Tuesday, 23 May 2017

Harvington Mill (yes, we’re now a bit closer to Tewkesbury)



After getting some washing done and topping up with water, Buddy and I set off for a cruise to our next spot on Monday morning.  Karen and I had looked at a couple of likely places at the two locks at Harvington over the weekend, but it seemed she would have to park the car in a private area owned by an angling club.  As she leaves at the crack of dawn and gets home late we decided that it wouldn’t matter as the moorings looked good at either place and it didn’t look like she could be locked in. 

I counted over 30 goslings with this pair of Canada Geese – maybe they’ve fostered or adopted some?

Apart from potential water level issues, the levels go up and down a lot quicker than other rivers we’ve cruised, the other problem with the River Avon is the lack of moorings.  Moorings are only available in limited numbers in towns or at locks.  Mind you it’s been so quiet during our five weeks on the river that we haven’t had a problem finding space to moor; it’s just they’re not very good for continuous cruisers who need access to a car.

It felt like it was going to be quite a hot day and it certainly turned out to be across most of the country.  By the time we got to the first lock Buddy decided to conserve energy rather than follow me round the lock as he normally would whilst I did the gates and paddles.

Buddy not wasting any energy

By the top lock gates, blue tits had nested behind the pilings.  I tried for ages to get a picture of them coming in and out but to no avail.

Nest in the hole under the brown slab to the left of the picture


Two ways of spelling cill at one lock

Now that Karen has nearly potted up all our summer plants I have to make sure I tend them properly as I’m at home all day.  Many are left in the cratch overnight and brought out on warmer days, much as you would do when using a greenhouse when living in bricks and mortar.  

We are particularly keen that we get a good tomato crop this year – the best on the boat was in 2014.  I asked Karen what to do with the plants and her response was, ‘Do whatever you have to do to get them looking like the ones in that nursery we visited at Cleeve Prior’.  That is a tall order I’m afraid as all their plants were in fantastic condition.  Never mind I’ll do my best of course.

Over the weekend, we had passed a couple of park home sites by the river.  Nothing unusual in that apart from the fact that were advertised for the only 50s only.  Poor Karen, it’s the first time she’s been targeted as an older person – she wasn’t happy!

One of the park home sites for those that like a quiet life

A bit further on we reached Cleeve Prior where we had walked on Sunday.  We had come down the steep hill to the river with the intention of following a path back to Bidford.  Unfortunately, the path had been closed so we had to climb back up the hill to find another route.

Cruising past Cleeve Prior

You may remember a picture of Karen walking through a field on Sunday – we weren’t sure what the crop was.  My Dad got in touch and told me they were field beans.  Looking them up on the Farmers’ Weekly website I see they started growing them as a cattle feed crop but are trying to improve the quality so they can use them for the (more lucrative) consumer market.  Apparently, the crop is split 50/50 between human and cattle consumption at present.

After four miles we approached the first of the Harvington locks. It did look peaceful so I decided to moor up and check out access for Karen.

Approaching the first Harvington lock – going past an unprotected weir


Moored up at Harvington Mill lock

There was a track next to our mooring so we went up it to find whether it was possible to get the car down.  When we reached the end, there was a heavily locked gate leading out onto a country lane so things weren’t looking too good.  There was a mobile holiday home in a clearing next to the gate with people having a barbecue in the garden.  They said they were happy to open the gate if they were around but were going home shortly after a long weekend.  They said the best thing to do was to park the car in the lane and Karen could climb through the gate; climbing over wasn’t an option as it was covered in barbed wire.  Apparently, it’s all been put in to keep fishermen out as they had been littering and making a nuisance of themselves down by the lock.


The lane for Karen’s latest walk to work

We did find an alternative route but it involved going across a golf course which could be wet in the mornings and evenings, so probably not such a good idea.

When we got back, Buddy collapsed in the shade as it was so hot and I went to explore the old mill.

Buddy collapsed in the shade out of the heat


The disused mill at Harvington lock

The mill was built in around 1800 and is a grade II listed building.  It does look in rather a sorry state of repair.

The remains of one of the two water wheels; the other wheel looked in better condition but impossible to get a shot of it


The gear wheels for the grinders

The lock where we are moored was built in 1982 as part of the restoration of the River Avon.  Near the mill are the remains of the original lock.  It had been used as a dry dock since the new lock opened but sadly, no longer; the channel to it has badly silted up through constant flooding in the winters.


In the evening, Karen picked me up and we went into Stratford for our Monday evening bridge session with our friends.



Monday, 22 May 2017

Bidford on Avon (I really must move today)


Monday morning mottled cloud reflection on the river




On Thursday, the river was at red all day so we had to stay put but did get a couple of good walks in.  The water meadows in Bidford are very popular with dog walkers so Buddy got lots of exercise running around with different dogs all day.

In the evening Karen caught a train to Edinburgh to have a couple of days with Jo and on Friday I drove down to Reading to see most of my children.  I dropped Buddy off at Lauren’s and then went to pick Jake up from his office in Weybridge and we went for lunch.  Jake’s office is in Brooklands, the old banked race track, at Weybridge which now houses a big technology and retail park as well as the Brooklands museum.  British Aerospace had a factory there for many years and I worked there in the 90s.  I hadn’t been back since so couldn’t believe the changes over 25 years.

Jake had taken half a day so we went back to Reading and took Sophie and Yanos to the museum of rural life which is attached to the university.  These sort of museums always fascinate me and this particular one has an amazing collection of farm carts from different counties around England.  I find it incredible that these artefacts have survived.

Later on Polly, Isaac and Steve joined us all at lauren and Lewis's for dinner and we had a great evening of games (and drinking), staying up to the early hours as we tend to when we all get together.

There weren’t any decent pictures of the weekend save for one with Steve, Sophie and Lauren when we walked into Reading on Saturday to get Lauren kitted up with walking boots.  Karen, Steve, Lauren and I (and Buddy of course) are having a weekend in Snowdonia in three weeks as part of our training for our next three peaks challenge in 2018.

With Steve, Sophie and Lauren

In the afternoon, I drove to Leamington to pick Karen up from her train and we spent the rest of the day pottering around the boat and Bidford.

We were going to move the boat four miles to Haverington on Sunday – this was the next spot where there are moorings.  I had a final check on the mooring and parking situation via Google Earth and OS maps and suddenly realised that the only way to get back to the car (without walking along the Stratford-Evesham main road) was to cross the river via a ford.  I had thought the crossing was a bridge!  It may have been doable a week or so ago but the levels are still up so it wouldn’t have been possible.  We stayed put so I could then move the boat on Monday and Karen could just come home to the new spot after work.

We had a pleasant walk in the afternoon taking in some Worcestershire villages and, as we often do, found a crop that we didn’t recognise.  Well, we recognised it but couldn’t remember what it was.  It was very sweet smelling like perfume.

Can’t remember what this plantis
 


We had another river access issue on our way back on Sunday afternoon.  We had walked to Cleeve Prior and then on down to the river intending to follow a path back to Bidford along the river bank.  We got part way along the river and were then met with a sign that the path had been disbanded via some sort of public order.  So we had to retrace our steps but were entertained by a young dunnock for a while.


Young Dunnock

Here’s hoping that the next blog entry is from somewhere different as we have now been at Bidford on Avon for a week.