Lived onboard Hadar

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Friday, July 11, 2008

Tuesday 8th July.

Bridge 129 near the Medieval Village of Wormleighton to the bottom of the Napton Locks. 6.3 miles and 9 locks.

Having had a night of heavy rain, we were woken at 6 am by the alarm clock to a cloudy yet dry morning. Paddy enjoyed a run across the field before setting off at 7 am. You’re probably thinking we start early. We start early some days to avoid all the traffic when it comes to the locks. The first 3 miles or so of the trip today was enjoyable open countryside, with wonderful scenery across the valley and no other boat in sight.Although the morning began dry it did not last long and we were soon getting heavy showers, which are more associated with April than with July, but a little drop of rain never hurt anyone. Our first lock Napton Top Lock was at Marston Doles, where you can begin to see the Windmill clearer from the summit. You also get fantastic views across the valley. We then began the drop down to the junction. We passed Old Engine House Arm, which is now home to private moorings and the boats. It used to be the site of a firmer pump house. Dropping down the Napton flight we began to notice cattle in the fields and not just any old cattle, these were water buffalo. We have been to farmers markets and seen water buffalo meat, cheese etc for sale, but never seen them in the flesh before. Well now we have and not only that we were probably the first people of the day to see a new arrival to the water buffalo family.This perfectly formed calf had just been born and was taking its first tentative steps in life.Mum was giving him/her an introduction to the world. It really gladdened the heart seeing this beautiful.
It seems a local farm has a herd of around 80 or should that now be 81 water buffalo and is doing very well with the herd and the produce they get from them. We look forward to trying that produce sometime.
We arrived at the bottom lock of the Napton flight having seen very few boats moving, only to become part of a traffic jam. We wanted to use the water point as did other boats, but also boats wanted to get through to use the sanitary station on the other side and to use the lock, so we had to do a bit of boat juggling, because with Hadar being 70 ft she needed a lot of room. But it was all sorted out with a minimum of fuss and we tied up at the water point and began filling the water tank. It took over an hour to fill the tank. Be warned if you want to fill up at the bottom of the Napton Flight it takes an age because the water pressure is practically none existent lol. Still we were in no hurry as it was only 10.45 am, but the weather was also not helping as it was chucking it down. Eventually the tank was full and we found a mooring just big enough for us to squeeze into. Having had a bacon sandwich for lunch we, decided to take a walk up on to the hill of Napton on the Hill, so see the views. The walk takes you to over 400ft up but it is so worth it for the view. The windmill is now a private home, but you can use a public footpath to see the view by the side of the windmill.They say you can see seven counties from the highest point on a good day and I reckon we saw a few of the seven, it was a stunning view and well worth the walk.We could even see as far as Coventry, which was 12 miles plus away. Having sat down to admire the view for a while we then walked back down the road past a Rowan tree.Which was planted as a mark of remembrance for the 50th Anniversary of the Blitz. The seat and tree are very close to the site of an observer post, which witnessed the Coventry blitz. Our next port of call was St. Lawrence Church, which is also up on the hill. It is a stunning church in such peaceful surroundings.The church itself dates back to the 13th-C. It is told that the church was built on the village green, but the devil kept removing the buildings stones and placing them in its present site, where the church was eventually built. How spooky is that?
We found walking around the church yard that names kept cropping up, Sheasby’s, Eaton’s, Alsop’s and Batchelor’s, and feel that these must have been families who spent their lifetimes in this village. I will delve further to see what I can dig up, so to speak. We also found that some had died in the First World War; one such person was a Bombardier who died in 1918. Some think of grave yards as being sad places, I find them useful in finding out all about the history of a place. For instance the Sheasby’s lost three men in the Great War, now I wonder where they brothers?
Keith and really enjoyed our walk to the top of Napton on the Hill, we have been through her so many times before and never walked into the village. The village itself is lovely with thatched and Georgian houses, there is a useful post office come shop and the Crown Pub. We went to The Folly Pub near Napton bottom lock for our evening meal, which was very nice. We both had the Steak and Kidney Pie with chips, which was very nice. The food at The Folly Pub is your basic pub grub. So if you like good honest plain food then give the place a go. Whilst there we met Bob and Jane from NB Hobo, Jane asked me if we could deliver a couple of bags of coal to their boat in the morning, as the weather was going to be awful and they wanted a fire. We of course said “it was no problem”. The day ended with a lovely sunset over the bow of the boat and us enjoying a coffee before bedtime.

Wednesday 9th July.

True to the weather forecasters word Wednesday was a complete and utter washout, so much so that we did not more and neither did an one else on the moorings. Keith and I deliver two bags of coal to Jane and Bob, so they could light their fire. I went to the sanitary station to get rid of rubbish and then called into the Folly Shop, where I stood having a natter with the owner. We were discussing the diesel situation and she was telling me of how the local farmers have been having their diesel stolen. I also read on Sue and Vic’s diary from NB No problem that they had, had the diesel stolen out of their boat. Nothing it seems is sacred anymore. It is a darn right low act to steal someone else’s diesel, but then these people have little respect for others. I also found out why BW is putting in new bollards a long the lock chambers. I will give you one guess why they are doing it.
Go on I bet you know the answer?
Three words, Health and Safety that is why they are putting them in. They have been told to do it apparently. Where on earth will this end I wonder?
Anyway I was gone so long that Keith came looking for me ha ha ha. We spent the rest of the day hunkered down in the boat against the darn right awful weather. The only boaters moving were the hirers and none of them looked happy with the rain lashing down on them. We are lucky we do not have to move if the weather is bad like it was today.


