Wednesday, 27 August 2008


We left the IWA Festival at around 2.30 on Sunday afternoon, and got a full bus back to the car at Birmingham Midshires. We were surprised at how many people had only just arrived, and were waiting for a bus to the site.

We headed off to Stratford, as we'll be coming this way by boat next month, and wanted to check out the ground. We parked in the town centre, and found Bancroft Basin just over the road. It's a bit chaotic at the moment, as they're re-doing the gardens and the basin is surrounded by security fences. Access to the lock down onto the river looks particularly difficult. Perhaps that explains why there were still spaces on the pontoons. The signs say the work is due to be finished in August -- so that looks like a deadline missed.

From the basin, we walked a little way up the canal, to the bottom lock. There was a surprising amount of rubbish in the water, and there was an ominous looking matress at the far end of the lock. Not the sort of thing you'd want to get round your prop.

We retraced our steps to the basin, bought ice creams from the ice cream boat, and walked across the bridge to the far side of the river. It was very busy with boats -- rowing boats, some with little outboards, punts, and trip boats.

We checked out the river moorings, and decided we'll probably spend our night in Stratford on the river rather than in the basin. There were free spaces even on a bank holiday weekend, so midweek in September shouldn't be a problem. The moorings extend almost all the way down to Colin P Witter lock, which has massive girders over it to stop the chamber collapsing. A hotel boat came through, watched by plenty of gonzoozlers.

The rain which had been threatening for a while then came, which with the showers while we were at the show meant we'd got wet three or four times. We took the little chain ferry back over to the other side of the river. Each crossing was packed, so even at 50p a time they must take a fair bit of cash.

The RSC theatre looks a mess at the moment, partially demolished and with a tower of girders up one side. It'll look good when it's finished. We headed off in search of more bits of the Stratford Canal, of which more later.

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