Saturday, August 28, 2010

Rediscovery after 7 years

The last time we were on the Western Grand Union we were going east from Kingswood Junction.  Now we head west from Napton Junction.  It was there that we met Rose and Ray on Maddy Rose.  We shared tea and sandwiches over two days then went our separate ways, setting off down the Calcutt and Stockton flights.  We were joined by Misty Lady to go down all those double locks.
The skippers and crews were working well together as a team.  There were several boats coming up leaving the locks for us to go down.  It was sunny while we moved that morning but when we stopped at Long Itchington it rained.  Despite the wetness we walked to the village shop for provisions.  On our return to the boat we lit the fire to dry out.  August is a wet month.
Next day we set off and did another 9 locks with Misty Lady.  It was a damp grey day as we travelled down towards Leamington Spa and found a mooring just past bridge 33 in open countryside and bid farewell to our travelling companions.
It was sunny and warm as we continued our journey through the Spa town the next day.  We noted on the way that the concrete tow path prevented the use of pins for mooring.  There were however several bollards to tie to on the offside by Tesco where we stopped to shop.  Eventually spent the night by Budbrooke Junction and saw Ernie on 10 Bob Note pass us by.
We were not far from the start of the climb up the Hatton flight of 21 locks and were joined by another boat.  Double width locks need two boats to make the going easy and it does save the water.  It was at least dry n warm when we started off at 10.
3 hours later we had reached the top, an average of 10 minutes a lock!  It would have been good to find visitor moorings at the top.  There were plenty of car parks and gongooslers but the moorings were for permit holders.  We were obliged to move on just when we needed a rest.  Eventually found deep water and a low hedge so that we could ‘see’ the satellite signal.  Then it rained.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Procedures and actions

There are good intentions but actions may be less than intended.  What am I waffling about?  BW have been busy down in Banbury fixing up firm edges.  At the ‘Tramway’ it is finished.  Boaters are there already but BW had spread fresh earth about and put grass seed down without rolling it flat!  Now we have got deep foot prints and muddy boots.  Just when the grass is sprouting along come the cutters and squashed it all flat!
BW working!
I have got back from looking after mum again and trying to resolve care issues.  It is quite a stressful and emotional time for both mum and me.  It had become more difficult to care for mum even with people coming in each day.  Thankfully Hampshire Adult Services are on the case and have found a Residential Care home for mum.  My brother is on hand to help and has taken mum to see the place which has a room available.
We passed Paul Balmer on Waterway Routes on our way to the water point.  Just as we queued for the lock down came Mortimer Bones in her grey boat.  A few days later we had reached the summit pound, got diesel at Fenny and stopped short of Marston Doles.  We do not normally move on a Sunday and wonder why we did.  We simply lost count of so many boats heading south.  We took on water slowly just before heading down the locks towards Napton.  Boats coming up the locks and following behind all seemed to want water!  Even hire boaters just setting off from Wigrams Marina had already run out of water.  We have stopped after the second lock down after being told of an event at Napton and loads of boats trying to get up the locks.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

One more problem

We got past Aynho, across the river Cherwell which joins the canal, entered Nell Bridge Lock and stayed there for a while!  The bottom gate would not shut properly and the lock would not fill.  So much water was gushing past that gate.  We shut all the paddles and slowly descended.  An attempt to flush out the obstruction was made before Ann went round to the British Waterways yard which just happened to be nearby.  By now many boats had joined a queue at both ends of the lock.
Two men turned up with a very long handled rake and after several attempts managed to dislodge the obstruction.  It was probably a loose brick below the gate.  We were then able to carry on to Banbury.  After the weekend at least ten boats were assembling below Banbury lock, waiting to get through the lock or use the facilities.  It is now the busy season and it was sad to see so many plastic bottles floating alongside the boats in the canal.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

A bit out of touch and a few problems

We moved on down to Lower Heyford and found that there was absolutely no phone signal here.  Just 3 miles north we had a very strong and fast connection through Orange and T Mobile.  Here we got a space, TV and radio so not all bad.  Then Del and Al on Derwent 6 went by going north waving their arms and taking pictures!  We had intended to catch a train back to Banbury but they are infrequent and we did not see one stop.  We would need to be sure to get back the same day.  Apparently the driver would stop if you were on the station at the right time so we were told later.
Found some expensive bread n milk, oil and filter at the boat yard.  Oxford Narrowboats were very busy on their turn round day with lots of boats waiting for families to take them away for their holiday on the waterways.  They are looking for an engineer so just hope that they all get back later with no problems.
We walked into the village but it was very exclusive and quiet.  “I wonder where they get their bread n milk from.”  No shop or Post Office here, just a pub.
It was a noisy night with that railway just over the hedge so we turned round next day and got water before heading north.  A boat called No Problem arrived just as we had finished.  They had met Sue n Vic on the Kennet and Avon canal.  Two No Problem’s on the same canal!  Pity that there are really so many problems on that canal with many boaters reporting that the canal is ‘falling apart’ with lack of maintenance and consequently lack of water due to leakage.  Lack of rain does not help either.  The latest problem is the actual closure of the Leeds and Liverpool canal due to lack of water we are told.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Through and south of Banbury

We passed through Banbury and after getting water progressed to the Tramway moorings.  These are much improved with a hard edge, more popular now with more boats and still a 14 day mooring which is good for shopping at the local supermarket.  We plan to stay a bit longer than usual here.  In the past we hired cars to go home and now we get on a train because they are safer and less stressful.  The station is only 10 minutes walk from here and an hourly service gets us south.
My dear 91 year old mother had spent 3 weeks in a care home and quote:-“..did not like it one bit.”  While Ann stayed on the boat with Molly I went off on the train and with my brother’s help got mum back in her own house.  We arranged for care help to call every day.  I stayed several days trying to rearrange mums way of life for a better future.
Back together on the boat we moved slowly south.  There is a small holding by Nell Bridge lock where we found Bob n Jane on Hobo.  We have known them since our early days on the Kennet and Avon canal.  The little farm has pigs, sheep and hens.  They sell free range sausages, eggs, pork chops, legs of lamb etc so is well worth a visit.  They also sell pots of the Buffalow Ice cream from Napton!
Another day we drifted on down to Aynho and beyond.  It was at Aynho that we found a boat called ‘Bones’ and met Mortimer who writes for our boating magazine Canal Boat.  We swapped places at the water point as she continued her journey north.
When other commitments require more attention our activity on the canals and internet are affected.  It is nice to know that there are people, friends and 'followers' out there that we have got to know through this blog and also some that we just meet on the cut.  Phones, emails and blogging are all means of communicating equally well but there is nothing quite like real people when you see them.