Sunday, 31 October 2010

Braunston, again.

Ah, Braunston, center of the canal world,

plenty of ex working boats about,

but I have this nightmare, what if everybody decided to take their boats out on the same day?

The Boathouse, ex Millhouse, ex Rose and Castle. We had a meal in there last night and it was excellent, not expensive either, three courses each, a couple of drinks, coffees and only thirty five quid, worth a punt if you fancy eating out.

The old windmill, now a residence, at least there are no corners for the dust to collect in.

This is called a Crocketted Spire but I couldn't see a coonskin cap anywhere.

High Street, apart from the plethora of cars it probably hasn't changed much since the working boats ruled the cut.
We have just had a snotty letter from B.W. informing us that their "boat checker" in his "regular boat sightings" had observed that we had "spent longer at the location than the maximum permitted stay time" on the fourteen day moorings at Cropredy, now any of you who follow this blog will know how long we actually spent at Cropredy. We feel that their "boat checker" should make his sightings a bit more regular and that a word with some of the boats who've been there since the old queen died would not come amiss. I can feel a stiff reply coming on.
On the same subject: has anyone seen the B.W. patrol boat that is now in this vicinity? It's a rather part worn launch called Verulam, it went past us yesterday, I just wish I'd had the camera ready. I eagerly await further developments, will this be a regular thing? Possibly M.T.B's on the Grand Union, that'll sort out the unlicensed boats.

Friday, 29 October 2010

Napton to Braunston, almost.

I appear to have lied yesterday when I said I had taken no photos', I had forgotten this one of a pile of hardcore alongside lock 12, awaiting transport down to the new pilings, or perhaps it is a new waterside work of art?

Well we have left Napton and if anyone thought they would get away without a picture of the windmill, well they were wrong.
Moored just short of Braunston as we spotted our old mates again, Chris and Jude on Theathenia, and they're always good for a glass or two and some good craic so Braunston will have to wait another day for the pleasure of our company.

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Mayhem at Napton.

Well that was an interesting day. As the grandsons were going to be with us we decided that a trip up the Napton flight, wind at the Engine Arm, lunch, and then back down should keep them amused, so when they arrived at 1015 we set off. All went well until lock 12 where B.W. were loading a mud hopper with hardcore which they were using to backfill the new pilings between locks 11 and 12. A twenty minute wait ensured that the queue of boats was becoming slightly fractious. The rest of the trip up proved stress free although winding was quite exciting with the wind blowing down the cut and trying to push us into the reeds, well it actually succeeded but we'll keep that quiet.
Jill provided an excellent lunch of boiled bacon with mash and assorted veggies followed by cherry pie with clotted cream and custard and after sating our appetites we rejoined the line of boats descending the locks, by this time virtually all the traffic was going in the same direction as us so we were not surprised to find a queue at the first lock (13). We then discovered that a hire boat had lodged itself on the cill (I use B.W.s spelling, should be sill) of lock 12 and knocked its' rudder out of the skeg and they were currently removing it from the lock. Not a problem to us, time to admire the scenery, but the hire boat behind us was getting twitchy and the boat behind them was apparently in a hurry to be somewhere, tensions rose.
Well we negotiated locks 13 and then 12 just as the damaged boat attempted to rejoin the queue but he now experienced a gearbox problem so we coasted past him as he struggled with the gear lever, but as we passed, LO! his gearbox regained its' drive, so having crept past the B.W. works I thought it only fair to allow him to retake the lead so at lock 11 he took the lock and I waited. Now the pound between locks 11 and 12 is full of B.W. boats, mud hoppers, dredgers etc, with just space for one boat to squeeze by but our following boats started to pile into the pound as they sought to hurry up the process, alas, a boat was coming UP the flight from lock 10 so I politely waited until he used the now empty lock 11. (I hope this is not becoming too complicated, you needed to be there). Oh the consternation when he popped up, those behind us had to back up past all the work boats. More haste less speed as my old Granny always said.
Lock 10 was a bit of an anti-climax, it was clear and we worked straight through but above lock 9 was our old friend, he of the damaged rudder and temperamental gearbox, now belching copious amounts of smoke and refusing to go anywhere, so we went through and moored below lock 9. The mechanic from his hire company subsequently arrived, he had blown a head gasket, the boat, not the mechanic. Not a good day for the hirers, they were last seen heading for the village in search of beer.
Our day was voted a great success, Cairstine and the boys headed off home and I poured a large rum.
It was all so exciting I entirely forgot to take any photo's, sorry.

