Friday, 5 June 2015

It’s days like these…..

that remind us why we do it!  On Thursday morning we left our mooring near The Bridge.  It was bright and sunny, with wall to wall blue skies.  We started off in T shirts, and that’s how we remained until later on in the afternoon.

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We decided that we would moor short of Hillmorton and then carry on to Brinklow today.  We came through Braunston without the usual jinking about around other boats, and then moored at the same place near Willoughby that we moored on the first night out.  As we were tying up, Ozzy did his usual leap straight off the boat and charged up the towpath towards another dog, which looked somewhat familiar!  I then looked at the boat moored some way in front off us, and then at the couple sitting in chairs on the towpath.  Meanwhile, they were also looking at us!  It was Moni and John on nb Holly, that we met last year and spent some time with.  What a lovely surprise!  We hadn’t expected to meet up with them on this trip.  Needless to say, we spent the afternoon with them.  They had planned to continue on to below Hillmorton after lunch, but they changed their minds.

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We sat on until late afternoon, by which time we were in the shade, and the wind became a bit nippy.  Today was very cloudy when we first left our mooring, Moni and Ollie came with me and Ozzy for a walk for a little while, and then returned to Holly when Rog picked me up.  They then continued on their way – we had another brief word when they arrived at at Hillmorton Top Lock as we left.

We carried on to Brinklow our mood getting gloomier and gloomier.  Although there was no real rush for us to come home, my foot is playing up so much that I really do need to try and get it sorted.  It’s not a lot of fun, limping around the locks, although Rog did his fair share, standing on the back of the boat steering was painful for me too!

We are back at home now, and will go back to the Marina tomorrow or Sunday to collect the stuff we couldn’t fit in the car today.

So, here endeth our 2015 cruising – at least for a while.  Hopefully if my foot improves with some medical treatment, we may get out again later on in the summer or early autumn.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

An unexpected meeting…..

Having left Twyford Wharf on Sunday morning, and moored just short of Cropredy, we continued on yesterday to Fenny Compton.  The wind got increasingly strong during the day, and we got caught in ne or two heavy showers.  As we arrived at Fenny, the heavens opened once more, the wind rose to gale force and we had horizontal hail!  While we were mooring a couple walked by with suitcases.  Suddenly, the chap turned and said ‘Roger’?  It turned out to be a very old friend (and his wife) that Rog had met on his Air Traffic Controllers course in 1986!  A short chat, and we found that they were loading up their boat for a few weeks out.  Needless to say, an arrangement was made to meet a bit later on in the pub.  2.30 saw us all safely ensconced out of the foul weather.  A great deal of beer, chat and laughter later, we decided it would be rude not to take advantage of the pub’s 2 meals for a tenner, so we did!  Sara and I left the pub at just after 8 pm, with the men following shortly after – they had decided that they had had enough beer already and didn’t succumb to the temptation to have just one more pint.  I can’t remember the last time we spent all afternoon in the pub!

The wind still being horrendous on Tuesday, we decided to stay where we were for the day.  Pete and Sara are continuing with their preparations for leaving on their trip, so they came for a coffee, and then went off in the car.  We planned to meet up again later.

After another few beers in the pub we said our goodbyes.  We did think we might see them again today (Wed) but we were away earlier than them, and they have stopped at The Folly below Napton Locks, and we are moored 10 minutes further on at the Bridge pub.  It’s been a lovely day today, a little cloudy at times, but hot when the sun has come out.  A little chilly in the breeze still, but it’s great to see the sun!  Even better tomorrow, so the weather forecast says.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

A week with the girls…..

We set off on Monday morning and stopped at Aynho Wharf for fuel, water, loo emptying, postcards for Flo to send and souvenirs of Flo’s trip – she bought a key ring with a boat that she thinks looks a bit like ours. Flo and I then continued up the towpath to give Ozzy a walk whilst Rog finished off at the Wharf.

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Waiting to be picked up

First lock was Somerton Deep Lock – we were 4th in the queue, so quite a long wait

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I love this lock, it’s so pretty with Clematis growing all over the bridge and gypsophilia (probably spelt that wrong!) along the wall.

Flo opted to stay with Rog and go down with the boat.

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About to exit the lock

Bacon butties were in order afterwards and we continued on towards the Heyfords – we stopped a bit earlier than planned as we found a decent mooring spot.  Flo played with Ozzy for a long while, then we had a game of Scrabble which Flo didn’t really enjoy!

