Go to Allan's Page Thistle 1990 Canals Home Page Building our new boat 'Keeping Up' Go to Deb's Page

1991, Our last year with Thistle

A birthday party,  Stratford and the River Avon


I've rebuilt Thistle's kitchen now, and very smart it looks too. It's only MFI chipboard so it probably won't last very long, but that won't bother us because we've taken the decision to sell her and have a replacement boat built.

You can get a FREE 2-week reciprocal licence for the River Nene. That's too good an opportunity to miss, so we took a quick trip down to Cogenhoe and back. It's a lovely mooring above the lock there.

Birthday Party

It's 21 years since Thistle was launched in the Anglo-Welsh hire fleet as Worcester, so it seemed appropriate to throw a birthday party for her. Loads of her boat-friends came too, and she even had her own cake. We like to think she had a good time.


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Thistle 'dressed overall' for her 21st birthday party
Even a boat deserves a birthday cake
The Stratford Canal
Bancroft Basin in Stratford


Our final trip was to Stratford and the River Avon, finishing at Stoke on Trent where they were going to try and sell Thistle for us while they built our new boat 'Keeping Up'. So it was with mixed emotions that we set off on this journey.

We started down the Stratford canal in baking sunshine, and finished it torrential rain. The radio said it was the wettest 24 hours for 160 years. We stopped at Wootton Wawen and met a mechanic who remembered Thistle from her early years at Trevor as Worcester. Note to future navigators, don't moor there bows-on in an old Harborough Boat, it's almost impossible to scramble ashore over the bows.

The canal was well up, and we had to clear the roof completely to get through into Bancroft Basin. We couldn't go any further, though, because the river was 18" up and had been closed to navigation. Still we had a good mooring there, and took the opportunity to see some Shakespeare that evening.

After a couple of days the river had gone down again, so we explored the Avon upstream to Red House and downstream to Tewkesbury. The current was still quite strong, we had to be very careful. We were intrigued to share a few locks with a big old boat that had to wind above the locks, go down backwards so he could safely put the bows on the cill, then wind again below the locks. This was because he was too long to fit in the locks the usual way, and couldn't risk damaging his stern-gear on the cill.

So I wrote an ode to the Avon:

We woke up in Evesham

Which was a good thing

For it was to Evesham

That we'd tied our string.

We'd run out of bread now

And were in a fix

But then we went shopping

and bought some in Kwik's.

We went down locks forwards

(Not worthy of note)

But going down backwards

Was a big working boat

Cadbury Chadbury Fladbury

Piddle Tiddle Widdle

Locks weirs and villages

With a river in the middle

If you stop in Tewkesbury

Just use the marina

Moorings food beer all good

And the loo-point couldn't be cleaner!

After Tewkesbury we joined the Severn, rescued a cruiser whose anchor had got caught in a submerged tree (we pulled up the anchor and the tree as well), and made our way up to Stourport and towards Stoke on Trent. At Tixall Wide we spent a magical night watching the lightning playing around the sky, and STILL we were having to catch the leaking rainwater in saucepans under the gunwales - that's one of Thistle's endearing features that I shan't miss!

So we arrived at Stoke on Trent, and Mike Adkins came running out to ask how soon the new owners could move on board. They'd bought her already, from just the description and photos, and a couple of hours they sailed off into the sunset with her while we became boatless and had to borrow a trailer to take all our stuff home.

The next thing to happen would be the building our new boat 'Keeping Up'


Go to Allan's Page Thistle 1990 Canals Home Page Building our new boat 'Keeping Up' Go to Deb's Page


All pictures on this site are Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

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