Saturday, 31 October 2009

"Dingley Dangley for the Doobrey"!

Well, that's what the lovely Mrs Elliott calls it! Everyone else calls it a "Tiller Tassel"!

Anyway, John has fashioned a new one! Business opportunities?

It is the first day of November tomorrow and we are back on the Leicester Line where we were this time last year. The boat is going into the dry dock for blacking in a week's time and I am going back to Staines for a while. We have organised a Winter mooring for December, January and February in the marina.

This time last year things looked quite rosy. Our Annual Income appeared to be adequate and I remember saying "Well, at least we don't need to worry about the kids. They are both happy and settled." Me and my big mouth!
What a difference a year makes!!

2009 has definitely been our "Annus Horribilis". I can't wait to see the back of it. I look to 2010 with renewed optimism.

Our cruising this year has covered 750 miles of waterway and we have gone through 520 locks. We have been through some very pretty countryside and places and met some lovely people on the way. For canal centred businesses it has been a very good year but insufficient Government investment in the infra structure is now beginning to show.

So what happens now?
Well, we will "sit it out" at Crick over the next few months and, hopefully, have the opportunity of catching up with family and friends. I would also like to see the sea - I miss it! Plans for next year's cruise are already being formulated and will involve being on the River Stort near Harlow at the end of May for a fantastic event:- a Clayton wedding! We will set off again at the beginning of next March - watch this space!

Thank you to those who have loyally followed this Blog, posted comments or e-mailed. I have enjoyed doing it and tried to vary it's contents so as not to make it too boring! I NEED contact with the outside world and a constructive reason to write! xxoo

Monday, 26 October 2009

Weird Noises in the Night!

Well, actually it was 6.30 in the morning but ............ yes Lynn, yes Gloria - to me, that counts!!

What IS that strange noise? It's not the ducks or swans pecking along the side of the boat - that happens all the time.

It's not Halloween for another week so what is it?

Is the level of the water in the canal falling? No! It must be my imagination!

I got up to investigate and .................... all was revealed.

Superior Slurping Award.

This was one of many but they did spread themselves out along the bank and they did take it in turns! The noise has to be heard to be believed!

The more we get to know Braunston the more we like it. There's always something going on in and around the marina basin and the village is very active too. We have discovered some brilliant walks across the fields to take Maggie.

Moving off today, however, up the Braunston lock flight and through the tunnel to Norton Junction. As it is Half Term, there are loads of boats on the move - both private boats and hire boats.

Here followeth a "waxing lyrical" moment:-
Trade and work generated by the canal system is the life-blood of some communities as proven by what happened this summer as a result of a serious breach in the Shropshire Union. Reading accounts of it, I have been staggered by the amount of money taken by pubs, restaurants, shops, marinas and boatyards over the cruising season. If only the Government would recognise the importance of the system both to the cultural essence of the country as well as it's economy and allocate sufficient funds for proper maintenance and restoration.
How Hum!

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Back in Braunston

Day and night the spire of Braunston Church can be seen for miles around.

We have been back in the Braunston area since last Friday - 6 months after we said 'good-bye' to Ben and Becky there.

Gill drove up from Staines on Saturday and stayed until late Sunday afternoon. It was so good to see her. It was lovely autumnal weather and we had a good couple of walks.................. and a good old natter!

Gloria and Derek are coming to lunch tomorrow - we haven't seen them since we left the marina last March. We are going to throw around a few ideas for next year's extended cruise! We are all keen to go and explore what the Middle Levels have to offer but John and I need to 'take in Harlow' at the end of May because 'Baby Clayton' is getting married! FAB! All this will involve getting an expensive Gold Licence.

Rodney is driving up on Friday because "The Midland Swindler's!" (chandlers!) are having what they call a 'Mad Friday' - everything is 20% off and he wants to get a new multi-fuel stove for his saloon. We can help him choose one and then John can go to Crick with him and help him to get it in situ on his boat.

After that we will definitely get on our way to Crick where the boat is booked in for bottom blacking!

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Ostentatious October

OK, OK - I know but we had "Sunny September" so ...........................

According to the dictionary:-
ostentatious "showing off in a luxurious way intending to impress"

I think, therefore, that it is a good choice of adjective because this weather, for October, is unbelievably fantastic! Apparently, half term is looming up so ........... it will all undoubtedly change for the worse!!

