Thursday, 31 May 2018

Loitering At The Market. 30th May


P1330012smOur spies up river on NB Grace informed us that the river was still in the red today. An Avon Navigation Trust chap, whom they’d seen yesterday, had arrived this morning with some milk for them. Well they do boast that they are ‘Your Friendly Local Navigation’. Even though we could get to Evesham we wouldn’t be guaranteed to be able to find a mooring as boats were likely to be waiting there for the levels to drop. So we decided to stay put in Pershore for another day.

P1330022smIt being a Wednesday the Market would be open today. All manor of stalls fill this indoor market. A vast tool shop, pet shop, clothes, wool, fruit and veg, haberdashery, a butchers with some of the longest joints of pork I’ve ever seen, furniture, sweets, books, all housed under fake roofs as if you were in an old street. I suspect not many people bother looking upwards!


P1330014smWe spotted various bundles of asparagus and made sure we bought some to have with our Kiwi Pie this evening. A couple of other bits and bobs were bought including a cheap rivet gun. We then had a wander up into town to buy some money.

P1330032smP1330026smThere were still signs of the carnival all over the place, most of it a little deflated now. The Thai Restaurant was still displaying it’s second place window which was very good, sadly we couldn’t find the one that came first.

P1330024smP1330027smIf you ever need any hardware whilst in Pershore Browns is the place to head. All sorts and at the rear of the shop a huge garden section that stretches almost down to the river.

P1330030smNumber 8 is a cinema, gallery and theatre. Due to it being half term they were only showing Peter Rabbit in the mornings and we’d already missed the showing today. Instead we headed back to Oleanna with the intention of watching some more Dr Blake and maybe a couple of episodes of Breaking Bad. But my inbox contained an email that needed some attention. I’d had a request to be in London tomorrow to chat about some possible work.

Pershore has a station and is on the direct line into London Paddington. So much of the afternoon was taken up with sorting out times, trying to buy a ticket to pick up at a station without a ticket machine, aborting this, checking which card I’ve registered to use on TFL and then being staggered at how far the station is from the centre of Pershore, 1.6 miles. We did however manage to find time for just one episode of Dr Blake.

Upstream the river was still in the red , a few boats had come and gone near NB Grace during the day, including a few hire boats who’d turned round to head downstream. Hope they made it alright. My trip to London tomorrow will hopefully give the river enough time to sort itself out and then we can be on our way again.

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 red warnings still in operation, 1 boat going nowhere, £6.99 rivet gun, £1.80 asparagus bunch, 1 lucky money machine, 0 ways to the river, 2 many gardens in the way, 1am Peter Rabbit showing! 20 hours notice, 0 tickets booked, 2 boaters with smelly wee, 7am alarm.

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Red Ahead. 29th May


Mick’s cold seemed to have resurfaced this morning, so a fresh supply of drugs was called for. Over breakfast we decided to stay put for another day hoping that he’d feel better tomorrow. Instead of cruising we’d restock with supplies from the handy Asda across the field. As the morning progressed most boats around us went on their way, NB Pilgrim waved as they pushed off and headed upstream.

P1320591smAfter a restock we pottered away the rest of the day. I busied myself with listing my new items on Etsy and contacting a few people regarding some possible work later in the year.

Mick decided to have a look at the bow thruster. Since using it at Nafford Lock the other day it hasn’t sounded like the battery has been charging, the engine tone usually changes when you press the numpty button and this hasn’t been happening. To get to the bow thruster at the moment it means removing the anchor and chain that sit on top of the locker in the floor of the well deck. He then checked the voltage on the bow thruster batteries whilst the engine was running, this should have read 27.something, but was only 25.something. He then delved into the engine bay where the charging fuse for the bow thruster is located and tested that, it was blown as was thought. This is the second time this fuse has blown, the first time being very early days as we picked her up in Sheffield.

P1320877smAt the moment the bow thruster works, but gradually the charge in the batteries will fall. Mick hunted round for new fuses on the internet, the original one hadn’t needed to be a Vetus fuse as it is only used to charge the batteries via a split charge relay. Hopefully they will arrive in the next day or so.

