Glen Innes show

09/02/2018. We were up early and off the the show. It was only a short walk to the showground but was already getting hot. We purchased a 2 day ticket in case we wanted to return on the Saturday. We walked around the showground to get our bearings. It was Friday and things were getting set up. A big funfair was dominating much of the area. Food stalls, animals and craft stalls. Not so much machinery shown here though.

smart looking Hereford bulls

a rather posh horse box and trailer combo

Charolais bulls

smart looking Arab type pony

kids battling with unruly sheep

Herefprd bull having a blow dry

flower arranging

lego display

Prime stock

Angus calf

A small snapshot of our visit. We have many more photo’s to bore people with!

We spent the evening chatting with a lovely Aussie couple 

It’s a good job we purchased a 2 day ticket as we went back on the Saturday morning. We purchased some blue cheese, and a strap for the pocket watch I had bought Charlie in Iluka market, which was made from kangaroo leather, and made by a lady that had emigrated from Essex 30 years ago. Once we had finished at the show, we set off again for Armidale to a campsite there. We weren’t too impressed with it for the price but it was only for one night. We did partake of the pool though to cool down. We were so tired at this point we decided not to investigate Armidale on this trip; maybe another time.


08/02/2018. We are over The Great Dividing Range in the heart of New England with wonderful scenery. We left Inverell campsite at09.30 as we were going to do real touristy things today. So we headed for Gum Flats and the Olives of Beaulieu. I had seen an advert in the free map we had for it and thought it would make a nice visit. On the way we had a brief stop to allow cattle to cross. Men, dogs, quad bikes and horses all helping to move them.

moving cattle across the road

Olive farm

We didn’t expect to be there so long as there wasn’t much there to see, but the elderly proprietor had so many interesting stories we stayed and chatted whilst tasting the olives and oils.

Olive trees

Herself and her husband had started the farm 25 years ago, not knowing anything about olives, and built up the business, making oils, meat rubs, soaps and of course jars of olives. The farm is now run by their daughter and she comes in daily to run the shop. She had pictures of her ancestors when they first came to Australia. Very interesting talking to her.

inside the tasting shed

After sampling the wares we bought some olives and oil and a couple of spice jars before heading on our way to the next stop.

olives on the tree

Next stop was back through Inverell to the transport museum. Charlie liked this one as full of old restored cars. Many of which get shown regularly at Show and Shine events. A few pictures now of the many cars on display.

There was also a small display of vintage wedding dresses and dolls, but the official photographer omitted to take any photo’s of those. We then visited the Pioneer Village which was just down the road. One dual ticket purchased allowed access to both with a saving. We had lunch in the van then ventured in.

Now this was an outdoor museum collection of old buildings that would have been destroyed if they hadn’t been saved and put here. We have been to a museum like this in the UK on our narrowboat travels. We wandered around the buildings, a few of which were housing collections of war memorabilia, photography, models etc. Very interesting as I love social history.


pub sign

inside views of homesteads

lovely range

barbers shop


village store which started life as a butchers shop. Now reception for the park

Ibis. There are many of these birds around this area and in the campsites

The next picture I am hoping can be read as I thought it amusing; story about the rabbits and how they got into Australia.

Now this next bit of the story sounds amusing when retold, but at the time was quite alarming. I partook of the ladies room whilst going around. I was just sorting myself out and then flushed, and to my alarm a large bright green frog appeared from inside the bowl! I didn’t know if to laugh or scream. It disappeared again as fast as it had appeared. Apparently it shows that the water system in the area is healthy. I’ll take their word for it.

Off again back to Glen Innes for our 2 night stay and visit to the show. There was a Woolworths store within walking distance, so we had a walk and look around. Woolworths out here is a supermarket. It had been a hot day and the cool of the air con in the store was refreshing. We spent the evening sitting outside (till the mozzies started biting|) watching the bats and the stars.

Tenterfield railway museum

07/02/2018. It has to be said that we hadn’t packed for cold weather. We awoke in the night feeling cold. Until then we had been sleeping on top of the duvet covered by a sheet; but once inland in the mountains we changed to sheet on the bottom and duvet on top!

