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The Waterways Wanderings of Narrowboat “Just Heaven”

Waiting!

We haven’t moved. This morning I went over to have chat with the Gloucester lockie. The river level was 4.4m it has to be 3.9m or less to allow us out on the river. Just looking at the speed of the flow I wouldn’t want to try navigating a narrowboat in that!

The weather has improved considerably and we sat out on the pontoon drinking Pimms and eating lunch, such a change from recently. During the afternoon we went for a lovely walk onto Alney Island formed in between the east & west channels of the Severn between the upper & lower partings. We’d never been there before, but will certainly return. The island is a nature reserve with many criss-crossing footpaths. The wild flowers were wonderful.

Still no change in the river level this evening, so it doesn’t look hopeful for a river trip tomorrow.

Gloucester Docks

We drove back up to Frampton yesterday afternoon and stayed there for the night. Then, this morning we came up to Saul Junction to get water and wait for Rachel, Steve & Emily. Rachel has mobility problems and it’s easier for her to get on there. Unfortunately the weather was not good, but we took them for a short ride in the rain. They left about 11:30 and we came up to Gloucester to do some shopping and ready to go back up the Severn tomorrow morning. The rain had nearly stopped but the wind was picking up. As we reached Hempstead bridge the wind suddenly got much stronger. The bridge keeper said that if he opened the bridge, he wouldn’t be able to close it again so we waited. Over the next 20-30 minutes a terrific storm passed over with really heavy rain and strong gusts.

Eventually the weather calmed down enough to operate the bridge and we continued onto the finger moorings in the city docks. The afternoon was spent shopping for suitable wedding attire for next weekend and a trip to Sainsbury’s to top provisions.

Splatt bridge (boat), home (us)

Heddi’s sister Val and her husband Dave came at about 11:00. The weather wasnt very good, but nevertheless we took them for a short ride up to Saul junction, moored up, had lunch then chugged back. When they left at about three we went also so that they could accompany us to the garage to inflate the tyre again.

Home now for a few days, the plan is to take JH back up the Severn on Sunday/Monday.

Still here

Another horrible, grey rainy day. We got a call in the morning from daughter Nikki, “Are you still on the boat?”, “Can we come and visit?” They had to abandon their camping holiday because of the weather so now were looking for places to take the children on day trips. They joined us for lunch, then we all went to Attwoolls to have look round the camping stuff. When we came out and went to get back in the car I could see that the tyre was soft again. We called in at a service station to pump it up and I noticed that there were bubbles coming from around the valve. Hope it lasts until the morning.

Splatt Bridge

Saturday was spent in London attending our nephew’s wedding. The reception was held at Lords Cricket Ground – very smart!

We drove back this morning, called in home to drop off some things and collect others then drove to Patch bridge. After unloading the car we chugged up the canal to here, then walked back for the car.

Now exhausted so having an early night.

Patch Bridge

During the night the weather had worsened considerably. The wind was now gusting to 40mph, there were large waves with breakers on the canal. A large GRP cruiser just ahead of us had come partially untied. I was about to get dressed and try to retrieve it when some other boaters did it. I had a chat to them and one local boater said the bridges would be closed because of the wind. I rang the Purton bridge keeper, he said all was OK, so we set off. Once away from the river side at Sharpness the wind was less but still very gusty. We got to Patch bridge safely.

Our friends David & Veronica from South Africa arrived about twelve. They were not appreciating the cold weather at all! After lunch and a good chat they drove us back to Frampton to pick up our car and we left for home and our nephew’s wedding tomorrow.

The journey home was not uneventful. We had a blowout on the driver’s rear tyre. Smarts dont carry spares! With some very kind assistance of our friend Teresa and helpfulness of Thornbury Tyre Service, we got it fixed.

Sharpness

No visitors due today so we thought we’d go for a little chug down to Sharpness. The weather was turning pretty miserable and the wind was picking up. By the time we got here it was raining hard and blowing a gale! Most of the day was spent looking out of the windows at the rain. About 4 o’clock it calmed down and we went for a walk to find where the Severn Way continued south of the docks. We only just got back when the rain started again.

Patch Bridge

Woke up, went to the loo, the red light came on showing that the holding tank was full! Luckily we were only half a mile or so from the DIY pumpout machine at Saul. So after breakfast we called at the service block. This entailed two windings as the pumpout fitting was on the ‘wrong’ side. Whilst we were pumping out the heavens opened and I got completely soaked.

Later we moved down to Patch Bridge to await Jan, Mike, Lindsay & Teresa in the evening. The only mooring space was next to the water point. Another boat was on the water point and had been all day, with no sign of the occupants. I was reluctant to block access to the water even though we weren’t the ones in the wrong. The bridge keeper said it was OK as it was now six o’clock and no boats would be moving after seven as the bridges would be closed. We decided to moor there and invite anyone who wanted water to breast up with us. As it turned out no one did.

J,M,L & T  arrived bearing food just before seven and we all sat out on the towpath in lovely sunshine until about 9:30 when we went inside for tea & coffee. They left around 10:30.

Near Saul

With Mike’s help I spent the morning changing one of the batteries. The battery bank on JH was arranged rather oddly. There are three domestic and one starter battery. They were laid out DDSD. I wanted to replace the starter battery as it had been going flat if left for a week or two. So as well as replacing it I rewired everything so that they now go DDDS. Access to the batteries is a bit awkward and after nearly an hour working bent over in the cramped space of the engine ‘ole I was feeling stiff and bruised, but at leats the job was done.

Jan & Mike left for home after lunch and about 5ish we chugged slowly up to near the winding hole north of Saul junction where we had agreed to meet Andrew & Sheila. Uncle Mort turned up shortly after we’d moored up and very pleasant evening was spent aboard UM eating, chatting & drinking.

Splatt Bridge

It rained all night, but by the morning had more or less stopped, with just bits of drizzle. The top of the boat was covered in leaves and seed heads from the willow trees along the bank. As we knew it would be a longish day we set off about 8:00. Breakfast, consisting of bacon in a baguette, was taken on the move about 10ish.

We arrived at Upper Lode lock just after eleven o’clock. I had checked beforehand and knew that there had bee a high spring tide peaking at Ashleworth at around 9:00. We only dropped about 6 inches in the lock and as soon as we came out it was clear why. The tide had just turned and we were running fast on the ebb. I had never seen the river this high without it being in flood. Even though we throttled back quite a bit we were still doing about 7.5 mph by the GPS.

It seemed no time at all before we were heading down the parting towards Gloucester lock. On the way we had had to avoid all sorts of floating debris that had been brought up by the tide.

Up through Gloucester lock and on down to Splatt bridge. We were intending to stop at Sainsbury’s to do some shopping, but we left that for later in the week.

When we got there NB Uncle Mort was moored up, so we had a chat with Andrew & Sheila and arranged to meet them tommorrow.

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