Just after lunch our inbox had an Avon Navigation Notice appear in it.


DATE OF ISSUE                29/05/2018 13:28
LOCATION                         Marlcliff to Barton Reach

Due to adverse weather conditions the Navigation between Marlcliff and Barton is currently in a state of RED. Moor up at a flood safe mooring until levels return to normal. The moorings at Marlcliff lock are full. Further updates will be issued, or call the incident number below.
DURATION: Until further notice

Then an hour later another one arrived. This time it was affecting a reach down stream of the previous one. The river was now closed at Evesham about 4 hours upstream from us.

We checked gaugemaps and waited for the levels to rise here in Pershore. Posts on various facebook groups started to appear with boats backing up at one lock, stuck because of the river going into the red. NB Grace who had headed off yesterday morning was also stuck, moored up, within sight of a pub, it was just inaccessible due to no bridge over the weir. Wonder how far NB Pilgrim managed to get? Glad we’d stayed put.

P1320888smWith fewer people in the park Tilly was happier about going out. There was a lot of stalking to do, not just ducks but also pigeons today. A good vantage point high up in the tree next to us was found, the only downside was it didn’t have the quickest of routes down.

All afternoon we kept an eye on the levels by the boat. This reach is strange, the level has fluctuated by 4 inches since we’ve been here. By the end of the afternoon it appeared to have dropped, not gone up, but the flow was considerably quicker with ducks positively zooming past.

DSCF7121sm0 locks, 0 miles, 0.5 box of tissues used, 2 more bought, 1 shopping trip, 0 wine but 2 boxes of cold remedy, 1 excellent vantage point, 7 ducks, 2 pigeons, 1 screaming child, 25.something, 1 blown fuse, 2 reaches in the red, 3 new items in the shop, 6 more inches of crochet, 1 turned down, 1 still waiting.

River Levels at 9am today on the rise, levels higher upstream

Pershore, 3.345m, 5am last reading

Evesham, 0.886m

Stratford, 0.844m

Warwick, 1.567m

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Carnival. 28th May


P1320716smI woke to a couple of messages from people who’d seen the amount of water that had fallen in Birmingham last night, they were concerned for us, I suspect not having posted my usual daily Facebook photo hadn’t helped. Checking the levels along the Avon suggested that the months rain Birmingham had in an hour was heading another way and not , as yet, towards us.

P1320722smP1320731smAfter breakfast we all walked up into Pershore to have a look round. Along Bridge Street and Broad Street there are numerous Georgian houses, high and handsome lining the main streets through town. Many wonderful doorways, alleyways, and balconies. We walked almost to the bridge where a toll house still stands with a long list of tolls.

P1320707smIt was now time to say goodbye to Siobhan and Rachael, their next destination Oxford. It was so lovely having them to stay, we’ve already booked Siobhan in same time next year, although she doesn’t know this yet!

P1320746smToday was Pershore Carnival, it’s 50th anniversary.

P1320750smP1320752smP1320753smProceedings had kicked off at 10am up in Abbey Park. We were surprised at how much there was. A Farmers market, asparagus, bread, cakes, jams, pickles, sausages, pies and a fantastic cheese stall. All looked very yummy so we made sure we walked round all the stalls before returning to make purchases. If there had been samples on the cheese stall we’d have been tempted, but only one was familiar ‘The Best Cheese in the World’. This has very thin veins of black truffle through it. We can vouch that it is lovely having had a very small piece from the deli in Yelvertoft a couple of years ago. As much as the smell was wonderful, we resisted.

P1320808smHowever next door was a pie stall. Mick jumped at a Pork Pie and we also got a Kiwi Pie to have later in the week, mince and cheddar, so we kind of got some cheese anyway. The asparagus looked good, but as we were eating out tonight we held back from this also, hopefully we’ll find some in the next couple of days.

