Tuesday, 30 June 2009

It Ain't alf hot Mum!

Yes! Mum has arrived to spend the week with us and .. yes, it's really hot! Just for a change the weather men have got it right!

We are on our way to Stratford and it could be a case of being in the right place but at the wrong time because, this weekend, it's the Stratford River Festival! We only found out yesterday from a friendly BW worker. Apparently all the mooring places in the basin are booked out to boats which have paid to be there for the three days. The festival itself sounds quite exciting with lots going on but I think it's going to be pandemonium! Oh well, we might just have to get in and out of Stratford as quickly as possible!

We will carry on down the River Avon but ........... next weekend it's the Evesham River Festival and where are we likely to be?!!!!!!! Watch this space!

Saturday, 27 June 2009

An Ordinary Week

Loyal & faithful friends that they are ................. Annette and David helped us back up the Tardebigge Flight last Monday. Once at the top, we shared a barbecue together. Thanks Annette and David - hope to see you again soon.

Returning along the North Stratford Canal I have to say that we found it as unimpressive as the first time - very overgrown and not many inviting places to stop and moor. That is, until you reach the Lapworth Flight which, although hard work, is lovely - to Lapworth Basin, 21 locks. Lapworth Basin itself is especially nice.

Yesterday we moved on up the Grand Union to Knowle - we needed to do some shopping and it's the only little town around with access from the canal. It was, however, a long old trudge from the bottom of the locks and we had really heavy rain all day.

We are currently moored back at Kingswood Junction - where the Grand Union and the North and South Stratford Canals meet. Rodney is bringing John's mum to us and she is staying for a week's holiday. Some 'joker' on the TV last night predicted a heat wave somewhere in Britain!! Bet your bottom dollar it will be nowhere near Stratford which is our next destination!

Sunday, 21 June 2009


So . what do we think of Worcester?

Those of you who know me well know that I do not like large towns and cities so.........
As cities go, I liked Worcester! Why? It is small (for a city) and compact. It has some interesting old streets with some individual shops as well as the well known chain stores. Enough shops for me to feel over-whelmed! Being on the banks of the River Severn is rather special too!

The cathedral is amazing! It's huge and the architecture? Well! Just incredible! As a bonus, about 140 local schools were exhibiting art work - I really enjoyed the exhibits and thought how I could not enable children to achieve such good things any more.

Bonus:- A pair of peregrine falcons have successfully reared four chicks this year in a nest on a balustrade on St Andrew's church. We saw the one remaining chick sitting on one of the battlements - apparently he just does not want to leave and join his brothers and sister in their bigger and better residence - the cathedral itself!!

So, where are we today? We are in the middle of the Astwood flight of locks. Took the girls for a really good walk across the fields and along the lanes. Tomorrow we will set off and tackle not only the 6 Stoke locks but the formidable Tardebigge 30 as well! I ought to have muscles like Popeye and be as skinny as Olive Oil but ........ neither happens. Such is life!!

Thursday, 18 June 2009

Funeral for some Friends

For the special attention of Anne Elliott who saw this sad day coming ........
These boots have been our faithful friends and served us well for many, many years but, yes Anne, yet again you are right! John's boots are now leaking and mine? ......... Worn out! The heels have almost disappeared and so have the circular grips on the soles. They also are leaking and are now b***** uncomfortable! Time to go to that great Millets in the Sky. We are now in Worcester so I'm sure they can be replaced here.


"Goodbye Norma & Jean & Gladys & Doris
Though we love you and you have served us well -


For years and years you never let the socks get soggy when the rain set in.
And your footsteps constantly tramped over miles of Britain's countryside
But, unfortunately, your soles wore out -
Long before your leather ever will!"

It has been suggested that you are permanently displayed on the roof of the boat! Planted up with flowers? !!!!!!!!!!!! John thinks we should advertise you on e-bay as Bygones and sell you on!!!

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

Droitwich Calling

There are a lot of locks between Tardebigge & Worcester! Fortunately for us our good friends David and Annette relocated to Droitwich after they retired so we were in the right place, at the right time, with just the right people to help us through the bulk of those locks!

The next day they came to collect us and we had a fantastic tour of the area - David showed us all the restoration that has been going on regarding the Droitwich canal. It goes virtually through the centre of Droitwich which we thought was a lovely little town and will be a definite magnet for boaters. From Droitwich to the River Severn it goes through some lovely rural countryside. David has been actively involved with helping as a volunteer since they moved up here and those involved are confident that the canal will open to boaters next Spring or Summer. How exciting is that!!

It was so good to see them both looking so well and so happy in their beautiful, new house.


