Tuesday, 25 November 2008

Quick Visit

We had a quick visit to the boat on Saturday last, as part of a general tour! On Friday, Mike had a meeting at Winchester but Christine was especially keen to visit Andrew and to stay in his new house at Devizes. On Saturday we had been booked on grandparent duties, although in the event we only had to look after Alice for the day whilst Joanna went on an OU conference in London.

This gave us the excuse firstly to 'go shopping' - which Alice enjoys - and then to visit the boat. In Maplin we acquired a GPS receiver for the laptop (alas, we subsequently discovered that the laptop does not have the bluetooth connection which we understood it to have when we bought it last year, but that is easily remedied we hope. At least we were able to check out its operation on Andrew's newer laptop). However, the salesman put us off buying the camping sattellite dish so that matter is still under investigation.

At Lower Heyford we had a most enjoyable lunch in Kizzie's - Alice on best form - before inspecting the work so far done on the lighting. We spent some time comparing different LED bulbs - as well as putting back the curtians which we had taken away at the end of the last trip for cleaning.

The lighting remains unclear (!): for the bedrooms, the LEDs should provide sufficient light but in the main cabin something else will be required. The background is that we were having considcerable difficulties with the cabin services power supply with the batteries losing power before an evening was out. Even the radio ran out of steam(!) David Dare's analysis, confirmed by investigations, is that the batteries are being charged OK and will retain their voltage when everything known is turned off (ie there is no unknown drain on the battery) However, the total wattage of the lights. combined with the stand-by and other items, such as the fridge, is excessive and probably beyond the capacity of the batteries to sustain over a long winter evening. We have thus turned to seeking more efficient lighting solutions as they ceiling halogen spots (at least nine in the main cabin) are the worst offenders.

We have ordered a battery remote monitoring system to be fitted as this should give us a better means of working out just what is going on, but meanwhile we will need to make some interim decisions about lights.

In addition, we discovered last trip that the heat from the halogens had caused their supply wiring and connectors to deteriorate to a dnagerous state (at least we looked at three, all the same) The boatyard have established that the same is true throughout so work will have to be done to rectify that problem)

We continue to work on an improved IT solution. Trevanion House is about to experiment with mobile broadband and we will do likewise if that works out OK. The aim is to have:

* GPS receiver attached via bluetooth to laptop to integrate with our own software

* IPAQ PDA for use whilst steering etc to record log info (times and locations etc)

* Wireless access point to connect IPAQ to PC

* PC with mobile broadband for better access to email and also allow on-board look up of Waterscape, Google Maps/Earth etc, without having to wait for a pub with wi-fi)

Last year we used the IPAQ (one was lost in the breakin and the other refuses to display on screen but we bought another second hand on Ebay for £41 plus postage) but only had a very simple logging system, based on sync'ing files between PC and Ipaq - text files with the times manually typed in on the Ipaq. The obstacle to doing something even a little better has been that the Windows Mobile Excel and Word only have a function to insert the date and not the time (as in the full PC versions) Writing a small application for the Ipaq is stymied by the fact that Visual Studio Express no longer supports Mobile development - and we are too mean to shell out for a full version of VS!

A possible line of development - which so far has fallen down with limited skills on setting up the appropriate network comms and web site management - might be to provide a web interface to the PC and its canal database and GPS feed. All the separate ideas are in place but the most difficult bit is to link them all together at the same time!

Still, if it all ever works it should make life just that bit more interesting.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Rest of Trip

26th October

With Alice still on board and keen to 'do some locks' we set off with a rendezvous confirmed for mid day at Nells Bridge Lock. There was a surprising amount of traffic about for this time of year, although it is half term week, despite being after the end of Summer Time.

Only five minutes late we arrived as planned and picked up Ellie as we progressed through the lock! Having arrived from an over night stay with her dad (although her mum brought her to meet us) she managed to arrive without trainers and just her light shoes!

