Tuesday, 18 August 2015

From secondhand books to hover-van victim

Another couple of canal books for the bookshelf
Secondhand bookshops are alive and well and living in Pershore. The little town manages to support two of them despite the inevitable clutch of local charity shops, all with substantial shelves of reading matter.
I have to admit that charity shops are my usual source of reading matter these days but somehow I couldn't get past the tempting window of Edgeberrow Books without venturing inside. And what a treasure trove it proved to be. It is not the sort of shop you visit for a couple of whodunnits to read on the train. No, it's where enthusiast collectors of 'niche' specialities peruse its tall and closely packed shelves. Remarkably, among the lines of railway, naval, historical, aircraft, motoring and every other sort of speciality I found no less than two shelves of canal books. "I bought a collection of 150 books," the owner explained.
I could have bought several but settled for two: E. Temple Thurston's 'The Flower of Gloster' and 'Voyage into England' by John Seymour. Both are travelogues on the inland waterways, the first in 1911 and the other in the sixties.
Pershore's old packhorse bridge and newer motor bridge
And that was the last of our stay in charming little Pershore. We cast off and headed downstream, with 15 miles but now only three locks separating us from Tewksbury and the Severn. After Pershore Lock and the two bridges (pre and post motor car) the river was wider and slower now, sweeping in long, gentle curves through a wide flood plain – from which most villages had kept a safe distance.
Always in the middle distance, distinctive Bredon Hill
Always in the near distance as we boxed the compass was the steep mound of Bredon Hill, to the left, to the right, in front and finally behind us.
Nafford Lock complete with elderly looking footbridge
Second lock of the day was Nafford where we came upon an oddity on the Avon, a footbridge across the lock which had to be swung out of the way when locking, then replaced afterwards. Nafford also had the first mechanical flood controlling weir on the river, all the others having been open weirs over rocks.
Another tricky old bridge, this at Eckington
After Nafford the river swept through a quick sequence of tight bends, culminating in an absurdly tight hairpin corner before we reached the oddly angled and multi arched 16th century Eckington Bridge. I bet this is a challenge to line up for when running downstream on a fast river. It reminded me of the equally tricky Irthlingborough Bridge on the Nene.
As crashed into by Top Gear
A wide, straight couple of miles brought us to Strensham Lock where we moored for the night on the weir stream, leaving the lock for tomorrow. We are next to a boat we saw earlier at Pershore, a very Pretty Taylor's of Chester timber canal cruiser, famed – or notorious, really – for having been badly damaged by someone on Top Gear while filming a hover-van episode on the Avon a few years ago. Presumably the Beeb's insurance coughed up for the repairs which, being a wooden boat, were probably not far away from the cost of fixing a dented Lamborghini.
Later, looking back up the river later I spotted a bobbing shape in mid-stream – a wild swimmer, the first we've seen on the Avon. Rather him than me; I'll stick with an evening beer and the Champions League commentary on Radio 5 Live.

A late night wild swimmer braves the Avon

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