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Stratford

Ditchcrawling again

Yesterday evening after dinner we took a walk along the river bank to the bridge, crossed it and walked along the other side, past the theatre and stopped at The Dirty Duck for a drink. A fellow patron turned out to be the actor, Charles Dance.

This morning brought some welcome blue skies and although we were in two minds as to whether we should stay another day, decided to move off the river and start our climb out of the Avon valley. After making a short stop for water, Sue walked off to set the lock that would lift us off the river and into Bancroft Basin while I picked my way through some early morning rowers. As soon as we reached the first lock after the basin, we realised that we were probably following another boat meaning that until we met someone coming down, we would have to drain every chamber before we could enter it. After five locks we caught the boat in front who had stopped to dump his rubbish, we wanted to do the same so Sue hopped off at the bridge with the bin bags. As I started to draw level with the aforementioned boat’s skipper (Derek as we later found out) asked if he could could go ahead as his friend had gone ahead to set the next lock. I wasn’t happy about the request but figured that with so many locks it didn’t make much difference and that I didn’t want to be hounded by an impatient boater. Sue had other ideas and told Derek as he passed that if she had been driving Caxton, she would not have let him pass.

When we reached the next lock, Derek was holding his boat on the bank and offered to let us go first but explained that he was travelling with another. We insisted that he should carry on and that we would follow him. Sue then walked up to the lock with him, they had a conversation, “hugged it out” and made friends. While this was going on, another narrowboat, “James Arthur” appeared behind us. Anyway, over the next couple of hours we all helped each other up through the locks in the sunshine. By the time we reached Wootton Wawen, Derek was on the bank waving frantically to indicate that there was a space big enough for us. As it turned out it was a little short but the crew of the boat in front of him and just behind us were on a lunch stop and about to move off so within a few minutes we were tied to the bank thanks to Sue and her new best friend Derek.

We took a walk to the local farm shop and craft centre where we bumped into, of all people, Kerry Katona! We’ve no idea why she should be there but Sue went to speak to her and of course gave her a hug. She was really nice, friendly and down to earth, a lovely girl despite what the media sometimes report.

We then wandered down to the village and visited The Bulls Head in the village before returning via the local shop and The Navigation Inn which is adjacent to the basin in which we are moored. 

We ended the afternoon with tuna steaks, dauphinois potatoes and mixed vegetables for dinner.

17 locks in about 6 miles today, below is tonight’s mooring.

  

Familiar Weather Patterns

We were last in Stratford (by boat) in June 2012 and the similarities in the weather are astounding, maybe it’s just that type of place! June 2012 Blog

The rain battered down between 1am and 2am but otherwise we had a peaceful night on our riverside mooring. It was nine o’clock by the time we got up, showered and dressed; Sue did some boat tidying and I made yet another attempt to sort out my laptop which had been messed up with the windows 10 upgrade. We were both successful in our tasks so just after midday when the rain had eased, we walked into town. I still needed to run some windows updates but was concerned about the amount of mobile data their downloading would use up. Sue suggested that I could take the laptop to the local Wetherspoons where I could use the free wifi. I was torn, what a dilemna! Sitting in Wetherspoons on my own would obviously mean that I would have to forego the treat of traipsing around the shops but Sue was insistent so I made the sacrifice and sat in the pub for an hour.

My work was almost finished by the time Sue returned so we had a bite to eat before we left. I also managed to get some photos uploaded and published Trip photos

Much ado about nothing.

The “nothing” being the forecast rain. Faced with a day of light rain today followed by a day of heavy stuff on Friday, we decided to brave the elements and try and get to Stratford and batten down the hatches for the impending storm. We untied at seven o’clock and made our way past all of the moored boats on our way to Evesham lock; the bottom gates were open for us but we made a service stop first. This was to be the only lock of the day in our favour although we did manage to share many with other boats. The rain never came except for a five minute period of spots blowing in the wind as we made our way upstream. As we rose in the penultimate lock we could see a small grp hire cruiser bobbing around outside the top gates. By the time we were ready to exit the lock, the wine swigging crew of three females had tied their craft in such a way that it was partially blocking our exit. Ordinarily, this would not have been a problem but on exiting the lock there is a sharp left hand turn requiring space for the stern to swing into. They ignored requests to move, declaring that there was plenty of room. The skipper of the other narrowboat even got off his boat to try and get them to turn through ninety degrees, explaining that there would be little contest in a collision between them and a 22 ton steel boat. They drove across our paths to the opposite lock landing and as we passed were still trying to justify themselves and their actions. Sue tried to tell them that it was for their own safety but only got an “Eff off” in response – very ladylike! We didn’t see them again, perhaps they went to explore the weir.

Our lock buddies were also intent on getting a riverside mooring to sit out the storm and happily enough we were both successful in securing the last two available spaces, quite an achievement given that it was by that time almost four o’clock. As we saw in Evesham yesterday, the evening river traffic is given over to the local rowing club.

As for the weather, the forecasters are now puzzling over how they could have been so wrong, let’s see what tomorrow really brings – perhaps they’ve got that one wrong too (fingers crossed!).

Tonight’s view from Caxton

  

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