Weekending Monday 16th July 2012

As the Queen would say “We’ve had a birthday”.

Mine was 2 weeks ago and now it is the turn of V’s sister Claire. Probably best if I don’t mention how many candles she’s burning.
birthday girl

For a treat Ter and Claire stayed at Tythe House (Bed & Breakfast), just two minutes from Splatt Bridge.
On their second day the clouds got brighter and we all cruised down to Sharpness and back.

It’s worth mentioning Ter and Claire’s B&B because if you check the reviews you’ll see plenty of praise for it. The owners Guy and Jane provide excellent rooms, in fact I’d put them higher than many 4 star hotels I’ve stayed in. If you are looking for a smart bed and breakfast and attentive hosts, close to the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, then I’d recommend Tythe House.
Breakfast is full, flexible and top quality, rooms are immaculate and the service is friendly.

With apologies for lifting the photo (I forgot to take the camera when we called in), this will give you some idea of what to expect.

If pushed to give negatives I can only find one, the floors creak, and that’s my only comment. Would we stay there, yes, unreservedly.

Our cruise to Sharpness from Splatt gave T&C a new perspective on large canals, in terms of depth and width.

Boats dawdle or go flat out, they may take just about any course without upsetting anyone and anglers are hard pressed to find anything to scowl about.

The variety of size and type of craft puts the G&S in the same league as the Trent and Gt.Ouse.
Similarly the water is deep and clean enough to support lilypads and a host of plants that you don’t see on bog standard canals.

Thinking about it I can’t remember when the prop’ last fouled on a poly bag or we swung on the mooring ropes as a big boat passed. How spoilt we are.
crane barge

Low tide at Sharpness just after the new moon could have given us a view of the Severn Bore, but it didn’t, not even a tiny one. It was shy on the day and although we waited and waited we couldn’t make out anything higher than a ripple that the wind whipped up.

You wouldn’t think this was the middle of July would you.

Saul, Patch, Splatt and Sharpness are the limits of our travels this week. The deluge has had us battened down like most others but we’ve enjoyed it; the towpaths are reasonably puddle free and the feathered wildlife doesn’t seem to be bothered by it.
Flies are on the increase as are my skills with the newspaper which is evidenced by blood splashes on the cabin walls. Spiders are multiplying at a similar rate and I’m onto them too, with the exception of the one that lives under the washing machine. My foot has missed him more times than I care to remember.

With the VHF radio we get a fairly accurate picture of who is brave enough to cruise in the rain.

Calls from the cruise boats to bridges asking for an ‘opening’ before the wind blows them in circles, shows their progress along the canal and announcements of which locks on the Severn are closed or on ‘indemnity’ spoils any ideas that boaters had of going further afield.

But when river levels are high there’s nothing stopping you taking to the roads. Dick and Jennie came to our rescue on Thursday and whisked us away to Stroud for a beautiful meal in lovely surroundings, a town house with exposed oak beams, stone walls and stories of life as it might have been hundreds of years ago.

The number of sunny days this week can be counted on one finger so that day was spent exploring the engine room. With 8,700 hours on the engine counter it was due for an oil change and one is beginning to wonder how many hours are left on it.

By way of contrast we bumped into nb.Kathleen May, another Sandhills boat. She is at least three years older than Balmaha but has only clocked up 3,000 hours.

Now in the hands of Stuart and Carol she is very well cared for, her pristine woodwork and distinctive marquetry telling us it was the same guys who crafted ours.

We swapped boat stories and canal experiences and hope to see more of them when they take to the water full time. Poor Carol is only two weeks into a broken shoulder so cruising isn’t as much fun as it could be.

With a fraction of the planned summer jobs done inside the boat we now need a long dry summer-autumn to prepare for the winter. We shall soon be thinking about new batteries and bottom-blacking, but as things stand we won’t be needing barbeque charcoal, we’ve hardly used our first 5kg bag of the year.

All being well we’ll have another month or so in this area before heading north away from what has been a memorable waterway. Together with the journey to the southwest the Gloucester & Sharpness goes into our list of favourites. We haven’t exhausted what she offers and with her proximity to so many friends and family we are sure to visit again.