Thursday, 26 August 2010


And so to the final blog of the 2010 Mikron Summer season which has come all too soon. Just a moment ago it was a glorious spring at the end of a very long hard winter and we were setting out on Tyseley for our first canal shows. Now the leaves are falling into the muddy water of the Shropshire Union Canal the rain is falling again and the ducklings are grown. Who painted the Haws and the blackberries when I wasn’t looking?
It’s been a really good tour again, met so many nice people, had loads of great shows in marvellous venues and as always been helped on our way time and again by so many good friends of Mikron – too numerous to thank you all but you know who you are and that your help is appreciated so much by us all.
Final thanks go to the team who make it all happen - Marianne, Pete, Gemma, Rachel and Rick – who have been a tower of strength throughout. Look forward to seeing you all in the Autumn tour.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010


Beyond a joke now. August must officially be a wash out as usual. Spencer at the Brandy Cask knows we are a harbinger of doom bringing storm and tempest with us every year. Fortunately David Millett of the Surrey and Hants Canal Society moved us into Fleet Football Club bar before the heavens opened. It’s still raining now at past midnight. When we get back to Gnosall and then High Offley I want fine weather – fat chance. It’s still very warm though and houses continue to be good so shouldn’t complain. Penultimate day’s boating tomorrow. Another year gone - shame.
Trecked up the Shroppie in drizzle and set up the marquee in rain but it cleared into a fine but very cold night. Mike Lucas paid us a visit and we talked boating and sang in the pub at High Offley till Olive chucked us out.

Sunday, 22 August 2010


For reasons to complicated to go into the old seals are back on the pump and it’s weeping water again. Managed ok up the Severn and no replacements available so we are carrying on as it is. A great show at the Tontine Gardens courtesy of Stourport Forward with nearly 200 people on a site overlooking the wide beam locks from Stourport basin onto the Severn. Off at 7am on Thursday up the Staffs and Worcester – as lovely as ever but very slow going and showers turned to heavy rain which kept up all day. Stopped for water at Stewponey Wharf so the tanks were very full. A slight knock on a lock gate caused by much turbulence from the weirs due to the heavy rain and the tanks leapt forward and pulled off a hose. After a while Tyseley starts leaning to starboard. An inspection revealed the bows were full of water and all costumes and extension leads submerged.
Thankfully the Witts came to our rescue and met us at Wightwick where we arrived about 9pm after 14 hours more or less continuous boating and took all to be dried. Cycled to the Spar in Wightwick and picked up drinking water as tanks are fouled with bilge water and baby wipes for washing.
Collapsed into bed at midnight and set off at 6am in pouring rain again. Fixed hose back on tanks and filled with water which thankfully stayed in the tanks. Onward to our last lock of the tour on the Shroppie. Lovely show at the Witts who dried our costumes, fed us and lent us a marquee, extension leads and induced diabetic coma with white chocolate cheese cake.
Felt a bit tired and realised that 30 hours boating and 3 shows in four days was probably the reason why.
Packed into the van again – thanks Ed Fulcher for bringing her up to Gnosall and trying to get home from Gnosall to Tewksbury on his new bus pass. Only took him 12 hours and gave him the idea for next year’s Mikron show on the bus service called ‘A Comedy of Errors’ –nice suggestion Ed but it may have already been done. Have to look into it. And back to Pershore to the Brandy Cask. Promised rain which didn’t materialise but we did the show in the bar anyway to a packed house – literally.

Sunday, 15 August 2010


Took the van down to the Coal House in Apperley and cycled back visiting Odda’s Chapel on the banks of the Severn at Deerhurst on the way back a marvellously atmospheric Saxon chapel, lovingly but not over restored and the equally beautiful Saxon parish church. If only we had defeated the Normans at Hastings...
Past huge oaks in the water meadows. I was surprised to see the Severn so low. The muddy banks had wet mud about two metres above the water line. When we got to the Severn lock the keeper told us that it was an unusually high tide and to look out for trees in the river. The tide had just turned so we went on to Apperley.
Coming back to the boat before the show it had sunk a metre below the level of the jetty whereas when we arrived it towered over it. As we watched the shooting stars in the small hours, the water rose again and we slackened off the ropes to reach down to the jetty which rapidly disappeared under the surging muddy water. I had visions of having to dive down to release the ropes as we rose but of course the water soon subsided again and at dawn we were mud bound again with the jetty above rather than below us.
Similar experience at the floating moorings at Haw Bridge. Trees banging against the side of the boat and scraping off into the darkness. Discarded gas cylinders being carried upstream like a freight train and then coming back and wedging between Tyseley and the pontoon.
The current coming up so fast it takes the swans where they don’t want to go – hissing angrily. The wise ducks sit on the pontoon and wait for better times.

