Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Last run of the year on a beautiful autumn day

Starting down Hillmorton locks on such a lovely morning
It was quite a shame that we only had the short run to Clifton as, provided you were wrapped up well, it was a glorious morning.

St John the Baptist Church
Whilst we Geoff emptied rubbish and loo below the second lock,  I took a short walk to see this church which Geoff had found whilst out walking yesterday.   It is hidden away down the lane and was surprisingly much bigger than I thought it would be.   We have been passing here for 9 years now and only just discovered it.

Once we reached Clifton we  found they had left us a space on the wharf which was good.   Bisou were still there but left shortly afterwards.

Bye Bye folks...enjoy your winter in the sun!

Now begins the task of packing up to go home for the winter....my least favourite task of the year.

Later we had a call from Ian & Christine and they called in for tea, by which time we were glad of a welcome break from packing.    They also kindly called in at Maplins in Banbury to collect the mains power lead for my computer.  I only discovered it missing this morning.  I had abandoned it there when I went to purchase a 12V lead.  Tea stretched to supper in the pub!!!

Total distance:1.82 miles 
Elapsed time:2 hrs 

Monday, 19 October 2015

Onward to Hillmorton and out of the internet grey hole we hope

Up to the junction and goodbye to Braunston
The central moorings were quite full but there was space available.
Despite being 48 hours mostly there were none of the nasty £25 notices here that Banbury sports.
We find that strange as we would have thought this was as popular a place as Banbury
Just a hour to run this morning to moor at the top of Hillmorton Locks.   Bisou had moved on there on Sunday afternoon and reported a good internet signal so I was hopeful.   The last few days, whilst not being in a black spot it was definitely grey.   My phone would pick it up but my Mifi would not.  Hence not many pictures on my blog........I have sort of mastered the art of uploading a picture whilst on my ipad in blogger but it is not easy....and I have not worked out how to reduce the size of pictures on my ipad.  
Another crisp morning, chillier than the past two mornings but still no rain.......thankfully.   It was cold enough that we took turns on the tiller.

When we reached here Bisou were still here but they left soon afterwards to get back to Clifton to have their revamped side doors fitted.  

Wonder of wonders they were quite correct....a good internet signal here....so catch up time

Total distance:6.34 miles 
Elapsed time:2h25m52s 
Average speed:2.61 mph (2.61 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Weekend just outside Braunston

Good supper aboard Petroc last night with Nick & Patricia......much chat!!!! They luckily brought a large powerful torch with them as they had to go home along a very dark towpath....

We passed this sight yesterday
Was it craned in......or did they dig out and refill?????
Today we went to Braunston church in the morning followed by lunch with Patricia and Nick at the Boathouse.   

The lunch was very acceptable and reasonably priced....providing you are an even number dining!!!!! They have this deal of 2 for 1 on main courses.  However their Roast lunch is £13.50 or £15 to include a pudding.   At two for 1 that is reasonable but if you are on your own £13.50 for what was provided was not good value.   The meat portion was small (1 piece of beef) and 2 small roast potatoes....to be fair when I asked for more roast potatoes they did bring us a dish of them.  
Notwithstanding it was a good lunchtime......

Geoff did the walking around Braunston with Barney as I am still suffering with sore toes!!!!
Back to Petroc for a cosy afternoon with the fire on........I could get used to these afternoons, such a pity we are on our way home.


Saturday, 17 October 2015

Dodgy wifi

Wifi is not brilliant around the Napton area.   I had it for a while yesterday and then it disappeared.
We set off early Friday from Fenny on a crisp if dull autumn morning.   No one else around until Geoff, who had been walking with Barney wanted to climb back aboard and whilst I was picking him up a boat appeared behind and we had to let him through.......first sense of humour failure for the skipper!  Shortly afterwards a hire boat pulled out in front of us and proceeded at snails pace.......toys thrown out of cot and tiller handed over to me.....,

So it was a slow run down all the locks to Napton, nevertheless I enjoyed it!  We were lucky to find a space on the moorings just above bottom lock at Napton so skippers sense of humour restored somewhat.   My first task was to light the stove .......now that we have started to light it, it is so cosy below.

