Sunday, 20 May 2018

A cold day then supper out but in.

Its all go here today, we're moving properly and everything.  There has been a complete change in the weather today as you can see, that was a major reason as to why we stopped on that sunny spot yesterday.  David has four layers on today and very soon I fetched his gloves too.

Last night's mooring.

Oh dear oh dear how very sad a sight this is.   

I googled the cottage just to the south of Cropedy and on a forum there was a discussion about its sad recent history.  It seems it was sold in the recent past and a boater who is from the area brought it at an auction, they quickly found that it is not benefitting from the new flood defence system in the area and now has water coming up through the floor in times of high water, there followed a fire and I gather now an impasse on the fate of the is cottage, which is now a shell without road access.  
One time we came through to find in the remnants of the garden a blackcurrant bush laden with ripe fruit, blackcurrants are David's favourite and cooked up a treat, but this year someone has unwittingly cleared the undergrowth taking the other fruit bushes with them and had a large bonfire.
Very sad, so enjoy this cottage while its here and let's all try to save the saveable next time.

Under the M40, I always feel very smug about the poor people having to be in cars when I am boating.... Super smug.

Into Banbury after a cold two hours, we moored in the centre of town for the novelty of it.

David needed to go food shopping, he had already talked to the man on the boat behind who complained bitterly about how far it was to Morrisons, oh you should have moored up down there he helpfully added...  Another boater was walking to Tesco.  I said that I wasn't in the mood for hiking and then weight lifting and suggested M&S.  He certainly was reluctant  but he is now a convert!  We got everything we wanted and a few bits more beside with no hiking involved.  Result.

Supper was M&S meal deal and was excessively delicious, coronation chicken patties (Chicken in tasty curry-esque) sauce with English asparagus and a bottle of white wine for £10.

A embarrassingly short day's cruising... even for us.

There spaces when we left Cropedy early this morning, when we arrived here there was only the end that we had squashed onto when we arrived a bit later in the day than we had hoped to have arrived.  

We left very early to secure a space on the water point.  It's in a rather User Unfriendly position for full sized boats.

I had rubbish to empty, of course I did, and this was the sight that greeted me.  Shocking.

Later I called the local office of CART to report the situation, I had to leave a message as answering the phone at CART could be an optional part of their roles, I said maybe you'd like to reply to this prior to me putting the photos up on social media.  That got a response.  
The Contractors are in dispute.  The first thing David said to me when he saw it was they'll never pick it up from the floor, so that might be part of it.  Lets hope the dispute is resolved to the satisfaction of all pretty quickly in this heat.

So this is the water point.  we are back as far as we can not to hinder traffic coming through the bridge, but this boat wanted to "Wind" or turn around and our nose is unavoidably stuck out in his way.

He was a highly skilled pilot and completed the manoeuvre successfully and no taps or tinks.

We as you can see the sun was shining and we were loving it.  We wanted to not arrive in Banbury today but to stop beforehand.  So after watering up, we had a forty minute cruise to the most lovely spot.  Now we have done short days before, but this is one on the shortest...  is it actually a cruise in your mind Reader?  Or a repositioning of the boat as hurtfully said by Boat Sharer David Lewis?

Still laughing about it as we tied up, we decided to go biking, 
We visited the two tiny villages of Great Bourton and then Little Bourton where I spotted these two little treasures, hours of loving care has gone into them by someone.  

The Bedford Dormobile, a 1970 is 48 years old, thats from the encyclopaedia that is David Lewis, didn't have the interior still in place but nevertheless a beauty and I do so love yellow cars.

I know nothing of the bike, if you do please do share your knowledge.

We had dwinks in the garden at the Brasnose Arms back in Cropedy, then went back to the boat to sit the sun and read.

To my mind the prettiest cottages in Cropedy.

Over exposed due to non stop sunshine.

Wonderful mooring.

Later we heard voices and then the boat was rocking like being on the ocean....

It was like being at the Olympics.

Look carefully and see one older gent who was coming the other way when the races started.

These "Races" went on for over an hour.  Its a sport here for young and old, boys and girls, men and women.  My only issue is you get yer hair wet, I would have to wear a shower hat.

Supper was a chicken Southern Pepper curry from the range by HERE  by Spice Tailor, I keep one or two of these in the cupboard as they taste divine and keep for months.

Thursday, 17 May 2018


Another hot and sunny day here, far too nice to go boating so we went on an outing instead. 

I can hear screaming from Boating enthusiasts but in reality this is a long yearned for and planned jaunt.  We were last there just over thirteen years ago and both have wanted to return since.  I was very excited.

So to non Garden Lovers, maybe scroll down fast, normal service resumed tomorrow.

Hidcote,    HERE      if you don't know is one of the best in the country, its known all over the world for its beauty. I'm not going to write too much about it as you can read it on the link.

Hidcote Manor House, not open to the public.

It has visitors from all over the world too, we dodged a really LOUD French group, their voices projecting so they could have been thought New Yorkers, luckily the gardens are so spacious we could avoid them (You could certainly hear them coming)....

Purple green and white to celebrate "Votes for Women" centenary.

Not chives but Alliums, same family though.

The stunning tulips were just beginning to turn.

Work of art those dicky birds.

We love these Acers, but sadly they won't grow at ours.

Candelabra primulars


White blossom is my fav, I'm not keen on pink.

Ooooo another gateway.

The orchards

I can imagine architectural historians would be moaning about replacing the glass roof with plastic, but that's recessions for you.

"The Avenue"

The Red Border.


We were going to rush to the NT Snowshill garden in the area as well but due to the sunshine and the certain knowledge that Hidcote couldn't be beaten, we came back to WaL to sit in the sun.
A stupendous day, if you like that sort of thing.

