass John and Gill and Watson going the other way and later on Jack and Sandy in Zephyr. We wave and exchange quick helloís before we are past each other and on our way again. Up through Sandon and Burston, the weather now raining that annoying rain that comes and goes. On this stretch also we see the results of Cyanide being accidentally discharged into the canal. Thousands and thousands of dead fish. All shapes and sizes. A very sad sight. We pass a huge filter type thing that is being operated by the Environment Agency. The water cleaning process will go on for some time, me thinks. At Stone we start the small flight of 4 locks. Stone is quite picturesque and is busy with people. Itís now 2pm ish and a bit early in the afternoon to stop for the night, so it is decided to crack on and complete the next set of 4 locks. After this we continued on through Barlaston, past the Wedgewood factory and on to bridge 106, our mooring for the night. The TV picture was very watchable although not perfect. Showers all round, except Janet, watch Coronation Street, and off to the Toby Carvery, which was only about 5 minutes walk from the canal. We decided on the carvery and very nice and good value it was too. £40.30 for all of us including 2 bottles of house wine. We returned to the boat at 9.15 and after a couple off glasses of port and whiskey, turned in at 10.45pm. A very good day. All systems working well.
Monday 14th August 2000
We wake at 7am and I make Wendy a cup of tea. Wendy had filled a flask with boiling water the night before so that we could have early morning drinks without disturbing our fellow boaters. We breakfast, a good fry up and then as the forecast is not good in the am and better in the pm we decide to wind just up the cut and go bask to Barlaston and visit the Wedgewood factory this morning. John turned the boat, well eventually and we headed off to the factory. This is an excellent 5 quids worth and well worth the visit. You are taken round the working factory, so what you are seeing is the china actually being made. Each section is explained via a headset given to you as you enter and is very well done. Back to the boat at 1.30 and again wind at the convenient hole and off again. I steer the boat as we retrace our steps. The weather is overcast and breezy, with the odd shower. The countryside soon gives way to the outskirts of Stoke on Trent. Its now industrial and derelict. Itís difficult to know what are working factories, most of the buildings look in the same state. Only the odd missing roof, gives the game away. We then start the locks. They are well kept and not too difficult. At the top lock there is a very tight right hand bend that takes you up onto the Caldon Canal. I try and get round the almost 180 degree turn in one go but am unable to get round without a 3 point turn. John now takes over the steering as we enter the staircase locks. Another boat is following us and one waiting to come down. The buildings are, if anything, a little more dilapidated than before. The canal is narrow and we twist and turn through Hanley. We pass a park with a very nice clubhouse and then the college. We continue on, its bends and turns are quite different to the canal we have just left. At Ivy House Bridge we have to stop the traffic and raise the road bridge. A BWB key is required here. Its quite novel to do. Eventually we leave the built up areas and are in the countryside again, with lovely views to the right. Itís raining on and off. We arrive at Foxley and the Foxley pub, our mooring for the night. I investigate the pub. It has food, although the menu is somewhat limited. Its 6.30pm. The TV aerial goes up and the picture is very good. Janet has showered on route, the rest of us shower and change for the evening. We watch Coronation Street, well I have to find out what Jezz Quigley is up to. At 8.00pm we toddle over to the pub for dinner. The Foxley is an old fashioned sort of pub that seems to run on a shoestring. They have no white wine! not a good start. We order 3 steaks and 1 cod. John and I play pool in a room that is too small for the table but we have had a few wets on the way and it doesnít seem to matter. Our play is not that good anyway. The Guinness has a strange taste, we put this down to its age!. The barman got the drinks order wrong and Janet end up with 2 gin and tonics. Wendyís red wine is excellent she says. The food arrives. It all looks very nice. We start to eat and discover that the steaks are a bit on the tough side. What makes matters worse, is the cutlery has seen better days and the forks bend easily in use. We laugh and Janet cannot control herself. She giggles for the rest of the meal. The food was actually quite nice, when you eventually got it in you mouth. Back to the boat and a game of ĎReminiscingí is decided upon. This is a board game and has questions based upon the 50ís, 60ís, 70ís and 80ís. If you donít like Trivial Pursuit, you will hate this. The questions are ridiculous. Example, Ďthe high inflation with low economic activity and employment which reigned over Britain in and around 1975 was called __________?. Answer, Stagflation. I rest my case. Wendy and John won the game. We didnít play a second, instead we stood on the back the back of the boat and looked at the stars and discussed the universe over a few glasses of port and whiskey. Great way to finish a smashing day on the cut. We bedded at 11.30 and were soon asleep.
Tuesday 15th August 2000
We wake at 7.30am and after doing the engine checks and putting more stern grease in the tube, are away by 8.30am. Itís hot and sunny. We breakfast on route, bacon butties. We wend our way through the countryside, the canal is still narrow and has tight narrow bridges and sharp bends. Itís also very shallow in places and we touch bottom several times. We go up through Engine Lock, which is very deep and then on passing more lift bridges on the way. I sit on the back of the boat and steer. Its high up and the views are splendid. We stop for water at Endon. This looks new and as well as RWS there are also showers. A BWB key is required. The girls go shopping to the nearby Spa shop. The canal continues to wind, twist and turn through the countryside. At Hazlehurst Locks while doing the locks and reading the sign, mind the step, falls down the step and grazes her leg. We reach the junction Leek Branch. We carry on, now going down the locks. Through countryside again and the occasional wooded area, this really is lovely. At Bridge 48 the canal briefly joins the River Churnet. Just after this we turn sharp left avoiding the weir and up the narrow, very narrow, just room for one boat on some sections, narrow, final length of canal. This whole section is wooded and very pretty. The pace is slow. Itís now raining on and off, which takes the shine off the scenery, but never mind. At 5.00pm we arrive at the head of the navigation. There is nothing to speak of at Frogall, bog all at Frogall says John. We wind and start our return journey.