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

More buffalo.

Whenever we pass through Napton I am always fascinated by the sight of these buffalo, they just look so out of place in rural England.
We just dropped down the locks today and nipped up to the shop for a few essentials, we then sallied forth in harvesting mode. We now have enough sloes to produce a goodly supply of sloe gin for our winter consumption, what is more pleasant on a cold evening than to sit in front of the stove with a glass or two of rich, fruity sloe gin?
Tomorrow Cairstine and the boys are coming up for the day, let's hope the weather remains kind to us.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

A very little post.

What a contrast with yesterday, today it has just lashed down and blown half a gale. Just sat here and watched the rain run down the windows. Mind you it gave me the time to fiddle with the blog, note new presentation. I've also got a new toolbar, if anything looks odd for the next few days it's just me fiddling. As I don't understand half of what is going on be surprised at nothing.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Nice Day, and we moved.

Ladder Bridge to Napton Adkins Lock in a world turned white with frost.

On the way we passed the earthworks at Stoneton Manor, the frost and low sun showed them quite clearly, definitely a medieval village.

Above Adkins Lock, there was Harnser, just back from her travels, sorry we just missed you, one day.

We've moored between the lock and bridge 116, a perfect autumn day on a perfect mooring. When you throw in a good signal for the dongle it just gets better.

Water buffalo come from the tropics, I bet these chaps felt a bit parky this morning.

The pound between locks 11 and 12 is a hive of activity, as we had the dog with us we didn't plough through the mud to see what is going on, I will investigate and publish, watch this space.
Incidentally, last nights pork chop dinner was just superb, roast vegetables to go with the chops and we rounded it off with an apple crumble made from little apples from the hedgerow served up with clotted cream, it doesn't get better.

Sunday, 24 October 2010


Another day spent at Ladder Bridge. We have taken the opportunity to do some towpath walking, you see things when walking that you miss from the boat,

like this fine range of farm buildings at Stoneton Farm

and, if you look closely, some mysterious earthworks on the hillside near Stoneton Manor, it looks like an abandoned medieval village but isn't marked on the O.S. map, where's Time Team when you need them?

Gone away is the bluebird,

Here to stay is a new bird,
in this case a flock of fieldfares newly arrived from Scandinavia and now scoffing all the hedgerow berries.

Full moon last night so here's one for the astronomers, or maybe the lunatics?

White bryony, pretty but fifteen of those berries can kill a child, not friendly.

This footbridge has replaced the old one which was made from a single baulk of timber, right across the cut. By the time they took it down it had sagged so much we had to take our chimney down to get under it. I don't know why they have named it Wedding Bridge now, last year we chatted to an elderly chap in Wormleighton, he told us his mother had been the last postmistress in the village and that the bridge had originally been built to enable the postie get to the farms in the valley, sounds feasible.

Final picture for today, now that is what you call a pork chop, none of those wimpy things with all the fat trimmed off, roll on dinner!

Friday, 22 October 2010

Claydon, Fenny and an example of clumsiness.

A day at the top of Claydon locks, decidedly fresh in the morning with a wicked wind cutting across.
We have heard on the grapevine that Foxs' museum at Claydon, that wonderfully eclectic collection of things you threw away years ago, is closing as it is just too much for the present owner. The collection is being sold off. A shame, one more example of good English eccentricity will be lost.



Armadillo among the willows.
On to Ladder Bridge. We stopped at Fenny Compton for a quick sprint to the Co-op. On the way back to the boat Jill stopped suddenly, I was just behind and not watching what was happening so fell over the shopping trolley, flattened Jill and ended up sprawled all over the grass verge, current popularity rating -5.

