Saturday 30 May

First job today was to find the local branch of Carphone Warehouse as I’ve had the misfortune of finding out that water and mobiles don’t mix.  Anyway, after a trip first to the ‘3’ shop to test out my sim card, I’m now contactable again on my number that ends ‘991’.

Whilst out we spotted a branch of ‘Countrywide’ who had some good quality heavy duty rubber matting for sale.  This is marketed as suitable for flooring out horse boxes and we’ve been looking for something to lay on our back deck, over the lid to the engine bay, to see if it provides some soundproofing.  The matting was quite heavy and so we first returned to the boat to collect the bike so we could again use it as a mule to help carry it back.

While we were enjoying a cup of tea back on board, we were caught by a member of the Cotswold Canals Partnership  who are working to restore the Stroudwater Navigation from Saul Junction to Stonehouse initially and, then all the way to Lechlade on the River Thames eventually.  Over the next two months they are holding a public consultation to raise awareness and to seek public opinion of their plan and so we went along to the Dock Office to learn more.    The first phase of their plan is a restoration project that we are likely to see in our lifetime.

Our plans to see the Cathedral and the Boat Museum will have to wait until tomorrow.

We walked towards Gloucester Park this evening and came across this pub.   We didn’t go in but wondered if the planners have had anything to say about this?

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We narrowly missed pigeon missiles this evening, and this one only paused for a brief stopover thankfully.

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Friday, 29 May

A wet and windy start to the day but by lunchtime most of the showers had stopped and so we headed off back towards Gloucester.

We stopped off at Saul Junction services to fill up water and empty out our rubbish and also topped up with diesel (our cheapest yet).

Whilst topping up with diesel we had some visitors …

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Nature is beautiful but it’s also cruel. This duck had eight ducklings at the start of the week and today she has only two left.

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This evening we are moored back on the pontoons in Gloucester Docks where we’ll stay for the weekend so we can explore the city, the boat museum and the cathedral.

Thursday 28 May

A lovely warm and sunny day to sit and relax. “Another tall ship heading your way” came the call – it crept up behind us though as it was coming in rather than going out. Apparently heading to Gloucester Dry Dock from Germany for repair. They slipped up – had they arrived last week they’d have been paid to make the journey!

Our good friend Terry joined us for dinner at The Three Horseshoes last night where we ordered the house speciality “The 3 Shu Pie”. This is a pie of three sections:

  1. Bubbling cauliflower cheese
  2. Creamy mash potato with vegetables folded in
  3. The filling of your choice.

… all under a golden puff pastry crust.   We chose the steak and kidney. Yummy!

We were then in for another treat.   Unfortunately Terry couldn’t stay for this so we waved him goodbye with a promise to see each other again soon.

The Bad Apple Theatre Company, based in York, were appearing at Frampton Village Hall with their latest production; The Unlikely Dads.   This starred Rob Angell, an actor I’ve known now for nearly ten years and who was surprised to see us so far from home.  Rob was playing Bob, and his fellow cast member, Robert Took was playing Terry.

We returned to the pub afterwards for a good natter with the cast and crew.   By coincidence the other half of Wasp were also at the theatre tonight, seeing a performance in Welford by Mikron, the theatre company who travel round the country by narrowboat and we discovered that Robert Took has performed with Mikron in the past and Mr Took also lives on a boat on the Huddersfield Wide, so we all had plenty to talk about and only left the pub when asked to do so.

Wednesday 27 May

Last night we walked to The Three Horseshoes in Frampton village, a quaint pub with character.  Max enjoyed being allowed inside to fraternise with the landlady’s dog.

One patron arrived on horseback and just opened the front door to place her order before stepping back outside to wait for someone to bring her her pint, and quite a few hot and bothered cyclists who appeared to be on a mission and  clad in lycra, downed a swift pint and scuttled off again.

Max enjoyed being allowed inside to fraternise with the landlady’s dog.

 

We had a quiet day planned for today, catching up with some DIY jobs and putting away winter woollies as we hope the cold days and nights are now over.   We’re probably tempting fate!

Max and I walked to the village shop this morning but the choice of items was extremely limited as it really operates as a cafe rather than a shop and they would prefer to feed you themselves.  Unfortunately the internet signal is still not strong enough for us to food shop on line.

A tip for anyone planning a trip along this canal – stock up at Sainsbury’s in Gloucester with everything you might need for your stay.  Having said that it is only 16 miles of lock free cruising to travel to Gloucester from Sharpness if all else fails.

