Wednesday, 31 August 2011

We'll be back soon.

Norbury Junction and tomorrow Armadillo goes up the arm for a couple of weeks while we swan off to Florida.
According to the radio this morning this has been the coldest summer for eighteen years, can't argue with that.
So we will say au revoir for a couple of weeks, we swap England's cold for the heat of Florida. Hopefully when we get back we will continue to enthrall with the adventures of Armadillo, perhaps we will even have some piccies of Mickey to share, meanwhile,

Watch this space.............

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Strange beings and a heron up a tree.

Friday's planned move never occurred, we woke early to the sound of rain on the roof and so it stayed all day and so did we, no point in getting soaked.

 On Saturday we made a really early start, 0630, with the dawn sun highlighting a stubble field. Soon we were at Awbridge Lock with it's fancy bridge parapet

and a dainty little cast iron split bridge,

reminiscent of the Sratford on Avon bridges, the split originally being there so the boatman could pass the towing line through the bridge without disconnecting from horse or boat. This one is neatly placed so that once the bottom gates are open you can't get across it unless you are an acrobat, Jill preferred to walk round.

A bit farther on we passed Roach, last seen on the 20th at Worcester fully laden, they had obviously made their delivery despite low water and were now back at base.
Strange things lurk in the undergrowth along this canal,

little faces leer out from the hedges, from The Bratch to Compton there are a plethora of them. No idea who or why but I suppose everyone should have a hobby.

Jill is over the moon with this one. Amazing how such a big bird can perch on little more than a twig.
At Cut End we realised we had made a mistake, turn round day at Napton Narrowboats, beyond the stop lock it was utter chaos, boats all over the place, I was too busy steering to get any photo's but trust me, do not go there at weekends in the season if you value either you sanity or your paintwork, as I'm well short on both it didn't matter so much.
We moored on the S.U.C.S. moorings by bridge 8 on the Shroppie at 1100, just as the heavens opened.
Today the weather is much the same as it has been for most of the summer, cold, wet and windy.

Watch this space..............

Thursday, 25 August 2011

A short paean to the Staffs.&Worcs.

What a lovely canal the Staffs.&Worcs. is, everything seems to be smaller than on other canals.

Even the tunnels at Cookley, 65 yards, and

Dunsley, 25 yards, are tiny.
At times you are so hemmed in by rock cuttings

and woodlands

that it is almost claustrophobic.

But then you meet the grand engineering of the Bratch.
Overall it's a smashing little canal, we love it.
Tomorrow we're aiming to be on the Shroppie.

Watch this space.............

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Wolverley and a legless knight.

After an entertaining visit yesterday from Aged Aunt and Nunkie, better known as Mo and Ding, impenetrable family nicknames, don't worry, this morning we set off up the Staffs. & Worcs. At Falling Sands Lock there appeared to be some trouble with one of the top paddles.

 Being well used to the normal "BW Aware" tape, finding the paddle gear wrapped in a rubbish bag was a worrying advance, has the gear been consigned to the local tip? Perhaps this will become the N.W.C. norm.

Falling Sands Viaduct still strides impressively across the valley, I once saw a train steaming majestically across here, didn't have the camera handy, still live in hopes of seeing another.

Kidderminster Church from the bottom of Kidderminster Lock, just a different angle on a familiar picture.
Having topped up the store cupboard at Sainsburys we headed on up to Wolverley

with it's brick built Italianate church, dedicated to St. John the Baptist, perched on it's rocky prominence. After a steep climb that leaves your face somewhat erubescent you come to the main door

where you can appreciate what a splendid bit of brickying it is.

The interior is plain to the point of starkness but is still pure18th C.

There is one relic from the earlier church, the remains of the effigy of a knight, according to legend he suddenly turned up, shackled, in a local field having been miraculously transported from a Moorish prison after seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary. He is still legless.

From the church down to the centre of the village there is a somewhat steep road that passes the remains of an old smithy

cut into the rock

and with this rather interesting panel set into the stone above it, I have no idea who or what it is, just one more of life's mysteries. A thought, as the church is directly above, could it be St. John?

The car park of The Queens Head seems carved out of the hill and has several rock cut caverns

which could have been workshops during the villages heyday of nail production, or possibly dwellings a la Holy Austin Rock.

There is at least one house built back into the cliff.

Very impressive for a small village, this is the old Court House, it has also been council offices and a school but now seems to be given over to residential use.

The church really does dominate the village.
Tomorrow we intend heading for Kinver.

Watch this space.............

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Yee Hah.

Let's start in a normal world, just across from the Tontine there are some cottages, one of which has the most amazing floral display,

the hanging baskets are just awe inspiring, my last job was in a garden centre and these impress even me.

Now this has a decidedly Tolkienish appearance but is still relatively normal.
It was only when we arrived down at the riverside park that things started to get surreal.

What appeared to be several hundred people were parading up and down

to the alleged music of a chap with a guitar.

Yes, the park was full of line dancers, but things got worse.

Now I suppose that a fondness for country and western music is acceptable but this bloke

was broad Geordie, country and north eastern?

Things were really getting out of hand, full kit and a polystyrene cup of coffee? Nearly as amusing as those who turn up at boat rallies wearing collarless shirts, moleskin trousers and big leather belts.

In the trade stands you could purchase garments of choice, while outside,

what can I say?

Flags flew above the campsite

and the local gunfighter fixed me with a steely gaze, we left before I was called out for a shoot out at the local corral.
After a lifetime of experience people still have the power to amaze me but how dull would life be without enthusiasts, no matter how daft it seems to normal people, for a given value of normal.
We are expecting a visit from aged relatives tomorrow:

Watch this space.............

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Up river to Stourport, we seem to have spent too much time here.

Yesterday dawned fine and calm. As I took the dog for her morning constitutional I looked up and over the rooftops of Worcester,

a hot air balloon floated serenely.
In the basin nb Roach and her butty

were waiting to make a delivery to Viking Afloat in Lowesmoor Basin, remembering how we had scraped the bottom and how deeply laden Roach was I silently wished them the best of luck.
The general opinion is that the lack of water in the lower Worcester & Birmingham is due to the Droitwich taking rather more water than they had bargained for and, as yet, they haven't got the supplies balanced. Personally I think a little dredging would work wonders.
We made an early, for us, start and were soon through Diglis Locks,

Jill stands contemplating the wide waters of the Severn, a bit like bold Cortez upon a peak in Darien although I doubt he had a windlass. Jill is not a fan of rivers.

Out on the river we were soon passing the city with the cathedral towering over the the waters of Sabrina (Poetic name for the Severn, I thought she was a 1950's film start with big parts in several films)

The local swan population was preparing for a hard day scrounging bread off of the tourists
there's hundreds of them, swans that is, not tourists, although I suppose there's hundreds of them as well, I wish I'd never started this, I'm getting confused.

Through the elegant road bridge and a last look back

at the cathedral.
After passing the rowing club and a few large houses we were once again out in the country,

the river winding, placid at the moment, between wooded banks.

Through Bevere Lock and passing

the entrance to the Droitwich, been there, done that.

If you can't make out the name on this cruiser it's called Expensive Hobby.

The board showing which branch of the river to take is behind these bushes, really helpful.
We had a two hour wait at Lincomb Lock as there were divers working above the lock, the water supply to the lock cottage had broken under the river and they had had no water for two weeks, the lockie was not happy. Once through we were soon in sight of Stourport

and up the two staircase locks into the basin where we found a mooring by the water point

and watched the afterglow over the clock warehouse.
This morning we snuck up the lock and grabbed a five day mooring, here until Tuesday.

Watch this space............