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The Waterways Wanderings of Narrowboat “Just Heaven”

Just Overnight

Just an overnight stay to check things are OK and to relax a little after the stress & trauma of Heddi’s dad’s funeral.
We arrived yesterday morning, had lunch then went for a walk through the woods to Stourton, back down the towpath from Stewponey lock, then to Wittington Horse bridge and back along the far bank.
We have a new neighbour. A small cruiser called “Wobbly Bob” is now moored between us and the lock. This means that our view of the lock is now obscured, but also that we are no longer the last boat in the line, so less likely to get hit by boats approaching the lock.
The afternoon was spent washing the side of the boat (it was covered in grass splatters from BW’s strimming again) and a few odd jobs.

The canal was busy with quite a few boats about. Around five o’clockish a small GRP cruiser was coming up to the lock when it’s engine cut out just as they passed us. they managed to get into the side. There was various activity on board, then after a while a woman approached us and asked if we knew where the nearest filling station was. They had run out of petrol. There isnt a garage in Kinver, but I thought that I had seen one near to Stewponey lock. We checked in the “First mate Guide“, but that didnt mention one.

After a bit more discussion the woman’s husband set off up the towpath with a jerry can. This left on board the woman, two young children and an older man. They were still on the lock mooring bollards and were a bit in the way for boats approaching the lock. I suggested that we help them bow haul the boat through the lock as there is plenty of space above. However this was their first ever trip in the boat and they didnt feel confident without the guy who had gone off looking for fuel. So they pulled the boat back nearer to Wobbly Bob.

About this time a narrowboat came towards the lock, the steerer called out “are you going through?” when they said “No”, he started to shout and yell at them for being in the way. the woman tried to explain that they were out of fuel, but he wouldn’t listen and became abusive and pushed her out of the way. He then went up to the lock and quickly started working the paddles for the hire boat in front without checking with them first.
A woman who was with the abusive boater came back to the woman on the cruiser and tried to excuse his behaviour  by saying he was tired as they had been following the slow hire boat all day. The poor woman from the cruiser was in tears, it was their first boating trip and she thought that they had done something seriously wrong. After the narrowboat had gone we went up to her and tried to reassure her that he was in the wrong and that there was no excuse for such behaviour and that the majority of boaters are friendly and helpful.

After almost two hours her husband returned with some fuel. he had walked all the way back to Ashwood marina to get his car.¬† The boat with the abusive boater was moored just above the lock. When the husband from the cruiser went up to see him, the abusive boater refused to speak to him. I hope the event hasn’t put them of boating.

This morning we went for a very pleasant walk up on Kinver edge, then left for home after an early lunch as I had a blood donor appointment.

Kinver

An early start back to the mooring as we wanted to go home via the Forest of Dean to check on Heddi’s dad. Luckily almost all the locks were in our favour so we had packed up and left by two o’clock.

Mitton

A long and tiring day today. We called Gloucester lock and asked to be locked down at 8:00. Because of the current low-water restrictions we had to wait until 8:45 in case any other boats wanted to go as well. There were a few other boats about, but no-one had appeared by 8:40 so we went down on our own. There wasnt much flow on the river so we made good progress, about 4mph up to the parting, then around 5mph on the main river. A quick stop for a cooked breakfast at Lower Lode and then settle down to the long boring plod up to Worcester.

Commercial traffic on the river

From Diglis onward we shared all the locks with a Black Prince boats crewed by seven young men. All male crews on hire boats have sometimes caused problems with too much drinking and dangerous activities, but these were great, helpful and courteous, and we had a natter with them in each of the locks.
We had hoped to moor on the river at Stourport, but there was no space. No space in the basin either, and only one space above York St lock. That was right outside the noisy “Black Star Inn”. So we left it for the guys on the Black Prince boat and carried on round to Mitton, where we just about squeezed in before the old railway bridge.

Llanthony Quay

It was our latest granddaughter’s christening today. Nik & Paul, the proud parents, had planned a barbecue in our garden. They had spend a lot of time and effort planning it and tidying up the garden. Unfortunately it poured with rain all day. Very disappointing after the good weather we have been having. But they still went ahead with the barbecue, with everyone under a couple of huge gazebos. Despite the rain it all went very well with everyone enjoying themselves. I had expected that we would need to leave mid-party, but most people had to travel quite a distance so everyone had gone by 5:30.
Our other son in law Simon then drove us back to Parkend, where we picked up the boat and cruised on up to Gloucester and are moored for the night on the floating pontoons near Llanthony bridge. It is convenient for the city here, but the seagulls make an awful noise all through the night!

