Apologies for being late to the party, but I have just seen your extensive and useful trip report Ian.
We hired Hydra for two weeks in May 2018 and I agree, it was a great boat. With two bathrooms, but just myself and my husband onboard, was pure indulgence. And the blue LED lights so as not to blind you on a visit to the loo in the night was a great idea.
We got through the Tardebigge locks in just over 3 hours and we rewarded ourselves with a wonderful meal at the Queen's Head.
We did the Stourport Ring but detoured to Tixall Wide, after a recommendation from a lovely chap at Stourport - I'm glad we took his advice, as it was gorgeous.
We managed to make a right royal hash of turning at the Black Country Museum, but at least we provided entertainment for the gongoozlers, as we completely misjudged the turn for the winding hole. We were however grateful to the nice chap who came off his narrowboat to assist us and prevent potential divorce proceedings.
That was our second narrowboat holiday and we have decided to do another this year in April, around the Four Counties Ring, with some chill out time back at Tixall Wide. Sadly, it won't be the Hydra this year, but we are hiring a 58ft in the hope it may be a little easier for us novices to moor and avoid any further winding hole embarrassment.