Wednesday, 30 October 2013

Just a Quickie

As I’ve said I was going to start my own separate blog somewhere else, you will be wondering what I’m now doing talking to you on these pages.

Well at the site I linked you to I had difficulty understanding how to start …. well I am only a narrowboat you know …. and also I learned that it was only free for a limited period. So I couldn’t use that as the Skipper would wonder what he was being charged for and the cat would be properly out of the bag then. So I’m now trying another site which I think is free and the link to this is;

Must dash though as I’m expecting the Skipper home any time now. See you on the above site.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Sunshine and Storms towards Leamington Spa

When Janis caught us up in Cropredy on Tuesday, after work to ‘Roots and Wings’ had been completed in Banbury, we spent another day at this attractive little village that sits so quietly for most of the year except on the first weekend of August, when it goes wild with visitors at the Fairport Convention Festival.


IMG_0910  Turnover Bridge, 'Fenny Compton Tunnel'

Turnover Bridge at the north end of ‘Fenny Compton Tunnel’


We stayed the extra day so that on Wednesday we could have a meal with my friend Ann who lives locally. She recommended 'The Plough’ at the nearby village of Little Bourton and was happy to take us there in her car. The meal was delicious and the company delightful. What more could any man wish for?



Autumn berries and colours. A splendid year for berries.


On Thursday morning, though the early temperature was much cooler, the Sun shone magnificently in a cloudless sky. So we set off northwards in the direction of Fenny Compton and had a most pleasant passage finally tying up at the very rural mooring on an embankment above the flat Warwickshire plain  and close to the well known radio aerial landmark.

This is a spot that I love very much. Rich farmland used both for the growing of crops and animal grazing spreads out to the horizon beyond a small copse of trees showing bright Autumnal colours enlivened by the Sun and in the distance to the north, about three miles away as the crow flies, the sails of Napton Windmill on its ridge glistened brilliantly in that same glorious sunshine.


IMG_0931  Napton Windmill

Napton Windmill


In fact on the following day, because of the meandering nature of James Brindley’s canal in these parts, it would be necessary for us to travel six miles in order to cover that short distance to Napton.

We awoke on Friday morning at the radio aerial to a dismal climate. The sky was heavily overcast and a very light drizzle hung about in the atmosphere making everything very wet. But it wasn’t cold in the gentle south easterly  breeze so we decided to make a move. The weather improved as we  zigzagged our way slowly around the tortuous bends and by the time we arrived at Napton in the early afternoon, most of the cloud had disappeared. In between Locks 8 and 9 was where we moored; the usual place, as it gives one a beautiful view of the windmill and the church and village nestling on the side of the hill .….. And of course, the Sun always shines for me at Napton.

We remained there only for the one night and pressed on during Saturday to the moorings at Long Itchington, within sight of the tall chimney marking the position of the old cement works and on the following day cheered with the warmth  of sunny intervals  we set off for Leamington Spa.


IMG_0933  Looking up the Stockton Flight of locks

Looking up the Stockton Flight of locks


The wind was light as we left Long Itchington but soon it began to increase in strength and before long we were battling through strong to gale force winds that caused quite a swell on the narrow canal. Getting into the many locks on this stretch took far more concentration than usual and the gale force breeze literally held us back when hitting us from straight ahead. Our engines had to labour far more than usual to make any decent headway.


IMG_0940  'Roots and Wings' exit-ing Radford Lock; the last of the season.

‘Roots and Wings’ navigating out of Radford Bottom Lock


Showers were also hitting us frequently towards the end of our passage so we were grateful to pass the familiar landmarks of Leamington Spa and to be able to tie up at the Old Town Moorings in the early afternoon.

On this last passage we encountered many hire boats from Kate Boats, the site of our winter moorings in Warwick and many of them will not be expected back to base till next Saturday. So since it will be a busy day there most likely,  we shall remain here till Friday before completing the last couple of hours of our eventful Summer Voyage.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Moving along from Banbury

 We are at Cropredy. We arrived early on Sunday afternoon.


IMG_0898  Approaching Bourton Lock

Entering Hardwick Lock on the way to Cropredy


I had planned to leave on the Monday ready for my doctor’s appointment at the surgery on the following day but the weather forecast for then was so poor that on Sunday morning with the day fine and sunny, I decided to go at once. All work to the boat had been completed and all I had been waiting for was for ‘Roots and Wings’ to finish too, so that we could move on together. Janis and I decided that she would follow in her boat on Tuesday morning when she was completed and the weather scheduled to improve.


IMG_0905  At the mooring in Cropredy

Autumn colours at Cropredy


It had been a long stay in my home town this time; we had plenty of work to be done and all this needed to be fitted around the numerous events that were happening at the time. For a whole week the dry dock at Tooley’s was out of action due to the Canal Day festivities and the ‘Theatre in the Dock’ production when the dry dock was turned into a stage and auditorium.



