Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Lazy day in Lechlade

We had another quiet day today.  A short trip into the pharmacy to get some good 30+ suntan lotion and some eyedrops.  I had a wonder around an eclectic Antiques Arcade while Andrew went to check out the anglers shop.  Andrew had left me to my own devices at the arcade so after that, I took a walk along the river bank above the Ha'penny Bridge.  The river is still navigable for another short distance to the old Inglesham Lock and Roundhouse. It was a lovely walk in the sunshine, with an added cool breeze.  Just no camera with me and I don't do phone camera's!

After all that exercise I ended up falling asleep watching tv this afternoon!  I did not realise that I was old enough for a nana nap already.  Must have just needed the sleep.

Finishing off with my view while washing the dishes last night


Dinner time
 and a bit of fun, the view from the bathroom window, not in focus according to Andrew :)

Glorious sunshine to all :)

Monday, April 29, 2013


Late yesterday evening we made it to our destination, Lechlade, or Lechlade-on-Thames depending on the website you are on.  As usual the weather was absolutely nothing to write home about (funny that as I always seem to mention it) cold wind and overcast.

We did spot our first goslings and Red Kite on the trip. Not able to capture the Kite but maybe next time. I am finding that I am not too happy with my photo's that I am taking on the move. "Move" is probably the very reason why. It is like taking a photo while you are still walking and expecting it to be sharp. Not going to happen!  I have been using Tv rather than anything else but when the sun is out it still does not work too well.

Little Egret

Mum, Dad and kids

Shifford church, in the middle of a meadow
Not the best pic of the church but I will try and get a better one on the way back next week.

Jody and Gina are coming over on Friday for the weekend, so today we are relaxing. Plus Andrew is finding it a bit painful walking around at the moment as he has a rather sore toe. I am not complaining.

We did walk into town this morning to investigate the grocery options, mainly because we needed some. A small superette and a nice butcher.  We also had a look at the small marina above the bridge. We had thought that we might get a berth there for the weekend. We changed our minds! Very neglected and unloved so we might just stay put at the field below the bridge.  Our other thought is possibly the New Inn which has a very nice grassed area, parking (for Jody's car) and a possible mooring. Basically we just want some safe/secure parking for the car for the 3 nights they are here. We shall see.

Next few days will be a bit of spring cleaning, TV and reading.  More of the second two than the first. No explanation required for those that know us well :)

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Where did the sun go?

Not 4 days ago we had a lovely sunny day and now as forecast, it is once again cold and wet.  Twice over the past week we have, or I should say Andrew has, let the fire die out. Today it has been lit once again.

Over the past few days we have made our way further south and although sometimes cold, sometimes cool and mostly sunny we managed to dodge the rain. 

Early morning

Under the bridge and around the corner

Out of the lock

Kings Sutton viewed from Kings Sutton lock
Thursdays squalls which bypassed us
But not today, today we got caught in a quick hail squall.  I was so surprised I forgot to close the top paddle and went to open the bottom paddles.  It took Andrew a short while to realise that the boat did not seem to be going down in the lock as quickly as it should! So quick paddle down and we were on our way once again. Somewhat cooler and wetter.

We have made it on to the Upper Thames today. For some reason we both thought that it would be another day. Our original plan was to spend the day in Thrupp, where we were lucky to get the last visitor mooring spot at 4pm.  We wondered back this morning to the lift bridge as we had seen a boaters library there when lifting the bridge yesterday.  A boaters library is basically a free book swap, or even borrow. You put your read books in the library and take some other books out. At some point along the trip once we have finished the books we borrowed here, they will be swapped with some 'new' books at the next place we find. It is a great idea and there can be some great books to borrow.

