Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Back To The River. 21st May

Tibberton to Diglis River Pontoon

We had a choice today, either we could go down six locks and moor where we had a month ago, which would take us around an hour and a half or we could push on and reach Worcester. The later was favoured. By the time we got moving several boats had come past in both directions, quite a few obviously trying to meet a deadline.

P1310832smIt wasn’t far to the top of the Offerton flight of six and as we started to work our way down a boat appeared behind us, as I closed the bottom gates the lock was already being reset. We met two hire boats coming up the flight, neither too confident at working the locks but it did mean that there would now be quite a bit of distance between us and the following boat.

P1310837smP1310843smOn we carried retracing ourselves. The canal gradually getting more urban, the stretch shortly after Offerton is horrible, people have dumped rubbish over their fences, a form of gradual fly tipping!

P1310854smAt Bilford Top Lock I walked down to open the next lock for us, it was half full/empty and a boat was just pulling up. Neither ours nor theirs, I lifted the paddles to empty it. NB Betty D ascended as Oleanna descended above and we swopped in the pound in between, just enough time to compare lock techniques before we were both on our way.

DSCF7545smallP1280377smAfter dropping down Gregory’s Mill Top and Bottom Locks we pulled in for some lunch. Three years ago we’d stopped in the same place before we said goodbye to Bridget and Storm. Back then the towpath was boarded by a building site, now new flats overlook the canal with people living there who don’t seem to mind the odd boat pulling up.

We thought we had timed our arrival into Worcester well, in front of the days batch of hire boats, we could see them all being shown their holiday homes down in the basin. But when we arrived at Blockhouse Lock an ABC boat was waiting to go down. One chap stood by the lock wearing a life jacket, maybe he was from the hire base and was there to show todays hirers how to work the first lock. I checked to see if it was okay to help them down which it was, the life jacket was being worn by one of the crew. The chaps had hired once before, so had been sent out without any help from the hire base, they remembered how to work the lock, but the chap at the helm kept asking his crew if he was clear of the cill by the bottom gates.

At The Commandery the canal was busy. The moorings were just about full with a few git gaps, a boat coming up managed to get the boats to nudge up so that there was just enough room for them. We wanted to fill with water so carried on down hoping there would be space on the river pontoon. Approaching the service block I kept my eyes peeled for signs relating to mooring, we’d been moved on from here last month. Other than those at the actual water point I couldn’t see any mention of time restrictions, I might go back tomorrow and have a better look.

Hose connected, Tilly’s pooh box cleaned and refreshed, all the rubbish gathered and what should happen, the heavens opened. An absolute deluge! I heard the tank say that it was full and decided to brave the downpour to give the port side of Oleanna a brush down to remove the now thick layer of dust, hoping the rain would give her an extra rinse. I’d thought Mick was sheltering at the bins, but he hadn’t made it that far and was hiding under the pram cover.

P1310848smTwenty minutes later, two soggy hire boats had passed, then a single hander all heading for the river. The rain had stopped so we joined the single hander at the two big locks down onto the Severn. Just closing the gates on the bottom lock was the volunteer Lockie we’d seen last time, she came up and helped us through, we were recognised.

The single hander turned right to moor at the racecourse as we turned left. A couple of boats were just pulling in and breasting up on the pontoon, no space for us. I walked down to see if anyone was about to ask if we could breast up, luckily there was and we pulled up alongside NB Grace. A very welcoming chatty couple, we were well into conversation when the heavens opened again and we all immediately ran to our boats and dived into the dry.

DSCF7114sm16 locks, 6.16 miles, 1 left, 1 following, 5 hire boats, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish, 1 port side looking better, 1 clean pooh box, 1 frustrated cat, 1 remote controlled boat, 2 abreast on the pontoon, 4 deluges.

River Levels at 9am today Bewdley Stourport 0.362

Diglis, Worcester 0.597m, 4 inches lower than a month ago

Tewkesbury, Severn 0.466m

Tewkesbury, Avon 2.212m


Monday, 21 May 2018

21,915 Days Old. 20th May

Bridge 32 to Not quite Tibberton

P1310782smBefore getting up this morning there was the very important job of Birthday present giving to be done, this would at last free up space in the drawer under my side of the bed for some of that wool that arrived the other day!