I want to upload a picture here but the wifi is not good enough.  I am connected via my phone hot spot to iPad but cannot get blogger to upload photo from iPad.....doh!!!!!!!  My computer refuses to connect via phone hot spot.....prima donna. !

Today another early start but only one lock to do......we hardly saw a boat all morning.  However we did pass Bisous and they have now also reached Braunston and are coming for supper tonight.
Yet another crisp autumn day but no sun.  It is not nearly as cold as the previous day's however but have still lit the stove.......Geoff says I have fallen in love with it...he could be right.

We have moored just short of the turn and Bisous tried to get in behind us where there seemed to be plenty of room , however there was a large rock or something just where their stern needed to be so they have gone round the corner.

Thursday, 15 October 2015

Back at Fenny Compton

We planned to depart about 9am to put ourselves at Fenny about coffee time in the hopes there would be plenty of space by then.   We were moored just above Clayton Middle lock and just two more locks to climb.   5 minutes before 9 we donned plenty of warm clothes and proceeded with our departure routine.......needless to say we saw a boat just entering the middle lock!!!  It was sorely tempting to buck our ideas up as we could easily have been away before he emerged from the lock......BUT I knew how miffed we would have felt if someone had done that to us.  So we did the decent thing and waited and let them go past.......but a thank you would have been nice....

Objective was achieved as we arrived at Fenny to find our pick of mooring places.  I have often thought how good it is that they have a launderette here at the Wharf Inn but have never availed myself of its capabilities...until now.   With no 240 Volt power the washing machine is one of the losses.   It was my first port of call after arrival.   I cannot say it is cheap at £6.00 for a wash and £3.00 to dry but it was very useful today.

My second task was to light the first fire of the year.   It was a dank cold day with no sunshine so it seemed the time was ripe.   I had forgotten how cosy it makes the boat.   The only problem is that when cooking it becomes too hot!!!   Windows have to be opened!

Strange to see smoke coming out of our chimney.
All summer Geoff has used it as a base for our TV aerial!
It is a good job we cannot use the TV as there might have been competition for the use of the chimney.

Total distance:3.45 miles 
Elapsed time:2h1m20s 
Average speed:1.71 mph (2.70 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

About Turn

Not straight away as we had to go through Banbury lock to use the sani station and then about a mile to the first turning point.
All the the mooring above the lock and some below has this mooring restriction now.
It is a very popular place as Banbury has embraced its canal and made it a pleasure to be there....however whilst I would not object to paying maybe £5 a night for the extra days I do think £25 is taking the mickey!

That said.when we moored up we happened to see the CRT man with his machine clocking the boats and explained that I had to go to London for a couple of days.  He was very accommodating and marked it down and we had no trouble with overstaying.   Whilst there are still a lot of boats around there was space left every night so don't think we were depriving anyone.

On our way back north now.  Rising in Banbury Lock
Two boats waiting to journey south as we emerge into the centre of the shopping area
Through the pedestrian bridge
and down the line of moored boats very slowly
What a shame Sovereign wharf is not open more often
Fridays 9-5 cannot give them much trade
Geoff is all for pressing on now as he wonders what is going to fail next on Petroc.   We are managing to charge everything in turn on a single 12V outlet.   Our second outlet appears to be non functioning at the moment.
However after 5 hours and 12 locks I was extremely tired and my feet sore again so much to the skippers displeasure I requested to moor in a nice sunny spot in the middle of the Claydon locks!!
Heigh Ho

As I write this at 8.15pm it is pitch black outside and a boat has just gone past us........how do they see where they are going....and as for doing locks in the dark.....