I have been surprised at the number of boats still on the move - people making the most of the warm sunshine. That's just about all we've been doing for the last week really - nothing out of the ordinary to report. We are aiming to reach Rugby tomorrow to do some shopping. John has stripped the lacquer off the mushrooms, re-polished them in readiness to apply a fresh coat. We gave in a long time ago trying to keep them respectfully shiny without lacquer - you needed to clean them every few days! Other than that we have been walking Maggie and, as always, meeting some of the many other dogs living on boats or being taken for walks along the towpath and across the fields. My impression is that the majority of boaters have at least one dog and, generally speaking, it's often the dogs that get us boaters talking to each other.

Introducing Rosie (the very soft and soppy) Rottweiler:-

What a sociable, exciting life our Maggie now has! These are just a few of the others:-

There's -
Rosie* & Molly, Murphy & Alf
Jake & Taylor, George & Ralph
Bandit & Katy, Zeus & Minnie
Charlie & Trevor, Jack & Ginny
Bosun & Briony, Jessie & Larry
Chicco & Barney, Albert & Harry

and - Magnus the Mastiff weighing in at 11 stone!!

*(the Jack Russell)

Monday, 5 October 2009

Sent to Coventry

Actually, we weren't sent - we came of our own choosing! Quite why I don't know because these days I'm positively in awe of large towns and cities. It's the number of people, the traffic, the noise ............... and I have to say, the mess that people create! Yet again, our approach was accompanied by graffiti on every possible surface! Not so much rubbish in the water as on the Paddington Arm though. Apparently a voluntary barge, skippered by a member of the Coventry Canal Society, goes up and down once a week scooping out all the debris - what IS the matter with members of the human race that this should be necessary?

The Basin is right in the centre of the city - it is only a five minute walk to a massive shopping centre. The Basin itself is clean and tidy, well lit and, apart from traffic noise, quite quiet. Tonight, including us, there are about ten boats here.

A statue of James Brindley in the Basin.
He's the chap who was the original engineer before he got the sack!
I think he spent too much of the allocated funding too quickly!
The Basin at night.

Yes, we are here temporarily but we definitely do not want to be given the cold shoulder (as in being 'Sent to Coventry') by those we know! We will not want to stay here for too long!!

Friday, 2 October 2009

Staying Put

We are still on The Ashby at a village called "Stoke Golding" where the villagers proudly say the Tudor dynasty began. They claim that Henry VII was crowned here having defeated Richard III on the battlefield. They have a very posh village sign.

We are awaiting a document to arrive for us at the local post office. The Post Office offer a service to travellers called Poste Restante - people can send us mail and we can go and collect it!
We are also waiting for a working boat called "Gosty Hill" to arrive - Ian & Alison travel this patch selling diesel and coal from their boat.

We are moored up near a picnic spot where we are surrounded by ducks! These ducks are VERY well fed! Children arrive to feed them - before school, at lunch time and after school and when the children are not there the pensioners are!!! Please note the drake mallard on the right above - I have never seen such a huge mallard (the Incredible Dulk!) - this is NOT the result of over-feeding - goodness knows what his parentage is!! He is, however, not at all aggressive like many of the others - not that we have seen any of them tangle with him!

Whilst here we have been to Morrisons twice. A five mile round trip each time and I'm sure most of it was uphill! To think that it has come to this! I used to have a lovely, lovely white 325I hatchback BMW! I keep telling John that it will be the end of me - the goods in the bags probably being more dangerous to my well-being than the cycle ride!

John has been busy doing some maintenance. He has painted and polished his bollards!!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

The Vole Patrol

Now you see me ..........

The Vole Patrol ( alias me and Maggie, whom I have to say is amazingly patient and forbearing!) has been out and about today trying to see these little critters who are:-
  • rare - apparently mostly because of mink eating them!
  • elusive even when you know they are in the area!
  • amazing at disappearing in a fraction of a second!
However, patience is usually rewarded......... if you know where to look!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Test Your Knowledge of British History!

At immense expense we now have super-duper new batteries! Let's now hope 'amps' and 'volts' and 'wattage' become pleasant topics of conversation instead of me wanting to weep into my virtual bowl of cereals every morning!

We have come on to The Ashby Canal - it is well known for being a shallow canal but, at the moment, we are having more than significant trouble getting close enough to the bank to moor up!

Yesterday, we walked around the area famous for "The Battle of Bosworth" so ............... just how much do you know?

