Just up for the day with friends David & Veronica. They live in South Africa and are over in the UK for the summer. David is interested in narrowboats and is considering one for their UK base, so we thought that a little taster by way of a day trip would be a good idea.
We arrived at Kidderminster just after 10:00. The owners of NB Tetty, which is also moored at Roundhill Wharf, also live in South Africa and happened to be onboard. So David & Veronica had a natter to them while we got the boat ready to depart. We then winded by Tesco and headed down to Stourport. The weather wasnt too good and it started to rain.
The narrow lock staircase was out of action as BW were replacing a cill on the lowest lock into the river, so we had to use the wide locks. This was a BW supervised operation requiring two boats to breast up in order to negotiate the tight turn in the lower basin. We went down with a Countrywide Cruisers hire boat. It took quite a while and it was just gone one o’clock when we got out onto the river. We had planned to go down to the Hampstall Inn for lunch, that was nearly an hour away and we were getting hungry. When we got to the pub we discovered that they dont serve food on Mondays!
So we headed off back up to Stourport again, by this time it was raining much harder. As it would take quite while to get back up through the two wide locks we moored up on the pontoons and went in search of lunch. The newly opened Windlass Cafe looked good so we decided on that. While we were in the cafe the rain suddenly started to pour even harder!. BW were only allowing boats through the wide locks in pairs so we had to wait for another boat to arrive before we could go up. After about 20mins an Anglo Welsh hire boat came up the river and we went up with them. They were novices and had done nothing like this before, but were willing to learn and did very well. As we left the top lock the heavens opened for the most amazing downpour. Veronica and I had gone ahead to set York St lock and had sheltered under the bridge, but Heddi & David got drenched.
We had noticed two Canaltime (or Canal Bost Club as they are called now) boats going up from the river just before us. When I got to the lock one was just leaving and the other was moored by the services block. I started to prepare the lock but a woman said that it wasnt our turn and we had to wait for their second boat as they were traveling together. I replied that as there wasnt a boat waiting on the lock moorings we assumed that the lock was available for use, and that their other boat was getting water or whatever. She then started complaining that no one told them they were supposed to wait on the lock moorings and that no one told them where they had to go after coming up off the river. I asked if they had a book (Nicholsons or Pearsons) but she complained that they hadn’t been given one. I then tried to politely give her some information about waterway operation & etiquette etc but she then remonstrated that they knew what to do as they had “been boating for years”.
The rain had stopped now and everything was OK until just after Pratts Wharf . There were several boats stopped and we got closed it was obvious why. There was a tree down across the cut. A couple of other boats were waiting in our direction and one the other way. I asked the guy on the baot nearest the tree if BW had been called, he said that they had. David thought that we might be able to move it ourselves so, with the help of a passing cyclist, we had a go, but no luck. I called BW thinking that a second report might speed them up, but they knew nothing about it! A BW guy rang me back about 5 minutes later saying that they would have a team there in about 30mins.
Fortyfive mins later two guys turned up, but with no tools or anything. The message they got said that boats were just squeezing past but needed assistance! One of them went back and returned about 20mins later with a truck and chainsaws etc. It didnt take them long to clear a way through and we were on our way.
We packed up and David drove home, getting back at about 10 o’clock – 3 hours later than expected.