I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Home - Monday 14th September

It was a lovely morning though quite hot – the temperature was up to 29° in the boat as we were leaving. 

The packing routine spun into action and it was soon done and then the cleaning had to be done but that didn’t take long.

Richard had started the car last night but when he went to start it this morning the battery was as dead as a dodo. I rang the marina office and before long someone had come along with jump leads and got the car going. I guess flat batteries are quite common with people leaving their boats for a long period of time.

We locked up, said goodbye to Mary H, but I realised that I had left the fridge door shut so Richard went back and opened it up – he wasn’t happy! I did offer to do it but, he went.

We had a tedious journey home with lorries trying to pass each other on the hilly, dual carriageway of the A34. The M3 was busy and we had forgotten all about the 50mph restriction on the M27. Richard said that he would much prefer the Oxford Canal on a sunny Sunday to being back in the real world!

We are now home. The weeds in the planters and pots have had a field day as Richard had them on a watering system, the flower beds aren’t too weedy. Other than that, everything is fine.

This year we have covered 319.43 miles and gone through 144 locks over 47 days. Thanks to Covid its been our shorted summer cruise but at least we have been able to get out.

So folks, thank you for reading my blog. We are still planning on a winter sojourn to Spain but who knows what the winter and 2021 will bring. One thing I hope that 2021 brings and that is a vaccine against Covid and it does seem that that is the only way it is going to be stopped in its tracks.

Today’s photos are all Thames lock keepers houses.

Catch you all soon. Keep well and stay safe everyone.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Dunchurch Pools Marina (Oxford Canal) Sunday 13th September

A lovely bright and sunny morning for our last day. We pulled away from our mooring at 10am and headed for the Napton Bottom Lock. There was a volockie on duty, so we were soon through – our last lock of the summer. As we were passing all the boats on the visitor’s moorings one started to pull out right in front of us. I shouted, “excuse me” and the crew all looked up and realised we were there! Two generations plus baby and I think there was too much talking going on! They were so sorry – which was really nice. 

I love this house or maybe that should be covet! 

At the winding hole a boat was winding (how strange!) so we followed him along. We don’t speed but he was so slow it was a bit painful. At Napton Junction they turned up the Grand Union, which was a relief.

All the boats were out at Napton Narrowboats again. We really haven’t seen many hire boats around over the last few days bearing in mind there are a lot of hire boat bases in the vicinity.

The name Napton is derived from the Old English cnaepp meaning 'hilltop' and tun meaning 'settlement' in the Old English language. In 1086 the Domesday Book recorded the village as Neptone. In the 14th century Napton was granted a market charter by King Edward II and throughout the Middle Ages it was one of the largest settlements in Warwickshire. However, the market died out, and the population of the village today of around 1,000, is roughly the same as it was in the year 1400.

I learnt something today. Back in the 13th Century if a landowner had no male heir that land went to any surviving sister. This happened twice when Robert de Beaumont, 4th Earl of Leicester died in 1204 leaving no male heir his estates were divided between his two sisters. Napton was included in the half that passed to his younger sister Margaret, and thereby to her husband Saer de Quincy who in 1207 was made Earl of Winchester. Napton was still part of the Honour of Winchester in 1271 but Roger de Quincy, 2nd Earl of Winchester had died in 1265 with no male heir, leaving his estates to his three daughters. I really love finding out these facts.

What an appropriate name for a boat in these Covid times.

We pulled over for lunch as we were in no hurry to get back to the marina.

It’s just as well we weren’t in a hurry to get back to the marina as the world and his wife were moored along the Grand Union Canal (Oxford Canal Section) and then up the North Oxford, but it was such a glorious afternoon I’m not surprised!

I spent most of the journey back sorting out and getting ready to pack up when we could get the boxes out of the car.

Back at the marina Richard wanted to reverse back into our space. It is nearly always windy at Dunchurch and he was a bit worried, however the boats on either side of us were out so it was easy peasy! 

So, one more night on Mary H and then the packing starts in earnest tomorrow morning before we drive home.

9.78 miles
1 lock

Above Napton Bottom Lock (Oxford Canal) Saturday 12th September

We woke up to a bright and sunny morning, but it did look a bit chilly out there! We wanted to get a move on this morning, so we left our mooring at 9.05am to head to Marston Doles and the nine locks of the Napton flight. We arrived at Marston Doles at 10.40am with only one boat in front of us 😊 We set off down the flight at 11am following a boat that was privately owned but I’m not sure they really knew what they were doing. They started off by a person holding the boat in the lock with the centre line and getting in a real muddle with climbing down the ladder to get a windlass! I noticed that further down the flight that the holding of the boat had stopped. I guess a flight is a good way of learning how to work out a system of doing locks that suits you. 

