Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Sunshine, good food and clever people.

After a quiet night (apart from the helicopter which, literally,  skimmed the top of the trees above our heads and made the boat vibrate!) we left Dundas Aqueduct this morning and, again, the sun was shining. Karen and Ian on ‘Tacet’, who seemed to have made an early start, came past us while we were still getting ready!


We gently cruised along the canal through the lovely Avon valley where some of the vistas are just so England.


We passed Ian and Karen in Bradford-on-Avon (who had stopped for breakfast), stopping ourselves a bit further along to get a  much needed major shop from Sainsbury’s.  Although you can’t see the store from the canal, Doug remembered we used it 6 years ago.  James had to stay with the boat on the visitors moorings (pictured) as it wasn’t really safe to leave it, due to the very poor condition they were in.


Further along we passed some nest builders (or perhaps it’s just an extension).


Sadly, there’s a lot of unsightly “continuous mooring” along this stretch from Bath – this, albeit a bit exceptional,  is someone’s home. 


When we got to Hilperton we stopped at “The Boatyard” -  owned by Spencer and Victoria who we’ve known since we had our last boat.  Victoria had finished the fenders we ordered last week on the way down –these will replace the old ones later this year.  We also filled with fuel and bought some servicing spares and had a pleasant catch-up chat with them both before continuing.  We can thoroughly recommend this very helpful and welcoming couple for anyone cruising the K and A.

After a few locks and swing bridges around Seend, we finally came to halt for the night at Sells Green – the same spot we chose for a mooring on the way down.  This time we went for a wonderful meal at The Three Magpies which is a short walk from the canal.


On the way back to ‘Chance’ Doug collected a lantern, which the chap on the next boat made out of a Guinness can that he’d given him earlier.  It’s very effective and really well done.



Aren’t some people clever!

Monday, 29 April 2013

Return to Canal Cruising

We had a good run up the River Avon into Bath today.  The river was running slowly which afforded both ‘Tacet’ and ‘Chance’ an easy passage.  But first, ………
…… a photo we forgot to show yesterday.  We thought this was one of the best performances on the dockside in Bristol. (and yes it is a real man sitting down in thin air!)
The Space Shuttle is safe and well on the River Avon!
The dramatic Keston Park sitting high up on the hill overlooking the river.
When we reached Bath we thought we ought to do the “Pulteney Weir” thing – i.e.. cruise up to just below the weir for a tourist pic.  The lovely Pulteney Bridge, lined with the quaint little shops either side, is seen just above the weir.
Entering the Kennet and Avon Canal from the River Avon soon had us experiencing Bath Deep Lock again.
With the locks out of the way we left Bath behind.  The leaving is as lovely as the entering with all the Georgian buildings and bridges we passed.  The bright sunshine made it all the more enjoyable. On our way out we were pleased, at last,  to meet nb ‘Marpessa 2’ with Nick and Emma moored up and enjoying the views across the city.  We had a nice chat to Emma for about 1/2 hour – forgot to take a photo – sorry!
Ian and Karen on ‘Tacet’ stayed behind in Bath to do some more sightseeing and we carried on along towards Dundas.  The scenery along this stretch is very nice indeed.  We stopped and bought another bag of coal from the local coal boat. We didn’t get his name but he was very helpful, both with the coal purchase and to hold ‘Chance’ steady while James got down in the weed hatch to retrieve a bed sheet from around the prop! 
On arriving at the Dundas Aqueduct we decided we’d had enough travelling for the day and we found a nice mooring on the other side.  We had a walk down the Somerset Coal Arm, which has a very narrow entrance!
The terrific view south from the aqueduct.
IMG_0553 The Dundas Aqueduct, like its’ twin at Avoncliff further along the canal, was built by John Rennie in 1805.  It’s a Grade I listed structure and, in 2003, had a £1 million refurbishment carried out.
Every piece of Bath stone used in the construction (except a few recent repairs) has a masons mark which allowed the mason to be paid for his work. 
Our mooring for this evening.  We’d been settled for a couple of hours or so when Ian and Karen from ‘Tacet’ came up for a chat. They’d called it a day and moored further back but came along for a walk with Jumble their dog.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Bye Bye Bristol.

We had another great day in Bristol before we left this afternoon – but first we must show a couple of very nice photos taken by Karen from ‘nb Tacet’:-


On Friday’s arrival Karen took this shot as they followed us to our moorings…….


……..and on Saturday this shot, during the regatta, from the opposite side of the docks.  Thanks Karen and Ian. It’s a grand picture showing the  amphitheatre behind our boats, the Millennium Square behind that and the cathedral behind that.  The tower of the Wills Building is to left of the cathedral’s twin towers. (Wills as in cigarettes)


The very impressive water feature in the Millennium Square – obelisks of vertical waterfalls and large areas of mirror-flat water.


During the morning lots of old buses started to arrive for a enthusiasts meeting in the amphitheatre behind our mooring.  James remembers all of them!


This interesting exhibit was a modern bus chassis carrying an old one.


