Loo views

Loo views

Wednesday 29 June 2016

Chillington photos

As promised here are a few pics of one of my favourite spots on the Shroppie:

We love our long walks away from civilisation!

It did get muddy in parts though

The beautiful Chillington woods

Jules Fuels passing us by
Bonny really lives for her walks and so do I, especially when the sun shines!

Tiring walks though so we took plenty of time to rest!

Monday 27 June 2016

Chilling at Chillington

For the first time since I started this cruise on the 3rd April, I actually managed to stop somewhere for more than a couple of days! Six days, to be precise, at the beautiful and secluded Chillington Wharf.

The weather has been mixed, as you can see from the picture; one minute lovely sunshine and the next a hail storm! But between the showers Bonny and I have had the most wonderful walks in the Chillington Estate woodland. Yes, it's been muddy and I have had to buy another tube of insect bite cream, but it has been so relaxing.

I have read a fair bit, caught up on my cleaning, spent quite a lot of time lying on my lounger, thinking deep thoughts and of course got into the whole EU thing. Sitting still is still a bit of a challenge for me. I begin to wonder what I'm doing with my life and the doubts and worries start to creep in. But if I don't take those passing thoughts too seriously and just let them float on by, then occasionally I get in touch with the deeper feelings of peace, joy and rightness that are lurking below my rational, ego driven mind.

I stayed until I needed water and to dump rubbish and so today I mooched to Brewood for a spot of shopping and then on to Wheaton Aston where I satisfied my need for water and dumping. Joy of joys I also managed to get onto the Turner's Garage mooring which meant I managed to fill my tank with the cheapest diesel on the cut... 52p a litre!

I am moored near Church Eaton now and will post some photos of Chillington when I get them out of my camera.

Friday 24 June 2016

Don't Panic

I generally try to talk about boating or existential matters on this blog, but the hysteria in some sections of the press and social media over our decision to leave the EU has moved me to comment.

This is not the day the world ends, the sky has not fallen in on us, the sun is still in the sky and we as a nation have not turned evil overnight. The press and politicians love a crisis. They love to keep us frightened because a frightened populace is easier to control. But we don't have to play their game.

Yes, undoubtedly there will be problems and challenges ahead, but then again when haven't there been? Yes, it may well mean we will be less rich and less influential as a country. But just perhaps that will force us to reconsider our priorities. We have voted to be independent of Europe. That will change us. So this will be a really good time to think about what sort of nation we want to become.

I think what is most important is that we as a people have that discussion together, as one nation. It is a horrible feeling when you have held a position with all your strength and then the vote goes against you. And for most people change and the unknown is frightening. For those wrapped up in big business it might feel like we just stepped off a precipice and for those who voted to leave, the temptation to crow may be overwhelming. But we are one nation and we need to come back together as one nation and start a conversation.

Above all, can we please not panic!!
Normal blog service will now be resumed.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Ready to relax

I had to work hard to get to the Shroppie. I cruised a couple of miles and 3 locks to Compton, searched out the launderette and supermarket and thoroughly used both.

Then straight off again to the next lock and my first proper queue of the whole cruise so far. Then another delay as CRT was actually doing some dredging and we all had to station hold in the middle of the canal for 20 mins or so. The hire boat in front of me struggled with that and I think it put him off his stride, so that when we did move, he went at tick over and stopped dead at every bridge hole. Fortunately we got to a straight stretch and he graciously let me overtake.

I got to Autherley Junction where there was another delay at the stop lock to the Shropshire Union Canal. A boat thought it would be a good idea to enter the Shroppie for water and then reverse back up the canal, through the stop lock and then continue his journey on the Staffs and Worcester. Two problems, the junction was thick with boats entering and leaving and the man couldn't reverse to save his life. Unfortunately he seemed to blame the rest of us for his predicament and much abuse issued from his mouth. I ended up having to reverse back out and across the junction to let him out and even then he was rude whilst his wife kept apologising. I got the idea she has to do that a lot!

By the time I got onto the Shroppie there was a queue at the water point, so another wait before finally filling up and going on my way. I took it all as necessary payment to be on my favourite canal.