It improved as the day went on though. Off to visit the Railway museum; manned by volunteers aiming to restore and rescue unwanted stock; but by the sounds of it many people were trying to hamper their efforts by charging way too much for stuff that otherwise would have been scrap. But they soldier on.

at the station

Now they don’t have any engines that nmove because there are 2 bridges that are more modern that the engines cannot get under, so this is purely a standing exhibition.

station facade

sign on entry

Once in we were scooped up by a little old chap who showed us around the exhibits and told of their history.

our guide for the morning

inside the carriage

They have a variety of skilled volunteers from upholsterers to carpenters and painters, who keep things looking restored.

station view from the tracks

The last train departed in 1988 and there are many photo’s of this event.

signals that would have been used by a woman stationmaster in the day

A very enjoyable morning spent. We then went into Tenterfield town and looked at more “historic buildings”. Photo’s of a few now follow.

Tenterfield buildings

different era

court house and police station

Tenterfield saddlery. Apparently there was a song written about it years ago

After our whistle stop tour of Tenterfield we were on our way again heading for Glen Innes. This was the reason for our visit to this region as there was an agricultural show on at the weekend, that we wanted to visit. We stioopoped briefly at Glen Innes and booked 2 nights in a campsite near to the showground, so we could walk there. Once sorted we were off again to Inverell for the night. There was much to see here too.

Granite outcrop on the way to Glen Innes

Inverell campsite


Yamba, Casino and Tenterfield

03/02/2018. We were back in Iluka for the weekend, so we all decided to visit Yamba on the ferry, as it was easier than driving round. The day started well, but it soon became breezy so a cardigan was needed.

Ferry to Yamba

Arriving at Yamba

We had a good look around the town, stopping for coffee along the way. There is a massive climb up a hill to get a view over the town, but we managed it (just). The weather now was turning into overcast and breezy.

view of Yamba town from the top

Beach at Yamba

Yamba is a pretty area similar to Iluka, with surfing beaches and cafe’s. We all had lunch in the local bowling club as it was now raining, so a good excuse to shelter. We headed back for the 13.45 ferry to Iluka.

ferry back to Iluka

Spent the rest of the day at the house with the family, and it rained all afternoon.

04/02/2018. Emily and Jamie’s friend Pete had arranged to take Charlie and Noel fishing in his little boat. The weather had calmed and was warm again so off they went with a packed lunch, suncream and hats.

getting ready to go fishing

out on the river

Iluka. Area where the boats are launched

Now whilst the men were fishing, Emily, Grand-daughter Charlie and myself headed for the Sunday market in Iluka. There were quite a few interesting stalls, and we bought a few items there. Weather remained sunny until the evening, then the rain started again. We had slow cooked lamb for dinner as the electrician still hadn’t come to fix the cooker.

05/02/2018. Monday morning and we left Iluka to go travelling again. Now we had bought a sat nav before we left the UK, that has Aussie maps, and this proved invaluable throughout our trIP. This day though Charlie took a wrong turn whilst we were heading for Ballina. Never mind we thought, there is the Macadamia Castle en route that we can visit first, housing a collection of animals, gardens etc., will be good for a visit.

Macadamia Castle

But when we arrived we found it was closed for refurbishment, so we had a coffee from the stall there and chatted a while with the barista.

Turned around and back to Ballina, there looked to be a few good spots to view the area.

weather was turning in along the way to Ballina

It started to rain along the way and didn’t stop. We were laughing to ourselves as at each viewpoint we could hardly see a thing! Typical British weather, and we didn’t even have our pacamacs. By the time we got to the third viewpoint I decided to brave it outside to take some photo’s.

Beach at Ballina

Lovely place despite the rain. Off again this time stopping at Lismore for diesel and shopping. We didn’t explore this town as the family will be moving here soon so we will keep the visit here for our next trip. Then on to Casino for the night.

The big Prawn!

Passing a rather large prawn, which now has become a permanent fixture apparently. The campsite at Casino was once again very quiet, but well equipped as have all the campsites been. This country is certainly geared for camping and caravanning.

a cheeky wagtail

our camping position in Casino

As it got dusk, Charlie went outside to be confronted with a most wondrous sight. Thousands of fruit bats heading back to their roost (wherever it was); now I mean thousands and they stretched right across the sky. I took a photo which doesn’t do it justice, but Charlie took a video (which friends can see if they want).

just a few of the many bats flying over

06/02/2018. Sunny morning so we walked around Casino town following the heritage trail. I’ll show a few pics of the buildings just to get the gist.