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Back on the move.

Early morning below Cropredy lock with mist and small black dog,

and autumn colours in the trees. Yesterday I set out determined to catch one of the big carp that inhabit the canal at Cropredy, guess what, not a nibble and then it chucked it down so it was back in the boat to watch Countdown, how exciting can life get?
Last night another meal in the Red Lion,

in the restaurant they have some intriguing paintings on the walls,

I think frescoes have to be painted onto wet plaster

so they're just paintings on the wall, or are they murals, don't ask me, I get confused.
Thank you Warren and crew for looking after us so well.
Anyway today we broke out of the Banbury-Cropredy rut and headed north, the nice people on the boat ahead of us left all the top lock gates open and the top paddles up, wasn't that kind of them? Shame they were too far ahead for me to have a pleasant chat with them. Luckily at Claydon there were boats coming down so the flight was ok. We are now moored on the summit and looking forward to a few days rural peace.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Cropredy, Banbury and a barn owl.

We've been up and down this stretch like a yo-yo, after Morrisons it was back to Cropredy to meet cousin Rob and his wife Mary who were with us for two days. Day one: up to the winding hole at Claydon, back to Cropredy and dinner at the Red Lion, spot on as usual. Day two: down to Banbury and back, avoiding

hordes of canoeists,

some of whom dropped their canoes on the lock bollards just as we tried to pull in,

but undeterred our temporary ships company leapt into action while a happy canoeist departed,

they then stood and waited for applause for their efforts.
We winded at Banbury and I made a first, I managed a clean turn without hiting either side of that horrible, narrow winding hole by Tramway Moorings.

Below Banbury lock, note autumnal colours,

we met a chap from, I think it was, the Owl Trust, with this splendid fellow, a totally laid back barn owl.
Then back to Cropredy, again, packed visitors into their car and off they went,homeward bound.
This morning, to my amazement, I found a signal on my dongle so normal (erratic) service is resumed.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

An unimportant post.

What an exciting day, we went shopping at Morrisons, that's it. Trying to find content for the blog is sometimes, well, difficult. We're back up to Cropredy tomorrow, more reunions. As the signal there is non-existant please forgive a day or two with no posts, nothing personal.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Odds and ends.

We did moor for a day in Banbury centre and while there Nuneaton and Brighton of the Narrow Boat Trust came through, as the last time we met them we managed to push them up the bank I kept a low profile, just in case they remembered. Just look who is moored opposite!
Since then we've been back up to Cropredy for a weekend socialising with old friends Chris and Jude on Theathenia, much wine and good conversation.

The old lock house at Bourton Lock is still empty and derelict, as it has no mains water, electric and no road access, I can't see it being lived in again.

No real reason to include this photo', I just love donkeys.

This is the foundry at Banbury, it must be about the only industry left on the Oxford Canal, needless to say it doesn't use water transport.
We are back at Tramway Moorings for more shopping, we have visitors next weekend so need to top up, again.

Friday, 8 October 2010

A day of contrasts.

Yesterday was a busy day, Jill wanted to go down to Nell Bridge to stock up with sausages from the small holding/moorings so it was up with the lark.

Bridge 176 was doing its best to loom eerily through the mist

while the sun rose over the Cherwell water meadows.
We went down to Nell Bridge and Jill nipped ashore while I winded the boat. We are now well stocked with sausages, pork chops, buffalo steaks and burgers.
While winding I was passed by a small boat, the chap on the tiller was wearing a life jacket and a CRASH HELMET! I didn't dare ask.
On the way back to Banbury we went through a couple of bridges,

one appears to suffer from schizophrenia and the other, well it says it all doesn't it, that's the rat race in the background.
Just after this there was a sudden commotion in the reeds and a Muntjac deer fled across the fields, far too quick for a 'photo, what better reason for our way of life.

The old corn chandlers building has been repainted, looks really smart.
Now for the real reason for our visit to Banbury, after numerous complaints about shedding hair the time had come!



What a transformation, Captain Birdseye to Mr Smooth, a bit chilly about the ears though.