With a much earlier sunset now, we pressed on and were please how well Alice remembered how locks are worked. Ellie had several sessions at steering, including a tricky section around Aynho: first a narrow former lift bridge abutment, then the moored boats at Aynho Wharf which were moored leaving only just enough room by the road bridge.

We arrived at Allens Lock - the intended meeting point for Adrian and Joanna to collect the two girls before setting off for their holiday in France on the overnight ferry. Alice opted to go for a walk with Grandad to check out where the car would arrive. She reported back to Ellie and Granny (and later to her Mum and Dad!) that it had been a great walk because she had been able to jump in all the puddles and tread through the mud!

Well after dark a call on the mobile phone revealed that the new arrivals had walked past the boat on the opposite bank without seeing the bridge! Ellie and Grandad went on a rescue mission. It seems that plans based on paths shown on Google did not take into account that the towpath was the other side and that this towpathwas rather muddy! Still, all was eventually resolved and the family set off in a heavily laden car for the ferry.

Alas no pictures for today - looking after a boat and two youngsters took up all our attention!

27th October

We quickly completed the last short run back to Lower Heyford where we parked the boat on its permanent mooring for the winter. The rest of the day was allocated to sorting out ready to leave it and completing one or two maintenance tasks. This involved a break for a trip up to Banbury for a few items.

We were still washing down the outside of the boat as darkness fell. Fortunately it had been a bright, and reasonably warm, day but fast becoming chilly as night fell. At least we built a better fire in the stove this time!

28th October

Final unloading of all that needs to go home and a quick clean through and we thought we almost ready to leave just before 10 am. Only the services to close down and the water tank to empty. Little did we know that it takes an hour to empty out a tank even one which had not been re-filled for a couple of days! Just after 11 we set off, with regrest that it will be well into the new year before we can cruise once more. Perhaps we will stay overnight on a visit to Oxford at some stage.

Whilst still at Lower Heyford, it had been a bright and quite warm morning, after an overnight frost but after about an hour into our return trip heavy rain began to fall and it was definitely klaet autumn and early winter feel!

Saturday, 25 October 2008

Alice and Banbury

We awoke after a good night's sleep to a much sharper morning, even though it was still dry. We needed to wrap up well for the first part of the morning - Mike decided that he needed a muffler as his face was the only part not well insulated! We made good progress down to Cropredy where we planned to fill up with water and dispose of rubbish. Alas, just as we arrived, one of the residential boats started to fill up and so it was over an hour before we could set off once more. Meanwhile, Christine and Alice had been to the Bridge Shop to buy some much needed milk so that at least we could have coffee whilst we waited.

It was mid day when we continued with our journey into Banbury and, having snacked, we decided to put off lunch proper until we arrived in the town. Alice discovered a good spot to sit on the boat roof to watch the passing scenery!

We tied up beside the shopping centre and had our sandwiches but time was pressing on and we wanted to do a little shopping including finding a butcher to supply our roast dinner tonight. Christine spotted a scarf for Mike in the RSPCA shop - at the indecent price of £1!Alice picked out a delicious doughnut in M&S to have for tea, so no doubt there will be little demand for dinner until much later! Despite our best efforts to ingore it, Alice did not miss the small roundabout on the quayside and insisted on a ride - she only came away very reluctantly! We also spotted Poppy, the boat we hired last year for our six week cruise.

We tried to obtain a replacement water pump from Tooley's Boatyard but, although they were able to tell us exactly what we needed, they did not have anything in stock!

Finally, after passing through Banbury Lock, with help from some local toddlers whose parents were pleased to photograph them pushing at the lock gate, we moored for the night just outside the town. Efforts to bring one of the kitchen lights back to life revealed that the wiring in the ceiling (at least to that light and the one repaired last night) is in poor condition and will need replacing - probably sooner rather than later.
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Friday, 24 October 2008

Alice Joins Us

We awoke to a bright, sunny day once more, with almost no wind - quite a change from the night before. The first part of the day was to cruise along the long summit pound. This section still follows the original contour route, not having benefitted from the straightening which modernised the northern part of the Oxford canal. For most of the summit pound the tall radio mast near Wormleighton is visible but, as the canal meanders, sometimes to the left and then a few minutes later on the other side.

