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Well… It wasn’t my fault, I mean… They left Fenny Compton, one of my favourite hunting grounds, way too early but soon I was up on top of the hatch checking everything was OK. When they got to Claydon Locks I went inside and kept an eye on things from on  top of  the sink unit.

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Artsy Fartsy shot at Clattercote Wharf

By the time got to Cropredy they seemed to coping all right without me, although there were loads of boats there for the Festival, so I went and had a lie down in a cool and quiet place while they filled up with water and put rubbish in the bins, which, by the way, were a disgrace with stuff overflowing onto the floor like they were last time we came through, I bet I could get a full time job there as a rodent control operative.

We hadn’t gone very far when Mum came inside calling me, then Dad came in and looked in all my usual hidey holes, well I knew it wasn’t food time so I stayed where I was.

The next thing I knew they had stopped the boat at Slat Mill bridge and went off somewhere and left me. They were gone ages, so I just went back to sleep. Eventually Dad came back and looked for pictures of me on the computer and started to make a lost cat poster. Boring! I must have done a bit of a snore because then he found me under the settee, behind his guitar case.

After a bit he went and fetched Mum, apparently they thought I had got off to at Cropredy to stretch my legs and were worried, so they had walked back the 1½ miles looking for me. As if I’d ever wander off like that! Well they couldn’t tell me off could they, I hadn’t done anything wrong!

They must have been pleased to know I was OK though because later on when they moored up in Banbury town centre, they gave me some lamb from their takeaway from the Jaypur Restaurant after they had washed off the curry sauce of course.

Lots of love, Jade (aka Catty)

Summer Cruise Day 30 & 31

Goodness me, day 31, a month since we left Banbury! I’m not going to bore you with locks & miles because I don’t know or care very much, but I do know we’ve had fabulous weather apart from two or three wet days, seen some great scenery and met some nice people.

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Tug Ruislip

We left Birdingbury Wharf on Sunday without so much as entering the Boat Inn (see, it was those people on Woodham who led us astray!). At Gibraltar Wharf we passed a number ‘historic’ boats including the tug Ruislip, which I really like the lines of. We ascended the three Calcutt Locks with another boat which we met along the way and made the right turn at Napton Junction.

Our plan was to get the Napton flight out of the way before it got too hot, the two boats who pulled off of the water point at Calcutt stopped for lunch at The Bridge so we thought we might not have to queue for Napton. Actually there were just four or five boats ahead of us at the bottom and once past the bottle neck of the damaged number 10 lock, where, apparently there had been a further ‘landslip’ the previous day, it was a straightforward climb to the top lock…

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Lock 12 with Buffalo in the distance

 

As we moored up for the last lock however, Catty decided she had had enough boating for one day and escaped into the hedge and despite attempts to bribe her back on board we had a cat-enforced early evening meal. After a two hour wait she sauntered back in at 7pm and we hurriedly went up the last lock as the water level in the pound we were in kept falling and we had no wish to remain there overnight, so it was a short hop to moor up near Priors Hardwicke where the blessed animal legged it again and didn’t come in again until eleven. Joy promised all sorts of punishment would befall the cat and that she would be confined to barracks tomorrow.

This morning we were away before nine as we hoped to bag a mooring for a couple of days at Fenny Compton and reckoned that by 11.00am most of the overnight moorers would have left. Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together? Here we are on a 14 day mooring if we so wish and guess what, Catty has been allowed out and is on ‘hedge-watching’ duty, strangely today she is staying within sight!???

Summer Cruise Day 28 & 29

After the relatively short distance travelled yesterday we had to pay for it the next day with 17 Grand Union locks, ending up at the top of the Stockton flight at Birdingbury Wharf, opposite The Boat Inn. Our locking companions were so pleased with the progress that they were keen to press on to the bottom of Napton Locks, we were not so keen as rain was forecast, so we bid them farewell and Bon Voyage. They later sent a text saying they were enjoying a meal at The Folly but didn’t reveal if they got drenched!

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Working pair at Shop Lock, Long Itchington

Today was a ‘rest day’ but we hopped on a bus to Rugby and bought a DVD DVDplayer at Tescos as the one in our TV had died, it was very reasonable at £24 and even better when we used our £4 worth of vouchers. It is capable of ‘upscaling standard definition DVD discs to near HD quality’ which I suppose means it will give us a better picture.

IMG_20140730_204840It’s OK, we haven’t got hopelessly lost , still around Warwick! Last night’s meal at The Cape of Good Hope was excellent and can be recommended. They were most helpful and allowed our locking partners, Ian, Chris & Heather on nb Woodham to moor outside this morning while Chrissy went to the hospital for a routine blood test. Meanwhile we headed on to Kate Boats for a pump-out and then on to do some shopping at  Warwick Tesco where the others caught us up. While we were at Tesco’s we put the washing machine on so it was done when we got back.

