Friday, 29 June 2012

Napton and a Wet Spot then Home

Tuesday saw us pull pins and descend the Napton flight. Not a good day for Spot as she decided to re-enact the scene from Robin Hood when he meets Little John at the river and neither will give way. At Napton Top Lock Spot went to cross the lock when a collie from the boat coming up the flight decided to cross at the same time. Neither dog would give way so they tried to pass each other in the middle of the lock. The collie dog was smart enough to take the inside path which left Spot with nowhere to go but in the cut, big splash, grabbed by the scruff and pulled out by Jan, very depressed dog for the rest of the day. Now don't get me wrong, Spot loves a swim, but at her time of choosing. Falling in results in howls of laughter from mum and dad, Spot hates to be laughed at!

Moored at Napton, just around the corner from the Folly Inn so we popped in for a couple of pints of Hooky at lunchtime and booked a table for the evening.

Wednesday we stayed at Napton, had a walk around the village plus the obligatory pint in the Red Lion in the middle of Napton, Abbot Ale kept and served well. Talking to the landlord the pub is owned by Punch Taverns, this company, along with Enterprise Inns, are doing their very best to destroy thousands of village pubs. Their strategy makes it almost impossible for landlords to make a living. Both companies are making massive losses and are selling pubs to make ends meet, but they seem incapable of a change of strategy.

Thursday was a short run back to Braunston to leave TM for a week while we come back to help with the Music in the Park event in Donington. Home by 4pm and missed all the rain, spent 10 mins in the shower watching the water go down the plughole!

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

The Dreaded Flies

Sunday started with the Cropredy church bells, this continued for about 2 hours. Now I like church bells as much as the next man, but 2 hours gets a bit monotonous. We walked to the local Spar shop (quite a good shop with quite a wide range of consumables) and topped up with supplies before heading back towards Fenny Compton. It was a longish day with 9 locks before we were back onto the Oxford summit.

As we came through lock 22 a chap heading to Cropredy said he had encountered a swarm of horse flies between lock 22 and 21. He was right, in the half mile between the locks I got bitten 4 times, Jan stayed in the boat as she reacts badly to horse fly bites usually resulting in large blisters.

We arrived at Fenny Compton to find that all the moorings were occupied. This was the second time in four days we had arrived to find nowhere to moor. There are two 14 day and one 48 hour moorings here, probably more than at Cropredy which is a more interesting place to visit. So why so popular?

Three of the five boats moored on the 48 hour mooring were the same boats that were moored there on Thursday. At least 5 boats on the 14 day moorings looked like they had not moved in 14 weeks. I assume its popularity stems from a large car park and a main road with a bus service. I am sure this practice does the pub no favours as we finally moored way past the end of the long term moorings and spoke to at least half a dozen boats that wanted to go to the pub but couldn't find a mooring.

Monday was a lazy day, a couple of hours ambling through the beautiful countryside of the Oxford summit in glorious sunshine (plus the odd encounter with more horse flies). We moored on a remote spot below bridge 122 just after lunchtime, then out came the chairs and parasol.
Moored on the Oxford Summit

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in the sun, with the odd boat that moored for lunch then moved on. By evening we were alone, watching the sun set and listening to the birds singing.

It's a hard life afloat!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Onward to Chiropody (another of Jan's misnomers!)

After all the visitors over the previous few days we decided it was time for some peace and quiet. We waited for the rain to stop then walked to the CoOp in Fenny Compton for some supplies - lovely village with lots of re-builds in local stone, then pulled pins and headed for Cropredy. The weather held fine if a little windy, and we had a very present cruise until we reached Claydon Middle Lock and decided it was a nice spot to moor.
Tilly May moored above Claydon Middle Lock
We took Spot for a long walk, cooked tea (no pub!) and had an early night. The highlight of  the day was Jan's super fast recue of the parasol as it opened in the wind, pivoted on its end and plunged into the cut. Fast as lightning she pushed past me and grabbed the end as it went past the stern. It was returned to the roof with some string around it to stop same happening again.  Jan got collared by a chap on the bank walking his greyhound lurcher Badger.  He was full on describing the tatty jacket he had on saying he had a "posh one on the boat", that the one he was wearing was'nt very waterproof - Jan was in short sleeved tee-shirt.  As he regaled his life history the heavens opened and he bemoaned he was going to get wet yet continued his rambling while Jan got absolutely soaked.  Nice chap though!

Next morning the sun shone so we made a relatively early start aiming to moor at Cropredy by about 11am. We went through Cropredy lock, took on water, winded, and went back through the lock to moor just above bridge 152.
Africa Linx

As we walked through Cropredy we noted that there seemed to be a fair few people about. It turned out today was the Church Fete and the 'Africa Linx' Festival at the Brasenose Arms. We spent the afternoon at the Festival with a lot of folk who, I think forgot to go home when the last Fairport Convention concert finished (or maybe even the first!) Finally a meal and a pint at the Red Lion.

The plan today is to head back up the Oxford so we can leave TM at Braunston again next weekend. 
Africa Linx Drummers

We return to Donington for  "Music in the Park" then back down and south on the Grand Union to, hopefully meet up with my cousins at Stoke Bruerne. This, however may change as all plans on canal journeys seem to evolve daily.

Friday, 22 June 2012

Visitors then on to Fanny Craddock.

Kate, Jake, Shaun & Steve arrived from Donington about lunchtime on Wednesday. We had a great afternoon lounging about in the sun drinking Spritz and eating picnic; this consisted of the home-made pies and pickles we had bought from the butcher's in Braunstone - if you have the chance, they are a must to get, absolutely delicious! The picnic gave us a chance to try out our parasol which has been sat on the roof of the boat since we set off at the beginning of May.

