The final instalment of this year’s journey

Thursday 7th September and we left Bakers lock heading for Allen’s lock at Upper Heyford. We had an eventful journey as the pound leading into Northwood lock was very low. A boat coming out of the lock as we approached pushed us over and we grounded slightly at the stern. Lots of poling got us off, but as Charlie entered the lock entrance we got stuck again. This time no amount of poling and pushing was going to budge us. I managed to get onto the bank, and greeted another boat that wanted to come down. The lock was in our favour but we needed to let some water down in order to float us again. 1 lock full seemed to do the trick and we went in. As the couple on the boat waiting had helped us, once we got through the lock we went back to help them and make sure they didn’t get stuck. We made it to Allen’s lock and got through with no trouble but the bywash was blocked, which may have accounted for the trouble we had at the previous lock. Anyway Charlie cleared it with our rake (courtesy of our friend’s Amanda and Dave). After such an eventful morning we pulled up for the night.

Izzy enjoying a biscuit on the stern

Friday 8th September and we set off for Aynho, and on the way it started raining heavily. By the time we arrived we were cold, wet and miserable, so once moored we lit the fire. Charlie dropped our newest rubber mat in the canal whilst trying to shake it of water. We tried finding it with our pole but unfortunately couldn’t locate it. Another added to the shopping list.

Saturday 9th  September we moved to Banbury fringe before the rain came. We did a few jobs on the Sunday. We were fascinated watching a few keen joggers running up and down the hill opposite, even in the rain and carrying weights. They must have been training for something.

Monday 11th September and it was a windy day. We stopped at the sanitary station before Banbury lock to do the business and then moored at Castle Quays. I went off with the trolley to get some items in Poundland and Charlie headed to B&Q in the other direction. He made it back before me, so after a coffee we set off to a quieter spot. We moored after Bridge 156 just before Copredy. The wind was still keen, which must have been the cause of a hire boat striking us. Charlie said “can he get any closer?”, and then bang “yes he could”!!

After lunch we had a brief snooze to be awakened by a knock on the boat roof! It was Mary and Stephen. They had checked our GPS position and drove to Copredy to pay us a visit. A lovely surprise.

cattle unperturbed by boats, enjoying a drink in the canal.

Tuesday 12th September and off again. Negotiating the narrow bits at Copredy. We had to reverse to allow a hire boat through by the sanitary station. The lock ahead had another boat coming out which was good as we would go straight in; but wait…they are closing the gates!! When I mentioned the fact to the crew walking I got “we didn’t see you” in reply. Surely the person steering would have seen us and let them know…gggrr; another hire boat! We moved through 9 locks to Claydon top lock. Charlie working the locks and me steering. The pounds along this stretch were low when we came down in March and nothing much had changed, but we got through slowly and unscathed. After mooring we were bashed again but this time by a private boat!! No sorry or anything from them. I’m beginning to think we are invisible.

It was an incredibly windy night, and although we were sheltered the wind was whistling through our roof vents. We were up at 4am making a cup of tea as couldn’t sleep.

Wednesday 13th September and Dusty fuel boat came past, so we bought diesel, gas and coal which should do us for this year. We stayed put as it was rainy and windy all day.

Thursday 14th September and we moved along the winding summit to the below the second lock at Marston Doles, as the sky was looking threatening again; but thankfully it didn’t rain. We had been held up at the locks with a queue of boats going down, so time was getting on.

Friday 15th September and we were heading for Napton marina to meet our friends Wendy and Dennis. We were surprised again by Mary walking up to meet us from Napton to help us through the rest of the locks. Off we went, and then ground to a halt at the first lock as C&RT operatives were trying to fix the paddle on the bottom gate. Kettle on and time for tea as a third chap arrived to peruse the situation. Once through that lock we cracked on through the flight quite quickly with Mary’s help. We then stopped when we reached their boat, Stephen put the kettle on and had tea and cake with them, before setting off again and gently berthing in Napton marina. Mary had informed us previously that Tim and Pru were on their boat at Napton. We had gone past them, and later they went past the marina. Glad we were out of the way of them.,especially as he commented that boating was a contact sport on one of his programmes.

I had a few bits of tidying up and washing to do before our guests arrived on Saturday. Wendy and Dennis arrived safely, but whilst walking to the boat (and after me saying “mind the hosepipe”), Wendy caught her foot on the aforementioned hosepipe and fell flat on her face, causing much blood and grazes! A bad start to their short break. I think Wendy was trying out a new look for Halloween really.

