Two and a bit days, 2mph, about two dozen locks. Several bottles of wine and beer. Not too much bouncing between banks, no sinkings, no swimmers.
On Friday afternoon we swarmed by car from the four corners to Dunhampstead and boarded our boat. The little man told us the do’s and don’ts, we bagsied beds, and set off in the direction of Worcester (if you go too far the other way, towards Birmingham, you have to negotiate 36 consecutive locks, which would be a bit tedious; you can’t abort half-way).
One hour of river successfully negotiated we moored outside a pub for a drink, some food and the night – it was the last pub until Worcester, about four hours away (probably twenty minutes by taxi). As it was our first mooring we were busy making a small meal of it when an “old hand” from the boat alongside came to “help” and the meal turned into a feast: the front end in position, the back end investigating the vegetation on the opposite bank. Ah well, we got there in the end.
After breakfast next morning we sped on to Worcester, deftly negotiating the locks in our way without sending any tidal waves down the canal. An old lady muttered something about how “they don’t teach people how to do locks properly these days”, which may or may not have been directed at us, but was undeserved if it was. We kept going until we ran out of canal (it joins up with the Severn), turned round, found a fresh water tap, filled up, moored, and went for some lunch. It was about 3:30.
We wandered around Worcester, not finding that much of interest. Generic shops, ooh look another branch of Waterstones. We didn’t do the cathedral.
Back to the boat, then out again a few hours later for dinner. Most of the interesting places were fully booked so we slummed it at Cafe Rouge. At this time I noted that the room still swayed even when you weren’t on the boat. As is semi-traditional, they got Andy’s order wrong. Not sure how an order for beef bourguignon could turn into chicken something-or-other, but there you go.
Sunday morning saw us searching for breakfast before 9am. Ooh look, closed generic shops. Caffe Nero seemed to be the only option. We mostly avoided the eye of a man who wanted to tell his life story to anyone who would listen; another sucker wasn’t so lucky. A panini, then back onboard.
The ladies left us in charge while they did ladies’ things in town: I imagine these included window shopping and chocolate. We menfolk hit the wine, and decided to snack rather than join the ladies for lunch. Upon their return we cast off and headed out of Worcester. Our aim: to be in the pub by the boat yard for 7pm and the World Cup final.
Louise watched the men’s final at Wimbledon on a scratchy patchy screen as we hefted lock keys and swigged beers. Mikey did most of the driving, though Chris enjoyed piloting the boat into locks at a thirty degree angle on more than one occasion. I exaggerate, but only slightly.
We reached the pub twenty minutes after kick-off and ate a pleasant meal with the locals while France and Italy slugged it out. What on earth was Zidane thinking?
Then to boat, to bed. Up in plenty of time on Monday morning to return our vessel by 9am. And then disperse home…