The flight was pretty much one in and one out except for the last two (we didn’t do the last one) when suddenly the flight went quiet. I think we only saw two hire boats coming up the flight but maybe it was a bit too early in the day for the Saturday hirers to get that far. However, one of the hire boats that was coming up the locks had a lady (of a certain age) steering. I was holding Mary H waiting to go in the lock. The lady was obviously very nervous and was calling her husband to get on board quick. I wasn’t really watching what was going on with Mary H and she started to edge out across the canal. Suddenly I heard “I’m going to crash” and “I’m going to hit you”. I tried my hardest to tell her that it was my fault, but she was too upset to listen. I felt really bad as I had been completely to blame. ☹

We pulled over above the bottom lock at 1pm, locked up and walked down to The Folly for lunch. It was a lovely day and we sat outside with lots of other people. The Folly are very Covid organised. Firstly, you have to sign in for track and trace and then go to the bar and order your drinks and food which are brought to your table. After the meal we had to put all the debris in the bin. I had the Folly burger which was really nice, and the chips were crispy and gorgeous. Richard had the chicken curry baked potato.

While we were eating, a helicopter flew very low over the pub, everyone was straining to see what was going on. It disappeared and then came even lower and finally landed in the field right next to the pub. Everyone was fascinated too know what was going on!

Towards the end of our time at The Folly a couple arrived with two back Labradors. One of them would not stop barking and it was so annoying. Imagine how we felt when we got back to the boat and discovered that they were on the boat in front of us! I have to admit that I did feel sorry for the couple as I think the dog was probably old and had a bit of dementia as I could tell that the woman was getting to the end of her tether ☹

We both had a sleep in the afternoon - big lunch and alcohol!

I did an exercise today with CanalPlan. It normally errs of the side of safety and we always seem to get to our destination ahead of schedule. But today it had said that the first part of our trip to Marston Doles would take 1 hour and 27 minutes, but it took us 1 hour and 35 minutes. To do the flight was 1 hour and 50 minutes and it actually took us 2 hours and 20 minutes. The flight I can understand being different, but I was surprised at the first bit with no locks.

6.23 miles
8 locks

Ladder Bridge – 128 (Oxford Canal) Friday 11th September

We have three days of three to four hours (lock dependant) ahead of us before we get back to the marina on Sunday. Today we had the Claydon flight to do.
Autumn is coming 

We left our mooring at 9.45am and it was only a hop, skip and a jump to the first lock. There was a boat already in the lock owned by a young Spanish couple, so I helped them through and set the lock for Mary H. As she was rising another boat came up behind us, so he finished seeing Richard through. I walked up to the second lock and again helped el barco through (my Spanish has improved today!) At the third (middle) lock there was a volockie on, but we had to wait for a boat coming down. When we came down the canal at the beginning of August I noticed the vegetable garden, so asked how it was doing only to be told that C&RT have said that they can’t have a vegetable garden there as there are too many pipes under the ground that could get damaged by digging – what a shame. We were only the fifth boat to pass through the middle lock today – there had been 31 yesterday and a few weeks ago the daily average was well over 40. The fourth lock was pretty straight forward though all the locks were against us today. As we left the fourth lock there was another boat was coming down. It was an interesting boat as it had a butty fastened to it. I got chatting to the owner who said that he had made the butty and used it as his shed! The boat and butty measure 70 feet so no problems in locks. The chap made me smile as he said that sometimes he tells people that he has three ex-wives in the butty, and during lockdown he was telling people it was full of toilet rolls! El barco got stuck getting into the top lock as he had fenders down and it is obviously a fairly narrow lock. Coming down was Dusty the coal boat. We finally came out of the top lock at 11.15am. 1½ hours, I don’t think that was too bad.

We met another boat coming the other way and the narrowest point of the Fenny Compton “tunnel”. Of course, we both politely waited for the other to move, eventually the other boat moved first!

It was rather slow progress through Fenny Compton as there were lots of moored boats. We pulled over just before Ladder Bridge (128) and found ourselves a gap in the hedge so we have a view.