Sunday 17th September and I had booked the Folly Inn at Napton for Sunday lunch.

pretty flowers at The Folly Inn

The lunch was very nice, but disappointed that we had asked for a yorkshire pud with our pork, and they didn’t supply it. Also I had a slight discrepancy with the bill as we were charged for a drink we didn’t have. After lunch we had a ride into Daventry by car, and a coffee in Costa.

Monday 18th September and we took the boat to Braunston. We all had lunch in the Gongoozlers cafe, partaking of the big breakfast and a mug of tea. We then walked into Braunston town. Along the towpath was moored nb Cornish Dreamer. Owned by a couple from Hayle, we hadn’t seen them for two years; the last time being on the T&M at Mercia marina. Quick chat and a catch up with them. Later in the afternoon an ice cream boat went past and we flagged it down for an ice cream. We know how to live and show friends a good time!

Tuesday 19th September was a misty start but a sunny day later on. Wendy and I walked into Braunston again, this time the other way so we visited the church, the shop and the Boat shop at the lock. We then set off for Napton in the afternoon. The journey takes a couple of hours as it is 5 miles, but on the way back it took us 4 hours as along the way we stopped to chat to Mary and Stephen (and picked some blackberries); and then Sheila and Jim on nb Islonian the coffee boat. We had parted company with them back in March, and now they were headed for Burton on Trent.

Izzy navigating

Wednesday 20th September and Wendy and Dennis left us to go home. Must say Wendy’s face was looking a little better by this point. Lots of washing ensued to get ready for more friends arriving on Friday. We had decided we would have a bit of a rest over these two days.

Friday 22nd September and Bobby and Benvinda arrived after a very long journey for them being held up for 2 hours on the M1 following an accident. Lovely to see them and catchup over a couple of bottles of red wine (may actually have been 4 bottles!).

Saturday 23rd September and we had a walk up the hill to Napton post office with Izzy. In the afternoon we had a car ride into Daventry again. This time the shops were open. I had forgotten there had been a food festival on; it was all packing up when we arrived. Passing Superdrug they were advertising flu vaccinations, so I went in and enquired to be told we could have it done straight away. The bonus for me was that being a beauty card holder I got £3 off the price, so I was well pleased. Another job ticked off the list.

Sunday 24th September and we took the boat out down to Napton winding hole and moored for the day. Walking along to the locks there was one volunteer lock keeper. A hire boat (hiring for the first time) was struggling to know what to do so I offered to walk ahead with them to the next lock and help them through; I think they were grateful for my help and knowledge. We then went back to the marina mid afternoon.

a new crew member?

Monday 25th September  and we walked again to Napton post office with Izzy. I had collated a few items to send to Australia, but the initial boxes I bought were too small; so I bought a bigger one, but once filled it was too heavy and I couldn’t risk it, as customs could confiscate it. Once back at the boat I then split the parcel into 3 smaller parcels (another mortgage to pay for the postage). Lunch in The Kings Head followed and it was very good value.

Tuesday 26th September and Bobby and Benvinda went home (their journey back being uneventful). We had enjoyed their company and Bobby had been pleasantly surprised that he didn’t feel claustrophobic on the boat. Think we may have indulged in a little too much alcohol though!

We walked back to the post office with the smaller parcels and they are now on their way to Oz. We then had tea and cake at the cafe before walking back. More washing to catch up on; luckily the weather has been sunny which helps to get it dry. Sainsbury shop ordered for Thursday which for the first time arrived late. Apparently the driver following the sat nav to the wrong marina!! Anyway all sorted and put away. I think we are feeling the after effects of the flu jab as both of us are feeling tired and achey. I’m not one to believe it gives a person flu, but this year we are having some sort of reaction.

Phoned Oz on Friday 29th September as it was our son-in-laws birthday; unfortunately the card I had sent hadn’t arrived in time, and I had warned the parcel would be late as well. It is now their Spring and the temp has been 40 degree’s already.

Today I walked with Izzy to Napton reservoir which was very pleasant. The weather has been a bit changeable with sunshine and showers. We have the fire lit to keep the boat aired and washing dry.

Napton reservoir

There were a few fishermen around the perimeter of the reservoir despite the wind.

This will probably be my last blog for this year. We are returning to Cornwall for the winter this year, so are getting the boat ready to leave it for 4 months through the winter period. We have a busy year next year so have taken a permanent mooring for one year here at Napton. The next 4 weeks hopefully will be washing curtains, ropes, boat, oven. Painting externally the chips that need touching up and the blacking that has been scraped; and also tending to the internal engine space and water tank area. Just hope this flu jab reaction wears off soon so we can get it all done. My next blog could be of our trip to Australia as I’m sure we will have plenty of pictures and adventures to share.

