Friday, 31 July 2015

Packing up for camping

We spent the first part of Wednesday morning getting the tomato plants to the car - Karen thinks they have more chance of survival if taken home until we return. We cruised to a bridge and put everything we were taking home onto the towpath.  Karen then loaded up the car whilst I cruised on to our chosen shady spot.

Once we got ourselves moored securely we set about setting up the watering system for the main plants.  We put many of them on the back deck - a bit of a giveaway that we're not on board but we're back in six days.


So we're off to the beautiful Yorkshire Dales with most of our children until Tuesday - blogging will probably restart next Wednesday.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Wilmcote (automating plant watering)



As we are leaving the boat for a few days to go camping in the Yorkshire Dales with our children Karen has been concerned about how her plants will fare.  We have already decided to leave the boat in the shade which we shall do tomorrow.  We will take the tomato plants back to Kent with us when we go down to pick up the camping gear - this will give them an extra two days watering.  We have been saving plastic bottles and spent the morning sorting out automatic watering for the main flowers.  Karen was hoping to get a picture of me falling in whilst doing this:

This is the reason we decided to stay put in Wilmcote on Wednesday – a very quiet and pleasant location with hardly any passers-by.
 


Later in the afternoon Karen went by train to Nottingham to pick up our little blue car (called Nigel) from Catherine so we can drive back to Kent tomorrow.  Buddy and I went for a walk but didn’t see many butterflies as the weather wasn’t too good.  I did manage to get a couple of shots of an Essex Skipper – not bad for an old iPhone I thought.


  

Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Wilmcote (Karen baking like mad)



Following a lazy Tuesday morning we set off up the 11 locks in the Wilmcote flight.  There was a longer pound before the final three so we stopped for lunch.  In the end we spent a few hours there as Karen wanted to bake some cakes and a couple of quiches to make sure there were no perishables left on the boat when we leave it for a few days at the end of the week.  As usual, I had no cause for complaint.

We completed the final three locks in the late afternoon and moored just before Wilmcote.  I noticed a plastic cruiser adrift in front of us and pulled it in with a boat hook.  Fortunately the pins were still attached to its lines so I knocked them back in.  I posted a message on various Facebook groups (as is the norm when people rescue a boat) so hopefully the owner will return soon.  The trouble with pins is that when boats go by too fast the pins have a tendency to pull out if they have not been secured correctly.

Only a couple of photographs today as we are returning up the stretch we covered a week or so ago but I took a picture of one of the bridges that typify the Stratford canal just to remind ourselves how much we have enjoyed it.



I also saw this posted earlier today and it rather tickled me as it appeals to my sense of humour.  
This is our evening view out of the front.


 

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Leaving Stratford (with some helpers)



We’re off camping in the Yorkshire Dales this coming weekend with most of our children and their partners.  This means we need to leave the boat moored somewhere where we feel it is safe.  We are quite used to this but there is an added dimension as Karen is worried about the boat garden drying out.  We now have to find somewhere shady as well as safe.  Shady means under trees and we normally avoid these places because of birds muck, sap and general stuff that falls out of trees.  Anyway we spotted a place on the way down to Stratford so are heading there over the next few days.  

Richard and Liz and their children joined us for the trip out of Stratford; Liz’s father, Gerry, joined us too.  First of all I had to turn the boat round on the River Avon and head back to the start of the Stratford upon Avon canal.  I had to bide my time as there were many rowers out but as they were so fast a couple arrived out of nowhere and had to wait for me.

We had to wait on the river whilst a tourist cruise boat was coming out of the lock.  Karen was helping at the lock but was asked not to open the left hand bottom gate.  Because of the balance it opens on its own when the lock is empty. 

The on board commentary on the cruise boat explains to the tourists that there is a lock ghost that opens the gate for them.


We went up five more locks as we left Stratford and our visitors soon learnt how to help Karen operate them.  This is Richard and Ted closing one of the lock gates.