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Long weekend in London

No narrow boats here on the Serpentine
No snow either so I guess this is the alternate sport
Or this one
This chap was watching over Trafalgar Square
A good time in London apart from the sad part of saying goodbye to Boe as she left for her new teaching post in Vietnam.
I went to my reunion where a lot of catching up with old friends took place and a lot of wondering where all the years had gone.
Geoff and Barney were not lonely in my absence as he had several visitors and he was picked up and taken away for a couple of days by Tony & Di.
So now back on Petroc, we have stocked up for the trip back to Clifton.  We will turn around tomorrow and wend our way not too quickly back up the Oxford.  I have returned with very sore feet, must be all those hard pavements in London!
The trip back will be all on 12volt power which seems very strange...no TV, Radio, and all the other luxuries of life....which of course we can exist quite well without.......well I don't know about my computer!!!!  However a trip to Maplins today and I now have a 12 volt charger.   Unfortunately, although we have 2 12volt outlets one of them appears to be not functioning so all our essential gadgets have to take it in turn...... luckily there is a launderette at Fenny Compton so that will be a necessary stop.

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Dead inverter

Today brought a surprise visit from Phil & Imelda.  They arrived not long before my departure for London so I was able to have a short catch up but Geoff had a better one as they all went out to Lunch.  Phil also had an good look at the inverter problem as he had all his testing gear with him......and also pronounced it probably dead...or at least very sick and not fixable.   So we cancelled the proposed visit of Matt from Tooleys boatyard which was scheduled for Saturday as we thought he would only say the same thing.
We will now live on 12volt until we get back to Clifton when it will have to come out and go back to Holland for testing and probable pronouncement that we need a new one.............expensive!!!!!!
Everything essential can be run on 12 V but we are glad it is almost the end of our cruising for the year and not the beginning....be thankful for small mercies......

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Not a good day on Petroc

well I shouldn't have crowed about getting the toilet fixed.......

Last night we discovered a leak at the base so had to call Leesanitation again.   They were very good and Kevin hot footed it down to Banbury and we hope has remedied the situation.

The bigger problem is that our Inverter seems to be non functioning.   Well the nice little blue light won't come on and instead we get a red one saying battery low.    Following behind us was Peter on a boat whose name I cannot remember, but when I was talking to him at Cropredy water point and mentioned the problem he volunteered to have a look at it when we reached Banbury.  Turns out he was an engineer who had his little testing machine on board.

He spent nearly an hour looking for the problem but to no avail.  He pronounced our batteries good, and he tested various things but somehow the wiggly amps or volts or whatever are not making it through the inverter.  So have been down to Tooleys boatyard for help and Matt from there is coming to have a look but cannot come until Saturday.   It would happen the weekend I am away in London.
Anyway Geoff has all the essentials off 12 volts but none of the luxuries......no TV....we always said we should never have had a TV on the boat......he had recorded various programmes which he was looking forward to watching in my absence.......

My main problem is my computer, once the battery has gone that's it.
I am being optimistic and hoping that when Matt puts his diagnostic tool on to it that we will find is is a simple problem or at least one that is fixable and does not require a new inverter........Geoff is being more pessimistic!!!

As we rounded the last bend before Banbury we heard a great shouting from the towpath.   It turned out to be Sue & Charlie Winning from Cornwall.  About 5 years ago they came to a presentation Geoff did on the canals and then read an article I wrote for our Parish News about Geoffs trip through the Standedge Tunnel with John & Fi on Epiphany and eventually bought their own boat Breakaway.
Good to catch up and hope we see them again.

I went down to visit them later on...they are moored just a little further out...no restrictions there but we needed to be further in for Kevin from Leesanitation .  Geoff has got to move even further up on Sat morning to get as close a possible to Tooleys.

Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Autumn colours beginning to show

Autumn making itself felt in the trees
The forecasters were correct.  We set off at 8 and managed to do 5 locks before the rain came......and then it was out with the brolly.   Barney and I did not have our usual morning walk as the towpath is not the best round here and with all the rain last night I didn't fancy it.......very boot faced dog though!!

Despite setting off so early we had two boats ahead of us so quite a slow morning.  Still we were lucky as there were at least 4 behind us.   We haven't seen the canals so busy all summer.

Geoff had a desire to carry on past Cropredy but luckily the rain persuaded him otherwise.   We reached there about midday so there were 2 or 3 spaces to choose from.  By the time we moored the rain was heavy and we were glad to be inside.   A steady stream of boats has gone past us this afternoon.

