Monday, 27 May 2013

What happened to the Rain - Monday 27th May 2013

We left the boat at 9.30 am and joined the queue to go into the Crick Show at 9.55am and were surprised just how many people had arrived so early. Perhaps it was the lovely dry sunny weather even if there was still a strong cool breeze, hence the coats in the picture.
A Crick queue
We made our way straight down to the floating boat show area before it got too busy and had a look around the boats to see if there were any ideas we could could use on Autumn Myst. Whilst there were some nice boats on show we could not see anything which we felt matched ours and so went away very happy with our lot.
C Show Boats
As we turned to go back into the main show ground we bumped into Adam and Adrian who invited us back to Nb Briar Rose to have a look at their new paintwork, which I must say looked a treat as did Adams Buckby Can. It was good to see and chat with Adam again and to meet Adrian, hope to catch up with you again in the future. Looking forward Adam, to reading your boat reviews in Canal Boat.
B Briar Rose new paint
Ian and Karen from Nb Tacet had recommended that we should visit the Wild Side Preserves stand run by Andy and Helen Nb. Wand'ring Bark and after sampling their produce mainly collected from alongside the canals we made a purchase of some lovely Plum and Elderberry Preserve.
E Wild side produce
We had to visit the Beta stand (which we would have done anyway) as Adam had told us that they were offering oil and fuel filters for £5, and excellent purchase was thus made. From the Bedazzled stand we bought a 12v  LED bulb to replace the 240v bulb in our table lamp.
As we wondered around the various trade stands we came upon the BCF (Boating Christian Fellowship) and met Guide Dog Oakley and his owner Tracey Clarke so were able to get our dog fix after losing Phoenix. We had a lovely chat to Tracey and found out that she had spent the last two weeks on a narrow boat and Oakley had been helping her work the locks even to the extent of helping to push the gates open. This was the first time Oakley had been on a boat and whilst he enjoyed the experience he was not too happy when the engine was started. So it just demonstrates taking our pups on the boat is a great experience and they may well end up working for an owner on a boat. Tracey is the editor of BCF Word, their magazine and I was able to obtain a copy of an article Oakley had written about his life so far which I will pass on to our Puppy Walking Magazine, Puppytails, which I used to edit as they are always looking for new and interesting articles.
F Oakley
With tired feet we left the show and headed back to the boat to collect the final load and make our way home.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

It was in the Diary!!! - Sunday 26th May 2013

Today was a day of cleaning, particularly Phoenix's hairs from all the odd nooks and crannies that they seem to find their way and those important maintenance jobs which need to be done like tightening the stern gland and removing any grease and muck from the collection vessel under the gland. I also cleaned out the squirrel stove as hopefully we will not need it on the next trip.

Then it was off home with the first load of clothes and dog bits and pieces that are not to be left on the boat. It was also the opportunity to see out neighbours who we have not seen for four months as they were away in New Zealand and Australia when we left.
June took the opportunity of having a nice hot bath something she really misses on the boat, so on the next boat will have to have one.

Back at the boat we relaxed in the lovely sun and did a few more odd jobs ready for our visit to Crick tomorrow and then our final trip back home.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Back Home - Saturday 25th May 2013

