Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Back to Gloucester


There are still a few lovely old buildings surviving in Gloucester. This is one of them, it is The Raven Centre in Hare Lane. Further along there is the excellent Olde Fish and Chip Shoppe. Above the shop there is a small restaurant with wavy old walls which is a very welcoming place of great character.

IMG_0034 Lanthony PrioryThis is the former Llanthony Priory Secunda, an Augustinian Priory which was founded in 1136. The Grade 1 listed buildings stand in attractive grounds which are open to the public.

Yesterday on my final visit to The Saul Heritage Centre I met up with Sue, one of the volunteer helpers there. She told me she likes to read our blog and that she has a boat of her own, a tug. Very nice to meet and chat with you Sue and glad you enjoy our blog too.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Shepherd’s Patch to Saul.

We made it to Shepherd’s Patch from Sharpness without getting drenched with rain. Bottle was pleased to be cruising again with the wind in his hair! On arrival we met up with Cherry and Rus on their boat ‘Cherus 11’ and it turns out that their boat was one of the first to also be fitted out by Fernwood. We had coffee on each others boats and had a look around, interestingly our boats had many similarities. It was good to catch up on what we had all been doing over the years. They have enjoyed cruising on their boat for almost ten years now, covering most of the waterways. We said our goodbyes and are now moored at Saul Junction for the weekend. There was a wonderful rainbow this evening but a poor signal prevents it appearing on here.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Flora along the canal

IMG_0026 Scarlet PimpernelScarlet Pimpernel.

IMG_0021  Anyone know the name of this blue one?

IMG_0005 Bee on Teasle Bee on a Teasel.

IMG_0009 DaisiesDaisies and Bistort.

Just to brighten things up a bit today for those of you, like us, who have been affected by it raining cats and dogs nearly all day. Here are some shots I took on some of those sunnier summer days. I do think that the wildflowers have really excelled themselves this year in the lovely hot humid weather that we have had, don’t you? I do miss my herb garden that I used to have when I lived next door to a botanist. She taught me how to make them into a ‘Tussy Mussy’ as she called it. One made especially from fragrant herbs is enough to cheer up anyone who is feeling a bit ‘under the weather’.

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Today we have been living aboard for a whole year and we have enjoyed every bit of it. Even when we were iced in at Braunston overwinter for several weeks. We liked the Oxford Canal and have been down it twice already to meet up with several friends who moor along it. Although our first trip was to Market Harborough, via Foxton, then up to Braunston onto the Grand Union as far as Cowroast. We also went in the other direction to Coventry via Hillmorton and Rugby. Down to Stratford on Avon and then we went fairly quickly with the flow of the River Avon, onto the Severn onto the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal. We have met up with most of our friends and family, and made many new friends during the year too.

1994 Sam

The sad part was that our little dog Sam didn’t quite make it onto the boat and expired on our launch day at the age of 16. He was a rescue dog and the vet thought that he was about a year old when we had him. He was a brilliant lively little character who throughout his life always thought he was a puppy.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Sharpness Locks

We pottered off for our roast lunch at the Dockers Club this time into the lounge bar where all the dining tables were already laid out for two, four or six people. A choice of, beef, pork, or chicken was served with roast pots and a very large dish of five types of vegetables. As the main course was so delicious we tried the treacle sponge pudding with custard which was also excellent, as everything being freshly prepared and piping hot. Needless to say the place was packed so the five staff were kept extremely busy. We heard from several sources on the grapevine on our cruise down here that their meals were good, now we can recommend them too! Visitors are asked put 50p each into a box in the hallway to enter the club. Drinks and food are very reasonably priced, there is also TV, Darts, Snooker, gaming machine and a Skittle Alley available there.

ps. Be sure to book for Sunday lunch as there are limited spaces

As it was a beautiful hot sunny day we walked down to the picnic area from where there are views across the estuary and the two bridges over the Severn. I poked the camera through the high fence to get this shot of a dredger resting on the mud on the side of the large Tidal Lock as they seemed to be draining the water out into the channel. The gates between the inner lock and tidal lock were also open. The older silos can be seen in the centre of the picture and the white ones hold cement.