Anyway while wondering back to the library it was pretty chilly, in fact downright cold.  On our walk we met 2 other boaty forum members, Maffi and Bones, which was great and hopefully will catch up with them again on our way back after Lechlade.  We popped in to Annie's Tearoom for some warmth, coffee and a bacon sandwich.  I took my time while my hands warmed up :) We decided that with the cold rainy looking weather we would rather continue towards Lechlade and have our cleaning day later. Especially as cleaning day will require us to take some of the 'loose' furniture out of the boat and decorate the towpath for a while.  We also want to give the boat another outside clean. As such the weather was once again not going to fit in with our plans. There had better be a good day sometime in the next week as we would like a nice clean boat for our visitors arriving on Saturday, yup Jody and Gina. All very exciting, our first overnight visitors and their first time staying on a boat.

Andrew has also arranged a day's trout fishing for himself and Jody.  All Gina's idea to start with but there was no way that Andrew was going to turn down that opportunity.  Even if it meant a 5 to 6 week round trip for us. But hey, we have no place to be and lots of time to do it in and I must say the trees are greener in this southern part of the country. 

And a few pics of the fauna to be seen

Goats. Not sure what breed but cute kid :)

Roe deer

Muntjac deer

Not happy about being disturbed

Waiting for us to leave
Well the fire is warming us up nicely now.  TV signal is once again elusive, so Bond movie number 4 tonight is on the cards and now to go and prepare dinner.

Have fun everyone :)

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Onto the Southern Oxford Canal

Tonight I feel like I have finally recovered from the 2 1/2 miles and 21 locks of the Hatton Flight.  We managed to do the whole flight in just under 2 hours 20minutes after we teamed up with another boat to share the locking burden. It was still hard work as there was a pair of boats ahead of us, requiring us to refill the lock before we could lock down. So 21 sets of fill and empty. We got into quite a smooth process, only held up by the pair ahead. One of us ladies (the lockies) went ahead to refill the next lock once the others had left the lock while the other completed the empty and gate opening of the current lock. So in the end we each did 10 1/2 locks but as it required both a fill and empty, we pretty much did 21 locks.  I was exhausted after that run!  We still had a few to go before stopped for the day. Thankfully Andrew locked those while I steered. I thought that I would sleep well that night, being so extremely worn out but it was not to be the muscles in my arms, shoulders and back were just to sore and I could not get comfortable.

I was not looking forward to the next day which was another flight, although smaller, but still a fair number of spaced out single locks. We ended up sharing the locking of all of these between us, as we did them all on our own.  That made it 48 locks over two days, 24 on each.

As can be expected, not a lot of pictures from these two days. We were just too busy.  I did get this though late in the afternoon as we were coming up to the Southern Oxford Canal junction.  And yes it was sunny and yes we both got a touch of red but we had put on suntan lotion! 

ooooohh a sunny day
We eventually moored up at the bottom of the Napton flight. The weather was so good Andrew broke out the deck chairs and little table and we both sat enjoying the evening with a beer for one and cider for the other. You can decide for yourselves who had what :)  (should have broken out the camera at this point but forgot and was too tired)

Windmill at top of Napton Hill
A better nights sleep for me in readyness for todays locks. Now we are back on the narrow canal and narrow locks, makes life a lot easier.

a bit of countryside

originally Fenny Tunnel, but not any more

lovely cast iron bridge at end of 'tunnel'
All in all another great day cruising but the beautiful weather has not held. It has been overcast and growing chilly throughout the day. This evening it has been raining lightly and this is expected to continue for a few days. Hopefully it will not be too heavy as I would be very upset if we have traveled all this way to get on to the Thames and then find it closed due to flooding!

But we cannot control the weather (unfortunately) and will do what we can.  So until next time, cheers and have fun, I know we are :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Stratford Canal back on to the Grand Union

Once again we were up and off cruising early. We knew that we had a fair few locks to go through today, 18 in all. Although we did not expect to end up off the Stratford canal so soon but we did swerve off it halfway along, to cut across to the Grand Union. I think that I would like to go back and do this canal again. It has it's own uniqueness and personality. One of them being the locks we did today. They are not actually termed a flight but the distance between them was such that it made more sense to walk to each lock, rather than hopping on and off the boat. So I ended up walking the remainder of the Stratford Canal, a whole 4 miles. Andrew and I had got a bit of a pattern going yesterday while doing the Wilmcote flight. I go ahead and open the bottom gate, emptying the lock if necessary. Andrew brings the boat into the lock, I close the gate behind him and open the top paddles to fill the lock. I then walk on to the next lock to set it while Andrew waits for the lock to fill, opens the top gate, steers the boat out the lock and keeps the boat in place while he closes the lock gate. He then tootles off to the next lock which I should then have ready.  This worked really well going up the locks but not sure it would work so well going down, as getting off and on the boat at the bottom gate is not so simple.