We had a visitor today – a blog reader, Julie. She had reckoned that we would probably pass them today but in fact we have moored behind them, well not that close as we can’t see them! Nice to see you Julie 😊

In 1498 Sir William Cope Who served as Cofferer of the Household of Henry VII from 1494 to 1505. 1498 he was granted the Lordships of Wormleighton and Fenny Compton, part of the lands of Simon de Montford who had been attainted in 1495. He later sold the lands to the Spencer family, later of Althorp. In case you don’t know what a Cofferer was it was a Treasurer. I didn’t know and had to look it up but that must be where the word coffers comes from! The name Fenny Compton comes from the Anglo-Saxon Fennig Cumbtūn meaning "marshy farmstead in a valley".

7.12 miles
5 locks

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Claydon Bottom Lock (Oxford Canal) Thursday 10th September

I slept really well last night thank goodness but have a heavy head this morning – too much sleep now!

Yesterday I said how I had been to Morrisons for goodies for our visitors coming, well this morning I got a phone call to say that they are now not able to make it. Goodness only knows what I am going to do with all the food especially as the freezer is still quite full!

We stayed in Banbury for the morning as a friend was going to try and help me remotely with my laptop. I reckon he must have tried for almost two hours before he had to admit defeat ☹ We will start again once I am home as he is talking about a factory reset. The laptop is working other than the Com Port and the Windows update problems so I will continue as things are for the time being. 

Aren't these two just lovely?

We left Banbury after lunch heading to Cropredy for the night. At the first three locks there were boats moored up on the lock landing. The least awkwardly moored one was a hire boat! Just before Slat Mill Lock the chap on a boat which was coming passed us said that the next pound was low. When we got up there, we discovered why – the bullocks were drinking it all!

We stopped at the services at Cropredy as they are the last before Napton (except for water). Up through the lock and we made the decision to continue on through the next three locks as it was only 4pm and the sun was shining.

The Battle of Cropredy Bridge was on 29th June 1644, during the First English Civil War. The battle was between King Charles and the Parliamentarian army, led by Sir William Waller. There was no real victor as the Royalists slipped away under the cover of night when they received intelligence of additional Parliamentarians nearby. They were also low in food and supplies. While the Royalists had suffered few casualties, Waller had lost 700 men, many having deserted immediately after the battle.

The new basin at Cropredy Marina is pretty well dug out now. It is going to be huge. Rumour has it that Castle Marinas, who own Cropredy Marina, are going to be running some Black Prince Hire Boats from there, as they own them too.

We had stopped just north of Clattercote Wharf on the way down the Oxford Canal and we thought that we would stop there again today, but it all looks different going the other way, so we continued on to the long stretch of mooring below Claydon Bottom Lock.

In the 12th century Robert de Chesney, Bishop of Lincoln granted land at Clattercote to the Gilbertine Order, on which they founded a small priory dedicated to Saint Leonard. The Priory seems to have had a leper's pool in which leprous inmates were bathed. By the 18th century the leper's pool was known as the "great fish pond". So where is this leading? Well, in 1777 when the Oxford Canal was being extended southwards past Clattercote from Fenny Compton the canal company enlarged the great fish pond to form Clattercote Reservoir to feed the canal. For goodness sake don’t fall in the canal around here!

6.37 miles
7 locks

Friday, 11 September 2020

Tom Rolt Bridge, Banbury (Oxford Canal) Wednesday 9th September

I had a really bad night’s sleep. I woke up at 3am with a really bad pain in my knee and couldn’t get back to sleep. Eventually I got up and took a couple of paracetamols and played on my iPad until they took effect, however I managed to wake Richard up and we were lying in bed drinking tea at 4am! We then both slept until 8am but I am feeling a bit shattered today. 

We said goodbye to Jem and Trish and set off at 10.30am. Down passed Aynho Wharf and on to Aynho Weir Lock where there was a queue of two boats in front of us. Richard has been doing the locks today to try and protect my knee. Richard went off to do Nell Bridge Lock and I waited and waited and waited. There was nothing I could do as pedestrian access to the lock is up onto the road, across it and back onto CRT land. Eventually the gates opened, and a boat came out. Apparently, a hire boat had tried to turn in the winding hole but went in the wrong way and got completely stuck. Goodness knows how long I had to wait for.

We passed the Pig Place we still haven’t stopped there. We just never seem to need anything. We might call in on our way home next week.