Total distance:5.65 miles 
Elapsed time:3h52m50s 
Average speed:1.46 mph (3.52 lock/mph)

Monday, 5 October 2015

Wey hey......toilet fixed

Well the forecasters were correct......the rain is here.  We cannot complain too much as we have had such fabulous weather for the past couple of weeks.

But the good news is that Kevin from Leesanitation came this morning and by lunchtime we had an all singing all dancing toilet again.......a couple of new parts required.......so fingers crossed that it stays working.

It looks like a couple of days rainy travelling to get down to Banbury for Wednesday evening.
We haven't had our long macs out this year but there is every chance this could change tomorrow.

We would normally just sit it out but I have the dentist on Thursday morning in the hope that I can cease looking like the bride of Dracula.   Then I am off to London for a reunion and a farewell to Boe as she leaves for Vietnam on Saturday night......

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Weekend in Fenny Compton

A gentle weekend with not a lot to report.  Saturday was dull, the sun never quite got to grips with the day but Sunday was better so a certain amount of sitting out was achieved.
We had managed to get on the 14 day moorings as we planned to stay 3 nights.   This is in the fond hope that Leesan will be able to mend out toilet tomorrow.   We arrived late morning so there were a few spaces but they quickly filled up.   Still a lot of boats on the move, something we have not seen the rest of the summer.
No Sunday lunch out today as the Wharf Inn was fully booked and we couldn't be bothered to walk into the village and suss out the other one.
This afternoon we had a very brief moment of entertainment.   I thought we were being dive bombed as the noise was so loud.  I rushed to the back to see what it was and it was a Vulcan aircraft flying very low.  Geoff thinks it must have been on virtually its last flight ever.  It was gone far too quickly for a photograph.

The forecast tells us there is to be a break in this good weather, we shall see....

So fingers crossed for tomorrow and the toilet.

Friday, 2 October 2015

...and the sunshine goes on......

Well the cleaning did get done......it takes so little time compared with house cleaning......and we were all done long before Anne & Keith arrived.   They came bearing lovely goodies for lunch and some shopping I had requested.
We decided to walk back to the Folly Inn for a lunch time pint and to see if we fancied their menu for the evening.

1st October and still sitting outside
The pub has a magnificent show of flowers still
After lunch on board and a lazy afternoon I retired to the back cabin whilst everyone else watched the rugby!!  (As I write this there is yet another match on and I can hear Geoff encouraging the players)
After the game was over   WALES WON YIPPEE!!! we went back to the Folly where we had booked a table.   This time we went by car as we didn't fancy the 1/2 mile walk back along the towpath in the dark.   The food was excellent although I had trouble deciding what I could eat, or rather what my teeth could cope with.  On Wednesday evening I had broken off one of my middle top front teeth.   Not only is it difficult to eat but if I open my mouth I look like the bride of dracula!

The closest dentist is Banbury and we won't be there until next Thursday.  The appointment is booked for the Thursday morning.  I am hoping he (or she) will be able to cement it back on as I have thoughtfully kept the broken bit.   I am off to London to a reunion a week tomorrow and do not wish to appear in public like this.

Today we moved on a few miles and found another delightful mooring spot about 3 miles short of Fenny Compton.   Just 3 locks to the summit and then gentle meandering around some pretty tight bends in the wonderful Oxfordshire countryside, followed by yet another afternoon sitting idling in the sun.

A wonderful red sky tonight promising yet another good day???
Tomorrow we will wander into Fenny to be ready for our appointment with Lee Sanitation on Monday morning.    We are hoping that they will be able to mend our broken toilet.......
A lot of hoping going on at the moment!

Total distance:5.39 miles 
Elapsed time:2h42m50s 
Average speed:1.99 mph (3.09 lock/mph) 

Wednesday, 30 September 2015

yet another lovely beginning to the day

Weather still holding.   We were off at 8 as there is no point in waiting for lock companions anymore as we are back to our preferred single locks.

Barney and I set off to walk to the water point at the bottom of the locks, no one else seemed to be stirring.   Watering took a while and whilst we were there someone else had woken up and gone ahead of us into the locks.