Dome shaped lock cottage. This one has been extended. This dome shape is unique to the Stratford canal.

Early morning on the canal

Kingswood Junction where we left the Stratford Canal and took a shortcut through to the Grand Union Canal

The narrow entrance to the shortcut

Narrow entrance to the left and the right, a lock to go up onto the Northern section of the Stratford Canal

Joining the Grand Union Canal.

We were both a bit tired after yesterdays and today's locking, that when we reached the top of the Hatton flight, 21 locks over 2.5 miles, I decided that I could not do another 21 locks. The other thing is that now that we are back on the Grand union all the locks are the big wide locks, so doing 21 locks would take us a good 2 1/2 hours to get down and then another good hour before we would get to any decent mooring. So top of the Hatton it is for tonight to rest before tomorrow's marathon.

Another first today, we saw some guineafowl, or we think they were but they are not in my UK bird book. So I cannot confirm that they are actually found in the UK. I also do not have the binoculars with me, they were on the boat, so I cannot be certain. The outline though was very distinctly guineafowl.
Some playful kids

A rather ragged looking Buzzard

Monday 20th April

We have terrible internet access tonight so I am typing this up this evening (20/04/2013) and will post when I can.

This morning was absolutely wonderful. Sunny and calm. With the sun streaming in the lounge windows, I was awake and up by 8:15am. We left our lovely mooring by Luddington Lock to make our way into Stratford before our midday deadline. 

River Avon - early morning

Wier on the approach to Trinity Lock

Holy Trinity Church - where Shakespeare is buried

Approach to Stratford on Avon town center along the River Avon

The renovated Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Turns out that at Stratford end they do not even check your licence, so we need not to have huried. What we had not known until late last night though is that Stratford-on-Avon was holding a festival to celebrate the birth of Shakespeare, 449 years ago! All roads into town had been closed, there were masses of people everywhere. They had street parades, bands, dancing and other entertainment.

Masses of people celebrating Shakespeare's Birthday

Mooring in the Bancroft Basin - Stratford on Avon
Dancers performing near the basin

Basically, a very rude reminder of city life after we had been on the quiet rivers for just over 8 days. There was plenty of mooring space in the basin, not at all what we expected. So we moored up anyway, had a bite to eat and a discussion on what to do. The original plan had been to stay overnight and do a bit of tourist stuff and restock the groceries. After less than an hour we made the decision to move on. There were just too many people for our liking! Any touristy trips would have been packed with other bodies. In the end, we made a quick dash to Sainsbury Local to get enough to get us through the next 2 days and we were off again. We might decide to come back this way when we travel back up north after our weekend with Jody and Gina. We will do the tourist bit then. I can see it happening as Andrew is keen to cruise the river again and it will be very different now that the weather is warming and the trees will either still be in flower or in full summer leaf.

We had our own bit of entertainment in the guise of a hireboat full of female partiers at the top of the second lock on the way out of town. Andrew ended up hopping aboard their boat to give them a hand and some friendly boat handling advice. Little did he know, as he walked on to the next lock, that they had wanted to kidnap him :) Where would that have left me :(

We continued up the Wilmcote flight, in the heat of the day. Who would have thought that would ever happen! I am sure that we both have a bit of sunburn! At the top of the flight, with the sun still high in the sky we cruised on until the day started to cool. The Stratford and Avon Canal up to this point has been quite pretty and interesting. Especially these very narrow bridges over the canal. It has been a bit like threading a needle.

