Monday, 9 October 2017

Gently meandering back to Clifton

Wednesday and Thursday wee two bright days for a gentle descent of the Napton Flight.
The mornings were chilly as can be seen by the horses with their coats on

But plenty of sunshine

The buffalo don`t seem to need protection and they were very interested in our passing.
I am always glad to be separated by a strip of water
We spent a couple of nights just before bridge 102 in one of our favourite stopping places.  There were quite a few other boats but there is so much mooring along this stretch that everyone had spaced themselves out nicely, so no one was on top of another boat.

An early start was necessary on Saturday morning so that we could have reach Braunston and have our cooked breakfast in the Gongoozlers Rest Cafe.


A very good breakfast it was.
Later on Saturday saw the arrival of Boe, in transit from the Salt Mines of Krakow, via Nottingham (courtesy of Ryanair!) to Cornwall.

One of Boes pictures as she was out walking Barney on Sunday.
Geoff and I went to the Family Service in Braunston church where we discovered that the Reverend Sarah would be moving on before our next visit here.  I am sure she will be missed as she is so enthusiastic and makes the service come alive.

We then all went to the Admiral Nelson for Sunday lunch.  The food was OK but we were disappointed in the menu.  The two roasts they had on were Lamb Shank or Beef Brisket, neither of which I would describe as a typical Sunday Roast and at £14 I thought it was a tad expensive for this part of the world.  Boe and Geoff decided against either and settled for a burger.  Having said that there was nothing wrong with the food.

Boe departed for Cornwall after breakfast taking with her some of our luggage which was handy.  We do normally manage to get everything in the car but it is a close run thing as Barney takes up a quarter of the space!  

A last trip up to the butcher for a couple of nights suppers and we too were on our way.   Now moored just about Hillmorten Locks ready for the last trip tomorrow into Clifton.



Total distance:6.55 miles 
Elapsed time:2h39m33s 
Locks:0
Bridges:13 
Average speed:2.62 mph (2.62 lock/mph)

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Wey Hey Toilet mended!

Last nights sky held promise
The promise was fulfilled but before we set off we had the all important visit.    Mike from Lee San had come down yesterday afternoon to have a preliminary look.   His first comments as he struggled with the way the toilet was fitted were not encouraging.   However he was back this morning, having looked back at our history (or rather the loos history) and talked to others in the office and to cut a long story short he has mended it.   It turns out there there is actually noting wrong with the mechanism, it is one tiny bit of the fitting....a rather essential bit......but with a bit of doctoring from Mike, fingers crossed, it is functioning again.  Once again a big thank you to Lee Sanitation.  After it was all complete he did say that he had seen a lot worse installations.  The problem is that it may all look nice and neatly fitted in but when there is a problem the most important thing is accessibility and he did have to use a few contortions to get to all the parts he needed.  (All boat builders take note!)

 BUT  and a rather big but, we can`t use it yet as our other big problem is the batteries.  For a few weeks now we have noticed that the service batteries are not holding their charge like they used to.  We have 3 gel batteries which are sealed for life and have lasted us 11 years of cruising, so despite the fact that they were more expensive to buy we think we have probably had our moneys worth.  We are hanging on in the hope they get us safely back to Rugby in a weeks time.   We have to turn the fridge off at night and the heating won`t fire up in the morning until we turn the engine on.  The loo takes electricity to build up the vacuum every time it is flushed so that is another NO NO at the moment.

Still to look on the bright side at least all this has happened towards the end of the seasons cruising and not at the beginning!!

Moored behind us at Fenny we found an old friend.

TICKEY
In a previous life....ie before PETROC we had a quarter share in Tickey.  We tried the living aboard all 40 ft of her to see if we could cope for long periods in close confinement.   She looks much smarter now, obviously had a paint job, but sadly no one aboard to chat to and maybe get a peek inside.  Since we have been on Petroc for 11 years it was quite a while ago.

Tickey moored in Bugsworth Basin 2006
We set off after Mikes departure, much later than usual for us but the sun was still shining.  We are on the summit now so it is gentle meandering with no locks for a while.

Moored in a nice open spot which we have frequented before.  If it was still summer and we were not on our way home we would probably stay here a few days.



Total distance:3.02 miles 
Elapsed time:1h19m7s 
Locks:0
Bridges:9 
Average speed:2.29 mph (2.29 lock/mph) 


Monday, 2 October 2017

Shall we....Shall we not???

Sunday was a day of indecision.  It is not normally a day of travelling for us and the weather forecast was for a dire day, lots of rain and wind so the plan was Church in Cropredy and a lazy day.  However we wanted to reach Fenny Compton on Monday and that meant a longish day........we don't choose to do long days.....so we thought we would carry on after church and get half way up the Claydon flight.

When we woke the weather was nothing like the forecast, admittedly no sun but no rain or wind either.   So after a lot of dithering and mind changing we decided to go whilst the weather was OK and skip church.   