A. The Battle of Bosworth Field was part of which war?
  1. The War of the Tulips?
  2. The War of the Roses?
  3. The War of the Pansies?
B. In what English County did the battle take place?
  1. Sutherland?
  2. Powys?
  3. Leicestershire?
C. When did the Battle of Bosworth take place?
  1. 1066?
  2. 1485?
  3. At half past three?
D. Which King lost his crown in the battle?
  1. MacBeth?
  2. Elizabeth I?
  3. Richard III?
E. Who succeeded in winning the battle and which king did he become?
  1. Henry Tudor and he became King Henry VII?
  2. Fat Henry and he became King Henry VIII?
  3. James Henry and he became King James X?
All entries by e-mail please. Full marks just might be rewarded with a glass of red juice when we are back in Staines at Christmas time. If you don't live in or near Staines ......??

Monday, 21 September 2009

"Time Flies when you're having Fun"

Last week seemed to fly by so we must have been busy!

On the Monday we moved on to Calf Heath hoping to see all those aboard narrowboat "Janus"
We met Sharon, Ken, Ryan and dogs George and Taylor when we were at Evesham. They have had some technical problems and are currently sitting in a boat yard at Calf Heath awaiting things to happen! Unfortunately, Sharon wasn't at all well so kept away to avoid spreading germs but Ken, Ryan and the dogs walked down to see us.

Tuesday was my birthday - 21 again! I had a really nice day. We started off by polishing the other side of the boat and washing some of the curtains! We then moved on to Gailey and had a mooch around the lovely gift shop in the old roundhouse. On to Penkridge where we did some shopping in preparation for the coming weekend and had a delicious Chinese take-away from the unfortunately named "Wang Fat"!! Wednesday was market day so before we left we had a wander round and got fresh veg.

By Thursday afternoon we had found a good spot where Anne and John could come and find us for the weekend. We moored up opposite the "humble" pad Robbie Williams has bought for his mum! Whilst waiting on the Friday we went for a long walk up on to Cannock Chase.

Up on The Chase

Anne and John had a really good run up from Staines. Motorways on Friday nights are never good but they made it in about two and a half hours. We were able to cruise through Tixal Wide the next day so that Anne could see for herself why it is such a popular mooring spot amongst boaters. Moored up in pole position were ........................... none other than Ken and Sandra in "The Floating Palace"! A viewing for Anne was hastily arranged! We carried on to Essex Bridge where we went for a short walk because it is so lovely.

Anne, John and Maggie on Essex Bridge

We ended up on Saturday evening at Wolsey Bridge and went for a walk around the lovely nature reserve run by the Staffordshire Wildlife Trust. From Wolsey Bridge we sat a watched a diving gooseander!

On Sunday we moved on up to Fradley. It was a beautiful sunny day and the world and his wife seemed to be out boating! Needless to say we couldn't get anywhere near Fradley Junction to moor. John (as in Elliot) and I were in the throws of preparing a Sunday roast when I got a phone call from my mate Rosa (from college days) and hubbie, Richard. They were on the M6 heading South and wanted to come and find us for a cup of coffee. "Don't come for coffee" says I "come for Sunday lunch!" They did and it was lovely - both to see them and the lunch! With six of us squashed around our little table, as Rosa said, "there wasn't room for a camera!"

Old celebrity boat "President" and butty "Kildare" on there way from Fradley to Great Haywood.

Rosa and Richard very kindly took Anne and John back to their car which had been left at Milford. John and I are now on the Coventry canal heading South. All systems go now to get to Spring Valley Haven to get new batteries!!

Here follows a waxing lyrical bit (sorry, Lynn!) .......................

We have had a lovely cruising season this year and being able to spend time with our lovely friends - all of you -(and Meg & Maisie!) has been a major part of it. Thank you all for making the effort to come and find us - we love you all!!

Onward to get those batteries! Ken & Sandra - watch this space!!!!!

Monday, 14 September 2009

Lovely Weekend

On Saturday we turned into the Shropshire Union Canal - affectionately called "The Shroppie" by boaters and found Ken & Sandra moored up in a good spot between bridges 7 & 8.

Over the weekend, between us, we gave the end of the cruising season a good send off. We had that long-awaited barbecue on the Saturday and on the Sunday, after watching the Grand Prix aboard "Kesandra", Ken cooked a fabulous roast dinner. I now know what proper Yorkshire Puddings should look like! (I won't mention it, Ken, if you don't!!!!)

Members of

"The Shiny Boat Brigade"

and proud of it!

