Thursday, 30 September 2010

Half way to Braunston

After yesterdays rain we were treated this sight last evening 
Today the plot was all the way to Braunston but............................
Sadly we said goodbye to John and Fi on Epiphany as they are going down the Oxford and we are going north to Rugby.  We set off shortly afterwards in glorious sunshine, what a change from yesterday.  Barney and I walked the first part to get our daily exercise.  However after about 10 minutes a passing boat warned me that there was a huge tree fallen across the towpath about 1/2 a mile on so I deemed it prudent to climb back aboard at the next bridge.

When we passed the offending object I was very glad I was on board!

So we continued with Geoff on the tiller and me reclining in the cratch watching the world go by.  This is a lovely stretch of canal (especially when the sun shines)..........................
................and there were so many lovely places to pull up and moor that we eventually did just that.

Gill and Barney having what could be the last of the summer sun
The only snag to this secluded mooring is the possible imminent arrival of Lovegrove Junior.  However a plan has been put in force if anything should happen before we reach Rugby next Monday or Tuesday.   It could involve a mad dash to Braunston by boat, followed by a taxi to Rugby, hope our car starts, go north to collect Susannah's Mum and thence back to Goring........there is no sign of action at the moment and with tomorrow's weather forecast I hope it stays that way.........

Back onto the Oxford Canal

Back on the Oxford must mean we are nearly home...well Petroc's winter home that is...which is quite sad..I don't know where the summer has gone....
After our night out on Monday we stayed over in Long Itchington on Tuesday and when I came to write this blog tonight I could not remember anything I had done on Tuesday!!!!!  I obviously had a very relaxing day, I do remember taking Barnaby for his evening stroll about 5pm or so and I did cook supper so one could not say I was bone idle..............................ah yes I have just remembered.  We had a very interesting morning as we went to visit Iron Butterfly to look over the new boat, and very nice she is too.....why do I always see things that I wish we had done.......still Petroc works for us.
John was away from Epiphany yesterday and last night but arrived back this morning bright and early with Carolyn to crew for him and we set off about 9.   We planned to complete the 10 Stockton and 3 Calcutt locks.
First of all I walked across the fields in the pouring rain for the paper and milk...Barney didn't mind the rain.....
Luckily it did not persist for the whole trip, in fact the first part was considerably better than forecast.   If you look closely however you will see that we were in wet weather gear though.

One of the things we disliked about these locks(and some others on the system) was the chains inserted into the sides of the locks.  With two boats in the lock it is impossible to avoid scraping the boat's paintwork.......John is threatening to write to BW...........I don't suppose it will make any difference....Health and Safety would probably be quoted in any reply...if there were a reply.......we can't work out what purpose they serve.   If you need to tie on there are adequate bollards...and these are not the square wooden jobs either!!!!
Chains in lock (Thanks to John for picture)
Part way up we had a slight pause for John to clear something from his prop!

During the course of the trip (I can't remember where!) we passed these colourful boats, presumably ex working boats that looked very smart....I would have loved to have looked over one.
and we also passed this boat which we have seen before least it must be the same one as I cannot believe there are two like you think it belongs to a sub mariner????
Should really be pained yellow!
                                      We stopped briefly at Calcutt Marina to put in a small amount of fuel.  We thought we could get alongside between their green hire boats but it was a little tight so ended up alongside them......
One more lock and a short distance and we were at Napton Junction
A nice little signpost in case we weren't sure of the way!
By now the rain had set in well and it was past our lunchtime......we found a convenient mooring not far from Gibraltar Bridge and battened down the hatches and went below.
After a while I decided that as it was so damp and miserable I would light the stove.......unfortunately I neglected to take the cowl off the chimney before so doing...luckily Geoff woke up from his siesta and reminded I had to go out in the rain to put it on...then when filling the coal scuttle the coal bag sprung a hole and scattered very black dust all over the cratch and my slippers......maybe I should have just contented myself with putting another sweater on!!  Ah well tomorrow is another day and the forecast is better, but Friday and Sunday sound horrible so the plot is Braunston tomorrow and tuck ourselves in somehwere for the weekend before the final run to Clifton.
Still no news on the baby front.......due date was either last Sunday or this Friday, depending on who is doing the calculation..........

