Sunday, March 30, 2008
Bank Holiday Monday and we were going no where, as we knew it would be busy with boaters getting back to their bases after the Easter break, so we quite happily sat in Thrupp for another day. We did enjoy a natter with Maffi in the afternoon. So it was a quiet day nothing exciting to report.
Tuesday 25th March.
First on the agenda was to take Paddy to the vets for his MOT and vaccinations. We use the Parkwood Veterinary Clinic, who is in the town. I walked paddy to the clinic and was seen immediately without making an appointment, Paddy passed with flying colours and was a very good chap at having his vaccinations. I was back to the boat by 9.30am for a coffee which Keith made me, we then decided we would make a move back to Banbury, so having had a coffee and got prepared for the off, another moored boater asked if he could buy Four bags of coal from us, so we unloaded Four bags of coal from the hold and delivered them to his boat. It was now 10.30am and we set off in reverse back to the lift bridge, but it was clear we were going no where to fast. Keith pulled back into the mooring and set about checking the weed hatch, only to find that we had a whole load of stuff around the prop. It was the usual bad boys, plastic bags, blue nylon rope, reeds, a piece of black plastic sheeting and thrown in for good measure was a blue nylon mat, deep joy for poor Keith who was shirtless and had his arms in cold water for almost an hour. Having finally done the deed of clearing the prop, we tried again to reverse to the lift bridge, this time with great success. An hour passed and we had made it past the moored boats and under the lift bridge, Keith turned Hadar around and we stopped on the sanitary station moorings, where we did the usual, emptied the loo, got rid of rubbish and filled up with water, and whilst all that took place, I made some lunch so we could eat whilst on the move. The weather was not too bad; we had some sunny spells, with a gentle breeze which was chilly. We had five locks to do and the final one was Dashwood lock, which I told you about last week was broken, it had a split beam. BW has done a quick repair job on the beam with three pieces of wood. I presume they will add it to their things to do list.
We decided to end the day at Lower Heyford, so we found a mooring after the Lower Heyford Wharf and opposite the church, which over looks the River Cherwell and canal. The church sits on a slight hill has a beautiful stain glass window. The village itself is small and does not have much to offer, The Bell pub, PO Box, telephone and station. It was now 4.30pm and our day was done, we could now look forward to a warm evening in front of the TV.
Wednesday 26th March.
Have you ever been woken early hours and wondered what on earth is going on?That happened to us at 4am this morning. I could hear someone shouting and at first I could not make out the words, but as the person a woman in this case got closer it was clear she was calling her dog Lady. As she walked past the boat at 4am, it was "Lady, Lady come here" repeatedly. Mmmmm 4am geesh it was dark surely the dog should have been on a lead, or even better maybe the woman should have still been in bed LOL. I sometimes wonder if I am becoming a GOW (Grumpy Old Woman) about such things. We were sitting up in bed at 7am with a cup of tea, having found it hard to go back to sleep, after the 4am call. By 9am and we set off from our mooring opposite the Lower Heyford church, it was bright, calm and mild. My first task of the morning was to open the mill lift bridge, as I stood waiting to open the bridge a gentleman approached me saying, “you beat me to it, I heard the boat coming and thought I would open the bridge for you, that engine sounds wonderful”, he asked me all about it’s history, whilst I did the bridge. We receive so many lovely comments about the sound of our engine; it is wonderful that people love the sound. The gentleman said to me “It is an engine that speaks to you” and I have to agree.
Spring has well and truly sprung with a beautiful display of Daffodils and Tulips. We seemed to be the only boat moving, there was nothing about. We reached Upper Heyford and Allen’s Lock onward and upward through Heyford Common Lock and onto Somerton Deep Lock.
When I say deep I mean 12’0” deep, it is quite imposing to someone who is new to boating. The lock cottage is very sweet.
Even the cattle stood and watched as we cruised past, they seemed to find us interesting.
We reached Aynho Wharf, where a Narrowboat was being put onto a lorry, we made the decision even though it was spotting with rain that we would carry on to Banbury, a little drop of rain was not going to stop us, it actually turned out to be no more than 6 drops hahaha. We reached Aynho Weir Lock, geesh the gates on that lock are the heaviest I have experienced for a long time, it is not a pleasant lock to do even though it is only 1’0” deep. We passed under the M40 road bridge and went back up through King’s Sutton Lock, where the home owner is now selling Ice Cream lets hope the weather improves enough so they get some sales.
With some stunning views you also get some sights which just make you want to photograph them, and this tree was one of them with the dark sky in the back ground.
Thursday 27th March.
A beautiful morning, the sun shining and not a breath of wind. Paddy enjoyed a run in the park and wooded area.
The River Cherwell is never far from the canal and neither is the railway, we have seen a lot of freight moving today. Once up through Grants Lock we yet again pass under the M40 road bridge before heading into Banbury.
We pulled into Sovereign Wharf for Diesel and a gas bottle; they seem to be the cheapest at the moment for both in this area. 95p a litre for diesel and £20.15p for the gas bottle. Having filled up we then found ourselves a mooring, this is where we will be for the next few days at least.
Thursday 27th March.
A bright sunny morning, once again not a breath of wind anywhere. We were awoken by bird song in the tree by our boat. Mr Robin was singing his heart out; we could also hear a pair of collared doves cooing to each other. Love is in the air hehehehe.
