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 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 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 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)

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

back to narrow locks and canals

Part of the wedding party on the river.
There had been what seemed like a wedding going on all day Saturday and Sunday in the pub just by the bridge .   Lots of dancing and ladies in pretty brightly coloured saris.   At one stage all the gentlemen took to the river in several boats...everyone was having a whale of a time.

Boe insists on encouraging the swans!

After 2 1/2 weeks on the Avon it was sadly time to depart the river.....we nearly stayed over another day as the weather was not promising in the morning.   However the rain disappeared and we were off.   We hadn't seen any boat movement at all until we were nearly up into the basin and then guess what?  A boat pulled ahead of us off the pontoons.........we consoled ourselves with the thought that we were only planning on doing 5 locks before stopping to do a shop at Tescos.    It did make for a very slow start to the day as we seemed to wait ages for the other boat to get ahead.

Leaving Startford basin is a tight squeeze

Boe and I did the trek to Tescos which is not the closest we have used.   However our timing was good as we arrived back at Petroc as a boat was coming down the adjacent lock.   By now there were some ominous clouds above us an after a couple of locks we decided to call it a day.  Not quite in time however as the heavens opened as we were still mooring up and we became a little soggy.
It then became another afternoon of batten down the hatches and, in the case of Boe & I, a couple more episodes of House of Cards.

Today Wednesday dawned a much better day and we had a great run up 10 locks to Wooten Wawen.
I see no ships
The first boat we passed was a diddy little thing
Geffie and his mate
Obviously doesn't apply to ducks
The only bad part of the day was the Eddystone aqueduct.  I had completely forgotten how long it was and the fact that I would be on the side of the drop.....
Geoff had gone below and as we entered it I realised I did not want to be there!!!  I frightened Boe rigid with my telling for Geoff who seemed to take an age to appear.....I then retired below....
Now if we had been going the other way I would have been fine as the drop would have been on the opposite side to where I stand to steer......

Plenty of room for us to moor and we decided to frequent the navigation Pub for a final evening meal with Boe.  A good meal at reasonable prices.   Sadly they had syrup sponge on the menu so Boe & I ate very unhealthily...

Total distance:4.98 miles 
Elapsed time:3h31m0s 
Average speed:1.41 mph (4.26 lock/mph) 

Monday, 21 September 2015

Long weekend in Stratford

We certainly picked a good weekend.  There was a food festival on and dragon boat racing on the Sunday.   We were moored a little way back from where most of the crowds were and it was ideal, plenty to see without being in the thick of all the people.

Plenty of space to walk Barnaby
He tried hard but don't think he stood a chance of getting up!
Just below Trinity (Colin de Witter )lock the last of the locks on the Avon
One of the trees just trying out its autumn colours
On Saturday evening we went out for a meal with Ann Colver and family.   Ann is a friend from Cornwall who just happened to be visiting her son Toby and grandchildren Ophelia and Iris in Stratford so it was great to catch up with them all.  

On Sunday we had a visit from our son Giles and two of our 2 grandsons, Finley & Oscar and one of their friends.  We should have had granddaughter Ella  and daughter in law Susannah also but due to an accident on the M4 they did not make it to their home in time to depart for us.   

However those that did come had a good time watching the dragon boats, playing football, visiting the swings and the ice cream van!

Boe's photos always have lots of wild life in them.....

We still have Boe with us.  She is trying to get all her paperwork sorted out before departing for her new job in Vietnam.

I have been struggling with internet for the past 5 days....not lack of signal but lack of gigabytes!!!
I have a contract with 20GB a month which is normally quite sufficient but last month and this month it has been disappearing at a rate of knots.  I don't stream any video or music, purely emails, surfing the web and doing my blog.   I have turned off everything that I think may be doing things in the background so I cannot understand what is suddenly taking so much.   I have had several calls to EE but they assure me that their record cannot be wrong.  I did manage to get them to give me 1GB extra.  I think my allowance renews at midnight tomorrow night so hope it holds out.  I still find it very odd.

After two days at the weekend which started off very misty but came good later on, today we have no mist just lots of rain, a really grotty day.......Boe and I spent a fair part of it watching several episodes of House of Cards!!

Tomorrow is is onward and back to canal life.

Friday, 18 September 2015

and so to Stratford.

