Monday, 30 April 2018

Stripy Crew. 28th April

Frampton to Splatt Swing Bridge

P1290252smP1290256smWith very full tummies we all slept well last night. Once the dinette was swapped back from being a bed Mick started on cooking us breakfast. This had been requested by Duncan with some unsubtle hints before they arrived, so we’d shopped accordingly. A bigger and better spread than normal was brought out from the galley, we even had hash browns! This set us all up for the day especially Duncan.

P1290259smOnce the plates were empty we had one last Stripy Crew photo before they stepped ashore and we waved them goodbye. It was nice to have met you both, from my position high up in a tree I waved goodbye too, before dashing back to get warm again.

P1290262smWith Tilly home we could head off in search of our Saturday newspaper. In the village of Frampton there is a shop that we hoped would oblige so we set off, leaving it any later would risk them having run out.

P1290265smP1290268smCrossing over the swing bridge we passed an industrial area. Cadburys built a factory making chocolate crumb here in 1917 which remained open until 1982. Some of this is now a flour mill and other units have smaller businesses, one of which I’d like to visit on our way back End Of Line Fabrics. There’s a fairly standard approach to the village along the road, nothing out of the ordinary. But then as you come round the side of The Bell Inn you are faced with a huge village green, carrying on almost as far as the eye can see. Across on the other side are large grand houses surrounded by trees. Wow what a village.

P1290269smP1290270smThe Green Shop looks a bit like a small cricket pavillion. A little dig through the newspapers and we found what we were looking for. They stock some veg and local produce, a bit like a farm shop, just not quite the stock. There has been a Post Office here, but the service has been suspended.

P1290273smP1290294smWe decided to see what the rest of the village looked like along the green. A selection of large houses ranging in dates fills the village, all very pleasing to the eye.

P1290276smOne jumped out to me and said buy me! Even though it wasn’t for sale. With a large garden, fruit trees and a house which looked like it was seeping character it had to be mine. I’ll just have to start saving now!

P1290284smP1290287smThe green carries on with not one but several ponds, swans sitting on nests, another pub boasting it’s Camera credentials. On a notice board I spotted a poster for a show by theatre company Bad Apple, run by an old colleague of mine, Kate Bramley from my early Hull Truck days. Amy Johnson will be on at the Village Hall on the 9th May. Very sadly we’ll need to be up river by then and we’ll miss it, but if you happen to be nearby I’m sure it will be worth a visit.

P1290306smP1290308smA small cottage is up for sale, 2 bedrooms and a modern kitchen could be yours for £350,000. It looks nice but I’m going to save up for the other one in the village Smile.

P1290315smA gateway opens out to a field with an avenue of Chestnut trees, this drew us along and back towards the canal away from the village. We’d seen enough to make us want to return to see more, a circular walk taking in all the highlights will be on the agenda when we return.

P1290324smP1290328smBack at the canal we waited for a boat to go through a bridge before we could cross to the towpath to walk back to Oleanna. Along the next stretch there was plenty of mooring possibilities with views over towards the Severn, so we decided to move up. Here would have been a perfect spot for a barbeque should the weather have been 15 degrees higher! We pushed off, came through one bridge , winded and then moored up right next to a big gap in the trees.

P1290340smA mooring with a view, well if you had a double decker boat! Even after trimming the nettles down the bank was so high we could only just see the tops of the hills on the far bank of the Severn when stood on tippy toes.

DSCF7114sm0 locks, 1.19 miles, 1 bridge swung, 1 wind, 1 not so tall tall ship, 1 guided tour, 3 full English breakfasts, 1 bowl cereal, 6 hash browns, 0.5 of a bag in the freezer, 1 blog reader reading the blog on board in bed, 1 newspaper, 0 Post Office, 1 beautiful village, 1 house, 1 mooring for two storey boats, 1 trampoline needed, 2 outsides, 0 bunnies today.

Severn River level at 9am today (at Bewdley a mile upstream from Stourport) 0.931m,
level at Diglis, Worcester at 9am today N/A,
level at Gloucester Docks at 9am today 0.908m (the tides will start to affect the level again).