Paddy was well up for his walk around the park area, sniffing out all the new smells that had taken place over night. A doggy heaven I expect, although for us humans we fail to see what the appeal is. Anyway having walked Paddy and had a coffee, Keith and I took a walk into town to see if his phone was ready for collection. If you have read a previous posting you will know it would not hold its charge for more than a few hours, so much for having a new phone. So we were walking along the towpath towards the town, when we were waved at by Maffi, who had travelled up from Thrupp yesterday. He set off at 8am and made Banbury at 7pm, so it had been a long day for him. As we were enjoying a natter, we got onto the subject of Bones and when she would arrive in Banbury, Maffi expected her at sometime in the morning, but speak of the devil, which should be coming under the Tom Rolt Bridge but Bones on her boat. Maffi helped her moor up behind his boat, once we had said our hello’s Keith and I set off into the town, saying we would see them later. Having done some shopping, we had to call back for Keith’s phone as it was not ready, so we headed back to the boat and lunchtime. During the afternoon we got Keith’s phone back, which now fingers crossed works ok. Just as we arrived back at the boat Maffi and Bones came for coffee and homemade Victoria Sandwich. As you probably know by now I am a one for baking. Sunday’s is usually my bake day. So if you catch us at the beginning of a week, there will probably be homemade cake onboard. The weather remained wonderful all day. Marmite and Paddy enjoyed the afternoon sitting on the back counter soaking up the sunshine. In all it has been a lovely day.
Friday 28th March.
As promised by the weather forecasters, the rain and wind came in the night, and was still falling and blowing when we awoke this morning, so yes Paddy had a wet walk around the park. The weather really did decide what our day was going to be like. We decided that a food shop was not going to happen, so we did a few chores on the boat, waiting to see whether the rain would subside. Come lunchtime there was a glimmer of hope so we thought we would go into town to the Top Wok Chinese buffet restaurant for lunch. Having just left the boat, which should be coming towards us on his boat, yes it was Maffi, decked out in his rain coat and shorts. I wish I had, had my camera for that photo hahaha. Great legs by the way Maffi. Like Maffi said, why wear jeans, because the rain drips off of the bottom of his coat and onto the jeans making them wet, he just as well get wet legs. On Maffi’s Christmas list is a pair of waterproof trousers, if anyone wants to buy him some hehehe. Maffi was looking for a couple of bags of coal, so we duly obliged by unloading two bags from the hold onto the roof of The Milly M. At least he will be warm after he has got soaked, as further rain did pour through out the afternoon. We made our way to the Top Wok and enjoyed a lovely lunch; it was well worth the visit. After doing the lunch and a bottle of wine, we walked it off by finding the Odeon Cinema. When we bought our new phones we were given a book of cinema tickets, so we can enjoy the cinema for free until the end of the year, not only that we also get free popcorn and Pepsi. The tickets begin on the 1st April, so we may stay around until then to go and see 30,000 BC; a lot depends on what the weather does. So for us a nice day, I finished it off with a bit of knitting, I am progressing with the Red, White and Blue blanket, now that I have some Red wool.
Saturday 29th March.
We spent the day firstly food shopping at Tesco, then sitting out the wind and rain on the boat, it was a nasty day for boating.
Sunday 30th March.
With the clocks having gone forward at 2am, we were awake at 8am drinking a cup of tea and wondering whether we should make a move today as the weather later on was supposed to turn wet and windy and Monday was also supposed to be wet. The decision was taken to make a move back towards Braunston. We set off at 9.55am leaving Banbury behind, the sun was out and there was no wind at all, it was a really beautiful morning. Our first port of call was Cropredy to empty the loo; we were asked for a couple of bags of coal as well which was an added bonus. We were not the only boaters out and about; it seemed to be the day for shared ownership boats, which we met at the locks on the way to our mooring for the night at the top of the Claydon flight. We finished our day at 3.20pm with a cup of coffee and a nice chat with Phoebe from the lock cottage.
So April here we come.
Monday, March 24, 2008
And so here we are again, another week has begun and for us it meant collecting water, so we needed to take the boat up to Langford Road Bridge passing moored boats, collecting water and then reversing the boat all the way back to the mooring behind The Jolly Boatman, now this was easier said than done. The canal is actually quite shallow so it makes reversing a little more difficult, especially as Hadar is 2"4' in depth at the moment all the way along with the coal onboard, but nothing fazes Keith as he has been a boater for many, many years so knows all the tricks in the book. Having got the boat back to the mooring, with the sun out it gave us a great chance to touch up the paintwork and clean brass work. So many people think having a boat is easy, I am hear to say it is not, there is always something that needs to be attended too. The paint work is a little like the Forth road bridge, as soon as you have reached the end you have to begin all over again. There are so many people who believe it is an easy life, and if you enjoy it as we do it is, you really have to live the life to appreciate how hard it can be, especially when the weather is foul and you run out of water in the middle of a shower hahahaha (not happened to us yet).
We enjoyed getting the jobs done, the weather was lovely.
Tuesday 18th March.
Where we are moored, we have a wooded area opposite, so Paddy enjoyed a run around the wood. Paddy had his nose down every Rabbit hole LOL, goodness knows what he would of done if a rabbit had popped out hahahaha.
