Thursday, 31 July 2014

Usual Chaos in Braunston

After coffee with Colin & Katie we moved on up Stockton locks, sharing most of them with NB Fandango. Although he was single handed he did his share of the work and we seemed to get to the top in no time. We said farewell after Calcutt as he was going into Wigrams. We went as far as Flecknoe where we enjoyed the rest of the afternoon in the sunshine.
Yesterday saw a slow run into Braunston, where we found a mooring opposite the Boathouse where we were tempted to a fine lunch on the terrace. This was after walking to the bottom lock to find Joe & Lesley on NB Yarwood who are there having work done.
We spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing on deck with a book, and watching the usual chaos that surrounds the Braunston moorings. Late PM there was the Tonk Tonk of a Lister starting up as the boat, Draco with its butty  set off towards the locks. As they reached the A45 bridge another boat heading out of the village appeared, at speed. Now a full length boat with a butty towing behind does not stop and reverse for anything and we saw the other boat bounce off the bridge. They took so long to sort themselves out that the Captain had time to run down and take some pics.
Lesley &Joe joined us on board for a drink and catchup  in the evening. As we were starting our second glass along came NB Caxton which was originally owned by Lesley &Joe  and now owned by George & Sue who are also fellow bloggers. Oakapple, Yarwood and Caxton were all built by Barnowl Narrow Boats and are three fine examples of his work.
This morning the Captain decided the brass needed polishing so I put my feet up and supervised while he set to work on the portholes,Eventually   getting round to the 1941 Naval companionway lamp which he is very proud of. Despite a  copious amount of rubbing  he failed to coax a Genie out of the lamp, so, with his three wishes unfulfilled it was hung back on its bracket gleaming superbly.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Doing the'Bascote Shuffle'

We left the Saltisford arm midday on Sunday after a chat with Jo andKieth on Hadar who look after some of the gardens at the arm. Sun still shining and a fine day for the trawl through Leamington. We were soon out in the countryside again and finally moored below Welsh road lock.
We contacted our friends Colin & Katie who are fitting out their new wide beam boat at Long Itchington and arranged to meet yesterday. Just five locks between us, two of them being the staircase at Bascote. Now the perceived wisdom is that boats cannot pass in a staircase lock, however this does not apply to wide ones. As we entered the lower lock there were two boats arriving at the top. In came the first boat and after some persuasion the second followed, making three boats in the staircase. With the middle gates open we shuffled the boats, swooping locks and continued on our way. Just don't be tempted to try it with four boats!
Yesterday afternoon we were treated to a tour of the new wide beam. A very impressive amount of space. It will be a lovely vessel when it is complete. Can' t wait to see it finished, however the price you pay for the space is only cruising the wide canals and rivers. We were also given a look at the workshop at Colecraft where several shells are being completed. Very interesting to see how it's done.
We had a great evening on board their narrowboat Fratie yesterday. Sitting on deck till after dark. All in all, a very interesting day.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Hells Bells! It's the Morris men again

We strolled into Warwick after lunch today. If you are a regular follower you may recall the pics. Of the Morris dancers in the town centre. Well there they were again. Seems there is a folk festival happening this weekend and we  were just in time to catch the parade of Morris men. We were very impressed with the range of costumes the different groups were decked out in. One particular troup were all in black and came down the road like a thunder storm. Now edgy is not an expression you normally associate with Morris dancing but they definitely had that feel about them. All in all it was a great afternoons entertainment.
After spending the rest of the afternoon sitting out in the sunshine we decided to see what music was on offer on the stage in the square. Well, when something is billed as a folk festival you kind of assume that there will be some folk music. Nothing wrong with what was there, but folk it was not.
As I write this blog the band at the 'Dun Cow' opposite our mooring has just started playing. It' rock music and sounds pretty good. Best get this posted and pour another glass!

Friday, 25 July 2014

We are back on board

This morning saw us wizing up the A34 to Warwick in our hired car. Red hot sunshine continuing. Thank goodness for the air con. We have had a busy week dealing with things and catching up with friends. (If Pete & Sheila are reading this, sorry we missed you again).
The Captain also managed to catch up with a long standing ex work colleague who is into motorcycles. He was very impressed with the latest addition. A fine Harley Davisson. He had to be restrained from riding it away! He said "but it's faster than a narrow boat"
The plan now is to head out of Warwick on Sunday and make our way towards Braunston. Only 23 wide locks in the way but at least they are spread out a bit.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Homeward Bound, again!

We have left Oakapple in Warwick for the week as we have a few things at home to deal with, one of them being our daughter's 40th birthday party to attend. She was not best pleased about reaching the big Four Oh! However we all had a great evening and she is still our baby.
We are taking the opportunity to catch up with friends and family that we haven't seen for a while.
Sunday we visited Port Solent, a big marina in Portsmouth Harbour. It has a fine range of bars and eateries, one of which is a Spoons called the Sir Alec Rose. He sailed his yacht, Lively Lady, single handed round the world and was knighted by the Queen on his return to Portsmouth. The yacht is berthed at Port Solent near the bar which bears his name.
Just boring stuff for the rest of the week. Can't wait to be wizing back north to Warwick in our hire car to continue our cruise.

