Monday, 28 September 2015

Rugby, more Sloes and big locks again.

On Tuesday we set off late morning from Harborough. Quite a nice day. It certainly brought out the resident kingfishers, which are rather abundant in this area. Perhaps they are more boat tolerant than many, but one in particular hardly moved as we passed.

Also saw Maffi making his way into town and of course, had to pass him on the narrowest, most overgrown section, but we coped.( rather, I did!)

Foxton was again quiet. We ascended with little delay and moored just past the first bridge. It was our intention to go for a walk, but once again, the weather had other thoughts and over the next few hours we were treated to what could only be described as monsoon like downpours. By early evening, these had cleared, so we had a walk followed by a few pints in Bridge 61. No sign of Sam (Matts) though!

But there was next morning when he came to sort out a problem on a boat moored behind us. Job done, got them sorted and a short chat.

We were slowly making for Crick in order to arrange to collect the car in readiness for the Rugby. We had also arranged a night out with Lizzie. (N.B. Panda). We had spotted a tree loaded with Sloes on the non towpath side, on our way up. Seemed rude not to harvest the bounty, so with a bit of jiggling, we got the boat up to it, a tad shallow though! It did cause a bit of consternation from two boats passing, but all for a good cause. Ten minutes and we had 1.5 kilo's of fruit!

We arrived in Crick and spent a few days car shuffling, shopping and socialising. Had a great night with Lizzie at The Moorings, then Saturday saw us shooting up the M1 to Leeds and Elland rd, to watch Canada v Italy. Great game and Canada nearly got a win, but were pipped at the post by the more experienced side. Then a problem free journey back to the boat, if you discount the many, many miles of roadworks with 50 mph restriction. Don't know why we rushed, England threw the Wales game in the second half, but fair play to Wales, the better side on the day.

It has turned into an Indian summer. Cold nights, a misty start, but glorious days. On Sunday we left and bimbled down to Watford. Again, very quiet boat wise, with only eight boats passing through the locks the previous day. We thought, given the forecast, many more boats would be on the move, but seemingly not. We were soon down Watford and then down the Buckby flight. Wide locks once again and the problem with one of the gates was sorted well before our arrival. They are hard work however and due to the scarcity of other boats, we tackled them all on our lonesome.

It was a glorious afternoon and so we carried on until Stowe hill and moored enjoying the late afternoon sun. The Narrow boat was within sight, so rude not to visit. A lovely meal, but I do wish southerners knew what Gravy is! A dribble of "Jus" is just not the same!

Last night, at 0245 hrs, our alarm went off!

Ali had set it in order that we could witness the super moon/lunar eclipse. A fantastic,clear cold night to view it. A bit difficult to photograph from a boat that rocks, but I think she did rather well.

Then back to bed!

A late start today. We are moored next to a water point, so washer on for a clothing cleaning fest.

So we continue south on the G.U. for a day or so, before returning to Crick to collect the car once again. Next match a bit closer, in Leicester.

Miles 34
Locks 24 ( 7 broad )
Tunnels 2694 yds
Moveable bridges 2

Monday, 21 September 2015

There, back again and beyond!

Well, I have been somewhat remiss with the blog of late! So time for a bit of a catch up...

I believe we last updated on the South Oxford, near Tackley. A beautiful section. Our next stop was Thrupp, indeed, this was as far south as we intended to go by boat this year. Another pleasant hop, navigating the river Cherwell section and through the odd shaped lock back onto the canal, saw us at Thrupp. After topping up at the really clean and pleasant services ( how often can you say that!), we found a mooring right outside The Boat P.H., oft featured in the Morse series.

Settling in, we became aware of a high revving engine and looked out to see a shortish hire boat helmed by an elderly American lady.  They spotted the space behind us then somehow managed to ram the concrete bank, bounce off, then repeat the process. By this time Ali was out and assisted them in. Seems they had booked a cruise on the Oxford, expecting waiter service and staff to cater for their every whim. Having to do it all themselves was something of an eye opener!

A short time later, a familiar looking boat hove into view, the distinct N.B. Merryweather. They were looking to moor up, so we said that we would be in the Boat later.

So after dining in the Boat, we met up with Jo & Greg from Merryweather, had a few drinks in the pub, then retired to our boat for a few more! Not an early night...  Lovely to meet them.

The next day we caught the bus into Oxford and did some sightseeing including a visit to the botanical gardens. Fantastic place. Returning to Thrupp, it would just be damned rude not to visit the Boat again, so we did! We had reasoned that as next year we are heading for the Thames, taking the boat into Oxford would gain nothing and we rather like Thrupp anyway.

So then we began to retrace our steps. Reversed back under the lift bridge, visited the services and away. We have a sort of agenda as next Saturday we are off to a Rugby world cup game in Leeds. In order to do this we need to collect the car from Northampton. The original idea was to visit Warwick before heading for Crick, but we thought this may be pushing it somewhat. Change of plan, head for Market Harborough.  So we bimbled back up the Oxford, ensuring we had TV for the opening England game. A pleasant few days cruising saw us at Flecknoe. The forecast for the next day was dire, so after collecting blackberries, we sat the next day out, only for it not to rain until the evening!

Then onto Braunston, we didn't think we were going to have a problem obtaining a mooring as there was a constant stream of bots heading out, including NB Willow Too. We needed a few essentials, so the shop and butchers were visited. As we were about to set off, a wide beam bimbled past and then went to the water/Elsan point. We went past them and on to use the water by the stop house. Walking back with the Elsan revealed the point was blocked, so that's both in Braunston out of service. I duly reported this to the office, but no concern shown!  We did get a notification that evening.