Casino buildings

and another

inside the art nouveau church

post office

Now by Aussie standards these buildings are old and history; not by British standards but nice to see that heritage is being preserved. Once the trail done we were back in the van and onto the Bruxner Highway

Manganee lookout point

stopping at the above lookout point with it’s spectacular views. We were now entering New England territory, and from the pics you can see why. Could be Wales or Scotland. We were up and down on the road like a rollercoaster; round tight bends and narrow passing places. Along the way there was a rest stop that had hand carved totem’s, that were put there as part of a peace process between the people involved.

one of 12 totems

and another showing the intricate work on them

They were beautifully carved but had been there for approx 20 years so showing signs of deterioration. We stopped for lunch at a very secluded spot in the forest called Crooked Creek; found a shady area to keep the van cool.

Crooked Creek picnic area

Our destination was Tenterfield and we eventually arrived around 14.30. Early to stop really, but driving is very tiring on the driver, so a rest was needed. We booked in for one night, and decided to look around the town in the morning. We did though venture out for a walk in the evening to the cemetery up the road. Interesting to see grave stones of no great age, but also the cemetery was laid out in religious denominations; something I’ve not seen before.

Tenterfield campsite

view over the hills

If you look carefully you will see Mole Valley (for my west country friends!)

this little chap lived in the laundry under a washing machine

a different bird for the bird table

07/02/2018. The campsite had been bought 2 years ago by the couple running it, that included the lodge in which they lived. On request you could look around the lodge, which we did. They have converted this lovely building into B&B rooms and offer Devonshire cream tea’s. Don’t know if it includes clotted cream as never seen any for sale. My official photographer let me down though, as he forgot to bring the camera so no pics! You just can’t get the staff. We left the campsite and headed for the Railway museum which was just up the road.


Iluka, McLean, Minnie Water and Wooli

30/01/2018. Kiddies were back to school so we were off and travelling around. We headed for McLean, a Scottish town; the scenery around it could quite easily be Scotland.

McLean shops

and some more

The buildings are typical of the older towns in this area as we find out later in our trip. Many late 1800’s and early 1900’s. We had a little walk around. Checked out a camping shop and bought a billy can for the boat, and 2 wide brimmed hats with neck covers in their sale. Just hope we get the hot weather in UK to make use of them. We drove out of the town to The Pinnacles rocks

Pinnacles Rocks

and to the lookout point; then onto the Scottish Cairn (a memorial to the founders of the town).

Scottish Cairn

The poles around this (and the street lamp poles) are all painted in different tartans.

painted poles

On leaving McLean we then got detoured off the road we were on, and onto a gravel track for a couple of kilometres, which was very bumpy indeed, and not what we wanted to do in a new van. Anyway this took us to the ferry over the Clarence river to Lawrence.

ferry to Lawrence

Time was getting on, so we decided to find a campsite inland for the night. Through Grafton and over a very strange bridge (that has a bend in it and clearly not designed for big vehicles), and on to Seelands and The Big River campsite. A lovely position on the river Clarence, that caters for many water sports and is a ski centre (water not snow).

our position in the campsite overlooking the river

view of the river

local wildlife

Aussie moon

31/01/2018. We awoke to the sight of mist, but as it was warm it soon cleared. Something we are used to in Cornwall.

early morning mist

The campsite was virtually empty as kiddies all back at school now, so was lovely and quiet. After breakfast we left Big River for Grafton, and back over the wibbly wobbly bridge.

the bridge with a bend in it

The bridge being old in Australia terms is being replaced with a new one that is being built alongside it; though this one will remain. Stopping at Grafton we looked around the shopping mall and I managed to get 2 bikini’s in the sale for $20 (around £12), so I was well pleased; we then drove on to Minnie Water and a campsite there. Situated in a National Park and near a surfing beach. It was a short walk to the beach, but apart from a shop there wasn’t much else there.

camping at Minnie Water

local wildlife

local flora

and some more

Minnie Water beach

wild waves

The weather was turning a bit overcast and breezy. We booked 2 nights at Minnie Water, so as Wooli wasn’t too far away we drove there the next day. The afternoon and evening saw very British weather as it rained.