Sunday, 29 April 2018

Extra Crew For A Night. 27th April

Frampton On Severn
P1290202smWhat a shame it rained for most of the day. We had guests coming and if the weather had been like last week we’d have planned a barbeque, but instead we lit the stove!
Much of the day I spent preparing some food  whilst Mick had a tidy around, refreshed the bucket in the toilet and Tilly had another hunt round for Bunnies.
P1290237smJaye and Duncan are old friends from Scarborough and had been visiting family in Monmouth, just 15 miles away as the crow flies, only another 25 miles by road to get over the Severn. Duncan has been reading our blog from the day it started back in June 2014 when we left Crick Marina on Lillian, so it’s only taken them four years to actually come and visit us!
We’d sent them details of where they might park. There’s a Pay and Display by the cafe at Saul Junction or what looked like a very handy layby on a bend up near the next bridge, they of course chose the free option. Many hours of conversation were to be had and it was an opportunity for them to meet Tilly for the first time, although she was a little bit reluctant. Well there were bunnies to make friends with!
By mid afternoon the rain seemed to have stopped so we decided to have a bit of a walk back towards the junction and then see where the mood took us. Two C&RT chaps were testing Saul Junction Swing Bridge and it’s warning sirens, but sadly they didn’t swing it.
P1290211smFirst we walked down one side of the disused canal and then after one slightly boggy field realised that we were on the wrong side of it so had to retrace our squelching steps. Back on the correct path we had the canal on our left and the River Frome on the other for much of the way to the Severn.
P1290218smThe Stroudwater Canal had a long winded start. First thought of in the late 17th Century to transport coal to Stroud where woollen goods were made in the mills. The finished cloth would then be transported back along the canal to the Severn and on to market. An act of Parliament was passed in 1730 although there was a lot of opposition from mill owners worried that the water used to power their mills would be stolen for use in the locks. 5 miles of river improvements were done by 1761, but the works were proving to be too costly so the scheme was abandoned. A new act of Parliament was passed in 1776 for a plan that avoided much of the river and therefore the mills. Works were finally completed and the canal opened in 1779.
P1290231smAt Framilode there was a tidal lock, with differing gates to accommodate different tides. By 1794 a basin was built above the lock so that boats could wait for a suitable tide before entering the Severn. A horse drawn towpath was finally added in 1827 boats had been bow hauled prior to this. As ever it was the railways that brought about the decline of the canal and by 1922 any dividends from the canal had ceased along with the canal getting blocked at Framilode which severed the link to the Severn, leaving this end of the canal unused.
P1290219smMuch of the canal now is still full of water, but over grown creating more of a linear pond. The Ship Inn stands looking very attractive with it’s outdoor seating canal side. They are closed during the afternoon, open for lunch and in the evenings, so sadly we couldn’t sample their ales. Past the line of cottages we joined the road meeting the Severn more or less where the tidal lock once was.
P1290224smThe views down the river were wonderful, just a shame some people got in the way!
P1290234smTo help our feet dry out we returned to Oleanna via the road seeing some rather interesting houses on the way.
P1290238smP1290244smIn the evening we enjoyed a very large Salmon en Croute (there are left overs thank goodness) followed by a Bakewell Tart all washed down with some bubbles, more wine and lots of conversation.
P1290241sm0 locks, 0 miles, 1 pooh bucket, 0 guided tour! 2 balls of wool delivered, 1 dead canal, 8 soggy feet, 1 pub not open, 2 bowls of nibbles, 1 en croute big enough to feed the 5000! 1 bakewell, 1 bottle (yes I did say bottle) of white, 1 bottle of red, 1 bottle of bubbles, 1st overnight visitors to a fully finished Oleanna, Duncan had to be a first visitor of somesort!
Severn River level at 9am today (at Bewdley a mile upstream from Stourport) 1.08m,
level at Diglis, Worcester at 9am today 0.83m,
level at Gloucester Docks at 9am today 0.953m (the tides will start to affect the level again).

