Thursday, 28 February 2013

The fallen splendour of Wormleighton.

After a grey and grotty day the sky started to clear and we were treated to a sunset of unrivalled splendour.

Of course the clear sky overnight gave us a sharp frost and this morning the two resident swans

were pushing their way through a layer of cat ice.

A cold haze hung over the countryside and in the clear sky an exultation of larks were singing fit to bust.
After a breakfast of blueberries and bio yoghurt, (Don't ask) we set off for a brisk stroll along the towpath, the fields being a tad muddy. We reached the deserted medieval of Wormleighton and decided to cross the canal and walk up to the present village.

These are some of the earthworks in the field where the village once stood, unlike the myths that surround so many deserted villages this one wasn't emptied by the Great Mortality, that's the Black Death to you and I, but by sheep.

(Picture of sheep for anyone who might not recognise them.)
At the end of the fifteenth century William Cope, the landlord, turned the arable farmland over to grazing as it was more profitable. In 1499 twenty messuages were empty and sixty villagers had been rendered jobless and presumably homeless. In 1506 it was bought by the Spencer family who built an impressive manor house

of which only this one wing survives and in 1613 added a massive gatehouse.

It even had the Arms of the royal house of Stuart on it.

Unfortunately in 1645 the Royalist supporters of the Stuarts burned the whole shebang down to prevent the Parliamentarians using it as a stronghold. That's Civil War for you.

Other buildings around the village, alas there is no longer a shop, pub or post office but there is still a church.

But more of that tomorrow.

Watch this space..............

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

At last, the cut beckons.

Now here's a sight we haven't seen for a while, the top of Armadillo and Jill swinging off of a windlass

and closing the bottom gates of a lock.
We're on the move again and today we headed south down the Oxford. First task Napton Locks.

Beside lock ten is a quirky juxtaposition of building styles. The old lengthsman's hut could be from any age but is most likely nineteenth century, while the concrete pill box behind it has a definite feeling of the nineteen forties. They were for local defence if the Nazis invaded and were generally manned by the Home Guard. Having spoken to various veterans of that conflict the general opinion is that they would have been useless: but they served to reassure the population that something was being done in their defence.

The fields and woods, like the weather, still have a definite air of winter about them, so much for my "harbingers of spring".

At the top of the flight the old, lozenge shaped, warehouse which had been in use as offices now seems to be deserted but opposite there is a shiny new waterpoint.

We find that waterpoints are like magnets, as soon as we spot one we are drawn toward it by some fatal attraction and so, although we had watered only yesterday, we had to stop and top up.
We are now moored way out in the country, revelling in the freedom.

Watch this space.............

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Yet another brief note.

I fear this is just another brief note as living on a boat in a marina is about as uneventful as living in a house. However things are looking up, yesterday was another trip down to Banbury, this time to collect Jill's new glasses. So now we are fully kitted out and all medical/visual/dental adventures complete.
The store ship occours on Monday, the car goes back on Tuesday and time, tide and weather permitting we will be off. Unfortunately the Braunston locks don't re-open until the eighth so we just intend pottering down to Banbury, well we quite like it, and back and then it will be heigh ho for the open road or, in our case, canal.
Mustn't forget that it's the third weekend of the six nations. England v France, could be a stormer.

Watch this space..........

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Water, harbingers of spring, ducks and lichen, amongst other things.

What a change, snow all gone, sun shining, wind dropped and a feeling of spring in the air. So yesterday we set off to check out yet another stretch of water. This time it was Draycote Water, a reservoir owned by Severn Trent Water.

First impression is that it is a fair old size and at six hundred acres and five billion gallons it's not exactly the village pond. How much Scotch would you need to dilute that lot? That is if you use water in your Scotch.

Just one of the dam walls, in high spirits we strode off along it.

Pink footed geese were busily cropping the grass in a nearby field, nice change from those Canadian pests.

Does anyone know the collective noun for coots? A squabble of coots sounds about right, but these were being sociable.

The lake looks even bigger from this angle. We walked on and came across the first harbingers of spring.

It's a fair old hike around the perimeter road and when we reached this

we realised we were past the point of no return so we plodded on and were soon rewarded by sight of

a great crested grebe. Have you ever noticed how they always do that just as you get them in focus?

Then they surface right at the limit of your lens. This one seems to favour a rather Mohican interpretation of the crest. Could be this year's punk look for grebes.

Jill's eyes have certainly improved, she picked out Napton windmill on the hill top, it's only about seven miles as the crow flies.

Pochard? I have consulted my faithful Readers Digest Field Guide to Birds of Britain (1981) and that's my best guess.

Oh we were pleased to see this sign. We crept onward.

The boat club has a strong presence and you can also fish the lake, but that's only for the fluff chuckers amongst us.

Moss and lichens make an attractive pattern, that is if you like moss and lichens.

Watch this space...............

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

A very quick update.

Jill has now had her final check up on her eye and all is well. Today she had her eye test for new specs. which will be ready in ten days or so. Our sojourn at Wigrams Turn is drawing to a close.
Hopefully we will be on our way in a couple of weeks, with our smart new Gold Licence we can head for a summer on the Thames and adjoining waterways. Roll on!

Watch this space...........

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

The Dun Cow, a Sussex pond and a plethora of piscinas.

At the end of last week, whilst driving to Rugby, we happened to drive through the village of Dunchurch and Jill, with her eagle eye, happened to spot that the Dun Cow had a pie day on Wednesdays; so today we ventured forth on a hunt for a decent pie.

At the crossroads in the village stands the Dun Cow, an old coaching inn with an elegant exterior. Opposite is a rather grand milestone, erected in 1813, mounted on a plinth that appears to belong to an earlier period.
To cut a long story we nipped into the pub and perused the bill of fare. Amongst the pies there was a venison, bacon and port pudding, no question, we both went for it. It was a good choice, I had the red cabbage with it, superb..

Lovely dining room, Jill is busily masticating her pudding so isn't smiling, she was really happy though, honest.
Dessert, they had Sussex Pond pudding on the menu. That's a whole lemon, wrapped in suet pastry and steamed, they served it with ice cream and it was wonderful. Memories of a Sussex childhood, only we had it with custard. The beer was good as well.
The pub is named after the Dun Cow, a monstrous beast that stood four yards tall and six yards long and provided milk for all of Warwickshire until it was upset by a local witch. It then lumbered off to Dunsmore Heath from where it ravaged the local area until it was slain by Sir Guy of Warwick. All true of course, you can check it on Wikipedia.
Having eaten far more than was good for us we set off for a stroll around the village.

Half timbered buildings abound, many of them thatched, including

the only thatched bus stop I've seen. Cute eh?

The church of St. Peter looms over the old alms houses and the statue to Lord John Douglas Montagu Douglas Scott that now stands forlornly on a traffic island.

From outside the church looks splendid but once you get inside it becomes obvious that the hand of the Victorian restorers has rested heavily upon it.

Not a trace of ancient graffiti could we find. There were three piscina though.

Rather extravagant for a parish church.

High up on the tower, next to the bell openings there are the remains of a mass dial, basically a sundial used to show the time of services pre church clocks. What it is doing at the top of the tower I have no idea, I presume it has just been used as a spare stone to repair the wall at some time.

The local thatcher obviously has a sense of humour, the cat faces the peacock along the length of the ridge.
By now we were getting chilled by the rotten north wind so it was back in the motor, and with Jill driving for the first time since her op. we came home.
Lovely village, if a little overrun with traffic and a super pub restaurant, we were glad we made the trip.

Watch this space...............