By mid-day we arrived at Fenny Marine only to discover that they were closed for lunch. Nevertheless, we wanted to look for several items, including a possible replacement for the main water pump which has been leaking ever since we set off, so we waited for them to re-open. Alas, we failed to sort out a new pump (they did not have anyone who could advise on which one was appropriate) nor the fuses! The couple of items we did pick up could well have waited until Banbury!

We continued through the long cutting that was once Fenny Compton tunnel and arrived at Claydon top lock on schedule. We were aiming to meet Alice, along with Joanna and Jessica, at 2.30 at the bridge by the middle lock. Both boat and car arrived at the same time!

After the lock we moored for tea, crumpets, cake and a chat whilst Alice reminded herself of where everything is on the boat. After tea we completed the Claydon locks, with Alice confidently helping Grandad with emptying and filling the lock and opening the gates, including crossing over the top gates.

Below the locks, Joanna and Jessica bade farewell and we continued on with Alice who is staying a couple of nights. There was not really enough time to get through the next three locks so we quickly found a good mooring in the bight sunshine which were able to enjoy until the sun set and the temperature quickly fell. Alice helped to clean part of the boat, fetching the mop from the other end of the roof.
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(Uploaded next morning as no signal where we moored)
Despite everyone telling us how bad thge weather forecast was for the day, it stayed dry until after we had moored for the night. On the other hand, it was especially windy, making close navigation - such as in and out of locks - much more dificult. At least it was interesting!
We set off mid morning and worked through the three Calcutt locks. As we approached Napton Junction, the wind coming across the various open marinas was even stronger. Although we largely managed to keep out of trouble, some hire boats were struggling.

At Napton Junction we turned right onto the Oxford Canal - Christine made it in a single turn despite the wind, but a rather pompous crew in the boat which had asked to share Calcutt locks with us founbd it less straightforward.

At Naptom bottom lock we filled with water, bought milk from a nearby shop and emptied the toilet. We were then ready to make our way up the locks. Back to narrow locks now so rather less effort. After six locks a slightly longer pound and definitely time for lunch. At least our schedule allows for lazy breaks and early stops!

As we came up the next lock a moored boat hurriedly took off just as we were ready to exit. As they approached the next lock we watched as one of the crew slipped off the side as she rushed to get the boat ready to enter the lock. Her husband was emtying the lock and initially did not hear her shouts - we could - so we sounded our horn to attract his attention. Even when he realised what had happened it was not easy to come to the rescue as by now the boat had blown across to the wrong side. Eventually he managed to bring his wife alongside the towpath, hanging on to the centreline! She was definitely embarrassed and, from talking to them after we entered the lock, rather more frightened than she wanted to let on!

At the top lock, the crew from a boat waiting to come down, asked Christine how the lock worked - they had just bought the boat from Fenny Marine and this was their first lock ever! In this wind, let us hope that their experience does not put them off altogether. At least they were keen to ask questions and learn what to do. We eventually moored up for the night a little further along the summit pound, with a few maintenance tasks to do, including sorting out a bad connection to the kitchen lights.
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Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Fosse and Stockton

We awoke - late - to a brilliant day, bright blue sky and a real fresh feel to the air. The view back to the last lock from yesterday, below a disused railway bridge over both canal and river, was spectacular.

Although we only travelled about four miles all day, we did pass through 19 locks. The first few were quite spread out but, by the time we came to the Bascote flight they were becoming much closer together. Above the middle Fosse lock we filled up with water - in a later lock the front locker also filled with water! (Some broad locks, if they leak through the middle of the gates, can produce quite a fountain of water!)