We then had a very pleasant run up to the moorings above the Claydon 3rd lock.  Even the fact that there was one boat ahead of us, which meant the locks were all set against us, didn`t detract from the tranquillity of the day.

Once settled there we all retired for a peaceful afternoon

Barney in afternoon siesta mode


Total distance:2.29 miles 
Elapsed time:2h10m33s 
Locks:6
Bridges:6 
Average speed:1.05 mph (3.81 lock/mph) 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Made it to Banbury and thence to Cropredy


These cows appeared to take exception to Barney 
when we were moored at Kings Sutton
as they made a heck of a racket when they saw him.
I was glad I was separated by a fence and a a stretch of water.

We moored just past the centre for a day and a half whilst we had visitors.  Two lunches out.  Once with Iain, Christine and Fiona and the next day with Tony and Di.
Two good pubs visited.  The Reindeer on the first day and the White Horse on the second.  The White Horse was a great pub with a very reasonably priced menu.  I availed myself of the Pensioners special....Fish Chips and Peas and a pudding for £6....can`t do better than that.   The lure was that one of the choices of pudding was steamed syrup sponge and custard......so decadent.  Both pubs recommended but I think the White Horse was the winner.  It is a little further out of town and was incredibly quiet but very comfortable.

After the departure of Tony and Di we moved out a little as Banbury is gearing up for its Canal Day on Sunday.  There were notices saying that the centre moorings were suspended from Friday lunchtime to Monday morning for boats who had booked in for the Canal Day.
We moored just over half a mile out round the corner where it is somewhat easier to do a shop at Tescos.  

We met up briefly with Bones again, although no time for wine this time!

On Saturday we decided to walk in for our cooked breakfast before making tracks for the day.   The goal was to get half way up the Claydon Flight, but in the event we had both had enough by the time we reached Cropredy, I think the cooked breakfast had worn us out.


Getting ready for tomorrow.

....

Just before reaching Cropredy I decided to take a picture of a dummy on a moored boat
but I was not prepared for what happened when we went past..
Wednesday  27th

Total distance:3.55 miles 
Elapsed time:2h1m22s 
Locks:2
Bridges:17 
Average speed:1.75 mph (2.74 lock/mph) 



Saturday  30th

Total distance:3.71 miles 
Elapsed time:3h19m26s
 Locks:4
Bridges:12 
Average speed:1.12 mph (2.32 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

slowly, slowly towards Banbury

Well we could have made Banbury in a day if necessary, but since it wasn`t we decided to do it in two days, then changed that to 3 days!!


Leaving Lower Heyford a menacing frog and a rabbit!

and a solitary black swan.   We saw a pair of black ones whilst at Windsor
but have never seen one on the canal before.
We stopped for fuel at Ayno Wharf.  The answer to my question....Can I declare my own split?   was....is there any other way??   How nice, as there are boatyards who will only do a 60/40

It was a grey old day, rain when we started and although it ceased eventually, the day never really seemed to get going......no sun at all.   Despite our early start it was 9.45 before we left Heyford as the water filling took forever.   Geoff blames my doing the washing but think the flow out of the tap might have a bearing!!   Unfortunately the gauge for the water tank has never worked from the day we took possession of Petroc so it is all by guess and by god as to how much is left in the tank.

So we moored just before Cleeves bridge for the night.

Today, Tuesday dawned extremely misty but we were not heading for an early start so by the time we got going it had lifted with the promise of a much better day.

We were held up to start with by Geoff trying to order something online and getting extremely frustrated because it wouldn`t do what he wanted!!   Gilly to the rescue.......I have much more patience......is this a man/woman thing??

I decided on a slight role reversal first thing, so I set off to work the first two locks leaving Geoff at the helm.   The first lock was OK. gates and paddles relatively easy but the bottom gate at the second one nearly defeated me......at one point I thought Geoff would have to climb the ladder in the lock, I shall probably feel the effect later on.

A rare sight, Geoff steering into the lock...this was the gate that nearly defeated me.
After Petroc rose in this lock we changed places and the status quo was maintained.......all back to normal operation.

Barney walked the whole way today, first with me and then with Geoff so he is a well exercised dog this evening.

We moored just after Kings Sutton Lock, nice wide towpath and the weather was such that Barney and I were able to sit out for the afternoon, the first time for a couple of weeks.......could this be an Indian summer.......having seen the forecast I think probably not......

So just a short hop into Banbury tomorrow where we are meeting friends Iain and Christine for lunch.