01/02/2018. Woke up to a cold, cloudy and overcast day. Drove to Wooli; similar to Minnie Water but it does have many picnic spots.

rock formation at Wooli

picnic area overlooking the water

Aussie magpie taking a drink

more local flora

overlooking the breakwater at Wooli

Back to the campsite and we got talking to a lady who originally came from Birmingham. She had been in Australia for 21 years; she then proceeded to tell us about her close encounter with a large lizard called a Goanna; luckily we didn’t see it as apparently they are huge and can rip you to pieces!! Despite being cloudy it didn’t rain, so we had a lazy afternoon.

02/02/2018. Leaving the campsite we were going to head for Yamba (an area similar to Padstow/Rock), that was oposite Iluka; but as it was raining we decided to go back to Iluka, as we were back there for the weekend to see the family again. On the way back we took a slight wrong turn, stopped to get our bearings, and saw our first kangaroo’s.

baby kangaroo’s

Once settled in campsite we went to house for the afternoon and evening as it was still raining. We weren’t prepared for rain.

Advancetown and Surfers Paradise QLD

Our home for the duration of our holiday

23/01/2018. After spending a comfortable first night we headed out for the shops on the way to Surfers Paradise. There are many little shopping outlets around, and we found an Aldi to do our food shopping. Very similar in layout to the ones in the UK. Once cupboards and fridge stocked up we were on our way to Surfers Paradise to meet the family. We had a quiet day with them at their hotel., and had a walk around the shopping area. We were glad to be staying in Advancetown as it was much quieter there.

24/01/2018. The kiddies were off the Dreamworld, so we took the opportunity to visit Mount Tamborine and surrounding area. It was a winding drive up to the top but once there the view was spectacular.

at the top of Mount Tamborine

We have visited Western Australia twice but hadn’t encountered views like this in the area we visited. We were pleasantly surprised.

We came across a rainforest walk on our journey so stopped to walk along it. Like the Eden project but without a roof, and much bigger!

walking along the treetops

It was lovely to walk along the treetop canopy and see the different types of trees and plants and occasionally some wildlife.

rainforest wildlife

Australian Brush Turkey

We also finished our trip with a visit to Clifton Falls, and stopped at the Gallery Walk shopping area for an Aussie  pie for lunch. After lunch we then headed back to the campsite. The weather was quite cloudy and we even had some rain!

25/01/2018. We headed back to Surfers Paradise to meet the family and go to the beach. Lovely hot and sunny day, though a little breezy.

Beach at Surfers Paradise

It’s a bit disconcerting seeing a helicopter patrolling looking for sharks; and also a shout went out to beware of jellyfish.

the other view of Surfers Paradise. Not so much paradise.


We headed back to the hotel for a light lunch as Emily had arranged for us all to go to a show in the evening at a venue called Dracula’s. We had parked the camper in a car park that we could stay in overnight so we could have a drink. We showered in the hotel, and set off to the show. It all started well but gradually went downhill as the evening went on. The show had been very expensive; a cabaret with a meal. The meal was paltry and the show inadequate. Emily had arranged for a cake for her dad’s birthday which we needed to fill us up!!  We were all very disappointed for such an extortionate price. Needless to say I penned some constructive criticism to them the next day.

awoken by cockatoo’s in the morning

26/01/2018. We hadn’t slept very well in the carpark so when we arrived back at the campsite we had a snooze after breakfast. It was Australia Day and we had been invited by the hotel to attend a family afternoon of food, fun and music. The family were going to join us. We walked the short 5min walk  to the hotel, and settled ourselves on a table with an umbrella. In order to get food and drinks we had to buy tickets, so we duly bought enough for 6 people. But because the children had had a late night in the kids club whilst we were out the previous evening, they didn’t join us, and we had quite alot of tickets left. The afternoon was very good with a band, pig racing and games for the children.

racing piglets

A very good Aussie band that sounded like Fleetwood Mac

We enjoyed the afternoon, even chatting with a local couple for most of it.

