Friday, 20 May 2011


We had a bit of a lie in today, till 7am ;)  then straight on to the water point, 
a beautiful sunny, still morning.

 nice iron 'turn over' ( where the tow path changes sides) bridge 

 It's been a while since we saw a lift bridge, the last time was on the Llangollen last autumn. 
This one is usually open so no effort needed this time.

 Gosty Hill's home mooring, closed but we're not in need of any fuel

 Claydon Top Lock, the 1st of the day, only 7 more to go

We passed quite a few boats coming up the locks so after the 1st couple they were all set for us.
As we approached Cropredy the sky was clouding up & it was getting quite windy.
 We've found a spot on the 14 day moorings north of the village, the edge is soft & crumbly with chunks of tree root sticking out in the wrong place, Mark's had a go with the saw already & our life ring has doubled up as an extra fender but it's all in a good cause.... it's a decent satellite signal for the Grand Prix this weekend!  
The fire has just nicely been lit as we were decidedly chilly so of course the sun has come out again.....
 wide beam cat....

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

Fenny Compton

Yesterday morning Mark was awake very early so we were on the move before 6am, 1st stop the water point & then the Napton locks, we struck lucky as all bar one were in our favour. We met just one boat coming down so they were pleased that all would be set for them. 
We exited the top lock at 8.30am, stopped for a coffee & then had an enjoyable cruise along the summit to Fenny Compton, the canal here twist & winds, you have to be on the ball as it's sods law that you'll meet any oncoming boats either on a bend or in a bridge hole.

but at least we won't get lost..

The hedgerows & canal banks are very lush now with the yellow iris looking at its best.

Arriving at Fenny Compton at 12 noon we found a spot on the 14 day moorings & after lunch we had a walk into the village to the small Co-op for some supplies, a lazy afternoon followed.
We're moored a few yards from The Wharf Inn & took advantage of  their 2 for £10 offer for our evening meal  & it was spot on, mushroom & garlic pasta for Mark & veggie sausage & mash for me, good sized helpings (I couldn't finish mine but did need to leave room for a pud!) tasty, fresh vegetables, pleasant staff & surroundings, definitely recommended. They also have a shop selling basic groceries etc & a launderette ( £5 a wash, commercial sized machines) All useful stuff for us boaters.
After our meal we were struggling to keep our eyes open no doubt due to full tums & our early start so it was early to bed, but it had been a great day.

 This morning the local swan family called by to see if we had any breakfast for them,
 they have 5 cygnets & they were all hitching a ride.
This was them later this afternoon

To counter the effects of the puds ( treacle sponge & sticky toffee) we ate last night we had a 7 mile walk from Fenny Compton up to Burton Dassett Country Park. It was a fairly strenuous climb up but some good views from the top though very windy.

 Mark studying the orientation platform

The hills used to be quarried for ironstone & a lot of the houses in Fenny Compton 
are built in the distinctive yellow/brown stone

 The yellow topped posts that help with way marking...
a tall one so it can be seen from a distance & over the brow of the hill.

It is our first anniversary as continuous cruisers as we left Goole 12 months ago today. 
We have covered 696 miles, done 498 locks, 24 tunnels, 41 swing bridges & 23 lift bridges.   And we've enjoyed every minute.... 

Monday, 16 May 2011


It was Tuesday when we finally left Long Itchington, leaving at 6am (Sid has got into the habit of waking us early !) we worked our way up the Stockton locks, just one hiccup in an otherwise pleasant morning, the 1st lock was in our favour & Poppy was sat in the lock waiting for it to fill. I had checked the 2nd lock which was also empty then a couple of minutes later realised that someone was at the top paddles on the 2nd lock filling it up! 
Not feeling up for confrontation I just sat on the beam & waited for him to exit the lock, he opened the bottom gate &  I walked up to be greeted with "it's not much fun being a single hander" ! 
 I couldn't help but say "well if you hadn't snatched our lock I would have been happy to have given you a hand" 
Mark also had a 'word' as they passed each other so I think the point was made.

We moored up opposite the Boat Inn & stayed for a couple of days, It was pleasant enough but a bit noisy as we were right next to a rookery & they don't half make a racket!
Tuesday was also Mark's birthday so we decided to eat out & had a walk back to the Blue Lias Inn for tea, seems daft when we were moored outside the Boat Inn but  we just didn't fancy it for some reason. Anyway the Blue Lias was nice, food good & the puddings to die for!

I had broken the charger on my net book, ( which is one reason for the lack of posts) a new one was duly ordered from Amazon & we walked back down to Long Itchington Post Office on Thursday to pick it up after a phone call to the very helpful Lesley told us it had arrived.  Once back on board we decided we'd had enough of the rooks & moved a couple of miles up to the top of Calcutt locks.