Keith and I decided we would take a bus into Oxford for the day. There is bus stop not far from the boat, so we caught the Number 59 bus which only cost us £5.20 return for us both. The last time we were in Oxford was 3 years ago, and we did not see much of Oxford, this time we made sure we had a really good look around.
We took a walk along the river, which was running very fast due to all the rain we had endured. Spending a whole day in Oxford gave us time to walk around some of the Universities.
By the time we got the bus back to the boat it was very late in the afternoon, so Keith took Paddy for his walk whilst I did something for dinner. Having done all that walking during our sight seeing we spent a relaxing evening infront of the TV.
Wednesday 19th March.
With the sun shining, and the weather forecast for the next few days sounding awful, we thought we would take the opportunity to take Hadar down to Dukes Cut to turn her around. So at 9am we headed off past Gunpowder Wharf and all the moored boats on BW permit holder moorings. Anyway we made our way down to Roundham Lock and I did the lock work, I opened the bottom gate to allow Keith and the boat out and as he exited under the bridge it was clear he was going no where. Hadar was sat on the bottom. No amount of trying to move the boat forward worked, and keith knows every trick. So there was no other way around it but to reverse Hadar back up through the lock and back the mile to the mooring we had come from at Thrupp arghhhhhh. With the breeze now getting up, it only made our task harder. After 3 hours we finally made it back to The Jolly Boatman. Having spoken to one of the boaters moored down by the lock, we were told that there is a small stream at the bottom of the lock and due to all the rain we have had, it has washed all the rubbish down the stream and into the canal, causing us and other boats to become stuck, it was a comfort to know we were not the only ones having trouble. BW are aware of the problem, but had failed to sort it out. Keith even e-mailed BW reporting the problem to them again, and they did reply saying it had been passed onto the local office.
We did the usual boat chores, I then sat down and did a little more to my boatmans cabin blanket that I am knitting, it is going to be red, white and blue to match the outside of the boat. I will take photos when I am a little more into the project.
Thursday 20th March.
Friday 21st March.
With it being Easter weekend, we thought we should do a food shop, so with rucksacks on our backs we walked the mile into Kidlington. The wind was getting up and at times was very gusty, just as well I am not a stick insect as I may have been blown over hahaha. Kidlington is not a huge place, but it does have a number or shops including Tesco and the Co-op. I did a small shop of things I knew we needed and we walked back to the boat. That took up a couple of hours in what was a quiet day again for us. Even though outside the weather was turning wild.
Saturday 22nd March.
Ewwwwwwwww not a morning for a walk with Paddy. It was sleeting and very windy, but he needed to do what all dogs need to do, so I wrapped up nice and warm and headed out. It was an uneventful day, there were however a lot of boats moving for the Easter weekend.
Happy Easter weekend everyone. I hope you did not pig out on easter egss hahahaha? There was not one to be seen on our boat as Keith and I do not bother with them. We spent the afternoon with Keith's sister who very kindly bought us our post, it felt like Christmas with envelopes and parcels to open. We then enjoyed a fantastic meal in The Jolly Boatman, I totally recommend it for a meal, on saying that the current owners of the pub move out Monday, so there is no telling what the new owners will be like or their food. Another week has drawn to a close and we look forward to the beginning of another week. So take care and stay safe until next weekend.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Due to a wild night on the water, we had no intention of moving, the winds were still gale force, leaving our TV Ariel lying on the cabin roof. The bracket has now died a death, so we will have to find a new one. By the time it was Paddy’s walk the sun had come out and the winds had dropped to a dull roar, so he would at least get a wet free walk. Something I have noticed more and more whilst we have been out are the amount of wild violets growing on the towpath verges. The last time I saw wild violets I was a child, so yes that was a long time ago hahaha. We have had the pleasure of not just seeing the purple ones, but also white violets.
As the weather got progressively throughout the day, we got a few boat jobs done inside. It was not a day to be outside, so there is very little to report.
Tuesday 11th March.
We were up and on our way at 9am leaving Cropredy behind on what was a breezy morning. The first lock was at Slat Mill, onwards to Little Bourton and the lock there, which in the Nicholsons guide describes the lock and cottage as beautifully kept. I am sorry to say that is no more. The cottage is boarded up and the lock unkempt, it is in a very sad state.
We then cruised under the M40 listening to the roar of the traffic over the sound of Hadar’s engine. I know the sound I prefer and it’s not the traffic. It was then we could smell the scent of coffee coming from somewhere and it was very strong. It was then we past Grimsbury Wharf before mooring up on the other side of March Bridge on 14 day moorings in Banbury. Having eaten lunch Keith and I took a walk into the centre of Banbury and the Castle Quay centre. Keith needed to sort out his new mobile phone with O2, as it is not charging and he only got it on the 18th Feb. So off to 02 who were absolutely no help at all, they would not do a swap or give him another battery. I found their service very lacking. The best they could suggest was we got to their service centre, in the town to see if they could help. So off we trekked to find this shop and they were a little more co-operative, they took the phone in to test the phone and the battery for us, so we would go back tomorrow for the results. In the mean time we headed to T-Mobile to check out their Web and Walk deal £15 a month for broadband speed internet connection, we had been told about it by boating friends, and as our 02 connection was dismally slow we though in for a penny, in for a pound lets give it a go. So we are now on T-Mobile. We spent time looking around the stores and enjoyed a coffee in one of the numerous cafes. We both really enjoyed our day in Banbury. On our way back to the boat we met Mark on NB Dusty, the coal, diesel and gas boat as he was delivering to his regular customers. Back at the boat I had just put the kettle on for a coffee when there was a knock on the boat. It was Peter from NB Sonflower paying us a visit. Peter had recently under gone a knee joint replacement operation, so has not been able to spend much time on the boat, but all the same it was nice to catch up with him and to see him looking so well. We first met Peter in 2005 when we came to Banbury. The mooring we were on was pretty quiet and we had no problems at all. The joy of where we were was the park and wooded area, so Paddy had plenty of places to run.