A lovely sunny and calm morning meant that we could not stay in bed and so were up and off at 6.45 with June taking the boat down the three Hillmorton Locks. I love to see this old pickup parked next to the Bistro between the first and second locks.
A Morris Wagon
We motored on passed just a few moored boats at the bottom of the locks and then saw that C&RT are putting in more Armco which will extend the existing visitor moorings which must get busy at peak periods like this bank holiday weekend.B extra mooring Hillmorton
As we went under Kent Road Bridge with its images of Rugby we came across “The 70’s Boat” which meant that we were nearing home.
C The seventies Boat
There had been several land slips like this one along the stretch of canal to Clifton Wharf no doubt due to the wet weather we have had over the last year. Fortunately all trace of the fallen trees had been removed.
D Land slips
We came upon  Nb. Waiouru at about 7.45 am and I was going to say that they Tom and Jan were still asleep but having just read their blog I would have been wrong as they were up as early as  we were to go off on their travels but by car.
E Wauiru
At Clifton wharf there is another section of Canal Art depicting the Railways of Rugby.
F Canal Art Rugby
Making an early start meant that we had missed all the returning hire boats and only saw a couple of other boats on the move until we reached our marina when there was one coming out of the entrance as we arrived and another approaching the entrance as we went in. The marina seemed a hive of activity with lots of people getting their boats ready for the bank holiday run. Glad we are not out as it will be a busy time with all the nice weather being forecast.
As I was negotiating the turn into our mooring spot these swans came out with father, mother and a signet paddling away but mother had another 6 signets on her back tucked up under her wings. Later they marched across the roadway and down the field to the pools and started feeding in the shallow water.
G Signets
Autumn Myst safely moored up on the pontoon after her 8 week run to Bath and back covering:-
Miles:                 366    
Locks:                297
Swing Bridges:    98  of which 38 were normally left open.
Tunnels:                8
Aqueducts:          26 small and 4 major ones (Dundas and Avoncliffe)
H Back Home
Once we were safely secured on the pontoon I walked the couple of miles into Brinklow and caught the No.585 bus to Coventry. A relief bus arrived and the driver said that she had just seen a bad accident between a motorcyclist and a car on the sharp bend where the road turns off for Easenhall. The bus calls at the University Hospital and we had to wait before we could go to the bus stop at the hospital entrance for the Air  Ambulance to land and take off as the helipad is adjacent to it. I wondered if the helicopter had any connection with the accident the driver had seen.
Arriving in Coventry I was going to have a look around whilst I waited for my next bus but it turned up before I could move away from the stop and so off I went back home to collect the car and return to the marina.
June had been cleaning the inside of the boat whilst I was gone and continued in the afternoon whilst I touched up a few of the battle scars from our trip to ensure that the rust did not take hold. Then we just enjoyed the lovely warm afternoon and evening chatting to our fellow boaters.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Windy Friday - Friday 24th May 2013

The forecast was for strong winds and rain from about 10.00am so we decided to make a move at 7.00am and get as far as we could before the bad weather arrived. There were not many boats moored on the way to Braunston which is unusual as this area is a popular spot as it over looks the lovely Warwickshire countryside so we made good progress. On route we passed this small boat being used as an advertising hoarding for E-canalmapp.
A Ecanalmapp
Braunston Church and windmill soon came into view and then we were approaching the junction, turning left for the Hillmorton locks or right for Norton Junction.
B Braunston approach
As we made the left turn a family of Swans with 6 signets decided to negotiate the narrow turn under the bridge and in an attempt to give them room to squeeze by I nearly got blown into the wall opposite as it is a tight turn and a strong wind was now blowing across the channel. Judicious use of the bowthruster and reverse gear enabled us to successfully negotiate the turn without incident to the boat or swans.C Signets squashed
We battled on against an ever strengthening cold wind sharing the steering so that we could take it in turns to go below to get warm and  reached Hillmorton Wharf where we called into The Canal Shop to fill up with diesel and change the gas cylinder. We always find them to be competitive and friendly.
As we approached Hillmorton Top lock the wind became gale force and it started to spit with rain to we decided to moor up rather than go down the locks. No sooner had we moored up than the rain and wind increased even further so we were glad that we were warm and snug inside the boat.
After lunch the rain seemed to ease a little so I decided to get the bus into Rugby and take advantage of the two for one offer that the Visitor Information Centre were giving on Crick Boat Show tickets. I picked this up from the website of Tom and Jan on Nb Waiouru . The buses run every 15 minutes just 5 minutes walk from the mooring by the newsagent and it takes about 15 minutes to get into Rugby.
A quick walk around Rugby to see the school which was founded in 1567 by Lawrence Sheriff, purveyor of spices to Queen Elizabeth I, as a Free Grammar School for the boys of Rugby and Brownsover. In the following century the School’s fate remained uncertain and in 1651 it all but collapsed, but by 1667 Rugby was acquiring a name for scholarship and it developed rapidly under a series of outstanding masters, including Henry Holyoake (1688–1731),
D rugby School
The 19th century saw publication of the first schoolboy novel by Thomas Hughes, now immortalised in a white marble statue in front of the Temple Reading Room. Tom Brown's School Days. The entrance to the school and the view of it over the playing fields does remind me of the Oxford Colleges we saw last week.                                                     The School is well know for the actions of a local lad called William Webb Ellis who in 1823 first ran with the ball and invented the game of rugby football.
On my way back to the bus I stopped off at the outdoor market to buy some strawberries and spotted that M & S had a meal deal for £10 on so nipped in to buy one.
Walking back to the boat from the bus stop it was as much as I could do to get through the railway tunnel, the wind was so strong. Then June told me the news that a Hillmorton hire boat had just bashed into the side of our boat. Apparently he had just taken the boat over and did not understand how to handle the boat in such windy conditions. The strong wind had blown him off course and June had had to shout instructions to him on how to get off our boat. I looked down the canal through the bridge hole and could see him stretched across the canal with the moorers there trying to get him off their boats. I wish the Hire Companies would not let inexperienced helmsmen out in such windy conditions, he could have caused a serious accident. Fortunately it appears to be only bits of the paint which has been scrapped off the gunnels.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Early Start - Thursday 23rd May 2013