Parkend (boat), Home (us)

The second stage was done by first moving the car from Fretherne bridge to Sandfield bridge. We then chugged to just north of the Saul footbridge, moored up again and walked over to the marina chandlery to buy some fuel additive. Another short chug to just past Parkend bridge. Here we made the boat safe and then took a walk back to the car by way of a detour to Epney & Framilode. This was across the fileds to Epney, along the Severn Way to Framilode and then up the old towpath of the Strodwater canal back to Saul where the car was parked.

We then drove home to prepare for our granddaughter’s christening on Sunday.

Saul

A bright sunny morning so we had breakfast outside and then waited for Rachel, Steve & Emily. They spent the morning at the Wildlife & Wetlands Trust and then joined us about 12:30. We had a picnic lunch then set off for Sharpness. It was fairly windy, but warm & sunny. After winding we moored up for a while, watched the tides and had a cup of tea. Then back to Patch bridge to top up wit water and drop off our guests.

We wanted to get to the north side of Parkend bridge so that when we return on Sunday, even if we are later than 7 o’clock, we wont be stopped by the bridges as Rea & Sellars are high enough to get under without them opening. The car shuffle was done in two stages. First we cruised up to Saul and moored up midway between Sandfield bridge and Fretherne¬† bridge. A walk back to Splatt bridge to pick up the car and park it by Fretherne bridge was the first stage.

Patch Bridge

The day started bright and sunny, so even though we had had a late night we got up about 8:00, had breakfast then headed up to the oil depot by Fretherne bridge to top up the diesel and get a new gas cylinder. Then down to Patch bridge.
We had arranged to meet Jim, Mo & Patrick for an evening meal. Previous experience led us to think, rightly as it turned out, that mooring space would be limited, so we wanted to arrive before noon.
There was just one available space so we moored up and spent a lazy afternoon reading & people watching.
J,M &P arrived at about 5:30 bearing pizzas and w e sat outside in the warm evening eating, chatting & drinking until they left at about 10 o’clock.

Swansea!

The day started off cold, grey and windy. Nikki, Izzie & Roxie arrived at about 10:30. We strted to take them for a short trip, but the weather wasn’t good, so we turned round. By lunchtime the sun was out and it was warm enough for another barbecue.

After lunch Izzie spent a while feeding the ducks, and then we all got into Nikki’s car and she took us home to pick up our car. The plan was to then drive to Swansea to see Rod Stewart in concert at the Liberty Stadium.

We had gone less that half a mile in Heddi’s Smart car when the was a loud bang. I thought that it was a stone flying up off the road, but when the steering wheel was turned hard there was a crunching noise. We took it to Kwik-fit where a very helpful guy jacked it up and found that a front spring had broken!

I didnt fancy driving 150 miles on the motorway with a broken spring. So we called Nikki and then drove to Patchway and borrowed her car. It was getting a bit late now, but we made it to Swansea in time and had a great evening at the concert with Rod.

It was just after 1 o’clock by the time we got back to the boat after swapping cars again at Nikki’s house.

Sharpness & back

A lovely warm sunny day today. We need to be back here at Splatt bridge tomorrow as Nikki is coming, but we didnt want to spend all day doing nothing so we chugged down to Sharpness. We stopped for a while where the river comes up close to the canal and watched the tide turn. At low tide there was almost no water in the river. It looked as though you could walk across.

We had lunch sat outside on the bank and then went for a walk through the marina and along part of the Severn Way, which follows the towpath here.
On the way back we called in at the “Black Shed” for a bottle of gas, but they had run out.

In contrast to previous days the evening was calm, with hardly any wind at all. This gave some lovely reflections on the water.

Not moved

Rain, rain and more rain!
Jan & Mike were due to arrive mid afternoon. The plan was for a short trip then back for another barbecue. We texted them midday to decide what to do. They suggested that we abandon the bbq and go to the pub instead. About three o’clock there was a lull in the rain so we walked down to Patch bridge and back. Uncle Mort chugged past as we walked. They were on their way up to Gloucester as they had arranged to meet someone at Lower Lode tomorrow.
By the evening when J&M arrived the rain had stopped, but we took the car to the Bell Inn and had our meal.
A mandarin duck spent a while near the mooring, he was a bit timid and we had to coax him nearer with some bread.

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