Normal service resumes.

The only problem with leaving the writing of the blog for so long is can I remember exactly what we have done. I am sure I will be corrected if I miss anything out.

Whilst we were awaiting the arrival of Wendy and Dennis on the 16th September, we walked into Droitwich town. When we had been before with Amanda and David we hadn’t quite found all of the shops; but this time we did. Waitrose and Morrison’s, as well as a small shopping square with many famous name shops there. Our first port of call was Boots the chemist, to ask when they would be starting their flu vaccinations, as we wouldn’t be going back to our own GP for a while. The answer from the pharmacist was that she could do them straight away. What service, so we got them done and ticked that job off the list. We did a little bit of fruit and veg shopping, and then made our way back to the marina. Wendy had been in contact and said they had left at midday from their home in Canterbury. They were expecting a 4 hour journey, but the M25 had other plans and it took them 7 hours! Luckily I had prepared dinner in readiness for their arrival with a much needed glass of red wine.

On Saturday the weather was a bit overcast but after getting breakfast and showers etc, we headed off in the car to Spetchley Park and Gardens. It was somewhere a friend of Wendy’s had recommended. Set within 30 acres it is a display of tree’s and plants creating one of the largest private collections of plant varieties. The house isn’t open to the public as it still is a family home to the Berkeley family. DSC02584

DSC02585

The mansion built in 1811 by John Tasker to replace the Tudor house that was burnt down on the eve of the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It has magnificent views of the Malvern and Bredon Hills.

The mansion built in 1811 by John Tasker to replace the Tudor house that was burnt down on the eve of the Battle of Worcester in 1651. It has magnificent views of the Malvern and Bredon Hills.

A cork tree which can grow new bark when the old is taken to make corks.

A cork tree which can grow new bark when the old is taken to make corks.

A rather impressive form of conifer

A rather impressive form of conifer

The Fountain Gardens designed by Rose Berkeley and Ellen Willmott. 36 separate beds surround the central stone fountain

The Fountain Gardens designed by Rose Berkeley and Ellen Willmott. 36 separate beds surround the central stone fountain

Statue of Eve

Statue of Eve

Statue of Adam

Statue of Adam

Not statues at all!

Not statues at all!

Bill or Ben?

Bill or Ben?

The kitchen garden guarded by the imposing bronze Ramsey stag

The kitchen garden guarded by the imposing bronze Ramsey stag

We had a nice lunch in the tea rooms there, and spent a couple of hours looking around the gardens; this was made more interesting by the use of Audio guides, which charted the history of the gardens and house as we walked around.

All Saints church in the grounds of Spetchley. Dates to the 14th century and contains the tombs of the Berkeley family. Now sadly decommissioned

All Saints church in the grounds of Spetchley. Dates to the 14th century and contains the tombs of the Berkeley family. Now sadly decommissioned

Sunday we had booked the Eagle and Sun again for Sunday lunch at 1pm. I walked ahead to book us in as Wendy and Dennis were enjoying chatting with the volunteer lock keepers on the way up. One of them had recommended The Navigation pub as being a good place to eat., and also the Droitwich Salt museum as a place of interest. Another good Sunday lunch was had, but this time we declined pudding as Wendy had brought home made apple pie, bread pudding and carrot cake. We didn’t have room for pudding straight away, and we asked for a doggy bag to bring left over meat home for Izzy (which she has enjoyed over a few days).

some captivating moon photo's taken one evening

some captivating moon photo’s taken Sunday evening

Moon with an oak tree in the marina that was lit up

Moon with an oak tree in the marina that was lit up

We had promised our guests a ride in the boat, but Monday was a day of mizzle, so we went into Droitwich town and looked around the salt museum that was housed in the Heritage and Information centre on the former brine baths site.

Droitwich Heritage and Information centre

Droitwich Heritage and Information centre

It was only a small display but very informative. The salt industry is traced using displays and old photographs , through the roman, saxon and medieval periods, and finally the Victorian era.

Droitwich Spa coat of arms

Droitwich Spa coat of arms

Droitwich brine is the strongest natural salt water known, and contains 30% natural salts. This is 10 times more concentrated than sea water, making it as dense as the Dead Sea.

Mosaic in the town

Mosaic in the town

another mosaic depicting the history of the town

another mosaic depicting the history of the town

commemorative plaque in the pavement

commemorative plaque in the pavement

town view

town view

Tuesday the weather had improved so we were up reasonably early and away by 9.30am, ascending the locks and heading up the Astwood locks to try the Navigation pub lunch at Stoke Bottom lock, Stoke Wharf. 10 locks in total, we arrived at 1.30. The lunch was worth the hard work of getting there with a set 3 course meal with a drink for £10.99. Off again by 4pm to get back to the marina before it became dark; we just made it, pulling into the berth at 7.20pm. A distance of approx 4 miles to the pub! Wendy now knows how to work the locks, and how long it takes to get anywhere. Dennis was the official photographer for the day and we look forward to seeing his photo’s.