The weather forecast for the day was rain coming in at about 11.00 am so we decided as we were awake to make an early start and so left our moorings at 6.20 am. Just after we cast off we passed a boat going the other way with the same idea. Other than that one we did not see another boat until we were going down the Napton flight and caught up with a single hander going back to Knowle Hall Wharf. As we came into the Napton flight we spotted a couple of fields of Water Buffalo grazing on the Alsop family farm at Chapel Green in Napton. After several generations of milking Friesians in Napton, they decided to diversify into milking Water Buffalo. At the end of 1999 they had 20 milking cows and a bull. In 2007 they increased the Buffalos to 80 milkers and have since grown and are now milking approximately 140 cows with around 100 young stock. The Buffalo are a well known sight to boaters on the Oxford Canal. The farm produces Buffalo Cheese, Ice cream and Buffalo meat. A buffalo
At the penultimate lock in the flight the volunteer lock keepers came on duty and one of them helped us through the lock with his dog, Nala, who would help him open and close the gates.Apparently on their trip to London she had been the most photographed dog on the cut.
B Lockies Dog helps open gate
As we passed Wigrams Turn Marina we saw our first Signets of the year, they were enjoying themselves on the bank at the entrance.
C Signets
We moored up at one of our favourite spots just passed Lower Shuckburgh at a convenient bridge for long standing friends Sue and Pauline to come for lunch. We had a great afternoon chatting and putting the world to rights.
D Sue and Pauline
The evening turned out much better than forecast so I took a walk up to the village of Flecknoe which is about 3/4 of a mile from the canal up on the hill and is a mixture of new and old properties. It has the Old Olive Bush pub which hosts a quiz on a Thursday night and we were tempted to go along but as we were up so early we did not think our brains would work well enough. Next to the pub is the Old Post Office and a little further on is the Manor House with its pillared entrance gate.
Flecknoe stands on a hill between 450 ft. and 540 ft., from which the ground falls steadily to about 270 ft. on the northern edge of the parish. It was presumably on the summit of this hill that the windmill stood which is mentioned as belonging to the Manor of Flecknoe in 1587 and 1687

E Flecknoe
I was pleased to see that in 1987 the village introduced a set of stocks opposite the pub as a deterrent, this has long been a method of punishing wrong doers that I have advocated. It must be working as they did not look as if they had been used in a long time. The views from the hill top over the Warwickshire countryside were truly amazing both in beauty and distance one could see. Walking back to the canal across the fields on a bridleway I came across several Owl Boxes so we will keep a good watch out towards dusk. I was intrigued by the cast iron sign still fixed to the bridge warning that it should only be used for “Ordinary Traffic of the District”, by order of the Company.
E 2 Flecknoe

