The weather seems to be improving at last and over the weekend the breeze, though still from the same cold easterly quarter, died away almost to nothing and the sunshine from an unblemished blue sky, as well as fully charging the batteries on board, improved my disposition enormously. How much more comfortable life is with this improvement in temperature.
We are still in the process of preparing ourselves for the summer voyage down south. My Russell Newberry main engine has had a partial service but is still awaiting the arrival and fitting of a fuel filter while leaks in the gearbox have yet to be put right.
John the engineer has in the meantime fitted the twelve volt ring circuit in ‘Roots and Wings’ removing the 240 volt fridge which has eased a tremendous and continuous drain from the batteries. With the new 12 volt fridge working well, Janis’ solar panel, like mine keeps the batteries well topped up now.
On a bitterly cold Monday morning, a week ago today, Janis and I took ‘Futurest’ back up north through three locks to Cropredy. Though the Sun was shining bravely the whole time the fresh easterly breeze ripped through our bones, freezing toes and causing fingers to turn white. We arrived in the afternoon and in the evening went ashore to the Red Lion for a beer and a meal. It was all very pleasant and after a good night’s sleep, the following morning we walked to the Surgery for my fasting blood test and it was here that I managed to introduce Janis to Doctor Barry my GP.
Janis at the helm
Entering Hardwick Lock
Returning to Banbury later on that same day, though the wind direction and speed had not changed one little bit, the travelling was much more pleasant with the breeze following behind us. We arrived and were tied up just ahead of ‘Roots and Wings’ by three thirty in the afternoon.
Janis has been in Newark during the last few days on business and seeing old friends but she is due back this afternoon to await the arrival of her sister Sharon who is due to join us here on Friday from Australia. She plans to stay for sometime I believe, so I hope she enjoys the life while she’s here.
I’ve met a number past friends this time in Banbury at different times. John and Maggie have called in whilst they were on a shopping expedition, as has radio ham John, who called for coffee on his way past one morning. He's about my own age and I was pleased to hear that he has retired finally (or nearly anyway) from his professional calling as a heating engineer. It was good to see John again.
Yesterday I was invited to Sunday dinner at the home of Rodney and Jenny. It was a wonderful day, they entertained me almost royally and I felt very honoured to be there. Rod collected me in the morning and on the way back to the ship he took me to his paddock near the village of Hempton where he keeps a tribe of sheep. As it is now well into the lambing season I helped him bottle feed the three newest additions to the family. Feeding one of the hungry little lambs was new for me and quite an experience. He took his milk so quickly through the rubber teat on the end of a ‘Hooky Ale’ beer bottle that I thought he was going to swallow the bottle too.
So we are nearly there; almost on our way and the weather appears to be improving each day. We hope to travel back up north to Napton before venturing down the Grand Union Canal towards London. Hopefully we shall get across the capital and up onto the River Lee eventually but I know we shall most certainly be ‘playing it all by ear’.