Saturday, July 8, 2017

Messing around on Boats

Day 1 - Saturday

Soon after arriving at Stoke Prior I managed to get out of moving all our gear onto the boats by settling down on my bed in the ‘Lesley’, our home for the week for a much-needed nap. Phil and Clarissa arrived and it was wonderful to finally meet their lovely sons, Louis and Ben. Our party all wandered down the canal to the Queen’s Head for a long, late lunch before the boys started up our 3 boats, Lesley, Helene and Kelly with 7 children in tow while Mum, Son and I did some shopping.
Our long lunch resulted in only 5 locks being done so a big day was ahead of us.

Day 2- Sunday

The day began before I was up due to the huge number of locks to pass through today. Having all children fresh as well as the addition of Louis was a great help as we headed up the Tardebigge Flight. The kids had a lovely time although a couple of our windlasses mysteriously disappeared and one hit Seren between the eyes.  

Followed by a 2726 yard tunnel it was a very long day resulting in a much later than planned arrival into Birmingham and the Gas Street Basin where we sadly handed Louis back over to Phil and Had a lovely dinner with Becky and Chris.

Day 3 - Monday

Feeling quite a lot better I managed to rise before we set off through the canals of Birmingham, having really enjoyed the picturesque centre of town the outer areas were not as well kept and the water quality not nearly as good either.

The dirty was of concern when Tieve (despite the new instructions to not climb on the roof or walk along the sides) was standing outside the Galley window one second and disappeared in the water the next. I quickly rushed to the back where Glen was and we directed her safely away from the boat to the side of the canal where a passing man kindly helped our sopping daughter of the water. It a very good job she is such a confident and competent swimmer allowing her to not panic and follow directions. Her sore knee then had a really good clean out, Germoline applied and we instructed her to ensure she finishes her course of antibiotics.

The day was fairly light on for locks which was a nice bit of respite after the previous day. We enjoyed a lovely “Michael’s Chili” dinner all together before being greeted by a local family of swans. The boys then headed off for a pint and the girls and kids turned in.

Day 4 -Tuesday 

Another big day on the locks and by this point the kids were all getting quite tired and seemed to have decided that sitting below decks watching movies together and eating all Sonia’s snacks was more appealing. It was therefor an even bigger day for the adults who often had to man the locks with only one crew member. It was a huge relief when we finally saw lock number 21 and settled down for a hard earned lunch. The afternoon was much quieter before settling in for the night near a Sainsburys allowing us to replenish Sonia’s pantry! Mum and Dad were on dinner duty serving up Dad’s well-known Kedgeree.

Day 5 – Wednesday

We awoke surrounded by anglers setting up their giant rods for a competition. They had a beautiful day ahead of them so I hope they had brought their sunblock. We passed through more beautiful scenery, while Aimee and Daelin amused themselves filling page after page with drawings. Dinner was our turn so tonight our makeshift table was willed with Taco fillings.

Day 6 - Thursday

Today was our biggest day in terms of distance travelled from our overnight moorings north of Kidderminster, through Stourport down the Severn and into Worcester. Stourport was a lovely looking town and it was a shame that the previous couple of days we had come up a little short so we hadn’t made it to our planned overnight stop in the Stourport Basins. It was a particularly interesting part of the canals to travel through as we headed down two double locks with room for only one boat between the two and then down and on to the Severn River.

Motoring along the Severn had a very different feeling to it, with such wide banks it didn’t have the same cosy feel that most of the canals have. At the intersection of the river and canal there was a carnival going on with hundreds of primary age children having a regatta in double canoes which had been designed by a very successful British Canoeist and was running the carnival. We then had a little excitement when my 6th Melbourne Scout Group hat flew off my head with a gust of wind and was then fished out by Mum as they followed behind us in their boat.

The journey was quite peaceful as we had been abandoned by all the children again so it was just Glen and myself on the Lesley. It was very nice to have a break from the locks on the Severn as all 3 of them were manned double locks so after Dad and Glen tethered themselves together within the lock all the work was done by the lock keeper and his button.

After being passed by several rowers as we headed back into Worcester there were a further two double locks which we did ourselves expertly manoeuvred by this point by our captains. A few more locks down the canal we found a quite place for dinner and then settled down for our penultimate night on the boats.

Day 7 – Friday

Having covered the first 5 locks of the ring they day before, we had 17 to travel today which were mostly covered in the first half of the day and a little spread out. Due to the Stourport Ring being a much harder slog than we expected we had a treat and went out for a well-deserved pub lunch. Tieve managed to add to her long list of injuries for the week with a twisted ankle so she did quite a bit more driving than manning of locks. One of the highlights of the day for me was passing through a lock that was so beautifully manicured by the residents of the lock cottage. Definitely the prettiest lock of the week.

We ended the day just a couple of locks away from Stoke Prior, took some obligatory group photos and had a drink in the local pub.

Day 8 – Saturday

Everyone was early to rise ready to complete our last two locks, pack and unload the boats. It had a been a brilliant week. Narrow boating is certainly a holiday that never gets old.

Stourport Ring – 118 locks, 84 miles.