Thursday, October 09, 2014


It immediately became apparent that our descent into Stratford would be slow. We soon caught up with a boat which was only very marginally narrow enough to pass through the locks. The lone owner got it stuck several times, and got his chimney stuck under the bridge at the bottom of one of the locks; added to which, managing a boat through locks alone isn't easy at the best of times. I was glad I was able to assist him from time to time.

Further delays were caused by another solo boater who was trying to turn his boat in a pound between two locks which was not a winding-hole, and clearly too small. He got stuck across it, with his bow in the shallows at the far side. Having finally extricated himself from that – and he would accept help from no-one – he went on to get the boat very firmly stuck in the next lock up, because he'd not removed his side fenders. He could neither reverse nor go forward, nor could he remove the tightly-wedged fenders. Grace and I had to carry on down the flight – there were others coming up and expecting us to pass into their locks as they left them – so we had to leave him to it. There was nothing we could have done anyway.

The eleven locks in this flight are in three distinct groups, with space enough between each group in which to moor, so tying up in one of those spaces for the night was our intention. Sod's Law, however, would have it that the bank was totally unsuitable for mooring in both of those stretches, so we had to carry on to the bottom, where we found the perfect spot – albeit rather noisy because of the nearby A46 and a railway.

On Thursday, we made the final descent into Bancroft Basin, Stratford-Upon-Avon. The locks here were desperately in need of servicing. All of them had very stiff winding mechanisms – as had many of the locks before them. I couldn't drop one of the top paddles at lock 53, nor close the bottom gate at number 54 – something that had never happened to me before.

Bancroft Basin is a really lovely place to moor. Boats tie up at floating pontoons – very interesting to walk along while a boat is mooring!

With the statue of Shakespeare right in front of us, and the RSC Theatre behind, we moored at around noon, and stood back to admire the views and take in the atmosphere. We went almost straight away to the theatre box-office to buy tickets for that evening's performance (the final one) of Arden of Faversham, a tragicomedy by an anonymous contemporary of Shakespeare's. We used the tickets Jill and Rod had given us for our 40th Wedding Anniversary last December, and we were really glad we chose that play to see.

Arden of Faversham was a superb piece of drama, acted and produced every bit as excellently as one would expect from the RSC. The lead roles were played by Sharon Small and Ian Redford, both of whom we knew from TV, although each has a long list of stage appearances to their name. The play was staged in The Swan Theatre, the small, intimate theatre-in-the-round (well, three sides, anyway) which was itself a delight. Our seats were perfect, and we had a great evening.

On Friday, we went shopping – unfortunately in vain – for some clothes Grace needed, and for an ice-cream for me. I'd had it in mind for several days that I'd find a good shop in Stratford which would be able to sell me some top-quality ice-cream. I was very disappointed! The best I could find was shop selling Walls', and when I tried to return to it later, having failed to find anything better, and really wanting at least a half-decent confection, I couldn't find the shop again. Sigh! But I did come across a lovely book about JMW Turner, which I bought.
I was feeling under the weather after lunch (I blame the lack of ice-cream!) but Grace and I went for a leisurely stroll around the park alongside the River Avon, returning to Kantara afterwards for a rest. Could I feel a cold coming on?

After two very enjoyable days at Stratford, Saturday morning brought us rain to start with, but we left the basin under a clearing sky. We were alone as we went back up the locks out of Stratford, and we made good speed up to the same spot past the A46 bridge as we had used on the way down, where we moored again for the night.

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