They even got me a birthday cake! Can't handle all this spoiling!! In the evening we played a card game (new to John & I) called "Uno" and we all had a really good laugh.

Bless you both. Take care and let's hope we can meet up again somewhere next year.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

September Sunshine

Glorious sunshine at "The Bratch"

We are having perfect cruising weather! I think it is called "An Indian Summer"?

When I was working I used to take it very personally that as soon as the schools went back after the long Summer break, the sunshine came out! This is now the third successive September that the sun has been shining so now I think it is a wicked, general vendetta against all school workers!

We had a slow journey today to a unique canal feature - it is called "The Bratch" and is three locks sharing pounds BUT NOT a staircase. The journey was slow because we followed a motor boat towing a butty all the way and there were lots of locks to get through including a staircase pair. We passed where Ben's "April Love" was originally moored - good memories!

Need to do some shopping tomorrow (Sandra has told me where to go!) and then we are going to go up the Shroppie a bit to meet our friends Ken & Sandra on "The Floating Palace". The forecast for the next few days is promising so it would be really good if we could have that "virtual" barbecue together to mark the end of this year's cruising and 'celebrate' my forthcoming birthday.

According to my book, this is a "Comma".
It's taken me a long time to appreciate butterflies but ..... they are beautiful!

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Back on the Main System

Well - we did cycle to Bewdley and .................. although it was incredibly hard work because it was uphill most of the way, ................ it was worth it because it is a very lovely, unspoilt little town oozing with tourist appeal. I suppose I can see why they don't want lots of barges to arrive at their quay - they obviously don't need the trade. The irony is that there are information boards all along the long river frontage celebrating the trade that Severn Trows used to bring to the town!
Bewdley river frontage

We are now back on the main canal system - on the Staffordshire & Worcester Canal heading towards Great Haywood where we hope to meet up with Anne and John.

Yesterday was a lovely day and we moored up at a little town/village called Kinver. The High Street was surprisingly well stocked with a good variety of shops which makes me feel that it must be a small town rather than a large village! We braved the hard trek uphill to a ridge called Kinver Edge - it was marvellous up there - the views all around were magnificent.

Looking towards The Long Mynde in Shropshire.
There are lots and lots of hire boats on the move - we have even had to queue for a lock!!!
Also, the water levels are down and we got well stuck trying to get into Stewponey Lock - thank goodness there were lots of strong, helpful men at hand to pull the boat into the lock whilst I controlled the paddles and flushed through some extra water.

It is now raining! Why? Because earlier on we decided to take everything off the roof and wash the boat ....... that's why!! Hey, Ho!!

Couldn't go to Stourbridge as previously planned as there has been, yet again, another breach in the arm.

Today, to add to his growing list of descriptives, John has been called a "pillock"! We don't actually know exactly what it is but we know it's not very nice!!!

Life is never boring!

Friday, 4 September 2009

Take some of it back!

Today we have reached Stourport which is really the head of the navigable Severn. Years ago, boats could apparently go all the way upstream to Shrewsbury - shame we can no longer do that.

Going upstream from Tewkesbury to Stourport on the non-tidal Severn is definitely better than going from Tewkesbury to Gloucester on the tidal section. The banks are still high but there are breaks in the trees and much more of interest to see. Mind you - the sun has been shining so that might have affected my judgement somewhat!!

We DID manage to moor up at Upton-on-Severn! And ....... what a gem! No wonder it is virtually impossible to get anywhere near it in July & August! In today's terms, the High Street is so old fashioned - it's like going back to the 60's. It's quite a long high street with lots of shops and the majority of them are individual time warps. You should see the bike shop (SO not like Halfords!) and the ironmongers! The buildings themselves are also old and full of character.
Really lovely. We should probably have stayed there overnight but we didn't - we carried on to Worcester.

Upton-on-Severn from the river.

In the words of Victor Meldrew ..................... "I don't BELIEVE it!"

This weekend Stourport is holding their River Festival and ................ even worse ............ it is a carnival theme and there is a HUGE, GREAT FUNFAIR!!!!! Sorry all you fans of funfairs (Rosa - you should see this EVIL thing that spins you round and round and upside down!!) but we just don't like them. Anyway, as a consequence, we were unable to moor outside of the basin on the river. We are just onto the canal and it is fine. Hoping to stay here for the weekend - I would like to cycle to Bewdley which is the first little town upstream from here. A few years ago a small flotilla of narrow boats decided to cruise ther/e (because it is still possible) and they were pelted with rotten eggs and tomatoes!!! Obviously the good people of Bewdley do not like barge folk so .............. we will go in disguise! How sneaky is that Mr Martlet?

