London, Scotland and Some Canals

Stratford Upon Avon to Banbury - I

Saturday 1st October, 2022
Sunday 2nd October 2022
Monday 3rd October 2022
Tuesday 4th October 2022
Wednesday 5th October 2022

Saturday 1st October, 2022

Statue Lady Macbeth

Statue of Lady Macbeth at Stratford

Drop Cap e packed up everything preparatory to leaving the boat. Brian (bless him) said we could leave our bags on the boat so we sorted out all we needed into the hand luggage, put all the laundry into a large bin bag, and sallied off to explore. Shakespeare's statue is circled by statues of some of his most famous characters, very well done; Lady Macbeth really looked haunted.

Stratford Street Food

Food Fest in Stratford

Drop Cap tratford upon Avon was having a food festival in all the main streets and people and dogs were everywhere. The variety of food, both British and forn is amazing: from Dutch poppertjes, to Caribbean BBQ, to fudge and cakes, to Turkish and Greek gyros, etc etc etc. Smelled very appetising. It is hard to believe the improvement in British food since our first trips around 1998 and 2000. Our first experiences seemed to indicate that nobody in Britain wanted "that foreign muck" (much like my father way back when). Now there is such a variety and so much flavour. Immigration from hot countries can only be applauded. Much like our own is now.

Stratford Street

Old Pub in Stratford

Drop Cap e found the laundry which we had sourced on the Net, it was open but unattended. We could have sat and done it if we had had the change and the detergent, which we didn't so we decided to save it for a service wash on Monday. Have to get it in early (0900) to pick it up by noon.

Bridge over the Avon

Stratford Bridge over the Avon

Drop Cap hen we called our B and B, Avonlea Guest House, to see if we could leave the bags there until checkin and they said "Sure". So we found the house, five minutes from the Canal Basin across the river Bridge, and they said if we wanted to sit in the hall and connect to wifi and wait for half an hour or so, we could get into the room straight away. So we did. They were very accommodating hosts. The room is very nice, up one flight of steps but with a for me very dangerous step down into the room from the door and the bathroom. Everything is so spacious after the boat.

Shakespeares Birthplace

Shakespeares Birthplace

Drop Cap nce we had had a rest and caught up with our mail and Geoff on Viber, we ventured out again. We found an easier and shorter route back to the basin and then went up the High Street to the festival. For lunch we chose huge hot dogs, mine plain with onions and sauce, Mac's with BBQ pulled pork, and one serve of chips. Very difficult to eat on the run so we propped ourselves on a shop window ledge and made a mess! Very nice though, a grilled sausage rather than a boiled frankfurt.

Shakespeares Birthplace

Shakespeares Birthplace

Drop Cap fter lunch we went to Henley Street to Shakespeare's Birthplace and took the tour. My handbag was scanned for explosives, or whatever but I didn't have any.

Costumes at Shakespeare's birthplace

Costumes at Shakespeare's birthplace

Drop Cap t was an interesting display of the life and times of Will S, and the house itself, over 400 years old was fascinating. There were displays of costumes and lots of Shakesperiana. There was a pretty garden and of course a shop, where I bought a few Shakespearian souvenirs.  

Garden path at Shakespeare's birthplace

Garden Path at Shakespeare's birthplace


Interior, Shakespeare's birthplace

Interior, Shakespeare's birthplace

Drop Cap n the way home we encountered a tea shop called "Shakespaws Cat Cafe". It was a different sort of place because they charged six pounds for entry and barred young children. Lolling around the place were several rescue cats. We didn't go in but it was tempting. Maybe tomorrow.

We dragged ourselves back to Avonlea where I fell asleep for an hour, then we had coffee and I had a shower and washed my hair. Hoping we can find somewhere nice and not too far to eat tonight. My feet are killing me and Mac has done over 200 locks this week!


We dined at Carluccio's on the waterfront on chicken saltimbocca for me and beef ragu pappardelle for Mac. Shared some marinated olives and a carafe of pinot grigio. Nice.

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Sunday 2nd October, 2022

Butterfly Farm

At the Butterfly Farm

Drop Cap e had a very eclectic sort of day today. It was another lovely sunny day and we sallied out to enjoy it after breakfast.  

 Butterfly Farm

At the Butterfly Farm

Drop Cap irst, we walked for about two minutes, to the Stratford Butterfly Farm. This was a wonderful experience which I had never heard of before.
We were advised to leave our coats in the cloakroom because "it gets very warm and humid in there". I told the guy we were Australian so he said we probably would not notice it.