We are heading for The Black Lion at Consall Forge. We arrive at 6.10m in the pouring rain, and moor just past the bridge before the right hand turn. Janet and John have a shower together, Ďto save waterí, yeah, yeah. . I try to send this e-mail. No chance, no signal. We have 4 phones on board, 2 Cellnet, 1 Orange and 1 Vodaphone. None of them work. The TV picture is also bad and the radio reception s poor. Not good in the electronics dept. Off to the pub at 7pm and a splendid pub it is too. Steak and kidney pie all round, except Wendy, who had a veggie thing. The Old Peculiar was excellent, as was the service. A few wets then Bed.
Wednesday 16th August 2000
Today will be a long day. I wake at 6.00am, my back is not good on the very hard bunk bed. I am up at 6.30 making the tea. Outside the air is cold and there is a mist coming up from the canal. The sky is blue and not a cloud in sight. We must away early to catch the best of the day. At 7.30 we leave the mooring. John steers. I intend to do the locks today and to take some video footage on the return journey up and down the Caldon. The canal looks super, the sun shines through the trees and shadows dance across the water. So different to yesterday when we saw this section in rain. I spy a Kingfisher, gone in a flash. Cows are in the fields. The pace is slow because of the twists and turns and also there re quite a lot of boats around. At cheddleton we stop for breakfast and a look round the Flint Mill Museum, which is very interesting. At Endon we stop for water and a shower for Wendy except the shower takes tokens and we donít have any and there is nowhere to buy them. We are informed that they can be obtained from the local Spa shop but that is about 15 minutes walk and it decided not to bother. The shower will be taken on board instead. At Stockton Brook the locks change and we are now going down again. We pass through Milton and Foxley, where we overnighted on the way, and as the weather changes we enter the outskirts of Hanley and the built up industrial area of Stoke on Trent. It is now raining off and on quite hard. We hit the staircase locks at Etruria at 5.00pm ish. The top lock needs filling but the bottom one is already empty, awaiting our descent. A short distance to the junction and to the junction and the tight left hand turn back onto the T&M. There is nothing about. John continues to steer. Wendy walks on to set the next locks in turn and Janet and I empty each lock. That is until Janetísí windlass slips off the ratchet and Janet ends up with a large lump out of her arm. The locks are very stiff and I am beginning to feel weary. At the bottom is a man selling pictures. He is chatting to Wendy when we arrive, judging by his appearance the picture selling is to provide some money for his booze intake. Still seems like a nice enough chap. He offers to close the lock gates for us. We thank him and move off. At this point we are on the home run and the heavens open. John gets soaked on the back. At 7.28 we arrive back at Trentham. We have been on the go for 12 hours and we are all glad to have mooed up. The rain has stopped!!. Catch up with Coronation Street till 8.oopm and then we decide to dine at the Toby Carvery. The bar meals are excellent. Sausage and mash for me, fish and chips for John, soup for Janet ( for once she does not feel that hungry ) and ham and turkey pie for Wendy. We return to the boat well fed and ready for our beds. Itís been a long and very rewarding day.
Thursday 17th August 2000
Today will be easier. We wake gently and slowly come to. We leave at 9.10 after the usual checks. Its hot and sunny, with a slight breeze, I even have my shorts on. We weave through the countryside. The views on this stretch are far and wide. At stone we stop for Gas and a new strip light for the aft Bathroom. John goes shopping. He returns will he wrong type of cream and is chastised for his lack of knowledge. John doesnít do shopping!. After Stone the canal continues in much the same way. I can sit on the top of Shy Talk and watch the world go by and steer at the same time. The others sit in the bow. Hot dogs for lunch. The fish that were floating in their thousands after the cyanide spillage have all but disappeared, wonder if the birds that have eaten the dead fish have been effected?. We pick up a very slow Nb in front of us and we proceed on almost tickover. Just before bridge 81 I have to go in fast astern as a Black Prince boat comes hell for leather round a bend and narrowly misses us. At 4.00pm we pull into our mooring for the night at Weston. I write this log and John sets up the TV with excellent results. Tonight we try out the Woolpack in the village. Itís an early dinner and back for 9.oopm for John to watch Playing the Field. We left for the pub at 6.30. The Woolpack we thought we were going to, turned out to be the Saracens Head. This pub is not mentioned in our Nicholsons. It is a short step from Bridge 80, past the chickens, that run free, on the small green outside a large white house. The pub food menu was excellent as was the service. Mixed grill for me, rack of lamb for Wendy, roast beef with all the trimmings for Janet and fish for John. All very nice. It was one of those occasions when the discussion got a little heated. John, Wendy and I like a good old debate but Janet was, for some reason unhappy with some of the comments and left the pub earlier than the rest of us. Iíll move on.
