Puddles in Gloucester

Sunday 12th June, moored in Gloucester Docks

First a correction: Foster’s on the Docks does indeed exist, in Kimberley Warehouse, its notices advertising it as a brasserie and wine bar.

The “interesting” eating experience last night was so for two quite different reasons. The food, Indian and Thai cuisine, was served hot buffet style and for a set price the diner chooses as many starter, main course and dessert helpings as he/she can manage! The dessert selection, however, was limited to sponge and custard, various ice-creams and Black Forest gateau. There was a large amount of seating, many tables with good views over the water.  It was a wonderful location for people-watching. Shortly after taking our seats a pink stretch limousine arrived – out stepped not eight nubile young maidens but eight ladies, their ages ranging from between fairly mature to very mature!

Late morning today Boatwif and the Captain set out along the windswept docksides and through the rain-streaked streets to visit Gloucester’s Cathedral.  The city is fairly flat and the cathedral, though very well signposted, is not an obvious landmark. Our arrival coincided with the ending of the Choral Eucharist service.  At the doorway stood the Bishop and several clergy conducting their final prayers. Once inside we found the huge building full of bustle and noise, worshippers exchanging greetings, organist in practice, parents collecting excited choristers and tour parties assembling. Incense still hung in the air. A door open behind the organ loft allowed a glimpse of richly coloured vestments. Laid-up military colours, faded now, of the Gloucester Regiment, are suspended in the north aisle.  The cathedral stonework is light in colour but the lightness is increased by the modern pale-coloured seating and altar table in front of the Quire. The cloisters have the most magnificent fan vaulted ceilings (apparently invented at Gloucester in the 1350s). Then there are the two magnificent fourteenth century vestment chests. A contrast, then, in age and colour, is the modern psalm-inspired stained glass. So, another glorious English cathedral, visited by boat.

To come to Gloucester by boat and not to peek into the National Waterways Museum would seem churlish. Ladies were demonstrating crochet and rag work crafts – then the museum tour proper could begin. Canal construction, routes, trade, lock-workings, engines, canal workers, family life, much of it familiar, but nonetheless interesting.

At the desk pressure was being put on to opt for a boat trip too. “We have our own outside,” responded the Captain.

“But this is with commentary,” wheedled the ticket seller. Boatwif was too slow (and perhaps too polite) to remark that often there is much commentary on Cleddau too…!

Mid-June: thank goodness for one pair of thicker trousers and the long-line waterproof jacket. Overheard later in the Arts and Crafts warehouse was “And I put my vest on yesterday!”

Tomorrow, at 0920, after rush-hour, when the Llanthony Bascule Bridge reopens for boat traffic, Cleddau will proceed onto the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal, the crew hopeful for sunny calm conditions, but prepared to layer up – again!

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