Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Braunston and Hillmorton

Still no locks today, Dianne is sure having a holiday!
A steady run in to Braunston in the drizzle with a stop at the junction right outside Midland Chandlers. There was a boat taking up a little more room than perhaps he should and as we were manoeuvring to get in behind him, Dianne slipped backwards and entered the water up to her right knee! No damage done but it did shake her up for a while.
The main reason for the visit was to sort one of the burners on the Spinflo hob that has not been working since we left Sharpness. It would light but would not stay on. The obvious cause would be a duff thermocouple as we had a similar problem on the grill last year. Bingo they had one in stock so the purchase was made.

This was not a place to linger as other boaters were lining up to moor in the same place in order to do their browsing.

We motored on to Hillmorton and moored up outside The Old Royal Oak as by now the rain was getting quite persistent. Mustn't complain though. Noticed that on Wednesdays they do a Curry and a Pint for £4.99. A no-brainer me thinks!

In order to earn this treat Keith set to in order to remove the old thermocouple Easier said than done. There was an awkward nut to remove from the device and no room to operate from inside a cupboard and with no spanner of the right size. So off he went to the boatyard ,that was next to the pub, and was loaned a selection of spanners. The nut was soon off and the new thermocouple fitted, everything reassembled, a gas leak check made (no pipes were removed) and hey presto, it worked again. Spanners were returned together with a bottle, in appreciation of the loan. 
Now the sun is coming out again and all is well.

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Napton on The Hill

We made excellent progress down the Napton flight this morning ably assisted at the top and bottom by fellow C&RT volunteers. We moored up at the bottom after making use of the Elsan block that was not shown on our dated Nicholson's guide. After walking through the village we climbed up the hill to the church. Legend has it that the church was to be built on the village green but the devil persisted in carrying the building stones to the present site at the top of the hill where the church was eventually built. Magnificent views from the top.

Back down at the bottom lock we called into the Folly Inn with the intention of having lunch but we thought that the menu was a little on the generous side when all we wanted was a snack. However, the brew had to be tested and we ended up enjoying a lovely example from the Hook Norton brewery. Three hours later we set off again circumnavigating the hill and looking up to the restored windmill that dominates the hilltop.

Whilst we were at our lunchtime watering hole Dianne popped into the Folly Canal Shop next door and bought two ice creams to go with tonight's meal made from "Buffalo Milk" and here is the proof!!

Since leaving Bristol we have travelling along canals and rivers that have been completely new to us but now we are back on familiar territory but it always looks different especially in the sunshine that we have been blessed with over the last three and a half weeks.

Our view from the Well Deck tonight

Monday, 29 July 2013

No Locks Today

Once again we find ourselves at an altitude of 400ft above that of the docks in Bristol. We are on the summit pound of the Oxford canal and we have travelled 9 miles without a single lock!
Late morning we called in at The Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton for a coffee and noticed that they had a launderette in the pub. An opportunity not to be missed we thought so out came the dirty washing and into the tub whilst we supped our beverage. They also sold new potatoes in the garden so we stocked up. There was also a convenient water point where we were moored but was slightly out of range of our hose. Fortunately we had an old one that was full of pin holes where cyclists has driven over it in previous years. However it served as a good extension even though it squirted water all over a hire boat that had moored right on the water point and disappeared into the pub. Serve them right!
From here the canal meandered first northwards, then west and east before resuming its more northerly course. A walker with a huge backpack gradually overhauled us, boy he did look hot. We passed him shortly afterwards as he was sheltering under a bridge no doubt in the expectation of rain as the black clouds gathered from the south behind us.
We eventually moored out in the sticks again just short of Napton top lock so, downhill from here on.
Our Neighbours for the Evening

After we had moored up the walker caught us up and he rested for a while and we had a good chat with him. He lives in Scotland and has been walking for the last 16 weeks starting in Weston Super Mare, of all places.
The washing is nearly dry now so settling down for a good meal and a glass or two of good wine. Tomorrow is another day!

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Catch Up Time Again

Thursday 25th July                             
We enjoyed a wonderful BBQ last night at King’s Lock not a breath of air and the sun shone right up until sunset. 

Time for a Swig!
At 8:35 this morning it was time to say goodbye to the glorious River Thames. This is the first time that we have we have had the opportunity to sail on her and it will hold many memories for us.

What a contrast as we negotiated the claustrophobic Duke’s Cut that links the River Thames, at its northernmost point, with the Oxford Canal. Down one lock and then up at the next as the canal opened up in front of us.

The mission for today was to visit two fellow boaters that live almost canalside at Thrupp. David and Ann have been friends of ours ever since we joined the Boaters’ Christian Fellowship when we bought our first boat “Anna of The Five Towns”

We spent a precious few hours with them at their house over lunch catching up on our previous boating and fellowship experiences. They have a wonderful house set in one acre of grounds. Thank you so much you two and we hope to see you again at the BCF AGM in November.