Thursday 10th July.

Napton to Long Itchington. 6.1 miles and 13 locks
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We woke up to a bright sunny morning; it was such a contrast to yesterday’s awful weather. 8 am and we were off, hoping to avoid the heavy showers forecast.
We waved goodbye once more to the Napton on the hill windmill and whilst Keith steered Hadar towards the junction, I put a wash on. We arrived at Napton Junction at 8.45 am and turned onto the Grand Union Canal, this being new territory for me again.We rolled on past the Napton Reservoir towards the Calcutt Locks.We are back to double locks, but sadly no one to share ours with. These locks also have different paddle gear, really easy to wind up and let down. There were three of the Calcutt locks, which then took us north past Stockton. We had not gone far when we noticed George and Carol’s boat NB Penny moored up, tow heads popped out of the front doors, asking “How far are you going”. We told then just down through the Stockton Lock, so they said “We may see you later”. We first met George (The Fenderman) and Carol a few weeks ago at the Reading Water Fest. We said cheerio and carried on to descend down the 10 Stockton Locks, fortunately there were pairs of boats coming up the locks so we had the locks with us, the downside was we had no one to share the locks with and the work. The landscape changes and you go from being quite flat to seeing hills. There are old quarries that produced blue lias. Blue lias is a local stone and cement which was used in the construction of the Thames Embankment. It is said that large fossils were found in the blue lias clay, which is the lowest layer from the Jurassic period. I can imagine it would be quite exciting to find dinosaur bones, giving an insight to our history all those years ago.
We descended down through the last lock of the day, with it pretty lock cottage looking on.We then found a mooring just below the lock at Long Itchington. Having done some lunch, Keith and I took a walk into the village, which has a village pond co-op, post office, hair dressers etc. There are some pretty cottages in the village some dating back to the 17th and 18th-C. Opposite The Duck on the Pond Inn. It is said that Queen Elizabeth 1st once stayed at the house. It is now up for sale. The village is a jumble of old and new which gives it a lot of character. You are spoilt for choice as far as pubs is concerned, we counted five.
So another day done and the weather stayed pretty good, we only had a few spots of rain. We met lots of other boaters heading in the opposite direction, they had all stayed put in yesterdays weather. We’ve only seen a couple of other boats coming down our way, so all in all it is pretty quiet.

Friday 11th July.

Long Itchington to Fosse Locks. 2.8 miles and 8 locks
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We were awake at 6.30am, Marmite made sure we did not go back to sleep by standing on Keith’s chest, meowing at him to let him know she wanted us up because she wanted her breakfast. She reminded me of Garfield in the film we watched last night, where Garfield stands on his owner’s chest, wanting him to get out of bed.
The sun was shining as I opened the back cabin doors to let Paddy out for his morning walk. So we would be off to destinations new again today.
We cruised by the Two Boats Inn and under the A 423 entering into wild expanses of farm land and hills.We headed towards Bascote Locks. The top two locks being staircase locks, along side the lock is a pretty toll cottage.The paddle winding gear on these locks was harder to wind up, either that or I was feeling the affects of yesterdays locks. I think it was the fact they were harder to do ha ha ha. Having let Hadar out of the lock, I then shut the gate behind her and walked on to the next lock.No one else seemed to be moving, we had seen nobody else about.
Once again we were into the quiet countryside, with lush wooded areas along the canal. It was really quite pretty, even if the weather was looking a bit iffy. Dark clouds were on the horizon.
Having cruised under the Fosse Way, Roman Road and past Fosse Wharf, we did the first of the Fosse Locks before finding a mooring, which is where we will stay for the weekend. We sorted ourselves out and had some lunch when we heard a boat coming. It turned out to be George and Carol on NB Penny; they were doing the locks with NB Talisman, who bought a bag of coal from us, before going down the second of the Fosse Locks. We may see George and Carol in Warwick next week if they are still around. As they left the lock dark clouds were over head and drops of rain began to fall, light at first but then it got heavy and prolonged. So it looks like a wet end to our day.
We shall see you next week, all being well. Have a lovely weekend no matter where you are.

3 comments:

Area D said...

Be sure to see Simon's cat in Let Me In and Cat Man Do:
http://www.youtube.com/user/simonscat

Jay said...

Another weekend break achieved in a few posts! Thanks, I needed that! ;)

Are you coal merchants, then? You buy in bulk to sell to other boat owners? Oh, and stealing people's diesel? That is despicable!!

Keith & Jo said...

Hi Jay.
We do sell coal to anyone who wants to buy a bag. We can get 6 ton onboard at the moment, but we hope to bring that up to 7 to 8 ton this autumn. We usually sell to boaters on the move.
We make a point of not poaching from other coal boats who have a regular run, as we see that us unfair. We maybe being to polite but because it is hard to make a living from selling coal it would not be right to pinch others customers.
Stealing diesel is dreadful, but sadly there are people out there who have no respect at all.
Jo