English Holiday Cruises
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Rising in the Cambrian Mountains, the River Severn
encompasses the Cotswolds and Severn Vale, the cruising area of the English
Holiday Cruises boat MV Edward Elgar.
Boarding at the home port of Gloucester Quays, its temperature
taken, repeat of health questionnaire, mask on and sanitise hands, before being
greeted with a ‘Welcome Onboard Drink’ by Captain Steve.
Luggage, already in our cabin, has been sanitised before coming
onboard. Cabins are air conditioned with 2 single beds in an ‘L’ configuration
with a hanging area and shelves and drawers sufficient for the cruises on
offer. Hairdryer, soap, sanitiser dispenser, 2 bottles of sanitiser, tissues,
shower caps, towels, face masks and bottled water come as standard; the
electric socket houses two USB ports and reading lights are above the beds. The
bathroom is based on a wet room with two showers, main and hand-held, plus a
shower gel/shampoo dispenser. A curtain can be pulled round the shower area to
keep the toilet and wash basin dry.
In the saloon, Captain Steve gives the safety briefing
assuring everyone that should the boat go down “he would open the bar” - what a
relief! Then it’s time for tea: strawberries, freshly-baked scones, jam and
clotted cream. But which goes on first?!
We are now cruising the River Severn, sighting our first
swans (that ignore us as we pass). The
water ahead is so still, it creates glass-like reflections of trees and
wildlife as the sun begins to sink into a clear western sky. It’s dusk as we
berth on our overnight mooring at Tewkesbury, in time for a dinner of locally
smoked mackerel pâté, braised chicken in white wine sauce, mushrooms, onions,
beans followed by sherry trifle and cheese board to finish. With G&T in
hand, there’s still time to relax on the open upper deck, bathed in silence and
a soft warm breeze.
8.30am and it’s time for a breakfast of orange juice, toast,
marmalade, coffee and yes, I succumbed, a full ‘English’. 10.30am and we’re
into the first round of the 'Quoits Championship' on the upper deck, a game I
never could get the hang of, so I content myself with taking in the scenery as
we pass fishermen, cottages, holiday homes and other river craft. A little after
noon, we arrive at our Worcester mooring. This area of the river is designated a
‘Swan Sanctuary’ - never have I seen so many.
Worcester is home to one of the most beautiful cathedrals,
dating back to the 11th century. Tours are included with English Holiday
Cruises: a cathedral guide conducts the group, regaling us with the cathedral’s
history, pointing out the tomb of King John, wonderful stained-glass windows
and the crypt and cloisters. All have a history to tell. Out into the daylight
and there’s time to admire the gardens before returning to the boat for a spot
of relaxation on the top deck prior to another delightful dinner.
The days pass quickly, gliding along the Severn through
narrow locks and under low bridges, passing water fowl, birds, sheep and cows
grazing in fields that give us no more than a quick glance, while passengers
concentrate on quoits as the competition heats up.
Stops are always at scenic locations. At Stourport on Severn
we are met by a local historian who takes us on a guided walking tour of the
It’s Bevere for Witley Court and Gardens. Originally a house
built in the late 1500s and added to over the centuries but unfortunately
devasted by fire in 1937. The gardens are stunning with fountains, large flower
beds forming an oasis of colour and walkways through trees and shrubs past
streams and the lake.
At Upton-On-Severn we have a Blue Badge guided tour of this
lovely small town set on river banks covered in flowers. It was formerly a busy
port, having the only river crossing for many miles until the 1940s. At sundown, there are Captains Cocktails on
the grass area adjacent to the boat followed by dinner.
Cruising back to Tewkesbury, it’s the final of the 'Quoits
Championship'. Three rings each whilst standing on one leg, eyes closed and
tongue out, make it bizarre but great fun. A coach takes us to Tewkesbury for a
guided tour of the famous abbey and former Benedictine Monastery. The roof
above the main altar is stunning, pillars transform into curved arches leading
to a beautiful red, blue and gold design. Following lunch, a trip on the River
Avon calls. The small boat is reminiscent of a floating sofa, with sumptuous white
upholstery. I sit back, relax and pass under the flower-decorated bridge and
river banks, old restored houses and small lock connecting the Avon to the
Severn on a fascinating trip in armchair comfort.
The last afternoon passes quickly. We sit down for our last
dinner, and being Friday, it’s fish and chips with mushy peas and tartare sauce.
Entertainment this evening is from a local duo, Ain’t Misbehaving, performing
well-known songs and tunes from jazz and blues.
Who is this cruise for?
The boat appeals to the 50+ traveller who expects good food
and service whilst enjoying beautiful scenery. They will not be disappointed! Red
or white wine is supplied at lunch and dinner, and for non-wine drinkers there’s
a choice of beer or soft drinks. Food is locally sourced, freshly prepared and
cooked by Chef Miles.
The company have taken stringent measures to ensure safety. Masks
must be worn when in communal parts of the boat, temperatures are taken and
recorded every morning at breakfast, tables are for two, separated by perspex
screens, and have their own fresh air supply. All table items remain on the
same table, the boat is kept spotlessly clean with regular sanitising plus
sanitiser units are at all entrances. The staff wear plastic masks when in
public areas and will remind you to wear yours. Masks and sanitiser are
supplied in your cabin and passenger capacity has been reduced. Every possible
precaution has been taken to keep passengers safe.
Alan was a guest of English Holiday Cruises.
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