Sunday, 30 September 2012

Weekend and Home

Friday 28th September

We had a lie today as we were going to Tibberton Village Hall for breakfast. We wandered down the road arriving at 8.30am and were the first people there. The volunteers for the MacMillan “Worlds Biggest Coffee Morning” gave us a warm welcome and knew Phoenix was coming as the Postmistress had told them to expect us. We were treated to lovely hot croissants with fresh strawberry jam and coffee all nicely served on a tray. They kept coming round asking if we wanted more and then if we wanted some of the delicious home made cakes they had on display.

* Home Made Cakes
As school time approached more villagers came in and we had a great time chatting to them and the young children patted Phoenix which she loved.
There were lots of raffle prizes but as we could not collect them if we won we just left a donation as it is a very worthwhile cause to support and then wended our way back to the boat.

* Raffle Prizes
We motored off quietly as unusually the hire boats were still there with their curtains drawn, possibly because the Severn is in flood and their cruising range is restricted.
The canal is very narrow for most of the journey to Hanbury wharf as the reeds have grown in from both sides, luckily we did not meet any other boats on the move and when we got to Hanbury the moorings were empty.

* Reeds take over the channel.
We turned left and entered the Droitwich Junction Canal to go down the three locks to the marina. Two volunteers were on duty and helped us through the locks as we were the first boat they had seen.
As we negotiated the locks the wind got up and became quite strong as we entered the marina, fortunately the entrance is of the modern type and is in fact biggest in the country. They have even set the entrance back into the marina a little more than normal to counteract the narrowness of the navigation channel of the canal. We moored stern first onto the pontoon and were grateful for the bow thrusters help to counteract the now very strong wind.

* Droitwich Marina
When we had moored up and took a look around we noticed that we were directly pointing at Hadzor Hall, Hadzor being the home of Atumn Myst.

* Hadzor Hall
We tided up the boat, packed away our summer clothes and loaded them into the car and headed for home.

Saturday 29th September

Busy day firstly, getting in some shopping as the cupboards were bare, and then setting the washing machine and drier in motion.
After lunch I took Phoenix to the local Sainsbury’s to help support the Guide Dog Collection Day. It is amazing the effect a puppy has on the level of donations and GD’s raised over £450.
June went to have her hair done and visit her mother.
Later we just collapsed and had an early night.

Sunday 30th September

Today we went to Pat’s 85th birthday celebration lunch at Honily Court hotel and had a great time with all her friends and relations.
We had planned to come back to the boat by train and taxi on Monday morning but June’s brother, Leslie, volunteered to bring us back by car, for which we were so grateful, as we were back on board by 5.45pm and soon had the fire lit and the boat warm and cosy.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Leaving Worcester

Thursday 27th September

Phoenix’s early morning walk took us down to the river which had risen a few more inches and did not look as though it would be open to boats by Friday.
We walked back via Diglis Basin which looked lovely in the morning sunlight with the swans swimming across it.

* Diglis Basin
Opposite the Visitor Mooring I noticed this narrowboat which seemed very low in the water. I could not make up my mind if it was sinking or just a very low gunwale level. I fear it is the former.

* Sinking Ship ???
* Worcester Visitor Moorings
After breakfast we headed out of Worcester and surprisingly found the first lock at the Commandery to be in our favour and were soon on to the next which was full.

* Leaving Worcester
We motored on in glorious sunshine to the Gregory’s Mill locks which the CART note asked us to empty after we had gone up them Could not work out why this would be but just followed their request.
Next came the Bilford locks where Bill had asked us to look out for any old buildings which might be of interest to Jackie tracing her family history. Unfortunately there were none but just new housing and this canal side cottage which had been developed to look in keeping with other lock cottages and was up for sale.

