Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Avoncliff back to our winter base

The last few days of our trip are posted from home as the internet signal on this trip has been very poor.  It’s odd, because on our last trip we had a brilliant signal most nights – but at least we now know where the good spots are for next time. Having finally posted several days’ blogs on Friday night, I used up the rest of the laptop’s battery catching up with some of the other blogs instead of writing Friday's!  So here’s the rest …..
 Friday 1st November
The few remaining hire boats set off very early in the gloom and damp.  We made a leisurely start and pootled gently up to Bradford-on-Avon where we moored at the Tithe Barn for a morning’s sight-seeing.  Although there is an English Heritage sign outside, the Tithe Barn is free to enter! We were impressed with its size and the general state of preservation, but particularly with the skills of the 14th century craftsmen who built it.  This picture was taken from the towpath, as the other side has got workmen’s vans and orange fencing round part of it at the moment, which doesn’t look too good in a photo!
tithe barn 2
My camera’s flash doesn’t work, but luckily Dave’s does, so he took some pictures of the inside.
inside tithe barn 2
We looked around the little gift shops – pretty stuff, but nothing we wanted to buy – then went on down to the Saxon Church of St Laurence.
saxon church 3
inside saxon church 1We strolled up to the Lock Inn Cottage for some Fun with Dick and Jane, aka lunch!  As they indicate, portion control is not one of their strong points and I defy anyone still to be hungry after eating there!  We sat in the brightly painted boat and read the paper while waiting, but now most of the hire boats had gone back to base there was no action on the water.
fun with dick and jane 2
Well, after lunch we soon found out where all the hire boats were – at the top of the lock, all breasted up along the offside. Two narrow-boats were breasted up opposite on the water point, with the wide-beam trip boat front of them.  We crept slowly out into the narrow channel – just out of the picture on the left were the boats on the water-point, and ahead is another narrow-boat waiting for the services, pulled up next to a moored boat.  Bit of a squeeze!bit of a squeeze
Dave had to get us through a channel not entirely straight and only about the width of a narrow lock at the narrowest point, which he did without even the merest touch of another boat. The photo below makes it look much more straightforward than it was!
bit of a squeeze 2
After that it was a short and easy potter to the little spot we have used before, just short of Ladydown Bridge on the outskirts of Trowbridge. It was nearly dark as a day boat passed on its way back to Bradford, the occupants singing lustily, and they were followed even later by a private boat in the pitch dark. 
1 lock 3 miles.
Saturday 2nd November
We set off soon after 9, and after a short stop at Hilperton for the paper, we set off to try and get through all the locks before the forecast rain arrived.  No such luck.  The wind was getting up as we went through the swing bridges and the rain started as we went up the first lock.  At least there was a bit of a rainbow;
rainbow near semington
We paused for lunch below the Seend locks, and in spite of the wind and rain we carried on towards Sells Green. We had some good fortune with the swing bridges – will this hire boat hold the bridge open for us?
will they hold the bridge open for us
Yes they will!
yes they will
What a lovely young man, and it’s raining again too.
lovely chap at swing bridge
We were lucky at the next one too, and pulled up for the night a few hundred yards before the moorings at Sells Green – we were so concerned they would be full we opted to grab the first decent space we saw while the rain held off.  The weather really was horrible after that, with heavy rain and buffeting winds – although the wind was largely blowing from behind us, and the cratch cover was firmly zipped up, the wind was still howling through the vents on the bow doors.  Even so there were at least two firework parties going on in the area.  At least we’ve got a TV signal and I can watch Strictly by the fire!
7 locks, 6 swing bridges, 6 miles.
Sunday 3rd November
In spite of the wind last night the chinaman’s hat was still on the chimney – it blew off the night before but luckily stuck in the grass at the edge of the water.  It was cold enough this morning to need the Mikuni on – we tend not to leave the fire in overnight.  Dave spent the morning doing a few jobs while I went for a run and got the paper (getting very wet on the way back), before we walked up to the Three Magpies for a very nice Sunday lunch which we had luckily booked last night – it was very full.  Then we got wet again on the way back to the boat! but as soon as it had passed over and the wind abated somewhat we pulled pins and made for the marina. 
The wind got up again, making mooring rather difficult, but we got there in the end.  A very smart Dutch barge, Branta, has moved onto the next door pontoon – we have seen them a couple of times and admired their paintwork.
I only took one photo today – this was from our mooring at Sells Green.rainbow at sells green
We can hear more firework parties going on as the rain patters on the roof and we settle down for a cosy evening by the fire.
1 mile.
Monday 4th November
Sunshine and a beautiful, if windy, day.  A good day to be out on the boat but also for packing the car and getting home in the dry.  Dave managed to get the area between gunwales and rubbing strake touched up on the starboard side, as well as a couple of engine bay jobs.  The damaged chinaman’s hat disappeared during the night, presumably now at the bottom of the marina, so that’s another thing to buy, as well as a new car battery...... it's the second time is has failed, but luckily a friendly moorer offered a jump start from her car to get us going.
We haven’t winterised yet, as we hope to get the engine service done before winter and maybe get a few days’ cruising in if the weather is not too bad…..

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