Friday, 26 August 2011

Hillmorton for a time

So, an August evening. We're here for a bit, have done lots of laundry and have moved on into boat tasks inside and out. On the outside, Pete's been cleaning, de-rusting and re-painting the gas lockers and bow locker. Elizabeth's been scraping, sanding, de-rusting and re-painting bits of sides, roof rails and locker exteriors as well as sew the torn zip in the cratch cover (torn in a tunnel).

On the inside, we've been doing various bits of DIY and cleaning.

All fun!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

The non rainy season

So, we got up Claydon flight in record time, considering. We anticpated, being the
15th in the queue, to not even enter the first lock by 1pm. As it was, we left the flight just before 1. Brilliant.

In the next pound, the summit pound, is where we could really see the results of the non rain. In this picture, the white line is the usual waterline...all that dark below usually in water. Though it may not look much, 8-10 inches is quite a loss when most places are 3 feet deep at best. It makes the difference between travelling afloat and cornering in silt.

We moored at the end of the summit, the top of the Napton flight and had a peaceful evening watching the beautiful Chestnut stallion and his friend, the Brindle stallion, in the field opposite. We were 5th in the queue this time.

We set out this morning after the flight opened at 10 and were in the flight just before 11. We enjoyed the journey past harvested fields and burgeoning berries to moor up at our usual spot in Braunston around 4:30pm.  Tomorrow, we turn around and make our way to Hillmorton - to do laundry! We expected to be out a weekend and ended up out three weeks. The drawers are empty and the bags are full!

And just a note - whilst travelling, Elizabeth made some raspberry cordial feom fruit brought by a dear friend (who collected Pete from Hillmorton after dropping off Reg on Monday). And made our usual spreadable butter. Oh! And the bread Pete made whilst we travelled to the water point in Cropredy on Saturday was utterly demolished by our 5 additional crew. So we made more on Sunday afternoon whilst Elizabeth was sanding down her tapestry wools box. Now sanded and refinished. Which is a good thing, because the stool we bought in Cropredy needs to be reupholstered. No end, eh? We love it.

Monday, 15 August 2011

And so we queue

Here we are, just two locks and one mile north of Cropredy "top lock" (Broadmoor), where we've been moored for two weeks.  We had a wonderful time. Elizabeth had her Heinz birthday (57th), Pete went off to Windermere for a few days and in between we've done heaps of happy entertaining.

On Saturday, we provided great entertainment whilst benefitting from 5 added crew as we set south the two locks and 1.5 miles to turn around and use the services. Gongoozlers from Cropredy festival enjoyed watching the dance of boats moving in and out of the services area, including a lovely shuffle of a small boat's rope being carried over the top of ours as we switched places - all the time with face painting for a festival drum band going on in their stern well. All in all, it took three hours, passing by festival boats, revellers, musicians and more.

We took advantage of the festival fringe and listened to each night from our deck. And, of course, we shopped and now have a tiny upholstered stool for our lounge.

And so now we queue. All the while we've been in dear Croppo, there has been little rain for reservoirs, leaving the canal low. But the big problem is that there's been a small breach in between Napton and Braunston leading to some in-season stoppages and restrictions. The Claydon flight which leads to the Oxford Canal summit pound - which ends in the Napton flight -  is open only 4 hours each day at the moment. This builds up a large queue, especially when only 16 boats a day are likely to move in either direction on any day. Add to that, one of the Napton lock gates was broken today and so that flight is restricted as well. We're the 15th in the queue, so tomorrow will be spent moving Bella forward a boat length each 15 minutes...yawn.

The story awaits!

Wednesday, 3 August 2011


So this is how it goes. We plan to do the Four Counties Ring (including Chester) in August, turning north from the wedding spot. Pete gets accepted for a specialist church role and has to go to Windermere for training and Elizabeth would prefer to have Bella a few days on her own somewhere she knows. So, ditch the FC Ring idea, travel north and return to Hillmorton.

So we have to go south a bit from Priors Hardwick, the wedding stop, just to turn around. We aim to turn around at Fenny Compton, an hour south, and go north again. But the winding place was blocked. So we moored up instead, had a fun pub dinner and decided to go another few hours or so and 7 locks south to turn around at Cropredy, take on water and empty waste. As we approached Cropredy, the boaters' news is that it is full of boats. Chokka, ready for the famous Cropredy Folk Festival (think Fairport Convention). And, having made the decision to go to dear Croppo, we'd made a date with friends and had decided to moor overnight anyway, so moorings became an important issue.

So we did what we do. We moored up at the first available mooring, just below Varney's lock and a lovely mile walk from the centre of town. Then we looked at the moorings sign : 14 days.

"Shall we stay?" "Good plan!"

So here we are. Elizabeth is in a familiar place and Pete travels next week from nearby Banbury. And, we do the festival fringe!