Tailor made in Gloucester
Wednesday 15th June, Slimbridge to Gloucester Docks, 11 miles 0 locks
`First some photos from the last few days that have caused delight or amusement:
• Stained glass window from inside the Mariners’ Church
• Sculpture/ sign pointer near Slimbridge, depicting a hand, two otters and a flamingo
• A garden ornament put to good use by the bridge keeper at Patch
`Today was to be a “catching up” sort of day. Cleddau had been very comfortable on her number 18 mooring at Slimbridge, and apparently could have stayed for fourteen days. But after topping up with water she passed The Black Shed (scene of yesterday’s ice-creams) and headed north towards Gloucester. In calm and humid conditions we cruised along, leaving behind a remote world. It was farewell to a bankside VW beetle, to nb Nellbo Baggins at Saul and to nb Gandalf whose location is painted on the side of the boat as ”Middle Earth”. To the left of us of was now a full estuary of tidal water. Bridges were wound or swung smoothly but it was nearer the city, at Rea Bridge, that an untidy convoy of novice canoeists blocked our way.
“Thanks for your co-operation,” said the chief instructor generously.
“That’s OK, we got tangled up with the Devizes to Westminster* once,” replied the Captain.
“You did!” came the amazed reply.
Just before the bridge into the Docks, without too much noise or fuss, Cleddau drew in to a boater’s dream place – a canal-side Sainsbury’s, the bank furnished with plenty of rings and bollards. Here a shopping trolley can be trundled right to a boat’s front deck! Tailor-made boat-parking!
Next into the Docks: unlike during the thunderstorm arrival of last Saturday visibility was good. Choices – alongside the wall in front of Biddle Warehouse or the herringbone pontoons nearer the lock? The pontoons beckoned (for several were empty now) and no ungainly scrabble was needed to get a rope through a ring high up on the wall, just a civilised saunter towards a metal bollard.
Later Boatwif undertook an afternoon stroll into the city. Who / what was the tailor of Gloucester? In a tiny street just yards away from the Cathedral is a Beatrix Potter Attraction, part shop, part museum, run by volunteers. Beatrix Potter had visited Gloucester in 1894 and heard of how the mayor’s new waistcoat for the Root, Fruit and Grain Society Show at the Shire Hall had been mysteriously finished except for a buttonhole. This curious event was incorporated into one of her own tales. In truth it seems that the tailor’s apprentices, after a heavy night out, used their secret key to lie low all day – during which they all but finished the waistcoat!
One last event to report: it is term-time still and so to the Cathedral to hear Evensong sung by the King’s School Choir. Small boys, medium sized boys and men, all in scarlet cassocks and white surplices, the boys with additional white fluted collars, sang with strength and purity. The congregation on this occasion included past King’s staff as well as the current headmaster.
Back then to the boat. Moored by the lock is a lovely looking boat, one you might wish to hitch a lift on: called Life, the Universe and Everything its back cabin is emblazoned with No. 42. A passerby along the pontoon cannot help but notice a navigation chart spread out on a table in the cabin; odd, a guidebook would seem more likely…!
*Devizes to Westminster annual canoe race, run every Easter along the Kennet and Avon Canal and the River Thames.