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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Thrupp to Claydon Top Lock

Monday 24th March.

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.

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