Sunday, 31 July 2011

Onto the Grand Union

We had a lazy day yesterday staying at Napton.  We met up with Helen & Alan again.  Helen and Alan remind us of ourselves two years prior to the build, so many ideas and so much to do.  Enjoy the journey and hire a boat!!  

Neil from Beacon Boats came to add an extra vent under the dinette to hopefully solve the freezer problem.  We all went for lunch at the Boat Inn and enjoyed the sunshine.  After everyone had left we went for a walk along the canal and into Napton.  We passed a field with an emu in, as well as ostriches and alpacas and sheep.

This morning we pulled pins and headed up to Napton Junction where we turned onto the Grand Union Canal, we filled with water at Calcutt Locks and then descended the three locks on our own, as we exited the last lock we saw a boat entering the first one, so when we reached Stockton Locks we waited so we could share.  A boat did arrive but it wasn't the one we expected, but a lovely family on a Canalbreaks boat from Hillmorton Locks.  We descended quickly as there was a few of them and we were able to go in front and prepare the next lock as well.  We did meet a few boats coming up.

We stopped at Long Itchington to visit the Co-op and we had a Sunday roast at the Two Boats Inn, this is the first roast we have had since setting off in June.  We then continued our journey passing through Bascote Locks, including the staircase, with not a boat in sight.  We have moored above Fosse Wharf tonight ready for a charge through Leamington Spa in the morning and into Warwick.

Napton Reservoir

Stockton Locks, Grand Union Canal

Bascote Locks

8 miles 19 locks

Friday, 29 July 2011

Sunshine, what bloody sunshine!!

After yesterdays balmy weather, we were somewhat unprepared for the chilled winds and cloudy skies of today.  It was bloody cold!  We set off from Fenny Compton and meandered through the chilly countryside until we reached Napton Lock flight.  It has become a theme to say it is quiet on the canals.  We fully expected to meet streams of boats coming up the flight, but met very few.  Fortunately decending the locks is a lot easier than ascending them, we made good progress and arrived at Bridge 111 shortly after lunch.   Mooring was not an immediate problem, but we did a shuffle in order to accommodate later arrivals.

We were preparing to shower when Helen & Alan (Beacon Boats build 18) arrived, we had tried to contact them earlier, to say where we were but they had no phone signal and therefore had not received our message so they had come to look for us.  It was lovely to meet them, we felt very guilty at rushing them as we had booked at table for a meal at the Bridge, sorry guys as we said if you want to come back tomorrow we will be here until Sunday morning.

Had a lovely meal in the Bridge recommend it as a stop.  Been chatting to various boaters on the way back from the bridge.  We will set off again on Sunday and head for Stratford-upon-Avon, can't wait, loads and loads of locks - great - John has a bad knee (so I usually do the locks) but I have pulled the tendons in my wrist, however its still less painful for me to continue locking than steer the boat!  Anyone free for the Hatton flight??
We have passed this boat before it has Everards Brewery on it

Napton Lock Flight

10.5 miles 9 locks

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Sunshine, sunshine

Decided to have an early start from Banbury this morning, lovely morning, very sad to leave the sounds of the factory which we were moored alongside, but hey ho!  Trying to beat the Cropredy bottleneck we arrived mid-morning and surprising moored at the services with no queue.  Cropredy is already filling up for the festival, the moorings are very scarce.  For once the increase in traffic was to our advantage, the majority of the nine locks we negotiated today were either in our favour, or a boat was coming down as we arrived.  This made for an easy transit, the weather was extremely hot and by early afternoon we were approaching Fenny Compton, previous experience did not lead us to expect any free moorings, however we rounded the bend, saw one and immediately slotted in.  Shortly before mooring we saw the air ambulance circling the area, it transpired that a lady on a neighbouring boat had been taken ill.  As the helicopter landed adjacent to the nearby marina, Ali went back down the cut to show them where they needed to be, as the location of the casualty did not appear clear to them .  Hopefully the lady will be ok.  The narrowboat was moved closer to the marina so the ambulance could be easily accessed.

Plans are for a slow mosey towards Napton tomorrow.

River Cherwell Flood Defences & Marina Development

Small Bridge - Big Lorry! 
(and we went under it)

Our Mooring tonight

10 miles 9 locks today

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Someone stole the water!

We had a later start this morning, we said our goodbyes to Pip & Rog and they set off for Oxford.  We didn't set off until later as we were not planning on going very far today, however we didn't get as far as planned.  There were a few more boats around but we didn't have to wait long at any of the locks, when we went through Grants Lock we noticed immediately that the water level was down quiet a lot, as we got further along we were having to stick in the channel any slight variance and we were grounded as we approached Foxes Lift Bridge we couldn't really work out what was going on, there were two boats around the lift bridge neither were going anywhere, they were both stuck, we think one had tried to help the other and both had grounded, we had to wait a while eventually with lots of pole work and ropes they managed to get moving, we got through but were touching the bottom as we went, we were fortunate that we didn't meet any boats coming down until nearly in Banbury.  The long term moorers on the approach into Banbury were all adjusting their ropes!  A Morrisons shop was out of the question as we wouldn't have got into the side to moor, so we crossed everything and managed to get in on the services, but when we used them the other day the boat was level with the pavement today we were stepping well down onto the boat.  By the time we got moored we decided the best plan was to do a bit of shopping (had to be M&S, although we did find a Tescos later) and stay in Banbury tonight.  We think we are next to a bakery, (an industrial bakery!)