Monday, 27 September 2010

Long Itchington

A very grey start to the day, such a contrast to yesterday.   However it was much milder and it was not pouring with rain (just some light drizzle) so one must be thankful for small mercies.
We had the 6 Fosse Locks and 4 Bascote locks to tackle to reach our intended destination of Long Itchington.
Coming up the first lock we thought it was a mist rising from the canal but I smelt smoke as we went past and I think it was someone's bonfire.  John had returned to Epiphany the previous day so we were travelling in company again (Fi still absent in hospital)
This meant Geoff had plenty of exercise......but he cannot complain as a few weeks ago when we were on the rivers he was yearning to be back on the canals so he could have more exercise with locks and walking the towpaths.
The dreary weather did not improve throughout the morning and my attempt to capture some of the autumnal colours along the canal was not wildly successful.

At one time these double locks had a single lock alongside but some have been filled in 
and some just blocked off at the ends
When possible John got off Epiphany to give Geoff a hand

 but mostly we were just using one gate to reduce the workload.  Here we are almost at the last lock of the day, entering the bottom of the staircase of two to rise us to the top of the Bascote Locks.

Almost there
Looking back
It was just a short way then to the planned mooring at Long Itchington which we both thought we remembered from last year.....however it looked nothing like our memory told us, which was par for the course for me but strange for Geoff who normally has a good memory for places....maybe it was because the sun had been shining last time and also the fact that we had been coming in the opposite direction!!

In the afternoon we were pleasantly surprised to find Iron Butterfly with Dave and Pam aboard hovering alongside us knocking in the hull.  Iron Butterfly is their second boat built by Darren Aldridge our boat builder.  
They moored up and came aboard for coffee and a catch up and tomorrow morning we are going to inspect the new boat.......

Later Tony & Di Fletcher arrived to allow us to help them celebrate their wedding anniversary.  Tony and Geoff were each other's best men at their respective weddings, so since they live relatively close by it seemed a good plot for the evening.  After a couple of bottles of Bubbly on board we repaired to the Two Boatmen for a meal.  It was good pub grub in very convivial surroundings, just how a pub should be and with good company...what more could one want.

In our normal fashion we had forgotten to take a torch so it was a dark walk back home to Petroc, luckily not too great a distance.......

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Weekend at Radford Semele

On Saturday we awoke to a clear blue sky, chilly but crisp....just the thing for getting rid of colds!!!
We only planned a short hop to Radford Semele so did not rush ourselves.   We had had a peaceful couple of days moored adjacent to Lidl's.  Although not one of our nice rural settings, it was quite pleasant and only a few passers by.

An hours trip took us the 2 1/4 miles to the open moorings a short distance from Radford Bottom Lock.  We knew Epiphany was moored further along but we did not want to be in the trees.   When we moored the sun was still shining well and the bank was the correct height for me to paint the gunnels down one side so whilst Geoff took Barney off to check on Epiphany I set to work...........

Today we went up to the relocated St Nicholas Church.  It is relocated because this is what the actual church looks like at the moment.  It was the subject of an arson attack in 2008 and they are still fundraising and trying to sort out the complicated paperwork to allow them to rebuild.   The insurance only covers what was there to start with and with all todays Health and Safety regulations other things have to be taken into consideration which the insurance doesn't cover.  However they hope to start building next May and to be open by Harvest festival 2012.   Meanwhile they are housed in the Community centre in the village where we had a very warm welcome.......both from the members and the fact that there was good central heating!!

Later we walked back to the village to meet John and Fi at the White Swan for lunch.  They had returned with friends John and Carolyn.  John is back to be resident on Epiphany and Fi had been let out of hospital for the weekend, whether it was for good behaviour or not I don't know!!  She looked well and was in good form but had to return to hospital later for the second part of her treatment.

