Wednesday 4th April; Droitwich Spa Marina to Dunhampstead
Isn’t that what the song says? Well maybe not, but it was good to be out on the water again! Five months is too long to be away. Dave did come up to check things during the winter, but he didn’t take the boat out. And it’s only a very short break this time, but better than nothing.
We had a very wet journey up from Devon and were relieved to have a short dry spell to unload the car. Then the rain started again so we quickly connected the shoreline, drank tea, unpacked and restocked the galley cupboards for the season, had more tea …. then the rain eased off and we were out of the marina. We could only turn left – the Salwarpe is in flood, and the two locks between the M5 tunnel and Droitwich town are closed. I can’t think there’s much headroom under the M5 either. The road to the marina follows the canal out of the town and it was obvious the Salwarpe was not the little stream we are used to seeing! Anyway, up Hanbury locks we went.
I had to cudgel the old grey cells to remember how to use the side ponds, but got there in the end. I also got wet. I had my waterproof jacket on as there was still light rain now and then, but when it suddenly got heavier I was busy setting the second lock. So by the time I’d got back to the boat to fetch the trousers I was a bit damp. There were no volunteers on the flight unfortunately, hardly surprising as you’d think only boats from the marina would be using the locks – but no, there was a hire boat just in front of us! They must have come down, turned, and gone straight back up again.
The Severn is in flood too; there have been notices coming through for a few days now. The electronic warning board’s red lights were flashing.
We passed the hire boat, sitting out the rain on the lock moorings, and turned under the junction bridge onto the Worcester and Birmingham. The right turn towards Worcester is the awkward one, as the junction is at an angle, and there was plenty of time as we manoeuvred to admire the banks of primroses.
There were several boats on the visitor moorings but we only saw one other boat on the move as we pottered down to Dunhampstead. The trees are still mostly bare and the old reeds are still standing in the biscuit colour of winter though some parts have been cut down, and the dumped bits are going black. Our brass mushrooms don’t look too good, do they?
The rain held off for us to drink our tea but by the time we got to the tunnel it had started again. We had considered going beyond Oddingley before we turned but the rain looked as though it had set in for a while so we turned at the winding hole just past the Dunhampstead visitor moorings instead and tied up on the rings which for once were the perfect distance apart for a 55’ boat.
The fire was soon lit, the dog walked (lucky Dave…) and then in a dry interval Dave spent a happy hour in the engine hole cleaning it up and checking the fuel line to the Makuni heater which wasn’t working when he came up in the winter. He bled the radiators, topped up the header tank, checked for leaks and now there’s just the glowplug to be checked. If it still doesn’t work after that it’ll have to come out and he’ll have a look at it at home.
Meg is delighted to be back on the boat. We mostly aren’t busy doing other stuff so she gets lots of attention and can sit on the locker to keep an eye on things, help at the locks or go to sleep inside as she wishes. She also sits expectantly at the side of the dinette when we eat. Tonight she struck lucky – the last bit of Dave’s sausage made a bid for freedom only to find itself snapped up in an instant. Unfortunately for Meg it was covered in mustard, but it didn’t deter her – she was a bit surprised but not at all put off.
About a mile and a half, 3 locks, rain and a lucky dog.