**Duncan, did this arrive at a different time? Also can you try replying to the email, we've changed some settings on the emailed blog.**

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Bungalows With Aspirations, 26th April

Llanthony Bridge to Frampton On Severn
P1290031smThe wind seems to like Gloucester! It doesn’t seem to have stopped since we got here.
Not letting it put us off we pushed over to the services this morning to top up with water, dispose of rubbish and empty the yellow water tank as the out let would be on the right side making it easy to do. As always when Mick is holding onto the hose a lady stopped to chat to him. Luckily she was at a distance so most probably had no idea what he was doing, we were pumping out our urine from the tank under our composting toilet into another container to take to the elsan. We can be in the middle of nowhere and still someone comes by and stands to have a chat!
Then we pushed off again, reversing a distance before we winded, Mick remembered we had a bow thruster which made the manoeuvre much easier in the wind. On to Sainsburys to do a big shop. Having studied the map for the canal there seem to be few shops down towards Sharpness, so we wanted to make sure we’d not go hungry.
By the time we’d filled a trolley and stowed everything on board we needed some lunch before setting off proper.
P1290036smBoats came by and as we made our way to Hempsted Bridge we felt sorry for the Keeper. I wonder if this is the busiest bridge on the canal, it is all manual including the barriers which have a rope hanging from them so you can pull them down. The chap appeared and closed the barriers maybe only just having opened them, then a jump onto the handle to get the bridge turning. Apparently when it’s windy it is a right pain to close. We thanked him and carried on our way only to spot another boat coming towards us just as the bridge closed.
P1290042smP1290047smWe carried on under the next two bridges, Sim’s Bridge having a new coat of paint applied. About a mile further on we pulled in to a mooring shortly before Sellars Swing Bridge.
P1290070smWe were looking for somewhere with some parking and bins. Here on google earth looked like it would fit the bill, but a closer look revealed that work was being carried out on the bridge so the bins are suspended for the next couple of weeks. Also any parking spaces were very full. We decided to carry on and see what we’d find further on.
P1290076smFrom here on all the swing bridges are low and have to be swung. Bridge Keepers cottages sit along side, not much more than bungalows, but with aspirations with their pillars and pediments. The views now opened out, hills to our right and left, fields of yellowing rape seed jollying the world along.
P1290112smNearing Saul Junction the moored boats increased in number. On the off side a collection of sheds seemed tacked together by windows, with more waiting for the next extension to be created.
P1290140smP1290149smAt the junction there is a lock which leads to just a short pool of water where the Stroudwater Canal used to head off to connect with the Severn at Frimilode. Heading south east from the junction is a short arm all that remains currently of the Stroudwater which, once it connected to the Thames and Severn Canal, used to head all the way to the Thames. Parts of the canal are still in water but when the M5 and A38 were built this severed the canal.
P1290137smP1290164smSaul Junction and Sandfield Swing Bridges opened up for us as we approached, not a bridge keeper in sight. Certainly one of these is operated remotely, high above the bridges are cameras. We’ve been wondering why these bridges have to have Keepers. The ones with lower headroom may be wider than those on the Leeds Liverpool Canal, but there they are all boater operated, either with a key of power or just manual pushing. Is it because the bigger boats and ships would have difficulty in setting someone ashore to operate the bridges? A couple of years ago there was a trial of an app at Saul. Once downloaded this could be used to operate the bridge as you approached, thus no one having to be set ashore and disposed of the need for a bridge keeper. However this was shelved as there was the potential for people to sit in the cafe by the bridge and play with the app, opening and closing the bridge as they fancied, watching what chaos followed.
P1290179smHere we were surrounded by rubbish bins (not literally, but bins at every bridge) and checking on google earth we spotted several parking possibilities for visitors, so we pulled up on the end of a Visitor Mooring before the next bridge. This would do us. It certainly would! Tasty shaggy grass, side ways trees, trees and bunny holes. Paul this M needs a bunny hole symbol.paw print map
DSCF7114smblack paw0 locks, 8.12 miles, 1 wind, 4 moorings, 1 box wine, 1 bottle bubbles, 2 huge pieces of salmon, 1 dog in a cat flap, 1 galleon, 5 ducked bridges, 4 swung bridges, 1 Tilly bunny hole stamp of approval.
Severn River level at 9am today (at Bewdley a mile upstream from Stourport) 1.234m,
level at Diglis, Worcester at 9am today 0.825m,
level at Gloucester Docks at 9am today 0.886m.

Friday, 27 April 2018

Eyes And Etsy. 25th April


When will these early mornings stop! Today Mick needed to be on his first train at 7:46am, this would take him to Birmingham. Second train to Crewe, Third to Chester, Fourth to Bache from where he had a 5 minute walk to the Countess Of Chester Hospital where he had an appointment at midday.