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

The Oxford Summit Pound - Wednesday 22nd May 2013

This morning we left our mooring at the top of Claydon Locks and headed gently through the narrow remains of what had been the Fenny Compton Tunnel to the wharf where we moored up and walked into the village which is about 1 mile away. The Candy Boat had set up business at the wharf but as there was a cool wind blowing I doubt if he did much business.
C 1 Wharf and Candy Boat plaque
As we walked along the lane towards the village we passed the premises of Lee Sanitation the well known loo provider for narrow boats and next door was the Formula 1 hovercraft racing teams headquarters. Not what you would expect in the middle of the Warwickshire countryside.
B Fenny Businesses
Entering the village from the wharf means that you see the newer properties but as you reach the school and church the older properties become evident. There are some particularly interesting cottages which back on to the churchyard. No problem with the neighbours though.
The village name which means " settlement in a marshy valley", is very apt as it has its own water company, which is the smallest in England and was founded in 1886. C Fenny compton
The Methodist church is squeezed between these two houses and the Old School House is adjacent to the new school hopefully as a reminder of what it used to be like.
D Fenny old school and Methodist church
on a small green next to a relatively new housing development stands this large stone block and on the back is map of the village and its surroundings at the start of the third millennium.
On our way to the village we met a couple returning to the wharf and started to chat. What a small world it is; they had followed us up Claydon Locks and we had had brief chats then but now it turned out that they, Pam and Keith Nb. More Content, were friends of Michael and Angela of Nb Levick who we know from our marina.
We returned to the boat and after some lunch motored on towards Napton but decided to stay in a lovely spot we had seen on the way down with gorgeous views over the valley towards the Windmill on Napton Hill, some 7 miles way by canal, and the Burton Dassett Hills.
E Fine Views and Napton
I decided to go for a walk on my own as June is not as keen as Phoenix was and did a circular walk taking in the lovely village of Wormleighton. and the site of its medieval village. The photos show the old Manor House, original home of the Spencer family of Althorpe fame, and its Gate House which date back to 1613 and the lovely 12th century St Peters Church together with some of the thatched cottages which make up the hamlet. Unbelievably the old forge shown at the bottom left is now the Forge Recording Studio.
F Wormleighton views
F 1 Forge Recording studio
this is the site of the Medieval Village of Wormleighton and the outlines of earthworks can still be seen.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Gates and Fenders - Tuesday 21st May 2013

Last night we had an email from our friends on the K & A with these photos attached. As they left Newbury on Sunday and approached Guyers Lock they saw a boat disappearing into the distance. When they got to the lock they found the gate lifted off its hinge and lying at an angle and the paddles open. It looked as though the crew had not been concentrating and got the bow stuck under the gate and as they let the water in it lifted the gate off its base. Not too sure how they managed to get the boat out of the lock though. Our friends had to reverse back 3/4 of a mile to Newbury as C& RT say it may be a week before they can get a crane to the site to repair the gate. Several other boats are now stranded including hire boats trying to get back to Hilperton.
K Gates
It was strange waking up this morning without a cold wet nose being pushed into my face but we were still up early and ready to sail at 7.15 am. Before going however we had a birthday card to post and found this quaint post box by the Council House, unusual nowadays with its vertical posting slot.
A Banbury Post Box
June took the boat out of Banbury and through the first three locks just like a professional and this enabled me to have a good look around as we motored along. This goose with sticky out wing feathers and standing on one leg was spotted just beyond Grimsbury Wharf.
B Goose one leg
The canal makes a sharp right hand turn away from the A4321 road and this house can be seen on the bend. I presume that it belongs to Dink and Malc as they have their picture on the house wall. Real posey what!
C 1 Picture on House
These two donkeys were making quite a noise as we approached, it seemed as though they were having a go at one another.C donkeys
Could not resist taking this photo of the lovely foal with its mom.
G Foal with mom
Approaching Cropredy there is a garden centre on the off side and they have these giant flower pots outside their poly tunnel. Must cost a fortune to fill them with plants.
D Giant Flower pots
We stopped in Cropredy to fill with water (a fast filler) and visited the well stocked village shop, Bridge Stores, for paper, milk and biscuits. It is worth supporting the shop if you can as they do have a good range of produce and at reasonable prices.
F Brideg Stores Copredy
On the outskirts of Cropredy is the new Marina due to open in summer 2013 according to the sign. It looks as though there is still a lot of work to be done
L Cropredy Marina
As we neared Broadmoor Lock we spotted this Fungi which was so large I did not need the telephoto lens to get a picture from the boat.
H Fungy
We followed a couple of Kiwis in a hire boat from Cropedy to the top of Claydon Locks and June helped them through the locks as it was the first time they had  been on the canals and they were finding the experience a little daunting. We moored up just beyond the locks next to Phils Fenders with Phil working on the back of his boat. I must say he was making a nice neat job of them and his own design of side fender looked very good. He was fulfilling an order for Whilton Marina and if you are in the market for some new fenders give him a call, he will be plying the Oxford for the next few weeks.
I  Phil the Fender
I a Phil the Fender

