Today was all about a single moment, a choice to be made at a crucial time. Do we first go south to Gloucester and then north to Worcester, or do we skip Gloucester (which is not strictly part of the Avon Ring) and go straight on up to Worcester?
However, before that decision needed to be made, there was the little matter of breakfast to attend to. You have to start the day on the right foot, after all.
We planned a two stage breakfast today. First we had cereal, then we ventured across the sports field we had moored up beside, to visit Asda (“Asders”) where we bought drugs and alcohol, which is a very rock and roll way of saying cider and ibuprofen.
Talking of cider, I found a can in the freezer this morning. Rock solid and caked in ice. No one (Trevor) admitted to (Trevor) putting it there (Trevor).
We also took a walk into Pershore itself, to see the abbey. Now, I’m not a particularly loud person but to have the cathedral door slammed in my face for making too much noise during silent hour was a bit of a shock. I suppose it didn’t help that moments earlier I had burst in with a bright and cheery “WELCOME!” that echoed all around the lady chapel.
After taking a temporary vow of silence, we went back in. It was quite interesting inside but we really weren’t made to feel welcome. It wouldn’t be our last Abbey of the day, so I didn’t mind too much.
Our second breakfast came in the form of delicious cheese and ham croissants, which we ate on the go, followed by lashings of lemon drizzle cake.
The sun had come out to play by this time, and so had the shorts. Four pairs of pearly white legs were on display for all to see.
The river Avon has some very large weirs next to it’s locks, and there are plenty of warning signs and barriers to try and prevent you from entering by mistake. The first lock we came to today had a very stark reminder of why entering a weir is a bad thing to do: there was a partly submerged, and very sorry looking canal barge in it! It certainly made us pay more attention to what we were doing, that’s for sure.
As if a crashed boat wasn’t enough to put you off, I also found a “beware of crocodiles” warning sign at one of the locks.
Tewkesbury was the first target for the day, where we would get to make our big decision for the day. We arrived there in good spirits, buoyed by some mint chocolate ice creams. Even Jerry enjoyed it.
There is a lock at Tewkesbury, that you cannot operate on your own. It is the one barrier between the rivers Avon and Severn. As we arrived around lunchtime, the lock keeper was of course not there. Gone to lunch. So, we moored up and went in search of the number one thing to do in this town – visit the abbey.
It was only a short walk to get to there, passing through a few side streets (filled with medieval looking buildings), and before we knew it we were inside the very impressive building. Jerry was allowed in too, and he behaved beautifully the whole time we were exploring.
We still hadn’t made our decision about Gloucester versus Worcester by the time we’d got back to the boat, but the lock keeper was back from lunch, the water in the lock was in our favour, and so it was time to change rivers. Goodbye Avon, hello Severn.
Once in the lock we still hadn’t made our choice. We had plenty of time left in the schedule so either option was good.
The lock doors automatically opened (all the lock keeper had to do was push a button, no physical effort required), and as we motored out we were finally forced to choose.
This was the moment, this was where we once and for all decided how we were going to spend the rest of our holiday. There was a sign post right there in the middle of the wide river; left to Gloucester or right to Worcester.
The sun was beating on our necks, the insects were buzzing. There was no other sound beyond our own beating hearts. Left or right? Left or right?
We chose right – we were heading to Worcester. And it was definitely the right choice.
There was one slight fly in the ointment though… at this rate we would finish the whole of the Avon Ring by tomorrow night – completing the circuit just in 4.5 days, which is more than twice the speed most people do it!
But the Captain, as always, had a plan. Why not complete the ring and then venture further north?
Why not indeed. However, we had only brought enough maps and guides to cover the Avon Ring. To do more would mean buying more navigational aids. So that’s exactly what we set out to do.
We stopped at Upton-Upon-Severn, there was a chandlery there in a local marina, which was bound to have whatever we needed. We had to moor up a little way from the marina so the Captain and Elaine had the pleasure of dashing off to purchase all the books and maps we could need.
Unfortunately they arrived at the chandlers 10 minutes too late – they were closed!
Not to be deterred, they marched back and into the little town where they found a map shop that had everything we desired.
The race was now on, Trevor, Jerry and I were in charge of the boat whilst the Captain and Elaine sat at the table and charted our best possible course for the next few days. Eventually they surfaced, the plan was set.
And it started with us getting as much water under our hull as possible today. We needed to reach Worcester before it got dark.
The river Severn is a bit more industrial than the Avon, but it is still mostly pretty – lots of trees lining the water, and fields beyond.
It’s also a bit dull, and goes on for what feels like forever. Not even a tasty bowl of nachos could relieve the tedium.
Eventually we passed through another manned, automated lock, and Worcester arrived.
We moored up at the very first location we could find. Not a bad spot, plenty of places to walk Jerry and there’s a horse racing track about 30 seconds away. Add to that the fact that the river is full of towers and it has a little something for everyone.
It’s been a long day, but a good one. We now have the rest of our journey plotted out, and it starts by heading toward the longest staircase of canal locks in the country… but that’s a story for another day.