Sunday, March 26, 2006

Meeting Friends

We moved out of Braunston and went down the Grand Union to Shuckborough. Terry & Myra on 'Juno' came through the tunnel and met us there. Next day they left heading for Banbury where they plan to meet their family. Then met up again with Sue n Vic on 'No Problem' after they had visited Calcutt. It is very noticeable that this length of canal is busy with boats going by almost every 10 minutes.


We all walked through this small settlement and up the hill to Shuckborough Manor. The Manor Farm is still in operation. A large pile of oak trees is waiting to be cut up into logs.  Then we saw them. A heard of Deer. Lying down in a group in a field in front of the manor house. As we approached they stood up but did not run off. We stayed well back to observe and take pictures.


Thursday, March 23, 2006

A trip for mum

Banbury pickup

A few days later we were in Banbury to collect mum from the bus station. Tesco came first while we were down by the wood yard. Once the supplies were packed away we moved on to the 'facilities' to get fresh water etc. Then mum arrived on the National Express coach. Once on board we moved up through the lock which Vic had kindly emptied and opened for us. Both boats came up and went on to get diesel at 'Sovereign', still only 49p a litre. Stayed the night past the motorway bridge near the Tesco shop.


Four locks and four miles easily done during a bright sunny day. Surprisingly quickly as we were on our own for a while. Mum posted some cards and looked into the church. The unusual thing to see was the swinging clock pendulum. The river Cherwell was not at all in flood as expected after those earlier days of rain. The rest of the day was spent watching a family video.

Claydon locks

Over the top

Another fine sunny day saw us climb up to the summit through the eight locks to Claydon Top. Following several boats and seeing some come down. Mum helped by shutting some of the gates. Stopped at the top, put out the bird feeders and watched various birds arrive to eat. During the course of the next two days we travelled the 21 miles and 9 locks down to Napton. But it was very cold with that chilly east wind. Glad to be down in the shelter of the hill. Had a meal in the 'Folly Pie' pub with its warming wood fire. Eventually got to Braunston by the weekend driving past many old tatty boats on the way in. We went to Banbury with mum on the bus so she could return home on the coach. An enjoyable trip through the countryside on a sunny dry day.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Wind, rain and river

Since that lovely sunny weekend it has rained every day. As we climb back up the canal we see that the river Cherwell is filling up fast. Just north of Aynho the river joins and passes through the canal between two locks. Our concern is that we may not get under the low Nell Bridge if the river is too high. But before that we had to get up Somerton deep lock. It is in a very exposed location and the wind blew our boats away from the towpath before we could secure them properly. It was a real struggle pulling the boats back to the edge against that wind.

Above the lock was no easier as Vic lifted a bridge for us to go under. Sue followed but the wind took the boat to the wrong side when stopping to pick him up. We stopped further on and walked back to help. They had actually got their dog Lucie to take a rope across the canal so that Vic could pull the boat back to the towpath side. Three other boats got stuck there during the afternoon.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The old quarry

The old quarry at Kirtlington is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a safe place to run around and explore. The stone and clay was made into cement on site and transported away by narrowboat on the Oxford canal. The site is littered with small rocks some of which contain shell fossils while some dinosaur bones have been found here.

Children on a rock

Chris, Tracy, Josh and Ben arrived and stayed a night with us while Sue n Vic also entertained their guests. On Sunday we were joined by Kiera and Niamh and enjoyed a sunny day running around and climbing rocks. Some of the small rocks had been arranged to form faces and a maze on the ground, adding interest for the children.

Ice n low bridges

Arrangements are being made for family to visit us somewhere below Lower Heyford. Access to the canal is limited along this end of the canal. However there is a bridle way making it possible at Kirtlington. Left Aynho on a bright sunny but cold day after a few boats had passed breaking up the ice. Arrived at the deep Somerton lock and while waiting for No Problem to go down we watched all the ice moving towards the lock as it filled up. Crunching up in the moving water and flowing noisily down the byway. When both boats had got down the 12 feet two other boats were approaching to go up.

Allans Bridge

The bridges are all very low and narrow so we were obliged to remove our chimney and as a precaution, let the fire out as it does not burn well without a chimney. S n V had lowered their canopy to avoid damaging it. We passed down through 5 locks and travelled 9 miles before stopping just short of our intended meeting point as it had got much colder. Got inside, relit the fire and set up the sat dish.

By next morning the ice had reformed its hard flat surface but then a boat came crunching by. We were then able to move on to our mooring at the old Cement Wharf at Kirtlington. I walked up to the village to post the news letters while the girls went off for one of their long walks round this quiet countryside.