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.

Wednesday 20th May

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

Monday, 18 May 2015

Marston Doles to Cropredy……

Saturday 16th May

We left our mooring about 9.30, to wend our way across the summit of the Oxford canal.  Eleven miles of twists and turns and almost meeting ourselves coming back!  Across country, with a compass, the same trip could be accomplished in 4 miles!

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The Magic Mast – this mast keeps appearing in the strangest of places, sometimes on the left, sometimes on the right, sometimes in front and sometimes behind, then in front again

A fairly uneventful trip, apart from an almost coming together with another boat on a bend – we kept expecting them to turn but they didn’t – full reverse was in order to prevent a collision!  I think they were hypnotised by the somnambulistic nature of the scenery – we wondered whether they would have just kept on going and hit the bank if they hadn’t suddenly become aware of our existence a few feet from their  starboard bow!

Moored now on the visitor moorings at Fenny Compton, and lunch partaken of in The Wharf pub – well it would have been rude not to!

7 miles and 0 locks

Sunday 17th May

We left Fenny at our usual time of about 9.30.  It was another blustery morning, warm in the sheltered spots, but the wind was very chilly when the spots were not so sheltered.  The sun was making regular appearances between the clouds, which were sometimes dark and threatening, but it stayed dry. 

We started to descend the five locks at Claydon sandwiched between two hire boats, the crews of neither of which knew what they were doing.  I spent the time waiting for our turn in the queue explaining what the procedure was.  I was a bit puzzled by their lack of even basic knowledge, considering that they were out of Wigram’s Marina, and Napton Narrowboats, and they had both come all the way up the Napton flight.  Still, maybe it was the fact that they would now be locking down that confused them.  Anyway, they all managed ok, and we didn’t get any calls for help so they must have got the hang of it. 

Having completed the Claydon locks we had a short rest until the next 3 locks heading into Cropredy.  On arriving at Cropredy we were amazed that the visitor moorings were completely empty, all except for one boat.  However, we spotted on the sign that the moorings were 24 hours only.  I’m not sure how long that has been in force, but I’m fairly sure that we’ve stayed longer than that in the past.  Perhaps the fact that the weather forecast for Monday was fairly wet, had decided boaters not to stop. 

For that reason we continued on through Cropredy lock and stopped on the service point to fill with water and empty the necessary.  A quick nip across the bridge to the shop was disappointing.  The two previous times we have come this way they were selling delicious pork sausages. locally produced, in a variety of flavours, apple and red onion being our favourite.  However the shop has now changed hands and they aren’t selling them any more – just a normal bog-standard pork produced by another company.  What a shame, I was looking forward to some of those! The ones looked good and meaty though, so I bought some for dinner, and good they were!  That’s two meals ‘off plan’ this week, perhaps that’s why I have stayed the same and Rog has only lost 1/2 lb this week!

We continued out of Cropredy at the usual slow crawl due to all the moored boats and found a quiet spot to sit out Monday’s rain.  It’s coming down in stair-rods at the moment.  Due to clear this afternoon, but we are staying here as we are a week early for our rendezvous at Banbury which is only a couple of hours away.  We will go through tomorrow (Tues) and do a bit of shopping at Morrison’s then carry on southwards for  couple of days before turning back to Banbury to collect Flo next Sunday.

6.7 miles and 9 locks

Friday, 15 May 2015

Week 1…..

Wednesday 13th May

Just a short hop today as we aren’t sure of the moorings near Napton.  We didn’t want to do all the Napton Locks today.  We planned to water and empty the loo at Braunston, but the water point our side of the junction is awkward, and there were two boats on it already, so we didn’t bother to wait.  It wasn’t vital, and we can get water at Napton.  We also planned to pop into Midland Diddler’s Chandler’s as well, but their mooring was also taken so we didn’t do that either.

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We turned right at the junction to continue on the Oxford/GU section, and have found a lovely mooring with views across the countryside.  If the weather is as forecast tomorrow, we will stay here until Friday.