Maisie will be staying with us for her holiday - three weeks of lots of walks, lots of having her feet washed no doubt and lots of being thoroughly spoilt!!

Saturday, 13 June 2009

The Apprentice

What a magnificent cockerel! That is if you are not moored up opposite him and he hasn't quite got it right yet! Apparently he is called "Rory"
"Cock-a-gurgle-gurgle" !!

From 4 a.m and continuing in regular intervals throughout the day. The ladies DO seem to be impressed though but ....... as far as I'm concerned, ........"You're fired!"

Our Lesley

She really loved the wild field poppies of June. Five years later and the poppies are, and will always continue to pay tribute and, in so doing, refresh our own memories and sadness.
She was stolen from us and robbed prematurely of life.
Lost but not forgotten.

Cuckoos in the nest

Cuckoos in the nest in more ways than one!

Every year boaters who have boats, like "Ellen" built by the legendary (it would seem) Les Allen and Sons are invited to get together - 'A Gathering'. Although it is not really our type of thing, we have been once before and, as this years meeting place was on route, we thought we would give it another go! As I say, cuckoos in the nest.

In actual fact, the Allen Gathering itself is a cuckoo this year because it has wheedled it's way into the 40th Anniversary celebration of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal Society which is being held at Tardebigge New Wharf. This is the first time we have been on this canal and it looks really nice - I'm even looking forward to going down all 30 of the Tardebigge locks in one go!

On Friday and Saturday evenings food and entertainment are being laid on in the new community centre a short walk across the field. Rumour has it that there are also stalls and Morris Dancing at some point over the weekend but communication (at least as far as we are concerned) has been virtually nil! I think a Social Secretary is badly needed .......... but I am not offering!

Everyone seems to know other boaters ................ except us!
Billy-no-Mates!! Oh well, the entertainment is good and ...... we will live and learn ....
................. or will we??!!

Sunday, 7 June 2009

The Centre of Birmingham

Well I never thought I would say this but ................... the canalside centre of Birmingham is absolutely lovely! Gas Street Basin is not how I imagined it to be - I thought it would be a larger area than it actually is - but together with The Mailbox and NIA areas the whole place is fabulous.

Everywhere is so clean and orderly - I have not seen any litter anywhere (not even a fag end!) and the presence of security guards is noticeable. The only thing is the lack of a bit of grass for Maggie! We have just sat and watched the Turkish Grand Prix moored in the shadow of the NIA. How cool is that!!

Yesterday afternoon, in the rain, we followed Rodney through the centre of the system and I have to admit that I think it is fantastic that he has been able to do this.

The approach into Birmingham, however, was much the same as with other large towns and cities - rubbish and graffiti everywhere. Yet again, it makes me ashamed of the human race.

Tomorrow, Rodney and Derek will be making their way towards the Coventry canal to get back to Crick and John and I will be heading off towards Worcester.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Tackling The Hatton Flight

Yesterday we left the Saltisford Arm ready in both mind and body (!) to tackle the 21 double locks of the Hatton Flight. The weather was perfect - not too hot but warm and dry.

Rodney tells me that never in his wildest dreams did he think that, one day, he would be navigating his own boat up this renown flight of locks. We were actually very proud of ourselves as we did it in 4 hours. We only met 2 boats coming down.

"Ellen" half way up the flight.

Today we have gone a bridge too far! Actually, it's been several bridges too far. We decided to go up the Lapworth Flight on the North Stratford Canal for our approach to Birmingham - 20 locks this time and single! I feel that I should have muscles like Popeye and be as skinny as Olive Oil ................. neither is happening! We continued then - all for the sake of a pub - and didn't stop until 6.30pm. The sunshine has gone - it's raining quite heavily.

On to Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham tomorrow. Definite reservations!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Cruising with the Trotters

God Bless Derek Nicoll and all who cruise with him!

We met up with Rodney and Derek (they're not really "The Trotters"!) on Saturday at Napton.
Gill also drove up from Staines to join us for 24 hours and it was lovely to see her.  Both she and I wished it could have been for longer.

Together, narrowboats "Ellen" and "Akela" have travelled up the Grand Union to Warwick where we are at the moment.  We are moored in the Saltisford Arm which was recommended to us by other boaters.  From here it is only a 10 minute walk into the centre of Warwick.  Derek wants to visit the castle and John and I want to have a general 'mooch' about.  I think Derek and I have earned a day off after all those heavy locks - those steering on the tiller just do not appreciate what hard work it is!

Since Saturday the weather has been really hot but today there is a bit of a breeze so it looks like things might be cooling down a little.