Today’s canal fix saw us driving the 35 minute journey to Bath and investing 50p to cross the Bathampton Toll Bridge and visit The George for a pint and a bite of lunch.
A pint of Bombardier was forthcoming but madame’s request for cider was not fulfilled so easily as they only had chilled Strongbow; preferring not to drink the stuff cold or with artificial sweeteners added she had to settle for a Bulmer’s Pear Cider (sic) Whatever happened to the proper term Perry?
The place was fairly heaving with customers so our idea of a quick snack went out of the window, as there was an hour’s wait for food! We decided therefore that we would get something later after taking a stroll down the towpath. We needn’t have worried as just the other side of Bathampton Bridge we happened upon The Raft Cafe Boat a floating coffee shop on widebeam boat, excellent! A couple of paninis materialised in a few minutes, the best filter coffee I’ve had in ages (can’t stand that espresso stuff) and a hot chocolate made with soya milk to cater for Joy’s dairy intolerance. There were loads of yummy looking home made cakes and a well appointed loo too.
We resisted the temptation of the cakes and walked off the calories (well, if you can’t kid yourself…..) by walking down to Holcombe swing bridge and back. A nice selection of wide and narrowbeams along this stretch ranging from shiny broadbeams to a butty conversion, a converted lifeboat (I think) to a mahogany launch moored under a floating canvas ‘garage’ (should have taken a photo)
Finished by getting some shopping at Bath Morrisions (their ‘Best’ fizzy drinks are very good – no artificial additives) before returning home.
Yesterday afternoon being sunny if a little chilly and finding ourselves in need of a little fresh air after the Christmas break we took ourselves up the M5 to Worcester and investigated Diglis Basin. The basin has recently been developed into a marina with waterside housing surrounding it and seems pleasant enough. There were little signs of activity except from smoke from the chimneys on a few boats in which sensible souls were keeping warm in front of their woodburners as there were sheets of ice floating on the water. The inner part of the marina was filled with fairly standard narrowboats whilst the outer part contained a more eclectic selection of craft.
We wandered up the Worcester & Birmingham canal as far as Blockhouse Lock seeing only one boat moored on the way once we had passed under the bridge carrying the main road into the town centre. We meandered our way back through a few backstreets to the town just in time to miss a boat pass through Sidbury Lock & disappear under the road bridge. By that time warm drinks were in order which we found nearby at Charlies Cafe Bar along with home made rock cakes & flapjack. They also stock Fairtrade products and offer veggy & gluten-free options.
We sat and enjoyed our tea on comfy sofas by the window enjoying the last of the afternoon sun and then headed for home, we almost got back in daylight too, not bad for a January afternoon!
Well here we are in 2009 now and I hope that the New Year brings everyone’s hopes and dreams into reality, I certainly hope that ours come into being.
We have known which boat we would like to buy for quite some time; it is still there waiting for us and the price has even come down a little, so all we want is a buyer for our house!
In the meantime our good friends Barry and Sue let us visit them on their boat ‘Esther’ whenever we need a canal ‘fix’ and always make us welcome in that snug saloon with the wood-burner pumping out it’s welcome warmth as a portent of days to come.