P1320793smP1320796smAs the Park sits round the Abbey we went inside to have a look. Another building with quite a lot missing. Built between 1090 and 1130 the heart of the building is Norman, only the south transept and tower piers remain. The original choir was victim to fires and in 1540 during the reformation the Ladys Chapel, Norman Nave  along with other monastic buildings were destroyed and the materials sold off. In the 1860’s Gilbert Scott was consulted and much work to the building was done including much of the present stained glass. Plans on a board suggest that they are hoping to install an organ in the future, although nothing confirmed this in writing.

P1320755smP1320763smBack outside a fun fair sat at the far end with the usual travelling rides. A Rock Choir sang their hearts out and show dogs wore boots to keep their front paws clean before the judging. Steam engines and Motorbikes.

P1320757smP1320785smNumerous Tombolas on charity stalls, home made ball games and a group of Oakley’s friends. Food stands with curries, pancakes, hog roasts allsorts. The whole thing was far bigger than we’d imagined and reminded me of fetes from my childhood, just the marquees with fruit and veg on display missing.

Time was getting on and people were starting to line the streets waiting for the Parade. We made our way back towards the river and found where the floats were waiting and then found a good vantage point to watch from.

P1320817smP1320820smOnce confirmation had been given that the road blocks were in place the thumbs up was given to the Town Crier who hoped we all had deep pockets so that we could give generously. The Fire Brigade led the parade out followed by a pipe band.

P1320831smP1320854smSeveral floats created on the back of wagons represented local schools and groups. A gardening themed one had Monty Don on board, but my favourite was the golden bow clad Pershore Youth Centre, they’d even persuaded the tractor driver to wear a gold sequinned top.

P1320824smP1320843smA very good drumming group upstaged most of the music from the floats and under the fabric canopy of a carriage sat the Princesses and a Price of the carnival.

We returned to the boat, missing out on much music, dog shows, etc up in Abbey Park.

Late afternoon we were joined by our friends Christine and her husband Mick. A guided tour of Oleanna was given to Mick before we climbed in their car and were driven the half hour to their house in Malvern. Our route took us along parts of the Avon, then across the Severn at Upton. One boat was moored on the steps but due to the high walls of the bridge the pontoons were out of view. We gradually got closer to the Malvern Hills that have been in our periphery vision for months now.

P1320870smChristine and Mick have a lovely house and garden (Camera mended, the shutter needed holding for longer to get the timer and flash to work!). We enjoyed a lovely evening in their company eating and drinking before they very kindly gave us a lift back to Pershore where the end of the Carnival was being celebrated with a 15 minute firework display.

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 long Georgian street, 2 goodbyes til next year, 1 fair filled park, 50 years, 2 long bat the rats, 2 pies, 0 asparagus, 0 cheese, 2 bands, 1 fire engine, 1 asparagus, 1 carrot, 6 floats, 1 town crier, 2 car journeys, 3 glasses of wine, 1 yummy meal (Thank you Christine), 1 lovely evening, 15 minutes fireworks, 0 duck guests today.

River Levels at 9am today on the rise, but not sharpley

Pershore, 3.421m

Evesham, 0.914m

Stratford, 0.727m

Warwick, 1.294m

Monday, 28 May 2018

A Fowl Visitor. 27th May

Comberton Quays to Pershore Recreation Ground

P1320633smLong rumbles of thunder had woken us several times through the night and the amount of rain falling on the roof over our heads made such a din. The masses of fairies outside were now drowned and pushed into the weave of our cratch cover. What a mess, the roof wasn’t much better.

A mooring like this should be savoured and fully explored, a couple of days and I would have found the best vantage points in the trees to find friends. But this morning they decided otherwise. Why is it that outsides like Chester stay put for ages and ages, yet here I only got a few hours? They didn’t even let me outside to say my goodbyes!

P1320635smMick had managed to get Waterways Routes loaded onto his old tablet and with it fully charged up we had it sat out the back as we cruised our way up to Pershore. If we can somehow bring a cable from the 12volt socket on the Nicholson’s shelf at the stern without it fowling in the rear doors we will have a solution to keeping the tablet going on a long days cruise. Today it only had to last an hour and a half, which the battery coped with.