Supper was salmon steaks on a bed of green lentils, sun dried tomatoes and black olives, followed by a huge scone with jam and cream which we usually have at NT places but the cafe was so crowded we came away.

Tuesday, 15 May 2018

Napton to Cropedy

We set off from half way up the Napton Flight mid morning or so, just after breakfast.
In the next field were the adorable buffaloes, or after watching that Scottish farming programme on the BBC over the winter telling how very very bad tempered they are I shall refrain now from calling them adorable and go with "Tasty".

If looks could kill.

Now I thought this one was dead, they eyes, the teeth slightly showing, the odd angle of its neck, but no, by the time we got to the other side of a bush it was up, gone and out of my sight!  

Oh I do like gates, they don't make them like this anymore.

So onto the top pound and the start of the bends.
This is still here, on water but not attached to the system, I presume they are in dispute with CART.....?

We moored up after approximately 2.5 hours, this is what happens when you are not on a schedule and in Happy Holiday mindset and there's a fab mooring.  

Supper was chicken stir-fry.

The forecast tomorrow was rain, another reason to stay in a beaut spot....  But as it happened we were very happily surprised to find that it was sunny in the morning.

We decided to go boating!

More bendy bends to come, the very worst of these is a shocker.  
Last time we had a run in with a speeding boat who was trying to kill us.
I offered to get on the pointy end to help see but "No it's fine"
and as I went inside to get the coffee going.  Of course at the very last second a hire boats nose popped into view
Well the boat had a large family onboard most of whom were on the deck in the way, a couple of children on the roof all helping with visibility, BUT the driver a young man of good confidence handled the boat like a Pro all without David's cissy buttons (Bow thrusters) and I congratulated him, he beamed a big smile then misjudged the remainder of the bend and glided into the armco.  A few cheers from his family followed.

I think this is a Kestral this was the best of several shots.

Lovely sharp bends.

Here we heard a vintage boat coming way before we saw him.

Oil seed rape in full flower now.  Think Van Gogh's Sunflowers.

Fenny Compton was a bit of a bun fight, we wanted to top up with water and there was a boat moored in the way of the second water point.  We quickly hopped onto the first one which is really close to a bridge.  We started  and it was a quick flow so all good.  Then a hire boat with two couples also wanted water but were the far side of the annoyingly moored boat.  They decided to reverse and try to get into the middle space which wasn't big enough for them.  David called that we won't be long as only topping up but no they wouldn't wait and were trying to get their nose in, which left their back end right across the canal....  then of course another boat came along and they had to move out again right across the turny around place here too, the oncoming boat was heard to whistle the Benny Hill tune.
Well we have never detached the hose, collected the hose, cast off and naffed off so quickly in case they walloped us next.

We had a disputation all the way along as to if we would or wouldn't do the Claydon Flight, if we could get a sunny mooring at the top we would stay put, if we couldn't we would go down although it was beautifully warm now.  We finally decided to hang it all and go down.  Through the bridge and there was a boat exiting the top lock but another waiting to go down.  Quickly wished we'd stayed put on the slightly too narrow towpath that would loose the sun.

Well this hire boat was filled with Australian complete novices who had had help all the way up the Napton Flight and this was their second day.
I tried to help, really I did, but they were so very very slow that even when we waited for an oncoming boat to have the lock, when we caught them up again they hadn't even reached the next lock landing...

Of course it took much much longer to reach Cropedy, and they took what we thought was the last mooring, but we squashed onto the very end and turned out to be the best mooring as we had full sun until 7pm.

The Fenny Compton Tunnel isn't nearly so narrow now they's cut it all back.  Nice turnover bridge here.

Claydon Top Lock, I didn't take any others as I was too busy doing two locks worth.

Lovely old rudder at Clattercote 

Kiss me.

Finally, the best mooring!

Supper was salmon steaks with wedges and salad.  A very long day for us.


Sunday, 13 May 2018

Where's the warm weather gone?

We left glorious bird watching spot this morning fairly early at 08:30.  As we pulled away the cold air made you go and fetch another layer and get the order in for coffee.

David had his Noddy hat on and gloves as it was so chilly, but obviously not long trousers.

Last nights mooring.

The South Oxford really is lovely, it was all flattish around here but the gentle rolling hills began very soon.

In the past we have had animated conversations about these ridges, David had maintained that they were for drainage rather than the the medieval farming system that I favour..... But I have included this shot to illustrate that I feel its unlikely that drainage would be used on top of hills, I could be wrong of course.

This little sweetheart is lost, he has pushed his way through a hedge and wandered and is now most likely to stay for some time lost.  My husband was unmoved when I suggested we stop, catch him and return to its mother.  So there on the tow path it stays until you rescue it Reader.  Frankly it seemed pretty content.

So we arrived at Napton wanting to top up with water but finding two boats on the water point..... we waited our turn whilst passing boats pulled our back end right out into the middle of the canal due to misplaced rings... There was a post that David suggested we could tie the back rope to across the tow path but the thought that I could be reported to Maffi was too terrifying so I stood and held the rope while Noddy went off to make breakfast and coffee.

Its been three years since we were down this way.  We have never been to The Folly, the pub at the bottom lock, so we put that right today after tying up just past the fourth lock.  

We were too late to sample the famous pies they serve here which was a pity.  But afterwards we walked to the Napton Stores.  A wee general shop in the village which has all bases covered.  If you haven't been there I urge you to go, it has freshly baked hot savoury snacks plus cakes and fresh coffee served.  Great veg and its a post office too.  We brought a fabulous olive loaf to have with cheese.

We got back to WaL in time to see the cold grey sky filling in, D took the decision to pop the tonneau cover on and as he finished the rain started,   the end of a cold and blowy day.

Supper was breaded cod portions with sweet potato wedges and peas.