Above Bascote locks we took a break for lunch in the warm and bright sunshine. Almost tmepting to stay put but we had the longer Itchington (or Stockton) locks to tackle. In fact they were made much easier with an offer of help with the locks from a bystander out for the day! In one lock, BW had a work boat and were re-painting the cill markers. The previous white line with the word 'cill' painted alongside was being stripped off and replaced by another white line with the word 'cill' in black letters on top. No doubt there is a good health and safety reason why this change is worth the cost, especially when so much other urgent maintenance is needed.

Mid way between the top of the flight and Calcutt Locks we made an early stop and the day has remained as beautiful as it started. Alas, several people have reported to us that the forecast for tomorrow is not good. Since we still cannot make the TV receive a signal, we will have to rely on a radio forecast. Also time for a few maintenance tasks - including fixing the warning signal from the engine control panel - seemed to be the same loose screw as before.
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Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Royal Leamington Spa

We had moored above Cape Locks but the first task was to fill up with water. It was a bright and mild day - weather which continued until nightfall. After clearing the locks we continued towards Warwick. At Kate Boats we stopped to fill up with diesel and bought a few items from their chandlery shop. At least we now know how to replace light bulbs!

Continuing along the Grand Union, we were surprised to see an on-coming boat as we passed under a bridge with a sharp bend - not unusual normally but we are beginning to be lulled into a false sense of isolation as we only pass a few moving boats each day. At the same time as coming through the bridge we spotted a Tesco supermarket alongside the canal, as well as convenient mooring bollards. We decided to pick up supplies here as it might be a longer 'carry' if we waited until Leamington Spa.

We moored between bridges 40 and 41 - with some trepidation as this was where we were broken into last year! However, several other boats moored here and we survived safely this time!

We walked into Royal Leamington Spa - giving it the full title as we visited a delightful and informative exhibition in the restored Pump Rooms, covering the rise and fall of the town as a health spa, finally overtaken when the railways offered holidays at coastal resorts. (places like Padstow!)

It was interesting to see the bandstand in the open park area which last year was in the middle of a lake - part of the floods which were such a feature of that cruise! Jephson Park was also rather different and the river no longer threatened to swamp the weir and footbridge.

After shopping and returning to the boat we continued a short distance to Radford Lock. Above the lock the last few rays of sunshine made it seem quite attractive so we opted to call it a day - even if our grand total for the day was only six miles and three locks!
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Monday, 20 October 2008

Hatton and Warwick

It was, we were told, a day for rain, but the morning was most pleasant. Milder than yesterday. We took advantage of the 'right' side towpath to sand the other hatch side door and apply the first of several coast of varnish.

About half an hour after setting of we arrived at Shrewley Tunnel - straight and wide so not difficult to navigate. The more unusual feature is the separate tunnel for horses.

By eleven o'clock we were at the top of Hatton and ready to tackle the descent of 21 wide locks. They are harder work than narrow locks, but nothing like as difficult as Knowle! We even met several boats coming up the flight.

Half way we took a breather for coffee (at 12:30 it was almost lunch but we did not want to take a long break mid flight) It was just before three when we cleared the bottom lock. Saltisford Arm is described in Nicholson's as having visitor moorings and being a good place to visit Warwick. Despite the large 'Welcome' sign over the bridge at the start of the arm, it proved far from welcoming and people on two boats made it abundantly clear that visitors were not wanted! So we simply turned around, used the disposal facility and returned to the main canal.

Shortly after the turning we moored - it was now raining quite hard and, at half past three, definitely time for lunch. Christine had been preparing a soup from the lamb bones (one of the side benefits of having a rolled lamb joint from a proper butcher) and after brewing all morning - and half the afternoon - it was very delicious, accompaned by Barnecutts new tomato bread.

