Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Blackpole (getting out of Worcester)

Geraniums growing well in our Moet & Chandon box which Karen lined with plastic before planting

On Tuesday I realised I needed to get out of Worcester and into the open countryside again.  Towns are not the place for dogs and Buddy needs some good runs and I need to be walking out in the countryside again.  So, the plan for the next few days is to head north east to the Droitwich area.

For the longer term (over the next six weeks or so) we plan to be back in Lapworth which is in easy striking distance of Karen’s office.

Route for the next six weeks or so.  Worcester, bottom left.  Birmingham, top.  Warwick & Leamington, right

The red rectangle is where there are 35 locks in under three miles and Mike and Lesley are going to join us in four weeks to do this flight as it is one of their (and our favourites).  In the meantime, I will be moving up and down between the outskirts of Worcester up to the red rectangle.  I will need to move to get water every so often and to keep within the licence limit of no more than two weeks in any one location.

So, on Tuesday Buddy and I set off mid-morning.  By lunchtime we had covered 2 ½ miles and gone up six locks.  Every lock was against us unfortunately but at least I talked a guy into closing the top gates for me at one lock.  He was explaining to his kids how locks work so I nabbed the opportunity for him to show off and explain how it’s too dangerous for children to do lock work 😊

The locks on the Worcester & Birmingham canal are narrow locks and it’s been a couple of months since we’ve been through any so I had almost forgotten how narrow they are.

The first lock of the day – Sidbury lock – not far from the cathedral

On the way out of Worcester we passed all sorts of scenery:

Industrial units…


…Victorian terraced houses…

…what were once, architecturally pleasing buildings, with fancy brickwork…

…and many modern or brand new apartments

It’s the apartments that cause all the parking problems.  There are far more cars in an acre of apartment blocks than in an acre of a housing estate so parking restrictions are put in place.  This makes finding spots for us to park more difficult.

Anyway, back to locks.  This canal has the name of each lock on the lockside and usually the number on a balance beam.

Lock number on balance beam

Name board

I was just about to leave the lock above when I noticed that the next lock didn’t have any bollards for a lock landing so I reversed back and left the boat in the lock and walked up to get the next lock ready.

No lock landing – no good for single handers

The fourth lock of the journey- no Buddy

One railway bridge was interesting as it had a double arch on one of the spans.  The only other time I’ve seen this is on the Shropshire Union canal where a canal bridge looks like this but has a telegraph pole in the top arch.

Railway bridge with a double arch on the left span

A new sandstone milestone had been placed at the appropriate point

I moored above Bilford Top lock which is right next to a sports centre.  It looks a good place for Karen to park and she just has to walk across the lock to get home to the boat.  I checked the car park opening times and they open at 5.30 in the morning so she won’t get locked in overnight.

Our new mooring

It was good to be back on a canal and have a towpath that Buddy can have a run along so we went for a good walk after having lunch.

I noticed that there was a council dump nearby so we walked over there to see if they would take my old engine oil.  They said they would so I managed to clear some space in my engine bay and get rid of some bottles of old oil.

To finish this blog entry here are a few pictures of the boat plants that are beginning to flower:

Tomatoes - still go into the cratch at night though

Chilli plants in the small pots - they still go inside at night too

Our trusty rosemary, chives and thyme which never seem to die from one year to the next

Sweet peas growing like mad but not ready to flower yet

Nasturtiums grown from seed – ready for potting out

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Worcester (welcome visitors for the day)

Bank Holiday Monday started quite bright contrary to the forecast.  Karen had some work to do so Buddy and I went out for the morning.  We had a wander round Worcester and walked to an out of town Waitrose to get some goodies for lunch as Mike and Lesley were visiting for the afternoon.

Our mooring just up from Diglis basin…

…and this is looking the other way up the Worcester & Birmingham canal

The rain started just before Mike and Lesley arrived so they got soaked walking from their car.  We stayed on the boat for the afternoon and had a great time catching up.  They have now ordered their new boat so we were all in our element going through the plans and the spec in great detail.   By coincidence they have picked the same shell builder as we used but are having the fit out carried out by a different builder to ours.  They have also nearly finalised their plans for the house they are going to build on their plot of land in Cropredy but that won’t be ready until after the boat.

Our cruising plan now is to get down to Cropredy in early August in time for the annual Fairport Convention festival.  Most of the bands are folk bands which isn’t really our thing but the atmosphere is brilliant, especially in the fringe festivals held at both of the village pubs.  This means carrying on up this canal practically until Birmingham where we will turn right at Kings Norton onto the Stratford canal.  We will follow that down to Lapworth where we will pick up the Grand Union canal.  We will continue on the GU back through Warwick and Leamington to join the Oxford canal at Napton and then it's south until we hit Cropredy.

As Mike and Lesley’s boat won’t be ready by then, we can use their mooring at the bottom of their garden which is right in the middle of the village.  When we last went to the festival we were moored about a mile away from the village as we arrived too late.  We kayaked in each day which was great fun.  

When Mike and Lesley left, they kindly took us to Evesham to pick up the car that we had left there on Friday.  The rain stopped by the evening and it turned out pleasant enough to sit outside and watch the world and boats go by.

It isn’t much fun for a dog in Worcester so I suspect Buddy and I will be cruising northwards this week to get back into the country.

Part of one of the two basins in Worcester