Friday 18th August 2000
We get up leisurely and leave the moorings at about 9.ooam. Today its overcast and soon the drizzle turns into rain. We soon hit our first lock just above bridge 79. Itís against us so we moor up and help those coming through. Its now our turn and John brings the boat in to the lock. Itís now raining hard. This is the picture for the rest of our trip to Great Haywood junction. John and I stand on the stern, John steers and I keep him company. Just before bridge 74 a small Nb gets closer and closer, going the other way. Itís Rumpus. I shout to Brian. We will see him later at the GIG, Ďyup sure willí. At the junction we stop for water and Wendy goes shopping. Its stopped raining, hoorah. Nb Shy Talk takes a lot of water. Its amazing how much of the stuff we all use. We then turn right onto the Staffs and Worcs. We stop again, after some tricky boat maneuvering to get into the marina, for some Diesel. 24.5 pence per liter. Shy Talk takes 20.00UKP and is now full to the brim. Off again, we have been stopped about an hour. Itís a great shame that the sun is not shinning because the trip through Tixall Wide is lovely, but we enjoy it all the same. A boat appears behind us and seems in a hurry so we wave it through. Turns out be Mr Toad also off to the GIG. We soon reach Tixall lock, number 43. Its raining hard again. The girls stay inside, I set the lock and John continues to Steer. The canal gets narrow in places along here and the River Sow keeps us company one side and the railway on the other. The trains rattle past every now and then. John says Ďitís a long time since he has seen that many virginsí, I reply with the old joke about, no good getting a virgin train Ė they wont go all the way. We chuckle like schoolboys. I take over the steering. The canal weaves and winds and the trees and bushes overhang the water in lots of places. As we approach Stafford Boat club I can see other boats in the distance that have a familiar shape. Yes its Raven and Spey. We turn in to the marina and are directed to our mooring, by John Watson, resplendent in his designer harbour master uniform We moor about 3 quarters up on the right. There is room to turn and I slip in without incident. We have arrived. There are shouts of hello again, nice to see you. Hands are shaken, people are kissing and hugging in welcome. The tea appears and we gather in and around Tony Mealingís caravan to eat drink and Chat. The rain comes and goes. Rumpus arrives to much cheering and then Thorn. At about 5.15 Brian and Mary, who are the owners Shy Talk, arrive with Maryís Mother, who is visiting them from Scotland. Maryís Mum has never seen the boat and she is given a short tour. In the evening we wonder up to the clubhouse, Whisper arrives at about this time and glides gently and quietly into her mooring. The members have built the clubhouse and we have an excellent evening meal of fish and chips. Members of the club play and sing for our enjoyment. Its then back to the boat. John Wendy and I have Ďjust the oneí on the stern and are joined by John Watson. Its midnight now and we turn in.
Saturday 19th August 2000
At 9.30am Brian arrives to take John and I to Rugeley to collect our cars. We are leaving Shy Talk at Stafford Boat Club and returning by car to Evesham after the curry tomorrow. Brian will collect Shy Talk next weekend and return her to Rugeley. Janet insists that she wants to go home today. She is in another of her moods and John reluctantly agrees to go home early. First though we take advantage of the 5UKP mobile pump out at the club. Shy Talk has 2 bathrooms and 2 holding tanks and therefore requires 2 pump outs. Reaching the boat is fine for one side but I have to move the boat for the second. Sean and Malcolm help with the transfer. We then move the bow fender up a little, so that its protection factor is more useful. This is quite difficult to do and once more help is in full supply. We succeed up to a point. The fender is higher but not as central as we would have liked. Years of the fender being in the wrong place are difficult to undo. Put up our tent, without the walls for use as a sunshade. The sun is shinning and itís a glorious day. Its now early afternoon and J&J leave for home. Shame for John to miss the rest of the weekend. The ferret racing starts. I have never seen this before and its great entertainment. 4 of the 41 ferrets Sheila has bought with her race at a time. I expected them to go off like rockets down the tubes, but no, they saunter out of the starting traps and eventually one of them reaches the end and wins the race. Wendy and I go in the car in search of some money and a newspaper and take Stan Voets with us on the same mission. We now relax, and miss the Ďschool photoí being taken. We were there honest. Its now time for the BBQ. We collect our packs from the clubhouse. We of course have extras, as J&Jís packs have been pre paid. Bangers, burgers and trimmings all provided, cooked by the individual. Lovely. Next came the quiz. Our team Jack and Shirley from Poppy and Malcolm Nixon from Duplin. 6 rounds pictures, music, cryptic and 3 general knowledge. Very good fun. There then followed singers, a fiddle player, story tellers and an assortment of jokers that kept us all entertained until nearly midnight, when it was time for us to turn in, for others the fun continued in the early hours.
Sunday 20th August 2000
A late start was followed by an excellent breakfast in the clubhouse. In my case 2 breakfasts because I used one of the spare pre paid tickets left by J&J. Itís hot and sunny today. At 12 noon the auction was in full swing. Auctioneer John Watson doing a fine selling job with items donated by various people, including some for charity. Wendy buys a brass horn and I buy a light fitting. 12UKP well spent. Its now 1.20pm. This afternoon there will be various team games. If previous years are anything to go by great fun will by had by all. Wendy and I are going home tonight after the curry.
A smashing week.
