Monday 10th August to Friday 14th August 2015
We were planning an earlyish start with the intention to sneak quietly over to the fuelling point as soon as the office opened but we were beaten by a hire boat coming through to water up; fortunately we did manage to time it perfectly for when they were moving and gently eased in behind as they headed off.
With the diesel price at 70ppl and self declare, we weren't about to miss that, and when a friendly cup of coffee was offered as well, it made it even better (the coffee coming from Paul and Elaine who were parked right alongside).
Reasonably soon we were filled and off, bidding them farewell until we know not when; also catching up with Richard (Pendle Warter) further along and having a quick canal-chat with him.
The weather was coolish to overcast and I guess we knew it wouldn't be too long before it would also be wet - our original intention was that we would like to get as far as King's Sutton and it was here that we finally moored up for the day - the rain did find us as we did the last couple of locks, so that was it.
Not long after Sue and Andy passed by - their mission was to travel further and we will catch them up some time in the next week.
Richard and Linda also found us and they decided it was enough and moored not too far in front.
Such was the weather that we didn't venture out and instead hibernated inside the boat.
The following day (Tuesday) was much better - at least it was a bit warmer and a lot drier and we cast off just before 9am.
I was "assaulted" at Grant's Lock as we were helping an older couple through the lock - the bottom gate taking a little bit of persuasion when I remarked that "these gates were just like a woman - all in their own time" when she gently slapped my arm - and I had only just met her - what would happen if she knew me better.
|We passed by The Pig Place which seemed to be full of ducks, geese, sheep and|
of course pigs - but I said no to Diane wanting to stop for a bacon sarnie
Banbury was close by and we started looking at potential mooring spots; we negotiated the services point -filling the water tank and emptying the loo; but the lock was a bit of a nightmare.
|Has there been a lot of babies being left here -|
notice in the Elsan Station in Banbury
Diane was on locking duties and whilst there seemed a steady stream of boats up and down, come the time for us to go up everyone disappeared right then, so she was on her own (not a problem), but as I was about to exit the lock, the very small holding basin above the lock suddenly became full of boats (from nowhere).
The boat to come down - a share-boat called nb Verity, which we know from Stone, was hovering right where I would need to be as I exited; the people on board seemed to have no idea of my path and despite advising them of where I would be going, seemed reluctant to move - so I didn't move either.
Finally they got the idea and moved across, but I still had a tight course to navigate to get around; the woman on the back was a bit lippy about it all until I set her straight and shut her up - she obviously was used to getting her own way - not this time though!
With another couple of boats to get around we cleared through and moored up right outside the Castle Quay shopping centre which we thought might have been a bit noisy at first, but later on actually was very quiet.
|Banbury Cross in the background|
|and the fine lady|
|we thought that this deserved a mention as well|
Richard and Linda cruised through some time later (we had already disappeared to start exploring Banbury) and moored up a little further on and on the other side of the canal.
After a cuppa with them we did a bit more exploring and then headed off to Morrisons to raid the shelves - the only thing lighter coming back was the wallet.
In the morning Diane was consulting the weather apps on her phone and realised that Thursday and Friday were both showing as particularly wet days ahead and thought it might be wise to have a full-on day on today and then rest up after that; so we informed Richard and Linda who agreed and we were off.
It was a brilliant day for cruising and whilst at times the canal was shallow for everyone, it was still far better than doing it in the wet.
We made reasonably good time until we hit Cropedy - a music festival was in preparation and whilst not a canal event, it was an event and the mooring spots were full and overflowing, meaning a very slow passage past breasted up boats, narrow water to gently ease past other boats - moored and moving.
|Through Cropedy - this was a wide part|
|Get Diane enough cider and she will do her Dolly Parton impersonation -including|
singing this little number
At one point we had a chicane to get through with a boat coming the other way past a breasted boat; we were heading for a moored boat, the owner appearing in the cratch (reasonably concerned) - as it looked to him that we would be hitting head on, a gentle lean on the tiller and we cleared the boat with centimetres to spare - the relief on his face was priceless, but it was the only way to get through - the steerer on the other boat was just as precise and in fact we both knew what each other was doing and had to do.
Not something that I can say about the steerer on a small sea otter called Grandad's Dream who was coming out of Cropedy Marina at speed, seemingly intent on beating us around the bend - he of course should have been giving way to us and his actions in just coming straight out caused us to have to slam hard in reverse; he was going so fast that he didn't make the turn - even in his little 35 footer and once he got going again promptly turned again to head into the other part of the marina - all of that fuss for absolutely b____r all - you have been named!!
I have now decided that rather than getting hot under the collar at the time - it will be far better from my point of view to name and shame these stupid acts (hopefully I might even get some pictures next time) - if someone thinks that I have done something wrong then that is their perogative as well - I will be trying as much as possible to keep from shouting at someone on the canals.
|This was a case of "What if.?" - is that bridge going to be strong enough?|
|One for Dot|
|just for Mitch|
Richard and Linda were following behind and as the day progressed they eventually decided to moor before tackling the Claydon Locks, but we continued - our objective to go as far as we felt comfortable with - finally mooring at Fenny Compton, which I think had a lot to do with Diane wanting to try out the Wharf Inn the following night - for what reason I could never be certain but I had my suspicions.
Thursday - seems that today was a special of note for both Diane and I - it marked our 32nd wedding anniversary, which we both remembered.
As usual there was the morning coffee(s) in bed for Diane - nothing different to any other day; we did have a rest day (we didn't move the boat) but she wasn't going to be allowed to slack around - she has autumn cleaning to do, so I supervised her progress from the dinette as I continued with my work.
Later, we both did have dinner at the Wharf Inn - of course I knew what she wanted to do, and we were joined after dinner by Linda and Richard (and Muffin) for a drink as well - a low key enjoyable day to celebrate another year of wedded
blitz bliss .
Heavy rain that night was nice to hear on the roof - it really is one of the nicest sounds on the canal - lying in bed listening to it pelting down.
Friday was a short cruising day - we escaped early to beat the showers - our intent was to get to Bridge 129 to moor up and enjoy the views over the plain - there was a little bit of mizzle about, but we were safely moored up before any heavier rain arrived.
It was also a bit of a rest day as well - just a bit of this and that and a bit more relaxation on the whole - now we are ready for the weekend.
One thing to look forward for us is that Howard and Janet (nb Compass Rose) having completed their crossing of The Wash are heading this way and arrangements have been made to catch up with them in Braunston around mid-week next week. Looking forward to seeing you both.
|This is a photo from last year when we were in Melbourne, but Mitch posted it|
on Facebook for our anniversary- I like it, so I have posted it here as well
21 Miles, 17 Locks
YTD: 709 Miles (1141 km) , 398 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 11
13 Swing Bridges
Totals: 3603 Miles (5798 km) , 2519 Locks, 110 Tunnels, 45
164 Swing Bridges