P1320657smIt was another grey start to the day and thunder didn’t feel far away as we curved our way along. Passing the next two moorings we were very glad we’d stopped where we had last night, both had roads alongside them. Houses peeked their roofs at us from high above, each with vast gardens coming down to the waters edge. A small £1,275,000 will get you one of these houses with great views, just not  much character.

P1320669smAs we neared the two bridges of Pershore  we could see a group of Paddleboarders heading down stream towards us. Slowing right down we waited for them all to positon themselves out of the way between the bridges. As we engaged gear again two more appeared around the bend, luckily the last two.

P1320679smPershore Lock was open and waiting for us, a cruiser having just arrived above. At 9ft deep I couldn’t reach the bow rope so Mick had to pass it up for me to secure to a bollard. The cruiser had a crew of nine, they all stood around and watched as I shifted the first of the heavy bottom gates before they offered to help. All roped up I could now open the ground paddle. This is situated well to the side of the lock and not knowing how powerful the water would be I wound it a bit then went to check. All was okay, paddle wound more, another check, fine, more, it went on forever! The crew of the cruiser helped wind up the gate paddles once they were covered just as rumbles of thunder reverberated around us. Thank goodness we wouldn’t be going much further today.

P1320683smWe stopped to fill with water, emptied the yellow water tank and rinsed the roof off before pulling forward onto the Recreation Park Moorings. There was plenty of space, so we picked a length without too many overhanging trees, hoping for a quieter night than last night.

A tidy up and a de-fairy was needed, we had thousands of them under the dinette, before our guests arrived.

P1320694smThis outside had potential, trees, plenty of grass to run around on. A shame it had too many people! The strange thing was some of them knew my name and they weren’t even close enough to read my cat tag. I kept my distance as Tom and she talked to them. They sounded interesting so I stayed close taking advantage of the pram cover to earwig the conversation. But little of it made any sense to me, Benefactor, Stephen Joseph Theatre In The Round.

NB Pilgrim  was moored behind us, Barbara and Malcolm happen to read the blog so they just had to come to meet with Tilly. As we chatted Malcolm said that he had once appeared on stage at the SJT back in the 60’s, the early days of the Theatre in the Round in Scarborough under the helm of Stephen Joseph and in a room above the library. Amateur in the Round theatre festivals were held from 1960 until the 80’s. In 1965 Stephen Joseph felt he had no backing from the Library or Council so at the end of the summer he closed the doors believing that was the end. Ken Boden a local amateur proposed an amateur season for 1966 ending with the In The Round Festival. The season went ahead and may well have saved the theatre from being closed for ever. Was Malcolm part of the festival that kept the doors open in the summer of 1966 and meant that some thirty years later there was a position as Design Assistant available for me? Here’s a link to The Theatre In The Round site with all the history of the company.

Late afternoon our guests arrived. Siobhan and Rachael her daughter. A year ago Siobhan was one of our first visitors on Oleanna when we were in Paddington Basin. This is now her third visit to us which is impressive as her home address is Newcastle, Australia. Siobhan is an old friend of Mick’s and spends a few weeks each year visiting the UK. This time she and Rachel were staying the night, they were very excited about this.

More chatting going on inside. I had far more important things to do outside. DUCKS!!!

They couldn’t see me crouching at the back of the boat. With my short legged walk I rounded the corner onto the catwalk, slow as slow could be, my bell muffled. They sat there waiting for white bread. I got closer and closer ever so slowy. Then grasped my moment and POUNCED!!

The result of a cat pouncing at a group of Mallards is that the Mallards take the nearest, quickest route of escape. One such route was in through our side hatch! Siobhan and Rachael had a face full of Mallard. He hadn’t been invited to tea! Mick and I did our best to usher him towards a door, none of our windows being able to open enough for him to escape quickly. After a full guided tour he decided that he’d prefer to exit by the stern doors and got himself back to the safety of the river. He actually seemed quite cool about it as he drifted off downstream.

