Sunday, 14 October 2018

Homeward Bound

And so ends another season on Petroc...our 12th year.   Its been a good year, slightly too hot at times(dare I say that?) and with very few rainy days....UNTIL TODAY.

We crept back onto the yard at Clifton early this morning in the pouring rain......finished our clearing and loaded the car in the pouring rain!!

However there were better moments to the day.  We had an excellent Sunday Lunch in Bridge 66, the cafe in the yard.  In addition we had the company of Paul and Helen and had a good catch up.

So tomorrow morning it is farewell Petroc for the winter....be back in April 2019

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

Back to Petrocs winter home but not finally yet

And so back to Braunston for the weekend as usual at the end of our season.   Saturday cooked breakfast in the Gongoozlers Rest boat and lunch for Sunday in the Admiral Nelson

Saturday we had one of the wettest days this year.but we cant complain as there have been very few days like that all summer.

Most of the weekend went to plan but not all.   We duly fronted up for church at the new time of 11.15, having carefully checked the notice boards both outside the church and in the porch.  However when we arrived at about 11am the church was like the Marie Celeste...........we should have checked the website as well!!!   Belatedly checking we discovered that as it was Harvest Festival the service had been mover to a farm some way up the canal.   Not a single notice in the church!!

If we had checked earlier we could have walked as the trusty Google told us it was just over half an hour,  ah well....we live and learn.

The sun was shining by Sunday and we were able to sit outside at the Admiral Nelson
 before our lunch and watch the world and boats go by.
Despite being almost autumn there are quite a lots of boats still travelling.    
Monday we decided to go most of the way to Clifton as we had arranged to go in so our broken toilet could be removed ready for Geoff to drive down to Lee Sanitation at Fenny Compton.

The locks at Hillmorton are still on restricted opening times so we went through on Monday and positioned ourselves just before Clifton ready to go in early Tuesday.  We were just short of where major road works are taking place and a new bridge is being built over the canal.   We understand it is for a new road which starts at Daventry and is to do with a new huge housing estate, although we cant work out where.

The offending toilet was duly removed and Geoff took it down to Fenny.   He also had to make a trip to Roadpro in Daventry as he had somehow messed up our satellite receiver.   He had done the same thing once before and they had managed to re tune it.  However he was not so lucky this time and it looks like we shall have to purchase a new one for next year.

We are not due to leave until next Monday so have left the yard and come down towards Rugby as it is much quieter and also better for Barney.

The yard is much busier than when we first moored there as there are now over 50 permanent moorers.

So a final few days pottering and not going very far and beginning to sort the boat out.   Geoff has already started and thrown a big bag of clothes away.   


Thursday, 4 October 2018

Getting closer to Petroc`s winter home

Thanks to several comments I now understand the logic of shutting the locks overnight to save water.......allows the water to gather itself for the next day.   Also now having done the Claydon flight with lots of boats going both ways it does save a lot of unnecessary emptying or filling.

There were so many boats coming in the other direction that we thought Fenny Compton would be empty.   Not so!!  We were lucky to get the last space before the pub so where all the other boats had come from, I know not.   

Mike from LeeSan came down to discuss what needed to be done to our toilet housing over the winter to make it more accessible.   He is confident he can fix ours which is good news.

Wednesday we travelled on a rather grey (but dry) day to just beyond Marsdon Doles and down the first of the Napton flight.  We wondered if the notices would ask us not to moor in the flight overnight as they had done at the Claydon flight but luckily not so.  


This looked like up market camping.  Behind the fence was a bath! 
 I wasn`t quite quick enough with the camera to catch a glimpse of it.

The horses all have their winter coats on
Today we set off at a very leisurely hour at 9.15....wonderful lie in.

Past the Buffalo.
Opposite here used to be a farm shop and cafe selling Buffalo ice cream but that disappeared a few years ago.