Monday, 20 May 2013

University Here I Come - Monday 20th May 2013

This morning I took Phoenix a long walk over the park, around the reservoir and back via the woods and canal and here she is playing with a rope she found. Not a care in the world.
A phoenix
Ian and Karen from Nb Tacet came in for a coffee before they headed off as it will probably be the last time we will see them on this trip. Nice to have met you both and we hope that you enjoy the rest of your tour of the canals.
We decided that we had better take a picture of each of us with Phoenix before the dreaded time came for her to leave.
B Phoenix last photo
Our Guide Dog Supervisor, Mark arrived about 11.30 am and after a chat about Phoenix’s progress and general behaviour we all went for a quick lunch so that Mark could get Phoenix back to her trainer in Birmingham and she could be settled in with her boarders well before bedtime.
We returned to the boat and said our goodbyes, Mark put her in the back of his car which was parked by the side of the boat. June stayed in the boat and I rushed back and we both had a good cry as he drove off with her. Later he texted us to say that she had arrived safely and her trainer was taking her to the boarders at 3.00 pm.
C Pheonix leaves
We busied ourselves tidying the boat, shopping and chatting to our neighbours and later in the evening went to Morrisons to buy a big fat cake each to cheer ourselves up.
We would like to say a big thank you to everybody who has emailed, texted or blogged that they are thinking of us on this difficult day. Your support has been a great help and comfort.

Sunday, 19 May 2013

A What's it - Sunday 19th May 2013

Whilst out on our early morning walk Phoenix and I spotted this unusual sight. Can you guess what it is. The answer is at the bottom of todays blog.
B whats this
There were some fantastic views over the countryside this morning including this field of yellow oilseed rape which was full of Yellow Hammers.
A early walk
To reach the walk we had crossed one of the many lift bridges on the Oxford Canal, after this one they were all left open up until the centre of Banbury where June had to open it using the hydraulically operated bridge gear.
C Lift Bridge
Our first lock of the day was the Aynho Weir Lock, another of the diamond shaped river junction locks. June again took the boat through the lock whilst I operated the paddle gear and heavy offset beam gates. This time however she drove the boat onto and through the next lock, Nell Bridge Lock. The photo shows her about to exit the now full lock.D june in Lock
At King’s Sutton Lock the apple blossom was out making a lovely backdrop with the sun shining on it.
E apple Blossom
A little further on we had this Kestrel hovering over head and then it perched on a dead tree a short way from the canal, for once I was able to get the camera out and take a reasonable photo whilst the boat was slowing down.
F Hawk
We reached Banbury in good time and the lock was in our favour with another boat waiting to come down so we were soon negotiating the lift bridge immediately before Tooley’s Boat yard. There was a boat waiting on the other side opposite the boats breasted up at the yard and when I tried to get through we got wedge together. A judicious bit of reversing and I managed to extricate myself and asked the other boat to move forward into the wider stretch of canal so that we could pass.  We moored up in the only available space with the bow under the foot bridge, not the ideal place with the clanking of feet as people walked across. June chatted up the owners of a boat a couple of spaces down the canal and they agreed to let us know when they were leaving in a few of hours time so that we could move into their spot. This they duly did and we managed to move just before another boat arrived to moor.
Photo looking back towards Tooley’s Boatyard and the foot bridge we initially had to moor under with Nb. Glastonbury Tor opposite.
G Banbury
I took Phoenix a quick walk in the park and spotted Nb Tacet moored next to it. Later Ian and Karen stopped by as they returned to their boat and we had a nice chat on the bankside.
After a relaxing afternoon we took Phoenix a walk through the park and around the sailing reservoir to the nature reserve in the woods beyond before returning to the boat for a late dinner.
The first photo is looking through the holes in the arches of this railway viaduct near to Chisnell Lift Bridge.
B 1 whats this