* Bilford Top Lock

* Bilford Top Lock – cottage for sale.
* Bilford Bottom Lock looking at Top lock and Bridge.
Continuing on to Blackpole locks we encountered the first two boats we had seen moving for the last two days and both were descending the locks. The second boat told us that they had hoped to go to Droitwich but that the canal was closed as boats could not get under M5. Adam was right about the rising waters of the River Salwarpe. I did not think that we had had that much rain. 
All the remaining locks were in our favour and we made good speed to Tibberton where we moored up in front of a Viking hire boat. They soon wended their way back to Worcester and we were left on our own.
After lunch I walked into the village and found a Post Office and Stores and had a nice chat to the Postmistress. She asked if we were going to the Biggest Coffee Morning in aid of McMillan on Friday. In order to catch the workers they were doing Coffee and Croissants from 8.30am. I only had to mention it to June and we were going.
As were travelling I had a call from Dennis and Karen to ask where we were as they would like to come and visit. We arranged to meet them for tea and home made cake at Tibberton at 3pm and later go for a meal together at the Bridge Inn.
We had a good meal and returned to the boat for a nightcap before they left us at 9pm.

* Dennis and Karen
By this time we were surrounded by Viking and Canaltime hire boats who could not go on the river and so were restricted to the Staffs and Worcester canal.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Lazy Day

Wednesday 26th September

Decided to have a lazy day today and got up late for us. I took Phoenix her morning walk around the marina and found a park in which she could have a good run. The path led us by a field of Evening Primose flowers (so June tells me), down to the river at the new Sustran Diglis foot and cycle bridge just below Diglis lock. I say just below the lock, which it normally is, but today the river was almost the same height on both sides of the lock gate, a very strange sight.

* Diglis River Lock
* Evening Primroses
We then walked along the riverside path towards the entrance to the canal basins and came across these boats moored on the river pontoons unable to move. The river was almost bursting its banks at this point which is normally15 feet below.

* Trapped boats
The towpath between the two locks to enter the canal basin was now several feet under water and it seemed to be still rising although the lock keeper had said that he hoped to open the lock again on Friday.

During the morning we moved the boat to the water point to fill up, ran the washing machine and charged up the batteries. Whilst we were taking on water I spoke to the canal time boat moored nearby and he had been lucky enough to hear the weather forecast on Sunday and had travelled back from Kinver before the river went into flood and had been moored up in Worcester ever since as he had to take the boat back to Lowesmoor Wharf today. He had arrived about 6 pm and watched two South African novice canal boaters take a boat on to the river. He had warned them but they seemed oblivious to the dangers and he wondered where they would have moored with only an hour of daylight left. He felt that hirers should be better briefed on river navigation.
After lunch we went on a guided tour of the cathedral and were surprised to learn that both King John and Prince Arthur had asked to be buried there.

* Worcester cathedral
Looking out over the river from the cathedral grounds near the Watergate we could see that the riverside walk was about 3 feet under water with just the tips of the fence posts protruding from the murky water.

* Riverside Walk and Worcester Bridge

We are so thankful that we decided to join the boys on Nb Chance and travel earlier to Droitwch otherwise we may well have been stuck ourselves.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Worcester Bound

Tuesday 25th September

The weather forecast was for rain at about 2pm so we left our moorings at 7.30am creeping past the sleeping live aboards on the opposite bank heading for Worcester.
 The Worcester and B’ham canal is very narrow, shallow and lined with high reeds just like the Droitwich Barge Canal.
We passed some nice houses at Shernal Green and a magnificent view of the church and half timbered farm at Oddingley.

* Oddingley Church and Farm
We negotiated the short, 230yd, Dunhampstead Tunnel and on to the first of the 14 locks on our route at Offerton. Making good progress through the locks we only encountered a few hire craft coming out of Worcester until the second Bilford lock where a hotel boat with butty were coming up. The guests were trying to operate the locks and June had to help or we might have been there now.
They were on their way to Stratford and had had to resort to the canal as the River Severn was in flood.
The approach to Worcester has several rows of cottages which either line the canal or their street ends at the canal and then we reached the unusual Bridge with odd holes in it at Lowesmoor Wharf the home of the Viking Afloat fleet. The wharf is at an unusual angle to the canal and winding hole and requires some skill to get in without hitting the sides.

* Canal side Cottages

* Unusual Bridge at Lowesmoor Wharf
The towpath switched to the other side of the canal as we approached The Commandary ( founded as a small hospital in 1085) and June used her chat up line to get two young men to help her with the last lock as we went under the main road into Worcester.

* The Commandery

* June Chats up a couple of Toyboys
We moored up and after lunch walked the short distance through the old Worcester Porcelain factory which is now being developed as a nice residential and retail centre into the city to explore the shops.
Later I took Phoenix a walk around the new Diglis basin development and found the River Severn to be so in flood that it had overflowed the first lock onto the river. We were just thankful that we decided to leave Stourport earlier than originally planned, you cannot believe that just one days rain could have had such a rapid effect on the river.