Evesham to Crick Wharf Ė September 16th Ė September 30th 2000
Saturday 16th September 2000
We left the mooring at 7.30pm as the light was starting to fade. We had wondered earlier in the week whether we would get away at all. My number 1 at work had written off his car last Thursday night and was suffering from whiplash, so for the last couple of days he has not been at work. An old employee of mine has offered to come in on Monday, which will give an extra pair of hands. Lee should be back to work on Tuesday.
The river has come up, typical, after some heavy rain and there is quite a flow on but the river is at least open. Our journey tonight will only take us as far as Sankey Marine, about 30 minutes, where we will have dinner, a few beers with some chums and then be off in the morning.
Sunday 17th September 2000
We leave at 10am after some bacon and egg butties for breakfast. I have also phoned John Stych to tell him that we have got away as planned. He is looking after our doves and fish while we are gone. The weather is fine but a little windy. Volunteers man Chadbury and Fladbury Locks on Sundays, so the passage is quicker and easier than normal. At Wyre lock we meet up with 2 other boats going down and we all get in the lock together. This lock is diamond shaped, donít know why, and is not easy to get the boat where you want it, but we manage, eventually. We stop for a few minutes at Pershore, to get provisions from the Co-op and then off again. We are now on waters that we have not been on for about 12 months. Not much seems to have changed. Thankfully itís still dry but its colder now. We pass through the countryside; sheep and lots of bullocks are in the fields. The river is quite narrow in places and Bredon Tower is visible on the hill. As we twist and turn the Tower moves from side to side. At Strensham Lock the wind is so strong that mooring is impossible, so I turn round and wait in the stream for the lock to open and the boats coming up leave the passage clear to enter. Volunteers also man this lock today. Good job or I would still be waiting in the river. We then pass Bredon Marina on the left, under the M5 and moor up at the Fleet Inn. The moorings here are full when we arrive but a very considerate boater moves for us to get in. Its 5pm. This is a really good riverside pub, with great gardens and small zoo. Rabbits, Peacocks with their young, Doves and an aviary full of birds. A good run down, quicker than normal, helped by the flow of the water and the lock volunteers. I set up the TV aerial. The picture here is crap and even with my sooper dooper booster, its just about watchable. Wendy washes the outside of One Moore and I watch Thunderbirds on the TV. Sad I know. At 8pm, after watching Coronation Street on the TV, still sad, we wonder in to the Fleet for Dinner. Fillet steaks for both of us and excellent they are too. At 10.30pm we turn in.
Monday 18th September 2000
The day starts with a problem. I phone work to find that my Ďextra pair of handsí is not coming in. He is ill!!. Harry, who has keys to the shop has opened up ok and assures me that they will be all right today and Lee should be back tomorrow. Itís raining hard. I phone Lee and discover that he has taken his girlfriend to the Doctors. She was also in the accident last week. I will phone again later. We decide that its best to press on as planned. We breakfast on tomatoes on toast and wait. The rain continues chucking it down till 11am when it suddenly stops an out comes the sun. Off we go. Itís only about 30 minutes to Tewksbury and Avon Lock. We take on water here and admire the new disabled ramps onto the moorings. The lock gates have also been made wider so that wheel chairs can travel across them. Very impressive. At 12.15pm we leave Avon Lock, having been advised by the lockkeeper that all is well with river levels and head up the Mighty, well mighty compared to the Avon, River Severn. Many people have said that the Severn is boring but I donít think so. For much of the River the water runs in a low channel so countryside views are not always possible but there is still plenty to look at. We pass 3 Cormorants sunning themselves on different dead trees, with their wings spread out. How do they hang on?. There are a few boats around going up and down but not many. The sky is patchy blue and itís dry but a little chilly. We pass through Upton after about 1.75 hours. Wendy steers and I write this log. The wide river has little flow and we continue up for another couple of hours reaching Diglis Lock late in the afternoon. The weather is fine and dry. We have a short wait until the lock keeper opens the giant lock gates for us. When we enter we feel very small in the huge lock. The gates close again, very gently, and very quietly. The water seeps in very slowly and without any wash and we rise, eventually to the top. The top gates open in the same way and after saying our thank youís are off. The canal junction is only a short distance from Diglis Lock. In the distance we can see Worcester Cathedral rising above the town. A boat is coming out of the canal junction so I drop Wendy off and wait in the river until the way is clear. The first two locks are double but close together. The gates are heavy and very difficult to open and close. There is then a short section of half a mile or so to the first single canal lock. This is Sidbury Lock and its very deep. Up through two more locks and we decide its time to moor up. We find some other boats with the same idea and pull up behind them. Its 5.30pm. I spend about an hour trying to get a decent TV picture on all 4 channels and fail. Even with the booster itís hopeless and we settle for 2 and 4. Itís about this time that we get a phone call from Leeís Mother. She informs me that she cannot get hold of Lee, there has been a problem with another car accident and Lee will not be back for work tomorrow and she doesnít know when he will be back. On trying to get more information from her she turns aggressive and informs me I must speak to Lee to sort things out. Not looking good. All the way up today we had half been expecting to have to turn round at some point and go home. This was the point of no return and we decided in the morning we would go back to Evesham. We wondered into the town, which was only about 5 minutes and found a nice Singapore Restaurant in the Shambles. Thatís a road name, not a comment on the state of Worcester. The food was very good, sort of posh Chinese. The service was a little sloppy, but all in all a restaurant I could recommend. We arrive back at the boat at 9.30pm and I try once again to get hold of Lee. Once again not in, but his Father does assure me that he will return my call that evening. Time for just the one then. At 10.00pm the phone goes, itís Lee. "Whatís going on" ask I, "Helen has had an abortion" was the reply. Helen is Leeís girlfriend. I was stunned to say the least, and mumble that we were on our way back so not to worry but keep in touch. I then phoned another member of my staff, Harri, and told her what was going on and I would be back on Wednesday. We had a long day ahead of us tomorrow so it was time for bed.