Passing Worcester Cathedral

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

On the Move!

I know! I can hardly believe it myself but ................. we have finally (after about seven weeks) torn ourselves away from the lovely Gloucester & Sharpness Canal!

Today, we have begun going upstream on the Severn towards a place called Stourport. We have stopped at Tewksbury partly because it's pouring with rain and partly because you can't sensibly do this run in one go. Actually, I find the Severn quite tedious because there are steep wooded banks on either side preventing any decent view over the countryside and hardly any choice of moorings. Very few boats have been on the move.

Tomorrow we will attempt to stop at a place called Upton-on-Severn but mooring there is reknowned for being difficult.

Megan & Maisie came to stay with us over the Bank Holiday weekend. It was really nice having them on board. We did some walking, a short cruise and Meg & I had a wander around the shops at Gloucester Quays.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Technical Business!

At the risk of boring you all to tears ........ (NO _ Nothing about amps I promise!!)

Since Monday we have been to-ing and fro-ing to a boatyard to have some work done on the fuel system. First of all we have had a water separator and sedimentor filter fitted! Impressed or what?!! Hopefully, this will prevent water and the dreaded diesel bug from reaching the fuel filters.
This happened last year and we conked out in the depths of the Chirk Tunnel!

Secondly, a replacement fuel lift pump has been fitted. This was necessary because the old one was leaking diesel into the engine and out of the engine. Not good if you are an old Gardiner engine ...... or a wife with a whiffy nose for diesel!

£££££ Londoners alert! You know how we are led to believe that things are cheaper outside of London? Well, they're not and that includes the price of labour! However, John is very relieved that he hasn't had to do this himself as it certainly wasn't a straight forward job and there were lots of complications - unfortunately for us, all on an hourly rate!

We have also had a new isolator switch but that's by-the-by. See .................... it's not ALL socialising and exploring!

The Dreaded Diesel Bug! We have been struggling to get rid of this for about 4 years!!

Nicer news:- Yesterday Rodney and Gill drove all the way to Saul Junction to come and spend the day with us. It was great for me to be able to spend time with my very special mate - we went for a walk all around Frampton for about 2 hours. The wall-to-wall rain that was forecast didn't actually happen.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

The Severn Bore

Creating our own wave!

When I was a teenager my dad told me all about this natural phenomenon. I never expected to be in the right place at the right time but on Friday evening we (John, myself, Mick & Lynn) were, so we just had to go and see .......didn't we?

I had researched the times etc and it seemed that the best place was at Newnham because it seemed the only chance of seeing it in the light at 20.44 pm.! A 4 **** Bore. Apparently the best you can get is a 5 ***** but there are none of those expexcted this year. I thought we might be 4 lonely little people sitting by the estuary. WRONG!! There were soon hundreds of spectators on both sides of the river!

THE Wave!

We counted 36 surfers, 8 canoeists and 4 lads in a dingey all ready to tackle the bore.

Surfing the wave.

Glad we made the effort to go and see it. Apparently, if they go ahead with the proposed Severn Barrier, it will exist no more.

Introducing ...........

At least it's not raining so umbrellas are not needed!
Windshield ...... yes please!

Friends for forty years ...... Bless!

Not Generator Man today - Barbecue Man! Or to be precise - Barbecue Men!

On Thursday we cruised up to Sharpness so that Mick & Lynn could see the sunken boats and Sharpness Dock. The day (weather wise) turned out to be a lot better than expected. It WAS windy at Sharpness. Hence, "Barbecue Man" needed to make a superior windshield!
A good day.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

On Holiday with Friends

Well, Mick & Lynn are now safely ensconced in "Juniper Cottage" in the village of Uley and it is really lovely.

The cottage itself is situated next to an old woollen mill and there are fabulous views from the back door.

Up in the hills

Unlike last year, the weather(so far!) is being very good to us so we are meeting up every day and doing a lovely walk with the dogs - sometimes along the River Estuary and canal; sometimes up in the Cotswold Hills. I think this could be a first for us - barbecues without the need for an umbrella to shelter from the rain!!
By the Estuary

It's just like the old days ...................... with the added bonus that we don't have four young children to entertain all the time!!

