Wednesday 30 June 2010
Last night was again hot, so we went to bed with the slide open, but during the night it started to rain, heavily, so it was out of bed and shut things down. By morning it was again warm and dry.
Not far to go today so we didn't set off until 10-30 am. While Diana steered I patched up some more of the rust patches coming through on the roof. As we approached the Folly we discussed whether to stop for lunch. As we slid past the only mooring spot on the straight bank, Diana said she would make a sandwich at the top of the locks. We rounded the bend below the locks and there were some boats queue at the water point, I though. But no, they were waiting for the lock. We did the only sensible, moored up and went into the Folly for lunch.
The Folly had a new chief start last week so the menu was limited to the specials board. Diana and I both decided to try the Beef Suit Pudding and it was great, not in the slightest soggy, full of meat with tasty gravy, it came with a bit of salad and a pile of hand made chips, cooked how chips should be cooked. After that and a pint of Hook Norton we returned to do battle up the locks, but the queue had gone. Unfortunately it had not gone very far,only to the first pound and from here we queued all the way back to our moorings.
Once at the top lock our problems were not over. Our mooring ropes are set up for us to moor facing down the flight, so we have to wind in the Engine Arm before tying up. BW are piling the bank opposite the arm and have left the piling machine moored with a flat beside it right opposite the arm. Faced with this I decided rightly or wrongly to reverse into the arm drawing the bows against the flat and then drive out downstream. I didn't realise just how silted up the arm was until the prop started to chew mud, but we made it and pulled surprisingly easily as the pound level was quite high.
Monday 28 June 2010
During the evening last night we has several boats that had been at Braunston come past us,we even had 3 at midnightish. I am surprised that we didn't get any later as it was a full moon and wonderful conditions for night boating.
After a trip down the weed hatch to extract a complete narrowboat window seal from round the prop we were off at quarter past nine. We met several more working boats in the course of the day including a pair working on a short line and also the steam boat Laplander. The resulting hoots,whistles and pips didn't do much to calm the dogs at Clifton Narrowboats. Talking of Clifton Narrowboats I see that some of their boats are now display a second licence saying "Authorised Hire Boat" I have not seen this before.
We stopped for diesel at Lime Farm Marina to top up with diesel at 74p/120p per litre, its the first time we have ever called in here and they seemed very friendly folk with a pair of large Rotweilers to alert them of visiting craft.
We had planned to moor at Braunston overnight with the view to doing a pump out etc in the morning,however when we arrived at Braunston we found it choker block, so we did the pump out this evening,we always carry a token to use in the Marina pump out machine so we can use it outside normal working hours, unfortunately we were unable to buy a new spare,so we must make sure we get one next time out.We then continued along the Puddle Banks towards Napton finally mooring for the night just beyond bridge 100
Sunday 27 June 2010
Last night the moon rose as a large bright orange ball on the horizon,it looked to be almost full. A couple of hours later and it was well into the sky and now its normal shining silver. Again the night was warm and we went to bed with the slides and side doors open. We could hear the music and singing drifting up from Braunston, it must have been loud in the village.
This morning we set off at 9 am. there had already been a couple of boats passed, one was going at a fair speed, he throttled back when he was almost half way passed us and opened up again as soon as he was by, I don't know why he bothered. We met him later as he went to Hillmorton to wind. The first boater we met warned us that there was a chap swimming in the canal, sure enough just through the bridge there was a chap swimming against the towing path.
As we approached Barby straight a boat was catching up fast, as he came under the motorway bridge he was creating a good wash so I pulled over to allow him to pass as I didn't want him on my stern passed all the long term moorings. By the time we reached the north end of the moorings he was out of sight, but not for long as we suddenly started to catch him up. He also winded at Hillmorton, but he reversed into the winding hole to turn and spent some time with his crew poling the bows round while we sat and waited.
We had a good run to Brownsover where a boat pulled out right in front of me, but it didn't have much effect as we were now on the end of a convoy doing about two and a half miles an hour.The did this speed constantly so every time when I slowed for moored boats they drew away and I then had about three quarters of a mile of good cruising while I caught them up again. Slowly the boats pealed off mooring up for the afternoon leaving us with the leader and I am please to say he turned into Brinklow Marina.
Apart from meeting a couple of boats who thought it was fine to travel down the centre of the cut on the very wide parts with no thought that there may be very little water in the bit where they were and the offside bank so running us into the mud, we had an uneventful run to Sutton Stop. At the lock we locked down on to the Coventry Canal to wind. I had hoped to have photographed the three cill's on this lock, but someone has removed the two incorrect ones, just leaving the one below the top gate, there had also been one above and below the bottom gate. We returned through the lock onto the North Oxford Canal to start our journey homewards. We stopped to top up with water by the lock in which time a couple of boats came by,so there were no spaces left on the visitor moorings, so we moved on and moored for the night at 5 15 pm just round the corner from the end of the visitor mooring and it actually seams a quieter here with the hill shielding the noise from the motorway.
