The weather seems to be turning for the better and we go down to the boat on the 30th April for our 3 month trip. I’m cleaning everything, buying metal polish, paints and… log bricks for the fire. The log burner is a revelation and so cosy. However as one problem is solved another rears it’s ugly head. The wabasto heating system is playing up even after it was serviced. Hopefully we can get the repair done on warranty. We also notice that the shower doesn’t cool with cold water. We are going to have hot showers and see how we get on. Everything else is fab. On a brighter note I find a replacement diesel lockable cap for £45. Another problem solved.
Barby Marina is interesting. Beautiful from one point of view with the alpacas and the island but naff from other facilities ie the pump out that didn’t work on our first go and the entrance to the marina is terrible with metal and bolts sticking out to damage. There is also a family moved in on the entrance lane and the kids have let there dogs into the marina, chasing the alpacas. The local sports club do great food and wines at reasonable prices.
4 days in and we get news that the tenants at Highcliffe court have left the house in a state. They were only there 6 months!!!!! We have to delay our long trip and go back to YORK to sort out keys and survey the damage. Quick think and we go for a 4 day trip out. Thie weather over the May bank holiday is superb and the cruising sublime. I know we are going to love this life!
The paint on the boat is getting prepared and looking good and I am thoroughly enjoying the process of this maintenance although,ugh I have spent £100 on paint etc. 2.5ltr tins are huge when you only need a thimble full! We will have the paint for the rest of our lives lol.
Clive came up with a beauty which seemed very true B.O.A.T. Bring out another thousand!
The trip down the north oxford canal and onto the grand union is wonderful and hugs the edge of the hill with great views over the countryside to the right.
We spend the night in Royal Leamington Spa on the mooring outside “the mooring” restaurant. Good meal and short walk back for a wine on the rear deck. Glad we brought the green chairs from the caravan.
21 locks today and I was knackered!
7 May 2018
HUp early, breakfast and off by 9am. I am doing 10 locks only and we should end up at The Boats public house for the night. At one of the locks an enterprising couple were selling ices from there garage. So not needing any encouragement we had two, praline magnums lovely. There was a beer festival in long hitchinton over the bank holiday. A couple of pints and a lunch and then Mike has an afternoon nap whilst I do some painting. I did a full wash today whilst the boat was moving and as the sun was shining got everything bone dry very quickly. I fell in love with the boat again. It’s just amazing.
8 May 2018
Boat back to Barby today calling off at Dunchurch pool to enquire about moorings. It’s a no brainer and we decide to move their in October.
9/10 May 2018
We head up to YORK to sort the house out and have a pleasant couple of days with Laurie and Catherine (perfect hosts).
11 May 2018
We set off heading towards Oxford on the Oxford Canal. No locks today and we arrive at Napton which is the start of a 9 lock flight. The local pub is ‘The Folly’. We go in at 5.30 thinking it would be empty. It is nearly full, great food is served from 6pm. The local beer was shagweaver which was scrummy. A decision was easy to stay an extra day at Napton and book for a meal tomorrow. The reason being I could get a lot of painting done.
12 May 2018
It is a reasonable day today. I set too to get the front port finished, the catch boards, the rear rail stripped and all the paint done up to undercoat. 7 hours later mission accomplished and showers and off to The Folly. We met the landlords Mark and Caroline who were great fun. Eurovision was on and fell asleep not knowing the outcome.
13 May 2018
Off by 9am and up the 9 single width locks. A local farmer had a herd of Buffalo in one field. Big animals. The journey along the top is very tranquil but very windy ie sharp bends. Stunning!
Great mooring at Fenny Compton which allowed some time to finish off the starboard side and put another coat on the rear wood board. The bikes were then due for a ride. Set up and a few niggely adjustments and a short ride to village. Johns curry and a bottle of wine, then bed exhausted.
14 May 2018
We set off at 9am and head down the Claydon flight of locks having a chat with all the other boaters as we did. Lovely. 2 lots of washing on a sunny day yeah. We moor up outside the centre of Banbury asking a passing boat if it was full? He replied there was a few moorings so we headed for the centre. What an amazing location. It is next to a new shopping development with all the facilities you could need very close by. 2 nights free, perfect. The town looks wonderful. I would hope york council will do something like this for their new development near Clifford’s tower.
Started our re-run of watching Game of Thrones from the start. Episodes 1 & 2.
15 May 2018
Another sunny day. So, a lazy start and we head off to sort our WiFi, the Bose cable and Mike’s phone contract. I get a new pair of shorts from tkmaxx and 96 firefighters for £2 from Poundland lol.
On the way back we spot a perfect little oak table for the boat.
When we try to connect the tv to the Bose with our new cable we find out the tv doesn’t have any outs to connect grrrr. We check the trains to London for maybe going to see Chess, we’ll see.
Sitting on the rear deck having pink gins in the sunshine is a rare event in the U.K. we took advantage.
Episodes 3 & 4 oh GofT
16 May 2018
Cooler start to the day. Heading south towards lower Heyford we fill up with water at the trust station then on into the country side. The lock gates change to 2 single heavy gates and most of the exits are straight under a tight bridge. An interesting small holding with a farm shop, kitchen and bar called ‘the pig place’. We need kindling and a bottle of gin. They had neither so we had a bacon sandwich and a cup of tea. Home grown rare breed pig, delicious. We next stop at Aynho Wharf and find a mooring opposite the canal store (they had some kindling). The canal guide says the walk into Aynho village of a mile is worth it and we needed some steps. When we got to the village I asked a chap where the centre was and what we were doing, he was the church warden and offered to take us to look around the church with it Folly exterior built by the Cartright family in 1724 along with the house next door. Lovely box pews and stained glass. Next on to the square and we spot a beautiful cottage with thatched roof. Photo taken.