Tuesday turned out to be a longer journey than expected as we’d planned to moor around Lower Heyford but it was skanky, so we continued on.  Unfortunately there was nowhere to moor between there and Thrupp, so we ended up on the visitor moorings at Thrupp – the first time we have been able to moor there.  Of course it would have been rude not to sample the pub, so we took Flo to The Boat for a very late lunch.  It was excellent – in fact we couldn’t eat it all, so we brought some chips back to the boat, re-heated them on the oven and had chip butties for tea – yum

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Handy to have a lock buddy

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Moored at Thrupp

On Wednesday morning we reversed back to the lift bridge at Thrupp and then moored on the services to fill with water, empty the loo cassettes (it’s amazing how quickly one little girl can fill one!).  Emma arrived shortly afterwards with Milly and Lizzie, and we did a quick turnaround as we didn’t want to hog the waterpoint for too long.  We said goodbye to Flo and welcomed Milly on board.  Again we had quite a long trek back to decent moorings for the night, moored where we were on Monday night.

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Milly did so want to help with the locks, but she wasn’t quite strong enough, so she sat and ‘supervised’ Grandad!

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On Thursday we headed for Aynho, where we did what was necessary to service the boat yet again!  We managed to get a mooring quite near the bridge, and went to the shop so Milly could take her turn at buying souvenirs.  Then of course, we just had to go to the pub for lunch – again! Back at the boat,Milly and I played Scrabble (she didn’t enjoy it either!) so we dug in the cupboard to see what other games we could find, and settled on Yahtzee – we played the best of three games and I won 2 of them.  But she determined to beat me again before she left.

On Friday we headed for Twyford Wharf where we had arranged to meet Emma and Ben to hand Milly back.  The weather was foul – cold and windy with torrential rain showers, and poor Milly had to remain inside the boat – Rog and I got absolutely soaked just doing the locks.  Luckily it was a shortish journey and by lunchtime we were moored and inside drying off.  We had dashed to the Farm Shop at the pig farm and treated ourselves to some of their delicious bacon from the farm’s Tamworth pigs, so we had bacon butties for lunch.  Milly then insisted that she get her own back at Yahtzee, and beat me at all three games!

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The sky was pretty spectacular most of the afternoon with continuing heavy showers.

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The weather was much better this morning, still breezy and chilly, but at least we had intermittent sunshine.  The rest of the family arrived around mid-day and Emma and Ben had brought lots of yummy goodies for lunch.  We sat and had a picnic on the towpath, and a good old natter, which was lovely, and the girls ran up and down with Ozzy.  All too soon it was time for them to head back home.  The boat feels very quiet and empty now, and Ozzy is sunk in a deep depression that he’s lost his playmates.  I keep catching him standing staring up the towpath in the direction they went, hoping that they might return.

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We’ve had a lovely week and I hope the girls have too – Emma says we have to have them both together next time, she’s seen far too much of the M40 this week! 

We are now about to turn on the telly and Rog will suffer through the Cup Final, in the faint hope that the Villa will beat the Arse!

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Still here.....

We haven't disappeared off the face of the planet - we've been busy entertaining 2 of our granddaughters. I've done a blog on LiveWriter, but somehow things have got screwed up and I can't publish it from there. It's a long blog so I really don't want to have to use up all our mobile internet data by re-doing it in Blogger. I'll publish it when they sort the problem out. We are heading home now - I've been suffering with Plantar Fasciitis since last summer, and my foot is really painful so we've decided to cut our cruise short, and go home so I can attempt to get some proper treatment on the good old NHS - but I'm not holding my breath!

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Lunch at Aynho…..

At 12.00 today we met the family in the Great Western Arms at Aynho – they were all there, daughter Emma and son-in-law Ben, Flo, Milly and Lizzie, and son Russ and daughter-in-law Nat.  After a lovely lunch we all tramped back to the boat for a cuppa – it was a bit of a squash, but we got the chairs out and the men sat outside while the girls ran in and out, and the ladies sat and chatted.  About 4.15 they all left, leaving a very excited Flo with us.  It’s all calmed down a bit now!

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Tomorrow we will head southwards towards Thrupp where we will exchange Flo for Milly on Wednesday.

The ambu-boat…..

On Wednesday lunchtime, whilst at the pub, we decided on a slight change of plan for picking up Flo on Sunday.  We were a bit concerned about finding a mooring space in Banbury, so we decided that Aynho was a better bet.  However, we didn’t want to sit still for 4 days, so on Thursday morning we tootled of down to Aynho Wharf, turned the boat and headed back in the direction of Banbury.  The plan was to stop at Twyford Wharf, then continue to Banbury on Friday to top up supplies at Morrison’s, turn and go back to Twyford  and then back to Aynho on Saturday.  Thursday was a beautiful hot and sunny day – we spent the afternoon at Twyford sitting in the sunshine watching the world go by.

