Friday, 14 August 2015

So where was all that rain?

We dressed for the rain but it never came
They forecast storms and tempests but they didn't happen here. Tug Harry didn't have to turn into the Ark.
After tieing up early yesterday because of the forecasts, what rain we got didn't arrive until midnight when it was heavy enough, briefly, to wake us with its drumming on the roof.
Not quite Lords; village cricket Bidford fashion
In the still-dry previous evening we had managed a walk round Bidford's huge green where a village cricket game at its most bucolic was underway. Fielders in shorts or tracksuit bottoms outnumbered those in whites and a few pints were hidden behind the boundary line to refresh the deep fielders between balls. There was even a youngster of about ten making up the numbers!
Back at the boat, we had a late evening visitor: a kingfisher perched on our bow Tee-stud.
Our late evening visitor posed briefly for the paparazzo
This morning it was still raining but was slackening by ten a.m. so we donned our wet gear and set off. Half an hour later it had stopped completely.
Only four locks separated us from our destination, Evesham, and the river was flowing just that bit faster to help push us on our way. Best known lock on the stretch is Harvington/Robert Aickman – all the Upper Avon locks have double names to commemorate an individual or group associated with the restoration.
The Robert Aickman memorial lock
This one celebrates one of the most influential figures in the renewal of the inland waterways. Aickman helped found the Inland Waterways Association in 1946 and campaigned for the waterways for more than twenty years.
A rather handsome looking bronze bust of the campaigner
He has his name writ large across the top of the lock as well as a handsome memorial, centre of which is a fine 3D style bust. What a shame that this impeccably kept lock was spoiled by a mound of rubbish around and under one of the benches - bottles, packets, almost a full set of men's clothes including pants (what did he go home in?) and even chunks of broken up plastic packaging chucked in the hedge. A good job Harrywoman was on hand to get it cleared up.
Shameful - the litter which Harrywoman cleared up
Just on from here, George Billington Lock (built in six weeks so its terminally ill donor might be able to see it finished) sports a curious small tower beside it. This is a memorial to Eric Pritchard, who built the tower as a lockkeeper's hut as well as other works on the river.
Not an errant space capsule but a lock hut
After this it was a simple, smooth couple of miles down to Evesham. The lock here is a bit of a demon to a newcomer: there's a large semi-open weir before it and you sneak past this still wondering where the lock is, the only clue being a 'left' arrow in the distance. And there it is, a sharp left turn off the river with currents pulling you every which way and nowhere obvious to moor if the gates are closed. Fortunately they weren't. It would all be a seriously sweaty palms job if the river was swollen. Or if the weir had been as fast running as the fierce open weir back at Harvington.
Evesham Lock is where the Upper Avon ends and the Lower Avon begins. A famous triangular lock house spanning a disused second lock chamber used to be the base of the Lower Avon authority until the two Trusts sensibly merged.
Evesham's lock house was flooded four feet deep in 2007
The house was badly damaged in the 2007 floods – which shows how high the waters must have risen – but has now been rebuilt.
Leaving the lock we went under the town bridge and onto a long length of pleasant parkside mooring. We'd just tied up when the rain began again - but even then only briefly.

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