Tuesday 19th September 2000
The alarm goes off on the phone at 6.00am, sounds odd that but we had never used that function on the phone before, so good job we had it. We had tea and then were off at 6.45am. Itís a long way to Evesham from Worcester in one go. Fortunately there is a turning point just up from our overnight mooring and we are soon turned round and heading back the way we came. We arrive at Diglis basin at 7.45.am and have to wait ten minutes for the lock to be unlocked by the BW man. He arrives on time and helps us through. Just after 8.00am we are heading down the Severn and into Diglis lock again, which is opened for us, without delay. There is fog about and itís difficult to see. We are advised to keep close to the bank and proceed with caution. The fog does lift a little as we continue down the Severn. We have the hammer down and reach Tewksbury in record time. Avon Lock is also ready for us to go straight in and we are grateful for the lack of delay. The fog has now all but gone and we head for home. Strensham Lock is also open and we go in. So far all the locks have been in our favor and the weather has been fine. There is little traffic about. Nafford Lock is against us and we have to moor up empty it. There is also a small bridge across Nafford Lock, which has to be removed before we can enter. No idea why this bridge is there, does not seem to have any function. As we leave Nafford it starts to rain and it continues to rain all the way back to Evesham.
We arrive at 7.00pm, 12 hours after leaving Worcester. Not the sort of day we would normally have had. I am soaked through to my skin, my Ďwetsí are not that wet proof and about as fed up as I can ever remember. The holiday that never was, has just finished!
Tomorrow I will go to work. Oh, the joys of running your own business!.
Evesham to Crick Wharf Ė Plan B
Saturday 23rd September 2000
My week had not been a good one. Lee did not return to work until Friday 22nd and I was not at all happy with his conduct while supposedly recovering from his whiplash injury after the accident in his car. We had a long chat about it and agreed that I would restart my holiday on the Saturday and this would give him some time to get back the confidence in the rest of the staff.
We left the mooring at home at 2.00pm and headed the other way, from our original, intended route, upstream on the Avon towards Stratford upon Avon. At the Evesham Lock we had to buy a license for the onward journey onto the Upper Avon. The shortest UANT license available is 28 days and cost 29UKP. One of the reasons for going the long way round originally, down the Avon and up into Birmingham, was to avoid paying, what I see as an extortionate amount of money, for the 2/3 days we were going to use the river. Also I wanted to visit Birmingham again, but that was not to be. Anyway, we paid our 29UKP and continued, in glorious sunshine. Hire boats were leaving Evesham Marina. We passed the Riverside Hotel and noticed some new moorings and a bit further up new moorings also at the Bridge Inn. Nice to see some investment from businesses on the river. As we reach George Billington Lock, after about 1.5 hours, we realies that we will have to help some of the new hirers through the lock. They seem grateful and we continue on through and on to Bidford On Avon. Its about 6.30pm now and time to moor for the evening. The moorings here are very good. As we pull up, 3 other boats also pull in. We are eating in the pub tonight, The Frog and Bullrush, which has had a large extension to the restaurant since we were here last. Wendyís Brother and his wife, who live in Harvington, join us for dinner. The food is very good, as is the service. We return home to the boat and after a few wets, we turn in around midnight.
Sunday 24th September 2000
We wake to the sound of rain, heavy rain. Bob and Mel were going to join us today for a trip up river but they did say, only if itís fine. The call came at 10.00am that they were not coming. Shame. We decided to stay put and see if it cleared, the forecast said it would in the pm. Wendy got the Sunday papers and we sat around relaxing. At 4.00pm the rain had stopped and it looked bright enough to risk setting off. We were alone on the river, except for a boat up ahead. We knew this because all of the locks were against us. The river twists and turns and itís a shame that the sun is not out. As we leave Cadbury Lock it starts to rain again and we make the decision to stop at Welford. The Four Alls Pub is here, its riverside and has its own moorings. When we arrive its chucking it down. The moorings are very high and we have to climb up from the boat. The food here is fabulous. I have chicken and Wendy has duck, the best canal/river side meal ever, says Wendy. High praise indeed. On returning we watch a little TV and then bed.