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Great welcome at Lowsenford.

We left Stratford basin on Tuesday morning. It was quite early but Mystique III had got away ahead of us. Through the very low road bridge and into the first lock. Or so we thought. Oakapple grounded on the cill. We took a run at it. We tugged on the ropes. Eventually with the help of a rather large bystander we got her into the lock! I blame the trip boats in the basin, going onto the river every 20mins. all day and lowering the water levels. Once we got moving it was a very pleasant day. Warm but comfortable. We just kept going and 11 hrs. later we arrived at Lowsonford. We found Mystique III there, hooting and waving, giving us a great welcome. After attempting to moor in a space further on, too shallow, we backed up to the pub moorings opposite, too shallow, eventually settling half on the lock mooring. The Captain was pleased to show off his reversing skills. By this time there were quite a lot of boaters watching so, good job he didn't disgrace himself! We had another great evening with Kev & Julie, this time on board Mystique.
Yesterday we followed Kev & Julie up the first part of the Lapworth flight as far as Kingswood junction where we finally said farewell as they were going on up towards Birmingham. We cut through onto the grand union canal and Eventualy moored above Hatton locks, ready for our run into the Saltisford arm in Warwick this morning.
A very misty start today at 8.00am. but the sun came out as we started the flight and we managed it in  three and a half hours. A couple of friendly lockies helped us through a few of the locks on their way to assist five hire boats full of school kids going up the flight. I always dread doing Hatton but usually enjoy it when we get there. It was a red hot day by the time we moored in Saltisford and we soon headed for Wetherspoons curry club and of course, wifi.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Into Shakespear country.

14th. July.

We left Evesham and moved on as far as Offenham lock where we spent a couple of nights. Sunday morning  Lesley and Joe delivered the two chairs that they were selling from  NB Yarwood. It was great to see them again. Thanks both.
We had a good run to Bidford on Avon where we moored for the night in warm sunshine. Looking downriver we saw coming towards us NB Mystique III who we met briefly a couple of days ago. Moorings being in short supply they breasted up alongside and we spent a very pleasant evening on board Oakapple exchanging boating tales over a glass or two.
Having arranged to share the locks this morning upriver to Stratford we cast off soon after 9.00 am and cruised the six miles and six locks  in bright sunshine, arriving in the basin by mid afternoon.
We were planning to go to Wetherspoons to take advantage of the wifi, so Julie and Kev joined us for what was left of the afternoon. As they are active members of the Wolverhampton boat club they were able to give us an insight into the social life of a boat club. Thank you both for your company over the last couple of days. Hope to meet again on our travels.

Friday, 11 July 2014

11th. July

Guess what?
The call of the river was irresistible. A bit like ratty in Wind in the Willows. We got a through licence and started back up stream towards Stratford. Had a splendid day day back to Pershore. Met Mr speedy on his way back downstream. He had a bow wave like the Queen Mary and could easily have towed a water skier! Luckily we were on a wide stretch of the river.
Yesterday, after another stop for Asda, well you always forget something,  we carried on, intending to get to Evesham. Men can be such schoolboys sometimes. I found the Captain howling with laughter over the  map. No, it wasn't the prospect of going through Wyre Piddle. It was the sight of Tiddle Widdle island on the map that had him doubled up!! Oh well.
It was a superb day for cruising. Sun shining and no reason to hurry. We didn't make it to Evesham. As we rounded a bend we were presented with the most perfect mooring, secluded with grass all cut just begging for the chairs to go out followed by a glass of wine. The thought soon became a reality and there we stayed moored on the flood poles. For our non boating readers the poles are to allow the boats to rise up in times of flood, and not get stranded on the bank when the water recedes. This might look a bit excessive but a look at the 2007 flood level marker 5feet above the lock side shows how important they are.
This morning we finally got to Evesham and found the Old Swan Inn (yes, it's a spoons)  and managed to post the blog. It was a good couple of hours, passing the very picturesque Chadbury mill, with its huge weir, very scary. Going into Evesham you pass a ferry with wires across the river. Three hoots and the ferryman lowers the ropes to let you pass over them, hopefully.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

8th. July

Two great days on the Avon.

We left our mooring in Tewkesbury yesterday morning heading upstream through the crooked arch of  king Johns bridge. The river soon opened out into a wide stretch past the marina. We liked the variety of boats at Stourport but here we also saw sailing boats as well. We planned to go as far as Pershore with just two locks to do. The Avon has a very different character to the Severn with  the locks self operated the same as on the canal. We arrived in Pershore by mid afternoon and spent a pleasant time exploring this fine Georgian town and the splendid abbey.
We were moored below the old bridge, which was blown up by the retreating army during the civil war. You can see the different stone used to rebuild the centre arch which is a different shape to the rest. The Captain had doubts about the width of the river so this morning we went up through Pershore lock and moored at the recreation ground to visit Asda for supplies.
By 10.00am we were ready to turn the boat and head back downstream back to Tewkesbury. Not so warm today, even had a shower or two, but still a pleasant days cruising. Just one hiccup, the only sharp bend on the river (called the swans neck for obvious reason) produced a hire boat on full throttle. Guess what? The blow was mostly a glancing one fortunately but I hope it put the wind up them. If only they would slow down a bit when required.
Arrived back at Tewkesbury about 3ish. The moorings were full but we breasted up alongside a black prince boat. Hope they don't want to leave too early in the morning. (Wouldn't want to be out in our PJs untying ropes).
Enjoyed our time on the Avon. Wish now we had got a through licence and gone all the way to Stratford. Still, always another day.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

