Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Schhhhh. Where have all the boats gone?

When we untied on Friday and pulled away from the moorings near Wormleighton, nothing indicated then a lack of boat movement. We had moored along with several others at this popular spot. (One of whom ran his engine 2045-2130!) But setting off, initially we did pass a few boats, then virtually none!

Through Fenny Compton tunnel

Our destination was the ever popular Banbury. This really is a lovely canal and I would guess second only to the Llangollen in popularity. Meandering south and passing Fenny Compton it became noticeable how few boats were on the move. The only boat we actually met moving on the Claydon flight, was at the very first lock. So we dropped down to Cropredy without another boat in sight.

Cropredy empty!

Reaching Cropredy itself, the popular visitor moorings above the lock contained...not a single boat!!! By this time we thought that there must be a stoppage. And reaching Banbury itself, empty.
We moored up in our favoured spot, just before Tom Rolt bridge and next to the park. The forecast was not good for Saturday, so we sat tight and did some shopping .

On Sunday, we met Jane & Paul and went to the excellent Coach and Horses for a late afternoon meal. As usual, it was superb and the service was second to none. Well worth a visit. Thank you both for coming and bringing our mail.

After a final M&S shop, we moved on in fine but at times chilly weather. I really don't know how this happened, but we ended up at Aynho, mooring right outside the Great Western Arms. Another Hook Norton pub. It would be a shame to give it a miss, so after a nanosecond debate, that's where we went! Another excellent meal.

A queue at the lock (well nearly one was turning, so only one!)

We have cruised today through beautiful Oxfordshire countryside at a slow pace, with a few more boats around.  We have moored up for the day in rural isolation, with the River Cherwell beside us. It is a spot we have used and enjoyed before, marking it in the Nicholson's as you do.

A few more boats moving today, but still nowhere near the expected traffic. All the better for us! The mayflower is in full bloom now, joined by the Mayflies, rising in the sun, from the Cherwell.  Perfick.

Never seen so many Mayflies

 Close up

Our neighbours this evening
 (and not a Hook Norton pub in sight!)

Miles 30
Locks 22

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Any Dendrologists reading? - Answer

Thanks to everyone who contacted us

The tree is a Prunus padus, known as bird cherry, hackberry, hagberry or Mayday tree, a species of cherry native to northern Europe.  Its a decidupus small tree or large shrub 8 - 16 m tall.

Image result for bird cherry tree

Thanks again

Nearly at Napton.

Since last posting proper, we have made the journey from Sutton stop, to Braunston and then as far as just before Wigrams turn.

The weather has been, mostly kind to us, although there was a distinct cold bite to the wind over the weekend, so no short's...

When we eventually left on Saturday morning, the original plan was to make the turn onto the North Oxford, stop at Rugby for a shop stop, then find a mooring on the outskirts. Having made good time and with the weather far nicer than forecast, we decided to cruise on towards Hillmorton locks.

Now, we always pass moored boats on tickover, dropping down to this speed a good few boat lengths prior to passing. Near the bottom of the locks were a collection of boats, the owners of whom were sitting on the bank, more than a little worse for wear. The alcohol was flowing shall we say, at 1645hrs. One of the gentleman decided to berate us for our speed! A conversation was pointless with the inebriate, but we decided to ascend the three locks to get some space. Actually, this worked in our favour. Only one lock of each pair was operating and due to the time, it was quiet and we flew up. The early evening was beautiful and so we carried on.

By 1900hrs. We had passed Barby straight and found a lovely rural mooring a few miles out of Braunston. So thank you to the inebriant.

On Sunday we made the short hop into Braunston. Watered up at the services near to Midland chandlers, but the Elsan point was still out of order as it was last autumn. No matter, we have spare cassettes. We moored just past the junction and had a great view of the shenanigans as people negotiated the turn.

That evening, we were collected by Jane and Paul and went to a superb pub for a meal. Nothing available for food in Braunston of a Sunday evening other than at The Boat, which did not appeal after past experience!

Monday we stayed put, doing a few jobs and a little shopping. We managed a quick clean of the roof and the starboard side of the boat and a mega wash using the rather expensive laundry at the marina. Still, all washed and dried.

On Tuesday, we watered up, winded the boat at the marina entrance and as it was quiet, pulled just past the water point and managed to give the port side a quick wash down. Then off into the beautiful countryside.

We really could do with a fuel top up. Not desperately so, but sooner rather than later. Braunston Marina only do a 60/40 split so we gave that a miss. Ali messaged Mark on Callisto. He was heading our way, but if we went as far as Napton, we would be off his intended route. So we moored up just shy of Wigrams turn. Wednesday's forecast was dire, so we were more than happy to sit tight and await his arrival. Once fuelled up, we will move the short distance to Napton and visit The Folly. That be the plan anyway!

Don't  ya love it when a plan comes together. Mark on Callisto arrived mid afternoon, albeit in a downpour.  Soon fuelled up and when the rain abated, we were off! Only a short hop to the moorings below the Napton flight. Tied up, pram hood erected, all before the next downpour.

That evening we met with Lizzie and Gary at the Folly and had a meal and a very enjoyable evening. Thank you for coming to see us folks. We must do this again in the not too distant future.

This morning we had a leisurely start. A walk into the village and a visit to the rather excellent shop/cafe/post office saw us replenishing the fridge and purchasing a bite for lunch. Well worth the ten minute walk and we even managed to resist the temptation of the rather nice cakes. Back to the boat, watered and emptied and up the flight.

It was fairly quiet. No queues and a steady flow of boats down making an easy passage, aided by volockys on the first few locks. All went swimmingly . The sun even made an appearance. As we were leaving the penultimate lock, with nobody following us and the next just around the corner , we felt the release of water, so left the gate open for the boat descending, which exited the lock as we approached. Ali walked up and met a chap with a windlass who appeared not happy with our arrival.

I entered the lock, the gates closed and then said chap went to the paddle and without a bye your leave, wanged the paddle up fully, making the boat surge in the lock. Ali made a point of leaving the other paddle down until the water had settled, then opened it halfway. As we rose in the lock, I became aware of a boat mid channel. This lock necessitates an almost 90 degree turn on exiting and the position taken made this impossible.

I made comment on this and said chap shall we say, got a monk on, complaining about Norwegians on a hire boat being on the water point !!! By this time, his boat was grounded on the far bank, making my exit a tad tricky. Why he did not direct his wife to position the boat on the lock landing, gawd knows. But then it was somehow my fault! Ashamed to say, Mr Angry came out and I informed him of his mistakes!  Truth told, they had lined themselves up for the lock, only to find us appearing and entering the open gates as it was in our favour.

the hedgerows are coming alive,
 the hawthorn both looks and smells amazing

cowslips all along the towpath

and the Iris starting to flower

and these were all waiting to be sheared, they were very loud 

but I bet they felt better after

and the lambs had found a new toy

Anyway. We bimbled on through beautiful countryside until mid afternoon. One of our favourite moorings overlooks our route and has Napton on the horizon. A free space, so we popped in.

Miles 38
Locks 13