To make life better some kind chap from British Waterways cut the grass on the tow path so we had plenty of room without blocking folks' way as they walked by. 
An added bonus of the day was Shaun's obsession with cleaning, which saw him lying on the roof of the boat cleaning the brass! Thanks Shaun!
In the evening we went to the Folly Inn for a few pints and a meal. I had the faggots because yesterday they had sold out and I had felt deprived. They were worth the wait!  In fact everyone said how good the food was. The Folly Inn is definitely worth a stop, the beer is good, the food excellent, and the landlord is a bit eccentric, who could ask for more? After saying farewell to the troops we retired, happy, full, and tired.

Yesterday saw us head back (after a tricky little manoeuvre  which required reversing TM back past half a dozen moored boats so we could spin around in the winding hole) to Napton Marina for a pump out as all the visitors over the last couple of days had had its toll on our poo tank.  Then spin around again and up Napton Flight and on to Fenny Compton.  All the locks except one were in our favour - who could have asked for more?

At Napton Top Lock we were surprised to see a herd of Buffalo grazing in the field next to the canal. Obviously Oxfordshire is famous for mozzarella!

The South Oxford canal is a joy to travel on, it's very rural and very winding. From Napton top lock to Fenny Compton we saw one farm, no tow path walkers and three boats. We stopped in the middle of nowhere so that Spot (aka Kiera) could have a walk in a wood by the canal and we finally arrived at Fenny Compton about 5pm (Jan Quote "Where the hell are we, Fanny Craddock or something").

Just as the Met Office had predicted the weather turned for the worst at about 3:30 so we were wet and tired and became very pi**ed off to find that all the 48h and 14d moorings were occupied. Some of the boats on the 48h moorings looked like they had been there for weeks! We eventually  moored on a long term mooring that we were told had not been occupied all year, as the saying goes "what's good for the goose is good for the gander", if you can't beat 'em join 'em.

Guess what!
We went to the Wharf Inn last night and had yet another great meal. If you stop here you have to try the Steak and Stilton Pie with mash, roast root veg and pickled cabbage -  Fantastic!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

A slow run to Napton, Not

Well yesterday we did it, we managed to get lost on the canal. Let's be honest, navigation on the inland waterways is not rocket science, mostly you can go forwards or backwards. Sometimes things get complicated when you get to a junction, but normally you have a choice of left or right, and with a small amount of research the correct decision takes moments, and in any case, a guess will work 50% of the time.   So how come we ended up heading towards Rugby on the Oxford Canal when we should have been heading south on the grand Union Canal. This minor miscalculation was detected by Jan after about 20 mins steaming in the wrong direction. "What bridge number was that........ There isn't a bridge with that number! Oops!". The next winding hole was an hour in the wrong direction so we finally moored at the Folly Inn in Napton at just after 5pm, three hours later than expected.

During our journey south we had a call from James and Irene in their new motor home. They were heading south from Scotland and were looking for a meet-up.  We first met James and Irene about 15 years ago when they took over The Cross Keys pub in Castle Donington. They later ran a fantastic hotel, The Forest Inn on Dartmoor. So in a way they have been responsible for the general state of our livers and the instigators of some of our worst nights of over indulgence. They too have sold their business and are about to depart for the continent for unknown destinations and for unknown duration. We had a great night in the Folly Inn, the Hooky was excellent and the food top drawer (can't write a post without mention of food!). Had a cuppa and a chat with them this morning and said our fond farewells; however this was after Irene had managed not to throw up as "the boat moves" - god knows how she's going to cope with a ferry crossing over the Channel!! Hope you have a great time chaps, keep in touch!

Today we stay at Napton and are expecting Jan's sister Kate, her son Jake, and Steve and Shaun, mind you, Kate's navigational skills are worse than mine so we hope they at least head out in the right direction. We hope to have a nice picnic with the Pork and Caramelised Onion Pie and the Stilton, Chilli Jam and Pork pies from the butchers in Braunston. More of this later.....

Thursday, 14 June 2012

The Wesleyan Chapel & Sabbath in the Mud

I have been very remiss in not posting since we left the boat. It was disappointing to have to leave TM but Jan needed time to get over her cracked ribs and I had a wedding to photograph with my mate Colin.

Colin was also returning from a two week trip on the canals with Rick and Mark on  Asanewt, maybe you were unfortunate enough to be moored next to them on the Asbly or Coventry Canals. We hoped to meet up with the boys for a beer while they were cruising but it just didn't happen, maybe later in the year chaps.

Anyway, Christine and Shaun's wedding went well despite the constant rain. The Old Wesleyan Chapel in Derby is a good venue for a wedding, if a little dark for taking photos, but we coped ok.

On October 10th 1975 a long haired 17 year old youth went to the Birmingham Odeon to see Black Sabbath in concert. This was the year before I went off to University in Nottingham.
Black Sabbath @ Dowload 2012

Black Sabbath @ Dowload 2012

On June 10th 2012 a grey haired fat bloke went (with his lovely wife) to Donington Download Festival to see Black Sabbath close the festival. This was the year I retired.
When Ozzy walked on stage he did look like a man who had lived a full life  (let us be honest, he has done bloody well to live as long as he has), but when he just seemed to flip into Ozzy mode and he took we straight back to that night in 1975. The performance was fantastic, I even forgot how badly my legs ached after standing in one place for 5 hours.
Live long Ozzy, you give me hope!

Jans ribs are still not up to par so we have extended our stop at Braunston another week. The plan is to be back and rolling by next Tuesday. I am looking forward to getting back afloat.