Thursday, 11 July 2019

Mountbatten and Jellicoe show how it's done

We travelled from Weedon to Stoke Bruerne today, stopping for lunch at Blisworth. This was probably a mistake as I hadn't allowed for the continuing restrictions at Stoke Bruerne Locks. At the time this wasn't an issue - we had originally intended to stop here. But we find we need to go home, and we have the offer of a lift to enable us to collect our car. This lift may appear around the time the locks open … and it all gets complicated. It would have been easier if we'd got at least to the 7-day moorings in the long pound. Never mind.

Several historic boats were passed today, including fuel boats Mountbatten and Jellicoe, which were tied up by the south portal of Blisworth Tunnel. After we had moored the pair came past to stop behind Sculptor.

At the right moment the steerer of the motor released one of the cross straps ...

… allowing the butty to slide gently past on the inside.

With Kathryn's assistance on the bank the pair slotted in in front of a Wyvern hire boat very efficiently.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

"New" canalside restaurant at Whilton Locks

Coming down the Buckby/Whilton locks today, sharing the entire flight with Lindy Lue, we saw a canalside restaurant I don't remember seeing two months ago.

It's on the offside between locks 11 and 12. The banner gives no contact information, but a quick internet search shows that it is part of the Whilton Locks Garden Village.

Perhaps it's been there for ages but without advertising its presence to passing boaters. There is no mooring outside.

At the bottom lock were more blue CRT banners spoiling the balance beams. This one was stapled on. Not the best idea: one day someone will pierce their hand on a loose staple.

Below the locks we passed the old and new pair of Bakewell and Poshratz.

We tied up at Weedon and went to the Brinjol Indian restaurant as it was their banquet night. Good food. And very good value.

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Widebeam meets widebeam Tranquil Rose and a Lancaster bomber flies over

We left the delightful South Oxford Canal today and are now tied up in our favourite Braunston spot below the Admiral Nelson. As we came along the combined section with the GU we caught up with the widest-looking of wide beams diagonally across the cut.

To be fair, he was merely getting out of the way of an oncoming widebeam. Hotel boat Tranquil Rose came past us this afternoon.

I remember talking to a couple on one of the Braunston Turn bridges a few years ago; they were talking about buying a hotel boat business. I thought I had blogged about it but I can't find the relevant post. Speaking to the man steering, while in the lock, it was immediately clear that he was the one on the bridge that time. I thought it was four years ago; he said it was 2010! It's good that the business is still going strong.

As we came past The Boathouse pub a Lancaster flew overhead.

Nice and low and slow, so I could get a half-decent photo. It's nice to be getting our own flypasts!

We walked to Daventry for supplies this afternoon. Well, I walked with the bike and cycled when we got to the A45. When both paniers were full I cycled back to unload into the fridge and cycled back. We ate in the Wetherpoon.

Monday, 8 July 2019

HS2 construction begun on the Oxford Canal

As we rounded a bend on the South Oxford Canal this morning we got a shock. An army of diggers, scraping off the surface of what was farmland. And it was right next to the canal.

We were last here three weeks ago, on our way to Oxford. Now work has actually started on a project which I believe is a waste of money and a despoliation of the countryside. I am very aware that canals had their objectors and, no doubt, railways (ordinary ones) too. But in the internet age what is the point of shaving a few minutes off a very small number of routes?

The amount of land required here is vast. This was near Bridge 127 a mile north of Wormleighton village.

Near Napton Top Lock we passed a boat with a large Welsh flag on the tiller and a bridge-brushing array of flowers on the top. How can the steerer see where he's going?

We tied up at the bottom of Napton Locks. Two Napton Narrowboats hire boats came past heading for the locks. The first hit our boat and ground its way all along the side, going on to do the same to the boat behind us. The canal here was straight and wide, so there was no need to be bashing us. The chap in the second boat hit stuck his head out of the side hatch and remonstrated with the steerer, suggesting he might slow down. The steerer's response? If I slow down I won't be able to steer!