Butterfly Farm

At the Butterfly Farm

Drop Cap n tropical humidity and rainforest style greenery were fluttering dozens of different butterflies big and small and all beautifully coloured. At various points were set out plates of fruit and flowers which the butterflies hovered over and landed on. We were told not to touch them, but they touched us, landing on us as if we were trees. There were also iguanas, huge carp and "mini beasts" like stick insects, snakes and a beautiful but very dangerous black and yellow poison dart frog. I seem to remember one of these as the murder weapon in an episode of "Midsomer Murders" some years ago. It was a fascinating place.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Drop Cap fter this we walked to the Tourist Info Office where we bought tickets for the Hop On Hop Off bus and went off on it to Anne Hathaway's Cottage. The old farmhouse was set in gardens and orchards and is just so picturesque.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Anne Hathaway's Cottage


Drop Cap ast time we were here was 1989 in winter and we were just about the only ones there. We went over the house, which seemed bigger than I remembered from 30 odd years ago, perhaps only a portion was open in late December, but it was very well presented with every room showcasing a different historical period. The kitchen is the oldest part and is the part which Will and Anne would have known.

Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Rosemary at Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Drop Cap hen we strolled in the garden where we found a lovely photo op stop. It was a circular willow structure with a seat in the centre with a view of the Cottage in the background. My best photo of the trip was here.

Rosemary at Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Rosemary at Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Drop Cap e got back on the bus and went to Mary Arden's Farm (she was Shakespeare's mother) but the bus driver kindly told us that it shut down at the beginning of Covid and has not reopened. So we went back to Stratford.

 Mac at Cat Cafe

Mac at the Eclectic Shakespaws Cat Cafe

Drop Cap y this time it was 1330 and we decided to seek a light lunch. We found it at the Cat Cafe we saw yesterday, "Shakespaws". This was a wonderful place (if you like cats!) You have to ring the bell to get in and there is a cat lock ensuring the cats don't get out.

Cat Cafe

At the Cat Cafe

Drop Cap hey have eight rescue cats relaxing about on overhead runs, towers and cushions. And strolling about. There are barriers so they don't get into the food prep area but they can certainly get among the customers. You are asked not to feed them or pick them up but are encouraged to pat them. It was the most amazing café. Don't know what the Health Department would say about it at home!

Stratford Building

Stratford Streetscape

Drop Cap fter this we strolled through the food fest again and back to the basin where we indulged in ice creams before wandering back to Avonlea where we both had a nap. Soon I will have a shower and we think a Thai meal later.


Drop Cap e had a very good Thai meal at Sabai Sabai. We shared a serve of Golden Bags (same as moneybags at home), then a sizzling platter of chicken and vegetables with chicken fried rice. Quite enough for us and very good. A bottle of cider each and then we both had dessert. Mac had pecan pie and I had pandan leaf pancakes wrapped around a coconut mix. Nice and different. It was a bit more refined than the local Thai Street but lots of the same dishes. During the meal we got into conversation with the table next door and had quite a chat.

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Monday 3rd October, 2022

 Avon Riverside

Avon Riverside

Drop Cap e got up fairly early so as to have an early breakfast because Mac had to take the washing to the laundry by 0900. Our hostess was very helpful and gave us a Lidl shopping bag to accommodate the extra stuff (paperwork and souvenirs) we had acquired. We left Avonlea before 1000 with many thanks and good wishes.

RSC Theatre

Rear View, RSC Theatre, Stratford

Drop Cap e walked around the riverside and to the back of the RSC Theatre which is completely different from the front. The front is square and 30'ish and modern looking but the back view has a circular extrusion which I suppose is a nod to the Globe.

 Avon Chain Ferry

The Old Chain Ferry

Drop Cap t is set in a large riverside park where we found the chain ferry, a very old world hand operated punt. The operator winds a handle which propels the boat on a chain to the other side, obviating another bridge and taking people across the river. We were planning to do this but the ferryman (who I am sure saw us coming) unmoored and moved off.

Piano in the park

Rustic Piano in the Park

Drop Cap o we walked around to Holy Trinity Church among scampering squirrels and strange artifacts like a piano built of wood just sitting in the park. Yes, I know most pianos are made of wood, but not slabs of offcut style timber. It actually sounded notes (unlike Mac's version) but very flat.

 Avon Boat House

Avon Riverside Boat House

Drop Cap e got a text at about 1100 to say that the washing was finished so we wandered up the town and collected it, Twenty five pounds worth, then meandered back to the basin where we had an early lunch of pizza at the Baguette Barge.

We continued walking around the riverside and spent an hour or so on a bench reading and listening to a busker playing the clarinet really well. I gave him five pounds.

RSC Theatre

Royal Shakespeare Company Theatre


Holy Trinity Church Stratford

Holy Trinity Church Stratford

Drop Cap hen we went on a gentle half hour cruise up the river, past the Theatre, Holy Trinity and the various sites of interest. It was a quiet and old fashioned electric boat and took us to some sites you don't see on land. Some very nice real estate by the river. It was a pleasant afternoon.

 Sheep Street Stratford

Sheep Street Stratford

Drop Cap fter the cruise we walked up to the town and had hot chocolate and toasted tea cakes in Huffkins in the Red Lion Arcade. Very nice too.