IMG_0043 sealock and dock lock

The fifty year old Lightship Sula was moored above the inner lock looking quite stunning after her recent re-paint.

IMG_0047 Lightship She now has planning permission to moor between Gloucester Docks and High orchard Bridge. if you are interested you can read all about her at       www.lightshiptherapies.net

IMG_0016 Cranes and lines When we passed by, the Shetland Trader was being relieved of her cargo on the quayside next to these two cranes. All around the docks are the remains of the many railway lines still in place, evidence of a very busy dockyard in the past. Now the dockyards are mainly used for storage of Cement, Coal, Timber, Scrap Metal, Fertilizers, Animal Feed and Minerals.

IMG_0005 old dockers cottagesThere are several rows of cottages on either side of the Locks and a small shop. The ones above were probably where the dockworkers used to live.

2010_0823LiftBridgeGrebe0016Bottle was lucky enough to catch a Greater Crested Grebe this morning, as it came past diving continuously for food, with it’s two youngsters.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Rain, or Shine?

IMG_0009 Lighter No9 After lurking for too long near Sainsbury’s, Bottle decided we would make a run for it and go all the way to Sharpness. We set off in lovely sunshine and made it in about four hours to moor in a lovely spot with a view out across the Severn into Wales. Someone kept turning the rain on every ten minutes en route though, so Bottle got rather wet. This is Lighter No9 built in London in 1902 and beached here in 1972.


There are more interesting sea-going vessels the nearer you get towards the end of the canal.


This is one of Bottles favourites, but I like the shape of the one below. Was it a lifeboat in it’s previous life I wonder?

IMG_0016 Nellie After our evening meal we strolled down for a drink at the Dockers Club where there was a fifties music night on, with a disco and live band. We booked in for Sunday lunch tomorrow. The barmaid told us if we turn up early we will have a choice of roasts, but if we leave it until 1.30 we will get the lickutts!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Grandparent Duty.

The last few days we have been cleaning and buffing up Oakfield, so it’s almost as shiny as Derwent 6 now! Yesterday I ambled into the city to have a good browse around and look for a book called The Rainbow Fish which has shiny pictures in it, without success. However I did find a similar one, so I was quite pleased. There was a deluge of rain in the afternoon so everyone swarmed into the shops in order to keep dry. Me included, as I only had summery clothes on, as it’s been so warm here lately.

Today our grandson came to spend the day with us and practice his newly acquired walking skills on board. Although it is rather like the ‘cake walk’ at a fair at times, when we are moving about, he takes it all in his stride. He was fascinated with his new book as he likes the shiny pictures. He is somewhat vain already and admired his reflection in the glass fronted oven quite a bit. After a snack and sleep we took him on the bus for our dental appointments. This kept him quiet as this was a new experience for him with so much to see. IMG_0022We saw another Fernwood boat ‘Repent at Leisure’ as it pulled in  to Sainsbury's for supplies. We hadn’t seen Paul and Jo for several years, so went over for a chat. They are down here on holiday, travelling with Karen and Ian on nb Serenity, as they come from the same marina.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Gloucester Docks

Gloucester Docks tallship 2008Luckily much of the dock area and the old warehouses have been refurbished or re-built. Today we can enjoy many interesting walks here and visit the Waterways Museum to see and learn all about the history of it all. Here is an image I took back in 2008 during the Tall Ships Festival when there were several old sailing vessels on show in the docks. I thought Ernie and Dave you would like to see these as I don’t think there are any plans to hold such an event in the future.

Gloucester Waterways Museum 2005aThis is one of the beautifully painted old Buckby Cans photographed by Bottle, that are on display in the Waterways Museum. These were originally used by the working barge folk for fetching their drinking and washing water to their boats. Many replica cans are displayed on top of boats today, but their water is more easily acquired via a hose into a large water tank within the boat.

Friday, 13 August 2010

R W Davis and Son , Saul Junction.


Today I wandered past R. W. Davis Boat-builders yard just as a newly constructed shell was being carefully swung out on the crane from the welding shop into the adjoining workshop for fitting out to commence.

