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.