The Horse fair turned into a fun fair


Unrelated to this however was the arrival of the annual Michaelmas Fair, held every year in the town centre for three nights on or around the 14th October. This tends not only to disrupt all local businesses (except the fast food shops of course who revel in it) but to interrupt the lives of the population for miles around as everybody floods in to enjoy it. Each year we all complain at the arrival of the fair but each year, in spite of ride fares going up ‘yet again’ we all love to indulge in it. The whole event apparently dates back to some medieval charter that cannot be altered and I rather think that we all feel we should complain about the needless waste of time and precious money but nonetheless love the wanton thrills on the ever more sensational rides every year. It’s all very colourful and I managed to capture a few good pictures with my camera, which I’m pleased about. The weather, which traditionally is cold and very wet every year, was perfect. It was dry and warm enough to go without an overcoat.



The fair in front of the Town Hall


However Janis missed it all since she was away being sea sick in the Channel on a square rigged sailing ship. The ‘Stavros Niarchos’ is one of the famous ‘Tall Ships’ that race every now and again all  over the world. However there was no competition this time as Janis cruised on her from Southampton for five days. In spite of her initial ‘mal de mer’ she loved the experience enormously and is now talking me into going with her next time. You know, I might just try that.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Time to branch out

The Skipper’s away ashore at the moment so I’m going to slip in here a quick word.

It’s simply not good enough the amount of time I’m allowed to say anything on this blog these days. I can hardly get a word in edgeways. If the Boss’s aboard he’s always on the computer and then when he goes ashore he takes it with him now in the search of a Wetherspoons pub or MacDonalds. You see he’s recently realised that he can use their free wi-fi .... the tight old git.

So guess what? I’ve opened my own blog site.

It’s on and I’ve just entered my first posting. So please read.

Me and the Skipper do get on fine generally but I only think it’s right that I should be able to tell you my side of the story. As I’ve said before he’s a great dreamer and makes everything up as he goes along. So I feel it’s up to me to let you know that he’s not perfect like he thinks he is.

I was always anxious that one day he would read what I had to say in his pages so I’m happy now that I’ve got my own platform.

I hope you enjoy it.

Wednesday, 9 October 2013

Thoughts of late Summer

Though Banbury Canal Festival was only here for one day, on Sunday last, the character of the Banbury Waterside for the whole of this week so far has been transformed.



The crowds at Banbury Lock on Canal Day


Before the weekend was upon us all the moorings outside the Castle Quay Shopping Mall were suspended to visitors, having been booked previously by trading boats and others relevant for the coming festival. So those like us, patiently awaiting work to be carried out by Tooley’s Boatyard, had to be moved to the fourteen day moorings to the south of the lock.



Banbury Canal Day



Furthermore since the dry-dock at the yard has been suspended to accommodate the ‘Theatre in the Dock’ for single performances on two separate nights this week, it too has been out of commission all week in preparation. For the purposes of the Canal day in fact the whole of Tooley’s Yard was opened to the public as part of the Museum, so very little work has been done at all.

Both our ships were moored originally at the Castle Quay but to avoid the inevitable rush for the limited fourteen day moorings when the time came for everybody to move out for the festival, Sharon and I shifted the boats very early on in the previous  week. Sharon, in  the absence of her sister, who was temporarily in Newark, took command of ‘Roots and Wings’ and very competently navigated her through two turning points as well as Banbury Lock to arrive at the new moorings. To add to her record she also took on fresh water and emptied the cassette toilet for the first time without any assistance from anybody.

Since both boats are awaiting either work to be carried out or concluded by Tooleys it has been a quiet week for us. But because Janis and I volunteered to help prepare for ‘Theatre in the Dock’ for my friend Kate, who is producing it as well as performing, our week has been quite busy. Nonetheless during this period I’ve had time to recollect my thoughts and feelings of our wonderful and memorable Summer. Even though we are well into Autumn the weather remains fine, the Sun shines during the day and the air is warm during nights that are becoming longer as Winter approaches. However these remaining  vestiges of Summer hang on encouraging my thoughts.

After a cruise that must have been very unforgettable Sharon left us last Wednesday to fly home to Australia leaving Janis and myself on our own once more. She was a helpful crew member and we shall miss her.

Tonight is the last night of ‘Theatre in the Dock’. Immediately afterwards we shall need to dismantle the stage and return all the chairs and tables to the town hall, ready for the dock to be refilled with water in order to take in its first floating customer tomorrow morning. Things will then rapidly return to normal I feel and we shall go back to the moorings adjacent to the yard in due course to await our turn to be seen to. ‘Roots and Wings’ goes into the dock on Monday while ‘Futurest’ awaits the conclusion of her engine service.