London, Scotland and Some Canals

Worcester to Stratford - I

Thursday 22nd September 2022
Friday 23rd September, 2022
Saturday 24th September 2022
Sunday 25th September 2022
Monday 26th September 2022

Thursday 22nd September, 2022

Breakfast Basket

The Breakfast Basket

Drop Cap oday did not start off too well. We had ordered a breakfast box to the room but it did not turn up so we had showers (and had to wrestle with the shower head as well as it seemed to be broken). We went downstairs and asked about breakfast to find they had listed us as wanting a cooked breakfast. We had made it perfectly clear to the girl who checked us in that we wanted the continental breakfast box. Anyway the manager apologised profusely and brought up the breakfast hamper at 1000. This was quite sumptuous really. A jar of muesli, a bottle of milk, two pots of yoghurt, two croissants, butter, jam and honey and apple and orange juice with all the crocks and cutlery in a lovely picnic basket. And three apples. More than we could eat, really. The manager, Jac, said he would stand us a round in the bar tonight as compensation.


Worcester Commandery

Drop Cap ventually we got out and headed down to the Commandery, an old house that was used as Charles Ist's headquarters in the Civil War. The Battle(s) of Worcester were the first battle of the war and later, the last.


Commandery Great Hall

Drop Cap t was an interesting place, reputed to be haunted, but in its long history it has been a medieval hospital, a Tudor manor, a Victorian school for the blind, etc etc. Sure to be some ghosts. It was interesting and creaked with every step.

Canal Boats

Bywater Hotel Boats in Worcester

Drop Cap he Commandery is right next to the canal, as we discovered last time we were in Worcester in 1989, so we went for a stroll along the towpath to see if we could see where the boats would be. Lo and behold, we came upon the Bywater boats, breasted up and taking on water. Brian, the skipper, was on board and greeted us with pleasure and surprise. The boats look a bit worn, and broke a window in a lock recently which has yet to be properly fixed. Brian told us that Rosie had gone to visit the Cathedral so, since it was on my list, we went there next.

Worcester Cathedral

Worcester Cathedral from the River

Drop Cap orcester Cathedral dates from before the Normans but the majority of the building dates from them. It is vast and beautiful and, as well as being a Cathedral, is also a Priory, with all the monastic accoutrements including a chapter house and garth and monks' accommodation as well.

Stained Glass

Worcester Cathedral Stained Glass

Drop Cap t has a massive stained glass window at the end of the nave and also holds the tomb of King John, the Lionheart's brother, and a chantry chapel dedicated to Prince Arthur, brother of Henry VIII, who died at the age of fifteen. We speculated what difference it would have made to England if he had not died young. Probably still be Catholic, since he was married to Catherine of Aragon.

Worcester Cathedral

Tomb of King John in Worcester Cathedral

Drop Cap e met Rosie and a young former crew member in the Cathedral and had a merry meeting. It is a pity that she does not come on the boats any more but does all the work of laundry, bookings, food ordering etc from home and a small van which follows the boats around.

River Severn Worcester

River Severn at Worcester

Drop Cap e had coffee and scones at the Cathedral then walked through the grounds to a spectacular view of the Severn River, seething with swans. Then we walked home and took a few pictures of the Tudor Quarter, then came home to rest.

 Tudor Worcester

Tudor Shops at Worcester


Tudor Worcester

Tudor Shops at Worcester

Drop Cap e had a good Oriental meal at a restaurant opposite the pub, Vietnamese grilled chicken and lemongrass skewers, spring rolls, Malaysian beef rendang (very spicy, delicious) and fried rice. We had a glass of wine and finished off with sliced orange and apple and an after dinner mint. Yum.

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Friday 23rd September, 2022

Drop Cap ere we are on board the boats again. No Wi-Fi for the foreseeable so we will have to see what eventuates. There are only four passengers this time, so there is plenty of room.

 Sweet Shop

Sweet Shop Worcester

Drop Cap ut first: After our breakfast box we packed up and stored the bags in the Pub's function room until we could collect them. We strolled around the quarter to kill some time, doing some minor shopping and chatting to some of the locals. We resisted, however, entering the Sweet Shoppe!

Greyfriars house

Greyfriars House

Drop Cap hen we returned and went on a tour of Greyfriars House, a National Trust owned building just up the road from the Cardinal's Hat. It is a lovely old late medieval/early Tudor building which by the name I had thought would be monastic or ecclesiastical but it wasn't, it was always a private house.

Greyfriars house

Inside Greyfriars House

Drop Cap he timbers were ancient and creaky, with lots of wall hangings and decorative items designed and made by the last people to live in it.


Cafe at Greyfriars

Drop Cap hey were artistic, in the style of William Morris and they made a point of decorating the house in the appropriate style for its age. The gardens were lovely and we had coffee and cake out there before leaving.

Royal Worcester Museum

Royal Worcester Museum

Drop Cap aking the most of our time in Worcester, next was a visit to the Royal Worcester Porcelain Museum. This was so familiar from the Antiques Roadshow and all the other antiquy shows on TV, and there were two floors of lovely, highly ornamented china. Not always to my taste but beautifully done. Some were incredibly intricate and would have taken months to complete.

Royal Worcester Museum

Outside the Royal Worcester Museum

Drop Cap e had a light lunch in a little wholefood café opposite the museum then walked through the Cathedral grounds to the river's edge. Despite my aching feet, we walked until we reached the place where the canal joined the river at Diglis Basin, a large lock area with a wooden sculpture to enhance it.