Stratford Architecture

Last of Stratford's Architecture

Drop Cap hen back to the basin where we eventually rejoined the boats. Crew member Ellie has deserted, and gone home with her parents so the crew is short handed. And the grocery delivery did not arrive so shopping has to be done before we leave.

Drop Cap he new passengers are a motley crew: Elizabeth is a veteran and enthusiastic lock wheeler with her own windlass, David 1 has been with them before, a cockney sparra with a wide background in boats, narrow and otherwise, David 2 is diabetic, blind in one eye, deaf in one ear, and is recovering from brain surgery,and has memory loss issues. Sean is originally Irish, now living in Yorkshire. So we are overloaded with men, and I hope some will be able to help. I have my doubts about the Davids. I have offered help to Natalie because she is going to be very short-handed, especially if she has to steer the butty. Anyway, I hope it will at least be fine!

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Tuesday 4th October, 2022

On the Canal Stratford

Back on the Stratford Canal

Drop Cap till fine this morning. An early start as Rosie and Richard scooted off to the nearest Click and Collect Supermarket to pick up the supplies . Yesterday the delivery person inexplicably missed them, which led to some consternation yesterday as if they did not have enough to worry them, with being a crew member down. Anyway they came back loaded with cartons of food, so all is well.

Canal Locks

Locking Again!

Drop Cap s soon as we left the basin we had the first lock and more followed in quick succession (or slow really). I thought it was being incredibly slow but it seems that the water was very low and the boats were grounding. Mac said he had to release water from upper locks to boost the water in the locks we were in. This route, of course, is retracing our previous steps until the junction with the Grand Union Canal so the same number of locks.

Hotel Boats

Here Come the Boats

Drop Cap ventually we sorted it out. There was a lot of bow pulling of the butty. One guy walking the towpath asked me if the engine had broken down, and was astonished to hear that it didn't have one! I have also been asked if Brian worked for the CART in the capacity of the AA since he was towing!


Mac and Nat head for the Lock

Drop Cap e paused for lunch at a waterpoint and filled up at the same time. Meatballs in a fruity sauce and lovely fresh bread rolls and a delicious fresh fruit salad with cream.

After lunch I got out and walked up the Wilmcote Flight with Mac and helped open and close some lock gates but it did not help my back problems so I rejoined for afternoon tea.


Elizabeth Waiting at Lock

Drop Cap feel sorry for Natalie, not only preparing all the meals but also pulling the butty up the locks. Oh well, they decided they could do it with the help of people like Mac, Elizabeth and Sean, who is inexperienced but Elizabeth is licking him into shape! David 2 came out to help but was not really much help and David 1 stayed in the butty all day. He has lots of canal experience but mobility and health problems.

Drop Cap nyway we intend to moor tonight at the Edstone Aqueduct where we moored on the way down. It has been cloudy and windy today, but not wet so far. Long may it continue.

Dinner was hot goat's cheese and chutney, Spanish chicken and rice, and peach pie with mascarpone. Lovely. There was a bit of a contretemps later when we tried to board the boat moored just ahead of us instead of the butty which was behind us! Very embarrassing.

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Wednesday 5th October, 2022

W179 Teazels

Teazels on the Towpath

Drop Cap fter not a very good night we arose, breakfasted and Mac and I went for a short walk while Brian and Richard worked to clear half a tennis net from around the prop. The towpath is not exactly overgrown, as we experienced in Scotland in 2010 but there is quite a variety of plantlife. We passed a patch of teazels, which I had not encountered before, would not want to be caught up on those!

View from Bridge

View from the Bridge

Drop Cap e wandered up to the road bridge and looked back down the canal. Although the canal is low the trees are becoming autumnal and providing an attractive backdrop.

Tunnel Ahead

Approaching the Tunnel

Drop Cap ventually we got off and although experiencing a tunnel, there were several miles of lock free cruising until we got to the first of the locks about lunchtime.


Lowsonford Halt

  Drop Cap uring the morning we passed a canal building, a house built like an old fashioned railway station called Lowsonford Halt. Obviously there is no railway line here, but it must have been built by an enthusiast of both rail and canal.

Mac at Lock

Mac at yet another Lock

Drop Cap e encountered two groups of schoolkids (with teachers) in catamaran canoes, i.e large canoes bolted together with a platform , similar to those we had seen on Monday on the river at Stratford. These could not be the same groups however. It has been pouring with rain but the sky seems to be clearing now. About seven locks to go, fourteen with the butty, before our evening mooring. Today we have seen several herons, which is always a bonus.

Lunch was spinach, pecorino and pinenut tart, with salad, very nice and caramel bananas which Mac and I abstained from. I have decided to rest this afternoon while the stop-start goes on.

Dinner was cream of watercress soup, beef bourguignon and peach galette with mascarpone. Delicious.

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