Boatwif Blog

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River festival, Stratford-style

Valley Wharf to Wilmcote: 2.9 miles, 12 locks            Phase 3 of the Summer Cruise has begun: this time “summer” is an appropriate word to use!             There was never any intention to move the boat on Saturday – still hemmed in by a hire boat the crew sought boats elsewhere. How would a Stratford River Festival compare with the biennial Bedford River Festival?  A half mile or so towpath trundle down past four locks brings walkers and cyclists to...

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Clunk!

Stratford to Valley Wharf: 2.1 miles, 5 locks.           Last night’s RSC production, A Mad World My Masters, currently playing at the Swan Theatre, is a comedy written in the early 1600s but edited and set in 1950s Soho. The result is a riotously funny and extremely bawdy production. The cast are magnificent but the full-throated jazz singer who provides a strong link between scenes and story-lines is truly amazing. Parents / carers be warned: this production is not recommended...

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Completists?

Moored on Stratford Riverside: 3.5 miles, 1 lock            Not an original thought but surely to be bored in Stratford is to be bored of life. It is no surprise to hear a multiplicity of languages in the heart of England but yet it never ceases to amaze. By mid-morning Tour Guide Stratford was under way. There was the mass of South Koreans streaming into Henley Street to Shakespeare’s Birthplace; there was the party of Italians posing for a group photograph...

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Bells, brides and buskers

Moored in Bancroft Basin, Stratford-upon-Avon           First to the brides referred to yesterday. Above the cacophony yesterday afternoon of laughter and applause coming from the large crowd surrounding the fire-torch juggling unicyclist, church bells could be heard. The delicate spire of Holy Trinity Church, where Shakespeare is buried, soars upwards above the riverside scenery. This prominent graceful landmark draws thousands of visitors each year, being “probably England’s most visited Parish Church,” according to its website.  Its bells were ringing on Saturday afternoon...

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Trains and boats and locks – and brides

‘Canalorak’ readers – skip to paragraph 2*.          Boatwif’s childcare mission was accomplished just after midday on Friday when she was the sole passenger to leave the train at Wootton Wawen’s request stop. On Wednesday a kindly Walsall–bound couple had guided her (via Debenhams second floor perfume department in the Bullring) from Moor Street Station to Birmingham New Street Station.  On Friday a kindly gent offered help in finding the way out of the New Street maze:  when it was...

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Downhill on the Stratford Canal

TUESDAY: Hockley Heath to Preston Bagot, 7 miles, 33 locks            “Yes please!” was the reply to two separate canal volunteers today when help was offered. There were two draw bridges in the first mile and then after the next mile the locks started. Down through the first Lapworth lock and a gentleman in tweed jacket appeared.  He wore a C&RT Volunteer badge but “lived locally”. In fact he lives in the cottage below the first lock where his wife,...

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Four-tunnel day

Tardebigge to Hockley Heath, 18.27 miles, 4 tunnels, 1 open stop lock        First Mate delivered the Cleddau crew back from Bromsgrove to the boat at Tardebigge New Wharf this morning. Unloading of weekend gear and the top up food shop was quickly completed, a top up of water followed – and then it was off – off along the summit level of the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Within 10 yards there was tunnel number 1, Tardebigge Tunnel, a 580 yard*...

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Boatdog on board – the cruise resumed

          Phase 2 of Cleddau’s summer cruise began on Thursday. This is the Droitwich Spa to Stratford-upon-Avon leg. (Is “leg” the right word?)         The six nights at home? Well, if really interested, see below.          Relief Captain and First Mate live close by to Droitwich. They are very nearly the proud new owners of nb Tentatrice. They also work as volunteers for Canal and River Trust (C&RT) on the stretch of canal between Stoke Prior and Tardebigge.          “We...

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Geometry

Netherwich Basin, Droitwich to Droitwich Spa Marina: 1.4 miles, 5 locks             A lesson in geometry was needed this morning to work out how to leave the short pontoon and to bear left towards Droitwich: all simple except for a gusting 18mph wind and a long hire boat whose stern was a couple of feet from Cleddau’s bow..           The stern was let go and it began its planned drift to the right. Slowly it began to pivot around its...

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Exploring new waters

Stourport-on-Severn to Droitwich: 14.2 miles, 14 locks         The stats say it all: 28 lock miles is a lot and the crew is fatigued!          Stourport was distinctly damp this morning so waterproofs and life jackets were donned before the trip downstream got under way. Just finding your way out of the Stourport Basins can be a challenge: there’s the ‘Birmingham Navy’ moored in front of the Clockhouse, craft of all shapes tied to the wharves and finger pontoons for...