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The Waterways Wanderings of Narrowboat “Just Heaven”

Worcester (Racecourse moorings)

The morning was spent shopping in Worcester. The idea was to try and get some Christmas presents, but we weren’t very successful! We came back to the boat for lunch and decided that a second foray into the shops wasnt likely to be any more fruitful. So instead we moved down onto the Severn and upstream about half a mile to the moorings above the rowing clubs. This is our favourite mooring in Worcester.
We crossed the Sabrina footbridge and went over to Homebase, where we bought a few things including some lengths aluminium angle. This to make some security bars for the windows. Last winter some rough sleepers broke into the boat moored nest to us at Kinver and stole bedding and food. We want to put bars at our windows to deter this.
The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling out and going for a walk along the river.

Diglis basin

A cold grey morning to start with, but we were away by 8:00. In Vines Park there are several swing bridges across the canal. The locking mechanisms could do with a bit of maintenance as they can be very difficult to open. One of them is across the “Barge Lock”. This is a flood lock as the navigation drops down onto the River Salwarpe for a short section. The river was not in flood so we opened the gates at both ends and went straight through. The next lock takes you back up onto the canal again. At this lock BW workmen were installing three bollards as per all the other narrow locks around the system. The guys were really peed off about it as they knew that they were unnecessary and a possible danger.
So didnt BW learn anything from all the negative publicity arising from the installation of these bollards awhile back ?
Soon we came to the tunnel under the M5. This was built as a culvert for the River Salwarpe and was never intended to be navigable. The headroom is very tight and the amount available depends on the level of the water in the Salwarpe.

Soon after the M5 tunnel we came to the staircase pair no 4 & 5. It looked as though the last boat down didnt know how to operate a staircase correctly. The bottom chamber was empty, and so was the top. But it was completely empty, no water at all. It looked as though they had left the middle paddles up when they emptied the bottom chamber. So we brought the boat in, then I lifted the middle paddles and the top paddles to fill the two chambers simultaneously. When the bottom chamber was full I dropped the top paddles, let the boat into the top chamber, closed the middle gates & paddles. Then opened the top paddles again. All this took quite a while, but the sun was trying to shine and it was warming up so I didn’t mind.

The weather was getting gradually colder as we cruised on towards Worcester. The pounds in the Gregory’s Mill area were very low on water, with one oncoming boat telling us that they had been aground for over an hour. We moored up on the approach to Diglis basin, near the services block. A meal at Cafe Rouge tonight with Tesco tokens !

Netherwich Basin

Another cold but bright morning. We set off just after 8:00. Andrew & Sheila came down to help work us through the staircase locks and we set off down river.
We arrived at the newly restored Hawford Junction at 11 o’clock. It was great to be at last cruising the water that we had long been crossing on the A449 bridge as we drove to and fro over the last three years.

We found the paddle gear was in excellent condition, but the gates were very heavy and needed a great deal of effort to move. We needed to find a place to stop for breakfast, but the sides are very shallow of covered by high reeds. We did eventually find a spot just above lock 3.
Progress was slow as the canal is very shallow in places, but we were enjoying the chance of cruising some new waters. I had heard that friends Andrew & Wendy Dyke (www.andrewdyke.co.uk) were likely to be in the Droitwich area. So, as we were doing lock 7 I sent a text to Andrew. A few minutes later we see Wendy walking down the towpath. They were just a few yards ahead at lock 8! I walked up to lock 8 while Wendy jumped on with Heddi and hitched a ride. Andrew was fishing in the lock for a lost water can that had been knocked off of Lord Toulouse on a previous visit. They didnt find it. We were introduced to Roger & Margret Millin who I knew virtually, but hadn’t met before. Andrew & Wendy then drove back to Droitwich and Roger & Margret travelled with us on JH.
We all met in the pub for a few drinks and a natter. We spent the night moored up in Netherwich basin.

Stourport basin

The weather looked good when we awoke, so we decided to have a cup of tea and set off in case it turned worse later on. A good trip down to Kidderminster, with a cold wind blowing but the sun shining. At Sainsbury’s we stopped to do the food shopping for the week. Then had a cooked breakfast before setting off again. On passing our old mooring at Roundhill Wharf we noticed that NB Tetty had gone, so we assume that Mike & Yvette have sold her.
We arrived in Stourport basin at about 3 o’clock and stopped at the services to take on water. Whilst it was filling I popped down to the river to see if there was room on the pontoon moorings. There was only one space. The only space in the basin wasnt ideal, but we thought that if we set off down the staircase locks a boat might come up river and take the only available space. So we pulled forward off of the water point to the space by the services block.
The guy on the trad boat Gort in front of us then asked if he could breast up to us to take on water. It turned out that he wasnt staying overnight so we agreed to swap places. I did this by going out into the basin doing a 180 degree pirouette and reversing back into his space. What I didn’t know was that all this maneuvering was being watched from York St bridge by Andrew, Sheila & Dylan the dog . They popped down for a chat and invited us to their flat for a cuppa later.
After several hours of tea, chat and excellent cake we returned to the boat, cooked and ate our supper and retired to bed.

