Friday 31 March 2023

Back to the boat

We travelled across from home this morning but continuous rain made loading the car a bit tedious. It was just after 10:30 by the time we left.

A diversion to Currys PC World in Swindon was added to the itinerary - just for a small item which would not have been with making the journey on its own. Christine also wanted to call at Boots on the same estate for a similar reason.

Spray, speed restrictions and poor driving by one or two lorry drivers meant that we were not at the marina until 1 o'clock, not as relaxed as we might hope. Unloading the car and setting up the boat also had to be done in rain.

It was quite late in the afternoon before we managed to get into town for the planned food shop - easier than stowing into the car and a day fresher - it would have come from Morrisons in either case. 

The reported conditions on the Severn do not look favourable but we will wait and see in the morning, b ut at least we are on our way!

Friday 10 March 2023

Back to Marina

Today's Canals - Worcester and Birmingham, Droitwich

We awoke to flurries of snow but by the time we were ready to leave that had faded away, leaving just a chilling breeze. As forecast, a few blue patches arrived though not always with sunshine. They gradually increased in frequency and much of the afternoon was quite bright but we never lost the cold.

We had moored at Sixways, right at the bottom of the Offerton flight so immediately we had a set of six locks to negotiate. At least we had four of them set in our favour. Since we have seen no moving boats we assume that those that were full was just because of leakage at the top.

Just over an hour later we arrived at the top. The next pound is comparatively long and it was just on 1 o'clock when we turned at Hanbury Junction onto the Droitwich.

Along the way we passed a set of largely empty moorings right at one end is a sign (sorry,  camera it no good!) that simply says Waterside Moorings. OK, so at the other end (not visible when passing this sign) is a larger one that explains that only those with a mooring contract can stay here. I may be a bit picky but it does seem to me that the new boater, or hirer, is unlikely to know what Waterside Moorings are - surely all of them are waterside? It does feel that the fetish for new branding has caused someone to lose sight of the simple fact that signs are meant to be understood!

We had originally planned to return home today but it was by now too late to do that with ease so another night here, on hook-up.

And we did pass one boat on the move! This was the first since 10:30 on Monday morning!

After turning at Hanbury we moored up for lunch just before the locks, in sight of our home mooring. When we set off once more it was just to go down the three locks. As they are unusually deep and even more unusually have working side ponds that we are asked to use, they do take a little longer than 'ordinary' narrow locks.

We turned in to the marina, stopped briefly at the service mooring to empty the elsan before making our way across to our berth. The wind was light and we made the normally difficult reverse in without hassle. No-one was watching, alas . . .

5.2 Miles - 9 Locks

Thursday 9 March 2023


Today's Canal - Worcester and Birmingham

We awoke to falling snow. It was persistent but light and rather slushy so did not gather into drifts. More significantly, it was accompanied by strong, very cold, winds.

We put off leaving until almost 10:30, by which time the precipitation had turned into rain. It stayed that way until lunch time.

We came up five locks to above Bilford pair where we moored up, opposite the leisure centre and playing fields. By that time we were very cold and wet through - at least Mike was, especially as the rain turned rather heavy in the time it took to tie up. It took quite a bit of effort to change into dry clothes, make some effort to dry off the worst and eventually to warm through.

Early afternoon the rain stopped and although the promised sunny intervals did not appear we set off to complete our planned route to the bottom of the Offerton flight. When it is dry, we can dress up to keep adequately warm and when we moored alongside the rugby training ground we were not as chilled to the marrow as at lunch time. The fire was lit as quickly as possible!

Mike received an email which meant that the pressure to get back to the marina by late lunchtime was lifted so we have options for tomorrow. Under better weather conditions, it would not be difficult to do that but the forecast is no better than for today. To be continued . . .

4.3 Miles - 7 Locks

Wednesday 8 March 2023

The Commandery

Today's Canal - Worcester and Birmingham

When we awoke we found that the promised (threatened?) snow/sleet had well and truly arrived although not in sufficient quantity to settle.

Before we set off, Mike popped across to Asda for a few items. As he crossed the footbridge over the canal he spotted three supermarket trolleys in the water. We did not notice them yesterday - they are not easy to miss- so he reported them at the Asda customer service desk. Both the lass on duty and a maintenance/security person she summoned for help, made it clear that they could not do anything  about. H&S reigns supreme. However, they did acknowledge that Asda, if not them individually, did have a responsibility and they would endeavour to ensure something happens. We shall see! They did accept that if a boater sued the company for damage to a boat they might find it more expensive than doing something.

By about 10.30 we wrapped up well and set off (well Mike did, leaving Christine snug inside until the first lock!) On the way down to the lock, we passed a CaRT gang braving the elements to continue laying bricks as part of on-going towpath improvement. Why only a short section is laid to bricks whilst all the rest is tarmac was not obvious. Since they were not laying any mortar and it was not vehicle bearing they were content to crack on.

We dropped down both locks - the second one only had a single bottom paddle operational but that is also subject to a stoppage notice for it to be fixed later in the month.

At the moorings in Diglis we turned the boat around. There is not a lot of room at the best of times and all was going well until we were nearly around. But then a strong blast of snowy wind arrived and almost sent us into the boats to one side. Luckily we just avoided a collision and came into the service mooring. 

We were surprised to see that the whole length from Bridge 3 to the basin has been marked '2 hours only' - even right in front of Blue Signs stating that some places are for water point only - 30 mins max! It would be interesting to know what evidence of the need for this has been put forward and whether, as in Birmingham, there has been any consultation. From our observations, admittedly mostly not in the high season, it has not appeared to be a problem and today we had the entire length to ourselves!