IMG_0009 Their boats are very desirable as they usually build Northwich Trader Class Tugs, 62’ or 70’ long, with the external lines of Yarwood’s of Northwich 1930’s design. Vintage engines such as Kelvin's or Russell Newbury’s grace the engine rooms. One of their replica working boats “Florence” can be hired for holidays if you would like to  experience one with a Lister HRW3 diesel engine! It can be hired from Black Country Narrowboat Hire, We have no connection with this company in any way whatsoever. Please ensure you check to your own satisfaction if you decide to deal with them.

Alnwick, owned by friends of ours was the prototype for the subsequent boats, she has a Kelvin K3 that can be listened to via the link.

IMG_0002 Davis boat yard

This one is being painted by hand out in the open air and must be nearing completion now. It’s been a funny old day with dark grey sky one side and bright sunshine on the other. It did ‘beginin rainen’ heavily late this afternoon though as was forecasted.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

Gloucester Walkabout

Glevum or Colonia Nerviana Glevensiis was a Fort in Roman Britain and in AD79 it became a “Colonia” for retired legionaries. This is the fine statue of the Emperor Nerva in Southgate Street.

IMG_0003 Colonia Nerviana Glevensis There are many interesting inns around the city and one of the oldest is The New Inn which was opened by Saint Peters Abbey in 1450 for visiting Pilgrims. Today the inner courtyard looked charming with its vibrant floral displays.



  IMG_0035 Cross Keys Inn Westgate St

The Cross keys Inn and The Fountain were both hiding down narrow, picturesque, alleyways.

IMG_0037 Clock

This ancient clock above Bakers Jewellers in Southgate Street is still in good working order. It depicts the central figure of Old Father Time flanked by Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales figures in their traditional costumes. There is also a more modern Beatrix Potter Tailor of Gloucester Clock in the Eastgate Market Place.

IMG_0058 nb Ten Bob Note

I spied a Ten Bob Note basking in the sunshine in the main basin.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Saul Walkabout.

IMG_0001 Silvey brothers SaulToday we wandered along the lane from Sandfield Bridge into the village of Saul.  We passed this once busy garage with Silvey Bros painted over the door, I wonder what goes on in there now?

IMG_0004There are several cottages with plaques above their front doors. This one is on a cottage built by Captain Cam who worked on the River Severn. Nearby is Dove Cottage with  images of two doves above two sailors, twin brothers who were drowned in the River Severn.

IMG_0010 vintage carThis old car was deteriorating in a field, I wondered what make it was and if it was beyond restoration? Looks like Chitty Chitty Bang Bang has landed!

IMG_0012 Cottage opposite Ship Inn   We were surprised how quiet it was when we arrived at The Ship Inn and chose a table in the patio garden overlooking the redundant canal arm. This rather tall cottage was just across on the other bank from us. The water was teeming with little fish with reddish fins, which we think may have been Roach. Anyway the roast dinner was excellent and came with a choice of puddings all for £9.95. We had the apple pie with custard. When we left the place was full of diners, just the way we like it. We decided to take the scenic route back to Oakfield via the footpath.

IMG_0013 we were being watched We realised that we were being watched and looked up to see this handsome fellow. We were glad to find that he was behind an electrified fence with his harem!

IMG_0015 Margaret MorrisonAs we left for Gloucester we saw the little steam launch which was struggling with weed around it’s propeller. It was a hot humid day today so I wonder if they were even more cosy in there? 

IMG_0009 Daisies

The wildflowers have been really spectacular this year even with very little rainfall.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Saul Junction

