Sunday 19th July 2015
No More Free Samples!
This week we've covered a lot of miles with very little effort. After an enforced stay of an extra day on the 'Swan's Neck' mooring, thanks to a strong wind pinning us to the bank, we set off on Tuesday early, before the wind woke up!
Strencham Lock was set ready for us to go straight in and since then all the locks and bridges have been manned. Its been a very restful week for all of us, nothing to do but enjoy the lovely views and sunny afternoons as we chugged from Tewkesbury down the River Severn to Gloucester. (I won't mention the mornings as they were mostly grey and damp). We spent a night at the Lower Lode Inn, doubled up on their floating pontoon - it's a great mooring but the ramp up to the pub from the pontoon is extremely steep. Tricky and I hauled ourselves up and found a grassy area and some benches under a large willow tree – I got a few strange looks as I hung my wifi dongle on a handy branch and settled down to order Mum's shopping.
The approach to Gloucester Lock is serious – large boards warn boaters to 'Slow Down' 'Keep Left' 'Contact Lock-keeper' – the River Severn can be tidal through here and we've heard some horror stories about this lock. Today the river is calm and placid and the lock gates are open for us to go straight in – I'm glad to get through and moor in the large basin on the other side without any drama's. What a great place to moor – it's like being at the seaside.
The docks have been refurbished and the old working warehouses are now shops, offices and fashionable eating places. Pieces of original dock equipment decorate the old wharves and the old railway lines can still be seen in places. In one corner of the basin there is a working boatyard with a massive wooden sailing boat up on chocks in the dry dock. Tiny men, far below, are working on the massive hull and the smell of tar floats up from a big, bubbling pot of the thick, black, smelly stuff. Further along there are huge holiday boats and a towering red Lightship with a 'For Sale' board planted at the bottom of the gang plank – who will be brave enough to take on all that vast expense of red paint! This is completely different from the kind of boating we are used to – everything from dinky little cruisers and converted fishing boats to Dutch barges and wide-beam narrow boats are collected here and we're all the target of those blooming sea-gulls!!
The city shops are a short stroll away(past the prison) and the Cathedral area is full of Japanese tourists who may well be the same ones we saw in Stratford! I found the Beatrix Potter shop called 'The Tailor of Gloucester' in a little alley by the Cathedral and bought a wooden postcard to send to my Mum. Further on we found a really unusual clock over the watchmakers in Southgate. We were intrigued by the large carved figures so we hung around and waited for it to strike the hour to see what it would do. It was hardly worth the wait – it chimed and the figures moved a bit but I was expecting more - a door to open and something pop out or a drummer boy to appear. I looked it up later and the figures represented an Irish woman, and English man, Old Father Time, a Scotsman and a Welsh woman which sounds like the beginning of a not-very-funny joke – maybe it does something spectacular at midnight – I might have to go back for another try!
I was lured into the indoor market by girl giving away samples of Greek olives and they were so good I went in to buy some. I think the lady doing the selling has missed her vocation – she should have been negotiating with Angela Merkel to get the Greek debt reduced. I came away with a large portion of olives costing twice as much as the those little pots I usually buy from Sainsburys and a large spadeful of hummus to go with it. Carl and Tricky can't bear the stuff so I'll be eating dips for a month!
The Food Festival started on Friday morning – rows of stalls selling pies and pickles, cheese and chocolate as well as jewellery and rather fetching 50's style pinnies. It was a bit too early for Carl and he couldn't really get into the swing of things till we spotted a stall selling warm pies – he cheered up no end when I got him a 'warm bunny' – that's Rabbit Pie if you haven't already guessed! I passed the 'Fuffle' stall twice without being tempted (it's a cross between fudge and truffle) but was lured in by the free sample and I'm now hiding the 'Baileys Fuffle' at the back of the fridge where I can't easily get at it.
Yesterday, we reached Saul Junction and had a ramble into Frampton-Upon-Severn which is famous for having the largest village green in England. We started off at the Boat Inn end and walked along by a beautiful old fashioned cottage with roses and hollyhocks in the front and a grape vine growing in the kitchen garden at the side. We passed by the 'Three Horseshoes' at the other end of the green in favour of a bite to eat in the 'Village Bistro' – it was a 'caff ' really but I'll forgive them the pretentious name as the Pistachio Bakewell was delicious. Tricky was allowed in and lay quietly under the table waiting for a morsel of sausage or bacon to come her way and had a paddle in the village pond to cool off on the way home.
We had yet another grey start this morning and we lingered on the mooring watching a very selfish gin palace type cruiser having a wash and polish on the water point. He was there for several hours and only cleared off when the sun came out and the canal turned from a sulky grey to a lovely sparkling blue. We chugged off and made the most of it before finding this idyllic spot to tie up for the day. It's a little overgrown if I'm honest – Carl had to borrow the shears and a medieval instrument of torture called a hand scythe from our cruising companions on Naga Queen to hack away the undergrowth. We now have a spectacular view towards Wales, and tomorrow we get to Sharpness – I'll tell you all about it next week
Have a lovely week everyone
Love as always
The Floating Chandlers