* Diglis Basin Marina
* Floating Cafe
* Worcester Cathedral
* River Floods Lock

* 30 Miles and 58 Locks to go.

The rain eventually arrived about 7.30pm when we were warm and snug tucked up in the boat.

Monday, 24 September 2012

A day of Rest

Monday 24th September

We had torrential rain during the night and it carried on until the early afternoon. As we had the car I was able to drive into Droitwich for provisions and the paper. Although we had been told that the Eagle and Sun had been closed we found that it had re-opened on the 20th September and is now part of the The Number Works Pub group. and the telephone number has changed to 01905 799266.
It sells meals at £2, £4, £6 and £8. We were rather sceptical that it would be any good but in chatting to the owner he said that he has 7 pubs in the group (the Hobs Meadow in Solihull) and sold over 400 covers on their first Sunday lunch yesterday. So we decided to give it a try and opted for the £4 meal. I had an all day English breakfast which consisted of.
Egg - Sausages – Bacon – Mushrooms – Tomato – Baked Beans- Black Pudding – Hash Brown – Toast and butter. A mug of fresh Coffee was only £1.60.
I must say we were most impressed both with the quality and the quantity.
Looking at the meals the other customers had, they all seemed to be of the same quality and quantity.

* Eagle and Sun
After lunch the weather improved and the sun even came out so I took phoenix a walk along the canal to the hamlet of Hadzor to see where my great grand father was born. Some of the cottages are over 300 years old.

* The Hazdor Narrows
* Another Boat Registered at Hadzor
* Hadzor Cottages
* The Old School House
Only about 4 boats passed all day and a Hotel Boat moored up astern of us just after lunch. Otherwise we had a relaxing day.

Hotel Boat

Beat the Weather

Sunday 23rd September

I took Phoenix a walk around Droitwich which is a lovely old town based on the Salt industry from the early 17th Century.

* High Street
* A Courtyard
* The Last Industrial Salt Pump
* The Salt way leading from the Church
* Vines Park with the original Salt Drying Pans in the distance

William, Jackie, Brian, Anita, Mike and Sue all arrived at 10 am and as the weather forecast for the afternoon was rain we changed our lunch arrangements and set off on the trip to Hanbury Wharf having left a car there to get us back to Droitwich.
As we set off another boat went in front of us and we negotiated the 2 swing bridges and the final one in the middle of the last lock on the Barge Canal together. We were able to open both sets of gates on the lock as the water level was the same on the river as the canal.

* Last Lock on the Barge Canal
* River Salwarpe
The river has been canalised in order to negotiate the road crossing as the original canal route has been closed off and the remains of its route can be seen as you proceed up the river section to the first lock.
* Old Canal route hidden behind sign
With a crew of 8, all be it they were complete novices, it was easy following the other boat and Brian was keen to help them through the locks. However I was never really sure who was in charge!

* Who is in Charge of Operations
* Negotiating the Staircase
Bill had a go at steering the boat out of the locks and up the narrow canal to the last set of locks and seemed to enjoy the experience. Just as we started the locks the weather made a turn for the worse and it began to rain. Luckily we were able to negotiate the Junction and moor up opposite Hanbury Wharf as no other boats were about.

* Hanbury Junction
* Hanbury Wharf mooring.
We had pre luncheon drinks aboard Autumn Myst and then fetched the cars so that we could all return to the Gardeners Arms in Droitwich for lunch.

* William and the Girls
* Brian and Mike
At the pub we were entertained by Deborah Rose and a young guitarist whilst waiting for our table and enjoyed some lovely music and songs. Deborah persuaded Brian to get up and dance the Charleston to one of her songs and this was a real hit with the rest of the pub.
We had a great lunch which we finished about 5pm and headed back to the boat for coffee and cake but everyone was too full to partake in the cake. The portions are enormous and the sausages are gigantic.

 * Gardeners Arms

The * Sausages
The friends left about 7pm and I begged a lift off William to go home to collect the post and bring the car back so that we can get back home easily for a Pat’s party.
I arrived back at the boat just in time to watch Downton Abbey.