Finally Izzy cuddling her favourite teddy bear who has no ears or tail!

Bunkfest and beyond

Saturday 2nd September and another sunny and warm day. No early morning swim today as the pool will be closing on Sunday. Once Carol and Steve arrived we walked around the town market. Bought a few items for lunch, and watched the various goings on around the town.

street dancing by various groups

Morris men

clog dancing

For a free festival it really is worth a visit. All the town gets involved and music is held in every pub. Buskers around various venues and street bands and dancers everywhere. After lunch we headed back to the festival park and took chairs and a blanket to sit on. We had ordered an Italian to take away in the evening as the restaurant was full.

main stage

on the big screen in case you couldn’t see

heading back after a lovely afternoon

Some of the bands weren’t our cup of tea, but there was a great choice and variety of music. In the evening I sat on the stern listening to a blue’s band at the Boat house pub across the way, and they were brilliant.

Sunday 3rd September and the weather had done a nosedive. Damp, cold and miserable. When we had been in Henley we had looked at some new camping chairs, as our old ones though comfortable are getting too low for us to get out of! So Carol and Steve offered to drive us back to Henley to pick them up. They had been reduced from £49.99 to £19.99; Carol also had picked up a £5 voucher (Robert Dyas), so the chairs became a real bargain. We had planned to have Sunday lunch in Benson, and maybe have a walk to the lock there, but the weather was so miserable we decided not to go to the lock. I promised photo’s when we got there on the boat. We said goodbye to Carol and Steve after lunch, and when we got back to the boat we found another narrowboat breasted against us. When the owner appeared asking us if we minded, we said we didn’t, but don’t think I would have had the cheek to breast against somebody’s boat without asking first. We did say though he would need to be up early as we wanted to leave. Our water supply had lasted quite well so I was able to get on with the washing along the way on Monday. I had emptied the toilet cassettes in the campsite facilities, so no worries there either. Off we went at 7am in the mizzle with our new friend and his 6yr old son. Through Benson lock.

Benson lock weir

in the lock with a cruiser also

out of the lock

we managed to pick up another narrowboat along the journey. They had just bought their boat from Maidenhead and were heading for Banbury. The lady onboard was quite happy to throw her ropes up to me to sort out for her. At Clifton lock the power was out, so it was wheel turning again. The crew of the other boats watched whilst myself and a 6yr old turned the wheel to open the sluices then the gates.  After Culham lock the boat listed slightly as we went over something below, maybe a dead animal. Needless to say I was tired, wet and teasy by this point. We made it to Abingdon and stopped for the night.

Greylag geese at Abingdon

We know have to get a spurt on (not something we do often), and get back to Napton by the 15th September, to meet our friends Wendy and Dennis, who are staying with us onboard for  a few days. Tuesday 5th September and we left Abingdon early. We planned to stop in Oxford but travelled through the Sheepwash channel as we hadn’t done it before.

Bye Bye Thames. Turning into the Sheepwash channel

looking back

Isis lock that takes us back onto the Oxford canal

This was not a good decision. The moorings were few and we had forgotten about the locks and swingbridges. We also met with Dusty the fuel boat at the Agenda 21 moorings; so had to pull in whilst they delivered to the boats there. We will catch them on their way back. Through Dukes lock and on we go getting more and more tired. Eventually stopping after 7 and a half hours at Kidlington Green lock. Today we were  going to stop at Thrupp but again moorings were full where we wanted to be so we carried on to Enslow just before Bakers lock (a favourite mooring spot). We have our plan to make it back to Napton providing our planned mooring spots aren’t taken.

Henley on Thames by car

returned by car this visit

Friday 1st September and I partook of an early morning swim on my own this time. Charlie has been having trouble with his right hip giving him discomfort, so he decided not to go as we would be going back to Henley, and probably doing alot of walking. Carol and Steve picked us up around 10am and off we went. It had taken us the equivalent of 4 days to get from Henley to Wallingford by boat, but by car only 20mins. Once parked we headed for the tourist information and purchased a town walk leaflet. Steve did a grand job of narrating the route, whilst I took the photo’s. Here follows the photo’s of the day.

the town hall. A victorian building designed by Henry T Hare to commemorate Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1901.

Friar park. A 120 roomed mansion built in 1899 as a weekend retreat for Sir Frank Crisp, an eccentric London solicitor. It was also the home of George Harrison the former Beatle.. This part is only the gatehouse.