More trouble with the cooling system again. River Canal Rescue to our rescue again. Another impeller gone the way of all flesh – don’t know why for sure – may have had the water intake blocked accidentally as we waited at Avon lock but as soon as Rick noticed the water wasn’t circulating and the temperature was up the damage was done and more impeller bits strewn round the system. Now the impeller is replaced the seals on the water pump are leaking again. What Ho! The pump is off to be repaired again. Looking forward to seeing it back tomorrow. Our mechanic, Matt, is on the Sharpness lifeboat tomorrow but plans to come and stick it all back together sometime tomorrow afternoon or evening.

Typical August summer holiday weather, cold and wet with occasional sublime outbreaks of sun such as at Randwick when the fields steam the clouds rise and blue sky turns to a perfect pink and amber sunset with high streaky clouds.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010


Great to be back on the Avon though sadly the Fleet Inn moorings are continuing to fall apart. Despite the pub closing next week and a fairly grey evening turning to drizzle we had a good turnout for Pedal Power. Quite a few people who came to Worcester came out again to see the other show.

Launched the new Ruby appeal – details on the Autumn tour leaflet – and hoping that we will not have to sell Tyseley to continue touring next year – our fortieth anniversary. Saw mink running along the side of the Severn as we came down and enjoyed seeing the gravel barges going up to Ryall wharf. Amazing the difference to the draught when fully laden with the water right up to the gunwhales. When empty the barges tower over the river. No wonder they need to keep right to the centre of the stream.

Spent monday morning climbing up Bredon Hill. A lovely day with high clouds and full sun on the ripening corn and the already harvested linseed fields. A touch of Autumn perhaps – winter ? Christmas? Had an amusing altercation with a group of walkers on the top overlooking one of the loveliest views in the country across the valley of the Avon and the Severn towards the Malvern Hills. They were pointing out landmarks to each other – as you do at the top of hills –
‘Look Gareth has spotted Upton on Severn over there’.
I heard someone say ‘That can’t be Upton on Severn it’s too far North’ - it was me. Soon I was surrounded by blue gortex, ordnance survey maps flapping in the wind and gesticulating binoculars...
‘Yes it is – look you can see the church spire and over to the left a little white round thing which is the school’
‘I can see a spire to the right of a round thing’
‘That’s not a spire – it’s a chimney. The spire is to the left’
‘But look it’s midday so the sun is more or less directly in the South so if I line up my map with my shadow Upton would be much further South’
‘But a half an hour on as it’s gone twelve now – and have you taken account of British Summer time?’
‘Well more or less directly South’
'You can see the Avon down there between us and that town and look there’s the Swan’s Neck with the wood behind it’
‘Ah yes ...But the wood is in front of it’
'To the East of it you mean'
‘Look there’s Nafford lock to the right’
‘That’s Strensham Lock’
'No it’s not the river bends twice before the Swan’s Neck – look at the map’
'What’s that village there then?'
'That’s Birlingham'
'It’s too close for Birlingham it must be Bredon'
'Bredon is behind the hill'
'But look there’s Pershore just behind it – you can see the abbey'
'Where – I can’t see any abbey'
'So where’s Tewksbury'
'Behind the Hill'
'What’s that then?'
'Oh yes It’s Tewksbury – or is it?'
'So where’s the Abbey?'
'I don’t know but there’s the motorway between here and the Malverns.'
'What the M5? Of course it’s between here and the Malverns...'
'What’s that then. The M50?'
'No no no. Look at the map there..'
'That’s Upton'
'No it’s not it’s Pershore!'

After about 20 minutes of this we parted none the wiser, all thoroughly annoyed and without wishing each other Good Day.

Thursday, 5 August 2010


Finished the trip into Worcester in heavy rain but soon dried out and moored up at the back of the Commandery. Found ourselves sitting on the silt this morning as the pound had inexplicably drained in the night but British Waterways were 'aware' and soon had us floating again. Interesting number of rats and mice who took advantage of the dry banks to potter about on the mud and investigate all the nooks and crannies usually under water.

Monday, 2 August 2010


Tom O'the Wood sadly closed again but thanks to Mike and Jude Palmer, show sponsors in Rowington, they organised the village hall and given the steady rain it was a great success on several fronts. Lapworth flight and even the very shallow stretch around bridge 31 presented no problems the next day. Could be the rain and the fact that with dry bilges we are riding a lot higher in the water than last year.
A lovely trip up the Stratford - on - Avon canal and despite the Norton guillotine lock snapping at our heels we pushed through slowly but surely and made good progress to Alvechurch where so far the sun is shining and there is every possibility that we will perform outside on the wharf for the first time in three years. Fingers crossed.