Tuesday 19 February 2019

Droitwich and Back

Today's Canal - Droitwich

The weather was again surprisingly mild and a largely sunny day had been forecast (wrong again!) As a result we decided to take the boat - and ourselves - for a short day cruise, down to Droitwich and back again.

In any case, we needed to cruise the length of the marina as we were getting rather low on diesel - if we had been cruising we would have been becoming somewhat agitated about finding a supply but our only need since the start of November has been for heating purposes. On the other hand, we have been aboard several times including the long Christmas - New Year break. We cast off just after 10 - the marina office does not open until then but when we could see the service mooring we could see that someone else had beaten us to it so we had to hover for a while whilst he completed all of his re-supply. Turned out that he too lives in Cornwall, up near the Devon border close to Gunnislake and has a share in a boat that is currently based here.

Once we were re-fuelled we set off down to the staircase pair. Whilst we soon found that we had not forgotten how to operate a boat and the locks, we were both somewhat stiffer after the winter confinement than we would have liked! We need the exercise (or new muscles and joints, whatever . . .)

The river levels were right on their normal level so no problem passing through the M5 Tunnel even though the headroom is always rather tight.

On through the last narrow lock to the Barge Lock which is the first of the wide beam canal. It largely functions as a flood lock and although we had to open and close both sets of gates, there was no need to open any paddles. To compensate on effort, there is a swing bridge across the middle of the lock and there is no choice but to open it.

We continued on past the Netherwich moorings and under the two railway bridges. Shortly after we came to the last marked winding hole before the long run down to the Severn. Hence a turn here was pretty much a necessity today.

We came back to the moorings. Although the visitor moorings, normally 48 hour limit to staying,
are currently offered as a Winter Mooring, they were all completely empty. We were a little surprised as they are close to the town for shops and transport as well as water (although no elsan). Perhaps the pricing was too high?

Time then for lunch after which Mike popped to Morrisons for a few items, including rolls for lunch on our journey into London tomorrow.

The cruise back was marginally easier as the locks - which had been against us on the way down - were all now set in our favour. Surprisingly we found several places where we scraped the bottom and between locks 5 and 6, Christine actually ran aground and we lost some time freeing the boat from the mud.

Once we had ascended the staircase it was only a couple of minutes before we turned into the marina and back to our designated pontoon. At least on the way down, Mike was able to find moments when in the locks to prepare the chilli con carne mixture for tonight's meal so there was not as much left to do.

3.4 Miles - 10 Locks

Monday 18 February 2019

Another short visit

We drove up from Cornwall yesterday, leaving home, after church, by 12.30, quicker than we had anticipated. The traffic was mostly very light and, with a quick comfort break at Sedgemoor, we turned into the marina  few minutes after 4 o'clock. The boat engine had had its annual service on Friday so we came this way - on route to London for Wednesday - in case anything needing sorting out. Fortunately, the report was all 'Good'. No need to cook as we brought it already prepared om Saturday at home.

Today we opted to go by train into Worcester - Christine wanted to track down a new lighter-weight jacket: it now almost feels as if spring has arrived. If ;last year repeats itself (do they ever?) then we will see a period of snow and ice yet to come!

It is only 9 minutes on the train from Droitwich with around three services an hour in the non rush hour part of the day. We had been led to believe by the weather forecast that the day would be dry with some sunshine in the afternoon. Alas, they failed to spot the incoming rain clouds although it was never more than a light shower but enough to deter Mike from sitting outside every shop that Christine visited (he did at most!)

Christine had a clear idea about what she wanted but it was, sadly, not shared by the shopkeepers! The second shop was Laura Ashley and something almost suited but it needed thinking about so we continued from one place to another, nothing even beginning to match the specification.

It proved a tiring experience as Christine declared, as lunch time approached, that she fancied something tasty. We had not seen anything specially attractive until we spotted the Chinese buffet restaurant close to the cathedral, in the same block as the Travelodge hotel. We had been here once before, about a year ago and so we abandoned the plan for a main meal tonight and instead took full advantage of the wide range of dishes and bits and pieces that were on offer. At £8.95 for lunch it is good value and very tasty.

Once we had reached the point where we could not take any more (LTRU!) we wandered back up the shopping streets, finding more disappointment in further shops. Finally, Christine returned to Laura Ashley and after trying on a couple of options finally decided that one of them would be OK!

After that we made our way to the station - we had just missed one train so it was almost 20 minutes to the next one. Once on board it was just a short trip back to Droitwich, walk to the car park and a quick drive to the marina. We definitely needed only a snack for a evening meal!