I have never been to Disneyland, Graceland, Dollywood, The Epcot Centre, or Marine Land, and now I have never been to Cadbury World. Although I got close, the Cadbury store where you exit into the gift store from the attraction. Cadbury World became a focus as Katherine and I made our way around the west and south of Birmingham, including navigating the Severn, going up the Droitwich Canal which included a whole day of progressing through 32 locks and the next day with no locks at all but including three tunnels. Two were 500 or so meters, one was 2500 meters. Yes, 2.5km. It is kind of weird to go underground for that distance. I know it is safe, but I really felt the weight of the land above me!

The light at the end of the tunnel, 2.5 km away.

Getting closer

What I was more interested in was Bourneville itself. The Cadbury family were devout Quakers and were early social justice champions, particularly George Cadbury. When he was able he had the village of Bourneville built for the Cadbury workers. It was during the Arts and Crafts period and the houses and community buildings reflect that style, which I am particularly attracted to. There is a community building named for Ruskin, one of the founders of the Arts and Crafts movement. Simple but elegant design. Hopefully more Arts and Crafts later in my narrowboat travels.

The village is a thriving community, beginning to turn its attention to senior housing. George Cadbury was one of a few industrialists who cared about his workers. Most improvements were wrought by the formation of trade unions, but my bias is showing.

It is a pretty village and reminded me of an upscale Bain Co-op in Toronto, which is also in the Arts and Crafts style.

A wedding present from George to his wife
The first bank I had an account with
Wonder what Pantone colour it is.

We checked out the store, bought chocolate, and then looked around the village. Our plan was to do Cadbury World the next day, but decided it was not worth it as we would not see the actual chocolate production.

I wonder what the locals think.

We have been so lucky with weather the last two weeks, very sunny and warm. In Droitwich the other day the Rosemary was already in bloom

Rosemary, in bloom in February. A tender perennial in Canada

Since leaving Bourneville (they named a chocolate bar after the village, my favourite when I was a kid, the Bourneville bar was dark chocolate) we travelled along the Stratford on Avon canal. Sounds posh doesn’t it? Well, it is not. It goes along the south side of Birmingham and was full of garbage, all kinds of it, including a 5 gallon plastic container spewing oil. Jammed up the propeller. No fun cleaning that out, then today the canal became really shallow and it was hard to navigate and move forward. Then 20 more locks. You never know what you will experience on the canals. The day we did the Tardebigge flight of 32 locks there were all kinds of people on the canal. Lots of parents with kids and grandparents with grandkids, which we had been seeing all week as it was half-term. Parents really enjoyed explaining what was happening as we opened and closed locks, filled them with water and moved higher up the flight. And they lent a hand . Today we were largely on our own and both the paddles (what you lift to let the water in or out), and the single gates were really heavy. It was quite a workout.

I have been on the canal for more than three weeks now and have not travelled nearly as far as I thought I would in this time. Katherine and I are getting close to Warwick in the midlands. I had thought I would be down by Heathrow by now able to drop her off there. As it is she will be taking a bus to Heathrow

It has been an intersting time. The canal is a microcosim of society of course, so there are all kinds of people on the canal, although almost exclusively white. I am glad that I am doing this five month adventure now, not 10 years from now. Narrowboat life is becoming very popular with arable land being converted to marinas. The boats come in all shapes and sizes and colours. We pass many that have permanant moorings and I can’t help feel that most of them look pretty forlorn. They provide a cheap place to live, but they begin to look un-loved. Leaves and other debris collecting on them, moss on the bumpers, needing a coat of paint and reblacked on the hull, and generally looking a bit sad. Maybe I am judging them to harshly, but it has cured me of ever wanting to live on a moored boat anywhere. Then of course there are the houseproud boat owners that keep them ship shape and everything in between. There is a growing number of boats in general, I wonder if they will have to limit the number some time in the future.

On the other hand, everyone is very helpful, always willing to lend a hand, and many of the people who walk along the canal, inevitably walking their dog, also seem to have experience being on a boat and offer good answers to questions.

One thing that really stands out is the smell of coal smoke. Definetely a smell from my childhood. I grew up in a modern house, built in 1957, but it’s only source of heat was an open coal fire in the living room. It was a four bedroom, four room downstairs house. Mom could not wait to get central heating, which we did in the mid-sixties, so that she would not have to make a coal fire every day of the fall, winter and spring.

Many boats have wood and coal burners, with coal seeming to dominate. Britain is yet again trying to crack down and discourge people from using coal fires for heat. Anyone who has watched The Crown will know the diastrous results of coal smoke pollution in London and it was banned there for many years. London smog killed. So I have a complicated relationship with the smell, but overall it is not pleasant. Certainly not as attractive as a wood smoke.

Already people are noticing that Little Star is a long way from home. They express suprise when they ask how long I have been travelling and it is a conversation opener. I can only imagine what the reaction will be when I am in Bath or Bristol, just about the furthest away from Nantwich in Cheshire that I can get! I do detect a bit of envy. I feel a bit like a snail, carrying my home around with me and I love it. I haven’t had to go through a lock single handed yet, that will probably happen in April, may try a practice one with my sister Mary on board in March. As a fellow traveller said, they loose their novelty when you are on your own.

