Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Down The River Severn

We spent a comparatively quiet night above Lock 4 on the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal, the pub was noisy until 12.30am but then it was quiet! In the morning we went through the lock and down into Stourport Basin to fill up with water and empty the cassettes before our adventure on the river began. We had some interesting lock techniques from hireboaters, we were already going down the staircase and they decided to come up without checking first if the pair was already in use! One couple left their teenage children at the lock and they didn't know how to find their parents who had gone out of the basin. They came back to us and asked for directions!
We enjoyed the peace and quiet of the river, most of the time all you could see was countryside and us. Very few boats were heading down to Worcester. The river cruisers passed us going upstream creating waves and we felt like we were on the sea- a most peculiar sensation. We also enjoyed the automated locks, a pleasant change after the locks on the canals.
At Worcester the locks off the river were heavy but help was available from a retired gent who used to have a narrowboat. Diglis basin looks like a building site, lots of new housing but nowhere to moor. We had to go up on the Worcester and Birmingham Canal and find somewhere to moor. We moored above Blockhouse Lock (Number 4), with a factory on the offside, but we were tired and hungry -I couldn't face doing any more locks. The peace was shattered by a firework display nearby and Ben was really frightened , we ended up stroking him and telling him it was OK. We know where we'll be on bonfire night! - as far away from fireworks as we can be. We also had 2.30am wake up call when some youths with colourful language passed the boat, but they left us alone.
In the morning we headed back through the Diglis locks and headed downstream for Tewkesbury. The view of the Malvern Hills was amazing from the boat, this was new territory to us- we had never been on this stretch of river. Most of the time all we could see was river and us. We had the sea experience on this stretch of river too- those river cruisers certainly move. As we passed nearer Tewkesbury we saw the effects of the floods on the riverside properties and the lock keeper at Avon Lock told us all you could see was the roof of his hut. We headed for Tewkesbury Marina to our arranged mooring - I was off to visit my family in Newport.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Going South

We stayed one night at Wheaton Aston and one night at Brewood. The birds and squirrels used the boat for target practice and we had to give the roof a scrub to get rid of all the droppings. We try not to moor under trees but sometimes it's unavoidable. Brewood has some nice shops, so it was a good place to get some essentials. In the morning we headed off for Aldersley/Autherly Junctions as we had decided to head south along the Staffordshire and Worcester Canal. We have found this canal very quiet with very few boats on the move at all. We were the only boat going down the Bratch Locks and even the lock keeper said it's been very quiet this summer due to the rivers being in flood. We moored at Swindon and discovered the amazing fish and chip shop- we'll certainly call there again as the food looked and tasted delicious. The next day and many locks later we moored at Kinver in the last space on the visitor moorings. Ben was delighted there was a big open space with picnic tables and lots of room for a good run , so we could play chase the ball outside!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bloggers Meet At Gnosall

We have been looking out for Sue and Vic on NB No Problem as we knew we were getting closer! Anyway as we walked back to the boat I saw the dogs and two ladies and Sue said 'Is that a border collie?' I said 'yes' and she said 'Are you Elsie?' So we finally met and were invited for a cuppa as we were going to pass their boat in the morning. In the morning we stopped behind them and decided to moor there until the next morning as the rain was now hammering down. We had a long long chat aboard NB No Problem and met Chas and Anne from NB Moore2Life too. Vic made the drinks while we chatted. We are so pleased we have finally met after reading both their blogs for ages.

The picture below was taken by Chas and proves Eric is actually with me on the boat as he's usually the one taking all the photographs.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Locks Galore At Audlem