Sunday, 7 July 2019

Grid ref posts on the South Oxford Canal, two flypasts and a butterfly

Every so often, on the South Oxford Canal, we came across white posts set in a short length of post-and-rail fence.

These white posts have an Ordnance Survey grid reference stencilled in red on them.

Some of the grid ref posts are obscured to a greater or lesser extent by foliage ...

... and one was covered by a hoodie.

Some of the fences have a two letter and two digit code. This one is OX55.

Here are two more I found, all snapped from the moving boat so not the best quality.

Does anyone know what they are for? I checked with a GPS once or twice and the grid references seem to be accurate.

We moved only three miles today, from Fenny Compton to the north side of Wormleighton Hill. We tied up with a great view over farmland to distant Warwickshire hills and had a barbecue. There was a sound of aeroplanes ... and it looked like it could have been a Battle of Britain Memorial Flight going over.

A few minutes later four more planes flew over in a diamond formation.

I don't know what these were - come to that, I don't know what the first flypast consisted of - so can anyone tell me please?

And a final identification of a flying thing if you could: this butterfly on brambles.

Actually, a look on the internet shows me that this could be a meadow brown.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Narrowboat wreck hiding in the trees

Today's travelling took us from Cropredy to Fenny Compton. On the way (was it at Clattercote?) I saw this sadly abandoned narrowboat in a small side arm (or winding hole?) being gradually taken over by trees and other plant life.

I hadn't spotted it on the way down the canal three weeks ago as this is the view from that direction:

No, it's not another kingfisher photo.

Speaking of which, well done to Steve of Albert, who identified its location (I think) from the blurry mess in yesterday's blog post. The kingfisher is the fuzzy blue blob in the centre of the image below, cropped from the original.

Back to today, and one set of bottom gates on the Claydon flight is remarkable for being made of iron. There are no wooden liners where the gates meet; despite this they seem to leak no worse than other, wooden, gates.

We strolled down to the village of Fenny Compton after tying up and eating lunch. Since we were here last the Co-op has lost a large part of the front of the shop after a JCB (or JCB-type machine) was used to rip out the cash machine. Apparently there was only £40 in it. (Sorry, no photo.)

In the evening we ate at the Wharf Inn: very good. Jan had lamb shank; I had proper steak and ale pie - shortcrust pastry, cut from a larger pie - with a pint of Hobson's Best. The beer was so good I had another half.

Friday, 5 July 2019

Spot the kingfisher

Is this the worst photo of a kingfisher ever taken? I think it's the worst I have taken, anyway. Can you see it? Here's a clue: it's in flight.

A butterfly - a red admiral, I think - landed on the boat the other day. I was hoping to photograph it with its wings outstretched but it didn't play ball.

The lure of all that lovely canal juice proved too much for another group of cattle today. We left Banbury and are now just above Cropredy Lock, in the same spot as on the way down.

Thursday, 4 July 2019

Banbury's footbridge is no more

We've been in Banbury another day. It's a great town for boaters to stop at, being right next to the canal and with some excellent charity shops. Jane went home after lunch; it was good having her on board, even if we did no actual boating.

The footbridge that used to cross the canal between Tom Rolt Bridge and the lift bridge is now a pile of twisted metal.

This is the Castle Quay end ...

... and here is part of what remains of the ramp on the opposite side.

I am told that there will be a replacement footbridge, but at 90 degrees to the canal rather than skew as the former one was.

Appropriately tied up opposite Tooley's Boatyard was NB Cressy.

This evening we joined Peter and Fran of Sonflower and their son Alex for another (for us) good curry at Jool. Just before this I enjoyed an almost-pint (why do I always forget, Sarah?) of Heatwave from the Hydes brewery in The Exchange (Wetherspoon's). It was very tasty, as was the curry.