Monday 25th September 2000
The morning started early, 7.15am in fact. You may remember from my first post that the Mayor of Evesham had just resigned and as a local councillor I was keen to attend the meeting of the Council that evening. We had to get to Wilmcote or even better Wootton Wawen on the Stratford canal that day so that I could b colleted by car and returned to Evesham for the meeting. My son, Brian would do the collecting. It was on of those glorious early mornings when the sun shone and the low light, made everything sparkle, after the rain the day before. Mist was rising from the water. The trees and bushes on the waters edge had a golden colour. We saw a fox dash across the field. After an hour or so we reached Luddington Lock. The little cruiser that was in front of us yesterday was just pulling out as we arrived so we knew that we would have to empty all the locks to Stratford. I dumped the dunny and then we were on our way. The river had come up overnight and the flow was quite strong. We wondered if the Avon might be shut later if it came up any more. Just after 10.00am we arrived at Stratford. As we approached the Lock that takes you up onto the Stratford Canal another boat is already going in. Our hearts sink. Although itís nice to be able to go straight into the lock, the last thing we want is to have to follow another another boat up the Stratford locks. The other boat was Kate-Isobel and the owners graciously allowed us to go first, as they were in no hurry. The chimney had already been removed, as the bridge leading out of the Basin is very low. We pass the famous Ďdrug boatí and the other commercial boats taking up valuable mooring space in the basin. The first lock up the flight out of Stratford is very tight to get into. There is plenty of water around. Wendy steers the boat and I do the locks. The gates are heavy and the paddles difficult to turn, but itís nice to be back on the canals. As we leave each lock I close the gate and then lift the paddle for the boat following on. Seems only fair as they allowed us to go first. When we are on the River we always leave the exit gates to locks open. This is the regulation. Now back on the canals we have to stop and close the exit gates. I am unconvinced that, in this day and age of constant repair and upgrading of lock gates, there is a need to close exit gates, to, Ďsave waterí. I think that it would be much more convenient to everybody to leave them open. The loss of water is neither here nor there. And another, thing while I am at it. Why is it that those bricks set in the ground by lock gates to help give a shove off, when opening and shutting gates, are NEVER in the right place?. There are 5 locks that take you up through a residential part of Stratford. At the top we pass 22 Stratford Court Boats. The sun is still shinning and itís lovely and hot. The canal now stretches out and we have no locks for a while. We enjoy the countryside. We then hit the long Wilmcote flight of locks. Boats are coming down so the passage is not too difficult. In one of the locks there is a snake swimming quite happily past the boat. Itís about 3 foot long and brown/grey in colour, with little chevrons on itís back. In the early pm we reach Wilmcote and push on to Wootton Wawen. As we go over the splendid aqueduct, a train hoots and waves at us. There is only one lock on this stretch, appropriately named the Odd Lock. We pass many Oak trees, bursting with acorns, hanging across the canal. At 3pm we arrive at Wootton Wawen and moor up. As we do it starts to rain. Shower all round and a little sleep for me. Brian collects us at 5.30pm as arranged and whisks us off to Evesham. Wendy has decided to come too, rather than stay on the boat on her own. After the Council meeting, Brian again picks us up, with his girlfriend, and we go for a nice meal at the Blue Boar, which is between Stratford and Evesham. Just the one on the boat and then we are left alone again, while they return to Evesham by car. An excellent days chugging.
Tuesday 26th September 2000
We start the day late and leave Wootton Wawen at 10.30am. The day is overcast but dry. There is a short chug and then we start the first of the dayís locks. They are still heavy and without wishing to sound sexist, Wendy or indeed any woman would have trouble with the paddles and gates. The distance between the locks is just that little bit too far to walk between. All is well until we get to lock 36. Wendy has decided to try and open the lock and as I bring in the boat to drop her off, she steps and slips and whoosh, in she goes. Wendy canít swim so I jump off to help her. She grabs the side of the cut and is ok. "Get back on the boat" she shouts. The boat is now going astern, I had left her in reverse gear!. I jump and land in a heap on the deck, banging my arm and leg in the process. I then bring in One Moore and tie her up and then go back to help Wendy, who is now standing on the bottom, out of the water. In the shower she goes, to warm back up. A little shaken up we continue up into the lock and on. We pass the Fleur-de-Lys pub. We have stopped here many times before. Itís an excellent pub. There is lots of water coming down and at each of the locks on this flight we have to fight to get the boat to the lock. There is a strong flow coming right across the entrance to the lock. Stupid design, why did they ever build the locks like that?. As we reach the top and are about to pull into Kingswood Junction, a voice says, "I know that boat". It was Mr. and Mrs. Olds, the previous owners of One Moore, or Togobo as it was called then. They were keen to look around and we were happy to show them. There has not been that much change, since they owned the boat and they were pleased that we had had so much pleaser from her over the years. There new boat ĎTwo Bobí was moored at the water point so we had a look at her too. Very nice. They were on their way to Stratford. Off we went again, turning sharp right onto the GU. Itís a short chug to Rowington and the Tom O the Wood pub. We had thought of stopping here but it was a bit early so we cracked on. Wendy steered and I decided to write some of this log. There are no locks on this section until you reach Hatton. I have been on this bit of the canal before so was not missing anything. We reached Hatton top lock at 5.45pm and thought we would stop. The signs there say, long term mooring, so we were unsure if we were allowed to stop there overnight. Coming up behind us, another Nb loaded with 8 young men and 2 young ladies. They said they were going down!. This seemed a partner to good to miss. It was a bit late to start Hatton but what the hell. It was 5.50 when we entered the top lock and 2 hours and 6 minutes later, we left the bottom lock. Is this a record?. We had a good system. I walked on to each lock in turn and got it ready and the rest of the Ďcrewí, emptied each lock in turn and closed the gates. The last 4 locks were done in darkness, which was a bit tricky, but worth it. As we chugged away from the bottom lock Wendy said that the other boats crew were a bit enthusiastic in opening the paddles before shutting the gates, making them crash together. Wendy advised them, this was not a good idea, but the advice fell on stony ground. We chugged on to the Cape Of Good Hope, moored up and went to eat. I had the mixed grill and could not finish it. Wendy had Halibut. Both very good. We returned to the boat and turned in exhausted. A great day, even though Wendy went for a swim.
