Just before leaving the Excellence Afloat / Valley Cruisers wharf, we’d noticed a hotel boat and butty pass us, heading for Stratford. With two boats to descend the few remaining narrow locks, and the butty – being unpowered – needing to be manhandled through, we thought our chances of making the town centre by lunchtime were remote. But they fortuitously moored up for an early lunch themselves, just before the top lock; we were soon moored up in Bancroft Basing, with the delights of Stratford at our beck and call, even though the Captain kept jumping ship to check out the facilities.
The basin was busy but not full and during the day mobbed with tourists of all persuasions, but once the coach parties left and the traffic died down it’ became a nice quiet spot nestling between the river and the town centre. Loads of restaurants, proper shopping HIgh Street and the RSC Theatre all within 100 yards walk max. And with a large flower bed for Sir to hide in and amuse Himself within a few feet from the cat flap, even the Captain was impressed with our choice of a place to stay for a few days.
The hotel boat pair turned up soon after lunch, and we realised that we’d seen them before: they’d been tucked up for the winter like Song & Dance about half-a-dozen berths down from us at Cropredy Marina.
There’s lots of photogenic stuff here (although the RSC Theatre complex is probably not included in that!) so restraint is needed. But there’s a ceilidh dance called Clopton Bridge, and we were rather taken by the hand-cranked chain ferry down on the River Avon. We’d have gone across and walked back over the bridge but for the fact that he packed up for the day just as we arrived.
And after all that wandering, we decided to eat out at the nearest restaurant to Song & Dance, which proved to be one of Mr Carluccio’s establishments, who at 18:45 were still doing the very good value fixed-price lunch menu offer. Sometimes you just have to take the knocks…