Wilmcote Wharf - converted to housing

Crossing Edstone Aqueduct

A female Kestrel
We are now happily moored out in the country again, with the next flight in sight. For tomorrow :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Evesham to Luddington

We were fairly pleased that we decided to stay put in Evesham yesterday.The day progressed from very windy to very wet and then sunny, on and off for the remainder of the day.

During one of the sunny periods I was able to hop out and get a piccy of our view from the boat (if you stand up and look out the window that is) and our mooring.  I have to say that the Evesham Town moorings are very nice, just a pity we could not switch off the wind machine.

Abbey Park and the Bell Tower

Our mooring

This morning we continued our journey up the Avon towards Stratford-on-Avon, as we have to leave the river tomorrow by midday, or we have to pay for an extra day!

Looking back it felt like we were cruising uphill

Today though, the weather has been rather pleasant.  Still the occasional cold breeze but the sun made lots of visits and warmed us up quite nicely. The 8 locks might also have had something to do with warming us up.

On the matter of locks, a quick way to piss off any boater.  At our 3rd lock of the day, another narrowboat was moored just above the lock. Not on the overnight mooring, but on the lock landing. As we were closing the gates, a head popped out the moored boat. Next thing as we started filling the lock, the said boater started up engines and motored off to the next lock which was just 15minutes away.  Not a very chatty boater either. On approaching the next lock, we would normally have expected any decent boater to have the lock ready and waiting for us, as these river locks are broad locks which can take 2 narrowboats at a time and we would have ascended together. But NO, said boater had ascended lock without us and was just exiting as we arrived. At which point we had to moor up, empty the lock and all the rest before continuing our own journey.  Lucky though for said boater, that they then moored up at the next marina, or I would have said something they regretted at one of the next 5 locks we ascended today.

We had another first bird sighting today. Our first ever Great Spotted Woodpecker and in the same spot but on the opposite bank, a Little Grebe. Andrew says he saw a bright yellow bird at the same place but it flew off before we could identify it. The sunny weather also brought out the kingfishers as we saw a few of those too.

Swan rug !

I wonder if she realizes she has lost an egg

Tuffted Duck's

Grey Heron

All in all, I definitely think that I am a fair weather boater.  I did not enjoy winter on the boat very much. The weather outside is freezing and the days are very short.  The long evenings can get very boring.  On the other hand, while the trees are bare, you can see for miles.  The warmer days are much nicer.  You don't mind being out the back of the boat, hopping on and off to do the locks.  There is more wildlife around too.  The one thing though is once summer does eventually make an appearance, the trees will be full of leaves and hide a lot of the birds and views.  But I am looking forward to sitting on the towpath, mug of tea in hand, in the early evening just enjoying the end of the day and listening to the birds.

So last pic from today's trip:

15th century Bidford Bridge

Thursday, April 18, 2013

I need sleep...

For someone who requires almost absolute silence in order to be able to sleep, last night was a bit of a write off. Between the wind gusting all night and buffeting the boat around (I have an issue with seasickness and a rocking boat is no fun for me), the wind created waves breaking on the back of the boat (sleeping end)and then lapping upon the outside hull not inches from my head. Then there also seems to be the rudder moving about in the choppy water and squeaking, a sound carried throughout the boat by the hull itself and the side fenders, which are down on both sides, knocking on the hull in the movement of the water right by my head too.  All in all, as you can possibly tell I had virtually no sleep last night.  Another thing that adds to the sleeplessness is the dominant side of the brain convincing me that we are a boat and we can sink! Now on a canal that is not too much of an issue, a canal at it's deepest is probably only 4ft deep. A river though is another story all together! It makes for a bit of a stomach churning night on top of everything else.  I have no idea why my brain insists on worrying about this fact on rivers now. It did not concern me in 2010 when we cruised the Thames, so why now.  It seems that it does not matter how much I try to not worry, the brain will just not listen.

So hopefully this wind will blow itself out today and I will go to bed early to catch up on the sleep missed last night.