While we were at Shepherds Patch it was lovely to see Howard and Sylvia who came for an evening visit. The next evening Caroline came for a chat and look around Oakfield. Meanwhile we had a phone call from Mike and on opening the side hatch we could see him walking down the canal with family and friends. It turned out that he and Do were staying in the Tudor Caravan Park right next to us. So Thursday was spent ogling his new caravan over coffee, followed by lunch at the Tudor Arms together, then tea on the bank by Oakfield gongoozling in the sunshine. Opposite us a young boy was fishing with his elderly Grandfather and during the afternoon, much to the boys delight, they caught three young eels. These were proudly photographed and gently returned into the water. On Friday we cruised up via the pump out at the Cotswold Canal Heritage Centre, to moor opposite Davis Boat Yard at Saul. Another of their new boats is just being finished off, receiving a coat of paint out in the open air beside the workshop. It was great to see Colin and Hazel who called in for tea and a chat in the afternoon.IMG_0007 Edward Elgar passingThis morning Edward Elgar came by and the junction has been bustling with boat movements of various sizes all day. This is one of the most interesting places to moor on this canal, with so many people ambling about enjoying themselves.

IMG_0004 rowersOur neighbour is David on nb Holmbury who has many years of boating experience and is from our hometown. Anna from nb Platypus stopped to chat just as I had finished hanging all the washing up. Then, you guessed it, the heavens opened and we had a heavy deluge of rain!

IMG_0020 PerseveranceThe CCT trip boat Perseverance set off towards the Tudor Arms at Shepherds Patch, Slimbridge carrying a boatful of  passengers all eager to enjoy their cruise and arrive in time for lunch there.

IMG_0031 flower boatThis boat provides a fabulous colourful feature to the junction. Just to the right of it is the old disused lock which led down to the junction of the Stroudwater Canal with the river Severn at Framilode.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010


We left Purton and headed for Sharpness but sadly it was to be a short visit as we had to get back to Patch Bridge for visiting friends.

We travelled past the site of the Railway bridge that crossed the Severn, This was hit by two barges on the 25th October 1960. Not much remains now but the story can be read here, link


We did have a lovely surprise on our arrival as a familiar face shouted hello and with him was Foxy.

IMG_0021 FoxyWe did manage to walk along the old arm, now a marina, to see the entrance from the Severn. Where the old dock office is now used by SARA (Severn Area Rescue Association)


The ‘new’ docks are still working and a ship that had unloaded 3,000 tonnes of fertiliser was making preparation to leave.







These two sentinels still stand guard.


This is just a ‘taster’ we will have to return and do it justice.

Just to top off a wonderful day.


Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Purton Ships Graveyard

IMG_0008 River Severn 

We followed the road leading down from the lower Purton swing bridge, along a footpath past the Berkley Arms which is only open in the evenings, to the banks of the River Severn. The tide was on it’s way out as we walked along the banks to see the ships that were beached there in order to save the bank from being eroded by the tidal waters.


There are about 80 of them making this the largest ships graveyard in Britain. Unfortunately some of them have been completely buried below the mud banks. It is amazing that such large Ferro Concrete Barges were able to float at all as they were extremely heavy even before they were loaded. The tiller on this concrete one was unbelievably, still moveable although it had been there since the 1960’s.

2010_0802PurtonHulks0023The iron and concrete used for their construction seems to be in good shape too. They were built during WW2 when steel was in short supply.

IMG_0055 HarriettThis is Harriett of Bristol, built in Honey Street by Robbins, Lane and Pinnegar in 1905, 72’ long, 14’ wide, 5’ 19” d, gross tonnage c60 tons, and beached here in 1964. She is the last known example of a Kennet built barge and is probably the easiest one to photograph as she lies alongside the footpath. Another interesting wooden barge is he Severn Collier which was a towed screw barge used for carrying coal from the Forest of Dean to Cadbury Bros Severnside Factory.

IMG_0042It is amazing how the large individually forged blacksmiths nails that were driven into the oak framework  have survived without rusting away. Each boat has it’s own information plaque placed there by the Friends of Purton who have done a marvellous job in preserving the ships and making the area a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Historic Interest for us all to learn about and enjoy. We emerged through a tiny gap in the hedge up onto the towpath. On the opposite bank there is an inlet of water where the old timber ponds were. These were used to store large floating timbers so that they didn’t dry out.

IMG_0062This grebe was diving continuously for food, so it was fun trying to catch him above the water.

Today we have been washing and polishing one side of the boat, when we have turned for the return journey we will do the other side. Rain tomorrow, perhaps that will cool things down a bit.