Wednesday 12th March.
We had another wild night of high winds, so I made sure that the fire was dampened down with ash, so our fire did not go into overdrive. The morning was bright and sunny, but the winds were still strong. Having done all the usual morning jobs, we then had a food shop to do at Tesco, which we past when we came into Banbury, so backpacks on we set off to Tesco and the Maplin store to see if we could find a new Ariel bracket. We did find a bracket which we mounted on the top plank. The Tesco is a 24 hour store and it has a second floor, to get to the second floor you take your trolley up and escalator ramp, it was brilliant. I had never used one of them before and as I am not a lover of escalators was a little scared, but it had to be done hehehe. Having done shopping and enjoyed some lunch we went back into Banbury to collect Keith’s poorly phone, but they could do nothing with it, so it has gone back to 02. Let’s hope they either sort it or send him another one, we will called back to the shop from Oxford to see if they have it back. We took a walk around the town’s museum, which is really very good and totally free. It is not often you get anything for free these days hahaha. The museum is opposite Tooley’s boatyard if you want to pay it a visit.
Whilst in Banbury I thought I would try and get my hair trimmed, so as we walked around we looked at the hairdressers and their prices. OMG I was horrified at the prices these places were charging for a cut and finish, anything from £50 to £75 arghhhhhhhhhh. I called into one of the shops to ask about a dry trim and was told it would cost me £19, bloody hell there is no way I am paying that, when in Stone I paid no more than £8 for the same trim. I will look for a hairdresser on the canal and give a fellow narrow boater my trade, so if you’re a hairdresser on a boat let me know hehehe, and if I am coming your way I will come and get my hair trimmed, but not at an extortionate price LOL.
So it had been another nice day and one that certainly made me think. It was another quiet evening on the boat.
Thursday 13th March.
Not being in any hurry to get away we took the time to clean the boats brass outside, I like to see clean brass if the weather allows. We set off at 10.45am hoping to get diesel from the Sovereign Wharf, but soon discovered that it was closed due to illness and would not be open until Monday, so we moved off under the lift bridge in the centre of Banbury and down through the lock to the sanitary station. I will take photos of Banbury on the way back.
Lift bridges are prominent on the Oxford canal. Many are already open which is a huge help.
The locks also change from double gates to single gates at both ends, which is fine but some of the gates can be very heavy, so I need to use brute force on some of them.
We left Banbury behind, following the river Cherwell and the railway; we approached Kings Sutton Lock and its lovely cottage, where I got into a conversation with the cottage owner and his lovely dog Eddie. Having done a further two locks we decided to moor up for the day opposite Aynho Wharf. We took a walk over the bridge to the shop to check out their diesel and gas prices. Back at the boat I relit the saloon stove as it had got quite chilly, the weather at the moment is so all over the places, one day warm the next cold, so it is difficult to know when to let the fire out. Keith in the meantime did a couple of jobs in the back cabin. We managed to get a really good TV signal, so enjoyed a quiet night of TV programs before heading to bed at 10pm.
Friday 14th March.
Up and on our way at 7.45am, destination Thrupp. At this time in the morning everything is so quiet, only the wildlife is stirring, squirrel, heron and the farm animals, ewe’s with their lambs. There was a time when twin lambs was headline news on local TV, but these days twin lambs are the norm.
Continuing south along the Cherwell Valley, having done another lock we approached Dashwood Lock and it was clear something was amiss with the balance beam on the gate, someone had clearly hit the beam very hard, splitting the beam right the way through, so having proceeded with caution Keith rang BW to report the problem. By the time we got down to the next lock, we noticed two BW guys walking up the towpath, destination Dashwood Lock, now that is what I call a prompt call out. They had been notified by phone of the problem. We skirted the Village of Kirtlington down through Bakers Lock and onto a short stretch of the River Cherwell, which Hadar clearly enjoyed the deep water and the currant, she picked up a bit of speed on this section, before we reached ShiptonWeir Lock, which took us back onto the canal. The final task of the day before mooring up was to do Aubreys Lift Bridge at the BW yard in Thrupp. Cruising on we were then met by a hello from Maffi who was on the NB owned by Mortimer Bones, we agreed to meet later on. We then moored up behind The Jolly Boatman Inn. I contacted Steve with the DM3, who popped over later in the evening and we went to the pub to meet up with Bones and Maffi, a fantastic evening was had by all as we chatted and had a really good laugh. We ended up going to bed after midnight as we sat up and watched a bit of Sports relief. We are going to stay here for a few days.
Saturday 15th March.
