Coping with withdrawal symptoms

Bereft of a boat to float in, what do would-be boaters do…?

Cleddau has been away from her mooring for over three months now. She was taken on a south westerly cruise in October, to Aqueduct Marina, near Nantwich. When last seen afloat she was a slightly sad looking picture, curtains gone from the windows, poles and ladder from the roof, herb pots from the rear cabin roof. 

Next seen, just after Christmas, she was out of the water, on blocks, awaiting improvements.     Twice the Captain and Boatwif found themselves nearby and visited her, to pat her hand hull, as if to reassure her.

By the second visit it was apparent that there’d been an initial operation, a shiny new bottom bearing down at the end of her rudder. 

There have been some cold and icy spells. Still outside on the hard Cleddau sat, waiting, just waiting her turn for the warmth of a boatshed…

Meanwhile, if not afloat, the Cleddau crew bent to the compulsion to be beside water. There was a bright though very cold walk beside the Goyt Valley reservoirs on Boxing Day.

What lurks below the waters?        A onetime gunpowder factory  lies below Fernilee Reservoir and the hamlet of Goyt’s Bridge is submerged below Errwood Reservoir,     according to this very useful website.

At New Year the Great Ouse in Bedfordshire was running high. When walking round Priory Country Park a diversion via Cardington Lock is a must. Back in September the John Bunyan trip boat carrying sundry guests and a jazz trio had cruised smoothly through this very lock on a birthday trip downstream – but in late December the lock gates were open at both ends and walls of water were surging through.    In such a fast flow the lock landing downstream looked a tricky place for tying up a boat… 

Then, in traditional post-Christmas fashion, the road stretched west to Pembrokeshire – and glimpses of the sea. Tides were low during the afternoons allowing for a bright and sunny walk at Freshwater East.     Beach clean volunteers had retrieved the rubbish driven in on the storms, but did this tree trunk come in on the tide,      as this maritime visitor must have done… 

At Freshwater West at low tide the massive empty beach stretches far ahead.    High up on the peninsula road a sharp white shape could be detected.     Known locally as The Rocket House (see history here) it is now let as a holiday cottage .

Famed at Freshwater West is the Seaweed Drying Hut.      Local women from Angle used to collect seaweed from the beach and leave it to dry for a week on the sandy floor of the hut;  then it would be sent to Swansea to be made into laver bread… As ever, bracing breezes proved a good antidote to festive excesses!

Next came news from Aqueduct Marina: Cleddau is indoors now, her upper body shrouded in plastic while the hull is scraped and cleaned and painted… 

Three weeks into January another tradition beckoned: Stratford-upon-Avon for theatre visits* and riverside walks. Several narrow boats were nestled comfortably in Bancroft Basin,     but the only boating activity spotted on the River Avon was a rowing four and a single sculler.     The river level seemed fairly high though the flood gauge at the lock exit was marginally out of the red.    Maybe Cleddau could have squeezed under the Tramway Bridge arches     to potter upstream to the Old Bathing Place – or maybe not… a moot point anyway given her current landlubber status!

Even in cold January Stratford plays host to thousands of visitors: spotted were a student group swirling around the figure of Prince Hal,    a crocodile of Americans heading for Trinity Church, several young men with camera phones trying to capture both theatre and church and school pupils in Tudor dress being marshalled along Chapel Street… 

If you are new to the RSC buildings go in the morning:     wander right round the exterior and spot its different time periods. Above the 1930s angular brick structure peeks the modern glass extension of the Rooftop Restaurant. The three year Transformation Project at the RSC, completed in 2010, resulted in the addition of the viewing tower, a fine new entrance with Box Office and well stocked gift shop, along with a redesigned auditorium and more spacious backstage facilities. Walk on outside along the riverside terrace and come to the extraordinary Victorian Gothic style building which houses the Swan Theatre. Exciting shapes and patterns, suggestive of an Elizabethan tiring house    and Gothic revival architecture unite the building at the Colonnade which provides an easily accessible dock for transferring scenery and a pleasant space for audiences to promenade.   From inside the building the new drum-like shape of the Royal Shakespeare auditorium is apparent.  

To wander at will, exploring costume displays, seeing props and settings used in previous productions, to view exhibitions associated with plays in the current repertoire remains a thrill, one (hopefully) to be replicated time and time and time again…


Back home the Captain pores over summer cruising plans and takes delivery of new flag holders for Cleddau’s roof, while, during dark midwinter afternoons, a post-Christmas jigsaw has amused and entertained.


Jigsaw provider, Cheshire Mum, would no doubt prefer not to hear later this year real life tales of stranded boats, head on collisions or crew members overboard!

Now as January ebbs away the afternoons begin to lengthen – and the urge to ‘go boating’ intensifies…


*Twelfth Night (set in late Victorian period)

*A Christmas Carol (as a story developed by Dickens to express his social concerns)


















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2 Responses

  1. Jaqueline BIggs says:

    Wonderful post as usual Sue.
    Love Jaq xxx

  2. Kenneth Deveson says:

    Hi Jaq! It’s February at last, that bit closer to getting back on board Cleddau…! We’ll seek you out when next we come up to visit the boat.
    Sue /Boatwif

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