So last night we were all set for some pub research but rain intervened and it just didn’t happen. Before then, we had dinner, slow cooked braised steak which was delicious. I had threatened to sample some while Sue was showering but decided to wait instead.
After dinner and before we intended to walk to the pub there was a knock on the side of the boat, puzzled I opened the back doors and slid back the hatch. I was greeted by a man who said, “You must be George, I’m Roly – a friend of Paul and Elaine’s”. I recognised the name immediately and remembered that Roly’s wife, Bev had witnessed Caxton’s bill of sale last year at Aston marina. We chatted for a few minutes and discovered that like us, they are heading towards Stourport. It was a lovely gesture and hopefully we might see them again in the next few days.
By the time the rain stopped we just couldn’t be bothered to go out so we watched a film on the television instead.
We were up and about reasonably early this morning and managed to set off by 7.45. We planned to use the services above Greensforge lock but that didn’t go too well. The elsan was blocked (a perfect start to the day) and the water tap leaked badly. By the time I reached the lock, Sue was talking to the chap who lives in the cottage above the lock. He has owned a beatifully preserved working boat for fifty years and it is moored at the bottom of his garden, next door is a lovely canalside pub – what more could a man want? Well, in his case, a lot more. His wife has cancer and I’m sure that he would trade everything for her health and wellbeing.
We pressed on and reached Kinver just before midday, emptying the cassettes, descending the lock and tying just below on the visitor moorings. We walked up to “The Vine” and had lunch before walking into the village for a look around and after short stops at The White Hart, the butcher shop and the cafe we returned to Caxton on the canalside for a few hours.
At six thirty we decided to return to The Vine for Dinner and enjoyed two really good main courses with a bottle of wine before we returned to our floating home for the evening.
After yesterday’s marathon effort, we were in bed at 9.30 last night. Fully rested, we got on our way and left our mooring at Compton wharf at twenty to nine. It was still as windy as it had been the day before but it was dry and reasonably warm as we drove on to the first lock of the day.
Our descent into the Severn valley revealed a subtly different landscape to that of the Trent valley that we had climbed out of over the last few days. The canal seems wider and deeper, the variety of trees and plants slightly different, both sides of the hill being pretty and picturesque. It’s hard to believe that we have been travelling so close to the huge conurbation of the West Midlands and yet have only passed through open countryside.
This part of the Staffs & Worcs is new to us and our journey today took us down through the Bratch locks, locks which were built as a staircase and then converted. They still need to be managed closely though and today there were three lock keepers on duty to aid the passage of boats through the short flight. We were third in the queue but with nothing coming up, we were soon in the top chamber. After the Bratch there is a normal lock with the curious name of Bumblehole Lock and then onto a proper staircase lock at Botterham. We then descended the two locks at Swindon and tied on the visitor moorings there.
Dinner tonight is beef that Sue has had in the slow cooker all day (the smell is driving me mad so I might risk sampling it while she is showering!)
There are two research establishments in the village that we might check out later, The Green Man and the Old Bush.
We did 13 locks in 6.5 miles today so with a bit of luck we should reach Stourport on Severn by Friday lunchtime.