Monday 28 September 2015

Moving on, at last.

So the dental work is all finished and I now have a smile like a filmstar: Richard Kiel.
We set out from Wigram's last Thursday and it has been travel alternating with watching the rugby since then. Don't mention Wales within my hearing.

Saturday we left the top of Hillmorton Locks watched by what was, I am sure, an appreciative aerial audience.

I was the elected lock worker that day. We made it to just short of Sutton's Stop and moored for the rest of the day. Rugby, the game not the town, is rather in charge at the moment although we did make a brief stop at the town to top up the fridge at Tescos.

Jill did well with this photo' yesterday, it shows how tight the 180 degree turn under the bridge really is. For those unfamiliar with the layout at Hawkesbury Junction that is the Oxford Canal coming from the right and the Coventry heading of on the left. We were heading off up the Coventry towards the Ashby Canal.

And at Marston Junction we turned off under the bridge and through the remains of the old stop lock and onto the Ashby. One day I will get through there without scraping the side.

Watch this space...

Saturday 12 September 2015

Prolonged absence.

Sorry about the long absence. We are back in Wigrams and still awaiting my dental work to be finished. Unfortunately the mobile reception here is useless and I am unable to download pictures, the system just freezes when I try. Bear with me, I should be back up and running after the 24th. Mind you I don't suppose anyone has noticed our absence. :-)

Tuesday 11 August 2015

Just an update, we've been busy for the last week

We are now recovering from a week with our two eldest grandsons,


and Jonah.
They have both been issued with windlasses and are becoming competent lock workers.

Just before they joined us it was the night of the celebrated "Blue Moon", and always willing to play with my new camera I zoomed in. Not a trace of blue. What a swizz.

We headed south on the Oxford,stopping overnight by bridge 102 and next day we set off, passing Napton with its prominent windmill

With two willing helpers we had soon reached the top of a rather busy Napton flight and as usual, on that awkward angled exit from the top lock, it was blowing half a gale. A flukey gap between gusts enabled us to get out, escaping the ignominy of being pinned against the far bank, a fate I have seen befall many a boater.
It was only whilst coming up the flight that we realised we had made a miscalculation. Next weekend is Fairport Convention at Cropredy and the number of boats was building.

After a couple of days on the summit we joined the queue at Claydon locks.

After a night spent just above Varney's Lock we ran the gauntlet of Cropredy. What with threading our way through moored boats and keeping the boys amused this quick shot of the church was the only picture we got of Cropredy.
We made it down to Banbury and moored in the park where we awoke next morning with a severe tilt on, for some reason the Banbury pound is dropping quite significantly overnight. A quick move down to the town moorings was undertaken where we enjoyed a couple of days amongst the frenzied shoppers in Castle Quay.

The fine lady on the white horse still seems to be having worries about the effectiveness of her underarm deodorant.   .

NEWS FLASH; Seen at Banbury on Saturday. John Sergeant is obviously making another series of Barging Around Britain.

As well as lock working the two boys are becoming quite handy at the traditional naval game of Uckers. A game of skill, planning and deviousness plus various traditional insults.
Well the boys went home on Sunday, Monday was spent housekeeping and victualling and today we have moved back to the bottom of Claydon. Next weekend we pick up the other grandsprogs for two weeks.

Watch this space...

Friday 31 July 2015

A bit about Barby.

On Wednesday, the weather being slightly more clement, we accoutred ourselves in our walking shoes and set off for Barby.

At bridge 81 we left the towpath and struck off on the footpath up the hill.

If one can describe it as such.

It was well supplied with thistles of admirable proportions that leaned, triffid like, over the path.

But if they seemed a nuisance to us they were a welcome resource to an array of insects. Lots of butterflies as well but the little devils wouldn't hang around long enough to have their images preserved for posterity.

It's a fair old hike up the hill but the views out over Warwickshire are well worth the effort.

Despite the views we were glad to see the crossroads that marked the top of the hill.

There's not a lot to see in Barby, although the church is of noble proportions. Disappointingly the hands of the Victorian "restorers" lay heavily on the interior.

Imposing but somehow lacking in character.

Although one of the stalwarts of the congregation was kind enough to lift a trapdoor in the floor to disclose what is believed to be a Saxon grave marker. Local legend has it that a Saxon princess is interred beneath.
Must mention that there is a shop in the village, not exactly handy for the canal but we did purchase an ice-cream apiece.
The return journey to the canal is down a back lane and then a track to bridge 79.
Yesterday we moved up  to the top of Hillmorton and today we will do the short hop to Rugby. Then it is preparation  for the arrival of the grandsprogs.

Watch this space...