Monday  

Total distance:6.42 miles 
Elapsed time:4h47m25s (includes nearly 1.5 hours watering!)
Locks:3
Bridges:13 
Average speed:1.34 mph (1.97 lock/mph) 



Tuesday

Total distance:2.95 miles 
Elapsed time:2h2m42s 
Locks:3
Bridges:9 
Average speed:1.44 mph (2.91 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Thrupp, Lower Heyford and London

Thrupp was delightful as always.  We were lucky enough to find a space on the 7 day moorings, although we did not plan to stay quite that long.We had visitors on the Saturday in the shape of Tony and Di.  Di kindly took me shopping to the big Sainsburys in Kidlington whilst the boys walked to the Rock of Gibraltar.  We joined them there and were impressed with the food for lunch.  Very naughty that day as we had also had a cooked breakfast in Annies Cafe!!   Still it was a late lunch and quite light.

Sunday defeated me as far as church was concerned as there was no service at Shipton-on-Cherwell but Geoff did the walk to Hampton Poyle (Kidlington) and the church of St Mary the Virgin.

Looking West with the water point in the foreground

A lady had dropped her camera in!!!
A gallant gentleman
We moved on Tuesday and the weather was kind to us

Shipton Weir lock was the first of the day
This is not my favourite lock as it is diamond shaped and despite being quite a small rise it seems to take forever and it is impossible to keep the boat steady.

Four more normal locks where the crew could relax as Petroc gently rose.
Once again we were lucky at Lower Heyford.  We wanted to moor just outside before all the permanent moorings as it is much more open.  There was just room for us after the bridge so Geoff could be comfortable whilst I went off for a bit of family and urban therapy.

The station is just 5 minutes walk away so it is highly convenient.  In fact the trains are in our back yard so to speak, just over the hedge   Very noisy but after a while you cease to notice them.

So I had 3 days of trains, tubes,  buses and people, but most importantly family.   I managed to have time with all three of the children which was great.

From this........
......to this
.....and this

Boe and I paid a visit to Paddington Basin

Much more developed since our visit here on Petroc in 2008.
It is now a popular lunch time place for Londoners, as there are plenty of cafes and seating areas in landscaped gardens.

However if we had wanted to come in with Petroc we might have been disappointed.  It was chokka, with the pontoons full on the one side and the other side they were 2 abreast.

Back to Heyford on Friday early evening where the train was standing room only before it departed. Luckily I am an early bird so I was second on the train which gave me no problem.

Another weekend of eating out.  Breakfast at Zizzis on Saturday and lunch at the Bell after church. Both excellent meals and good value for money.  Sunday roast at the Bell is £9.95 for two courses, starter and main.   A bit different to all the places whilst we have been on the Thames.

Geoff had a pleasant evening with Bones in my absence....I had seen her before my departure but the only evening she could manage to relax was during my time away.  I think they may have managed to put part of the world to rights!

So onward again tomorrow (Monday)


Total distance:7.01 miles 
Elapsed time:4h11m49s 
Locks:5
Bridges:16 
Average speed:1.67 mph (2.86 lock/mph)














Thursday, 14 September 2017

Aren`t canals narrow!!

After over two and a half months on the Thames we are back on what is really our home ground.   No longer can we wander along looking for the best mooring place and then turn around if we need to go back.......and so narrow!!

We really felt the difference as we left Oxford and passed the extensive area of Agenda 21 Residential moorings.   A very long stretch of boats, the majority of which could do with a touch of TLC, making it very hard to pass a boat going in the other direction.

Meanwhile the Jericho redevelopment does not seem to have made any progress, there is no sign of any activity behind the hoardings showing what it could look like.  The artists impression in the link above looks great....but.......is it just a pipe dream??   Oxford could well do with improving its image in this area.  Great potential.........



Before this trip we had two nights on the Oxford Road east Moorings, which are part of the Thames Visitor moorings.  Here one can have one night free and up to 2 further nights at £5 a night.   You can either register your arrival on line or call the telephone number given on the notice.  It was a very pleasant and cheerful gentleman I spoke to when registering.  When I asked him where he was controlling the system from, he said from his boat which was presently moored in Weybridge.   I forgot to ask him how he kept a check on whether people bothered to call or not.  In fact a gentleman in a wooden boat in front of us told Geoff that he thought someone came around to collect the money but we didn't see any sign of that.

The moorings are well placed to either walk into town or hop on one of numerous buses just up along from the bridge.  The new shopping centre has made progress and is due to open next month...at least it says so on the notice!

The goal today was Thrupp for the weekend providing there was space.   After a pleasant run (after the had escaped Oxford)  we stopped at the first space available by the Jolly Boatman just in case there was no room further up on the 7 day moorings.   Geoff walked up and soon rang me to say there was plenty of space......this is the advantage of arriving late morning/lunchtime.   Soon we were nicely settled in.

The mooring notices do ask boats not to run generators or engines but am not sure how they think one can manage for 7 days.


Total distance:6.95 miles 
Elapsed time:4h17m30s 
Locks:5
Bridges:29 
Average speed:1.62 mph (2.79 lock/mph)