Thursday, 3 September 2015

We are in the South...Sort of!

We receive our TV via a Maxview aerial. Last night it was imperative that we received a signal, particularly BBC1. It was of course the Great British bake off!  Selected a mooring with a more open aspect just below the first two Claydon locks on the South Oxford and tuned in the TV.

Got the BBC channels, and 1 was showing as South! So whilst Ali was able to watch bake off, the news was all about the southern counties... Today we have moored in Banbury and we are now, according to the BBC, back in the Midlands. Hey ho, is not technology wonderful.

So yes, still heading south and enjoying the scenery, if not really the weather. Typically this year, not much rain, but chilly and there is definitely an autumnal feel. Since our last update, we have descended to Braunston, risen from Napton and are now heading down towards the Thames valley.

Friday evening we decided to eat out. After a short chat with Paul from N.B Repent at Leisure as we moored up, time was marching on. Then we met N.B. Oakfield, so chatted some more. By the time we were about to depart for eats, Paul & Jo appeared, having already eaten out and enjoyed some liquid refreshment, so it was getting late by the time we made our way to The Moorings, for a rather later than planned meal. By the time we made our way back, all was in darkness on Repent at Leisure, so we retired for a night cap or two on our own boat.

As a consequence, we were not up "bright & early" Saturday, and only had time to wave farewell to Paul and Jo. A late start saw us progressing through Crick tunnel quite alone. Looking good for the Watford flight then!  The countryside here is wonderful, hard to believe you are so near to the M1 and the railway. This illusion is shattered at the top of the flight, as the motorway spans the canal and virtually shadows the top lock.

Three boats waiting to descend, so Ali walked down to book in. Looked like being a long wait as she was told boats were queuing at the bottom. Time to bake a cake said the locky! So, resigned to a wait, we started lunch, then to be told it was all change and we were on our way! The flight is a joy and we were soon dropping down. Towards the bottom, boats were waiting in the pounds below the staircase and they were not happy, having been waiting there a few hours... As we experienced at Foxton, the running of the locks seemed a little disjointed for some reason, but we had no complaints.

Rounding a bend we commented on an approaching boat being a familiar design and colour, low and behold it was Post Combustion, Beacon Boat Number 14.  Just a passing wave with Susan and a quick photo.

We negotiated Norton junction, then moored in isolation with a rather good view over the countryside. We could not quite get right in to the bank, but good enough. Pretty soon our peace was ended by several other boats attempting to join us. Most failed as it was rather shallow, but some got in boats are magnetic when it comes to mooring!

Typically for a bank holiday weekend, the weather forecast was dire. Both Sunday and Monday, rain and more rain. Sunday dawned cloudy, but not wet, so mid morning we set off. The portal of Braunston tunnel soon hove into view and we entered the smokey darkness.

Some may say I relish a good moan. This is true! On the whole, boaters are wonderful, but you also get the odd part, who does something that is memorable. This was to be another example. We progressed through, passing several boats with no problem. Only a 100 yds or so from the exit, a boat travelling in the opposite direction seemed to stop, his bow then swung out and struck us, as we were hugging the wall, a mighty blow. What made it worse was the comment from the female, to the affect of "Get over it, its only a crash"!. Obviously followers of the Tim & Pru school of boating!

So with a bit less paint, we exited and made our way down the locks, accompanied by a family on a hire boat. A smooth passage was made. Now being a bank holiday, we thought we should moor at the earliest opportunity. Finding a slot just past the stop house and before the permanent moorings, we slotted in. Room for two boats, with one already in residence, facing the opposite direction to us. We shared a ring, meaning we moored stern to stern in close proximity.

All well, we settled in. The mooring was under a large fruitful hawthorn. It appears the resident squirrel is partial to the seeds within the fruits and we became aware of the patter of discarded husks on the roof. Got to admire them for their dexterity and ingenuity though. We think our fellow moored may well have been hoping to save the spot for a friend, as the lady asked Ali if we were staying, but first come first served and all that.

He wasn't very photogenic

The result, he must like hawthorne seeds

Monday was as forecast, horrid. We decided to stay put. Just after 9am, there was an almighty clang, turned out our fellow moored had started his engine, then left it running in gear. This threw our rudder against the boat. He left it like this for an hour, despite this being against the T&C's of his licence! We were securely moored, so ignored it. Think the subsequent wash may have upset a passing boater, as he then took it out of gear, but left it running for the rest of the morning, before moving a hundred yards. People can be strange...

Tuesday, as we were preparing to move on, we had a knock on the boat, Julie from NB Willow Too, Beacon Boat  No 17, they were pulling in for water so whilst they filled up we had a quick natter, (but no photo!) after a quick trip to the butchers we were off and up the Napton flight.

This was a very young buffalo calf, it was very wobbly on its feet

A pleasant trip with easy locks and a good morning found above the flight. Then Wednesday, a wash load done before the off, anticipating a stop at Fenny Compton to use the dryer's. Well, it was rammed. We did manage to top up the water, but there was no room in the Inn, so we continued mooring between locks on the Claydon flight. Believe it or not, the sun came out, so out with the whirley gig and job done, clothes dry.

Today we have passed through Cropredy and on to Banbury. This is always a popular spot, so after hopping into a vacant spot, only to find it was under the roost of several wood pigeons who had been gorged on summer fruits, we moved a little way on, free of overhead poo perches to save the roof from purple stains.

We may well have a day here.

P.S. Somebody has stolen the chimney that used to be such a feature of the trip from Napton down this way!

37 Miles
34 locks (6 broad)
Crick tunnel 1528 yds
Braunston tunnel 2042 yds


  1. People who stop in tunnels and therefore have no control of their boats drives me mad too! Don't they realise that if you keep going, you've got much more chance of passing other boats unscathed, not least because the bow wave keeps you apart? And if we all came to halt, the tunnels would be very full...

  2. I know I can come across as a Grump Adam, but I just find the basic rudeness of some unbearable. This is not just boaters I know, but the lack of basic consideration for others is galling. What is even more sad, is that the older generation are the worst culprits!


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