With no movement taking place over the weekend, we enjoyed a cup of tea in bed before getting up. I walked Paddy as usual on what began as a dry sunny morning, it was even mild. Having had breakfast, a knock came on the boat, and who should be standing there but Maffi, he had come for his coffee and a piece of Victoria Sandwich that I had baked yesterday. Maffi had seen Bones off, as she was on her way to Banbury. It was lovely to meet Bones last night, she is a lovely lady and we cannot wait to catch up with her again. We were enjoying a natter, when Mark on NB Dusty came past with his bell ringing for his customers to come out and give him their orders. It was then that Steve DM3 arrived to take some photos of Hadar’s National DA2 engine, he and Keith had plenty to natter about, as they discussed our engine and of course Steve’s engine which he is rebuilding. The time certainly flew past as it always does when you are having fun, as it was 2pm before we realised the time.
We had our first hire boat run in, when one of the Oxfordshire Narrowboat came past the moored boats at break neck speed. Keith put his head out of the engine room, and asked them politely to slow down past moored boat, which they did, but Maffi’s boat was already adrift at the stern, so he had to leg it down the towpath to rescue his boat, before the bow pin pulled out. The silly season has now begun hahaha.
A late lunch was bacon sandwiches, the forecast rain had now descended upon us and it was set for the rest of the day. We were sat down watching the F1 qualifying session for the Australian GP, when there was a knock on the window. A gentleman handed me a free Towpath Talk, it has been donkey years since we had a paper delivered to our door, or should I say window hehehehe.
The rest of the day was sat in front of the TV, because the weather really had turned awful, Paddy and Keith had a very wet evening walk.
Sunday 16th March.
We have reached another Sunday, where does the time go?
Wet, wet, wet is the best way to describe this morning. Over night we had very heavy rain and gusty winds, but inside our back cabin it was hot, hot, hot, as the stove went into overdrive LOL, so we had a very disturbed night. With there being no hurry to be up Keith made a cup of tea which we drank in bed, whilst I told him of my odd dream about Hadar. It began with us moored at the top of hill. Keith went off to the pub to a tree planting party for friends of his who were leaving the cut for good; I was on the boat trying to get a poorly generator going as we needed to charge the batteries. In a field opposite the boat Army Cadets were setting up camp. The next thing I realised was that Hadar was moving at great speed down hill, with two army cadets standing on the gunwale, one a boy the other a girl and they were laughing through the galley window. I was helpless to do anything because Hadar was no going so fast our engine would never have stopped her. She careered into moored boats on the way down, heading for a bend in the canal, which had a brick wall at the bottom. Yes we hit the wall, demolishing it as we came to a halt. At this point two BW men ran to my assistance, catching the two army cadets at the same time. They dragged them into the boat and made them sit down and write an essay on why they had let our boat off. Keith arrived back at the boat puffing and panting as he had run the whole way. Yes I know it is an odd dream. What mazes me is that it is still so clear in my head even at 10.15am hahaha.
So at 8.45am we got up as Paddy needed his walk in the wind and rain, there was no avoiding the puddles as the towpath was covered in them. It is going to be a day of boat jobs, such as washing and baking I reckon, not to mention watching the F1 GP.
Washing was done, our boatman’s cabin looked more like a Chinese laundry hahaha, I had bedding drying all over the cabin, but because the stove was also cooking our dinner, it did not take to long, I then had the bed remade and put back in the cupboard. Keith and I watched the F! GP, congratulations to Lewis Hamilton, lets hope this is his season. The evening was as always a quiet one watching the dancing on Ice final. Suzanne Shaw was a definite winner on the night, she was stunning all the way through, although I did feel a little sorry for Chris Fountain, as he had shone all through the series, still someone has to lose. It was off to bed after Lewis for a good nights sleep.
See you all next weekend hopefully.
Monday, March 10, 2008
Monday 3rd March.
Despite the wind which was still blowing, but not quite as strong, we were going to try and move as we wanted to get to Hawkesbury Junction. So we were up early, Paddy walked, breakfast sorted. Keith started the engine and arghhhhhhh it would not pick up. Having stripped it down we made a phone call to Roger who very kindly offered us some ideas as to what it maybe, which included bleeding the fuel as he reckoned it could be an air lock. Hey presto it worked Thanks Roger. So having put everything back together we set off at 10.30am and got no more than 500 yards before we pulled over again, due to something around the prop, when I say something I mean lots of things. 4 different plastic bags, blue nylon rope, some purple material as used in a jacket and reeds. It took us 15 minutes to get that lot off. Having sorted that we were finally underway to the first of the Atherstone Flight and who should we see but N.B Blackbird Carries boat, but she was no where to be seen. Sorry Carrie see you again sometime I dare say. We were following another boat, so progress was slow and the wind did not help at all. But slowly we made our way, the boat in front pulled over for lunch so we made headway through the last 3 locks. Having reached the last of the locks, it gave us the chance to empty the loo and dispose of a bag of rubbish. We knew that making Hawkesbury Junction today was not going to happen, so we decided on a stop for the day at Hartshill. The sky was already darkening and it looked like rain, but did we get a surprise when sleet and hail stones poured down, so much so the roof was covered, but the weather has never stopped us moving, unless of course it is gale force winds, so we carried on to Hartshill where we moored up at 3.10pm near the BW yard after what had been an eventful day. We were both starving so had a very late lunch.
Tuesday 4th March.
Brrrr it was a very chilly morning as we had a frosty night, but the sun was up and to brighten our day even further Keith spotted a fox running across the field on the other side of the canal. It was a beautiful sight to see and the first fox of this trip, it one one of my things to see wish list.