 

Tuesday 26 May

Two of the tall ships were due to leave Gloucester this morning as they were booked to lock out at Sharpness on the lunch-time tide.

We spotted the masts of the ships moving above the line of the village rooftops and prepared to watch them pass us.   We then heard that they were planning to moor up opposite to wait for the go ahead from Sharpness Lock, so we headed off for a closer look.

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   Masts above the rooftops

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Welsh boat ‘Beaumaris’ passing

 

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Dutch boat Mergenster passing

 

The large ship had come over from Holland and the smaller boat had come from Bangor in North Wales. We got talking to the skipper of the Welsh boat who told us that he’d had great fun in Gloucester dock taking part in a battle re-enactment with cannon, whilst under full sail (and motor). In a very understated and matter of fact way he told us what he’d done to create the boat we were looking at. He invited us on board so we could admire his handiwork.   He told us he was a boat builder and had created this beautiful wooden boat in his spare time. The timber bath and wash hand basin were superb!

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He was hoping to return to Wales under sail but he had an eye on the weather and thought they would end up motoring much of the way as he couldn’t sail in anything stronger than Force 5 and Wednesday’s forecast was not looking too good.

This afternoon we moved back to Splatt Bridge to try to get a good internet signal as we need to place a Tesco grocery order. We’re still not having any success as the internet signal is very intermittent.

Monday 25 May

Storm chose today to climb down into the engine bay to service the engine, a manoeuvre that really requires double-jointed knees. He changed the filters, oil etc while I stayed close by in case I was needed to pass anything down to him. I took the opportunity to tidy the boat, bake some bread and make a chocolate cake.

With the service completed we decided to move down to Purton. We switched on the engine and immediately there was an audible alarm and the oil pressure light alerted us to a problem. Not good news when Storm had just put 9 litres of oil into the engine.

Overalls on and back into the engine bay, Storm retraced his actions and soon discovered that when he’d swapped the oil filter over, the rubber gasket ring from the old one hadn’t come away and had remained in place. Once he removed the old gasket, tightened everything back up and topped up the oil, we tried in the engine again and this time all was well.

We moored up on the visitor moorings, and with tea cooking in the oven, we headed off to see if The Pub (part of the Berkeley Estate) to see if its erratic opening hours included a Bank Holiday Monday evening. The gate was open and there were cars in the car park this time and we entered the bar area, or at least tried to. With ten people already in there, the room was full, and so we took our drinks and sat in the porch from where we could eavesdrop whilst enjoying the view of the estuary.

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View from The Pub porch

 

The landlady of the pub doesn’t appear to need the trade as according to local gossip she only opens when she has to, and never in the Winter, and many of the locals appear to have boycotted the pub.

 

Sunday 24 May

We woke to a wet and windy morning and as 15 pieces of Tupperware made ready for their trip down river, we set off  on foot in the hope of reaching the sea lock in time to watch them leave.

We found them all lined up in the lock for what looked like the start of a Formula 1 race. The pedestrian route around the lock was clearly defined with white lines and we were kept well clear of the lock sides.

The boats were lined up in groups of four, with the four boats tied to each other, and the one nearest the lock wall had a rope looped round a ring on the quay side. It was still an hour before high tide when the lock-keeper, having checked all their ropes, advised that he was ready to start emptying the lock.

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Under starter’s orders …

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Going down …

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… and away

We overhead a message on the VHF radio that there was a single narrowboat heading upstream from Portishead and that all boats should stay in the lock until he was safely in the outer basin so we walked down there to watch him come in, but again couldn’t get too close but we could just make out the narrowboat heading upstream in the rain. With the incoming tide he was making good progress and about 15 minutes later he began his turn in towards the harbour and disappeared from our view below the harbour wall.

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NB Lazy Dragon arriving into the outer basin

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NB Lazy Dragon looking lonely in the lock

Then he appeared into the outer harbour basin and the pilot on board radioed the lock-keeper for instructions. He agreed to hover in the outer basin to allow the 15 boats to leave and they exited one by one in an orderly fashion, rather than in the Formula 1 start, we’d expected.

With the change of tide, the weather improved and the afternoon was warm and sunny. We walked back along the canal to Purton where we discovered the Purton hulks that have been beached on the banks of the River Severn to help protect the reed beds and the canal.

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We also discovered The Pub with an original name and which I think has the most stunning view of the Severn estuary. The pub only opens for 2 hours on a weekend lunch time and from 7 – 10 every evening. We will try to visit again when its open. (Turn left at Purton lower bridge and walk to the end of the lane)

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The Pub

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The view from The Pub which doesn’t do the view justice