Sunday, 9 August 2009

All in the name of 'Friendship'

Yesterday we cycled overthe M5 to Uley on the edge of the Cotswolds. Why? Because in a week's time Mick and Lynn are coming to find us. They have booked a cottage for the week in the village of Uley and we wanted to find out how easy/not-so-easy it was going to be for us to reach them.
Eight miles there - the first five were fine but the last three, because it was then uphill almost all of the way, were quite treacherous!

However, we did it! In an hour and a half!

We found the lovely old village pub called "The Crown" - good food, good beer, good cider and a nice little beer garden.
We found the lovely little Post Office - friendly Post Master, well-stocked shop and Mick .................. he sells papers!
We didn't find 'Juniper Cottage' because we weren't that organised but we did find this one!!
"Petrol Pump Cottage"?

John, (alias Thor) the Prince of Thunder,
Went riding on his Brompton.
"I'm Thor", he cried,
The bike replied,
"Well where's your superior sized, gel-padded thaddle thilly?"!!

Friday, 7 August 2009

Close Encounters of the Wild Kind!

Today, for my excellent behaviour, I was granted some reprieve! I was also given some spending money!! Not a moment too soon it would seem as himself has apparently been dreaming about me falling into the deep mud of the River Severn head first when the tide is out and waggling my little short, fat, hairy legs!! (They are NOT hairy!!)

Beswick Swan


So did I celebrate my get-away? I went off to find creatures one would not expect to find (at least not easily) along the environs of the canal system.

I went to Slimbridge!

So, what did I think? I'm not sure! There was every conceivable type of duck, swan and goose and, for sure, many of these I will never have the chance to see out of captivity. HOWEVER, the ducks that ARE indigenous to this country and I HAVE seen in the wild like smew, eider, mergansers, goldeneye? In captivity? As I say, I'm not sure. The enclosures were fine and they didn't have to worry about finding food or safety but ...... ? Endangered species - they are keeping some safe and breeding them so that has to be a good thing.

It was the only way I am likely to see these lovely, adorable creatures in the for-see-able future.
They have just introduced a female otter and her cubs + some beavers + some water voles in an area called "Back from the Brink". The numerous visiting children were really excited about all of these so if they grow up with a passion for the protection of these animals that has got to be a good thing .... doesn't it?

Watching birds in the wild from a hide? In my opinion the RSPB wins hands down.

So how did John spend his "time off"? He fettled and fa*ted! My entrance fee? "A small price to pay for a peaceful day", I can hear him say!

Thursday, 6 August 2009


There is a section of river bank from a place called Purton to Sharpness where old barges have been deliberately beached in order to protect the bank from erosion. This one didn't make it as far as the bank!

Good old estuary mud! The birds love it! This was at low tide at the entrance of the old lock.
Looking up the estuary from Sharpness.
Looking down the estuary from Sharpness - the two bridges across the Severn into Wales can just be seen.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Friends drop by for Sunday Lunch

Gerald, Ron and Jane Cole joined us for Sunday lunch at "The Bell Inn" at Frampton-on-Severn.
Gerald lives in Addlestone and Jane and Ron live in Southampton but, fortunately for us, they each know people who live in Gloucester! John went to school with Gerald and Ron who, as is given away by the photo, are twins!!

Also fortunately for us all, it was a rare, lovely, warm, sunny day!

We all agreed that it was the best Sunday roast any of us has ever had in a pub. The pub overlooks the largest village green anywhere in England (or so the book says!) and, it was no surprise that out came the cricketers! Like policeman, some of them seem to be getting younger and younger!

It was really good to see them - all looking very well - even Jane who is recovering from having her appendix removed!! Thanks guys (and Jane!) for making the effort to come and see us.

We have moved on since to Sharpness where there are truly magnificent views of the estuary but I will not attempt to download any at the moment because internet connection here is very weak.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Mixing with the Big Boys!!

Hurray! After about a week and a great deal of hastle we again have internet connection! Fingers crossed that things are now back to normal!

We are about half way down the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal at a place called Saul Junction where there used to be a link across the Cotswolds to the River Thames. The canal is under restoration. I only hope I live to see the restoration complete!
This canal was built to by-pass the shallow, tidal section of the lower River Severn so that big vessels could safely get to Gloucester Docks and then back out to sea again. It is only 16 and a half miles long but it is wide and deep and so, despite not having a current, it feels more like a river. There are no locks but there are lots of swing bridges operated by BW staff.