We had a little excitement for an hour or so.  Mid afternoon the Twyford Wharf day-boat came by, carrying 2 NHS paramedics.  They had had a call from a boater moored not all that further up from us.  We found out afterwards that his wife had been playing with their dog, a hefty staffy, when it slammed into her and injured her leg.  They managed to get her onto the day-boat, which then reversed back towards us and the wharf.  This little day-boat was a pig to reverse and it took a long time, having to be fended off from every boat they passed.  Eventually reaching the winding hole just behind where we were moored, they turned and immediately got stuck in the mud!  This poor lady was sitting on the back, obviously in a lot of pain.  Moored at last, they brought the ambulance into the drive of the Wharf, putting her leg in a blow-up splint, they got her off the boat and into the ambulance.

Later on in the evening, we caught up with her hubby – it turned out that her leg was broken!  Anyway, the story in pictures follows:

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Our mooring on Thursday afternoon

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On Friday morning we continued on to Banbury, filled with water and emptied a loo cassette, then went up the lock, through the lift bridge, through the town centre, past all the moored boats and turned at the winding hole past Spiceball park, and returned to the lock.  A boat pulled out just ahead of us from the moorings opposite the shopping centre, so I went to the lift bridge with her crew (the Mrs) to lower the bridge after both boats had passed through, to enable her to go and prep the lock.  She nearly clonked a poor old lady with a zimmer frame on the head with the beam (the old dear hadn’t realised where she was standing, and Mrs hadn’t a clue what she was doing!  They mucked about a bit and a boat came up the lock meanwhile.  There was then a domestic between the boat that had come up the lock and the boat preceding us, as they hadn’t left enough room for the boat to exit the lock and turn to the right to negotiate the lift bridge. The woman helming the boat which had come up the lock was furious, being very precious about her paintwork, and it wasn’t at all a smart boat, just bog-standard tatty.  I do love a domestic – especially when it doesn’t involve us!

Eventually we got to Morrison’s and Rog went to get the few bits that we needed, and then we returned to Twyford for the night.

This morning we have come back to Aynho and moored in the same spot that we had on Wednesday.  We went for lunch at the pub and just after we returned we had a ‘Chance’ encounter!  We knew that Doug and James on nb Chance were heading towards us, just not when we would meet them.  They hovered mid canal for a bit while we had a chat, and then had to continue on – they didn’t want to get stuck behind the day-boat which was coming up from behind them.  Lovely to see you both, hopefully we’ll catch up again for a few pints at some point.

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And last but not least – there are tons of runny-babbits (sorry, family slang for rabbits) in the field opposite our mooring – just a couple of pics,seeing as I missed photographing the urban fox we spotted lurking in some bushes canal-side just on the outskirts of Banbury

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Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Cropredy to Aynho

Tuesday 19th May

Having sat out the bad weather on Monday, we set out again towards Banbury.  The wind was still very blustery, as soon as we reached the first lock, the heavens opened.  And so it continued all morning.  We had a very slow trip down the 3 locks north of Banbury, being 4th in the queue at each, and getting rained and hailed on at each.  Between showers the sun came out, the wind dropped a little and it was quite pleasant.  Unfortunately it didn’t last for more than 15 minutes. 

Eventually, around lunch time we reached Banbury.  Continuing through the visitor moorings, the swing bridge and the lock, we stopped to fill with water at the services below the lock.  Then on a little further, a shopping stop at Morrison’s, and then on out of the town to find a mooring.  Moored now just past the outskirts of town.  It’s now slinging it down yet again.

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It was still very cloudy when we left our mooring, but the wind was quite so strong and the temperature slightly higher.  It did, however, stay dry for our journey to Aynho.  Not much traffic going southwards, I think they must have all stopped or turned around at Banbury, but quite a few Black Prince and Napton hire boats queuing at the locks heading northwards, to be back to base on Saturday, I presume.

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Aynho Weir lock, diamond shaped to allow more water through onto the lower levels – it’s only about 2 feet deep, but a struggle to get the gates open with bent beams.  And so many turns of the windlass to raise the paddles!

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Moored now on the 14 day moorings just before Aynho wharf – we’ve been to the pub, but sadly not for lunch as they stopped serving food half an hour before we got there.  The reason being that after we slotted into the only space left, on a bend, and not very easy for Ozzy to jump on and off, we found that there was a day-boat several spaces further back, so we waited a couple of hours until they left and reversed back into the space they had vacated.

4.8 miles and 4 locks