Such a lovely morning to sit and ponder
Not a big problem as it was such a nice day we were happy to take things very slowly.   Once started up we met several boats coming down so that also made it easier.
There were volunteer lock keepers at the first lock but I cannot say I found them over friendly, they spent their time talking to each other and I had to say Good Morning 3 times before one of them deigned to give a cursory reply.
Napton Bottom Lock
We went up the first 6 locks and then moored in our intended spot just before lock 14.   By now the wind was getting up although still plenty of sunshine.   The plan was to stay over here a day as we are overdue to have a good clean out inside the boat and cratch.   We were going to to do it today but the urge had left us by the time we moored!

We have seen more boats pass us today and yesterday than we have seen all summer.  There has been a steady stream in both directions and as I write this at 5pm they are still on the move.    We wonder if the ones heading south are aiming for Banbury as there is a Canal Day there this coming weekend.  Hope they are all gone by Wednesday as we want to find a mooring there.
For the first time this year we have also had some boats who seem to be in such a rush and cannot be bothered to slow down as they pass.   Is it something to do with the Oxford Canal??

We have had a phone call from our friends Anne & Keith and they are coming on a day visit tomorrow.   I walked up to Holt Farm this afternoon and spoke to the very friendly lady there who gave the OK for them to park the car there.   This is the buffalo farm that used to do Cream Teas at the weekend but do so no longer.  Anyway a visit will concentrate the mind in the morning to get the cleaning done!!

Total distance:0.84 miles 
Elapsed time:1h15m38s 
Average speed:0.66 mph (3.84 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Onto the Oxford Canal

I cannot believe how lucky we are being with the weather......
Another misty start but we were ready for the off just before 9am and along came our lock buddies of yesterday, Ken & Flo on their boat whose name I cannot remember!!!!   We had their company up all 10 of the Stockton locks and then the 3 at Calcutt.  Lots of walkers out taking advantage of this late summer weather.
The wind increased as the morning wore on but still plenty of sunshine.

All was well with the world until I was entering the last lock at Calcutt.  Luckily I was going very slowly as I picked up something around the prop which deprived me of any drive at all.  I threw a rope to Geoff and he brought me to a stop.   It could have happened in far worse places.  Ken roped me to his boat and when the lock was full drove both out and parked me on the side.  How nice to have kind neighbours!

As usual there was some choice language from Geoff as he stripped off to get down to business.   However it did not take all that long with the aid of our bread knife to pull out a pipe fender complete with rope and with the bracket that attaches to the boat.  

Soon on our way again and turned onto the Oxford and moored just short of the Napton flight ready to go part way up tomorrow.  A small disappointment for Geoff as he had planned a pre supper pint at the Napton Bridge pub only to discover that it shuts on Tuesdays!!  Such is life.

Total distance:7.74 miles 
Elapsed time:3h47m11s 
Average speed:1.02 mph (3.66 lock/mph)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Long Itchington

another lovely misty morning giving promise of lots of sunshine
We delayed our departure until 9am in the hope that someone else would be on the move and we could buddy up in the locks but there was no one around initially.
However after 3 locks on our own we caught up with another boat who had stopped to water.   We shared locks for the next three but then wonder of wonders a fuel boat appeared.   I had spent yesterday searching online, thanks to John on Epiphany and Nick on Bisous who sent me a couple of links.  However I had not been able to contact the one who showed a likelihood of being anywhere near us.  But there he was, the NB Callisto.  Well timed although we lost our lock companions.
67P a litre and our own split.
Now filled up again I can turn the heating on in the morning without a care in the world!   We may be having glorious days but the mornings are a mite chilly.

Fours more locks to go including the Bascote pair.  There was a single boat coming down when we reached there so we were able to go up the bottom one as he came down the top one.

There was plenty of room at Long Itchington.  We had obviously timed it well as we had been told it was very busy at the weekend as one of the pubs had a cider festival.

An afternoon in the sun followed for me.