Eric returned from Newport and we set off towards Audlem. The towpath at Nantwich has a sculpture trail and is quite a busy place as the walkers of the world pass by your window. As usual I walked with the dog for about an hour alongside the boat, in some places the towpath was a narrow path through lush vegetation but most of it was good. Lots of boats passed going towards Nantwich but few were going towards Audlem. We managed to have lunch while there was a very heavy shower of rain. Eric cut his hand on the mooring pin, so I did some steering which was quite pleasant as the canal is nice and straight and I even managed to go through bridges without bumping! I really should man the tiller more often then I wouldn't have to think' steer the way you don't want to go'.
We moored at Audlem and went to have a look around. It was Sunday afternoon and lots of people out in the sunshine. There was nowhere to sit outside 'The Shroppie Fly' so we ended up at 'The Bridge' where we enjoyed a pint each and Ben had a nice fresh drink of water while we all watched the world go by. Back on the boat Northwich Boat Number 42 (we are 32) came and moored next to us and we chatted for hours and compared boats. In the morning we pulled the pins (carefully) and headed off up Audlem locks. We stopped at Audlem Services after three locks to get some water and then onwards and upwards off we went. Some of the locks were open ready for us as we approached, which was good news. The weirs at the bottom of each lock were fierce and the boat gained some more scratches- not good news but atleast we were having fun. We've just reached one thousand hours engine running time, although some of it has been engine running to charge the batteries. Ben had waited patiently at each lock attached to a bollard by his lead, before we set off to walk up to the next lock in the flight. Ten locks later we stopped- I was tired and hungry. Ben still had plenty of energy, so we played throw the ball on the boat!

Friday, August 10, 2007

We Found A Mooring At Nantwich!

We finally reached the locks at Hurleston Junction, Linda the usual lockie was nowhere to be seen , apparently it was her day off. She's great as she keeps an eye on everything and even gives a helping hand with the paddles and the gates. The locks were busy but the covering lockie was idle to say the least! We finally got through and moored just below the junction for the night. Ben enjoyed a play with a boater's dog and seemed totally unconcerned when he fell in and went for a swim before I hoisted him out. He just shook himself and carried on playing!
In the morning we headed towards Nantwich, Ben and I walked about two miles to Nantwich and Eric steered the boat. We found a space near the aqueduct on a 48 hour visitor mooring, which was good news as Eric was going to visit his sister Paula in hospital. First though we needed to fill the empty cupboards, fridge and freezer. Ben looked after the boat while we visited Morrisons and got a taxi back to the boat as the shopping was extremely heavy. The road near the boat was called Welshmans Lane so it was easy to remember to tell the taxi driver. Anyway Eric caught the train to Newport and Ben and I have been out exploring in Nantwich!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Back To The Port

We decided to return to Ellesmere and we did all the necessary tasks at BW Service Station. The water tap is really slow there! We moored near Blackwater Meadows Marina (14 days allowed) and in the morning I caught the Shropshire Bus to Shrewsbury Railway Station. The bus seemed to travel at the speed of light after the slow pace of the narrow boat! It took 45 minutes to get there and I arrived just in time to get the Carmarthen Train which stops at Newport. As the train had started at Manchester it was really busy but I managed to get a seat facing forwards- I do like to see where I'm going not where I've been. Two hours later I was in sunny Newport meeting Wendy for a coffee! Later I went to my dad's house as I was staying there for a couple of days. My tea was waiting for me too!
In the morning I went off to see the doctor- my cough needed attention- after nearly three weeks it was driving me (and Eric) mad. I nearly didn't get to the doctors in time due to an accident on the M4 which caused havoc with the traffic in Newport. In the afternoon I visited Paula- Eric's sister, and we had a good chat interspersed with coughing from both of us. Later I returned to my dad's house- just in time for tea! My daughter Clare came visiting in the evening and it was great to see her. She regularly visits her grandad on a Thursday evening and left with some of his home grown tomatoes and runner beans.
Friday morning came and I had a train to catch in Newport. The traffic was OK so there were no delays today. The Manchester train was quieter today and I watched as the welsh hills disappeared and the Shropshire hills came into view. I decided to have a look at the shops in Shrewsbury as I had an hour or so to pass before the Ellesmere bus came in. I found M & S and bought a few long sleeved tops for when the bugs are biting in the evening- they really love to bite me but leave Eric alone. My rucksack seemed to be getting heavier so I found a seat at the bus station until the bus came. Eric and Ben the dog were waiting at the bus stop in Ellesmere - it was nice to be home. 'Home is where the boat is'.