Monday, 20 July 2015

Tiddle Widdle Island

Morning All

Tiddle Widdle Island is a real place just outside the village of Wyre Piddle and the people who live there must have a great sense of humour to put up with a name like that! It is named after the Piddle Brook which runs through the village, well that's what the book says!

After all the excitement of the trip down to Stratford last week, our travels along the Avon have been very tranquil. The river is quiet and serene and the scenery is quaintly English. Our old friend the Kingfisher made a welcome return but we only caught a glimpse of that scintillating blue before it vanished into the distance - it's ages since we saw the last one, so this made our day.

It was a cool drizzly morning when we left Stratford on Tuesday. We tooted the brass horn as we left the lock, waving to a party of primary school children who lined the bridge over the lock to watch the fun. I'm not sure they found me very entertaining – poor little mites, they looked far too young to be on the 'Shakespeare Trail'.

We turned right out of the lock and chugged along by the park towards Tewksbury, happy to be on the move again in spite of the showers that cross over us from time to time. We soon reached Luddington and claimed the best mooring spot – what luck. The sun came out and shone down hotly on our solar panels and the cabin was in the shade of a weeping willow so stayed nice and cool. Tricky and I set off to explore down a track that led off from the moorings, past the church, to a village of thatched black and white cottages. I walked a little way to the village green, peeping into the gardens along the way. There were luscious roses everywhere and lawns trimmed with daisies, flagged paths leading to front doors surrounded by pots of brightly coloured flowers – a very pretty village. Tricky wasn't impressed and lay down in every available patch of shade until I took pity on her and set off back down the track to the cool, greenness of the riverbank.

We reached Evesham on Thursday and moored right outside a chinese take-away - how convenient. We walked over the bridge into town and found it was full of charity shops - like so many places are these days. The beautiful buildings around the old town told the story of a glorious history and the park, which slopes down to the river, was in full bloom. I saw a naughty dog jump into the fishpond and run amok through the lilies - well, it was a hot day and I don't suppose the fish were too bothered.

One of our favourite places on the Avon is the little town of Pershore, where the visitor moorings are right by the park and Tricky can jump on and off without any help. Which is more than can be said for the silly sheep that went for a swim in the river on Sunday morning. The poor thing couldn't get up the bank and bobbed around in the rushes, bleating. For a fleeting moment I thought I would have to paddle over in the lifebuoy to save it – how ridiculous was that, as if I could just sling a fully grown sheep over my shoulder and throw it ashore! Just when I thought Carl and Malc would have to launch a rescue attempt, we heard an engine strike up and a little cruiser set off across the river. The husband held the boat steady while his wife stood on the bows and prodded the sheep with the blunt end of a boat hook to encourage it to try a bit harder to get up the bank – and we all cheered and clapped when the sheep was safely back with the flock.

Good moorings are limited on the Avon and twice this week we have cosied up next to the 'Naga Queen', fitting our two boats side by side into one space. Today we are on a lashed together on the Swan Neck mooring just below Nafford Lock – Pat and I sat out in our deck chairs on the grassy bank, enjoying the view, while Carl and Malc went through their daily ritual of tuning in the TV. Carl's Omnidirectional aerial has not been performing well of late and finding that our neighbours have 200 channels with an aerial that looks like a brick on a stick is causing a touch of aerial envy.

It's one of the downsides of boating life, you can't always find a shop selling what you want and so you have to cobble something together till you can either get it fixed properly or better still, make such a good job of bodging it that you don't need to buy a new one. Our aerial has been cobbled together so often that it's only the gaffer tape that stops it collapsing completely. We've managed to tune in to BBC once in a while but, to be honest, I think we might have done better with a coat hanger! Is there a Maplins in Tewksbury? We found one in Stratford but they'd sold out of the 'brick on a stick' TV aerial so we bought a new radio instead! We now have a neat DAB radio hooked up on the back deck – it's a fraction of the size of the old 'ghetto blaster' that took up so much room and crackled and fizzed while I was trying to play 'Popmaster' with Ken Bruce. I'm always 'One Year Out' and to be honest sometimes I'm wrong by a decade! If you don't listen to Radio 2 then you won.t have a clue what the last bit was all about!

I'm listening to the rain pattering on the roof as I clatter away on the keyboard, the forecast is mixed for the week ahead and we'll be on the River Severn tomorrow, on our way to Gloucester. I'm hoping that we only get showers – we don't want to get caught up in a deluge - I've seen the 2007 flood markers and they're scary!

Have a lovely week everyone

Love as always

The Floating Chandlers