Later, we walked down to Cape locks to see if there was a better mooring (which there was) and to take a look from the adjacent road bridge to see if there were any interesting shops (which there were not!) Returning to the boat we moved down to the mooring, leaving time for Mike to do a couple of bits of on-board maintenance.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

'orrible Knowle locks

We had moored last night at Kixley Bridge in order to go to the 9:30 Family Service in Knowle Parish Church which we had looked up on 'A Church Near You' web site before we left home. It was a lively occasion with perhaps 2 to 3 hundred in the congregation, ranging from very small children, through teenagers and students to the wrinkly generation. This was the one Sunday in the month when it was a non-eucharistic service. The music group were especially proficient, leading seven songs altogether during the service. Even with so many people attending, it was good to note that the Welcome Team easily spotted the strangers and made us feel welcome.

We picked up milk and a paper from one of the village shops before walking back to the boat and a leisurely mug of 'proper' coffee before eventually setting of just before noon. Soon we arrived at Knowle top lock where we used the disposal facilities before tackling what we knew to be about the worst locks in the canal system! Of course these are broad locks but it is the viscious eddy that the waters draining from a lock make in the short pound below. Even on a still day it is difficult to steer into the next lock, but with added strong winds . . . Boats have been known to make a complete 360 degree turn before lining up for the lock gates! Despite this we cleared the flight of five locks in under an hour.

At the bottom lock we took on water, followed by a long lunch break. We continued to follow the Grand Union Canal, passing Kingswood Junction where we arrived last year after coming down the Lapwood flight in pouring rain. At least this year we have had generally fair weather. Our 'cold weather' clothing is proving up to the task so far.

A short distance beyond the junction we moored again to make a start on sanding down the side hatch doors, using the new belt sander - as recommended by Andrew! (We stopped here, just past Turnover Bridge, as the towpath was now on the correct side to tackle this task. Since Camp Hill it had been on the other side all the way) Not an easy task but we are beginning to make a difference. The problem is that the veneer has become quite stained and sanding down runs the risk of removing it down to the base layer. Still, it looks as if it will 'do' for now, especially when we have applied a few more layers of varnish.

The afternoon was fast coming to an end so we only cruised a little further to a spot which is as far away from the motorway as we can find tonight - even so it makes quite a noise despite being half a mile away. Time now to set about preparing the conventional Sunday roast - this week boned and rolled lamb from Russell at Gary Dutton's butcher shop back in Wadebridge.
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Saturday, 18 October 2008

Out into the country

We awoke to a bright, sunny morning, albeit cold and fresh. The sky was clear and central Birmingham from the canal seemed hardly a busy city centre! We set off and almost immediately arrived at the top of the Farmers Bridge flight of 13 locks. Although much of the city
centre has been re-developed and looks attractive, this was the first part and we recall it as very new from a previous cruise through
Birmingham back in the Eighties!

The locks were quite easy to operate and we completed the flight in about an hour and 40 minutes, putting us well ahead of our schedule. Although the flight is still built over, with a number of the buildings covering the side ponds which are essential in a flight with such short pounds. However, the old industrial scene has been replaced with modern office and apartment blocks, as well as one or two attractive modern footbridges to complement the original cast iron ones.

At the bottom of the flight we turned onto the Digbeth Branch and the Ashted locks. In the middle of the flight there is a short tunnel (really a very large bridge) but a shallow angle to the arch made it difficult to navigate and the cabin top edge scraped through - just - but leaving some of the paint behind!

The next flight - Camp Hill locks - were now uphill. At the top we moored up to use the disposal facilities and to fill up with water. We also took a break for lunch. After 25 locks we felt that we had deserved it!

The rest of the day was completely different - no locks and level cruising all the way! Gradually the overtly industrial landscape changed and a long stretch in a cutting was very green. In fact, many of the trees were rapidly changing to their autumnal colours and looked very pretty. Shortly before we planned to moor we started the stove so that by the time we stopped the cabin was already snug. We had hoped to reach Knowle and, just as it turned six o'clock we moored up just outside the village.
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Friday, 17 October 2008

Back to Brum

We drove up to Birmingham from Cornwall, setting off as early as we could (just before 9 am) bearing in mind that we had to collect a butchery order from Gary Dutton's shop in the middle of Wadebridge. (being on the canal is no excuse for not having our customary delicious Sunday roast!) The journey was uneventful and by 1.30 we had successfully navigated our way back to Sherbourne Wharf, on the Ouzells Street Loop, just off the Main Line.