P1310783smCards, badges, wrapping paper, lots of chocolate, some sheepskin slippers from Tilly and a new tablet/mini laptop from me, the boy did well.

P1310788smP1310790smNext breakfast, my version of mushrooms on toast (in a white sauce) with a bit of bacon added and a couple of hash browns, well it was a special day. Just a shame it looked like a 1970’s beige brown breakfast as it was tasty.

We were in no rush to get anywhere today so Tilly had been allowed out first thing, when she returned we’d move on a bit, not far, just somewhere we hoped would be suitable for a barbecue. Whilst we waited we made use of being out in the countryside and emptied the yellow water tank, giving the hedgerows a treat.

P1310792smP1310801smOn through Dunhampstead Tunnel the sign at Forge Studio giving us a much needed weather report!

P1310794smAlong with all the trees having grown green and fat and the abundance of blossom, all the pale dried reeds that border the canal on each side here are now being caught up with this years growth. Exactly a month ago we came along here and the new growth was only about 6 inches high, it’s now 3 foot. A boat held back for us to carry on along the avenue.

Once out of the reeds we were looking for a suitable place to stop, wide towpath, some armco, not too many nettles and not too close to the railway. Just before the last bend to Tibberton looked promising and on second attempt we managed to get close enough to the side to pull in for the day.

The moorings by the pub were empty, but our spot was better, wider and more rural for Tilly.

P1310817smA small lunch, which mostly consisted of birthday cake before we settled down for the afternoon. Mick spent much of his time updating his new tablet and sorting out its settings. Still with an abundance of data it made sense to get everything updated now, although we’re sure Windows will sneak in an extra update just as our monthly allowance returns to normal! With Tilly out and Mick busy with his new toy the boat was very quiet. We may never speak to each other again as we now both have a keyboard each!

P1310818smP1310826smIn the evening we lit the barbecue and enjoyed a full spread. Sweat corn to start, veg kebabs, salmon, marinated steak and chocolate bananas for pudding all washed down with a bottle of Gavi. Unfortunately the fireworks I’d arranged were set off far too early, whilst it was still light so we couldn’t appreciate them!

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 2.47 miles, 1 tunnel, 2 outsides, 1 expensive cardboard box not appreciated, 2 slippers, 2 in 1 tablet thingy, 2 outsides, 8.30pm dingding (they are slacking!), 1 birthday wee tank empty, 1 birthday breakfast, 1 birthday cake, 8 candles (didn’t want to set the alarms off), 1 peacock, 2 persistent cuckoos,  2 cobs of corn, 2 guiding lights, 3 steaks, 4 kebabs, 2 salmon steaks, 2 bananas, 10 chunks of chocolate, 4 rockets, 3 daddy long legs, 3 full tummies, 1 boy now 60!


Sunday, 20 May 2018

Limbo!!! 19th May

Droitwich to ……..

Feeling a little more normal this morning we decided to get stocked up and get ready to finally leave Droitwich. Either direction would mean locks, but so long as we took it steady I was sure my lungs would be able to keep up with us.

IMAG0448 (1)smIMAG0450smWith 5% cash back at Waitrose we decided to head there to stock up for the next few days. In the car park are a few little huts, one called The Little Bread Hut. I’d noticed it last week shortly before it closed  and wanted to see what they had on offer. This morning the shelves were full of wonderful looking loaves and bread buns. Mick got a large wholemeal loaf and we also got a pepper and goats cheese quiche which turned out to be very tasty for our lunch. Well worth a visit, she’s only open a few days a week and closes early afternoon once her stocks have been depleted.

Once everything was stowed away we reversed to the water point. We only filled up yesterday but we wanted to be sitting as low as possible with the hope that we’d be able to get under the M5. The top of the chimney was removed, we were ready.

P1310630smWe waved goodbye to our mooring of the last week and made our way through the park. It being a Saturday there were plenty of pedestrians crossing over the swing bridges. A Mum and daughter stopped to point things out to eat other and watch the boat go past, the only thing was they were stopping the boat from going past because I couldn’t open the bridge with them stood in the middle of it!