Our guests left at midday on Wednesday, and we were once again on our own. The next few days were taken up with painting the rubbing rails on the sides of the boat, and a bit of blacking below the gunwales, and also some minor chips on the handrails. We walked again into Droitwich on Saturday and had a top up Asda delivery of the heavy items.

Today is Monday and after topping up with water, emptying the cassettes, showering in the marina facilities, saying goodbye, we are on our way again on our travels. Still not 100% sure of our destination yet.

Droitwich Spa, Cornwall and back again

From Dunhampstead we moved to Hanbury junction on Thursday 1st Sept. We needed to top up with diesel as the tank was now half way and we don’t like to go beyond that; also with the autumn weather it helps to keep the condensation away in the tank. We stopped at Jeremiah boats at Hanbury Wharf, just enough room to moor and top up with diesel, get a second gas bottle, and 2 bags of coal in case the weather turns colder. They also had blue chem for the loo at a reasonable price so I bought some of that as well. The weather was still holding fair, so after filling up we moved over to the towpath side to moor up. It was a bit overgrown with trees, so our solar panels were not doing too well there. We walked with Izzy along the Droitwich junction canal, to check out the locks and to pop into the marina and say hello. The first 3 locks were manned by volunteers, and were unusual in the fact they have side pounds which need to be opened (or shut) first in order to fill (or empty) the locks, as the locks are very deep. Chatting to the marina receptionist we decided to ask if we could moor up a day earlier than planned to get ready for our guests. This was agreed so Friday we set off at 9am. Did I say there were volunteer lockkeeepers? Well on the Friday there were none! So we managed to do the locks alone at our own pace. Only trouble was we were dressed for fine weather and when we were at the third lock the heavens opened and we got soaked. Charlie managed to get Breakaway reversed into our allocated mooring; something he hasn’t done for a while, but didn’t have any trouble as the wind was blowing in our favour. Washing and cleaning ensued to make sure we were presentable for guests. On Saturday Amanda and David arrived around 1pm. The weather had really turned nasty and was raining quite heavily most of the morning. Luckily after we had lunch it stopped which enabled us to take a walk along the towpath to Droitwich (about a mile); this also enabled us to check the water level flowing under the M5 culvert, as if it is a certain height we wouldn’t get under it if we wanted to go that way. At the moment it is as low as it ever goes apparently and is sitting at 2.1m. We still haven’t decided on the next part of our journey yet. Sunday we had booked for lunch at the Eagle and Sun pub, which had been recommended to us. Reasonable day for a walk to the pub, and we all agreed the lunch was good with a large vegetable selection and a choice of 4 meats (I had a bit of everything!). Amanda and David had another walk around the area later on in the day (I think to walk off lunch). Monday and we set off for Cornwall around 10am. Droitwich Spa marina is very near to the M5 so for Cornwall it is a handy place to moor. The journey took around 4hrs with one stop, and no holdups to speak of. We arrived at our tiny house in good time to walk to the local co-op and get food for tea. It’s good to go back occasionally to check all is well and see our son Simon who lives locally with his partner Jinette. It was a flying visit, so no time to see anyone else; also we didn’t hire a car until it was time to come home to the boat. We managed a meal at Amanda’s (seeing our other friend Shirley), and a meal out with Simon and Nette. The dentist was happy to leave my tooth alone as it was holding with the filling done in Evesham, so hopefully it will last till next visit in 6 months. We picked up a hire car whilst in Truro, which was a very nippy Hyundai I10 (we have had one of these before). Sunday and we tidied up and got car packed for journey back to Droitwich. We left at 1pm, and arrived around 5pm; another good journey with a slight holdup at Temple (a notorious bottleneck near Bodmin that they are now dualling). Monday an order done for an Asda delivery (which came yesterday), a little bit of washing done and trying to keep boat tidy for our next guests Wendy and Dennis, arriving on Friday. Yesterday the weather started off very hot indeed, but in the afternoon turned into thunder, lightening and very heavy rain. Fine again now, so a little bit of touch up painting to do, and some baking. We will have to take a walk into Droitwich sometime this week to get a few more bits of fresh veg before the weekend. We have also booked again for Sunday lunch; a good excuse to get out of cooking.