After unloading the car and eating our packed lunch (we were not tempted whilst on the road!) we moved the boat from its paid-for mooring back to the city centre a couple of hundred metres away where we moored for the night - for free!. Mike walked back to the boatyard and collected the car to drive back to Lower Heyford. After a wait on Heyford station platform with the night fast approaching - and with it a sharp drop in temperature - he caught the planned train to Banbury. An earlier train from there than on the official schedule meant that he was back in Birmingham New Street shortly after 7 pm.

Meanwhile, Christine stayed with boat, although she made a shopping trip into the city centre for part of the time, before preparing the evening meal.

The city centre around Brindley Place was very busy with its night life, although the mooring is itself quite peaceful. A trip boat, complete with loud music and flashing disco lights passed by a couple of times.
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Monday, 6 October 2008


We were treated to a lie-in this morning - now that we no longer had Andrew to keep us on our toes! After a lazy start to the day, Christine made arrangements for mooring at Sherbourne Wharf. Next, we wandered into the city centre to do some shopping and to find out about train times back to Heyford for tomorrow. Christine was especially pleased to buy several items of cold weather clothing including a fleece had with flaps to cover her ears!

After lunch we took a 'local' trip around some of the BCN byways. Even here in the centre of a industrial city there is plenty of wild life. With several herons around so there must be some real fish in the water.

As we made our way along the Main Line we passed a pair of heritage boats.

There are many reminders of the importance that the canal once had for industry - the now-blocked entrances to wharves off the canal would once have been major points for loading and unloading. We explored the Soho Branch which, like many other places, is gradually having its edges softened by the progressive growth of greenery. Alongside the canal is Winson Green prison. The bridge over the canal that once gave access to the site is called Asylum Bridge, no doubt a reminder of how the place was originally developed.

Having failed to find the facilities on the loop, we headed up the Smethwick locks onto the Wolverhampton level. Immediately above the top lock is the entry to Engine Arm which begins with a narrow bridge foillowed by an aqueduct over the New Main Line. Christine was somewhat apprehensive about making the turn - which she duly did perfectly and then looked smug about it!

At the end of the short branch we found rubbish and sanitary facilities - and a turning space (so we did not have to return along the arm in reverse!) - but no water point, despite the sign at the outset. Time then to go back down the locks and straight back along the Main Line to moor in the centre of Birmingham once more.

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Sunday, 5 October 2008

Tardebigge to Birmingham

We awoke to persistent rain but nevertheless set off up the Stoke flight of six locks as a prelude to the famous Tardebigge flight of 30 locks. It continued to rain throughout the flight but we had a good passage through - just a few boats coming down with none ahead of us going up. We managed an efficient operation - achieving 10 locks an hour. Near the top of the flight we could see the Tardebigge Reservoir that feeds all but the top few tops.

It was with quite some sense of achievement that we arrived at the top lock at this rate but were thwarted at the last minute in completing the flight in under three hours by a slow boat coming down the last lock!

At the top we called at the facilities (eating bacon butties whilst waiting for the water tank to fill!) before setting off into the first of three 'real' tunnels on the level pound into Birmingham. The longest is Wast Hills, over 2500 metres in length, which we completed in half an hour. Before long the rain cleared and the afternoon was very bright and sunny - although very cold. Late afternoon we passed Norton Junction where the north Stratford Canal joins in, with the sun creating stunning lights and shades amongst the trees which were just turning to their autumnal colours.