Palermo and Sorrento next to each other!

The British have a habit, quaint?, twee?, of naming their homes even if they have a street address. Here the builder did it for them. Some do not have a street address, my sisters The Croft, my brothers Cayhill Cottage, so it makes sense to have a name, but otherwise……..

February, by the day

Day 1. Drove to Overwater Marina on the Shropshire Union Canal. Unloaded, lots and lots of stuff. Iced in.

Day 2. Lucien And Dani Arrive. Sorted and stowed gear. Iced in.

Day 3. Ice cleared in the afternoon. Travelled from Overwater Marina to bridge 100 on the Shropshire Union Canal. Visited the Barbridge Inn. Lovely beer.

Day 4. Barbridge to Cheshire Cat Pub, Christleton, Bridge 120 on the Shropshire Union Canal

Day 5. Christleton to Chester. Bus to Ellesmere Port. Toured National Waterways Museum. Visited The Boot Inn, built in 1643.

Day 6. Windy and rainy all night. Woke to no power, full toilet and bad weather. Emergency stop at Waitrose for a toilet. Chester to Tilston Lock 106. Visited the Dysart Arms. Toffee tasting beer. Saw an airbus called a Beluga, extra large, to carry airplane parts.

Day 7. Woke to wind and rain, very brief cruise through the Burberry Locks. Too windy to continue right away, back to Overwater Marina at 3.15. Lucien and Dani departed.

Day 8. At the marina, changed the gas cylinder.

Day 9. Picked up Sue and Katherine, stayed at the marina

Day 10. Feb 11, Sue’s birthday. Headed south on the Shropshire Union Canal.

Day 11. Had to call Mark o jump start us. We left the bilge pump on til 2 am. Through the locks at Audlum, arrived at Market Drayton..

Day 12. Market Drayton, Market day, has been since 1263. Visited at 1600’s pub.

Day 13. February 14, Katherine’s birthday. Travelled to Bridge 45 on the Shropshire Union. We celebrated all our birthdays with a roast lamb dinner.

Day 14. Woke to a flat battery again. Mark came and changed it.

Day 15. Wolverhampton flight closed for maintenance/repair, which they do in the winter, so had to continue down towards Kidderminster. Went to the Mermaid to figure out our route forward.

Day 16, Feb 17, Sue’s last day. Long day trying to get to Kidderminster, got as far as Kinver. Tied up, quick pint and then Sue was away in a taxi.

Day 17. Feb 18. Staffordshire and Worcester Canal. Made it to Kidderminster. Dropped my darn phone in the canal, had to replace it and get connected. Connection more difficult than it should have been.

Day 18. Feb 19. Laundry. Tootled down to Stourport and found a berth on the River Severn.

Day 19. Feb 20. Set off down the Severn only to find you have to book the lock. Back to Stourport and booked it. “Do on thing every day that scares you”. – Eleanor Roosevelt. Being on a river is potentially scary.

Day 20. Feb 21. Down the Severn past Lincomb Lock and Holt Lock and onto the Droitwich Canal, all the way to Droitwich. Lovely pampas grass beside the canal.

Day 21. Feb 20. Droitwich Spa Marina for household tasks, and pub lunch with Martin and Jane to get my new sim card.

Day 22. Feb 21. Droitwich Canal and on to the Worcester and Birmingham Canal. Did 15 locks before tackling the Tardebigge flight and sundry locks tomorrow. Lovely lamb dinner in The Queen’s Head.

Day 23. Feb 22 Did the whole flight plus sundry, 32 locks. Began at 10.57, ended 5 with a lunch break. A large day. Glorious weather. Lovely views.

Day 24, Feb 25 Easy cruise to Cadbury World and Bournville through the Tardebigge Tunnel, 580 yards, Shortwood Tunnel, 613 yards and Wast Hills Tunnel, 2726 yards. Visited the shop at Cadbury World and bought loads. Then Bournville, the model town built by the Cadbury brothers in Arts and Crafts style. Did more shopping in a charity shop – lovely stuff that I still use.

Day 25. Feb 26. Used a winding hole, my first, to turn around to go back to the Stratford on Avon Canal turn off. Went through the Brandwood Tunnel, 352 yards

Day 26. Feb 27. Another day of cruising. Shallow and muddy in places, slowed us down, thought we had lost power, and all around Birmingham was pretty dirty. Lots of garbage in the canals. Tackled the Lapworth Locks, 19 of them, before turning onto the Grand Union Canal. Lamb cassoulet for dinner

Day 27. Feb 28. Did 20 locks today, including the Hatton Locks, in the rain. Pretty miserable and hard on my left arm. Katherine was sick, so she did the driving. Got us to Warwich where she will get the bus to Heathrow.

Day 28. March 1. Katherine off to Heathrow and I moved Little Star to Saltisford Arm in Warwick. My first time by myself. I had to back down the arm, and then back into the tie up spot, managed it very well, though I say so myself.