25%. 27th March

Wolverely Lock to Stourport Upper Basin

Thank you Jim

Just as we were about to roll the covers up for the days cruise a boat came past beating us to the lock. So we prepared Oleanna at a more leisurely pace. Down the lock and on towards Kidderminster. At the second lock it looked like someone was about to come up as a chap was opening up the top paddles. He’d done it all a bit too quickly and it was soon obvious that he’d been setting the lock for us. This was Jim, one of those people who have adopted a length of canal and spend their days helping boats through the locks, not an official C&RT Volunteer Lockie. He was a very jolly chap, chatting away about his beautiful canal. Advanced warning that we’d need a handcuff key to get through the next few locks and that three boats were heading up stream from Stourport, soon to arrive so no need to close the gates. He was right and we met all three boats in the next half mile.

Kidderminster has a lot of shops just by the canal, very handy for stocking up the cupboards. So we moored up outside Sainsburys and went in for what I thought would be a top up shop. Firstly they had 25% off clothing, always worth a look, but neither of us found anything we wanted. Secondly and more importantly they had 25% off wine! They were even boasting about over the tannoy, so what were we to do!

They knew we were coming!

A quick whisper between us (so that Sainsburys couldn’t hear!) and we planned to do a food shop and stock up with cat litter etc. Hopefully we’d get a voucher for triple points, then we could return to stock up on wine. However they had heard us and we only got vouchers for extra points on the things we’d just bought. It didn’t put us off though, as I stowed the first shop and made space in the wine cellar for six boxes Mick returned to buy them. he also had a look at what was on Sale in Maplins. They were having a closing down sale, but sadly he saw nothing that he thought we’d need.

After lunch we pressed on. A boat was coming up in Kidderminster Lock when we arrived so Mick dropped me off and I walked up to help. The chap said they’d had such a going on, not knowing that they’d need a handcuff key for these locks, ‘It didn’t mention it anywhere in Nicholsons’. I’d forgotten too, but at least I only had to walk back to Oleanna to get one, the chap had had to cycle back to Stourport presumably to buy one. By the sounds of it they were planning on heading up into Birmingham where they would definitely need one.

Obligatory photo of Kedderminster Parish Church

As I walked back to the lock they were nearly up, apparently the off side paddle couldn’t be unlocked (I should have tried as sometimes an older handcuff key works better) and the bottom gates were leaking. He’d tried to open the gate but had no luck and was walking back to check that the bottom paddles were closed properly. I walked over the top gate and leant on it, it was so nearly there just a second person leaning on it would have been enough. But the lady at the helm had decided that the gate needed to open and this wouldn’t happen without help from the boat. She engaged gear, as the boat sped up her husband suggested she took it easier, I winced as she hit the gate! The boat bounced back. Her husband came to join me and the two of us gently pushed open the gate, luckily no harm had been done.

I was really quite shocked  by what had just happened. The chap took over the helm and as they left the lock the lady said they’d had such a day, all sorts of bridges, locks. She was obviously after some sympathy, but sorry she got none from me. Lets just say I’m glad she only ‘nudged’ the gate and hadn’t felt the need to ram it, as we’d all have still been there now!

More handy shops. Debenhams M&S etc.

We continued on working our way down the next few locks and meandering our way to Stourport. This stretch seemed more familiar to us. We started to look out for good places that we might be able to meet up with Finesse. The Bird In Hand pub seemed a possible and not too far to return to if there was nowhere else. The visitor moorings before York Street Lock were almost empty, just one boat, NB Zelda who we’d shared the locks through Wigan with last year. We moored up and Mick walked down to the Upper Basin to see if there was anywhere suitable and free there. A boat was just pulling in taking up the last space, so we decided to stay put and see if someone moved off in the morning.

Stourport Upper Basin from our side hatch this evening

A half hour later just as we’d settled down for the day the boat came past, there must now be a space. Mick popped down again, there was space for us. Covers were rolled up again and we descended the 12ft deep lock into the basin. With Oleanna winded I’d be able to wash the starboard side. The boat behind us had been having engine trouble, but once it had got going they moved off as well, so we moved back into his space. The view wasn’t quite so good as at first, but with an electric post just behind us that took C&RT cards we got hooked up. Perfect, there is parking right next to us for a van, electric and water. So even if Finesse don’t make it out to us we’ll have clean clothes and bedding before we leave.

DSCF7114sm6 locks, 6 miles, 1 helper, 25% off, 6 boxes, 1 set of stern treads only just touching the floor, 0 to buy at Maplins, 1 ram nudge, 0 peculiar bridges, 2 moorings, 1 wind, 1 electric bollard, 1 fire left to go out, 1 cat not allowed to go out!