DSCF5993After a bite of lunch we carried as far as Fosse Locks where thunder started to rumble ominously, so Joy called a tea-stop, by 5pm it had cleared a bit but we decided against further progress and tied up for the night. So we enjoyed a meal  on board, of Pork & Apple sausages, new potatoes and runner beans followed by a crumble with the blackberries Joy foraged back at Warwick and Bramleys from Tesco.

Left Kingswood just before 9:00, trains woke us at 3:00am & I couldn’t get back to sleep for ages. It was nice fresh morning and we made the turn onto the Grand Union, which I always think of as the motorway of British canals, but the level was well down this morning and passing oncoming boats was tricky as it was easy to ground out when you left centre channel. We passed Willow Wren boat, Dipper aground but they said they had just got free.

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A little further on we saw steam narrowboat Tixall moored up, this is a modern steamer unlike Laplander which we saw at Stratford, steam buffs can peek inside here.

We were through Shrewley Tunnel by 10 and at the top of the 21 Hatton Locks by 11 o’clock where we were met by two volunteer lockies who helped nb Woodham and ourselves down the first few locks before going back to assist new arrivals, one of which was nb Dipper who, we discovered had a group of Scouts on board, they chased us down the locks and helped us close a few gates as we left.

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We met boats coming up at some locks, although more would have been nice, one of those we did meet was nb Wand’ring Bark & The Jam Butty from which Helen Tidy sells homemade jams and chutneys which she makes on board trading as Wild Side Preserves. This was the first time we’ve seen their ‘new’ butty Montgomery looked resplendent in it’s livery.

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We got into a rhythm of working the locks which I might say were easier than those on  the Stratford canal yesterday and by 3pm we were slaking our thirst at The Cape of Good Hope where we are going to eat tonight.

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WEJourneyMap-23271Just in case anybody wonders how that little picture pops up titled “Where are we now?” it’s all down to a website called Water Explorer where you can log your boat’s position, this can be done manually or by a gpx file which my phone produces with the GPS Logger App  and hey presto we have a map of our day’s progress. So as you can see we have progressed from Wootton Wawen to Kingswood Junction, near Lapworth.

 

DSCF5978The Stratford canal boasts just six Barrel Roofed lock keepers’ cottages, a couple of which are currently for sale, this much enlarged example was up for sale in April for a cool £640,000 or there’s a more modest example which is reported as being up for auction here. Or if you just fancy one for a week or so The Landmark Trust owns one which it rents as a holiday let.

So today? 5.89 miles 7h34m Locks:17 Bridges:17 and tonight we are moored next to a railway bridge, so here’s hoping for a good night’s sleep.

Summer Cruise Day 24

DSCF5943Today it was time to leave the cultured surroundings of Stratford and return to the familiarity of narrow canals, but first there was some DIY to tackle. One of the kitchen cupboard door hinges had broken and it needed to be replaced, I had found, on line, that B & Q stocked them, but would we be able to moor at the bridge nearest to there? In the end I decided to take a taxi there and back which cost less than a fiver, and so we were still able to be away by 9:15 in the company of nb Woodham, having fitted the new hinges before we left.

So it was up into Bancroft Basin and through the four locks out of town, of course there would have been room to moor next to the Premier Inn to go to
B & Q but c’est la vie!

DSCF5953At the eleven Wilmcote Locks there were volunteer lockkeepers on hand to assist us one of whom ‘set ahead’ while we emptied each lock for nb Woodham as we left whilst the other lockie helped them through. At the last three locks we started to meet boats coming down, one of which was headed back to Saul on the Gloucester & Sharpness canal and had lived in our home town of 30years, Dursley.

Oh, and I’d forgotten about those vicious by-washes and narrow bridges on the Stratford, but we were on the final stretch for the day over the Edstone Aquaduct (a mini Pontcysyllte aqueduct) which is hard to photograph whist you are on it so here’s one from Geograph.

  © Copyright David Stowell and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence

Just ‘Odd Lock’ to do and it was over the even shorter Wootton Wawen Aqueduct and were just able to squeeze into the 24hr moorings opposite the Anglo-Welsh boatyard with nb Woodham breasted alongside.

Tomorrow is our 42nd wedding anniversary so we celebrated with a meal at The Navigation Inn along with Ian, Chris & Heather off of Woodham who generously treated us to bottle of sparkling wine.

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