We head back to the Great Western Arms for a drink. The pub/restaurant is nicely situated next to the bridge where we are moored. 2 red wines £13. Back to the boat for Episodes 5 & 6. I fell asleep again.
17 May 2018
Lovely sunny start to the day. I notice a faint smell coming from the wardrobe probably from the new pump out toilet. Hope it’s not a major problem. We are heading a short distance today to Lower Heyford where we can if we want, get a train to Oxford. Only 3 locks as well yeah!
Probably the most stunning English countryside with no pylons or wind turbines to spoil it. Just wonderful. We get a nice mooring very close to the station and maybe we will stay a couple of days. Visiting Oxford twice during our stay. The train service is very good.
We manage to finish off all the painting and even prepare the rear deck adding the texture sections. On the 20 May we go for Sunday lunch at the Bell Inn in Lower Heyford. Top notch in every way. Having over eaten it’s not long before we both fall asleep.
We head north stopping again at Aynho Wharfe.
22 May up reasonably early and we want to pump out plus fill up with water. 2 boats had already taken berth at the marina so we had to wait. At 11.30am we set off north to Banbury. We stayed 3 nights in the centre and no one charged us the extra £25 for the 3rd night lol.
25 May 2018
Heading north on a very wet day, we togged up in waterproofs and head off. 12 locks in total and as the day continued the weather got drier. Laurie and Catherine surprise us using “friends and family locator” on their way to Southampton to get the liner for the Baltic cruise which was nice. Stopping at Fenny Compton we hoped to get some deodoriser from Lee San. They closed at 3pm on a Friday 😩. The pub was on the way back and they had a new launderette. £6 for a wash and £3 each go on the tumble!!! I go and get the bedding and towels and do a full wash and dry. Very therapeutic and we had a lovely pub meal whist the washing was being done. £12 was a bit steep as you also had to supply your own powder and conditioner.
26 May 2018
Today started off wet but as the day progressed the day got sunnier and sunnier. This is the last section going up the Oxford Canal and we are heading to Napton today. We have quite a long cruise and no locks until the Napton flight. This section is lovely with pink and white may blossom everywhere. The banks and reeds were full of wild flowers – yellow flags, heather, wild roses, forget me nots, cow parsley, buttercups. The fields filled with sheep and newly born lambs. Cows, horses and even a herd of Water Buffalo.
As we head down into Napton the loud live rock band music fills your ears after the tranquility of the canal summit and the party at The Folly pub means we were not going to find a mooring. So, carrying on we stop near the Napton bridge in a very rural area. It’s bank holiday weekend and all the hire boats are out. We now have signals to identify them. Blue (black horse), lime green (Calcutt boats), maroon (Napton narrowboats) etc etc. Great nights sleep only to be woken at 6am with the loudest thunderclap and lightning display.
27 May 2018
Final trip up the last of the Oxford canal and a sharp left into the grand Union canal. We called at Calcutt boat yard for deisel. £169 thank you very much. Free cup of tea and we bought an ice cream. Then onwards after nearly 2 hours. We went down the Stockton flight breasting with “Rosie and Jim” (they had large stuffed toys of the characters in their cratch). We pulled onto the Blue Lias pub garden. We had Sunday lunch outside in the sunshine and quite a few admirers of the boat. The landlady said we could moor there for the night as we were customers. Really good spot. After lunch we fell asleep and were awoken to very heavy rain which cleared the pub gardens. We battoned down the hatches and had a lazy night.
28 May 2018
Up early and we move sideways across the canal to the water point. This manoeuvre needs a little perfecting lol. Off we go continuing down to Warwick through Royal Leamington Spa. We shared the journey and locks with a lovely couple Angela and ?Andrew “ElizabethMay” a friends boat who was in Dubai and let them use it. We moored near bridge 49 which was opposite Kate Boats, a good spot and a short walk into Warwick. We had a meal at the rose and crown pub in the market after a long walk along the canal to check the other town moorings. The last time we visited the town we went to a lovely Lebanese restaurant called once. They were closed! (Because it was spring bank holiday Monday).
29 May 2018
We had hoped for a day of rest. However the weather forecast for Wednesday was rain and John didn’t fancy doing the Hatton flight of 23 locks in the rain. So quick decision and off we go to start the haul. We set of at 10.35am and did the first two locks by 10.50am. At the foot of the main rise we met up with Abby and Alan of “elsewhere” and had a great few hours rising through this daunting set of locks. It took us 3 hours and at lock 20 we stopped and had a full English breakfast and a cup of tea before doing the last lock. At the summit it was so tranquil. The 400 yard tunnel then open countryside where we will spend the night (and all the following day?)
31 May 2018
Setting off reasonably early we soon reached the link across to the Stratford canal. This is a very pretty canal though the locks and bridges are very narrow and we had the fend ré up most of the way. The result is a very scuffed and scraped boat. We did the first 18 locks and stopped at Wooton wawon for the night? Beautiful.