The main pleasure of the day was the arrival of old and cherished friends Kirk and Sian (also Bristolian like Fran and Shaun yesterday!)  We’d planned to have breakfast with them but, with a lot of chatter on the boat first, it turned into brunch.  Here we are having just consumed four large Wetherspoons English breakfasts!


When we got back to our mooring there were many more buses there than before.  Somewhere our boat’s in this lot – probably under a No 37!


We were told that the two cranes opposite our mooring were set in this lowered position as a mark of respect for a crane driver who had recently died.


A great shot of ‘us boys’ taken by Sian.

IMG_0516Our last picture of the docks taken from ‘Chance’ before we left at 3 ‘o clock this afternoon.  We’ve very much enjoyed our visit to Bristol – our mooring position has been perfect for seeing so much of the events taking place this weekend. Sadly, we have to leave as our ‘parking ticket’ has run out.


The journey back up the River Avon was very pleasant – overcast and not too chilly and, in just a couple of days, the trees have greened up and it looks a totally different place.


Our very peaceful moorings this evening next to the Avon Valley Railway bridge.  We came through Netham, Hanham and Keynsham Locks  so that we’re well out of reach of the high spring tides.  Even below Keynsham Lock the river was showing a two and a half foot rise this morning!

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Gurt Lush!

Last evening we had a brilliant time at the theatre seeing “Priscilla, Queen of the Desert” with Jason Donovan.  The performance lost very little of the West End feeling.  The show has been a sell out for its’ two week run and we were very lucky to get two of the last seats remaining and only a few rows from the front as well.  Afterwards we enjoyed the rest of the evening  in a few bars and clubs.


Today, we had a bit of a lie in and then had eggs for breakfast (we have eggs at weekends just to remind us it’s Sat. / Sun!) We also did haircuts because another week and James would be looking like a full blown dandelion!


It’s been mostly sunny all day and about mid morning the steam railway on the other side of the docks from us started its’ week end work by carrying people up and down the dockside.


A couple of very dear Bristolian friends  joined us mid morning for coffee.  This is Fran and Shaun on their arrival.


We’d planned to have lunch with them so we walked the short distance through Queens’ Square, with it’s ‘forest’ of mature London Plane trees,   ………….


……… and the beautiful terraced houses that surround it………


…….to the very old “Hole in the Wall” pub.


The pub has much history attached to it including having the distinction that Robert Louis Stevenson wrote “Treasure Island” in this nook. There are tiny slits in the walls of the nook that look each way down the road and were used by smugglers to spot ‘the law’ coming.


James, Doug, Fran and Shaun having pre-lunch drinks.


After lunch we returned to the docks area to find crowds of people enjoying the sunshine and listening to the band playing.  This is one corner of the docks where we could look across and see ‘Chance’  in the background under the old tower.


There’s a very nice bronze statue of  John Cabot who sailed the “Matthew” from Bristol across the Atlantic and found America in 1497.


Walking back to our mooring we found the port authorities setting out the finish line, for the rowing regatta today, just in front of ‘Chance’.


Post-lunch drinks on board ‘Chance’.

The same drinks we hasten to add, but this (better) photo is courtesy of Shaun and his superior camera equipment.


We had a super relaxing afternoon  on ‘Chance’ with Fran and Shaun – watching the competing rowing teams from two local universities:  the steam train whistle blew, the band played on, there were water craft all over the place and people enjoying their weekend in the sunshine.  ‘Chance’ bobbed and rocked under the choppy waters of the docks and it was “Gurt lush”! (Bristol-speak for’ lovely’ or something like that!)  Thank you Fran and Shaun for your company – it was great to catch up with you again.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion.

We left Hanham Lock after 10 o’ clock this morning (as directed) due to the high spring tide.  Before we left we were treated to the river running in the opposite direction as the tide came up and over the weir!


Our first experience of ‘Chance’ on tidal waters as we head down towards Bristol.


A lovely run down – some of the scenery was beautiful with the trees now bursting their buds properly.


Approaching Bristol Docks.


Ian and Karen on ‘Tacet’ follow us down through numerous bridges.


Entering the docks proper.


A very low bridge indeed!  We had to take the main part of the chimney down to get through.


We had a tour round the docks first before getting a mooring.  This is the ‘Matthew’.


No need to say what this one is.


‘Chance’ birthed at the Harbour Masters pontoon while he sorts out our mooring.  The docks are pretty full at the moment with winter moorers not moving out until May1st.


‘Tacet’ follows closely behind as we travel to our moorings.  Karen takes a photo of us as we take one of them!


We took a walk into the city to book the theatre for tonight and to have a bite to eat.  This is certainly a sign of the modern age – a courtyard of lovely Alms Houses now dwarfed by office blocks.


We booked to see “Priscilla Queen of the Desert” at the Bristol Hippodrome this evening.  We’re hoping it will live up to the London performance that we have seen before.


This is our mooring. (Not as bad as it looks)  Might try to get a better shot tomorrow. But with free electric and water we have everything we need…..