Monday, 9 April 2018

A day of bits and pieces, then a VERY early start

Saturday 7th and Sunday 8th April; in the marina and home

What joy, we awoke to pouring rain and a cold boat.  What would we be doing today?  As soon as the VW garages were open Dave made some phone calls to see if a local one could fix the car on Monday, but of course they are always booked up.  We could get Green Flag to take us all the way home today in a tow truck, but Dave’s done that before - it’s not very comfortable and they aren’t always happy to take dogs in the cab. Anyway on a wet Saturday they will probably be very busy and we could be hanging around in a cold boat for hours waiting for them.  So, quickly deciding that whatever we do it’ll be tomorrow, we lit the fire and had a think in comfort.

We had more tea, looked at the map and thought about where we will go on our next cruise.  The only conclusion we came to was that we wouldn’t be going to the north this year.  Back to the matter in hand eventually, we finally decided that we’d aim to leave the boat at 6am tomorrow as the motorways shouldn’t be too busy at that time.  We wouldn’t be doing our normal speed but if we can get beyond Bristol by the time the Sunday morning drivers are out and about we should be ok, though the Exeter outskirts might not be much fun.  At least we know the roads round there.  If we do need to call for assistance we should at least be able to get as far as a service station.

The rain eventually eased off and Dave took Meg out for her walk while I got on with some work I needed to do.  It was dry after lunch so he went down the weed hatch to recover the rubbish that fouled our prop yesterday – a length of very tough plastic netting.

what was round propeller

I remembered seeing quite a lot of something similar tangled in a hedge yesterday, quite a way the other side of Hanbury junction.  I wonder how many more bits are lurking ready to entrap unwary boaters?  Dave also reset the Mikuni after doing more checks but it still didn’t work, so he removed it and put it in the car to look at when we get home.  I went for a run later and saw a boat coming up the locks from Droitwich, so the Salwarpe must be down to reasonable levels again.

Now we are in the marina we can take advantage of the excellent shower facilities.  (Underfloor heating! warmer than our bathroom at home!)  In the Ladies there is a good hairdryer, with loads of fancy attachments if you feel so inclined, and hair straighteners into the bargain!  Not quite my thing though.

Up before 5 on Sunday and on the road before 6 with the first greying of the sky and the blackbirds in full dawn chorus.  The roads were fairly quiet and with most shops closed till 10, it being Sunday, stayed that way. 

When we came up last Wednesday the Stratford Avon at Bredon had burst its banks and it was impossible to see where its proper course was.  Today the flood plain to the north of the river is still under water though now the river bank is visible again.  The first photo shows the extent of the flooding.

avon flood plain at bredon

The blue colour is how it came out – it was still before 7 and very overcast.  The second photo shows that the levels are beginning to drop and the bank is beginning to reappear.  The river itself is on the right and Bredon church is visible on the hill if you look carefully.  It was hard to get a sharp picture as we were moving so fast – all of 50mph!

avon plus floods at bredon

Every time we cross the Bristol Avon I look for narrowboats making the crossing to or from Sharpness.  Never seen anything moving at all!  Tide’s out today.

bristol avon

As it’s Sunday, all the shops at Cribb’s Causeway, the huge retail park near Bristol, were still closed so traffic was light and it stayed like that all the way home – in the end it took no longer than if there had been a delay on the motorway, and we were indoors before 9.  It had been a fairly easy journey, though we do now appreciate the difficulty lorry drivers face on hills, having had to change down to third gear on one gentle but long incline.  No wonder they want to maintain their speed uphill by moving out to overtake slower lorries even if it means they do it painfully slowly!  The hardest bit of the whole journey was the undulating last few miles where the road climbs about 300’.

Now there is the expensive business of getting the car fixed.

Trip stats: Droitwich Junction canal, Worcester and Birmingham canal.

7 miles narrow canals, 10 locks, Dunhampstead tunnel (twice).