Wednesday 27th September 2000
Today we have another late start. We slept exceedingly well last night after our busy day. We left the moorings at 11.00am and headed down the lock that is outside the pub. We are on our own and quite a few boats have passed us this morning going in the same direction. At the second lock we spy a couple of boats in the distance and as the lock is already empty we wait for them. As the get closer we recognize them as being at Crick last year. Not in the Marina, on the towpath. They are sort of new age boaters, smashing couple and we get chatting about the 2 wooden, very old boats. One is 1932 and the other 1940 the chap tells me. The engine, a Lister is 1932 and has not reverse gear. Both boats are full of, well, rubbish it looks like to me but I am sure not so the this couple and their 2 young children. The boat with the engine has a huge hole in the bow, the butty not much better. I wonder if they are licensed. Must be I suppose to be on the water. Anyway after helping them through we continue on our way. The canal winds through the industrial bits of Warwick and then onto Leamington Spa. Great efforts have been here in the last few years to clear up the canalside and a great job they have done. New houses and flats have been built and a new pub, called the Moorings. We eat here on our journey from Crick to Evesham last year, and very good it was too. The canal then reaches countryside for a little while until we reach Radford and our first lock going up. We are on our own and the lock is full. The gates are heavy, the paddles almost impossible to turn Ė or am I getting older - and itís starting to rain. The locks on this flight are just that bit to far to walk between, and anyway I am glad of the rest. At least we donít have to tie up in each lock. Opening the paddle on the same side as the boat is in the lock, lets the water come in and hold the boat against the side of the lock as she rises up. It rains on and off and the wind gets more and more blustery. When we reach the Bascote Staircase, we can see the two boats that are in front of us. At the top I get a bit of a rest, before the next lock. The sign in the water says that the level is 0, that must mean normal. A wonderful sign to us river folk. I have been listening to the radio and there is a river watch on the Avon. Itís nice to be safe on the canals. All to soon we reach Long Itchington and the bottom lock. The wind is now so strong that the leaves are being blown off the trees in their thousands. Itís like wedding confetti blowing all over the cut. We look for Thorn as we pass Bridge 24. No sign of boat or Guy. One more lock and I spy the Blue Lias. We have stopped here on many occasions before. The TV picture is excellent, even with my standard ariel. I shower and change and Wendy rests her very bruised leg. A hangover from her dunking yesterday. The food in the pub was good as always, although my steak was a little tuff. Wendy had the Lamb and Leek Pie. Lovely. Back for Corry at 9.45pm and then bed.
Thursday 28th September 2000 (pay day)
After a very stormy night, wind blowing and heavy rain, we wake this morning to blue sky, sunshine, and a breeze. We decide to have an easy day today and eventually leave the Blue Lias moorings at 10.15am. Immediately after the bridge by the pub is the first of the Stockton flight for today. There is are two boats in the second lock and two boats in the lock in front of them. Seems to be a bit of a hold up. There are two boats coming up behind us, so we wait and ask one of them if they wish to come in with us. Saves water and it is always easier with more people doing the locks. The queue up ahead is not moving. They decide to stick together. By this time another boat has shown up, so we now have a partner in the lock. There is still a queue. Our lock partner is a hire boat, from Rose. Four senior ladies are having a week out together. The captain, on the tiller tells me her life history and that of the other ladies, interesting lives, all of them, on the way up the locks, which are very slow. Eventually the boats up ahead clear, something to do with Wendy going ahead and Ďhelpingí and we reach the top. Looking down this flight is very pretty and pictures are taken. There is now a long stretch, through countryside, past the new Marina, Ventnor Farm, which seems to have a lot of boats in it, and onto Calcutt Locks. We stop here to dump the dunny, take on water and buy some new seals for our Porta Potti but ala they do not stock any. Just have to keep it upright when itís full!. There is still quite a breeze but itís lovely in the sunshine. Our original plan was to go onto Braunston but as we had plenty of time we turned right onto the North Oxford instead of left at the junction. We have not been on this part of the canal system before. I sit in the bow an Wendy steers. Its very pretty through here. We pass Napton Marina on the left. There are splendid views across the fields. At 3.00pm we moor up by the winding hole at the bottom of Napton Locks. Wendy goes off to explore and I write this log. In the evening we walk the short distance along the towpath to the Folly Pub. This pub is quite different to the others we have been in all week. All sorts of items hang from the walls and ceilings. Itís like going back in time to the pubs of yesteryear, all brown from the smoke. The food however is splendid. Beef and Guinness for me and Pork and cider for Wendy. We are back at the boat for 9.00pm. A bit of telly, great picture and then bed.
