Monday, 12 March 2018

Space for ballgowns required!

Winterising and seeing how things have faired over winter.  We were last on the boat on 10 December, Martin had been busy lagging many of the water pipes to help protect as far as possible against any hard frosts.

The last engagement of this year was to the local Christmas dance, avid dancers (ballroom, latin and sequence) with varying degrees of execution we've had fun going along to a very welcoming bunch at one of the local village halls. So when you have a boat built you normally don't allow for ballgowns to go in your wardrobe, hmm not me!

On the Sunday morning we woke early (5 ish) I looked outside to see what the conditions were - no sign of the forecast snow yet, at 7 am it was a different story, it was leave now or get stuck for a few days, not really an option that was open to us.

After clearing the car a few times in the space of half an hour the car was loaded and we were making our way out of the marina home, 4 - 5 inches of snow by now made the trip the longest so far.  One lane of just passable motorway does not make for quick travelling, but sticking to following lorries proved to be the best policy, although Martin's stop at Hopwood Park Services could have been a different story (I'm packing proper grippy outdoor shoes for him next time, as I ended up being the one to push the car out of the car park and onto the service road)

This weekend saw us back at the boat, fingers crossed everything would be ok and certainly dry when the water was turned back on, it was, should we have doubted it? anyway all the preparation to winterise was well worth it, this year we may well do it a bit earlier, weather and forecast dependant I think.

So exactly 3 months from when we were here last, I went for a 6 mile walk while Martin pottered, we had a good bit of snoozing and on Saturday night we were again at a dance, greeted like long lost friends, the weekend has started our boating season, and oh have we missed it, it's good to be boating again.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Through Banbury to Claydon top lock

We woke to a misty drizzly day, so for the first time this holiday we donned wet weather gear, having moored quite close to Banbury we were soon approaching the outskirts, and the permanent moorings before we got into the centre and Banbury Lock.

The moorings here are plenty but as we crept passed the rather full lines we could here talk of very loud music and people not having much sleep, we had a little smile as we'd had a perfect night, out in the countryside. 

At Cropredy there were no cues like we'd seen on our way down so we made short work of it

At Broadmoor Lock the heavens opened, but snug and dry in our wet weather gear this did not deter us.  I picked up some cooking apples again by the lock side to go with some more blackberries we'd gathered, apple and blackberry crumbles seem to have been a staple pudding this holiday.

The first Claydon lock we worked through on our own but at all of the other locks there were 4-5 boats waiting to come down, this should have meant our progress was swift but it wasn't.  Boat crews were just too eager to turn locks in front of us and for them to join the large cues above each lock, so selfish, in fact one hire boat crew of all men couldn't even acknowledge us.

At the top lock we were again on our own, so worked through the lock, and moored just beyond the bridge, and chilled for the evening.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Retracing our steps

We're heading back towards home now, knowing the river section of the Cherwell is just the other side of Thrupp we decided to make another early start, to see it at its most appealing, still and mirror like, we weren't disappointed, here we are before 8, and the promise of a good weather ahead.
We'd thought about mooring up for the day at Pigeon lock again, but as you can see the from the photo above the day was too good to stay still, perfect cruising weather, so instead we put in a longer day.

When we reached Somerton deep lock, we had time to take in the prettiest setting I've seen so far on the canals.
We had a lunch stop a little way passed Somerton Deep lock, and continued on our way. Along passed Aynho and it long line of boats, and through the odd shaped Aynho weir lock.

After working through Kings Sutton lock we decided to call it a day and enjoy the evening, so sat out on the back deck in the sunshine before having our evening meal.

Monday, 16 October 2017

A day in Thrupp

We spent the whole day here, pottering, going for walks (mainly to the pubs - as you do) me knitting, Martin catching up on afternoon nap times.

I also got rather excited when I spotted a flash of blue, so most of the afternoon was spent trying to capture the little so and so, this was done in varying degrees of blurriness! sadly with one with him fishing and knocking the fish out on the side of a boat was not that good.

So some of the failures below.
But the best and last one
maybe next time I'll have learnt a bit more about my camera!

Friday, 13 October 2017

Into Thrupp - before anyone else is on the move

We left our mooring at pigeon lock very early before 7, and enjoyed a mist filled cruise with the sun working hard to clear the skies and the mist rolling off lock I found the lock in our favour, we were soon down the lock and onto the river section where the Cherwell joins, lovely deep water.

At Shipton Weir lock I found the lock again in our favour but the lock gate was so heavy I found it really hard to get going, it did eventually and again we were soon out the other side.  We were now approaching Thrupp, long lines of moored boats greeted us.