Just before King’s Sutton lock, we came across Wine Down with John and Elaine, who not only moor at Dunchurch Pools on the same pontoon as us but also live on Hayling Island. Our paths keep crossing, but we never seem to be in a position to stop.

Of course, there was a queue at King’s Sutton lock. I don’t quite know why there have been queues at most locks. In my book that shouldn’t happen. 

The pound between King’s Sutton and Grant’s locks was low and Richard lost the steering on a shallow corner. I jumped off with the centre line to pull the bow round but then Richard couldn’t get the boat near enough to the edge to get me on board. I had quite a long walk to the next bridge! We were the only ones at Grant’s lock – that made a change!

Why does King’s Sutton Lock have two names?

We had had some drizzle up to Grant’s Lock but then the sun came out and we had a lovely cruise into Banbury with me at the helm – I have to say that doesn’t happen very often.

We stopped to go to Morrisons where I needed fresh food and I had some Amazon packages waiting in the lockers. Back on the boat and to the services where we needed all three of them! Up Banbury Lock, under the lift bridge and we moored up where we were at the beginning of August. It was 5pm and it’s been a long old day. I wished we could have stopped earlier but I was worried that my Amazon parcels might have been returned. We now have 5½ hours cruising to do in 2½ days. More visitors coming on Saturday 😊

This bridge has appeared since we came passed here last month! 

I’ve put these two photos in so that I can compare the difference next year!

It’s been day 2 of the laptop not behaving itself. I did a restore to a point three days ago but that still hasn’t made any difference. I still have no Com Port and Windows Update still isn’t working.

8.63 miles
5 locks
1 lift bridge

Thursday, 10 September 2020

Above Somerton Deep Lock (Oxford Canal) Tuesday 8th September

Another late start, but does it matter? On the Thames we need to start early as all the nice mooring spots seem to be taken by lunchtime or just after.

At Northbrook Lock we got stuck behind a narrowboat towing a butty. We were not best pleased as we could foresee a very long and slow journey today. However, at Dashwood’s Lock they were just taking the butty out of the lock, so we didn’t have to wait long, mind you the lock was in their favour when they arrived!

I knew that we were bound to pass another blogger today, Adam and Adrian on Briar Rose. And pass us they did. Where was I? Yup, in the loo and I missed them. Sorry to miss you guys. Maybe next year!

The lift bridge at Lower Heyford was working perfectly today, not like our journey down back at the end of July. We pulled over not long after the bridge for lunch.

A single hander was just leaving Allen’s Lock as we arrived, so it was just a question of turning it and going through. We found the single hander again at Heyford Common Lock and I went up to help him turn the lock. I offered for him to go back to his boat and I would see him through, but he very kindly said that we could go before him. Apparently, he is going into Tooleys for blacking in five days’ time so had time to spare and could help us, as the journey will only take him one day at the most.

As we approached Somerton Deep Lock there was a boat coming towards us who told us that there had been a problem at the lock and that there was a long queue waiting to go up. The lady wasn’t wrong! There were at least eight boats in front of us, including the narrow boat and its butty. Strangely enough there was no-one behind us. A boat coming down said that they had waited 3½ hours, at that stage we had been waiting 1 hour and 55 minutes, so I guess we were lucky as it only took us 2hours and 35 minutes to get through and out the other side. When we were next to go in a hire boat came up behind us to go through the lock – how lucky were they!!!

While all this was been going on, I was having computer problems. My GPS receiver had fallen off the window and poor old Waterway Routes had gone mad.

But the GPS wouldn’t work when I put it back on the window, it just said that the Com Port couldn’t be found. I went into Device Manager and put “Ports COM and LPT” on, but it still wouldn’t work. Then I found that Windows Update wasn’t working either. Oh yes, when I done a compute restart Word had lost three days of Blog posts. Word should back up to the cloud but for some reason it hadn’t. Thank goodness that everything was safely on Blogger. However, I had lost today’s post as I normally write as we are going along so I have had to do it again.

We were stopping just after the Somerton Deep Lock as friends, Jem and Trish on Travels with Tea, were moored there. We pulled in behind them and soon got the deckchairs out and were sitting on the towpath chatting. Other than a break for dinner in our respective boats we sat out until 11pm. By that time it was getting a little chilly but it’s the first time we have sat out late this summer. It was lovely to see Jem, Trish, Pip and Roo (Flat Coat Retrievers).

7.62 miles
5 locks
1 lift bridge