P1320698smWe decided to risk having a barbeque commandeering the bench next to Oleanna. A lovely evening which could have been a touch brighter, but at least the thunder storms stayed away as we ate, drank and chatted the evening away. We retired inside after the chocolate bananas had been eaten and as convection fog was gathering on the fields downstream.

P1320700smP1320704sm1 lock, 4.2 miles, 9 on a cruiser, 3 paddles, 2 admirers, 1 boat fairy free, 15 mins to shop, 2 Antipodean/Irish visitors, 1 pounce, 1 fowl visitor, 2 much food, 4 bananas, 2 bottles of wine, 1 dry evening.

River Levels at 9am today

Pershore, 3.294m

Evesham, 0.76m

Stratford, 0.756m

Warwick, 1.304m

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Fairy Flurry. 26th May

Tewkesbury, I do like a good… to Comberton Quays

P1320333smSome shopping was needed first thing and with the Saturday market in the car park behind Tescos we headed there first. Lots of fruit, veg and plants on offer. Sadly all the asparagus was from Portugal, we used to be spoilt with picked that day asparagus from the Balloon Tree near York back in the day when we had a car, you can really tell the difference. Only a couple of things picked up from the market, one being a new tape measure as our retractable one gave up when the chaps from Finesse were with us. Some more supplies from Tescos including this weeks newspaper and we headed back to the boat.

P1320343smP1320345smThis morning we’d checked the river levels and yesterdays rise at Warwick was making it’s way downstream towards us, our side hatch was very easy to open as the river here had just reached amber. We decided that maybe we should try to cover as much ground as we could as we are meeting friends on Sunday and Monday and if the river came up any more our progress upstream would be affected. With more rain forecast we need to be on the cautious side.

P1320337smWe stowed our shopping and made ready. The lock was busy, a constant flow of narrowboats and cruisers wanting to come or go down. As we started to pull our ropes out from the rings on the flood safe poles the people from the boat behind appeared. They were wanting to jump into our space as they preferred it there. Just as we pulled off I realised why I recognised the boat, we’d headed into Liverpool with them (NB Tranquillity) last summer. So many boats now seem familiar to us, are there really 30,000 on the network?

P1320352smA beep on the horn and we were clear to go under King John’s Bridge, popping out to the view of large pontoons and the marina.

P1320384smThe wind was in our faces, grey mist covered the landscape, such a shame as the river banks are low so there were views out there somewhere.

P1320402smP1320408smThe moorings at The Fleet were full, space for a couple of cruisers on the paid for moorings. A boat following us pulled in at the Ferry mooring leaving us to continue up stream on our own. On past The Severn Sailing club. Here yachts were taking advantage of the wind and zooming down stream, one set off and zipped right across the river then tacked making it’s way upstream. Under a giant pig arc a full blown hog roast was turning on a spit gradually cooking over large logs, it looked like it would be very tasty.

P1320418smP1320423smSoon the sight of the frothy waters from the weirs at Strensham came into view, the second one doing it’s best to push us off to the side, but with extra umph we pushed on towards the lock. We’ve bought a River Avon guide which has lock landings amongst other things marked. The first landing was short and hard to get into because of the flow from a sluice close by, the second more sheltered from the fast flowing water, but quite short for us. A cruiser was just finishing going up and a narrowboat came into view, so we tied up. I sorted my bow rope for ease of access onto the roof, from here I should be able to pick it up with the handle of my windlass as long as the locks aren’t too deep.

The narrowboat coming down was 70ft, getting on for another 3ft with all their fenders down. They were travelling with another similar length boat and had had to descend the last few locks backwards, reversing in. This gives you that bit more space with the curve of the bow sitting over the cil. When we first had Lillian we came down the Salter Hebble locks and had to do the top two backwards as we couldn’t open the bottom gates to get out. The currents and wind today were such that they were going to try to go forwards first. Short locks mean one boat at a time to be able to use the diagonal, fenders lifted and then slowly does it. No lifting the gate paddles straight up, instead easy does it keeping an eye on the stern at all times, should anything happen you need to be able to close the paddle quickly to stop the boat from getting cilled. They hoped that with the river being high this would afford them a few more inches above the cil. Gradually the water was let out and gradually the boat dropped still afloat when the levels equalled out. It took quite a bit to get their bow past the bottom gate but in the end it worked.