Under the narrow arch of the bridge at Bidford
The bridge itself is closed to motor traffic due to an accident.  We understand that a combine harvester last control.

A fair bit of rebuilding seems necessary....I wonder who is paying??
Six locks to do today but we have Boe with us still which makes things a bit easier.  Normally we have no problem with the two of us but coming up these Avon locks we have to have a fore and aft line on and take things very slowly.

Morning ablutions
There are some lovely large houses along this stretch......
Geoff says he would not like their lawns to mow!
Boe has been ruminating about living on a narrow boat on her own and
thought this might be about her size.
However since she wont even steer our boat it doesn't seem a very serious thought.  In addition she is shortly to depart for a 2 year contract teaching in the Australian International School in Vietnam
There are swans in abundance on this river.
A lot of good that notice did!!
Approaching Binton Bridge
We have been so lucky with the weather today.   The forecast last night did not look good and we considered staying over in Bideford as we didn't fancy 6 locks in the rain.....but there was no rain and lots of sunshine.
Although the river is not high there is quite a flow and care is needed at the approach to some of the locks as we pass the weir.  At Luddington lock we pulled over onto the right hand side landing stage then realised that because of the angle the two boats who had just entered the lock to descend would have trouble getting out so we decided to move over to the left hand landing stage to give them room.
When I was half way across they opened both paddles which made life somewhat difficult ....why are some people so impatient.....

After this lock we caught up with another boat so had company for the last two locks into Stratford. However because the locks are so wide we still have to tie fore and aft, but it was nice to have company.

Very pretty approach to Stratford
But a bit of wellie needed to get past the outflows from the weirs.
Someone has been round and done a very neat job
trimming the bottom of these willows.
and so to the recreation ground moorings where there were several boats moored but plenty of space for us.

Total distance:9.22 miles 
Elapsed time:4h36m21s 
Average speed:2.00 mph (3.09 lock/mph)

Thursday, 17 September 2015

Bidford on Avon

The Eagle has landed!!!!

In other words Boe has arrived, mind you somewhat later than anticipated.  She sat on the station at Oxford waiting for her train and continued to sit as everyone got on the train and left..........she blames the sign board which said her train was the second one in.....she then had to wait an hour and a half for the next one.

We had planned to stay in Evesham for an extra day as the forecast for Wednesday was dire.......and wrong!  The horrendous rain that was forecast did not arrive until late afternoon and then only lasted a short while and was not horrendous.  Still it gave us chance to have a wander around Evesham.  The park and the public toilets are wonderful but the town leaves a lot to be desired.  The toilets are managed by Wychavon district Council as are those at Pershore and both places they are scrupulously clean (3 times a day)

Today we decided to depart as and when we were ready which turned out to be 9am by the time Barney had had a good walk etc.
However some people were still not up
A crisp morning with lovely blue skies.

Evesham lock with it pretty lock house which used to me manned but no longer
The weir above the lock
Good paddling pool for the wildlife
solitary heron
cruising down the river.....but not on a Sunday afternoon

Lots of wildlife pictures today as we have Boe on board
The lighthouse at Offenham Lock
Just before Marcliff Lock we had great difficulty passing  a double long canoe full of children who were having a great time weaving about from side to side of the river.  We eventually passed them but round the next bend was the lock and two more loaded canoes just entering the lock......No 3 whom we had passed then came up to join them!!  We couldn't believe that they were going to take all those kids up the lock.   However the man in charge seemed to know what he was doing and the inflow from this lock was not as fierce as some of the previous ones.

Good place for a sunbathe??
Well hello there
When we reached the moorings at Bideford there was just room to get half of Petroc on the end as those same canoes were there taking up a fair bit of space.  However they were only staying for lunch so we were able to move back later on.

If we were continuing at our slow pace we would stay here for a couple of days but we have a date in Stratford so shall have to move on tomorrow.

In addition we have made the decision that we need to be in Fenny Stratford (Compton)by 1st October.   This is the first date that Lee Sanitation can come and see if they can repair our toilet.   So instead of paying for a call out fee we shall take the Mountain to to speak.   This means somewhat longer days than we have had over the last couple of months...

Total distance:8.01 miles 
Elapsed time:3h40m20s 
Average speed:2.18 mph (3.27 lock/mph)