We left Banbury finally on Monday last at around midday, pleased to be on our way after the various engineering jobs we had required from Tooleys having been completed. I’m sure ‘Futurest’ felt pleased to be quietly moving through the water again, as she answered the helm and engine movements so easily and beautifully to the rhythmic solid thump of the freshly serviced Russell Newberry.
However as always after a leisurely extended stay in a certain place a great deal happened in the last weekend just prior to our leaving.
On Friday morning Janis’ sister Sharon arrived after a long journey from hot Queensland and she plans to stay for a while crewing for Janis as well as being able to see the country that we travel through. I had not met Sharon before but she is obviously from the same mould of adventurers as her younger sister and I’m sure we shall get along well together.
At about the same time my youngest son Alex arrived having visited his dentist in Banbury and after a cup of coffee and a chat to the girls, he and I took off in his car for his home at Cricklade in Wiltshire where I had been invited to stay the night prior to the christening on Saturday of his baby daughter Penny. On the way we collected my elder son Rupert from Swindon Railway Station and we all had a great evening together with Alex’s wife Catherine and of course Penny.
The christening the following day was in the beautiful little chapel of Prior Park Preparatory School. Many guests were there, members and friends of both Catherine’s family as well as our own and it turned out to be a great occasion for renewing acquaintances that I hadn’t seen for a number of years. As well as Rupert, it was a particular pleasure to see Millie and my granddaughter Delilah-Rose who had travelled all the way from Brighton for the occasion. It was a lovely day and Penny behaved impeccably throughout, even during the numerous photo shoots that went on during the ceremony and all through the day.
My Son Alex and two granddaughters Delilah-Rose and Penny
When it was all over Alex gave Rupert and I a lift to Swindon Station to catch our respective trains home and at around nine in the evening I arrived back in Banbury and was soon enjoying the company of the two girls again.
On Sunday evening Janis, Sharon and I went to the Mill Theatre to see the Vienna Festival Ballet present Tchaikovsky’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Considering that the stage area available was so small and that there was no room for an accompanying orchestra so the music was recorded, the company did remarkably well in performing the ballet very artistically and with great feeling. As always I was moved tremendously by the sensitive dancing as well as the music, so colourful and passionate that it brought the usual and familiar lump to my throat and wetness to the eye.
As already mentioned, on Monday we set forth northwards towards Cropredy where we were happy to tie up quietly for the night. At the ballet the day before we had met Ann, an old friend of Miranda’s as well as mine who lives at Cropredy and whilst chatting in the interval she invited us to tea after we arrived on Monday afternoon. She lives near to the canal so we didn’t have far to walk and it was nice to be able to talk of old times again as well as discuss the ballet together
Janis, Sharon and Ann at Cropredy Lock Bridge
We stayed at Cropredy a second night as I had a late appointment on Tuesday evening with my GP. I was relieved when he gave me the ‘all clear’ for another year after my earlier MOT.
Then on Wednesday morning we said goodbye to the village and set off northwards through nine locks and moored with relative ease even though it was in a howling gusty gale, which luckily blew us right onto the towpath at the top of Claydon Locks. The wind was so fierce that it was difficult to push the ship off far enough to insert fenders in between her and the shore. It continued to be a wild and blustery night and sleep was difficult with all the creaks, groans and rattles going on outside.
Approaching Claydon Top Lock
A healthy ewe and her lambs
I was happy to see the Sun early the following morning reflecting off the water, through my bedroom porthole flickering silently on the bulkhead and later, managing to get away from the towpath side with great difficulty against the continuing breeze, we tied up last night at the Radio Aerial mooring just to the north of Fenny Compton Wharf. By the time we arrived the breeze had disappeared and though we had had the occasional heavy April shower during the day the sky cleared as we moored and we were treated to the most wonderful of sunsets.
These always make a happy day complete.
The Sun going down quietly after a passionate day