The Rowbarge. This was once the site for destitute agricultural workers and their starving families. Opposite were the workhouse gates where tramps used to gather hoping to be admitted and given a meal and an overnight stay. It wasn’t until the 1850’s when public sewers and running water was installed that conditions started to improve. The Rowbarge pub signshows Princess Anne being taken up the regatta course in 1977 in a replica of a royal barge that was built for the film “A man for all seasons”.

Kings Arms barn opposite the Town Hall and dated by it’s timbers to 1602

there has been a market in Henley since the 13th century, it would have sold grain and items brought up the river from London. The current market has been held here since 2000 when the road was pedestrianised. Today it was hosting a French market.

This public house is the oldest known surviving house in Henley, tree ring dated to 1325.

The Bull Inn is one of the oldest inn’s in Henley. It is supposedly haunted by the ghost of a young lady and the smell of tallow candles

Barnaby cottages were built as 2 houses between 1450 and 1500.

Anne Boleyn cottage shows many blocked keyholes on its door which testify to the age and value placed on locks. It was common practice in those times to take locks and keys when owners moved!

The Kenton theatre was built in 1804 on the site of the workhouse and is the country’s fourth oldest purpose built working theatre

Brakspear brewery building, the company once owned 150 pubs and supplied beer to many more

the old malthouse and stables of the brewery now apartments

the old stables

River Thames in front of the Leander club, founded in 1818 and the home of British rowing

a sign on Henley Bridge. The current Henley Bridge took four years to build and was completed in April 1786

The Red Lion Hotel has been a major coaching inn since the 1600’s and has had m,any famous guests including Oliver Cromwell and King George IV

St Mary’s church. 12th century in origin but rebuilt in the 1500’s with further alterations in the 1840’s. In the churchyard there is a memorial to Dusty Springfield. Some of her ashes were placed here as she lived in the town toward the end of her life

where we parked the car

Our day over we went back to Wallingford and had a walk around the Bunkfest stalls, partaking of a takeaway in the evening. Many more photo’s to follow of the Bunkfest in the next instalment.

 

And so to Wallingford

The evening of the 27th August was lovely so we sat outside on the bank. Whilst enjoying the weather I noticed a damsel fly perched on our flagpole, and managed to get a picture.

cheeky visitor

quiet spot on the Thames

We had been alone at this spot at the start of the day but then others had the same idea, many lighting BBQ’s for their evening meal.

one of the many Grebe we have seen

The next stage of our journey I didn’t take pictures as we were retracing our steps from earlier in the year.

August Bank Holiday and we were up with the larks again and set off early. Goring was very busy with boats, so a good job we didn’t want to stop. We shared the lock here with a cruiser who had gone past us. All was going well until Charlie missed the bollard with the stern rope, then not realising part of it had fallen in the water, which in turn meant it getting ravelled around the prop. Engine off quickly, but once the lock filled we then let the cruiser go, manually pulled Breakaway out of the lock and onto the landing so Charlie could get down the weed hatch to release the aforementioned rope. Luckily it hadn’t wrapped too many times round so he was able to get it free. Phew! We then had a lock free stretch to Wallingford. We were planning to carry on and check out the moorings further up, but as we had had a stressful morning, and there were moorings on the town council stretch we pulled in. It was immensely busy being hot, sunny and bank holiday. The swimming pool was packed, and it was noisy, but even so we decided to stay.

Angie the council representative who collects the £5 nightly mooring fee arrived at 8am, on Tuesday, and she kindly said we could stay for a week. Although it was 3miles from where our friends Carol and Steve had their B&B, it was handy for car parking.

As the weather was still set fair we decided to partake of an early morning swim. When we stayed here last time in April the pool wasn’t open, being open air, but heated. On Wednesday I also arranged a Sainsbury shop. In the afternoon more boats were arriving and we allowed a cruiser and a narrowboat to breast alongside till a space became available for them. In the afternoon I walked into Wallingford for a look round, and found The Blackadder boxed set of DVD’s in a charity shop for £4.99.

Thursday 31st August and we had another early morning swim. Carol and Steve arrived just after lunchtime, and after a sandwich we had another pootle into town. The free music festival called Bunkfest starts on Friday 1st September, and everyone arriving for it by boat says it’s very good. Steve purchased a programme of events so we can see what is going on. We then had another boat alongside for 2 nights. We don’t mind but have to warn about Izzy taking umbrage! The gentleman on the narrowboat dropped by and gave us a bottle of red wine to say thankyou for allowing him to breast up. How kind was that.