The tap was rather slow - welcome today as it gave a chance for fingers to thaw out. We could have gone just a very short distance to 2 day moorings the other side of the bridge but felt that it might be a bit noisy next to a main road. So we popped up the first lock to the next 2 day  mooring (with bollards) alongside the Commandery, noticeably quieter and, again, all to ourselves. After lunch the precipitation continued - the forecast is for it to stay with us off and on all day and into tomorrow so we had no difficulty in reaching a decision - to stay put.

0.8 Mile - 3 Locks

Tuesday 7 March 2023

Worcester Shrub Hill

Today's Canal - Worcester and Birmingham

Despite the forecast being rather dire, the day turned out reasonably pleasant. There was a chilling breeze at times but by the afternoon we had both blue sky and an attempt to drop sleet/snow/hail - which came to very little, not even enough to decide which is was!

We were off in slightly better time today and soon made our way to the first of three pairs of locks - Tolladine. Just as the lock was ready, Christine waved at Mike to tell him there was an urgent phone call which took nearly 45 minutes to deal with as well as follow-up.

The next five locks followed smoothly even though almost all of them were set against us. After a bit  of discussion we opted to moor up at the George Street bridge, close to Shrub Hill. This is probably the best place for shops as either today or tomorrow we wanted to do a little shopping in the city centre.

We had lunch and then set off to see what the shops had to offer. The main objective was shoes and slippers. Altogether we bought from three different shops - one independent, one Clarks and the other Pavers!

By the time we returned to the boat there was not really time to go further so water and elsan will have to wait until morning.

We did manage to find a very old mobile phone at the back of a cupboard and charged it up to see what it could do as a substitute for our normal picture taker. Alas the results were not great. The first shows just after we set off - but probably most phones would struggle in this light. 

Soon after, whilst trying to take a shot of the work on the new towpath (aka fast cycleway) we realised that all was far from well so that is it for today!

After we returned to the boat Mike spent rather longer than anticipated trying tackle a rather irritating problem - the  rear hatch cover had become very difficult to bolt securely. We think that either it or the cabin door frame has distorted just ever so slightly, perhaps less than 1 mm - the doors fit tighter as well. Not a lot that we can do about that but we did manage to adjust the hatch and bolt holes so that it can be closed, albeit with still a little care.

4.0 Miles - 6 Locks

Monday 6 March 2023


Canals - Droitwich, Worcester and Birmingham

The first item on our 'shakedown' discoveries is that we left behind both a camera (actually an old smartphone) and some of the Waterway Routes folders (hence no photos with this blog). We also should have sorted out a replacement hanging fender which we lost just before we came to the end of last year's cruising. Oh, and we forgot to print out our new licence cards! Boat, however, seems to be OK even if the crew are a little wonkier than last season . . .

We did not cast off from our pontoon until just after 10:30 and, on leaving the marina, we turned right to ascend the three Hanbury locks. Midway, we passed a b oat coming down - the only moving boat all day. We forgot to ask but then hoped that they were headed for the marina as the canal is still closed just beyond. When we reached the junction we did notice that there was a warning sign clearly posted.

No volunteers on today so it was all diy. These locks are quite deep but, even with the side ponds to operate, not too difficult. The top side pond was actually empty - perhaps the boat coming down had emptied it as the pound below was rather low and Christine had quite a task to persuade the boat to make it into the lock.

We turned right at Hanbury junction, heading south towards Worcester. During the next long level pound, Christine set about making soup for lunch. We stopped on our favourite mooring opposite Oddingley Church.

After refreshment we set off once again with a short run to the top of the six lock Offerton flight. Although the first lock was full, the rest were a random mixture with three of them empty and with bottom gates open.

It was almost four o'clock when we left the bottom lock - it would have been another two locks and some distance to the next known mooring so we came to a halt for the night just after Sixways Stadium. We are  not sure what is happening to the ground after the collapse of the Worcester Warriors team who leased the site for their games.

Despite the weather warnings, it was not an impossible day - warmer than we anticipated but with a chilling wind when not sheltered. the sky was permanently overcast and just occasionally some light dampness in the air. But at least we made a good start to the season, taking into account our limitations! good to be on the move once more.

5.5 Miles - 9 Locks

Sunday 5 March 2023

Time for a Shakedown

Still in the marina

Time for our annual checkout of the boat with a short 'shakedown' cruise, this time to Worcester. We might have thought about doing the ring via Worcester  and the Severn but the Droitwich Canal is still closed just below the marina whilst the silt brought down Body Brook in the winter rains had reduced the navigable depth to a non-navigable level. It is projected that it should be open in time for Easter but it is not clear whether we can go that way when we set off for our annual trip.

When we lived in Cornwall we could really only visit the boat over Christmas and New Year and all too often when we came to the first outing, something would be a problem. However, this year we have been over twice, the second only a couple of weeks ago. So we were hopeful that all would be well - at least the heating is working properly. We will see about the propulsion system tomorrow as we have only had a short trip across the marina since the end of last autumn's cruising.

This time, when we have been telling people about the trip we say that it is more  about testing out the crew! How quickly will we shake off the stiffness gained during the winter?

We came over after lunch and the journey was remarkably free of delays. The works at the Air Balloon roundabout have not yet started in earnest. As far as we can discover, only preparatory work will happen until much later in the year. We did see one small road closure however.

0 Miles - 0 Locks