Sunday, 15 November 2015

Weed, mud and wind

Saturday 14th November

We were anticipating a late start, as heavy rain was forecast; but it didn’t materialise, so after a while we set off up Astwood locks to turn round at the winding hole above the second lock.  It was quite chilly this morning, windy and dry, though rain was threatening.  The winding hole was narrow but also very overgrown and there was a lot of stuff under the water which Dave discovered when the wind blew him further over than he wanted to be.

1 turning in astwood winding hole

We will email CRT and hope they have time to clear it over winter.  We had toyed with the idea of going further and turning round at Stoke Wharf, where Black Prince has a hire base.  We decided against it as with all the hire boats in for the winter there may not have been enough room to turn.  As we came back down the lock, we were surprised to see a boat waiting below – like us, they were turning above the lock.  We carried on down to the bottom lock, which was full of floating debris.  So by the time we moored – just a hundred yards or so past the lock moorings, not far – we had picked up a considerable moustache, about 6” thick.  It floated off as we moored and you could see quite how much there was.

  3 moustache  4 moustache

Another boat passed us as we moored, saying they had seen no boats moving since leaving Birmingham – now they’d passed two in less than an hour!  The rain started and continued on and off as we had lunch and got on with some of the jobs on the list, but eased off mid-afternoon so we got togged up in our wet weathers and took Meg off to follow footpaths on a circular route.  We started at the bottom lock, where a footpath crosses the canal.  The lock must have had some repair work done in 2012.

5 in concrete slab at astwood bottom lock

‘Peace Convoy’ is a term that was used to describe New Age travellers (peace and love, man) who lived in old ambulances, buses etc and moved around the country in groups, causing trouble/being harassed by the police, depending on your point of view.  But I couldn’t find anything specific about a convoy passing this way in 2012, or at all.

Our walk took us towards Droitwich Spa marina along muddy tracks and through wet fields (what a surprise).  Some fields had been sown with winter cereals and others with some kind of brassica.  We thought it might be a fodder crop, used for strip grazing at some point in the winter.  However, there was an awful lot of it so it’s more likely to be overwintering oilseed rape.  If we see Nick, the farmer who owns the marina, before we leave we’ll ask him.  Meg did a lot of belting back and forth;

6 flying through forage brassica

The lights on the horizon are the floodlights at Droitwich Spa Rugby Club the far side of the marina.  You can see from the poor exposure that the light was already going at 4 o’clock.  By the time we got to Westfields Farm, just behind the marina, it was almost twilight.  We had just squished through the liquid mud in a gateway (they have cattle) and somewhere had missed the turning we wanted, so we ended up at Hanbury Junction.  We arrived back at Chuffed in the dark – at least we knew where we were going along the towpath!

Dave continued varnishing the porthole frames and I lit the fire.  During the evening the wind got up and we were buffeted and rocked back and forth till well after midnight – it kept me awake for quite a while.

4 locks (2 repeated), about a mile and a half distance.

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