In the meantime, I have now decided to get some wool to knit myself a large shawl. I hate just sitting in front of tv every night with nothing to do.  the cross stitch that I have just does not quite enthrall me much and the last teddy will have to wait as I am a bit teddied out.  So with the fact that we will not be moving today, I will soon be off into town to purchase some wool.  I would have got it yesterday, only the shop was already closed for the day when I got there. Anyway it gave me a bit more time to google and work out how much I need.

Talking of tv, reception since we have been on the rivers is shocking. Lucky for us we bought the whole series of Bond movies on dvd and Andrew has also 'borrowed' a fair few from Jody.  Otherwise what would we do in the evenings! Talking is so overrated ;)

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Blowing up the Avon (not literally)

We left Tewkesbury late on Sunday as we waited for the howling gale to abate. Eventually it toned down to a gale, at which point we put up a sail and moved up river to the Eckington Bridge. A very pretty medieval bridge.  We moored up just as it started raining, but at least the wind had died down a bit. Or we were in the lee of the Bredon Hill.

Our mooring at Eckington Bridge

Eckington Bridge in the morning light

Eckington Bridge close up
The wind has not really been kind to us this week.  If it is not the snow, cold, rain then it must be wind.  I am beginning to wonder if the only summer we will ever see in the UK this year were those few reasonable days before the snow set in once more when we were on the Shroppie in mid March.

The River Avon is far more interesting than the Severn. On the Severn, as it is such a large river, we found ourselves boating at the bottom of some very steep river banks. As a result all we could see were some very messy river banks, with lots of rubbish caught up in trees from all the flooding.  The Avon river banks are much lower, giving us lovely views over the meadows and as we have approached Evesham, the fruit orchards. And always on the horizon seems to be Bredon Hill.  Although I think that we have finally lost it here at Evesham.

The wind has been a real nuisance and with very few mooring spots along the river, all of which are only overnight moorings, we have had to move on. At least at this point the wind is not freezing but relatively warm.  It is such a pity that what could be a really lovely waterway is spoilt by a lack of boating facilities for visitors.  There are numerous marinas, but these are not available for overnight moorings.  I guess it comes down to money.  The Avon Navigation Trust probably does not have the money to add new facilities and the river banks are all privately owned.  Not enough visiting boats frequent the river to top up the coffers of the Trust.  A bit of catch-22.  I must say that we have been very surprised to see so few boaters on both the River Severn and the Avon.  In all we have only seen about 3 boats on the Severn and four or five on the Avon.

On the other hand we have seen some new wildlife. Unfortunately not all have been able to be photographed and some a bit blurry but we have seen some Red Legged Partridge, Barnacle Goose, deer, bats, Common Sandpiper and a black swan.

A Barnacle Goose consorting with two Canada Geese


Squirrel at Pershore Abbey

Common Sandpiper

Black Swan


Our first set of ducklings for the year

The other rather lovely bridge which we went under, the Old Bridge at Pershore with the New Bridge right beside it.
New Bridge with Old Bridge behind

Old Bridge with New Bridge behind

The facilities at Pershore were very good and we did a quick tourist trip around the centre of town before setting off again.
Pershore Abbey

Pershore Abbey
The weir and Mill at Fladbury Lock
Wood Norton
According to our canal book, Wood Norton built in 1897 for the Duke of Orleans, was used by the BBC in the Second World War as a radio monitoring centre for all foreign radio stations. It is now a luxury hotel.

We are now moored up in Evesham. Another nice mooring spot, max 48 hours but no water facilities (although the books say they should be here). We will make full use of the 48 hours as the wind forecast is for 35 - 48 kph gusts. Today was bad enough before the wind really got up and going.

We had a look around the town centre here in Evesham too and it seems that every second shop is empty and is to let. Even the Riverside shopping centre is mostly empty.  I guess this is a signs of the times, no-one has spare money to spend.
Abbey Gateway

The Almonry House - now a heritage centre

The Round House - but not really!
 I have waffled on a bit this time but hopefully some of the pictures speak for themselves and I will be much happier when the weather is more to my liking :)  but still having a great time out.