I only nodded off for a minute!
Total distance:4.96 miles 
Elapsed time:3h46m55s 
Average speed:1.31 mph (3.96 lock/mph)

Sunday, 27 September 2015

Sunday in Radford

St Nicholas Church Radford Semele
The link above will show the story of the restored church which suffered severe damage in an arson attack in 2008.
The inside is now very modern and with probably the plushest loos in any church.  Not a pew in sight!!
We have been here several times now and today their service was a Songs of Praise.  Members of their congregation had chosen their favourite hymns and it was a pretty good selection..apart from All Things Bright & Beautiful which for some reason Geoff cannot stand!!  At coffee afterwards they had some left over cake from their Harvest supper.......it seemed such a shame to refuse.

We decided not to visit the pub for our normal Sunday lunch as I had bought a nice piece of pork in Tesco, complete with crackling........something else good for the diet....

Saturday, 26 September 2015

Expensive fuel is not for us

A more gentle start to the day which was good as the mornings are getting somewhat chilly.

Just four locks to the bottom of the Hatton flight and then the two Cape locks.  Sadly no company today, but going down is fine, and we only use one gate and one paddle...just so Geoff does not have to overexert himself!!

With our change of route we now needed a replenishment of fuel and although they do everything else, the Saltisford Arm does not do fuel.  The next place was Kate Boats in Warwick.  I phoned ahead to check their price and was told it was 80P (we have only paid 70p anywhere else this year) and that we could only do a 60/40 split........in addition they didn't seem too keen to have our custom.  They said they were very busy and it was not a good day to come.  To be fair it was Saturday and turn around day I suppose but that was obviously a non starter so the next place is Calcutt.   I am told I shall have to ration the time the central heating is on in the morning until we reach there!

We stopped to shop in Tesco's in Warwick/Leamington.   On the canal I am never sure where Warwick ends and Leamington begins.   We also made a brief stop at Lidls for Geoff to stock up on his favourite chocolate.....(Good diet this!)

Then after a spot of lunch we carried on to Radford Semele.  Plenty of space to moor and the sun was still shining so out with the chair and put the washing out......

The ITV signal is a bit iffy so unsure whether we will carry on after church tomorrow or not, I need a good signal for Downton Abbey!

Only 6 locks today .  After the last 3 days that was dead easy.......
Having had it easy during most of August we have now done over 50 locks in 4 days.

Total distance:5.69 miles 
Elapsed time:5h26m28s (That did include shopping and a lunch stop)
Average speed:1.05 mph (2.15 lock/mph) 

Friday, 25 September 2015

Locks galore!

On Wednesday we did the 17 remaining locks to Kingswood Junction.   Such beautiful and tranquil countryside.  The sun was shining for us, although the one and only boat that appeared to be around was just in front of us!!!
Distinctive Stratford canal bridges
Boe is busy with the camera still looking for wild life.
Not a breath of wind
The familiar lock keepers cottages (or ex lock keepers cottages)

The trusty crew.  It makes a tremendous difference
having an extra pair of hands when there are lots of locks.
needs the gardeners attention!
Boe found a friend
I wonder if those poor people on the M40 know there is a better life down here
How lucky we are
We reached the top about lunch time but the water point was occupied...a boat drew up just as we were emerging from the lock!  However nothing was desperate so we carried on round the corner to moor.   Later we all took advantage of the hot showers.  Our shower is still not functioning properly.  Despite having plenty of hot water it lets us have some for about 30 seconds and it goes luke warm...a job for the winter methinks.

Just after 6 Geoff walked Boe and her large suitcase up to the station to catch her train....she is back to London for a couple of weeks before flying out to Vietnam for her new job.  We shall miss her on the boat.

Today we had another reasonably early start (8am) and reached the top of the Hatton flight about 10.  Much to our joy soon after we moored up to empty the loo and also to buy our bacon & egg baps from the cafe, another boat pulled up.  Considering there seem to be very few boats around we were fortunate.  So we had the company for the trip down of David & Helen on Petmar.  The sun shone again for us and we took it gently just opening one paddle and one gate.....no sense in over exertion.

We decided to call it quits after 17 locks and stopped for the day just below lock 30.   Four more to get to the bottom of the flight.

Total distance:5.88 miles 
Elapsed time:5h1m27s 
Average speed:1.17 mph (4.36 lock/mph)

Total distance:6.30 miles 
Elapsed time:4h51m22s 
Average speed:1.30 mph (2.94 lock/mph)