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 4.5 miles and 0 locks

Friday 15th May

We sat tight yesterday through the wind and rain, and set off this morning at about 9 o’clock.  It was a much better day than yesterday, although dull and cloudy and quite nippy. Shortly after we set off, fellow bloggers Jo and Keith on  Hadar passed us heading to the Leicester Arm.  We had a few shouted greetings, but no photo as I was on the towpath walking Ozzy with no camera.  We knew they were heading our way and did expect to see them today, although maybe not quite as early as we did.

We stopped and filled with fuel at Wigrams Turn Marina, and they kindly allowed us to empty a loo cassette and also to fill with water.  Really friendly people – pity it’s so expensive as it seems a nice place to have a permanent mooring – too rich for our blood though!

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Napton Windmill

When we reached the bottom of the Napton flight of locks we had a very short wait as there was a boat in front of us about to go into the first lock, but it wasn’t long before we were on our way again.  The locks were not particularly busy, we passed a few boats coming down but not many – there were more heading our way.  We were at the top of Napton, heading for Marston Doles by about 1.45, and through the two locks there by about 2.30.  At the top of Marston Doles we encountered our second bloggers of the day – Chas and Ann on More-2-Life.  Unfortunately we couldn’t chat as there was no room to stop.  More shouted greetings and we were past!  We continued on our way for about 20 minutes and are now moored in the middle of nowhere between Bridges 121 and 122.

8.3 miles and 9 locks

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

And we’re off…..

Having loaded up the boat over the last few days, cleaned and polished it to within an inch of it’s life, we set off this morning from Brinklow Marina.  It was raining when we awoke (oh, what a surprise!) but by the time we were ready to leave the sun was peeking through the clouds.  We struggled against the howling wind to leave our pontoon without crashing into the boat moored opposite – we were warned before we moved to Brinklow that it was very windy, and it is! 

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Once out on the cut the wind was only breezy.  Ozzy was happily in his usual place on the locker, with lots of new smells and sights to keep him interested.

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Through Rugby and eventually to Hillmorton Locks where only one of each of the 3 duplicated locks was in operation – it took rather longer to get through than usual with a short queue building up going our way, and quite a long one to go down.

Soon afterwards we had a heavy shower of rain lasting about 20 minutes, Rog got a bit damp, but Ozzy and I went inside.

We are moored now near Willoughby on some familiar moorings, about an hour out of Braunston.

I probably won’t blog every day this trip. I’m finding it difficult to keep it interesting these days, so I’ll probably just blog once a week or so unless there is something of interest to report.

We are heading to Banbury on the Oxford canal to collect a new crew member, our eldest granddaughter Flo, who is coming out on her first trip with us during half term week.  Just for a few days, without Mum and Dad.  If all goes as planned, we will return to Banbury mid-week, and swap her for our middle granddaughter, Milly, returning her to Banbury on the Saturday.  Hopefully the weather will be kind to us, and they won’t be too bored!

10 miles today, and 3 locks.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

New boots and cruising plans…..

 

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I have new boots!  My old faithful Brashers have begun to fall apart, but that’s not surprising since I’ve been wearing them every day for the last 5 or 6 years!  I had a great deal of trouble buying them in the first place as I have extraordinarily wide feet.  Unfortunately Brasher don’t make that style any more so I’ve had to buy their replacement.  Not looking forward to breaking them in though, they feel rather tight!  But then the old ones did too, when I first bought them – my toes used to go numb for a while before they stretched to accommodate my weird shaped feet.  The old ones are still just about wearable though, good enough to change into when my feet need a break from the new ones.

Rog had an op last Wednesday to remove the cataract that had developed in his left eye.  He has a follow-up appointment mid April, so, as long as everything is as it should be, we can start our cruising year shortly after that.  No real plans as to where we are going this year yet, only that we need to be on the South Oxford at either the summer half term, or the beginning of the school summer holidays as we’ve promised to take our eldest granddaughter Flo, for her first trip as crew for a few days.  At nine and a half now, we think she’s ready, and, if all goes well we may swap her for middle granddaughter Milly who will be eight by then.  Can’t cope with them both at the same time yet, as they get into all sorts of mischief together!

So, watch this space – we’ll be back soon.