Diglis Basin

Diglis Basin

Drop Cap hen we walked back to the Cardinal's Hat, picked up the luggage and dragged it back to the boats. Here we met Brian and Rosie, the rest of the crew, Richard, Ellie and Natalie the chef, and the other two passengers, Ian and Peter.
A great evening meal, prosciutto and melon, cod steaks wrapped in prosciutto, hasselback potatoes and beans, and tiramisu. Yum.
And so to bed. Unfortunately a very bad night. Damn back!

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Saturday 24th September

 Canal Begins

The Tour Begins

Drop Cap ur other two guests are both single men, one retired, Peter, and one still working, Ian. Peter used to be a liveaboard boater and also worked on working boats. I think, from his conversation, he is either widowed or divorced. Ian is a surveyor, also divorced, who lives in a 400 year old house he restored in Norfolk. Neither are novices on a boat.

Canal Bridge

Swans on the Canal

Drop Cap fter breakfast we turned the boats, still breasted up, without too much problem and headed up the canal, the Worcester and Birmingham. Once we got further up we uncoupled and took the butty under tow. It turned into a lovely sunny day, very enjoyable. Mac and Ian joined the crew, we had thirteen locks to do today, twice, because they are narrow locks and only hold one boat at a time. Peter and I sat it out, neither of us having the physical capability to do locks. I did go for a walk with Mac along the towpath from one lock to another.

Canal Bridge

"Quilted" Bridge

Drop Cap unch was a delicious ploughman's grazing table, four kinds of cheese, fruit, chutneys and pickles with fresh baked bread. Followed by lemon fool which was sinfully delicious and I will try to get the recipe. There was at least a half hour delay after lunch while Brian dealt with a large bunch of electrical cables wound around the propeller blade. People!

 First Lock

Our First Lock (Mac and Ian)

 In the Lock

In the First Lock

Drop Cap fter the thirteen (26) locks we passed under the M6 Motorway and moored in a nice stretch near a pub. I had a shower and got ready for dinner, which is smelling delicious. Goat's cheese and red onion tartlets, chicken breast in tarragon sauce, chocolate and amaretto tarte. Yum.

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Sunday 25th September, 2022

Canal Cruising

Canal Cruising

Drop Cap ad a bit better night last night. I dreamed, so I must have slept. It is another lovely day. I had a good morning outside on the motor. It was a lovely long pound and it was good to have a rest from locks.

Canal Lock

Another Lock

Drop Cap owever, we did get to the locks before lunch and worked about eight before mooring for lunch. We will soon get to the dreaded Tardebigge Flight. Brian hopes we can get a few done today so we have less to do tomorrow.

 At a Lock

Natalie and Ian at the Lock

Drop Cap had a chat with Natalie, the chef, who is a corporate caterer with Nestle in real life, and thinks she still has a job, if she wants it. She is a great chef but she is also part of the crew who helps with steering the butty and working locks. As chef, she prepares and serves lunch, and preps the evening meal which is finished and served by either Richard or Ellie. When it is Sunday Brian prepares the full Sunday roast dinner, so the work is shared out among all of them.

 Black Prince Base

Black Prince Base, Stoke Prior

Drop Cap ell, we had a few more locks this afternoon, even passing through the Black Prince depot at Stoke Prior, where we first learned about narrowboats all those years ago. We did a couple more locks then Brian decided to call it a day at a pub near the start of the Tardebigge. We had afternoon tea with a fresh lemon drizzle cake then I had a shower and Mac had a nap. He has been working hard today. May go to the pub after dinner and try for some wifi.

Canalside Pub

Canalside Pub

Drop Cap inner was the full Sunday roast beef, Yorkshire puds, roast potatoes and vegetables, with mushroom and garlic pots for the starter and treacle tart (very solid) for dessert.
  Mac and I went to the Queens Head for a drink and wifi, caught up with mail, but Geoff was not awake yet. Not a good night, unfortunately.

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Monday 26th September, 2022

Canal Boat

Brian Lights the Butty Fire

Drop Cap p the Tardebigge! Spitting with rain - oh well! For me this was somewhat of a non-event, just a long day of constant stops and starts interspersed with loud bangs and bumps as the boats went into the locks. Mac, on the other hand, had a very long day, constantly opening and closing locks and pushing and pulling heavy beams. He was glad to have brought his wet weather gear because it alternated between rain and sun all day and also got quite cold. Brian lit the little coal stove in the butty, which eventually set up a cosy glow.

Drop Cap eals today have been a bit haphazard in timing. Once you start the 30 locks of the Tardebigge you have to keep going, and it was all hands to the windlasses. So lunch was about 1430 to 1500, afternoon tea at 1800 and dinner was still aimed at 1900. Not really hungry yet.


Alvechurch Boat Yard

Drop Cap e have moored in Alvechurch, home of the Alvechurch Hire Boat Company, many of whose boats we have seen on all the canals we have been on. They also do boat building and repair and we have moored opposite their huge site. Still, the other side is woodland.

Drop Cap inner was chicken Caesar salad, salmon, potato salad and veg, and banoffee pie. Very nice, but too much. Then we adjourned to the butty and chatted with Ian and Peter for an hour or so. Then to bed.

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