Friday 5th October We got up quite late today - 9.15am. We thought it was going to rain all day as it had during the night but actually the weather looked ok. The first port of call was the 3 Bratch locks through which we were helped by the lockkeeper. I couldn't comprehend how they worked so it was a good job he was there. We told him we were going to Worcester which didn't impress him as he said the Severn is in flood and unnavigable at the moment. After the Bratch locks there was the rudely named Bumblehole lock.
Just before Wombourne Bridge we saw a man walking his dog along the towpath who pointed at a heron and shouted 'Look at that stork!' We talked to him as we drove along and he told us there was a big Sainsburys by the next bridge, it's very new that's why it's not on our map. We were so excited – we haven't been to Sainsburys for months and it was a huge one! Trouble is we had hardly any money so couldn't buy much! Next we travelled on to the Botterham Staircase locks which were similar to the Bratch locks but there were only 2. An elderly man with his 2 granddaughters was behind us - he was a member of the Staffs and Worcs Canal Society and had been through these locks many times. I said I can't get my head around these locks and he tried to explain it to me but I still didn't get it. It took me years to get the hang of normal locks! He was going to a Staffs and Worcs club do near Stewponey. He was very helpful and eventually we managed to get through, but it took a long time. After that we went through 2 locks at Swindon then the last one at Hinksford where we met a boat coming the other way. The lady said they had come from Kinver and I said we're goint to Kinver tomorrow. She said it's very pretty there. Then we carried on to Greensforge which is heavily populated with boats and I'm not sure why. There's a pub called the Navigation there but it looks a bit grotty.
Thursday 4th October We walked into Brewood again this morning to get some food then set off on a beautiful morning, travelling under the noisy M54 to reach the end of the 'Shroppie' through quite a lot of wooded areas which are a bit boring. We arrived at the last lock at Autherley Junction and we turned right onto the Staffordshire and Worcester! Although we were passing through the outskirts of Wolverhampton it was still very green and peaceful with hardly any other boats around. We saw about 3 kingfishers along the way - that's always a joyful experience - and we saw a young fox resting in some bushes by the canal looking on at men working on an allotment. We went through Compton lock then Wightwick locks which had just been oiled and were very black and greasy. We passed by several old chaps fishing and reached Dimmingsdale Lock and Ebstree Lock. One of the men who had just finished fishing looked down at the boat and said 'I envy you'. I said we were going to Worcester and he said 'Oh it's lovely along there – Stourport on Severn is beautiful it's like the Blackpool of the Midlands, but not really like Blackpool, much nicer. At Awbridge lock there was a queue of 2 boats coming the other way which was good for us. A lady helped us through and told us that Worcester is lovely – she has relatives there. All of a sudden the canal had become crowded - it must have been rush hour. We came to the last moorings before the Bratch staircase locks and we didn't fancy doing them so we moored up. Dale went to see the lockkeeper and bought a vandal-proof key which we will need for some of the locks further on. Then we walked into nearby Wombourne which the lockkeeper had said was very old and picturesque but looked quite ordinary to us. We bought ingredients for macaroni cheese for Friday.
Wednesday 3rd October Having stayed the night at Norbury Wharf we went again in the morning to the shop and bought a newspaper, spaghetti and milk. Then we set off in sunny weather at about 10am. There was some lovely scenery but a lot of wooded areas, which can be a bit boring, as you can't really see the landscape. We cruised above the A5 on the aqueduct looking imperiously over the bridge to the busy road below. As we approached Brewood there was some nice scenery and we decided to stop on the visitor moorings at Brewood and then walk into the village. It's a picture perfect village, very quiet and friendly. I watched as a butcher in pristine aprons helped a disabled man out of his shop and into his motorised wheelchair. The village has a useful butchers, bakery, greengrocers and 3 pubs. We went into the Bridge Inn next to the canal, which was very friendly and we chatted with a local old man.
Tuesday 2nd October We left early this morning at 7.30am to quickly navigate through the 5 locks at Tyrley Wharf then travelled on through some beautiful scenery with Welsh mountains as a distant backdrop. Then we passed through the very deep rock cutting near Woodseaves, which carries on for about a mile and was cut entirely by hand with no machinery. It had just started raining when we arrived at Norbury Junction which has a fantastic wharf with a chandlery which stocks everything you could ever want for a boat. I forgot to say that while we were in Market Drayton our inverter blew up, which is the 'thing' that provides electricity, so we had been relying on our generator. We had been told that we could get a new one from Stourport on Severn and it would cost about £330. Luckily we noticed that they sold them in Norbury Wharf for £299 so we bought one! (and when we got to Stourport the shop was closed so we couldn't have got one from there anyway)! We also got coal diesel and gas there and 2 slices of home made lemon cake in the tea rooms.
13th September - 2nd October 2012 We approached the town of Market Drayton with high hopes, but unfortunately as well as taking in the beautiful old buildings in the high street we noticed the many empty and boarded up shops, rubbish in the streets and run down pubs, none of which looked inviting enough to enter. We did venture into one pub, The Talbot, near the canal, but we were the only ones in there on a Sunday lunchtime and so we didn't stay long. The town seemed forlorn, empty and neglected. So our hopes were dashed - we had been looking forward to Market Drayton so much having heard good things about it but talking to locals revealed that they blame the council for high tax on the shops, and also for allowing several new supermarkets on the outskirts of town which have taken business from the local shops. We had to stay there for my work and therefore we spent 2 weeks moored up and hardly ventured into the town except to get food. So really there's not much to report - we talked to a few regular dog-walkers along the towpath and made friends with another couple of CCers who kept an eye on our boat when we went back to Teddington for a big party – we stayed with our friends Gary and Sandra for the weekend and it was very nice. Going to and coming back from London we travelled on Virgin Trains and I discovered they make me feel very sick - I actually was sick on the way back (nothing to do with a weekend of drinking and merriment!)
My name is Angie Wood and I live on a narrowboat on the beautiful Oxford canal.
A long time ago in the eighties I studied Art and Design at Goldsmiths College and went on to be a paste up artist and then a graphic designer. I’ve never stopped painting and drawing though – I painted pet and animal portraits for a while and over the past two years have begun creating small oil paintings of vintage objects, textiles and flowers. I collect items from fleamarkets to paint and my little narrowboat is getting fuller all the time! I’m particularly delighted by colourful patterns on textiles and ceramics and I also love painting reflective surfaces. I’m usually attracted to items from the early part of the twentieth century, which bring back memories of my great aunts’ and grandmother’s cosy houses. My artistic aim is to pay homage to the things I paint by observing them as closely as I can, and to create something beautiful that will hopefully make people as happy as I was when I was making it!