Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Sue and Martin above Zermatt - 2018

Monday, 24 June 2019

Saturday 22 June 2019 (and Sunday) - The Canal Crew Visit Stratford

After the excitement of the family picnic, Sue and I moved on to track down 'The Canal Crew', who this year were pootling about on the Stratford-upon-Avon Canal, which seems to stray into the River Avon.
We found them near some locks at Bishopton, just north of Stratford. Sue embarked on the difficult choice between Pimms, beer or both, while I tried to identify an orchid. I settled for an Early Purple - that's the orchid, not the drink.
Lurking in his bedroom (aka the galley) we finally managed to locate one of the invisible trio who had successfully evaded us during the recent TGO Challenge walk. Roger was rather coy about his invisibility, which he hoped would continue on this trip when breakfast took place whilst he sleeps off the previous night's excesses.

I left him watching Louise concoct an experimental meal, and returned to the back of the boat, which was moored next to a house that had recently spent £1.5 million on redecoration (there must be a rich decorator nearby!) and was warming up for a party.
As usual, Robert was complaining about the lack of headroom, but at least there was a hatch that allowed him to stand up, albeit in just one position.

It was a lovely evening, and we were sad to have to return to Sue's parents' house whilst the Canal Crew tested Louise's culinary experiment. The barge didn't move much while we were there, but I think they floated it away from the noisy party a bit later.
Next day we parked at a convenient spot in Stratford and wandered beside the River Avon to the point on the canal where the Canal Crew were engaged in relieving themselves.
There are lots of swans, Canada geese, mallards, greylag geese and Aylesbury ducks in the Stratford Basin.

We found the Canal Crew near the lock shown below. The toilets had got blocked and a machine was being used to evacuate them. It was a smelly operation. Sue and I wondered whether the culprit was Louise's experimental meal.
After taking on yet more water - they had spent ages doing that last night - the barge was at last on the move, down a series of locks to join the River Avon in Stratford Basin.

Being near the centre of Stratford, there were lots of people around, including many tourists who, one assumes from their conduct, had never seen a barge before.
Gerry and Stuart were on their best behaviour and failed to lasso any tourists, most of whom were very small, with slitty eyes.

Here, a moment of relaxation before the final descent to the river.

The entry lock to the basin took two boats - there was a very smart 25 year old privately owned barge just behind us.

Once on the river, there was loads of space for everyone and the fleshpots of Stratford soon disappeared in our wake as Robert and Chris steered us towards some rapids.

Robert suffered a wardrobe mishap. I made more coffee. We all ate Stuart's millionaire's shortbread. Large pieces of it.

Suddenly the boat swerved to the left, sending kitchenware flying, as we took evasive action to avoid  getting stuck on a weir. Chris had spotted a convenient lock, and luckily the boat was low enough to fit into the steel cage provided, though Robert had to take care not to bash his head again.

Senior Management looked up with relief.

Very Senior Management played with one of the lassos that seemed to be strewn around the boat.

Gerry confirmed that she is bidding for promotion from Senior Management, to Official Photographer and Lassoist.

Sue and I could see that being a Contentious Issue, so we decided to abandon ship.
A group photo was taken, the success or failure of which could have a bearing on Gerry's promotion. I'll add that to this posting if the current Official Photographer decides to place it on general release.
Here it is - thanks, Chris.
And so, we left the seven mariners to float on in the peaceful surroundings of the River Avon, then I dropped Sue off at a Spa for a couple of days and returned home to sunny Timperley.

The map below shows our movements on Sunday, which tot up to over 10 km, and the boat icon shows where we joined the Canal Crew at Bishopton on Saturday.

Thanks go to the Canal Crew for having us along, and I hope the poetic licence taken in the above narrative doesn't cause any untoward upset - we wouldn't want any more toilet blockages...


Sir Hugh said...

I presume your reference to lassoes and barges in place of warps and narrow boats was designed to provoke?

Phreerunner said...

Haha, not really - I don't think the Canal Crew would be aware of such niceties. My main concern would be the risk of having spelt 'lassos' incorrectly. (Lassoes is also acceptable.)