P1310632smA chap from a boat moored by the Barge Lock came out and opened up the gates for us. The level was such that the gates at the other end of the lock could also be opened , then with the swing bridge swung out of the way Mick brought Oleanna straight through without stopping. We were now on the River Salwarpe, the level board was a bit hard to read and the lower end of it is very dirty, maybe it was just bordering on green, who could tell, we certainly couldn’t! But the fact that we’d been able to go straight through the lock suggested that the level was in our favour.

P1310633smP1310640smOne lock before the M5 tunnel, the river level board here was below the green. We were now back to narrow locks, my lungs breathed a sign of relief, no horrible big fat gates to move. A boat came into view behind us we warned them that we might need to stop as we weren’t sure we’d get through the tunnel. We might need to remove the horns from the top of the cratch or worse still we might need to reverse, at least they were warned.

P1310645smP1310650smAs you approach the tunnel there is a bridge with a bent gauge hanging from it, we fitted underneath. The water level indicated that there was at least 1.9m head room, we should be fine, no worries. Taking it slowly (which is all you can do) we could see the level dropping slightly towards the far end.

P1310655smP1310660smP1310664smOleanna smiled back at us, there was 4 inches above the horns and with the chimney as low as possible there was 6 inches clearance there. Phew! Glad we waited for the weather to improve and drop the level.

P1310677smInfact the level was really quite low. Trying to drop me off for the next lock took some doing as we listed first to one side and then the other, something under the surface. The next lock has one of it’s gate paddles chained up, this is to stop the lock from being emptied too quickly and raising the level in the pound under the M5. Mick had difficulty getting Oleanna into the lock, either the bottom was too close to the top or there were more things under the surface that shouldn’t have been!

P1310681smWith the boat rising I walked up to the staircase locks and started to empty the bottom chamber, another paddle chained up to restrict water flow, then walked up to the top to top up the chamber above. No hire boats here this time to argue about how to operate the staircase, just the boat following us up who very kindly closed gates for Mick.

P1310687smAnne (Mick’s sister) and Alasdair had stayed last weekend at the marina in their Motorhome. We peered over the hedge wondering if the code for the showers was still the same as last week. Apparently the facilities were all very nice, but for those on the campsite it cost an extra £10 a night to use them, needless to say a lot of showers were taken.

P1310690smP1310695smThe Hanbury flight looked busy with at least one boat going up and plenty of people around each chamber. It turned out that there were four Lockies on duty today making our passage up very easy indeed. These three locks all have side ponds which help to conserve water levels above, so you are encouraged to use them. Emptying the lock involves lifting paddles to empty the lock into the side pond until the level equals (the lock about half empty), these paddles are then closed capturing the water, the bottom gate paddles now lifted to empty the lock completely so that we could bring Oleanna in. Then the water from the side pond is let back into the lock until it equals out, this is shut off again and then the level is topped up from the pound above. With two crew working the lock it doesn’t take that much longer to work up the locks but saves about half the amount of water normally used.

As we left the flight another boat was following us up and another was on their way down, plenty to keep the volunteer Lockies busy.

P1310710smP1310716smReaching Hanbury Junction we turned the steep bend, steeper than normal as work boats were moored on the far side, we then reversed back to moor up for lunch. The bank that had been covered in Primroses a few weeks back had lost it’s yellow covering and everywhere was looking so much greener and fatter. Boats came and went, some turning towards Droitwich, some taking several attempts to turn towards Droitwich, others heading for Worcester others Tardebigge.

P1310724smAt Hanbury Wharf we pulled in for a bottle of gas and a top up of diesel. We’d last filled up on the Gloucester Sharpness and then headed upstream, so comparisons of diesel usage since our new batteries are not as yet possible. We also asked if he had anything that might work on our tainted mushroom. He brought out a bottle of Black Streak Remover and tried a bit. This apparently removes any marks he gets on his boat from burning wood and works wonders. It didn’t do anything to our mushroom though!

P1310740smAfter some chilled medication we pushed on a bit further pulling in shortly after Bridge 32. The hedgerows are creaking under the weight of the hawthorn blossom and the cow parsley is doing it’s best to hold everything up from below. Buttercups glow between the reeds and nettles and Tilly set forth to explore her new surroundings in the afternoon sunshine whilst we watched the highlights of the wedding.