Why do you never have a camera to hand when you need one?  This morning John was stood on the stern and a Kingfisher landed on the cratch cover, they watched each other for a few minutes, John tried to reach to get the camera, the Kingfisher (obviously camera shy) decided that was enough and flew off!

Pip, Rog & John


Windsong (Beacon Boat No 9)

Heading off

Catch Up

Apologies for not blogging for a while, dongle problems and no signal have been the reason but we have been having a great time.  We had a couple of days at Cropredy, we ate at both the Red Lion and the Brasenose Arms, food was really good at the Brasenose but something was amiss at the Red Lion, although hardly anyone in the pub they were turning people away as they said they were too busy, the food was ok but the atmosphere was strange, something not quiet right!  From Cropredy we cruised to Aynho, stopping in Banbury.  Banbury is a lovely place to stop the canal passes right through the middle of the town.  Leaving Banbury the locks start to get deeper but the countryside is lovely, we stopped at Aynho, then continued to Thrupp, passing through Somerton Deep Lock (12'), the River Cherwell is never far from the canal and at one point you do cruise along a river section, the canal meanders through meadows, there are some lovely wild flowers along the canal.  On Sunday Janet & Wully came up to see us from Poole, they spent the day with us and we went for a walk along the canal (where else!) and went for lunch at the Boat Inn.  We had a lovely day and it was great to see them and show them the boat.  We had a very early start on Monday and cruised the last few miles into Oxford.  We managed to moor just above Isis Lock, just before the canal joins the Thames.  It was a hot day and we did the tourist trail around Oxford, along with thousands of others, it was very busy.  We ate in the evening at a Italian that we had seen earlier in the day and liked the look of the menu as they did lots of seafood dishes, it wasn't until we sat down to eat that we realised 'Jamies' was one of Jamie Olivers restaurants, the food and atmosphere was great, we had a lovely meal, wine and it was not expensive.  After dinner we walked one of the 'walkers routes' around Oxford, it was still warm but was so much quieter so we saw so much more.  We left Oxford on Tuesday, we knew Pip & Roger (nb Windsong)  were coming down the Oxford Canal so we contacted them to see where they were, they were planning to stop at Aynho, we knew it would be a long day but decided to see how we got on, if there were no lock hold ups etc we thought we could be there for about 6, think we arrived about 6:30!  We had a lovely evening with Pip and Roger, it was great to see you both again, another good meal, this time at the Great Western followed by coffee and lots of chat on Triskaideka. Hopefully the dongle problem is sorted so we can keep the blog up to date!

Somerton Deep Lock

Lots of lift bridges along the way

Aynho Weir Lock

Early Morning Mist

Along the River Cherwell

51 miles 33 locks

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Locks & Short Trip

We tackled the 8 locks down to Cropredy today.  Not a boat in sight for the first few then we started meeting boats as they left Cropredy.  The weather was iffy, showers and drizzle, but after we had moored up the sun came out and it has been a lovely afternoon.  We had a walk down the canal and around the village.  Its a lovely village with lots of old properties many of which are thatched.  Sorry no photos as we forgot to take any!

8 locks 2.5 miles

Monday, 18 July 2011

Playing Catch Up

On Friday we returned to Hillmorton Locks so we could easily get into Rugby on Saturday.   John went and did his course and I caught the train to Birmingham and had a lovely day shopping with Jane my sister, as John's course overran we even managed to share a taxi back.  The weather forecast was awful for Sunday but we decided to move anyway, we pulled pins in spitting rain, we had to go down two locks to turn around to return to Braunston, by the second lock it had stopped, we had a couple of real downpours during the morning but it wasn't too bad.  We stopped for water at Braunston and then turned towards Napton.  We came across an obstruction about 2 miles south, BW are working on the bank and had two work boats tied along with a crane and all had come adrift, the boat in front of us got stuck trying to get around another coming in the opposite direction tried to push them back, and I tried to haul them into the bank with a bit of rope, I managed to pull them in enough for John to get through but by now there was a queue, I could have been there all day so I pulled them in as much as I could and jumped back on board.  I tried to phone BW but couldn't get through!  We continued down to Napton, mooring by the Bridge Inn, where we had dinner last night.  It was a lovely meal.  Today we hit the locks, there was lots of boats going our way but nothing coming the other, until about half way where we met the occasional boat,  again the weather wasn't looking great, but it has turned out much better than we thought, with just a few showers. We planned to moor in Fenny Compton tonight, but the moorings were all taken, so we have continued and are moored just above Clayton locks.

Leaving Braunston

Sunken Boat

Napton Windmill (which can be seen for miles along the Oxford Canal)

First lock

Fabulous countryside, 
but if it goes ahead the new rail link will rip straight through it

Yesterday 12.5 miles 4 locks
Today 12 miles 9 locks  

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Trip to Braunston

Although we didn't plan to move today the weather was so nice this morning it was a shame not to make the most of it, so we have made a trip to Braunston, and will return tomorrow back to Hillmorton.  It was really hot, once at Braunston we had a wander around the Chandlers and bought a few bits, we also went to Tradline Ropes and Fenders and got the center lines shortened which we bought a couple of weeks ago, as they were a bit too long.  A wander around the village, followed by a late lunch in the pub and a few drinks as we were quiet thirsty by then!

Barby Marina development

Dredging the entrance

the sign saying opening July 2011 seems to have disappeared!

 Our view from the side hatch this evening

and later the moon rising

7.5 miles 3 locks today