Saturday, 14 September 2013

Guide Dog Fix in Stratford–Saturday 14th September 2013

We left Wilmcote early this morning with the intention of getting to Stratford with most of the day available to explore the town and the Food Festival which is on over this weekend.
After the first lock June took over the boat and I had a chance to work the locks for a change. The locks are fairly close together so I was able to set the next lock as June and the boat were being lowered. This speeded up the operation and we had soon reached the bottom of the 11 Wilmcote locks. A short while after we passed the Valley Cruisers Base and were in Stratford at the Birmingham Road bridge with the new Premier Inn adjacent to the lock. Its customers could be seen through the windows still having their breakfast. There are several nice apartment blocks which overlook the canal on the way in to the basin.
6 Entering Stratford
As we negotiated the last couple of locks boats coming the other way said that the basin was full, with people waiting for others to come out. June went ahead after the last lock to find out what was happening. Indeed the basin was full but an Australian couple said that they planned to leave in 10 minutes or so so we hung around until they did and slid into their pontoon mooring. There did not seem to be any other mooring becoming free so after a discussion with Autumn Years we agreed to go down onto the river to moor. However, as we were about to move the boat adjacent to us decided to leave so we radioed Autumn Years to come into the basin and take their spot. We could  not believe that the basin was so full as boats we had met earlier in the week coming out had said that it had been almost deserted.
7a the basin
After a quick lunch and short shopping expedition to stock up on essentials we explored the Food Festival stalls. The crowds were thick and the stalls seemed to be very busy. There was an excellent range of stalls from all parts of the world with delicious smells engaging ones nostrils.
1 Stalls
Entertainment was also laid on with cooking demonstrations from local hotels and restaurants throughout the day as well as Morris dancers, bands, and all sorts of other street entertainers.
2 Stalls and Acts
The one that caught my eye and intrigued me the most was this couple who purported to be golden statues sitting down on nothing. When somebody put some money in their tray they would wave, smile and move, but you could still not tell how they were supported in such a position.
3 Seated statues
At the entrance to the basin is a trader boat selling all sorts of canal painted crafts and art work.
4 Sales Boat
Later we went a walk into town and met Guide Dog Juno, her owner and owners husband who were here on a short break from Wales. We had a lovely chat to them about Guide Dogs and their visit to the Stratford.
Just around the corner we bumped into Sue and Norman two of our fellow puppy walkers from home who were here on a day trip with friends. We could not resist making a fuss on their gorgeous pup Jasmine who was sponsored by a Garden centre. Later Norman and Jasmine stopped by the boat for tea and biscuits whilst the girls went shopping.
5 GD Pup Jasmine
Later I took a few pictures of the river from the Tramway Bridge and a guy making enormous Bubbles with a special wand. The children and teenagers were enthralled with the size of the bubbles.
8 The River
We went across to the Theatre and saw these costumes in the foyer from several of their past productions, one was even made from old gloves. We also arranged a back stage tour of the theatre for tomorrow.

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