P1320424smOur turn next. In we came and tied fore and aft. The crew on the other boat said the paddles were so fierce that even with two boats in a lock they were biffed around when they had headed upstream. So we lifted the paddle on the opposite side a bit first and then maybe a bit too much. Our bow line by now needed tightening and I’d turned it three times round the bollard so the lady holding it couldn’t pull it in. With assistance we got Oleanna back to the lock side and under control again. Our first River Avon Lock  done, plenty more to come.

P1320440smBy now the sun had burnt it’s way through the mist and cloud and we could start to remove our outer layers. At Elkington Bridge we held back as a cruiser was coming downstream.  On a river you have more control going upstream, being able to stop where as they would just keep coming. The red sandstone bridge hole was quite small and the force of the water meant keeping a central line, but the height gauges informed us that we’d have plenty of space.

The river now winds and curls round the landscape, the banks filled with cow parsley and rape seed yellow. Earlier we’d wished for sun and now we had it and the views that came with it. What a pretty river.

Nafford Lock was soon with us and the open bottom gates welcomed us in (unlike on canals here you leave the gates open when you leave). I hopped off to work the lock, the bow rope on the roof working well, so far. Gates closed, three turns around the bollard with the bow line and I gradually opened up the paddles on the top gate, only lifting them fully when the turbulence abated.

P1320484smThe exit to this lock is very steep, a 90 degree turn straight away with weirs to the left and right pulling the water around you. We paused so that I could close the swing bridge, then I hopped on. Our perfect positioning now gone array as we ended up too far to port to get the bow over, even using the bow thruster didn’t work. Only one thing for it, back into the lock as far as we could on the starboard side and then give it some wellie to get the stern round and the bow clear of the weir boom. It worked, but obviously hadn’t for someone in the past.

P1320493smP1320495smP1320509smP1320511smOur Avon guide showed three lots of moorings in the next reach, so did Waterways Routes, so we decided to stop at the first one that was free. The Avon guide maps are not to scale so what looked like a short journey to Comberton Quay turned out to be more like 2 miles. This of course would have been evident on Waterways Routes, but at the moment we don’t have the means to view it at the helm. We are working on this and hope to be able to use Mick’s old tablet, now redundant, solely for this once we’ve worked out how to get power to it as the battery life isn’t so good.

P1320542smThe flood safe mooring marked with blue poles was empty and looked perfect in the afternoon sunshine, a greener version of Bramble Cuttings on the Trent and Mersey.

P1320528smPerfect! Too bloomin’ right!!! Trees, friendly cover, sideways trees, gates and signs, and if you looked hard enough holes to put your arms down. Three hours was not going to be anywhere near long enough.

P1320600smHere was a good location in the sun to take some photos of my latest makes for my Etsy shop, I just need some time to list them now.

P1320607smAs the evening progressed the air filled with seeds from the willows, fairies floating by on the gentle breeze. The surface of the river was covered, our food fluffy and where ever you looked inside the boat there was a layer of them that would waft up to drift back down again. It’s going to take quite a bit to get rid of them all.

Comberton QuayDSCF7117sm2 locks, 10.16 miles, 0 asparagus, 1st class stamps, 1 straight, 2 tight bridges, 70ft boat squeeze, 2 ropes, 2 swing bridges, 2nd attempt at exit, 1 bad baaber, 1 fantastic super doper mooring, 1 stamp of approval, 4 woofers though, 3 more wooly makes for the shop, 6443738252335378362432325672 fairies, 554747838622325 in the boat.

River Levels at 9am today

Tewkesbury, Avon 2.38m

Pershore, 3.444m

Evesham, 0.905m

Stratford, 0.731m

Warwick, 1.295m