We set off at 8.20am under the bridge where the BW yard is to see the wonderful old clock it was then off into the countryside and the Judkins Quarry which has its very own mountain called Mount Judd. The Quarry heaps have been transformed into nature reserves, so you really would not recognise them now.
We continued onto Nuneaton and through the town as it is not a place we would stop. Next came the junction with the Ashby canal, where we were joined in front by another boat. The one thing that you really notice on this part of the canal is the amount of allotments, there are loads of them, some of which are very well kept and others could try harder hahaha.
We skirted around Bedworth, to see two men Electro Fishing with wet suits on, I could not help but feel the water must have been freezing brrrrrrrrr. It was then we passed Charity Dock, it still had piles of old scrap everywhere and shop dummies dressed up, which do make you, giggle. We arrived at Hawkesbury Junction and turned onto the Oxford Canal, through Sutton Lock and past all the moored boats. It was a beautiful day with the sun out and the wind non existent. It was at this point we passed by Brinklow Marina, where Andy has his NB Khaymanzi, we knew he would still be at work and there were no places to moor for us to go and see him, so sorry Andy maybe another time.
Our day finished at 3.50pm when we moored up on the south side of the Newbold Tunnel, with a meal at the Barley Mow on the menu. Keith walked Paddy at 6pm and we then went to the pub for what was a very nice Prawn Curry with Rice and naan bread. We got to have a lovely chat with the new owner Tina, who only took over the pub 3 weeks previous with her husband, so we wish the very best of luck. I recommend stopping there it is very nice indeed.
Wednesday 5th March.
-7.3 C yes that was how cold it got over night, so the boat was covered in a hard frost. Paddy got his walk back through Newbold Tunnel, so I could get a better look at the rainbow lighting. The lighting is actually turned off at Dusk so it does not interfere with the bats flight path for feeding, which is very considerate I reckon. 8.25am and we set of to destination undecided, we were beginning to see other boats and they were hire boats, so the season is underway for some. We firstly knew we would stop at Rugby to get some food shopping done at Tesco and some other bits. It was when coming into Rugby and to the mooring we met a boat coming the other way, we were over half way through the bridge hold when this boat saw us but did nothing to reverse to let us carry on through, which meant a head on collision. He was clearly at fault but that did not deter him from continuing, saying nothing we just carried on through and found a spot to moor. I won’t discuss the shopping as that is boring, and is like any other food shop LOL, so we set off again at 11.25, I made coffee and put the shopping away whilst we were on the move. Hillmorton Locks loomed in front, and our chance to empty the loo. Lunch was eaten on the move as we had decided we would stop at Braunston for the night, so we could pick up supplies at Midland Chandlers. Moored up outside the Mill Pub was NB. Valerie and Les came out to say hello. We moved on past and to the marina to turn around before mooring up for the day. We made for the chandlery to buy a gang plank and other bits. I had the lovely task of cleaning the saloon stove chimney as it appeared to be blocked; we knew that because the Carbon Monoxide Alarm went off the night before. So sleeves rolled up and chimney brush at the ready I did the dirty task. The chimney was blocked and now the fire is working properly yayyy. We spent a quiet evening on the boat and look forward to what tomorrow brings.
Thursday 6th March.
There was no hurry to be up and about, as we had shopping to do at Midland Chandlers. So having had a cuppa in bed, we got up had breakfast and then Paddy got his walk up the towpath. Keith and I then headed for Midland Chandlers with our list of things to get to hand. No matter where you shop for boat things these days, it costs an arm and a leg, but needs must.
Having done all of that we then paid a visit to Les on NB Valerie, who was moored up outside of The Mill Pub. We enjoyed a lovely chat and a cup of coffee; it was nice to finally meet up with les having read his blog for such a long time. Having got back to Hadar, we decided to make a move, collecting water on the way outside of the BW Stop House. We then made our way to the Braunston turn waving goodbye to Les as we past him by. On the towpath opposite Les was NB Moore 2 Life, sadly we did not get to meet Chas and Ann on this visit, but maybe in the future. We turned onto the Grand Union Canal to head for Napton, we had gone no more than a mile, before we saw a couple of old working boats, which were now abandon. One of them had been burnt out. It was a sad sight. Now as many of you know I have a wish list of things I would love to see, one of the things on my list is the Barn Owl. Today not only did we see one Barn Owl, we saw 2 both of them in different places and flying in the daytime. The first one was seen at 2pm in the afternoon, the other about half an hour later. I can only think they were hunting to feed their families, it certainly made our day. We passed by Napton Junction and the Napton Boatyard, before mooring up near bridge 111 at the Napton Bridge Inn, which is said to be haunted, so that was our day full of wonder at the sight of the Barn Owl.
Friday 7th March.
On waking up we could see that the sun was shining, after a night of wind and rain. We decided to make a run for Fenny Compton, whilst the weather was so good. There were 9 locks to do, with the wind increasing we pressed on regardless to Naptons bottom lock. Over looking the locks was Napton’s Windmill on top of Napton-on-the-hill, the hill dominates the landscape, but has a beauty all of its own.