The White Swan had also had a fire a few years ago, although locals told us this was a coincidence and thought to be accidental.  In this case it was rebuilt in 6 months and now looks exactly as it did before!   It is a chain pub (Chef and Brewer) so that may have something to do with it.  They obviously did not have to go through all the red tape associated with doing anything to a church building.

On our chilly return to Petroc I decided that the time had come to light the stove.  Geoff demurred slightly (but not very convincingly) and Oh Boy was it warm and cosy for the rest of the day.  I don't really know why he bothers to have a moan as it is always me who cleans it out!

We are slowly making our way back to Braunston and awaiting news of the next Lovegrove arrival.   There is some doubt as to the due date, we thought it was 1st October but yesterday Giles told us it was actually today as Susannah's dates had been miscalculated.....however both Ella and Finley were over a week late so we are not getting too excited yet.   Mind you an event occurred yesterday which ought to be enough to start Susannah off.............................................
This is a recent picture of Finley with his wonderful head of curls (the back which you cannot see is just a mass of curls)
And this is today's picture after his sister Ella decided to play hairdressers. (No curls left at the back either!)
It is not quite a short back and sides but a close run thing..........they may have to put his name down for the monastery!  I am told that tomorrow they have to go out and but him a hat..............................

Friday, 24 September 2010

My Grandson's Cold

Every time I visit Giles' family I come back with a cold!!!!!  So when Geoff suggested that the weather was indifferent today and he couldn't be bothered to move, I thought it was a good idea.  I did walk Barney in the park this morning and had a wander over to the retail park this afternoon but now I have no photos today.......

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Short Hop to Leamington

Very gentle day today.  We left just before nine with wellingtons and raincoats at the ready, but I am pleased to say they were not required.  We stopped at Tesco to stock up
There is a convenient mooring place just out of picture here (bottom left).  Tesco's is reasonably close but for a big shop we definitely need the wheelie basket.....which Geoff still won't be seen dead with!   There was another boat moored there who asked if we drank wine!!!!  On receiving an affirmative from Geoff the skipper gave us a bottle which he had been given as a present but he is unable to drink wine...........good shopping stop......
Another 1/4 hour brought us to the Moorings where we have stopped before.  In fact last time we came through here we had to stop for nearly a week as I was crippled with my back....
Geoff has now departed to walk into Leamington in search of a barber....shearing time has come again.....

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Bottom Lock Hatton

Oh Boy did we get caught out ..........
Emma came to help us with the flight yesterday and parked in the BW car park at Bottom Lock, as she has done before.
She drove in through this gate and parked ahead and then walked up to the top lock to meet us.  She did not have to go back through the gate.   If she had she would have seen 5/6 notices all saying that the gate would be locked between 4pm and 9am.

One cannot deny that BW have tried very hard to let people know the situation and maybe she should have gone back and read them but she just didn't notice.  The first we knew was when we went across in the evening, having decided to drive to the All You Can Eat Chinese Buffet in Leamington.....     luckily when shopping earlier we had purchase a couple of dine in for 2 meals from Tesco's!!!!
The worst bit was that Emma had planned to leave at 7 as she had patients to see.  Needless to say she was very upset.  As it turned out when Geoff checked at 8 there were a couple of BW vehicles there so she was able to leave then.  On cannot deny that there are plenty of notices but the sighting of them is suspect so I rang BW at Hatton and had a chat(an amicable one).  I suggested that since other boats had visitors who came to help with the flight and presumably leave cars parked there, that a notice actually on the lock gates at the top and bottom of the flight would be a good idea.   The lady called Jill I spoke to promised to pass it on...we shall see.
We have had two sets of visitors today, Mike Peaker and Iain & Christine Gillespie.  They all parked in the same place and when they reached Petroc we asked them what time the car park shut....none of them had any idea.  Like Emma they parked and went straight ahead and had no reason to look back to where the notices were.  They all departed just before 4!!!