6th July

On down the river.
Had a great evening on the mooring at Worcester yesterday. As we sat on deck watching the rowers on the river we spotted a black animal scurrying up and down the opposite bank. From it's undulating gait it was obviously an Otter. I don't know how common Otters are on the Severn but it is something we have rarely seen.
Got up early this morning ready to be at Diglis lock when the lock keeper goes on duty at 8.00am. As we arrived at the lock there was no sign of life. The gates were shut and the red and green lights in darkness. We moored on the lock landing to await developments. Eventually we were informed that the Lockie was sick and that a replacement would be there in half an hour. After filling the water tank and making coffee things sprung into life. The gates opened and the lights turned green. In we went along with another boat which had just arrived. The lock was huge and both boats looked lost in it.
We were soon on our way the 16 miles downstream to Tewkesbury. The sun shone, Cormorants dried their wings on the mooring poles, a perfect morning.
We almost missed the turn into the cut to the Avon lock, very poorly signposted, well that's what the Captain claimed, and arrived at the lock just as the lock keeper started his lunch break. Oh well, nothing for it but to follow suit. At 2pm on the dot the gates opened, the light turned green and we were locked up onto the Avon to find a mooring in Tewkesbury.
After taking a look at the beautiful Abbey we found the local Wetherspoons to seek out some wifi and a Sunday roast.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

5th. July

Back down river.
After some discussion we have decided to see a bit more of the river Severn and go on down to Tewkesbury. The only snag was that we needed diesel, so, nothing for it but to go up the two pairs of staircase locks into the basin yesterday morning. It was chaos! Hire boats coming down who had no clue how to work a staircase lock, and a boatyard man trying to speed them on their way and giving orders to all and sundry. The Captain gave him short shrift however and had to stop him winding all the paddles up in one go. Eventually we got into the basin and onto the diesel dock where we were served with 130ltrs of fuel by a man of very few words. About six during the whole process! Captain worked out that since we last filled up six weeks ago we have used an average of less than 4ltrs of fuel a day. Not bad for an engine that is over 60yrs old. We eventually claimed the last visitors mooring near the services. Couldn't resist a wander round the fairground. Very nostalgic.
After a night in the basin we awoke to the sound of heavy rain but by 8am it had mostly stopped and we made our way back down onto the river. There was so much water in the basin that we struggled to open the gate into the first staircase. At least it was much more civilised at that time of the morning.
Fine trip down river as far as Worcester. Sun came out by lunch time and we are currently moored back by the racecourse.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

3rd. July

Stourport on Severn.

Yesterday morning we cast off about 9.00am, again in company with Gundagai, (correct spelling this time, sorry.) , once more in warm sunshine. We were both heading for Stourport, and again it was a perfect day for cruising. A very relaxed morning, with three of the large river locks to negotiate before mooring up on the visitor moorings outside the canal basin.
Yesterday evening we were joined by Gundagai's crew for a few glasses of wine out on the jetty where we managed to put the world to rights, if only anyone would listen!

On the way up the river we saw moored an interesting boat, VIC 99 . These boats were built during the war on the lines of the old Clyde Puffers, to service the fleet. The initials stand for Victualing Inshore Craft.

My birthday today so we have had a quiet day, generally pigging out, coffee and carrot cake in spoons and a slap up meal on board. Still got strawberries and champers to come, yum yum.
We love Stourport with its fairground, seagulls and variety of different boats. Quite the feel of a seaside town. This afternoon we have been sitting out on the jetty watching the Kingfishers, flitting back and forth across the river and diving for fish. Magic! (No pic. I'm afraid, camera not up to it.)

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

1st July.

Early start today, heading for the river Severn. We moved off our pier in Droitwich basin about 8.00 am and onto the water point. Also about to leave was another boat, Gungadai (I think that's how it's spelled). Fortunately they waited for us at the first lock and we shared the work down the 8 locks onto the river.

 It's been a lovely warm day, sun sparkling on the water, just the way you always dream of it.

Exiting the last lock and going out onto the wide expanse of the river was a revelation. Oakapple loves the depth and raced off downstream as soon as the captain wound up the speed wheel. Although narrow boats are made for the canals they do perform so much better with a bit of water around them.  You can just see in the picture, Gungadai racing along behind us.
Just the one river lock before Worcester. They are huge compared with the narrow canal locks. Main advantage is they are all manned and worked automatically. Just a case of holding on with bow and stern ropes. We moored up by the racecourse in bright sunshine just in time for lunch.