The cloud broke up by the time we moored and wonder of wonders I was able to take my chair out and sit in the sun, even had to strip off several layers of clothing.   We are promised more of the same tomorrow BUT Saturday is a different story if the weather people are to be believed.  We are moored in one of our preferred spots just after bridge 101.   Not far to Braunston tomorrow.

Total distance:6.35 miles Elapsed time:3h5m21s Locks:6Bridges:16 
Average speed:2.06 mph (4.00 lock/mph) 


Monday, 1 October 2018

Very slowly up the Oxford Canal

I blame our slow progress on this little cherub.   Our weeks are interspersed by my weekly visits down to see her.


Sadly we are wending our way slow;y back to Petroc`s winter home at Clifton.

However the Oxford is one of our favourite canals and so far we have had some nice late summer/autumn days.

Lower Heyford was one of our very convenient station stops...the station couldn`t have been any closer!

A bit nippy some mornings as the morning frost shows

Lots of fields with grazing cows
The old man of the sea has been shorn after this picture and looks vaguely respectable for a while!


A working barge towing another working barge
This was an interesting meeting as we tried to be so obliging and give them room that we ended up stuck on the bank.......eventually wriggled free....

Through Banbury with its convenient moorings in the centre
We actually moored just downstream on the 14 day moorings as I was away from Wednesday to Sunday.  The rest of the moorings are 2 days only until the end of October.

Some sad sights along the way....a boarded up lock keepers cottage
CRT are still coping with a water shortage on the Oxford and the locks are only open from about 10 until 4.   I must confess I can`t work out how this saves water.  If the same number of boats are travelling they will just do it in a concentrated space of time......must use the same water.    Perhaps some wiser person can enlighten me.
Total distance:6.03 miles Elapsed time:4h13m18s Locks:Bridges:23 
Average speed:1.43 mph (3.32 lock/mph) 
We would normally have at least an overnight at Cropredy but decided to do the next 3 locks so we could have a lie in tomorrow and be ready to do the Claydon flight tomorrow.   I did jump off briefly to nip into the shop to buy a loaf of bread but we had watered etc at Banbury ( with yet another slow tap!) so didn`t need to pause here.





Friday, 21 September 2018

Aren`t canals narrow!!!

Isis Lock at the end of the Oxford canal.
It takes a bit of acclimatising to get used to the canals after being on the Thames for so long.

We lingered at the bottom of the Oxford for a day so that Geoff could take the train down for lunch with Emma and Kensa.

see...men can multi task
Kensa reportedly had her best nights sleep after Geffiepa had departed !!!
By now I had succumbed to a very nasty cold but manfully (or do I mean womanly) struggled on for the trip to Thrupp on Wednesday... We were lucky enough to find a mooring although there were a lot of boats around.  

By Thursday I retired to my bed and we decided to stay over another day......I was very cross as I had planned to go down to London on the Thursday evening but common sense told me that taking my cold to a baby was not the best of ideas.

Friday saw improvement and I decided I might live after all.......so we were off at 0815 on a beautiful if crisp morning.   We had forgotten how narrow this part of the Oxford can be in places.   We struggled with a couple of the locks.  At the first we had no idea what was trapping me half way in and only solved the problem when a kind gentleman appeared and helped Geoff pulling on the rope to aid the large amount of throttle I was having to use.  At the next it took four men pushing hard on the gate to open it sufficiently for me to slide in.

Happily on reaching our intended destination of Lower Heyford, our preferred mooring spot right just before the start of the permanent moorings was free.

How well we had timed it.   After a lovely morning we had no sooner raised the pram hood at the stern than the rain came......

Some time later I heard a loud cursing from the back and discovered Geoffrey not very pleased with himself.   He had left the spare set of boat keys in the control box of the lifting bridge as we left Thrupp.   Several phone calls later we have located them as some kind person took them to Annies tea room at Thrupp.  Giles had said he might call by tomorrow so he is going to pick them up and deliver them....we hope......

So train ticket for London is booked for tomorrow.  Having seen the weather forecast it looks like we are in for a wet weekend.   Not fir for travelling by boat....