The locks on this flight were so easy to do, it was a real pleasure not to have to struggle to do the paddles, so many locks these days are difficult to work, and I am pretty fit, even if I do say so myself hahaha. The last lock of the day was at Marston Doles, which is a tiny village; it owes its existence to the canal, because the towing horses used to be stabled there. The views away from the canal were really stunning; you have to be there to really enjoy them. The Oxford Canal is a little twisty, but still stunning. We then came upon the Medieval Village of Wormington, which no longer exits. The new village of Wormington has a 13th Century stone church; there is also a row of Victorian mock-Tudor cottages. There was very little in the way of wildlife today and no sign as yet of the Kingfisher on this trip. Our mooring was Fenny Compton, just south of the Wharf Inn, the weather closed in and by the time Keith took paddy for his walk it was raining and blowing a gale. Keith became an Uncle today. His sister’s daughter had a little girl awwwww.
Saturday 8th March.
7am and wide awake, so I made us a cuppa and we sat nattering in bed for a while before getting up. We were not moving so there was no hurry to get things done, but Paddy always needs his early morning walk. We finally got up and dressed, Paddy got his walk down to Fenny Compton Marina, whilst Keith did us Mushrooms on toast for breakfast. The wind was very gusty, so not a day for moving.
We took a walk to the chandlery to check out their diesel and gas prices and then took a walk into Fenny Compton, where there is a small Co-op store and houses, so if you are stuck for food you can walk to mile into the village. Back at the boat Marmite found a new playmate, it was a fly. She was running up and down the boat after this fly like a loonie, but she had no hope of actually catching it. Both Keith and I got a few boat jobs done, we then spent the evening watching the TV, so a quiet day for us.
Sunday 9th March.
Now we had said we would not move at weekends, it would be a chance to stay put and get things done, but with the weather supposedly closing in we changed our mind when we saw the sun was shining this morning, and the wind was light. So we were up early setting off for Cropredy at 8.15am, we were joined behind by Adderbury, who we did the locks with all 9 of them. The journey was a quiet one; we arrived at Cropredy at 11.40 am, moored up and got chatting to other boaters on Alnwick and Jenny Rose. I even sold some coal today. Cropredy has a very good Spar shop, which has everything you could possibly need in the food and drink department. The moorings are really good either 24, 48 or 14 day moorings all ringed. We will probably stay here whilst the stormy weather is upon us. The forecast for Monday is dismal. I made a chicken in white sauce pie for dinner, and for pudding pancakes in a lemon sauce. Stop drooling now hahahaha.
See you next weekend.
Monday, March 03, 2008
So the journey we have longed for begins on a cold, windy but bright morning. We left Stone and the boat yard, saying goodbye to our friends as we headed south. It was 9.45am and already as we left we were in a queue behind a Challenger boat. It made Roger laugh; he could not believe that we would have to queue as we set off on our dream cruise and the season has not begun yet hahahahaha.
Having negotiated the locks through Stone with them in front they pulled over below Star lock to chat to another owner of a Challenger boat, due to the collapse of the company Challenger share ownerships have a lot to talk about at the moment.
We stopped at Weston for lunch before heading off again at 1.50pm. Having had a quiet cruise we stopped for the day at Great Haywood at 3.30pm. It was nice to stop as the wind had increased, meaning it had begun to get chilly. Having warmed up with a coffee, we took a walk over to Anglo Welsh to see if Viv the owner of Monarch was a round, but just our luck she was on her day off, oh well such is life, we will no doubt catch her some other day.
To end the day I made an Orange sponge cake, as there is no cake onboard, just as it was cooking the gas bottle ran out grrrrrrrrr.
It is wonderful to be underway at long last. This is fulfilling Keith’s dream of almost 40yrs and that makes me so pleased for him.
Wednesday 27th February.
The morning was lovely, bright, but a little chilly. Before heading off from Great Haywood, Keith and I polished the brass, we also got chatting to a gentleman from N.B Whintangle. 9.40am and we set off down through Great Haywood Lock and onward past Shugborough Hall. The second lock of the day was Colwich Lock, the cottage there looked as though it was having a lot of work done on it, BW have also put new gates on the lock.
On such a beautiful morning, it was a surprise to not see any boats on the move; we seemed to have the cut to ourselves. Passing through Rangeley made me think of where we got Paddy (collie) from, he came from the Border Collie Trust. Rugeley has seen some changes since we last passed through in 2006, they have a new bypass now which looks quite impressive. At Armitage we passed under the narrow tunnel, it was nice to see all the rubbish we saw in 2006 had been taken away. Shame on boaters for dumping their rubbish. It could only be boaters, because there is no footpath through the short tunnel. We reached the locks at Fradley which would be the end of our day. Woooo we had boats coming up through the locks, the first we had seen on the move all day. Fradley Junction was hectic with boats moored 2 deep both sides, but Keith had no problem turning into the junction and onto the Coventry Canal, whilst I opened the swing bridge. We then moored up for the day in front of N.B No Problem which belongs to friends Sue and Vic. Having had a quick natter with Sue and Vic we were meeting Pam and Andy friends from the boats and canals forum at the Swan Pub on the junction. We settled down with our drinks outside and enjoyed a couple of hours of chatter, time flies when you are having fun. At which point a voice called out “Hello, what are you doing here”, I looked up to see Jackie standing there. She and her husband have a share in Challenger Boat Vulcan and were heading to Kings Bromley, but would moor above the locks over night, so having said our hello’s Jackie was off to do the locks. We said our goodbyes to Pam and Andy and made our way back to the boat and dinner. Our evening was spent in the pub with Sue and Vic, it was a most enjoyable evening, catching up with news over a pint or two. A really enjoyable day of cruising and catching up with friends, what more could anyone ask for.
