There are many benefits of being tied up here in Banbury, the closeness of the town and its splendid collection of shops and other facilities is one, as well as the closeness of access to the countryside which is what I enjoy as well. Both of these advantages I have made good use of while I’ve been here since early April. Banbury is the home of good friends too that I have collected over the years while I lived here and many of these I have managed to look up this time or have been lucky enough simply to meet by chance in town. The whole experience has been wonderful.
However there are disadvantages too. One is that I am not cruising in this glorious early summer weather which is what I’m ‘paid’ to do; this is my whole raison d’être for living aboard ‘Futurest’ after all. So though I am temporarily dismayed for this reason, I am fortunate enough to have a special dispensation to remain here at the moorings till the end of the week when I am able to collect a new hearing aid from the local hospital.
The mooring is very quiet and peaceful (just what I want!) and my solar panel has been sufficiently stimulated up till now to keep all the on board batteries fully charged without having to run the main engine.
The Mooring at Banbury
But staying at one mooring for any length of time does have quite a drawback in that after a while the freshwater tank runs dry, which has happened this time in my case. It means that I have to navigate astern about one hundred yards around a bend and under two bridges, past any moored boats that I may happen to come across on the way, in order to refill at the nearest water point below Banbury Lock. There is a second alternative of taking a twenty five litre polythene cask that I have aboard on numerous treks to the water point, there and back, which would take all day and thus be quite unsatisfactory. In my case I quickly ruled this out.
However if I was to choose the first alternative there would be a further challenge to the operation in that the Oxford Canal at Banbury is very busy and as soon as I moved ‘Futurest’ back to take water, there is a great chance that some other boat in the meantime would sneak in and nick my ideal mooring from me.
So a bit of deduction on my part decided me to perform the operation first thing in the morning, at a time when nobody normally is looking for a mooring and most folk are still abed anyway. Also it would be best to choose a morning when there are no boats moored astern of me to clunk into by chance at that ungodly hour. Worth thinking about too is that at that same chosen, unheavenly time when most folks are gathering together the last of their sleep, I cannot start the thumping great Russell Newbery without becoming thoroughly unpopular.
So after untethering ‘Futurest’ as it was just getting light, I hauled her astern manually and once I had her momentum going she behaved beautifully and came gently and silently back to the water point with no trouble at all. The water pressure was low in the tap so it took well over an hour to fill up with water before I was able to haul her back again to her same mooring, which conveniently was still there. Apart from the odd dog walker there had been nobody around to disturb my tranquil morning.
The operation had gone so well that the following day I repeated it, this time with ‘Roots and Wings’; Janis had previously told me that she was short of water too so it was a good opportunity to tick that job off the list as well.
Yesterday the good lady arrived back aboard, now the proud possessor of the RYA Day Skipper Certificate after completing her sailing course at Gibraltar.
One morning on the towpath
I’ve nearly finished now but before I leave this posting and while speaking of advantages, I must just mention that on arrival at the mooring after our dry docking last month, we were befriended by a pair of pure white farmyard ducks who not only would appear as if by magic when ‘Futurest’s back door was opened but would furthermore always appear very cheerful and chatty (ducks have a way of telling you these things). Furthermore Mrs Duck, one could imagine her almost with her frilly bonnet and colourful coat looking very like Beatrix Potter’s Jemima Puddleduck, was good enough to lay me a beautiful pale blue egg on the towpath verge near the boat on two consecutive mornings. They were not laid in a nest and therefore were very vulnerable to other predators in the position that they were. So because they were placed provocatively close to the boat this predator collected them and I had them for dinner one night as a rich double egg omelette with mushrooms, onions and bacon which was quite delicious. I was a little apprehensive when I guiltily cracked the first shell, hoping desperately that the eggs weren’t fertilised; I would have felt like some kind of murderer otherwise. But the yolks were quite clear, my conscience was appeased and I was able to enjoy Nature’s bounteous harvest with a clear conscience. Mr and Mrs Duck have now moved on, presumably to further grateful benefactors.