Today I am moored near Chillington Wharf. My chair is equipped for all weathers as you can see in the pic. I have clean clothes, a full fridge and water tank. I also have phone and TV reception as well as glorious walks in the Chillington estate woods. So I am stopping!

Monday 20 June 2016

Solstice Turning

This is my last night on the Staffs and Worcester as tomorrow I turn on to the Shroppie. It will be the first time I have been on a canal familiar to me since mid April.

It is very appropriate that this turning happens just as the summer solstice marks the turning from longer days to the light slowly fading towards winter. The Spring energy of growth and reproduction changes to the more settled, slower movements of mid summer.

So I hope it will be with me. My cruise so far has been full of challenge, energy and travelling. It has involved friends visiting and new learning experiences such as broad locks and river cruising. I have been busy doing and while I am 'doing' I can avoid 'being'.

One important reason for giving up work and embarking on this cruise is to explore my inner world and to have long periods of time for reflection. I want to experience how scary it really is to have all the time in the world with nothing to do. No purpose, no usefulness, no plan, no busyness. I want to see whether any wisdom comes from this exercise. Perhaps I may even learn things that are worth sharing.

To do this, I need to slow down, in tune with the summer. I need to declutter my hours and spend less time distracting myself with computer, TV and books (not to mention the whisky!) I need to travel more slowly and sit more often. (I do realise how counter cultural this is). It may be an absolute waste of time. I may slowly go mad. I may give up and get busy again. I may learn nothing. But when my inner voice prompts me to do something, I have learnt it is wise to obey and that no good ultimately comes from ignoring it.

Sunday 19 June 2016

More of Roger and Shirleyann's cruise

I learnt loads about boating with crew when my wonderful friends Roger and Shirleyann Andrews joined me for just over 2 weeks. We worked loads of locks, they introduced me to river cruising, we laughed a lot and almost got through without an argument! Shirleyann also introduced me to the pleasures of swimming baths, Fajitas suppers and pancake cooking! Thanks my mates, here are some more pics:

Roger and Shirleyann setting a Hatton Lock

Shirleyann contemplating the peaceful river

Summer in Pershore!

The beautiful Avon

The Holt Fleet where we had dinner with Roger's relatives

Rogers last lock for this trip

Scary pics

As promised here are some pictures of my scary time passing through Kinver while the Stour was flooding. The pictures aren't great but my excuse is I was trying to capture what was happening while steering and trying not to panic! The last picture is of the Bratch Locks from the inside which brought me over another 30' higher than the river!
This is the Stour breaking its banks

This is the river just starting to creep over the towpath

This is the Stour in the canal!

Ever rising!

Friday 17 June 2016

More excitement than I expected

As you can see from the picture, we are moored by the remains of a round house. We should be moored in Kinver to visit the rock houses, but Kinver proved to be too exciting for me!

Yesterday Bonny and I had walked along a road and over a bridge near our mooring spot. This morning the bridge had disappeared and in its place was waist high water, courtesy of the River Stour spectacularly bursting its banks. On my return to the boat I could see water lapping amongst the undergrowth just a few inches down from the towpath.

We set off shortly afterwards! I reached our first lock and nearly lost the boat trying to tie to the lock bollards as a small tidal wave approached us. On checking the 10 foot deep lock, I soon discovered why. Someone had lifted all the paddles so the water was pouring 10 feet down and straight at us. I managed to get the boat into the lock, despite water pouring over the top gate.

Out of the lock, we cautiously cruised towards Kinver Lock. The river was racing by, just inches from us and then I started to see it lapping on and then over the towpath and into the canal. I decided not to stop at Kinver Visitors moorings as they were full. Not of boats, but of water! In fact I decided not to stop at Kinver at all as I met a waterways man who told me he left the paddles open on the lock to try and stop Kinver gardens from flooding!

Several more 10 foot locks and the river was still uncomfortably close, until at last I crossed it on an aqueduct (water being a little high for comfort) and mercifully from then on the canal headed away from the raging river.

I do have photos but in order to get them on here, I have to download them on my laptop and then Bluetooth each one onto my tablet, before uploading them onto this blog. (Don't ask). When I have recovered from the terrified excitement I will see what I have got.