As we left Thrupp we soon came across a lock that joined us onto the River Cherwell. For some reason it was an odd shape being very wide in the middle.

Late afternoon we continued on for a short while in order to charge the batteries up to 100%. We stopped at the “Rock of Gibraltar” and had a wonderful meal on the terrace. When the sun had almost set we ventured inside and supped our drinks on the comfy leather sofas. It was extremely quiet for a Thursday night until five people walked in and began to play their accordions, violins and banjos.

We were thoroughly enjoying the practice night of the “Fiddly Didilys” when one by one their number increased to 14!! It was a marvellous night.

Friday 26th July
Today was a chill out day. Only 7 miles and 3 locks. At Heyford Common Lock there was a very long waiting area that was bordered by well-manicured grass verges and so we moored up at the very end and spent a glorious evening in splendid isolation.

Saturday 27th July
You can be sure that, when boating, each day is different and unpredictable. Today was no exception. We were just getting ready to cast off this morning when a boat went past going in our direction towing a butty. This would mean that it would take an inordinate amount of time to clear each lock as the butty has no engine and so had to be bow hauled into the lock by hand. We were destined to follow them for the rest of the day!

As we approached Banbury the pounds between locks were getting seriously low. This resulted in the boat and its butty to progress very slowly as they were scraping the bottom of the canal. Whilst we were waiting at one lock Keith rang the Canal and River Trust emergency number to report the situation. Fortunately they were aware of the problem as the previous night the paddles in the locks through Banbury had been left open causing the levels to drop. We were told that it would take 24 hours to restore.
At Banbury we moored up temporarily in order to visit Morrisons as we were down to the last rasher of bacon! We happened to moor up next to a boat named Campanula.


The lady owner, Penny, is a Bellringer and is a friend of Stephen and Brenda who we were to visit at Cropredy tomorrow. Whilst we were chatting to her a steam boat passed with the boiler being stoked with wood and not coal.


We also spotted another boat and notice that the McGregors have joined the ranks of boatees! Well done Margaret.

After taking on water, emptying the buzz box and disposing of our rubbish we set off again. It was getting darker and darker and eventually at 7pm the heavens opened and kept on sheeting down until we reached Cropredy. There the Fleetwood folk festival will take place in two weeks time and so all the visitor moorings were taken already. We had arranged with Stephen and Brenda to brest up alongside their boat so we were assured of a spot in Cropredy. We arrived at 8:40pm after casting off 12 hours earlier. As said, each day is different!
Sunday 28th July

We had arranged to meet Stephen and Brenda at their church, St Mary The Virgin, at 9:15am in order to ring the bells with them. It was a ground floor ring of 8 with a 16cwt tenor. We then joined them for the Family service afterwards followed by coffee and cake.

We are grateful to Stephen and Brenda for giving us design ideas for our boat some four years ago. After lunch they saw us off through the lock and we were on our way again.

Interesting Canalside Properties

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

The Beginning of the Return Trip

Tuesday 23rd July

No internet access today so catchup time.
Needed to water up this morning and were welcomed by some two legged visitors!

This morning saw a variety of civil and military aircraft buzzing us as we travelled back down the Thames.


We moored at Newbridge tonight with a pub either side of the river. It was an idyllic location with only us on the mooring just upstream of the bridge. Isn't it a shame that there is no media available to completely capture the ambience of a place such as this? Well worth the £4 mooring fee charged by the local farmer whose land is owned by St John's College, Oxford.
As it was early Keith got out one of the Bromptons and went for an explore to the nearby village of Standlake.

Standlake Church

Chocolate Box Cottages

The view from near our mooring
A Harvest  Moon after returning from the pub!

Wednesday 24th July

This is to be our last day on the River Thames. What a joyous visit it has been, full of beauty and surprises with all the locks done for you. Ah well, back to reality tomorrow when we get onto the Oxford canal.

A Style in a field linking nothing!

NB Harry
A Stelth Boat
We are moored at King's Lock ready to set off in the morning along Duke's Cut that links the River Thames with the Oxford canal. We had to pay the Lock Keeper a fee of £6.50 for the privilege but well worth the view.


Dianne sat next to Keith's BBQ for later, reading her book

Monday, 22 July 2013

Lechlade The Limit Of Navigation

After a delightful meal at the Trout Inn last night we set off at 8:15 on the last leg upstream on the River Thames to reach the limit of navigation at the Round House at Lechlade.
Since we left Bristol on Sunday 7th July we have travelled 163 miles and been through 130 locks!
After we turned around to head back to our moorings, adjacent to Ha'penny Bridge, we met Kevin Blick coming the other way on his newly restored tug boat "Harry"
Kevin wrote an article on our boat for the December 2010 edition of Canal Boat. Good to see you Kevin.

St John's Lock the highest on the river

Lechlade Church viewed for miles

The Round House. Limit of navigation for narrowboats
Just received this photee of us during our passage down the River Severn approaching the second Severn Bridge. Taken by David Field aboard his yacht Alana, thank you David.