Another nice spot, no trees or roads so Sid was off the leash which he really enjoyed, there was a 5' or so hedge & he spent most of his time in the hedge practicing his climbing skills. 
On Friday Mark took the chimney off & I gave the stove a good clean, thinking it would be the last time I'd clean this fire as we are planning to have a new stove with a back boiler that will run 2 or 3 radiators before next winter. So of course Saturday was cold & we had to pop the chimney back on to have a fire!! I also managed to break a tooth  :( so I will have to try & find a dentist in Banbury.

Yesterday we left at  8.30am, a late start for us but we wanted diesel from Calcutt Wharf & no point in setting off early as they open at 9am although we got there just before 9am & it was already busy.  A few hire boats coming back in, their holiday over. I always feel a bit smug & very lucky at this point as we are on one long holiday. 
Filled up with diesel, a gas refill & some loo blue - £200 ! Beans on toast for the next 
A busy Sunday at Calcutt Wharf

Glorious honeysuckle in bloom at Calcutt Wharf
We got moored up a few hundred yards past Brickyard Bridge at Napton  just as the rain started. The view from the window is of a field with large assortment of ponies all shapes & sizes, some brown, horned sheep & lambs, a deer & some cows, all  seeming to co-exist quite happily.
 I would at this point have put up a photo or two of cute Shetland ponies or lambs with horns but my camera battery went flat whilst out walking this morning & now it's charged up they are all out of sight on the other side of the field....
 The mornings walk was to the village shop  via the Hill, which is a bit of a climb but worth it for the views.

 Windmill on Napton Hill
Looking back down the hill, Poppy is just visible to the left of the house.

Now we are on the south Oxford  there seems to be a lot more boat traffic, there was a bit of a queue as we passed Napton bottom lock on our walk this morning & as our plan is to go up the locks tomorrow Mark will no doubt be wanting an early start to avoid hanging about, as if we have any need to rush...

We are heading for Fenny Compton unless we are tempted by anywhere on route.


Saturday, 7 May 2011

Long Itchington

The long dry spell of weather broke this morning at 1am when I was woken by heavy rain so the walk to the co-op in Long Itchington, our current mooring, to get the paper was a damp one but as I type the sun is coming out again.
We moved up here on Thursday but first, back to Wednesday..... 
These 2 were poling this craft along as they don’t yet have an engine, it looked like hard work but they seemed quite happy as they punted along in the sunshine 

These boaters had to be patient while the unmotorised craft was (very!) slowly negotiated 
to the lock landing & then through the lock.

We got off at 7am on Thursday, the water level was well down by at least a foot 
but we stayed centre channel & out of trouble.
I can't remember which bridge this was but worthy of a photo.

All was okay until we got to the pound below the Bascote staircase locks which was very low. 
Mark went up to let some water down & I rang BW to inform them of the situation as Mark had spotted it was also empty on Wednesday morning when he was out on his run. We soon had enough water let down to enable us to get up the locks & before long moored just past the disused railway bridge.

The ‘doughnut’ was originally Soona’s & she loved it but then Sid claimed it & avoiding any confrontation, Soona left him to it - until recently, she has rediscovered it & doesn’t give it up so easily. Maybe we need to get another for Sid but I think he will still want whatever it is that she has got! 

Depending on the weather ( we don’t cruise in the rain unless we really have to!) we will do the Stockton Locks on Monday. We have a few litres of waste oil to get rid of & Andy has told us about a household recycling site just a few minutes walk from bridge 21 so hopefully we will be able to get rid. Waste oil disposal points are few & far between & as we use 5 litres a service every couple of months or so it accumulates & as ever storage space is an issue.

Monday, 2 May 2011

We went for a 5 mile walk up through the countryside around Radford Semele this morning,  Warwickshire is particularly beautiful just now, the air heavy with the scent of blossom. 
 Old barn
 Field Pansy
 Another old barn, a bit more tumbledown
Thatched cottage in Whitnash

We had a knock on the boat this afternoon from Andy, fellow boater & blog reader. He had spotted us & popped up to say hello, we had a natter & then he pottered off, us settling down to watch the snooker when I remembered a blog I used to read, Lyra's Adventures, sure enough it was the same Andy, it was nice to say hello  & put a face to a name.
Andy didn't bring Lyra with him because of our cats so maybe we will meet her next time.

We are very impressed with our solar panels, I don't do amps & watts etc but normally we run our engines for 4-5 hours a day. That means we can watch 2-3 hours TV, run our small fridge & charge the usual phones, netbooks etc. 
Yesterday was the 1st full day & at 8am the smart gauge was at 64, normally we would have ran the engines for a couple of hours but we left it to the solar & by 2.30 pm the SG readout was at 78. We then watched TV for 2 hours ( snooker!) & the read out was 77 so not bad at all.
During the evening we ran the engines for a couple of hours as more snooker so we reckon when we are back to our normal viewing levels we will save a lot of engine running thereby saving on diesel & servicing costs. Of course at the moment we have wall to wall sunshine & longish days so this is probably as good as it gets....but any energy we do get from them is welcome as well as clean & free ( apart from initial layout costs!)

Tomorrow we need to move as our water is low, how far we go after the water point depends on the wind, if it is making things tricky we will moor up early.