It's such a shame as this section of the Staffs and Worcester is incredibly beautiful but so far I have not seen it at its best! One blessing, after such heavy rain for five days, we actually had a dry one today.

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Monday 13 June 2016

Pictures from adventure with friends

Here are some pictures I have extracted from my camera since my friends, Roger and Shirleyann Andrews joined me on my cruise:

I had been anxious about the Hatton Flight of Locks as they were my first really big flight of broad locks (21 in all). However it turned out to be a brilliant experience. The first picture is of Roger steering my boat. He was very good at it and we shared the steering and lock working, whilst Shirleyann went ahead, setting locks in advance. It worked really well.

The second photo shows how busy it became, particularly when 2 pairs of boats meet in a short pound! We shared working most of the flight with a lovely friendly boat with a very knowledgeable skipper. He showed me the best way to work broad locks, both up and down hill. He also taught me how to do synchronised boating, where we both left one lock at the same time, came apart slightly in the pound and then came together to enter the next lock simultaneously. That way no ropes were needed at all. Great fun and I managed not to damage him at all!

Then after cruising the South Stratford canal and spending time in Stratford itself, we launched ourselves onto The beautiful Avon, my first ever river.

It is beautiful but you also have to treat rivers with a great deal of respect, especially around weirs. This poor boat came to grief 18 months ago when its inexperienced crew took it out when the river was in flood.

The River Severn next and beside it, the Avon looked like a mere stream. This is how small my boat looked on it!

And lastly but very much not leastly, here are my intrepid crew who left me to go back to Devon yesterday. More pics to follow..

I am going to die

I watched a drama last night where a character I have followed for ages, died. The hospital drama Holby City, explored the nature of death and how we approach it in an exceptionally deep and thoughtful way.
I cried my eyes out when Arthur Digby died, but I was also filled with a fierce joy. I am going to die. What can be more awful than that? So if I keep in mind that I am going to die, all the other anxieties in my life fade to their proper perspective. As Arthur said, “I'm going to die, I don't need to worry any more.”

I am going to die and this fact makes me want to live. Live intensely, live with no regrets, live as fully as I can. It makes me so happy that I have already seized the day. Yes, it is probable I will run out of money. Yes, I am alone and there is every likelihood I will die alone. Yes, I am not achieving anything that the modern world values. But I am going to die, so Carpe Diem and let's go boating!

Sunday 5 June 2016

River joys and terrors

I have found my first cruising on a river both terrifying and wonderful. The Avon is so beautiful and there seem to be very few boats using it at present. We have had no problem mooring and have been alone in most of the locks. The scenery is simply magical with few manmade structures to spoil the view, even bridges are few and far between.

However, the weirs are an issue as they push your boat around, reminding me of the power of the water. One lock approach yesterday almost reduced me to tears as the weir ran directly under the lock landing. The other scary thing for me as a canal dweller is the lack of any sort towpath. When the woods come right down to the water, I can't help wondering what on earth I'd do if I needed to stop in a hurry. I guess that's what my anchor is for.

I am heading for Tewkesbury and then will turn up the Severn towards Stourport. I will be both relieved and a bit sad to get back to my familiar ditch!

Thursday 2 June 2016

A different view

Usually my view from the loo is of a countryside scene but today I am moored in the canal basin in Stratford Upon Avon, surrounded by tourists. It is a lovely place to moor, with the theatre on one side and the river on the other. So much to watch and be involved in.

But I am writing this, at 2pm on a sunny day whilst lying in a darkened cabin! I have been out and about this morning but I am exhausted. It is a combination of 78 locks and goodness knows how many miles in 5 days and a disturbed night's sleep due to my blow up mattress developing a leak. This meant I woke at about 2am with my legs straight up in the air, my head bent forward and my bum on the hard ground. As I woke I thought the boat was sinking so I was quite relieved to discover it was only the mattress!

I am also finding it draining to be in constant company. My friends have been on board for a week now and I love their company, conversation and crewing. But being essentially a solitary person, I recharge my batteries by being quiet on my own and that is not possible at present. However they have been very sensitive to that and have gone off for a couple of hours to give me some space.

So hopefully with air bed mended and a full night's sleep, I shall be ready to do Stratford in the morning!