It is SO my kind of place!!
  • A huge variety of craft to see going by - narrowboats, widebeams, all sorts of different barges, large sea-going cruisers, sailing boats and - the chance of a fabulous tall ship as seen in the picture.
  • A wide, well-maintained towpath with, in places, fantastic views over the Severn estuary and the Forest of Dean to the West and the Cotswold Hills to the East.
  • Lovely quiet lanes and villages to explore either on foot or on the bikes.
  • Masses of footpaths (not always maintained that well I have to say!) for walking Maggie.
  • Mandarin ducks visit the galley window every day.
Just as well we like it because we need to spend about a month here!! After the appalling rainfall of yesterday I was beginning to think that we would be stranded here all Winter!

Looking across the Severn Estuary towards the Forest of Dean.

Thursday, 23 July 2009


"Dr Foster went to Gloucester
In a shower of rain
He stepped in a puddle right up to his middle
And never went there again."

Well, clearly he did because he has been making a very good living in the catering trade here at Gloucester Docks.

The Dock area is really interesting. Thankfully, most of the old, magnificent warehouses
have been saved. The Inland Waterways Museum is housed in one of them. LOTS of ££ are being invested in the re-development of the dock area. A big attraction is a very posh retail outlet centre called "Gloucester Quays". Already coach loads of punters are coming here. From a tourism point of view the area still has lots of untapped potential which I hope will be handled appropriately.

Gloucester City itself is within easy walking distance of the docks. Mark (as in Henry) didn't have a good word to say about Gloucester and I don't really know why. From an architectural point of view the cathedral is absolutely beautiful. It is a huge city! There are SO many shops! All too big for me really. I even went into my first Primark today!! (Just to see what all the praise was about really.)
There were lots of flower displays about and the pedestrianised streets seemed to be clean and tidy. We did, however, notice a high presence of police and community officers so what is this saying?

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

The 'Mystery' of the disappearing blue marker

It's not a mystery really! We are now experiencing something new - being on tidal waters on our own boat. We have left Tewkesbury and are now on the Mighty River Severn heading downstream towards Gloucester. Being the responsible people we are (!) we have dusted off the life jackets, Maggie's included. No point having them and not using them.

And:- it is pouring with rain!
And:- high tides are expected over the next few days!

Why do these things always seem to happen to us?

A 'cheerful' bit of news on the local radio this morning reminded listeners that it was two years ago today that a month's worth of rain fell in 24 hours causing all that devastating flooding in this area!


We have:-
  • 'big' skies which I know Mrs Elliot would like
  • a wide, empty river very condusive for easy steering (Mr Elliot would like this!)
  • turbulance, waves and water going the wrong way twice a day and this is accompanied by the temporary disappearance of John's blue marker!
  • ducks desperately trying to swim against the current when the tide is not coming in, getting no-where until they turn around and then ....... whoosh! Gone!
  • a complete absence of any other boats on the move and this is really quite spooky!
We are aiming to make our way into Gloucester on Wednesday. We have been told that we need to arrive when there is minimum turbulance and little debris created by the tide. Watch this space!!!

Sunday, 19 July 2009


Well, despite initial concerns about yet another river festival we have had a really nice weekend here in Tewkesbury.

Ken (Lord Kenneth) & Sandra (Lady Sandra) on Kesandra ("The Floating Palace") caught up with us on Friday afternoon and, whilst we were out and about in Tewkesbury searching for brass knobs (!!!) breasted up to us. Ken later said that it was a new experience for him and one that he didn't much like!!!

I must say that I think all this living on such a palatial vessel is somewhat going to their heads and that they are now getting a little carried away!

They are even beginning to think about getting a royal guard dog!

Sorry Rebecca. Sorry Samantha. They simply can't have this one because she's ours. She has, however, been welcomed on board "Kesandra", and, you never know, she might just have left a royal flea behind on that big back deck somewhere!

All joking apart - we had a really good weekend together. The Water Festival was quite low-key - local people have spent the last two years trying to pick up the pieces from all the devastation caused by the floods of 2007. It was, however, a really good Family Fun Day based around the water. There were water based races for children, mums and dads and teachers! There were fun-fair type stalls, some live entertainment, an illuminated boat competition which was really well supported and an excellent firework display to end the event.