27/01/2018. As we had alot of tickets left that could be used in the hotel, we decided as we were leaving the area we would go and use them to have breakfast. Charlie had a full Aussie breakfast, and I had muesli and Eggs Benedict which was lovely. The proprietor told us the scenic way to go, so we could take in some sights along the way. We were heading for Iluka where the family lived. On the way we stopped at the Hinze Dam that supplies water for the area.

view of the dam from the top

part of the dam overflow

We then stopped at Natural Bridge that has a waterfall and glow worm caves.

Natural Bridge and waterfall

view along the way

After our scenic diversion we then got back onto the Pacific Highway to Iluka. As we were in Queensland, and Iluka is in NSW, we had to alter the clocks forward an hour once over the state line. Strange to do this within the same country! We had one stop for a cup of tea before arriving in Iluka later in the afternoon. We spent one night on their drive, but because the camper electric couldn’t be plugged into house electric (not compatible), and it was hot, we couldn’t run the aircon. So the decision was made to book into the local campsite a few hundred yards away, so we could plug in.

28/01/2018. We walked around Iluka in the morning. Town by the sea that is favoured as a retirement area.

Pekicans on the beach

Boats in the harbour

My grand daughter had requested I make her favourite pie whilst there. A London dish of pie, mash and liquor. I made this in the afternoon, but unfortunately Emily’s oven decided to break down so the pie had to be put in the freezer till oven mended, much to everyone’s disappointment. I did some washing, and we had Fish and Chips for tea from the local fisherman’s Co-op. Very different selection to the UK. Choose your fish, then they cook it. I think we had shark. The camp site was emptying a bit now as the kiddies are all back to school soon.

29/01/2018. Spent the morning at Emily’s babysitting. We had heavy rain in the morning.

It does rain in Australia

We used up some bits and pieces for lunch, then we partook of the camp site swimming pool in the afternoon once the rain had subsided; and an evening of movies at the house.

one of the many birds frequenting the campsite. Reminds me of a butler.

Our Australian adventure in instalments

As we were away for a month and have many photos of our trip, I am breaking the blog up into sections to make it easier to write and to read.

On the 19th January we set off from home in Cornwall to Gatwick. It was Charlie’s birthday and we had booked a Flybe flight, with a night over in the Premier Inn at Gatwick’s North Terminal, ready for our long haul journey the next day. We were feeling a little guilty at putting Izzy into kennels, but we had no other option available. All went well with the Flybe flight though it was raining, and still raining on arrival in Gatwick. We booked into the Premier Inn, and had an afternoon snooze. In the evening we went for our prebooked meal deal meal, which was very good value; even coming with a free glass of wine. We had an early night, and rose early for breakfast, avoiding anything too heavy in readiness for our next journey.

20th January and we left Gatwick on an A380 for Dubai. Watch set for Dubai time and all was on time with Emirates. Plane change in Dubai for a 777 which we found more comfortable. We had an extra stopover added in Singapore, which we didn’t expect, but it wasn’t for long, and we were soon on our way again on the same plane to Brisbane., watch reset for Brisbane time. We arrived on time in Brisbane at 00.50 on 22nd January; once through customs we were greeted by our daughter and family, which we weren’t expecting and was a lovely surprise. We were all staying in the same hotel overnight. We were up reasonably early, and I even went for a swim with the grandkids before breakfast. We weren’t feeling too bad, as I had followed the advice on long haul flying, and it worked. Breakfast in hotel wasn’t too bad, but extra to the price of the room, which we thought was very expensive for just a few hours. Once breakfast over, we checked out, and our son-in-law gave us a lift to the campervan hire base. Emily had bought us items of toiletries, suncream and teabags to save weight, but we knew we needed to go shopping to stock up the camper once sorted.

Once at the hirebase we were given a brand new Mercedes sprinter campervan that we were the first to use. We then headed off to our first destination campsite in Advancetown. We were staying a few days here, whilst the family were in a hotel at Surfers Paradise, but it was only 20mins away. We spent the afternoon sorting out the camper and putting clothes away; a small snooze to refresh us, then off to the local motel for an evening meal. We need to shop for camper supplies.

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.


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