We’ve just finished watching Michel Roux and Monica Galleti agonising over which Masterchef contestants to send home and now we know how they feel. Our finalists for the Best Real Food Shop near the canal were all so good that picking a winner has been really hard. Sue (No Problem) put in a plea for Jaspers Village Bakery, and Adam reminded us that the Whilton Farm shop is actually called Canal Turn Farm Shop –you can visit their web site which confirms all the good stuff about animal care and local sourcing. www.canalturnfarmshop.co.uk
In then end, the only way we could decide was to remember how many times we had talked about our winner to friends, recalling the great produce and enthusiastic service we got. So now we tear open the golden envelope to reveal that the winner is . . . .
Russells Butchers of Penkridge
hooray, loud applause
thanks to their vacuum packing, we were still enjoying their meat a long time after we departed the area. We had meat and bacon and fresh pork pie and pie to cook, all specially good, and the interest and enthusiasm of the man behind the counter was just what a customer wants. Well done them.
we should add though that Jaspers, and Canal Turn both merit a highly commended too. Actually visit any of our four nominees and you won’t go wrong.
(PS Apologies to our veggie and vegan friends and family. You’ll just have to sit this one out)
Hardly has the applause died down and we are on to Award number two which, as promised, is something actually to do with canals. How about Best Canal Destination?
What is a Canal Destination? Well, its a place you would purposely journey to, rather than just pass through. A place you like for its own sake. A place you might cruise out to, and then turn round and come back. This year we visited a few good ones. Good because the towns were worth visiting and because the visitor moorings were attractive, and because the approach by water was pleasant.
so for our short list of nominees, let’s have (in alphabetical order)
1. Market Harborough.
We’re regretting not having gone there before, because we have been within striking distance on a number of occasions. The canal basin is a great place to moor if you don’t mind paying, otherwise there are adequate moorings a few yards down the canal. It takes ten minutes to walk into town, but as a town it is well worth a visit, within some very appealing architecture
and good shops and services and some quaint eateries including the splendid Joules Yard. For such a small town, the place seems to be thriving and there is plenty going on. The approach by canal along the arm from Foxton is for the most part attractive too. We’ll definitely go back.
2.Paddington basin – an old favourite of ours and a previous winner of Best Urban Mooring if memory serves me right. A great place if you can get in (it gets full), and you have the city at your feet. As more of the building s get finished, the place gest smarter and smarter.
Easily the safest place to moor in London, although the breeziest!
3. Stratford-Upon-Avon (yes it really does have hyphens).This year we arrived at Stratford via the River Avon, but you could of course come to it down the canal which is very pretty. Here we are, just arrived and waiting for the canal lock across the river to be available.
Once back on the canal we got a good mooring in the canal basin. The basin is good if you can get in, but if not there are perfectly OK moorings just round the corner. The big attractions of course are the riverside and the theatre. We went to see the RSC production of Hamlet, just a hundred yards stroll from the boat. The shops are handy too.
4. Tewkesbury. Sitting at the very end of Shakespeare’s Avon, a pretty little town with good safe moorings, albeit at a cost.
The walk into town is easy and there are a lot of things to see including the Abbey and one of Wetherspoons best pubs architecturally speaking. The approach down the Avon is through lovely pastoral landscape.
5.Worcester. Actually we were passing through down the Severn, but it passes as a destination many people come down the Worcs & Birmingham canal and then return. The moorings by the racecourse are plentiful but cost £4 I think. We moored on a pontoon above Diglis Weir which was fine and undisturbed and only a few minutes walk into the city.
As tourists, we did the Cathedral, which is one of the better ones we have visited and had a free organ recital, and visited the Civil War Commandery. The river front is attractive and some of the old city streets too. We also found a good pub nearby which may well feature in a later award.
Others worthy of a mention from this year’s cruise would be Stourport and Coventry, both at ends of canals and both having decent moorings.
Well there you are, five good places to take a boat to. Which is best? The next golden envelope will reveal all. Stay tuned.