Day 1, 30th June, Adventure Begins

Having checked our lists as to what we needed to take and then remembering there was no need to pack, surprisingly we were ready for the off before 10am.
The weather was good, and we were looking forward to a relaxing trip up river and beyond our first lock into pastures new.
We knew the total distance to be 43 miles with 19 locks, so calculated 6 hours puttering and 14 miles a day, aiming to arrive at Stratford Upon Avon on Thursday as permitted by the Welcome Pack we’d been given.
We had our Nicholson’s book, plenty of supplies, bottled water and enthusiasm, and my plan was to keep a journal with times, distances, and anecdotes, plus snap away with the camera.
Well, I did say that was the plan.
day 1 signageI’ve already posted loads of photos from here to our first lock and had full intentions of snapping our approach, going inside and coming out the other end.
Er, No.
Locking Up for the first time was a little stressed.
It didn’t help that a guy in a little cruiser wanted to come in with us, but we explained that we were new to the game, didn’t really know what we were doing yet, and didn’t want to run the risk of squashing him against the side should we lose control of the ropes.
Thankfully, he understood.
I managed to close the gates OK. Getting hold of the ropes to secure them over the bollards was stretchful stressful as I had to break in the virgin boat hook, then stopping the ropes falling into the water (failed), remembering to open the paddles slowly so as not to swamp the boat or Hubby hanging on valiantly below, then legging it over the bridge to open the gate on the other side, close the paddles, and be picked up on the way out, wasn’t exactly smooth, sophisticated or elegant. Still, we did it.

The scenery was worth waiting for.
day 1 pic 1 day 1 pic 2
There are so many greens (green is my favourite colour), mostly matt, but glossy nearer the banks or in the river itself. We saw kingfishers, but they were too quick for me to get the camera, there were oyster catchers, reed warblers, curlews, flocks of canada geese on the water with umpteen young, swans and cygnets, ducks with ducklings of various ages, buzzards in the sky above us. It was like we were on an entirely different planet, just us, exploring slowly, chugging up river with no man-made sound other than the rhythm of our 27 hp engine.
day 1 pic 3An hour and twenty minutes after our first lock (and now almost 3 hours into our journey) we arrived at our second.
Get inside lock, close gates. Open paddles slowly other end. Water levels, open gates, close paddles, get back on board. Simple procedure.
Yeah, right.
The gates were against us (someone had gone up river and no-one had come down again) so I had to open the gates first to get in.
I got off the boat with my trusty cutlass (windlass/lock key) and nearly fell in head first getting my hand caught on the covers in my haste.
I told myself to slow down. Hubby shouted it!
The bloody gates were too heavy and stiff, so Hubby had to come and give me a helping shove. He gets back on board swearing at the helm covers getting in his way and blocking his line of vision.
I can’t get the rope with boat hook (bear in mind I’m above him as we are traveling up river so will be going to higher levels each time), then it falls in the water, again.
Manage to open the paddles OK, we invent unique sign language, then when the water is level, I open the gates, close the paddles and get back on board.
We tie up, take a break and take some of the covers off, letting Maggie out for a wee.

At 13.25 hr, we are on our way again and arrive at our first overnight choice at 15.00.
We moor up, everything is very quiet, and we enjoy the view, read the information boards and in doing so discover although this is free mooring, we are actually at the Nature Reserve rather than the recreation ground, so have to unhitch and go through the deepest lock en route which has a ground paddle as well as gate paddles.
Hubby decides he will do the gates and I can take the boat into the lock.
I am a nervous wreck. The boat won’t behave, the bow thruster doesn’t work any more (helps if I turn it on) and I have an audience. My language is far from eloquent and it’s not clear if the boat is wavering because of my shaking or I’m being caught in some kind of cross current.
Great, a little boat joins us, two men on board having a good laugh at this jelly at the helm, but they joke with me, introduce themselves (John and Dave) and I start to feel better.
Hubby is now struggling with the gate on our side, so I decided there and then that I would do the locks and he could man the ship.
I got us out with little difficulty actually, Hubby came aboard and we saw the recreation ground just a little way ahead.
Damn, nowhere to park, so Hubby asks a 60 footer if we could moor alongside.
They are quite obliging, warning us that they intend to leave around 7.30 next morning, but that’s no problem for us.
We tie up, and Hubby carries Maggie across their helm (little shimmy along the gunnel of their boat to get there) and she has a good sniff on the green and performs the deed.
Bless her, she has been so good for us.
day 1 pic 4There’s a supermarket within walking distance so we go for extra bottled water, having drunk 3 of our 6 due to the heat. Yeah, I haven’t mentioned that have I.
Temperature in the boat was 38ΒΊ.
I really didn’t feel like cooking, so we had a sandwich and the cheesecake I’d bought.
We slept like logs and were up at 6, breakfasted and ready for our boating friends when they wanted to leave. We then slipped into their mooring space and relaxed a bit as we consulted the book to see what we were up against for the day.
This is the dawn on day 2.
day 2 dawnThis is us ‘re-berthed’ at 7.45 :
day 2 pic 1 day 2 pic 2

Day 1 summary:
Travel time as per engine hours: 5.7 hrs
Number of Locks: 3
Distance travelled: 14.5 miles

 

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About pensitivity101

I am a retired number cruncher with a vivid imagination and wacky sense of humour which extends to short stories and poetry. I love to cook and am a bit of a dog whisperer as I get on better with them than people sometimes! In November 2020, we lost our beloved Maggie who adopted us as a 7 week old pup in March 2005. We decided to have a photo put on canvas as we had for her predecessor Barney. We now have three pictures of our fur babies on the wall as we found a snapshot of Kizzy, my GSD when Hubby and I first met so had hers done too. On February 24th 2022 we were blessed to find Maya, a 13 week old GSD pup who has made her own place in our hearts. You can follow our training methods, photos and her growth in my blog posts. From 2014 to 2017 'Home' was a 41 foot narrow boat where we made strong friendships both on and off the water. We were close to nature enjoying swan and duck families for neighbours, and it was a fascinating chapter in our lives. We now reside in a small bungalow on the Lincolnshire coast where we have forged new friendships and interests.
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5 Responses to Day 1, 30th June, Adventure Begins

  1. scifihammy says:

    Sounds like a wonderful holiday so far. Love the photos πŸ™‚
    I lived near a lock and always found it fascinating. Pity you were against the flow and had to work hard at each lock, but definitely worth the effort πŸ™‚

  2. The good news is that you haven’t killed each other and are enjoying the trip! I am not a good boater so I doubt that it would have gone that well with me at the locks. You did very well with the locks even if you don’t think so.

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