As we approached Aubrey's lift bridge we could see the services were vacant so we tied up to fill with water and dump the rubbish, taking the opportunity to ave breakfast while the water was still filling.  This was all done and dusted by 8.30

We were soon on our way working through the lift bridge, well thought out here for single handers with controls on both sides.  We spotted several moring spots on the way past the Boat and the Jolly Boatman, time to decide what to do, as we would be turning below Dukes lock to start are return journey we hoped the mooring back in Thrupp would still be free when we got back.

Having gone through the long line of moored craft leading up to Dukes lock. I set the lock and waited worked the boat down and stayed at the lock waiting for Martin to wind and come back in, nearing completion of the turn a boat appeared from the Oxford direction , Martin explained he was winding and going back up the lock, having worked back up the lock I could get back on board and enjoy the cruise back to Thrupp.  We got to a moorning just outside the Jolly Boatman at lunchtime, having tied up for the day we decided a pub lunch was on the cards, as well as a well earned drink, the sun was again getting very hot so this was most welcome.

Relaxing back at the boat, sitting in the cratch with my knitting it was lovely to sit and watch the world go by.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Time to get the blog up to date - A short day to Kirtlington

We had a really lazy day, we didn't move till gone 10. a short cruise today as we had made up so much time, it is a holiday after all.

A total of four locks to do today, and due mainly to our late start queues were formed at each lock, the boat behind us seemed to think he'd be able to hurry everyone along, it didn't work. It was good chatting to other boaters and helping them through locks before it was our turn.

At pigeons lock our last for the day another boat had got in front of us, with four crew on board I held back and stayed with our boat thinking they would be able to help the crew of two going down in front of the, it was not to be they just stood there. 

I walked on to see what the mooring situation was like below the lock, and was very pleased to see it was empty.  On my way back to Sonia Louise I helped at the lock by closing the top gate for the boat that had been in front of us till this point, we made comment about the lack of willing helpers from the boat behind, and wished each other a good onward journey.

We spent some time Blackberrying once we'd tied up below the lock, and soon put the boat hook to good use.
I want the blackberries at the top please!
After lunch we walked back to the bridge over the tail of pigeon lock and turned right and followed the track along past the quarry and Janes enchanted tea garden and into Kirtlington, a very well kept village, it has a village store, a pub (the Oxford Arms) and the Dashwood a hotel that is popular for food alfresco eating.  We had a drink in the pub and then on our return at the Dashwood. both would warrant a further visit if I didn't fancy cooking.
On our walk back down the track we sought shelter from a big chestnut tree, the outer edge of a thunder storm was passing, and dumped a sudden heavy shower, but the tree provided us with the shelter required to keep us bone dry.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Flapjack currency alive and well

We left our mooring at Cropredy by 8.00 a little cloudier than of late, and headed down through the lock in the village, out passed the long line of moored boats and into the sticks for a while.

At Banbury we stopped for a late breakfast, and decided to shop for fresh fruit and veg at Tesco, via Spiceball Park and the keep fit machines, what a laugh they were.  The noise of the traffic brought us abruptly into modern day life.  This Tesco is massive, I soon wizzed along the isles with my list filling the trolly with essentials whilst Martin visited the clothing and homewares upstairs, we swapped places after that and returned to the boat within an hour. After a coffee we decided to move on again, through Banbury.

We cruised on through the countryside and the many lift bridges, thankfully most are left open nowadays.

We soon arrived at Somerton Deep lock, it looked busy with people on our approach and a thought crossed my mind that something may be wrong.  We pulled onto the lock mooring and I went to investigate. The crew from the boat in the lock had had difficulty winding the bottom paddles up, and there were several children with their mums watching too, checking that everything was ok I got chatting with the children and their mums, it turns out they were out for the afternoon and had just had a ride on the boat going down in the lock, they were learning a little about the canal and the lock in the process.

When it was our turn to come into the lock I'd enlisted some very willing volunteers to help with gates and paddles, 5 really interested and bright children, who worked really hard on their day out, had asked some interesting questions and were now walking along the towpath at our pace, still chatting away to us, at this moment I spotted the mini flapjacks in the galley sat there looking out the window, we were close to another bridge so arranged a flapjack giving.  Many a 'thank you' was heard, and they were soon divided and devoured. That made our day, and actually it made my holiday, they were great.

By now the warm weather was turning cloudier and rain could be seen in the distance, we were making for one of the Helford's and had decided to moor at the first decent bit of Armco.

Just before Allens lane bridge and the bends to the next lock we found a good stretch of straight Armco and moored, overlooking fields and a farmer working away collecting bales.  We put the canopy up too as it had started to spot with rain, with more forecast overnight. 

We also decided to have a meal out tonight, so ventured along the towpath over the bridge and up the hill, quite a steep hill where we reached the Barley Mow, Upper Heyford a friendly welcome and a good meal was had, local banter and we stayed put for drinks after.