DSCF7114sm8 locks, 2.62 miles, 2 reverses, 1 full water tank, 1 fridge full, 5% off shopping, 1 quiche, 1 bottle of wine, 0 boxes of tissues, 3 swing bridges, 2 straights, 1 right, 2 stooping boaters, 1.9m easy, 0 limbo required, 72 litres diesel, 1 gas, 2 chilled medication, 0 shining that mushroom, 1 slow boat, 4 hours of good friendly cover, 2 cuckoos, 1 noisy fox, 1 simple frock, 1 batch of secret baking, shhhhh!


Saturday, 19 May 2018

Third Time. 18th May


Whilst sitting still we are making the most of the proximity of the water tap and the sun being out. All winter waterproofs and padded clothing have been washed and re-waterproofed and are ready to be vacuum packed to go back under the bed until Autumn. Cleaning things has been put on hold as my nose needs blowing far too often, that mushroom can wait a while longer along with painting the gunnels, sanding back the cratch frame to recoat it and giving a length of grabrail some attention.

P1310601smThey moved the outside a couple of days ago and today, but they didn’t fool me, it was exactly the same one when I got to go out again! That’s the third time they’ve moved the outside to this one, maybe it’s just a big circle and it keeps on going round us. I now know where is good for friends and I’m getting to recognise the local woofers and know which are the noisy ones. Yesterday one stood and shouted at me for ages! Stupid thing, there is no point trying to have a discussion with them, they just shout the same thing over and over and over again! Shouting never got anyone anywhere and it certainly wasn’t going to get me or them any closer.

Mick checked through the TV guide and came across a lunchtime programme that we got hooked on when we wintered in Newark 2015. The Doctor Blake Mysteries, we got to see three series back then and the one currently following Doctors is series 5. Have we missed a whole series? Set in 1950’s, now 1960’s Ballarat Australia, Craig McLachlan, yes him from Neighbours, is a local GP who deals with post-mortems in the area. Mick likes the vintage cars and I like the costumes along with the story lines. We were always a bit surprised with the daytime slot it was given. Already part way through the series we have caught up on the first few episodes trying to use up a bit of our double data allowance.

P1310610smThe weather is lovely, just a shame I really don’t want to be out boating in it. Moving to get water this morning used just about all the energy I could muster. Instead the TV is on and I’m making good progress through the mountain of wool that arrived the other day. I’d been crocheting a large throw and run out of yarn for it, so with new supplies it is well on the way to being completed and is very nicely keeping my lap warm as I add the last few inches.

Here’s hoping my cold disappears before the sun does. We’re also hoping that I don’t pass it on to Mick.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2nd box tissues, 10 strepsils, 2 boxes drugs used up, 5th whole day exploring, 1 shouty shouty deaf woofer not capable of listening to reason, 3rd time, 1 Blackbird so looking forward to us moving on, 5th series, 4 episodes of Yerrs, 40 rows to go.

Friday, 18 May 2018

Shopping For Drugs. 16th 17th May


On Tuesday we spent sometime vaguely working out the rest of the week, where we might be and when. A top up with water, move to nearer the shops, do a big shop, limbo (if we can) under the M5, up the locks, turn right, fill with diesel and then carry on to Worcester (taking a couple of days as we’re in no rush), maybe a couple of days there before heading down the river to ‘I do like a good’ Tewkesbury. If we are too high for the M5 then we would spend much of the first day reversing back to where we were moored to be able to wind and retrace our steps back to the river. I was wanting to try to work out where we might be on Sunday evening and find somewhere for a nice birthday meal for Mick’s 60th or if we’d be able to have a barbeque in a suitable spot.

But all our planning has gone to pot, as on Wednesday I woke with a very sore throat and during the day my nose joined in. The only shopping that was done was to top up on Lemsip and Strepsils. Today the sore throat has moved down to my chest which usually means a couple of days being breathless and snotty. Great!! Yesterday morning nurse Tilly stayed on my toes keeping them warm for several hours, it was a grey day. But today the sun is out and after a couple of extra head nudges first thing she got bored and wanted to be off doing what she’s very good at, being a thug in the park.

P1310600smThe washing machine can keep busy as we are near a water point and the weather is perfect for drying. We’ll need to top up before leaving anyway to make sure we are sitting as low as possible in the water for our attempt at limboing.