Over the weekend Sandra & I went to have a really good look around Tewkesbury Abbey - the architecture of which is simply phenomenal. Whilst we were away Ken and John drank too many beers and, in the evenings, we all drank too much red wine!!! Thank you Ken & Sandra for your good company, your support re our boating shortcomings (!) and your great sense of humour.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

In Search of the Perfect Sausage

PERSHORE - I think it's lovely!

We had read bits and pieces about it in the posh pack with which we were presented at the Evesham River Festival. When we came past in the boat we were unable to moor so, having eventually managed to get into a place called Comberton Quay, we cycled back in.

The High Street is lovely - old fashioned buildings and lots of individual shops apparently still doing good trade. Clothes and shoe shops were very exclusive (in other words, expensive!) However, it was the Indoor Retail Market that was the biggest lure to us. The fresh food stalls in here are fantastic - fruit and veg, butchers, cheeses to die for, home made meat pies and pasties, cakes, more cakes, tarts, buns and more tarts!!! etc.

The quest for the perfect sausage is not really our quest - it is that of Joan Peace (mother of Gill) who has been pursuing this now for many years. Abbey Butchers in the market were selling at least a dozen different home-made varieties. We have bought quite a selection to assist her!!

The NOT so good news is that we have just found out the on Saturday it's the Tewkesbury Water Festival!!! WE ARE PLAGUED!!! As much as I enjoyed Evesham I don't want to embrace another one so soon after the last! What IS annoying is that this will mess up our planned stay at Tewksbury. Again, it really is a lovely old market town full of history and I was looking forward to a mooche around! Sharon (whom we met in Evesham - n/b "Janus") told me of a pair of blemished old bed knobs she had seen in an antique/collectibles shop and I wanted to go in search of them. Oh well, looks like we will be doing some more to-ing and fro-ing - this time backwards and forwards on the River Severn! We are about an hour's cruise away from Tewkesbury so I think we will just have to carry on and see what happens!

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Who's bright idea was this then?!

Today ................. we climbed a hill!
WHY? you might ask.

This is why.

Bredon Hill to be exact. 991 feet above sea level with apparent views of 8 different counties:-Warwickshire, Worcestershire, Herefordshire, Gloucestershire, Wiltshire - definitely.
Others? Don't know. We had to cycle about 4 miles to get to the start of the climb - well a mixture of cycle and push uphill actually! My goodness gracious me!!! We will be so fit and healthy!! AS IF!!!!

We are now on the Lower Avon and mooring opportunities are few and far between. Last night we wanted to stop at Pershore - no chance! Not one space to be had. Mind you, we did what we said we would never do again on a river and that was go on too late into the evening. We have learned that, on rivers, you really need to start looking for a mooring about 4pm at the latest.
We have time to go back and try again so, depending on the weather, I think that is what we will do.

We are at a place called Eckington Bridge and it really is lovely - the river is quite wide, open aspect to one side, fabulous old 5 arched stone bridge and lots of ducks and swans.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Just something else!

At last, John and I may have found a riverside residence that we can afford!

It is for sale!

So Glad we Stayed

Evesham River Festival - what a fantastic event!

And John moans about my flowers!!

Everything has been so well organised and co-ordinated and there has been masses to do and see. On the Friday night there was a beer tent and free entertainment. All day Saturday there was a huge variety of more free entertainment - Punch & Judy for the children, comedy sketches akin to the Edinburgh Fringe, a folk band, a rock band, 200 Morris Dancers the like of which you have never seen before!, (I could definitely take to it!), Line Dancing (I definitely couldn't take to it!) and the local radio broadcasting live. There were also lots of stalls selling crafts, novelty toys, old fashioned sweets (Gill would not have been able to resist!) and, of course, lots of food outlets. I so take my hat off to all those who have participated to make this such a fantastic town event.

This was one of the comedy sketches and it was really funny.

There were also boating competitions and the local boaters entered with 110% support and commitment. The theme for the boat decorating competition was "The Circus" and entries were amazing!
It was really good to see cruisers and narrowboats joining in together. In the evening there was a boat illumination competition and ....... WOW!! John moans when I ask for one
little strip of lights at Christmas time!! To finish off the Saturday,
Evesham Council provided a fantastic firework display. The rain was dreadful during the evening but boaters are hardy folk and stuck it out! All of this only cost us our entry fee.

A few more things went on during Sunday - silly games, prize awards, thanks etc and a brass band. What an excellent community spirit there is Evesham Riverside - I envy them. This is the sort of thing Staines should be doing. I'm so glad we decided to 'give it a go'!