Way back when we had our eyes tested in Chester, Mick mentioned to the optician that sometimes his eyes feel bruised. His father had glaucoma which can be hereditary so Mick gets a free eye test each year. He had the usual pressure test, but because of his comment the optician wanted him to have further tests which Boots couldn’t do, so he was referred to the hospital. They hoped he’d be able to be seen within a couple of weeks, therefore we’d still be around. Eventually he got a call saying that as it wasn’t an emergency his appointment was likely to be in 16 weeks. Well we weren’t going to be hanging around Chester for that long! In the end his appointment came through with an 11 week wait. Already having left Chester we decided to carry on with our plans for the beginning of the year.

Tilly and I stirred ourselves to wave him goodbye and wish him luck, hoping that the tests he was going to have wouldn’t pop his eyes or anything like that. It being a sunny morning we got on with things.

red lock smToday I was finally going to open my Etsy shop to see if I can sell a few of the things I’ve been making of late. I’d already got the process going a few weeks ago, but had wanted to take some good photos which I did last week. So with Mick out of the way for the day I sat down and concentrated, in between Tilly twanging the bolts on the back door wanting to go out! It took a long time to get things listed and I think I still need to do a bit of tweaking but the majority of it was done by mid afternoon. RedLockMakes

The weather outside had changed from sunny to very strong wind and sideways rain at times, so I lit the stove. Boats had been moving this morning and by the time the sun came out again the pontoon was full, NB Henry Thomas moored up behind us.

As the sun was out and I’d got bored of trying to promote my shop on social media, I decided to head out for a bit of an explore before Mick returned home.

P1290006smI headed over towards the Cathedral walking through the dock buildings. The National Waterways Museum is here. Our entrance tickets to the museum at Ellesmere Port will give us free access, but it is currently closed. Hopefully it will reopen at the beginning of May so that we can visit before we need to head back up to Droitwich.

P1290009smNarrow streets open up onto Westgate a shopping street and then behind here stands the Cathedral. With hardly a cloud in the sky it looked very magisterial the pale sandstone shining out. Details around the windows looked like intricate icing on a wedding cake. When we return this way we’ll be going to have a look inside. I found an interesting wool shop which sadly had just closed before I got there and around the corner was The Tailor Of Gloucester shop.

P1290026smgloucester smBack in 1998 when I was assisting Roger Glossop, designer for the premier stage production of Brassed Off, he was also in the process of working on refurbishing the shop that Beatrix Potter had used in her illustrations for The Tailor of Gloucester. In his workshop stood large models of mice all painstakingly created for the tailors shop. In 2001 the shop opened which was owned by Frederick Warne and Co, publishers of Beatrix Potter. So I was interested to have a look. When I reached the outside it was fairly obvious that things had changed, a plastic model in the window was not of the same calibre of the mice i’d seen being made. They were about to close, so a look around inside will have to wait, but I suspect it’s nowhere  near as magical as it had been.

P1290019smI wondered up to meet Mick from his eighth train of the day to hear how his day had gone. He’d had a periphery vision test done amongst other things. When he got to see the consultant, he had a very very close look in his eyes and suggested that some photos were needed for which Mick needed to have some eye drops. Whilst these were taking effect, stinging all the time, he waited. Then he was called back in to be told that they wouldn’t be able to take the photos and the main chap didn’t now think that they were necessary as he couldn’t see anything wrong. All that stinging for nothing. If his eyes hurt again in future he is being sent a letter to show an optician to enable him to have a pressure test done.

It was a long way to go to find out nothing was wrong, but worth it. He’d also retraced much of our journey over this year as the trains followed the canals. He went over the Wolverhampton 21, saw Venetian Marina, Beeston Iron Lock and Castle, Bournville, Edgbaston Tunnel, Astwood Locks and got to wave at NB Blackbird.

0 locks, 0 miles, 7:46am, 8 trains, 1 etsy shop, 8 pairs socks, 13 items, 3 nearly 4 tests, 0 photos, 1 clockwork orange moment, 2 eye balls still intact.

Severn River level at 9am today (at Bewdley a mile upstream from Stourport) 0.802m,

level at Diglis, Worcester at 9am today 0.735m,

level at Gloucester Docks at 9am today 0.814m.