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Easter Hols part 3

Easter Day was forecast to be rainy and we decided to stay put at Cropredy and so celebrated Easter at Cropredy’s parish church, St Mary’s. It was their informal family friendly service led by two lovely ladies, we were made welcome and given a small egg as we left. The forecast was about right and the heavens opened after lunch so we had made the right decision to stay and whiled the afternoon and evening away with TV and Scrabble.

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A brood of 13 duckings can they all be hers?

This morning’s weather obliged with sunshine, after breakfast Joy prepared our meals for the day and then we joined the exodus of boats heading South.

A few of Cropredy Canoe Club’s members were out and about but there were, it seemed, few boats leaving Banbury so consequently most of the locks were against us.

 

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Little Bourton Lock Cottage

At Little Bourton Lock the owner of the lock cottage was engaged in renovations and opened the top gate for us. Below the lock the Anglo-Welsh hire boat which we had seen broken down on Thursday was now running again (diesel problems cured we understand) and we were told that the company was looking for someone to take it back to Oxford as the hirers had had to abandon their trip because of the breakdown.

 

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Hardwick Lock

The sunshine stayed with us all the way back to Banbury where we paused to pick up a prescription from Banbury Health Centre (yes, open on a Bank Holiday Monday!) At Banbury Lock we met Jim on Smokin’ Badger who told us he is setting up a mobile fuel tank cleaning service after experiencing fuel bug problems himself three times in the last year.

 

 

We arrived back at our home mooring to learn from a passing boater that he had just seen a mountain bike being stolen from a cruiser moored nearby. We managed to trace the owner through Jim to pass on the bad news. If you are in the Banbury Tramway area beware of a shifty looking hoody wearer loitering about.

We were just in time for a cup of tea and a chat with the neighbours in the sunshine before a thunderstorm developed and sent us scurrying inside.

It’s back to work on Wednesday with the prospect of our next trip to look forward to.

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Tuesday afternoon we headed back to Banbury in more glorious weather making it back to our mooring by teatime.

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On Wednesday I borrowed a pressure washer from a colleague and washed the roof down to get rid of the winter’s grime while Joy washed and polished the side. We then bemused passing boaters by reversing down to the winding hole, turning round and reversing back again so we could wash the other side.

Then of course the grass cutting contractors came along and disrupted our plans, Joy moved the hose out of the way for them but they simply bypassed our mooring. Joy was having none of this and tackled them as they came back and they obligingly cut our patch too. Their response was that they usually don’t cut the grass when people are on their boats??? Wouldn’t it be better just to ask the mooring holder if they want the grass cut?

Joy had offered her art class a boat trip on Thursday to do some open air painting down at Nell Bridge but on the morning none of them wanted to come, preferring to travel there by car, so rather than waste the day off I had booked to make the trip, we opted to start the second part of our cruise a day early.

Edit:

As we approached Samuelson’s Bridge we met nb Eileen and later found that Wrens-Nest is in one of their blog’s photos. They write about  an unfortunate incident which occurred shortly after, hope the hand gets better soon Claire.

We easily reached Cropredy & spent the night there and carried on to Fenny Compton on Friday where we had to visit The Wharf Inn, of course, to quench our thirst and stock up at The Spice Traders stall there. As we were having our drinks Rob Totterdell, the stall’s owner appeared and we had a long chat, Rob’s a really interesting guy and sources his products from small companies, keeping it as local as possible.

We had intended to stay there for a few days but the forecast for Sunday was not encouraging so we decided to head back to Cropredy today and get most of the locks out of the way. Cropredy Marina is pretty full with boats now, it was just a hole in the ground last time we passed and looks really good, in fact we met two boats on their way to moor there.

Tomorrow is Easter Day and we wish you all a very Happy Easter.

The Easter Hols Begin

After completing my task at Lower Heyford we started on our return northwards after work on Friday (no more work for 12 days!) but only a short hop to the other side of Lower Heyford where we moored up behind friends on Prancing Pony to fit  a new alternator regulator for them which I had ordered before they left Banbury.

It’s a lovely, peaceful spot at which the noise of the train traffic is muted, unlike last week where we could hear and feel the goods trains roaring past all through the night.

On the Saturday it was onward to Upper Heyford, as we had arranged for our friends, Toni & Chris to come to dinner and Allens Lock was a convenient place for them to meet us. We enjoyed a convivial evening together and enjoyed the lovely gardens of Willow Cottage which extend down to the canal’s edge.

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We stayed here for a few days as we wanted to go to our church at Heyford Park on Sunday and Joy’s exercise class at Upper Heyford Village Hall on the Tuesday and there again it’s an absolutely beautiful spot. Years ago there was a water mill on the river adjacent to the lock.

Monday saw me servicing the boat engine before we headed off again on Tuesday afternoon and the changing of fuel filters and removal of muck from the water trap seems to have solved the problem of the engine not picking up speed properly on starting up. I also exercised my brain and rearranged the wiring to the front battery bank so now I can see how many amps is going into that set of batteries too.