Friday 29th September 2000
A very late start. Braunston is about 3 hours away, so know need to hurry. I am experimenting with the laptop being run from the boat batteries, through an inverter. So far, without running the engine, I have been using it for about 3 hours. I have 4x6 vole batteries but I have no other information than that. There are no markings on the batteries at all. I have also been onto Orange to enquire about e-mail from the phone. After recent other postings on the subject, I was interested to see if it can be done. I am informed that Orange do not support e-mail from the phone. I have a Nokia 7110, like others on this list. Its now 12.40pm. Will try and send this post. I have been having a few problems getting connected to Freeserve. Not sure if itís the signal or Freeserve. Eventually managed to download the e-mails on route from Napton to Braunston. The weather is fine but a little chilly. At Braunston we stop at Midland Swindlers and buy some new seals for the two Porta Potties we have on board and a new glass for the fire. For some reason it cracked earlier on this week. Fitted seals and glass, dump the dunny and off to find a mooring. We moor near the bridge, just past the entrance to the Marina. Itís about 5.00pm. The TV picture in the past has been pretty poor so I set up the booster arial. The picture I get is fantastic, on all 5 channels. I wonder up to the town to get some more beer, I seem to have run out!. We shower and change and walk up to the Plough where we meet Dave and Lesley PF and spend a good evening with them. Itís back to the boat at 11.30pm ish.
Saturday 30th September 2000
A gentle start. I do a bit of maintenance on board and Wendy gets the papers. We meet up with the Ďcrewí of Jemima D and say hello to Tony Mealing on board Raven. They are all having a mini Gig that evening. Guy will be joining them later. Shame we canít stop but we are committed to meeting some friends later in the day on the GU. We have a look at some boats for sale in Braunston. One we quite like. A 60ft Trad, name of Jerusalem. Seems it already been sold. At about 11.30am we leave Braunston and head up the flight. We are joined by a hire boat, one man 2 ladies. He has hired before and as got the bug but he needs to convince his wife that itís a good idea. Wendy goes on and gets each lock ready and I steer the boat. The weather is fine but little chilly. At the top lock we say our goodbye's and set off for the tunnel. Its very fumy in the tunnel and it seems to twist and turn more than I remember. Once out itís a short distance to the junction and then only a short chugg up the GU to the Staggs Head, our mooring for the night. As luck would have it, as we get to the pub, its starts to rain hard, so itís a good time to stop anyway. Tonight we meet up with some chums and then tomorrow we head up the Watford Flight and on for Crick and our mooring for the winter. John, who lurks on his list, will collect us in the pm sometime and take us back to Evesham. Another adventure over.
Boxing Day ĖTuesday December 26th 2000
Wendy and I left the house at 10.15am with 2 cars and drove to Whilton marina, where we left one of the cars and then drove on to Crick Wharf where One Moore is moored. Itís a lovely winter day bright and dry. After loading the boat and the usual pre set off checks the engine started first time and we set off at 12.15pm. We do no intend to go far today, only to Norton Junction. The trip starts with a wetter than normal Crick tunnel but the view as we exit the other end is quite spectacular. The bright sunshine reflecting on the water, and then bouncing up again to illuminate the tunnel roof. There are more boats around than last year. We even pass one from Clifton Cruisers. Didnít realize that hire companies worked in the winter. At Watford locks, the top one is full and we go straight in. We descend quickly and are soon finished the 7 locks including staircase that make up the Watford flight. In the sunshine, its really quite warm, or is it the hot mulled wine that Wendy had prepared, keeping me content while on the stern of a cruise style Nb. We stopped at the Junction and moored up. The new Inn was the venue for our evening meal and very nice it was too.
Wednesday 27th December 2000
We left the mooring mid morning and the weather was still very pleasant. We teamed up with another boat for the decent of Buckby Locks. It was a good job we did because the gates were very heavy and I had trouble opening some of them on my own. Once at the bottom it was only an hour or so to Weedon and the moorings by the Narrowboat Inn. We got settled in, tied up, TV ariel up and so on and waited for the others to arrive. First in the convoy was Badger who chugged on by informing me that the Narrowboat Inn was not open that evening and our party had been booked into the Globe Hotel at Weedon, some 20 minutes or so back up the cut. We were already pointing in the correct direction, having turned round at the winding hole before mooring, so we untied our mooring ropes and followed the convoy to the moorings by the Globe. The boats consisted of One Moore, Badger, Laplander, Thorn and Percyphone, Draco, Duplin, Raven, and 12 crew. Dinner was booked for 8.00pm. Wendy and I arrived late, having gone to the wrong hotel to start with. Sean was out looking for us when we got to the Globe. The evening started with a joke from the Woodingís son in law and continued with laughter all evening. The food was excellent and plentiful, so plentiful in fact that there were leftovers for the Wooding's family dog. A great evening. Thanks to all.
Thursday 28th December 2000
We woke to a frozen canal and snow on the boats. At 9.30am or there abouts the convoy left in sunshine to head for Braunston. We were only going as far as Whilton so left later at about 1.30pm. It was a lovely chug. Sunshine and not really cold considering the freezing canal. We arrived at Whilton Marina at about 2.30pm having previously booked in for 3 nights. We moored up, hooked up to the electric and I headed for home, by car, leaving Wendy on board. She was planning to read, paint and generally chill out, while I went back to work.
Sunday 31st December 2000
I returned to the boat at 4.00pm and found Wendy well and truly iced in. There had been a very cold spell in the last few days and although it was now a bit warmer, there was still about 2 inches of ice around the boat. We had planned to drive to Braunston and see the new year in with the Ďgangíat the Plough but the weather was very bad and we decided, in the end, to stay put and see the new year in on board. At midnight, a boat across the marina let off some rockets and very spectacular they were too.