Prior to that we had a lovely day catching up with every one's news.  We walked up to the Waterman pub at the top of the flight and had a very good lunch.  The weather was kind and it was hotter than it has been for sometime.
Centre section of the flight.......looks forbidding when viewed from below
Pause for rest part way up
Ornamental Dragonfly in one of the upper side pounds

On the return walk we passed two sets of boats roped together passing

Our mooring below bottom lock

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The Hatton Flight

After a little discussion this morning as to whether or not I had been informed of the ETD we set off!!!!
The start involved a longish reverse back to the junction to turn around and of course sods law determined that a boat chose to come out as I approached and wanting to come my way..................however with great aplomb I successfully negotiated myself around him (well I think it was well done anyway!) and we set off.
I picked Geoff and Barney up at the second bridge
It was then just under a couple of hours to the top of the Hatton Flight.  I spent the first half being terribly domestic down below and then Barney and I walked the last stretch.   Two boats had pulled out between Epiphany and Petroc so we had to let them go first down the locks which was a pity as they were real slow coaches.  John & Carolyn, two friends of John had arrived to help and after the first couple of locks Emma also appeared so we had plenty of muscle.

Looking back, not far from the top
John wanted to take lots of pictures as he needs to keep up with Epiphany's blog in Fi's absence
Whilst waiting for locks he made good use of his phone!
Several of the locks we were able to exit side by side unless a boat coming up spoiled our plan...then it always seemed to be us who gave way.  We though we did it very neatly going left and right and coming together at the entrance to the lock again....... we even thought we might audition for narrowboat synchronised swimming!!
Emma hard at work
He's on the phone again!!  Good job he can multitask.....
And so to the bottom.  We moored below lock 26 and after lunch did a car shuffle, Emma and I did a mini shop and John carried on to Leamington.  We will catch him up in a couple of days.

Monday, 20 September 2010


Departed Petroc on Thursday late afternoon to go to Giles to do his accounts...and of course to see the grandchildren...only 2 at the moment  but no 3 is imminent....less than 3 weeks to go if he or she is on time....

Geoff managed to break Petroc in my absence!!........the engine gave up on Saturday and he had to call River Canal Rescue.  It was water in the diesel again.  There was no sign of the diesel bug which we had had earlier in the year but now the question is...Why do we keep having a problem with water in the diesel..........anyone has any great theories we would be delighted to hear them.   At least it chose to do it when Petroc was securely moored.

I have now returned albeit 2 hours late.   My train from Banbury was delayed due to an `incident` near High Wycombe which one of the station staff told me was a drunken woman on the line.........not me honest guv......
When it eventually arrived and I had just got settled they announced that it would not be stopping at Lapworth and I had to get off and wait for the next one which was also this time a kind member of staff had provided me with a claim form to claim my fare back.    Back at Petroc almost 2 hours behind schedule.

In my absence Geoff found the local church on Sunday which is a fair walk as it is not really in the village.  He also had a good Sunday lunch in the Boot Inn where he said he had the best roast potatoes all summer........he also managed to squeeze in the odd pint wit John whilst John was around...... I obviously was not missed......

Onward tomorrow...we have the Hatton Flight of 21 to master.  Emma is coming to lend a and as are two friends of Johns.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Set off with difficulty this morning....Both Epiphany and Petroc had difficulty because of shallowness as we left the mooring.  However we eventually made it and Epiphany led the way.  We managed the grand distance of 1.37 miles and 16 locks in just under 4 hours.  Single locks now so there is a certain amount of waiting around for the steerer..(me) whilst Geoff and John do all the physical work...well I do close the odd paddle and gate when necessary.... We had quite a good rhythm going between the two boats until we met a couple of boats coming in the opposite direction.   Still it was a good run down.   The locks are in a pretty rural situation so one can just gently meander through.......well I could on the boat..

 We stopped to use the sani station by which time John had found us a good mooring spot with good satellite reception and adjacent to one another.
We used the square bollards at the sani station!

Being adjacent to Epiphany is necessary as Geoff is going to run Epiphany's engine whilst John is away at a wedding and the satellite was good for Geoff as I shall be deserting him for the weekend.