And here is Gerry keeping an angry swan at bay whilst making sure the bottom gate was closed.  The swan's family were below the lock but he didn't seem to realise where they were and was being very aggressive to anything that went near him.

We stopped to fill up with water as we left Stratford behind and our visitors left us to walk back to their hotel.  It started raining and, as we were at the bottom of an 11 lock flight, decided to moor for the rest of the day.  It was an ideal opportunity to relax after quite a hectic weekend.  In retrospect we were glad we made the effort to get the boat down to Stratford as it gave the 13 of us somewhere to gather especially as there were two days of rain.

Monday, 27 July 2015

Stratford upon Avon (a gathering of Payne’s)



Wow - that was a full on weekend – the first time my parents have had their sons and daughter together for about five years.  We don't get together very often but the main thing is that when we do get together we get on really well and have a good time. 

We were getting together because my sister in law, Liz, was performing on the Sunday.  She is in the Linlithgow players and they had been invited to perform their take on Twelfth Night at the RSC open air theatre, The Dell.  This was a big event for Liz and the family as she was also the producer.  

It rained all day on Friday so we didn’t do a lot other than take Buddy out for a couple of walks.

At one point we visited the open air theatre and Buddy and I gave a quick performance of our own.

In the evening we entertained the family.


Saturday was a glorious day that brought the tourists out in force.  There is a chain ferry just down from where we are moored that takes you across the river to The Dell.  The ferry purports to be the last chain ferry in England but I can’t really believe that is true.


We had a brief look at The Gloucester Youth players who were putting on a performance in The Dell.


And then went for a walk with Judith and Nigel to find some butterflies.  Here is one of the Speckled Woods we saw.

And this is a Holly Blue.


Ted (Liz’s son) and I had a good chat as we walked along the canal.

We went out for an early dinner with my parents and then everyone descended back on the boat to finish off the evening.  We remained moored on the River Avon opposite the RSC all weekend.

On Sunday most of the family came and joined us on the boat and watched the annual raft race.  The first few through were experts and completed the 7 1/2 mile course in about 40 minutes.


Most of them were fun teams taking between three and six hours!



We all went to see Liz's production of her version of Twelfth Night which was good fun. 


As it was raining we all spent the rest of the afternoon on the boat and in the evening Karen and I took Buddy for a relaxing pint.






Friday, 24 July 2015

Stratford upon Avon (loving the luvvies at the RSC)



All of a sudden, on Thursday morning, the canal seemed busy as all boats were heading for Stratford upon Avon so hopes were dimming of finding a mooring in the basin.  We had to go through 16 locks in about four miles to get into the centre of Stratford so set off at 10.  By this time quite a few boats had gone past in our direction and only a few the other way.  There was a flight of 11 locks at one point and CRT guys were trying to turn a boat between two of them.

They were having difficulty so I gave them a master-class in boat winding.

When we were on the outskirts of Stratford we moored up as we were due to pick up a delivery of beer and wine for the forthcoming family event over the weekend.  Here’s me dragging some of it back to the boat – note I am sensibly using a pedestrian crossing.

Speaking to other boaters we realised we were very unlikely to get a mooring spot in the basin.  We didn’t really mind as we knew we could go out and moor on the Avon.  To be honest the number of tourists getting pictures of themselves by boats in the basin would have put us off.  This is us coming into the middle of Stratford.

And here we are going through the basin (there were no spare mooring places).

We headed through the basin and down the lock onto the Avon.  Even though we are used to being watched it was really unnerving as a lot of the gongoozlers were dressed for the theatre (look at the family on the left lock gate beam).

Here I am trying to close one of the top lock gates after Karen had closed hers.

Honestly, I had got it moving before this guy helped me close it completely.

Here we are moored on the River Avon opposite the RSC for the evening.   All in all a more tranquil mooring than in the basin - we could watch the actors resting on the balconies in the interval.