Saturday 26 June 2010
Friday evening and we tried to go out to eat. The first place we stopped as the Boat House, I think that's the name, it use to be the Mill House. 40 minutes before they would accept any orders,good job it wasn't full, so we gave that a miss. Next stop was the Old Plough, all the tables were reserved or in use so we went into the main bar which was almost empty, when we enquired about food it was 30 minutes before taking orders so we walked on to the Braunston Fryer for take away fish and chips, these we ate sitting under a large lime tree overlooking the Bottom Lock Marina and very good there were with light batter and good sized chips.
Following this it was a walk down the towing path stopping to chat ending up in the beer tent at the marina. They were already starting to run out of some of the beers and I took the last but one pint of Frog Island Best Bitter.
Back at the boat by 10 pm we went for a short cruise, 300 yards backwards to fill with water, once full we didn't return to our original mooring by the bridge but dropped into a vacant slot half way along. This turned out to be a slightly quieter mooring and out of the crumple zone of boats failing to negotiate the bridge.
Saturday was spent at the show where we met lots of old friends, by mid afternoon the beer stocks were even lower with promises of more deliveries. We did see one car turn round when they saw that car parking was £10 which seems a bit steep but it did include access to the site free of charge.
We understand that there were over 90 boats present in the end. I would have thought this must make it the largest gathering of historic working boats in the country.
We stayed until about 5 pm when we decided we would move on,we had been moored there for 2 nights which is a long time for us, so we have head north on the Oxford canal. I have never seen so many boats moored in the area,there was not a mooring spot until you reached bridge 88 and even after this there were loads on every length of piling.
We met 3 Willow Wren boats loaded with kids at bridge 87, it was now 5 30 pm and I asked them where they planned to moor incase they were heading to Braunston. In view of the time their reply surprised me, they planned to moor at Stockton overnight, I think it may be nearer morning before they arrive.
We moored for the night a little after 6 pm by the Young Offenders Centre between bridges 80 and 81. Much nicer than in Braunston.
Thursday 24 June 2010
It was quite hot last night and we went to bed with the slides and side hatches open, the dawn was glorious, I can see why some people set off very early in the morning.
We were away at about 8 am with a light breeze and warm sun, we saw several boats on the move and as we passed the puddle bank we were in a convoy of 4. The old sunken working boat on the puddle banks has still not been totally lifted, the bows are above the water level and there are several pump on her none of which were running. This has been going on for an awfully long time now with a flat moored on the out side of her and a short tug inside.
At Braunston Turn we turned left along the North Oxford and stopped opposite Draco to take on water, while I was filling up Diana walked along to find the end of all the moored boats, as luck would have it a boat was about to leave just by the A 45 bridge so we made do with half a tank of water and filled the vacant spot. We are a little bit venerable to boats speeding through the bridge hole, but with all the boats moored the other side of the bridge hopefully they wont be travelling to fast.
Once moored we walked back and had a chat with Mike and Krystyna before returning to Harnser for lunch.
Wednesday 23 June 2010
We arrived at the boat at 5 pm to find the off side splattered with mud, BW are piling the towing path opposite and dredging back so it must have been the dredger bucket splashing things. The also have there work boats two abreast opposite us so that has probably resulted in some more of our black disappearing and also our mooring lines being on the point of giving up the ghost.
We moved down to the top lock to load the boat as it is easier than getting Magic across the lock gates and hovered above the lock while we loaded up. Mary from nb Goody Two Shoes walked down for a chat and brought her windlass with her to help us through the lock.
A hire boat moored in the next pound pulled out behind us and the girl walked ahead and assisted us with the next lock as well as one near the bottom. We met a couple of boats in the flight but still all the locks were empty when we got to them.Its good to see that BW have repaired the bywash and the levels are now back down to normal. There was only one boat moored in the bottom pound but all the moorings by the Folly were occupied. Near the bottom of the flight we met a Kate boat, Harry and the hirer told Di she was not sure what she was doing in the locks,even though they had managed Calcutt they still left the paddles up when they left the lock. I would have expected their training to be second to none following last years accident in a lock.
We continued on past boats moored on bends and to soft towing path until we came to The Bridge Inn where to our surprise there was enough mooring for two boats. We moored at the beginning of the space just on 7 pm. and the hire boat that had followed us down the flight moored directly ahead of us a short time later. We wandered back to the pub at 8 pm to eat. Wednesday night is pie night but they only had one beef pie left which I claimed, they had also run out of fish pie, but were offering lasagna for the same price as a meat pie. A table behind us ordered soup and were a bit miffed it didn't come with a roll and butter. The pub is still run by the same family but I do wonder if they are losing bit of a grip on things, from the sweet board there was no ice cream.