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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Stratford on Avon

Monday 7th May and after a lovely day on Sunday we set off in reasonable weather but with a pretty rotten forecast and a boat came out of our first lock just as we arrived, but we arrived at the lock just as another one followed us to it! Keen young family in it, well the parents were at least, it was their third boat hire in 6 months! Locks arrive thick and fast but after an hour, so did the rain. The boat in front of us was a brand new Kate Boats hire boat, not even sign written as they had only completed the boat the day before the hirers picked it up. The hirers were a very unprepared couple, she 6 months pregnant & with only a thin rain top, he had none at all, only a fleece. She was very cold and miserable and wanted to stop, but we never passed them. We however stopped for lunch and a warm up just before lock 48, hot soup made by Carol did the trick.

Lily & a cottage incorporating the original barrel roof

Some people just don't know how to park
This was alongside the canal

We came out into more heavy rain passing through the one lock before a lock free section for some 3 miles. We passed over the Edstone aqueduct, I’ll try for a pic from the towpath on the return trip, but about half a mile further on we saw a good mooring and called it a day and lit the stove. 12 locks and only 7 miles

The Edstone Aqueduct

Tuesday 8th May and what a change, a lovely day and quite warm. Keen to enjoy the weather we were away by 9.30, which is pretty early for us, and enjoyed a steady cruise through the remaining 16 locks into Stratford. At one flight of four we had cleared the first two, the third was set for the on-coming boat with gates open, but they were making no progress getting into the bottom lock. I toddled down to see what the problem was to find another totally new hire boat with totally new hirers who were trying to get into the lock with fenders down and it wouldn’t go in. I tried to put them right, but expect we might meet them on our way back!
We stopped for water some locks before Stratford, getting the water running just as another boat arrived on the way out from Stratford. Full again we set off in the lovely sun using the facilities at the Valley Cruisers boatyard to ensure we arrived empty. The bridges from there into Bancroft basin were incredibly low, we had to take off the satellite dish & Carol’s flowers  on the roof got rather squashed, but sprang up again! We arrived in the basin at 2.30 & pulled into one of the vacant moorings, at which Carol decided it was time to find a Costa Coffee.

The oldest Costa building we have seen

Having satisfied her craving I decided I wanted to moor the other way round, but to achieve this, switched my brain off a bit, and squeezing round Lily rubbed herself on the button of the neighbouring boat, but also got her hull a bit personal with its hull, leaving a bit of a black paint in its white counter......not just a white counter but a very newly painted white one. I felt a real plonker and was very upset, as they were. Fortunately 20 minutes work with turps and polish restored the stern to its previous condition and I felt better.

I got talking to them, they are a couple from Boston USA who spend 6 months a year cruising. Their boat, Spuyten Duyvel, and it has a WhisperGen for the provision of heating and power generation, which have always fascinated me as they use a Sterling engine and are supposedly very quiet and to run for many thousands of trouble free hours before needing any work. In the 8 years they have had this (from new) they have had to service it frequently and undertake some repairs. He has bought a second hand unit for spares, and now the maker in New Zealand has gone to the wall, partly due to the earthquakes in Christchurch. Mike Goode had suggested we might fit one in Lily when we were building her, but he never got round to saying they cost around £7000!!! I’m jolly glad we would not have been able to afford one!
This is a sun dial where you act as the gnomen
It is a memorial to 4 firemen killed in a nearby warehouse fire in 2008

Wednesday to Saturday were spent in Stratford, we having been told by the BW bod on site that with the Avon in flood and very limited demand for moorings, we could stay that long....we gather one of our near neighbours has been here about 6 months. I do consider that BW should change the regulations such that 48 hours of free mooring is allowed, and after that mooring is chargeable.

The lovely swan fountain at Stratford

We saw Twelfth Night in the main theatre, sitting in the gods with limited view. We enjoyed it but wished we had studied the synopsis before going, and then Richard 3rd in the smaller, Swan Theatre. Upon reading it was to run for over 3¼ hours we thought we might not make it, but it was performed by the understudy cast and it was absolutely superb with some lovely humorous touches. We shall seek out similar productions in future, especially as they only charged £5!
We also did some Shakespeare houses viewings plus some shopping, mostly window shopping, but did avail ourselves of the Friday market and bought the most enormous cauliflower for just £1, whilst Sainsbugs wanted £1.35 for about ¼ of the amount.
Archaeology under way at one of Shakespeare's houses
Note the wonderful wisteria
Thursday was somewhat enlivened by a very good curry and couple of reasonably priced pints in Wetherspoons. Carol did have a sadness on Friday as Costa’s coffee machine died & wasn’t repaired till late morning on Saturday, by which time we had my cousin arrive for a visit. After lunch I enjoyed a ladies shopping trip as Beverley was looking for something to wear to a wedding and Stratford has many independent fashion shops. 
Whilst the girls shopped I took some pretties
Sunday 13th May and our youngest daughter is 40 today, we are off to see her & family next weekend for her & husband Simon’s 40th parties. It is also a Grand Prix day, and memorable as it was won by a Williams car on the weekend when founder Sir Frank Williams was celebrating his 70th birthday with all his family present. 
Lily moored in Barncroft Basin with the Shakespeare Theatre behind

After the race we set off up the first four locks, following two Anglo Welsh boats. At the top of these locks we stopped at the Valley Cruisers boatyard to fill & empty, but I noticed the engine charging warning light was on. I expected to see the engine alternator belt to have broken, or that there was a wire off the alternator, but all seemed intact. This stopped our day’s cruising as we will get the boatyard to check it out tomorrow.
Overall after a fairly busy start it turned out a lazy but interesting and educational week.

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