Wednesday, May 20, 2009

England Part 6

Tewkesbury. After a rocky start, we were ready to explore the town... except there didn't seem to be a whole lot to see. The high street could be walked in five minutes or less and the surrounding streets that we tried out were devoid of anything of interest. I didn't mind, however as all I really wanted to see was the Abbey. I have an obsession with old buildings and the older and more majestic they are, the better. Tewkesbury Abbey did not disappoint. Preparations were under way for Easter Celebrations so the church was a hive of activity making sureptitious picture taking almost impossible.
We wandered the aisles, poking our noses in little nooks and crannies, running our hands over centuries old tombs. A chantry chapel drew me in, with unique detailing on the ceiling. As I stepped back to take it all in, my foot came down on 4 inches of empty air. There was some staggering backwards, some flailing of arms in a desperate attempt to stop the inevitable. I found myself flat on my back on the stone floor of Tewkesbury Abbey with a bruised elbow and ego. Yay me!
After righting myself , we made our way to the exits and walked back to the boat, keeping our eyes peeled for a restaurant or pub to eat dinner at. The selection was not ideal; a choice of "2 meals for 9.99" form the English Equivalent of Dennys or an outrageously pricey dinner in a tiny (and way more upscale than us) cafe. We settled on greasy fish and chips wrapped in paper from the local fish shop.

I just have to note that this was my first fish and chips of the trip, but I think it was Rob's 6th.
The next morning, we wandered back into town in the hopes of picking up a few groceries for the road (or should I say river). Somehow, culinary gold was struck. A local butcher shop AND a local greengrocer were open and we picked up a beautiful pork shoulder roast and some good looking produce before hurrying back to the boat so we could lock out of the Avon onto the Severn. A gaggle of eager power boaters, one other narrowboat crew and Rob and I were all clustered around the lock keepers shack in the hopes of being the first through. Somehow, the narrowboats won the lock lottery and we were sent down together.

The morning was clear and calm, sun shining. A short waterway lead from the last lock on the Avon to the junction with the Severn. The view of Mythe Bridge as we swung out wide on the river to avoid the sandbar was breathtaking.

This day rated as one of the most idyllic yet as we cruised calmly up the Severn taking in the sun, the wide calm water, the fresh air. I could hear birds singing, fish jumping. Once in a while, a boat would pass us going the other way, but we were largely on our own. This was also the day that I truly enjoyed driving the boat the most.
WE ate lunch on the run again and reached the first lock on the river sometime around 2, maybe 3. The gates were huge and incredibly daunting, the lock keeper's shouted instructions almost impossible to understand, but we made it up without incident. From there it was a few hundred yards to the bottom lock of the Worcester and Birmingham canal, the one we had started on 11 or 12 days earlier.
We locked up without incident, tied up near Diglis Basin and headed for the cathedral (see previous mention of obsession).
Worcester Cathedral was even more majestic than Tewkesbury and I managed to avoid any embarrassing incidents.

There was one small problem. I had done no research on the layout of Worcester, it was a Saturday afternoon and we had no idea where to find a grocery/liquor store. I got the pork shoulder roast started low and slow, with some onions, bay and Strongbow, left Rob in charge and set out. After roughly 30 minutes of walking, I found a Tesco Express. It would have to do. In hindsight, I should have done a little more sightseeing/tourist shopping, but I had no idea what day it was....
Dinner was oh so good (I heart British Pork)
Rob and I needed some exercise after that so we set off for a walk along the Severn to take in the amazing sunset.....

Next time: The bells! The Bells! Plus some dead rats. Also, taking our time drinking, some more drinking and Stoke Prior again.

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