Last Sunday we slipped away from our home mooring in Banbury and headed south for Walker Services, Aynho Wharf, Mike had already completed the linings on our rear doors and I had taken them to our friend Andy for painting.
Here they are ‘half finished’, later they will have decoration added.
Monday and Tuesday were spent at Aynho while Mike put new linings in our side hatch and inner back doors, these are just plain linings and will just be finished with varnish.
There was a schedule to keep to so Tuesday evening we headed onwards to Heyford and moored up in the dark just before Mill Lift Bridge and in the morning it was onwards to Enslow.
Caravan Bridge is still in a sad state since it collapsed last August (see Bone’s blog), it’s almost in as bad a state as the eponymous caravan of which only the wheels and axles remain! You can see the caravan in better days here, pic 2 from 1976.
Alex would be making us a housing for our generator over the next couple of days. This involved making a recess in part of the back deck area so he set to with his plasma cutter to achieve this. It was a a case of nibbling away a bit at a time to avoid damaging the wiring inside. Eventually the hole was the right size and recessed piece inserted.
On Friday the housing was fabricated and fitted and all that remains now is to get it painted the same colour as the rest of the boat.
We intended to go down to Thrupp for a couple of days but the weather conspired to be so foul we stayed put as we would only be able to stay there for 48 hours as the 7 day moorings are still being used as Winter Moorings until the end of the month.
Monday morning was fine and dry so we reversed back to the winding hole beyond Enslow Marina and by 2 pm we were moored up in Lower Heyford after running the gamut of Oxfordshire Narrowboat’s fleet rafted up across the canal as it was their ‘turn-round-day’.
All that remained then was to cycle back to Enslow to retrieve the car, we then settled down for a quiet night, but that was not to be as the wind started gusting so strongly that we had to take down our satellite dish for fear of it blowing away! The wild weather continued all night and we ended up awake for a couple of hours playing Scrabble.
According to the Met Office meteorological spring began on 1st March 2015 and astronomical spring began on 20th March 2015 so either way it’s here!
Remember the ‘To-Do List’ in my New Year post? We’ve ticked off a couple of them, last week Wrens-Nest went into Tooley’s Boatyard dry-dock for ‘blacking’ below the waterline we also asked Matt to de-rust and paint inside the gas locker, remedy some play in the ‘skeg’ which holds the bottom of the rudder in place and check out a gearbox leak.
While all this was going on we were exiled to Rushden for a few days courtesy of my sister Jan’s hospitality.
It was good to catch up with my nephew Jona and his tribe as well as another of my great nieces who was down from uni in Sheffield to see her cousin and get grandma to do her washing!
As we were in Rushden I visited Station 109 at Rushden Antiques Centre looking for a ‘40s trilby for events like Stoke Bruerne’s ‘Village at War’ unfortunately there wasn’t an authentic one to fit my fat head but I did come away with a more contemporary one to keep the old bean warm.
No sooner than we were back on board, that there was work to be done, we were having new kitchen worktops fitted and the old tiles had to be removed. Brute force and a hammer and chisel was involved resulting in shards of tile in the most unexpected places.
We had chosen a quartz work surface from Mini Q and our fitters Mark & Mark arrived at 8:30am and by 1:30pm the job was complete with a shiny new hob and sink to boot. All we had to do was clean up and wait for the smell of glue and cleaning solvent to dissipate before we got too high!
Of course with those beautiful worktops it wasn’t long before we decided that it made some of our crockery and containers look shabby, so Wilkinsons and Dunelm were visited and even Ikea was braved, lots of spring cleaning… and Hey Presto a new look!!!
So we’ve finished now? Oh no it’s off to Walker Services at Aynho tomorrow to get new linings fitted to our back doors and side hatch.
We hope you have all had a lovely Christmas and are looking forward to a 2015 which will bring you all you could wish for.
As regular readers will know this blog tends to go into hibernation through the winter and we batten down the hatches until spring arrives and we do anything worth talking about!
This year, however will see some changes to our lifestyle as Chris reaches retirement age in February and already there’s a ‘To-Do List’
The first of which was to update this blog which you will notice has a new ‘Theme’, I’m still not totally convinced if I like it so let me know what you think.
Joy’s New Year’s resolution is not to fall over and injure herself and we both hope for a healthy year ahead of us.
I’ve promised to update a website for a local society.
In March Wrens-Nest goes into Tooley’s Boatyard for ‘blacking’ when the boat gets painted below the waterline. Their dock is the oldest working dry dock on the Inland Waterways and has been in continuous use since 1790.
There are plans to do much more boating this year, without work commitments there won’t be time constraints upon us and enable us to venture further around the canal system, so watch this space to find out where we visit.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!???
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!
Today was a ‘rest day’ but we hopped on a bus to Rugby and bought a DVD player 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.
It’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.
After 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.