Solar Power

Installed a small solar panel system on a narrowboat to keep the batteries topped-up through the summer when not cruising.

 

I suppose it must be as there has been a marked increase of boats passing our mooring this last couple of weeks and after work this afternoon we joined that happy band and headed off South.

The reason for the journey is that I have an appointment to fit a solar panel system for someone at Heyford and it’s so much easier if I have my back-cabin workshop alongside. Not only that, but we are meeting up with number one son plus grandchildren tomorrow.

DSCF5037We were approaching Nell Bridge Lock when we spied a familiar boat moored up, The Good Ship Bones! We tooted as we passed but no one seemed to be at home, however as we came through the adjacent lift bridge we were hallooed by two approaching figures, Bones and her neighbour Alex. These kind folk helped us through Nell Bridge Lock and then walked down with Boots the dog to see us through Aynho Weir Lock as well.

DSCF5038We made them stay for a cuppa & toasted tea cakes before saying thanks and good bye, they set off back to their boats, Boots however had other ideas and followed us, ignoring all commands to the contrary. Being of the greyhound persuasion he has a good turn of speed and it was only by stopping Wrens-Nest that he stopped too and was put on his lead by his mistress and taken back to his own boat in disgrace. He must like our boat as this isn’t the first time he has pulled this trick! (See here)

IMG_20140404_175756After getting out of the shallows where we had landed up, we went on down to Aynho Wharf, spotting our first ducklings of the year, and moored up for our tea.

We shall stay here tonight and complete our journey tomorrow.

Throughout 2014, the Canal & River Trust’s Chief Executive, Richard Parry, will be hosting a series of open meetings for boaters and other waterway users across the country. The meetings will offer a chance for people to informally air views on any local or national issues and open up channels of communication for any future consultations.

Source: Canal & River Trust

 

We attended the Open Meeting at Banbury this week in the function room at The Old Auctioneer, Parson Street, in fact the response was so good that they actually ran two meetings, afternoon & evening. Due to my work we opted for the evening event.

The topics covered included:

  • Vegetation Management
  • Cycling
  • Mooring And Cruising
  • Development and Marinas
  • Operational Issues
  • Communications
  • Hire Boating, Angling
  • Miscellaneous

You can see more details of the discussion here although you may have difficultly knowing who said what as they weren’t that good at getting the questioners names right!

Although the meeting was advertised as being from 6:30 to 8:30 pm by 7:50 pm we felt  they had had enough and wanted to go home!

There were no refreshments offered (as there seemed to have been at the  Birmingham event) and we did not feel encouraged to stay for one-to-one questions so a group of us decamped to Ye Olde Reindeer in search of better beer and a less clinical atmosphere and the opportunity to put the world to rights!

I did offer to help with communications with local boaters but received an email containing a job specification (unpaid, of course!)  Boating Community Communication Volunteer – South East, errm, not quite what I meant!

All in all it was really an opportunity to put faces to names and hopefully it will open up some interaction between boaters and C&RT.

Buried Treasure?

DSCF4854On several occasions since we have had our mooring here at Banbury Tramway the water level has dropped and we have found that Wrens-Nest had gone hard aground at the stern and was listing to the extent that things were rolling off of work surfaces with drawers and cupboard doors coming open!

 

At the end of October, the third time it happened, I took an early morning walk down to Grant’s Lock to check for open paddles I found that the flood sluice by bridge 173a was open and after making phone calls to CRT I learnt  that this had been done to reduce the levels in Banbury town centre. Fair enough, but it would be good if they monitored the situation or even warned us it was going to happen.

I did some ‘fishing’ and removed various metal objects but one substantial metal object remained standing about 200mm proud of the canal bed.

After a repeat performance at the beginning of this month I emailed C&RT again and received a reply the next day saying:

The water levels dropped due to someone closing the paddles at Banbury lock. We have been running the excess water through the lock and out through Grants flood paddle. . .

We do put signs out at the lock saying that we are running off flood water, and to leave the lock how they found it. But that doesn’t unfortunately stop people from not returning the paddles to the open position when they have gone through the lock.

As for the obstruction – the dredger is planned to visit and remove the obstruction (if possible ) in the coming weeks.

Yesterday the dredger arrived, we moved our boat off the mooring, and the guys set to delving about where I thought the obstruction was. The first trophy was a squashed supermarket trolley, not the treasure chest Joy was hoping for) then up came bricks and bits of old pipe and scaffolding, the canal bed seemed to be much stonier here suggesting that there has been dumping from  the adjacent property at sometime.

IMG_20140224_134910Then finally after probing around with my keb (or drag as the C&RT guys called it, a long handled rake with prongs like a garden fork) they located the culprit, a piece of RSJ almost a metre long. So here’s hoping that it’s an end to our problems and thanks to the dredger crew for their cheerful assistance.

 

I guess the moral of the story is “If there’s a problem, tell the people concerned so they can do something about it and if nothing happens.. keep on politely reminding them until it does!”

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