Two hours later and we passed through Worcester Bar in Gas Street Basin (camera flashes from the 'crowds' recorded our transit!) before finding the same mooring spot that we used last year, right in the centre of Birmingham night life! Shortly after we moored, Andrew left us to catch a train from New Street back to Great Malvern to pick up his car. The journey was not as straightforward as normal because the West Coast Main Line was closed for the day for engineering works, which we had a good look at as we cruised alongside the railway line near Bournville and the University.
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Saturday, 4 October 2008

River Severn

Having moored overnight in Stourport Basin, we were ready immediately after casting off this morning to tackle the River Severn. The
river level had risen overnight and only showed about a centimetre of green on the offical marker. The locks from the basin down to the
river are in two sets of double staircases.

Once out into the river we shot off at what seemed to be rocket speed, although our rate through the water was perhaps only 3 mph. The
river is also quite wide by this stage and it is easy to see how it can cause so much damage when in spate. The width also meant that we
were much more exposed to the wind which was rather chilling today. The three locks between Stourport and Worcester all all large and
manned - the lights turned green as we arrived in each case indicating that we could proceed. Holding the boat alongside the lock edge
is not an easy task.

As we neared the centre of Worcester quite a few rowing crews were out practising their skills, from single skulls to eights with cox.

Entry into Diglis Basin is also tricky, esepcially when the first lock is already in use. It is necessary to go just past the entrance
and turn, so coming alongside against the current. However, strong winds were a further complexity. Nevertheless, together with another
boat which arrived from downstream we negotiated our way successfully into the basin. The signpost indicated 30 miles and 58 locks to

After a few locks we dropped Andrew as he wanted to do something (unspecified) in Worcester, until his current move to Devizes his home town. We continued through more locks, meeting up with him just before lock 9. He arrived bearing gifts: a new radio (having declared
that the existing one did not meet his approval) and another digital TV aerial!!! It seems that Halfords and Maplins were not far away.
Indeed, if Maplins had not almost doubled the prices of their travelling satellite dish he would have brought one of those!

The Worcester and Birmingham Canal soon leaves the city and becomes pleasantly rural. Locks gradually become grouped into flights and we rose through the Offerton and Astwood flights, mooring just above the latter as night began to fall! Andrew leaves us tomorrow and
really wouild like to complete the remaining route into Birmingham before the last trsain back to Great Malvern! Only the Tardebigge
lies in the way!
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Friday, 3 October 2008

Kinver to Stourport

The first task today was to visit Wilsons of Kinver where we planned to look for cabin chairs. We duly turned up at 9 am only to be asked to return at 9.30 when the boss would be available. This gave us a chance to look around the town centre where we found a good range of small shops. Andrew even bought cream cakes for lunch and some 'posh' chocolates for Christine!

As soon as we were shown the cabin chairs in the mobile show room we were convinced that they were the right option. As it happened they had two of the chosen colour in stock, but we would have to wait a little while for the appropriate person to be called in from his day off to assemble them! By 12:30 the chairs had arrived and fitted in to the cabin - one of the key issues had been to find ones that would fit through the available doors. These are specially manufactured for the purpose - ought to be good as Ralph Wilson has been in business here for 51 years!

The rest of the day was spent completing the Staffs and Worcester - rightfully considered one of the most attractive. The last few miles of the canal are frequently cut from red sandstone rocks. At one lock there is even a small room carved into the rock face.

Kidderminster has seen plenty of canalside development and is generally the better for it, although sopme of the existing housing areas could do with tidying up.

By this stage we had contacted the River Severn lock keepers and been told that mooring on the river was not advised. It was also becoming clear that we would not be in time to pass through the manned river locks before 6 pm when they close. As a result we opted to enter the Stourport basin for water and rubbish. We were lucky to find one of perhaps only two overnight moorings in the basin which avoided the need to reverse back up through the last lock to the longer canal-side visitor moorings. It was a clear blue sky that accompanied the sunset. Still no luck finding the problem with our TV aerial.
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