Merryweather passing us in Braunston

Then it was up the locks. A bit of a shuffle here, but we ascended in good time and had no traumas through the tunnel. Likewise at Watford locks, no real wait and rewarded by topping up with fuel from fuel boat Callisto as he descended the locks. We moored in a pleasant spot half a mile or so above the locks. Hard to believe that you are so near the frenzy that is the M1, with  a meadow grazed by sheep being our outlook.

What was to be a quick stop at Crick to visit the co-op, lasted a tad longer after stopping to chat with Lizzie on N.b. Panda. So we moored for the night between Yelvertoft and the A14 in a spot were the Sloes were plentiful and collected a couple of kilos.

Yesterday we thoroughly enjoyed bumbling along the rest of the top pound in really pleasant weather. We did however forget that it was Sunday! Arriving at the top of Foxton saw us third to go down, with the first just starting. So our timing in this respect was good. But the Gongoozlers were rampant! Luckily for me, I was somewhat insulated from them on the boat, but Ali took it all in her stride with aplomb.

As we descended, who should we see walking up the flight but Dave & Angie off N.B. Lady Esther. Only chance for a quick hello unfortunately.  

Our passage down was smooth and once down and through the swing bridge we moored up. Checked TV, all ok so Ali could watch Downtown later, then off to the pub for a Sunday roast and a pint or two.



Today the weather forecast was again dire, but we needed shopping and so we set off for Harborough. Not too bad initially, but then the heavens opened. So mooring up in the basin saw me especially, a little damp!

So tomorrow, we once again retrace our steps towards Crick. The autumn is now really with us, the leaves turning and falling. Thoughts turn to going home for the winter, but not quite yet...

86 miles.
60 locks ( 6 broad )
4 moveable bridges
4736 yards of tunnel

Monday, 7 September 2015

Don't ya love it when a plan comes together!

Well I certainly do. Having mild OCD(!) when a loose plan works out, I am one happy bunny.

Banbury turned out to be an olfactory challenge! First it was baking bread, then coffee aromas that wafted across. The breeze introduced us to both of these industry's located near our mooring. I can think of other locations were the smell was a tad more pungent. Noticed the baking bread smell before, but the coffee was a new one.

It is a pleasant town, compact, but with all the major shops present. A bit of a trek from our mooring to Tesco, but easily done with the super doopa shopping trolley we have. Does not do much for my street cred though!  We had arranged to meet Jane & Paul for a meal that evening, a sort of pre birthday bash for Jane. Not knowing the town that well, Ali did a search and the Coach and Horses had good reviews, as well as being a Hook Norton pub...

The restaurant was fully booked, but they reserved us a table in the bar. So we arrived not knowing just what to expect. Well our expectations were exceeded. We had a great meal and service second to none. The staff were always on hand, but not pushy and this enhanced the experience. Good choice Ali.

As we were anticipating only a short hop on Saturday, we dropped into good old M&S for a few goodies before setting off. Luckily, the water point just before the lock and after the lift bridge was free, so topped up here and walked the rubbish down to the services below the lock.  There was a steady flow of boats both ways so the lift bridge was up and down quite frequently, which did not amuse some of the more elderly locals, who seem to resent this intrusion. Gawd help them when they have the canal day here early next month!

We then bimbled on out of town and under many a lift bridge, thankfully all left open for us. A few rather genteel locks and a crossing of the Cherwell saw us reaching our destination, Anyho Wharf. Two very good reasons to stop here. We needed fuel and the Great Western Arms is a cracking pub.

As we approached the Wharf, a boat pulled off from the moorings opposite, just to good an opportunity to miss, so we dodged in. Refuelling could wait, a prime mooring would not be vacant for long! Settled in and relaxed watching the world go by.

On Sunday after a walk it was into the pub for lunch. We both opted for a roast, Ali pork, me beef. We really did wish that we had given the starters a miss. The food was brilliant as usual, but we were so full that I had to force down my last pint of Hooky!! Somehow, I think we may well revisit on our return trip. The rest of the day took on a somewhat somnambulistic aura.

a buzzard (bottom left) being mobbed by jackdaws

Somerton Deep from deep

This morning, we really did need fuel. Then the gas bottle expired, so one of them as well! A quick shove and we were on the Wharf. Filled with diesel, water and a new gas bottle, emptied the bog and binned the rubbish. Result! For a boater,this is a blissful situation. Since we last topped up with fuel at Normanton upon Soar, we have covered 110 miles and had the heating on many a morning plus some evenings, so 107 litres of fuel is not bad.

We had a somewhat steady cruise today, in bright sunshine and for once, warm. Approaching Sommerton deep lock, we got behind a boat that seemed to be taking the slow life to a new level. I had to knock into neutral in order not to get right behind them. At the lock, we realised they were first time hirers, so they were somewhat hesitant. Ali explained the lock workings and assisted them down, then we had another coming up the lock, so it really did seem to take an age to negotiate. But hey, the sun shone, with no wind for once, so all was good.

The bridges along the Oxford canal are lovely

Our first red kites of the year

We have moored in rural isolation near the village of Tackley. The river Cherwell runs beside the canal here, a beautiful spot and without much background noise. Tomorrow we head for Thrupp, our final destination on this canal. We are hoping to pop into Oxford by public transport as the moorings there are not that good and we are not paying a river licence just for a decent mooring. After that, we start heading back on what will be our valedictory cruise for this year.

So a good few days. The boat and us are well sated. Suppose it's time to start planning a diet!

16 miles
10 locks
1 lift bridge.