Kinver

Our summer trip was cut short as we had to get back here to get the clutch fixed on the car. We had to miss out the Droitwich canals. Maybe that was a good move as it seems that in late July almost every boat in the midlands was heading for the new opened Droitwich canals.
In the coming week we plan to put right the earlier omission and “do” the Droitwich. We arrived later than expected as the M5 was stop-start-crawl almost all the way from Tewkesbury to Worcester. So we unloaded, lit the fire, had a meal and went to bed.

Kinver

A really lovely day weather wise, much better than we had expected. It was clear blue skies and bright sunshine almost all day. We set off around 9:00 and went straight down Bratch. I had a long chat with one of the lockies who was furious about the situation with the BW directors awarding themselves bonuses, whilst asking some of the staff to put in more hours on a voluntary basis.
It was obviously fishing match day. It seemed like half the men in the West Midlands were out competing. The towpath was lined with fishermen evenly spaced for mile after mile!
After a breakfast stop in Swindon we arrived back at Kinver just after 3 o’clock. Teresa & Lins had to be back home for a family do, so we packed up and left about 4:00.

Below Awbridge lock

It rained heavily in the night, but the sky was fairly clear by daybreak. We had a lazy start with tea in bed at 7:30. I got up at 8:00 to do a few chores around the boat whilst the others got dressed, showered etc. We left the mooring at around 9:00. As we hadn’t topped up the water since early August we stopped at Stewponey and filled the tank. It was just gone 10:00 when we finally started the journey. The weather was much more pleasant that we had expected. Quite a few boats about but no queues. At about 11:30 we stopped for a cooked breakfast just above Rocky lock.
Unfortunately while we were having breakfast a rather slow boat passed which we then followed until they winded just below Bratch. We went up to wind just below Dimmingsdale lock and then came back to below Awbridge lock for the night. The fire was lit so it was lovely and cosy for an evening of food, wine and Rumikub.

Home mooring

Picked up Teresa and Lins then, after a slow journey up the M5, arrived about 6 o’clock. We unloaded most of the stuff (it’s quicker with four) then settled down for the evening. I had been delegated to provide the evening meal and thought that I had it all in hand. Everything was OK until I came to look for some pasta. I was sure that we had left some on board, but searched in vain. So I quickly got in the car and drove up into Kinver village to the Spar. The rest of the evening was spent eating, drinking and nattering.

There and back again

We have just come up for the weekend to check that everything is OK. Arrived Friday evening – meal, a bottle a wine and bed.
On Saturday the weather was really windy. We went for a walk in the morning. In the afternoon we drove out to Much Wenlock in Shropshire for a look around, a very attractive little town. Later I fetched a pallet out of a skip that I’d seen earlier and chopped it up for firewood. Unfortunately I managed to stand on a nail in one of the planks. For a while it was difficult to get my foot to stop bleeding, but I got it under control. In the evening we got fish & chips from the chippie in the town.
We had planned a longer walk on Sunday, but obviously with my foot still painful that wasn’t on. So we went for a short chug up to Ashwood marina, winded then back to Whittington horse bridge, winded again and then back to the mooring.
Monday morning was spent tidying up then back home.

Kinver

We’ve been here since Sunday afternoon. On Monday morning the repair guy came and took a look at the car. More or less immediately he said that the clutch had gone and would need a replacement. He gave me a quote and said that they would pick it up either late Tuesday afternoon or Wednesday morning. On Wednesday I got a call just after nine to say they were on their way. The car was put up onto a recovery truck and off they went. They brought it back this afternoon. He only charged me for the clutch replacement, not the fetching and return, which I thought was pretty good.

So we have been here for four days, I’m not sure how the time has gone. We have gone for a few walks, one day we spent a few hours cleaning the boat and touching up the paintwork. I did a couple of small jobs on board. It’s always been difficult to see inside the cupboards in the galley. Some while ago I bought some switches to fit to the doors to control lights inside the cupboards. Why didn’t I fit them before ? It’s now so much easier, no getting down on your knees with a torch. Otherwise the time seemed to just slip by – very relaxing.

It’s now Friday, we have a family wedding to attend tomorrow. So breakfast, tidy up and off home.

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