Tuesday 28 July 2015

Unusual sight at Braunston.

Weatherwise Sunday was a rerun of Friday but Monday dawned grey and windy, at least it wasn't chucking it down.
Next Sunday we have two of the grandsprogs arriving for the week so we are now heading for Rugby. Good place to top up the victualling stores and Brownsover Park is convenient for picking up prospective crew members.
We had programmed a stop at Braunston for water into our itinerary but on approaching the turn it was obvious that the waterpoint was in use so we took a quick right and headed for the other point by the old junction house. To our amazement we were greeted by a sight we had not seen before;

the forty-eight hour moorings were devoid of moored boats, in fact between the turn and Butcher's Bridge there were only three boats moored towpath side.
Having watered and ditched the gash we winded and headed north,

back past the Horseley Ironworks bridges over Braunston Turn.

Even the fourteen day moorings were sparsely populated. I'll lay money that next time we decide to stop here it will be wall to wall boats.

I think we'll spend a few days here, girding our loins for next week.

Watch this space...

Sunday 26 July 2015

A stroll in Warwickshire.

Having sat out Friday's rain between bridges 103 and 102, in the lee of Bush Hill, by Flecknoe,

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear with just a breeze to contend with. So, having broken our fast with an Arbroath smokie, we set of for a walk in almost summer warmth.

The blue sky had just a scattering of small clouds and in the shelter of the hedgerow we came across this gorgeous chap, or chapess.

We have seen very few damsel or dragon flies this summer, presumably due to the lack of heat.

Whilst on the natural history trail, anyone any idea what these rather large fungi might be? I am unable to find anything like them in our field guide to fungi. Could the cracked upper surface be due to the sudden large dousing they got on Friday?
We walked down the towpath to Lower Shuckburgh and then took the lane up to the site of the old Flecknoe Station. This was on the same line as Braunston. Opened in 1895 by the London and North Western Railway, it survived until 1952 as a passenger station and until 1956 for goods. No trace remains of the station but the course of the line is still clearly visible.

Viewed from either side of the bridge that still carries the lane across the old line.

One of the coping stones of the bridge, Joseph Hamblet's brickworks specialised in blue engineering bricks and was active from 1851 until 1915.

In the far distance Braunston Church and the old windmill were just visible.
Like many country stations Flecknoe's was about a mile and a half from the village but we set off in that direction and having crossed the canal and climbed the hill we found

the Old Olive Bush where we enjoyed a light lunch, just a cheese and onion roll. Jill contented herself with orange juice and I was delighted to find they had Poachers Pocket from the Church End brewery.

Watch this space...

Friday 24 July 2015

A little known canal. I don't think W.R.G. have much hope here.

Can there be anything more tedious than being stuck in a marina? Especially when the reason for being there is a need of dental treatment. Then finding out that the dentist's booking system has cocked up and the whole lot has had to be put off really puts the tin hat on it. Back there in October, oh gloom.
But we did take the opportunity to nip off down to Plymouth for a weekend.
Now Plymouth is noted for many things nautical but in general canals are not part of the tourist route in that fine city. But interestingly "Nettleton's Guide to Plymouth, Stonehouse, Devonport and to the neighbouring country", published 1836, has a description of a canal in the dockyard, it is described as being, "Nearly sixty feet wide, and 820 feet long, at the end of which are the boat house pond, (about 80 feet wide, and 360 feet long), slips and sheds." It was crossed by a wooden swing bridge. If it is the one I am thinking of it runs between the frigate complex and Ferry Rd. Not much of a canal but there is one of rather more interest, in Plymbridge Woods runs the Cann Quarry Canal.
A family walk on the Saturday took us to Plymbridge and much of our stroll took us along the side of it.

It opened in 1829, is about two miles long, and was built to carry slate from Cann Quarry down to Marsh Mills. It was a tub boat canal taking its water from a weir on the River Plym just above the quarry. The weir is still there but unfortunately we didn't have time to walk the full length. The loaded boats were floated down on the current and presumably hauled empty back by horses.

It still holds water in some stretches. It was only in use for about ten years and then a branch from the Plymouth and Dartmoor horse tramway which ran down from Princetown, was built from near Marsh Mills to the quarry. The canal then was used as a mill leat for the mills at Marsh Mills. In the quarry itself the water was used to drive stone saws and other quarry machinery and later to generate electricity. The remains of the wheel can still be seen in the old buildings.

At Plymbridge it tunnels under the old turnpike road that ran from Plymouth to Plympton, long before the A38.

One of the old water control sluices, it made a fine spot in which a small boy could get grubby.

The various fallen tree make a fine, if challenging, climbing frame.

Watch this space...