Thank you Steve for your suggestion of using Miracle Brass-Brite on our stubborn mushroom. Sadly we ran out of our supply whilst preparing NB Lillyanne for sale last year and as we don’t have brass we hadn’t thought of buying more. We’ll see if the next chandlers has any. Duncan has also suggested trying Coke. I’ll try soaking a cloth in it and leaving it on the mushroom for a while as removing the top part to be able to soak it would be very tricksy. The mushroom does however look like the chrome coating has somehow been stripped off on the majority of it. I’ll carry on trying things.

0 locks, 0 miles, 0.5 boxes tissues, 5 lemsips, 3 lots of cold drugs, 1 weeks planning out the side hatch, 1 photo for two days, 1 more sad gits meal, 4 strepsils and counting.

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Silent S**t Fan. 15th May


P1310571smToday Vines park was getting a spruce up by the council. A large grass cutter was toing and froing around trees and kicking up a bit of dust as it went, good job I’d left washing the cabin sides for another day. The park does look well kept, very neat and tidy. Just a shame that the chaps with the strimmers aren’t quite aware of what happens when strimmer meets grit on a tow path near to boats! We managed to get his attention after three bits of grit hit the cabin side. There is so much dust laying on the surface it’s hard to see if there is any damage, I’ll have a better look when she gets a wash and try to touch up any damage.

With the sun still out I decided to have another go at the mushroom, but sadly nothing seems to work. Maybe that one vent wasn’t chromed properly, or it’s just a reaction. Should we want to change it in future it will take a bit of doing as access to the nut holding it in position is inside the vent pipe from our toilet, so some jiggery pockery will have to be done to gain access. It will stay tarnished for now though.

P1310565smP1310574smOur tunnel light has been looking very rusty for sometime. I’d successfully given it a good clean a while ago but it was far more stubborn today. Yesterdays research on cleaning chrome had come up with a good suggestion which made the job a whole lot easier. Foil and vinegar. With a scrunched up ball of foil and a drop or two of vinegar you can gradually rub off the rust, rinsing off with water and it was silver again. Don’t think it will last long though before the rust returns, so some WD40 might be applied to see if that works.

P1310577smI took a wander up to the post office to see if my yarn order had arrived. I’d considered doing a bit of food shopping on the way, but was very glad I’d left that for later as there was a large box waiting to be picked up!

P1310591smWhen we first got our Separett Villa composting toilet we were warned by various people that the fan they come with would only last a year. Bridget and Storm on NB Blackbird had found this to be so, so carry a spare. Our fan has been a little bit noisy since day one and Mick was keen to try to find a quieter replacement. A few years ago he bought me, for my birthday (I’m such a lucky girl!), a quiet power supply for my computer from a company who specialise in quiet PC solutions, so he bought two of their computer fans which we received via Eastbourne at the weekend.

P1310596smP1310597smBecause we are a 24volt boat, we have a 24 to 12 volt dc convertor, which means that the 12 volt is regulated, always at 12 volts. On a 12 volt boat unless you have a 12 to 12 volt stabiliser the voltage can fluctuate. The fans that come with our toilet don’t like fluctuations and therefore they give up after about a year. We’re not sure how much longer our original fan would have lasted us, but today as the pooh bucket was due a change Mick decided to see how quiet one of the new fans would be. I did get him to check which way round it was mounted after remembering that Jaq on NB Valerie had had difficulty when she changed her fan last. So far the verdict is a lot quieter, not totally silent, but it certainly won’t bother us overnight like the old one did.

P1310344smP1310347smP1310586smAnother parcel received at the weekend was my prize from Charlie and Ivy’s. Four very beautifully wrapped up jars of their mayonnaise. We’ve already tried some of the Ale and Mustard with some cheese on toast and that was very yummy, looking forward to tasting the others, but we’ll have to restrict ourselves to one jar at a time.

A trip later in the day to Waitrose to see what was available in the sad gits section for our evening meal, means that we have a lot of broccoli and green beans to eat. I think a slightly odd stir fry is in order and then I’d best get crocheting and work my way through all that yarn!

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 possible chips, 0 brown sauce, 1 foil ball, 1 shining lamp, 7 balls of yarn, 2.8kgs! 2 quiet fans, £5.50 each, 49p beans, 29p broccoli with plenty left over for tomorrow, 4 jars mayonnaise, 1 pooped cat again.