Thursday 28th February.
We said our goodbyes to Sue and Vic on N.B No Problem, before untying the boat and setting off at 9.20am on what was a chilly, frosty morning. The sun was doing it’s best to warm the chilled air.
Yesterday we had seen hardly anything moving, well today was the complete opposite, everyman; woman and their dog were out on the move it seemed, thankfully in the opposite direction to us. Where ever we looked there was so beautiful views, even with the railway dominating the countryside, it was still lovely. We cruised past the disused airfield and were soon joined by N.B Greenwood behind, who seemed in somewhat of a hurry, but with bridges and narrow places we could not allow him to pass. Streethay Wharf was on our left with the marina full of boats. It was then onward through Huddlesford, where they were still working on the railway. At Hademore we could finally pull over enough to allow N.B Greenwood past, so he could go on his merry way. As we were passing through Tamhorn Park, coming towards us on N.B Aslan was Pauline and Trevor, who we got to know which in Stone, they were pleased to see we were on our way. Due to the Army firing ranges you cannot moor in this area. We were then approaching Hopwas and stopped at 12.40pm between the Tame Otter and the red Lion. Later on we took a walk around what is a tiny village, they no longer have a shop, but they do have a beautiful church which was built in 1879. We had a visitor to the boat; she was a small tabby cat, smaller than Marmite but ever so pretty. She loved it on the boat inviting herself on through the engine room. Mog and Dog did not meet her, I am not sure they would have appreciated her visit. The evening was spent in front of the TV, before an early night as we were both tired.
Friday 29th February.
The mooring overnight between the pubs was lovely, it was very quiet. We were awake at 7am so got up. Having had breakfast, I took Paddy for his walk whilst Keith got the boat ready for the off at 8.20am. It was a very chilly morning, overcast and with a breeze. So I was wrapped up well in my donkey Jacket, gloves and hat. We made a stop at peel’s Wharf to empty the toilet. There are good ring moorings there and a lot of development with new apartments and a few private basin moorings. We noticed that Euphoria and Blue Rinse Menagerie were moored up; we knew them from Stone as I had sold them coal a couple of times. It is a small world on the canal I have found. We said our hi’s and bye’s and headed off for Fazeley Junction. At Fazeley the Coventry meets the Birmingham and Fazeley Canal. Over the impressive Tame Aqueduct, where there are good views of the River Tame We were then at the Glascote locks, the only two locks I would do today. The area has changed somewhat with new apartments being built along side the canal, but somehow it still looks sad and always has. We passed by the Hudson Boatyard, where there were a lot of Hudson shells built ready for fit out. Next was the Alvecote marina, where you can also see the remains of a Benedictine Priory. On approaching Polesworth, there is a piece of reclaimed scrubland which is now a golf course, and we became the target of a golf ball of course hahaha, it flew over the boat and just missed the boatman’s cabin Stove, before we heard the plop as it dropped into the water, it passes Pooley Hall. We decided not to stop at Polesworth, so continued on, the wind was getting strong and had become very gusty, so we decided to moor up above bridge 49 a mile and half from the Atherstone Flight, which will be done on Monday morning weather permitting. We are going to stay put for the weekend.
Saturday 1st March.
1.45 am and we were woken up by the extremely strong winds. The rudder was flapping around in the water creating a racket, so Keith got up and secured it, whilst I got up and made a cup of tea. Not only did we secure the rudder, we also removed a large JCB oil drum which was banging up against the stern, we have no idea where it came from.
The wind continued to blow right up until we woke up at 7.45am, having got up I walked Paddy in the howling gales, and he was not for staying out to long. On returning to the boat the fires were tended to and the back cabin stove was dampened down with ash to stop it roaring away, as it had been doing over night. Keith cooked his usual yummy breakfast as we will not be moving over the weekend.
As it was the 1st of the month Keith did the maintenance checks on the boat, only to discover that we had diesel in our oil grrrrrr. So we set about stripping the engine down to check the fuel pumps and piping only to discover that their was a blockage in the pipe work so the diesel had over flowed into the oil, not to difficult to sort out and give the engine and oil change, but a little frustrating that if anything is going to happen it seems to happen to us hahahaha. I managed to get a load of washing done and cooked a turkey casserole with dumplings for dinner. Even though we have had sunshine all day the wind is still blowing a gale, so it will be another evening in front of the TV for us.
Sunday 2nd March.
Having woken up early again to the rudder again. We did eventually get back to sleep on yet another night of high winds, it will not give in. We were up at 8.30am to sunshine and yes you guessed it strong winds. But Paddy needed walking as always, so it was a quickie as he was not that impressed to be running the towpath in the winds. As we would not be moving, I set about doing my Sunday baking; on today’s menu was a lemon meringue pie and a chocolate cake. Keith was in engine cleaning mode, I had the brass work to do outside, but the wind was putting me off hahahaha, it would get done later in the afternoon however, I hate looking at dirty brass. I know there is more to life hahaha but I like to keep a tidy boat. We spent the rest of the afternoon watching TV movies and drinking coffee. There were still boats struggling out in the wind as we stayed put. Later in the day the wind did drop and Hare and butty Fazeley passed us by. We had a lovely day, so here’s to week 2 of our journey.