Total distance:7.18 miles Elapsed time:3h32m28s
Locks:
Bridges:17 
Average speed:2.03 mph (3.44 lock/mph) 



Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Goodbye Old Father Thames......Hello Canals


A reasonably gentle start from Abingdon on Sunday and a long wait at the lock.   Two rowing boats overtook us on the way up to the lock and went in before us!  This took some time as at one stage the flow was too strong for them and they had to stop and start the filling sequence again.   However we were not going far so waited patiently.......

Watered at the top and then we were on our way to our intended destination of the moorings at Sandford Lock

Shortly after leaving we came across some motor bike scrambling which Geoff decided he rather fancied!!





Eventually found good mooring at Sandford Lock at the 3rd attempt.   We tried the spot just before the lock but the height was just wrong for us, we ended up sliding under the pontoon and rubbing along the topsides, so gave that up.  Went through the lock and tried on the side by the pub but the space there wasn't very satisfactory either and also not so good for Barney.   With the lock keepers permission we tagged on the end of the permitted moorings on the other side which were ideal.  Later the other two boats departed and we were able to move up a bit.   All that manoeuvring wore me out!

Later we visited the Kings Arms and had our Sunday Lunch.........well I had my Sunday roast but Geoff fell foul of a Mixed Grill........

Monday saw a leisurely start and Barney and I walked up to Iffley Lock whilst Geoff meandered slowly along.



We had slight problems at the lock.   The idea was for me to hop on Petroc with Barney but he flatly refused to walk along the walkway on the waiting pontoon.   So we had to effect a handover up at the lock.   
Here at Iffley lock, apparently the lock keeper is not allowed to open the lock gates until the boats waiting have actually moved forward.  The walkway across is a public right of way and the locals complain if they are held up too long!   This explained the frantic waving to me to come forward....I normally wait util I see the gates opening at least.   

Still we were onward eventually and thence through the last lock on the Thames at Osney.    Geoff walked round the corner with Barney and I ducked under the low bridges and round the extremely tight turn into our first lock back onto the Oxford canal.   Plenty of room to moor and who should be there but Maffi on Millie M........so after a long coffee and catch up we settled down for the rest of the day.   

Sept 17th
Total distance:4.49 miles Elapsed time:2h8m32s Locks:Bridges:13 
Average speed:2.10 mph (3.50 lock/mph) 




Saturday, 15 September 2018

Back to Abingdon

On Tuesday I hopped on a bust back to Giles in Woodcote to collect something I had left behind......bus passes are great.......but some of the drivers think they are on a roller coaster round some of the country lanes!  

Decide to go 3/4 of the way to Abingdon so I could make my getaway...yes again....on Thursday lunchtime.   We moored at Clifton Lock where there is space for possibly two boats above the lock for which the lock keeper will kindly relieve you of £9.50p   Nothing much there but pleasant and quiet and walking distance to both a shop and a pub!

Total distance:8.08 miles Elapsed time:2h8m57s
Locks:
Bridges:3 
Average speed:3.76 mph (5.15 lock/mph) 

Thursday morning was beautifully clear and sunny but with a decided nip in the air.


Appleford railway bridge showing how clear and still the river is.

Didcot power station is visible for a fair way along this stretch.

We slowed down to snails pace past these fishermen, they looked so peaceful it was a shame to disturb them
Quite a few boats passed us going in the opposite direction which boded well for space at Abingdon.

We were there soon after 1030 and could have had our pick of places, how much quieter than when we were on our way downstream.   We moored close to the bridge and I set off for the bus to Didcot and thence the train to London and grand daughter.   Abingdon is rather rather unobliging in that it does not boast a railway station, although I gather it did many years ago.

The journeys to Emmas are longer now so I stay two nights

Back at Abingdon now, Saturday and onward we go tomorrow.   Geoff reports that it has remained very quiet here.

Total distance:4.33 miles Elapsed time:1h29m3s Locks:Bridges:4 
Average speed:2.92 mph (3.59 lock/mph)