Now moored just before the junction on “Braunston Puddlebanks”. A beautiful sunny day again today. A great day’s cruising the first 11 miles lock dree then down the Napton flight with every lock set in our favour, or a boat coming up as we approched. Another barbecue!
We are setting out to go to the Cutweb rally at Alvecote, but we are going a long way round, via Liecester.
First we called in at Soverign Wharf to buy a new battery, one of our domestic back is at least 6 years old as it was on the boat when we bought it. Fitting the battery was rather difficult as access is poor and lifting the batteries in and out very difficult. I had the job done by 3:00 and we set off.
It was a fantastic day weatherwise and we sat out in the evening nad hada barbecue.
There is quite an autumnal air around now. This morning the mists were rising from the canal and it looked really beautiful. We set off just after 7 and had a good run until we hit queues about 10 o’clock. A breakfast stop was taken opposite “The Pig Place”, a farm shop and camp site by Nell’s lock.
Because of all the queing at locks we didnt reach Cropredy until about 6. Instead of going into the marina we moored just above the lock for the night.
I got up at 5:30 to do some more work, then we set off at 8:00. It was sad to say goodbye to the Thames, we had enjoyed it emensely.
Back on the Oxford canal we headed for Lower Heyford where we had arranged to meet friends Andrew & Shiela who were driving over from their mooring at Berkemstead. They arrived about 5 bearing the evening meal. A good time was had by all.
Last night we spent at Radcot Bridge. The campers all left about 3 o’clock as the weather looked ominous. We just chugged on down river for a couple of hours.
A late start today. I had a work problem to sort out which took up some time. We stopped for lunch about 1:00, but the was no Internet connection so we carried on so I could do some work. We found a nice mooring against a farmer’s field and went for a short walk in the evening.
Another lovely morning so we set off just before eight o’clock. You tend to think of the Thames as big river, but this far upstream it’s quite small and narrow in places and very winding and twisting.
I knew that Rob, a business acquaintance, was on the river in his boat somewhere nearby. I got a text to say they had spent the night moored at Radcot. As we approached we could see them moored just below the bridge. Luckily there was just about room for us to get to the bank next to them. So we pulled in and moored up for a while.Rob came on board and had a look around. He hadn’t been on a narrowboat before (his is a GRP cruiser). After a natter we left and carried on to Lechlade.
We had thought that mooring space would be limited, but we easily found a good spot within reasonable walking distance to the campsite. Our daughters and most of our grandchildren are coming camping for the weekend.
Two of the Thames lockies on the way up had warned us that the cows in the field next to the river will eat the flowers on the roof of the boat. What they didnt tell us is that the cows alsolike licking the sides of the boats!!
Not long after we had arrived I saw a small GRP cruiser coming up behind and seeming to head striaght for us. As I looked out the side hatch I could hear someone calling. It turned out to be Ian & Nikki Potts with daughter Amilie. They had hired the boat for the day to celebrate Ian’s birthday. They came on board and had tea, and birthday cake. Meanwhile Nikki had arrived with her girls.
We have spent the last two days here, mostly in the campsite with the others, going for walks, playing pooh sticks and generally chilling.
We had arranged to meet our son-in-law’s parents Ann and Richard at Newbridge at 12:00. So to make sure we were there on time we set off just after seven. It was a very pleasant morning and good to reacquaint ourselves with the upper Thames. We haven’t been this way for over 10 years. At that our of the morning Eynsham lock was on self service, so we bought our 7 day Thames licence at Pinkhill lock. We arrived at Newbridge in plenty of time and found a mooring just above the bridge against a farmer’s field.
Ann and Richard arrived about twelve. We had lunch on board then took them for a short ride upstream, then back to their car at Newbridge.
After they had gone we carried on upstream to moor up for the night just above Rushey Lock. It was a really lovely evening and we sat out on the river bank with a G&T (Heddi) and a glass of wine (me).
A day of delays frustrations.
When I went to start the engine I could tell that the battery was low and didn’t seem to have been charging yesterday. Also the tacho and the other instruments weren’t working. It seemed likely that one or more wires were loose behind the instrument panel. They had taken it off just before we left the boatyard to paint around it.
I took off the panel and the two wires on the volt meter were detached so I put them back, but it made no difference. I spent about 30 mins trying to sort it out, but to no avail. I was beginning to think that the alternator was at fault. The boater in the boat behind suggested that we go along to the Oxfordshire Narrowboats yard which was just a few hundred yards away. Unfortunately it was their engineer’s day off, but another knowledgeable guy there helped me go through various tests to determine that the engine battery definitely wasn’t charging. We decided to carry on and use jump leads to connect the batteries together for charging if needed.
Lots of queuing at locks today, we were fourth in the queue at several and had to wait almost an hour. We needed a pumpout so headed for Thrupp where the local club have a machine. We would need to turn the boat as the connection is on the other side. When we got there is was blowing a gale and there was another boat already waiting. The person who sells the cards wasn’t there but was due back soon. We waited on the opposite side.
While we were waiting along came a scruffy old boat boat steered by a young woman who was shouting and swearing at her crew to open the lift bridge faster as she was getting in a bit of a mess getting round the corner in the wind. Well her crew panicked and hit the ’emergency stop’ button on the bridge. This caused a delay while the bridge mechanism reset. During this delay, with much revving, and more shouting, she managed to hit our boat quite hard, but didn’t apologise or say anything. At last the bridge was raised and she was on her way. We didn’t know then, but we were to meet this boat again later in the day.
We eventually got the pumpout done, turned round again, and were on our way. With queues at most of the locks it was gone 5:30 before we got moored up. As we were coming through the last lift bridge, coming towards us were two boats. What we couldn’t see from head on was that the second one was being towed by the first. There is not much space between the lift bridge and the next bridge. We were caught in this space as the towing boat came charging through, being steered by the same young woman we had met at Thrupp! The first boat came to a halt, but without an engine the towed boat had no means of slowing down and slammed first into a moored boat. Then bounced off and crashed into us. They eventually negotiated the bridge hole and went off with the young woman yelling and swearing as before.
It has been fairly windy over the last few days, and the forecast is for much stronger wind over the next few days. This is apparently the tail end of hurricane Bertha. Because of this we decided to leave early in the morning when the lighter winds would make getting out of the marina easier. So we set off just after 7am. We called in at Soverign Wharf for diesel, but they don’t open until 10:00 and we arrived at about 9:00. A full English breakfast was cooked and consumed while we waited.
Full of diesel (and breakfast ) we pressed on in the increasing wind. Very concious of the fact that the wind might blow us into bushes where the new paintwork could get scratched, we proceeded gingerly through the day to Lower Heyford. The canal was busy with hire boats and private ones, with queues of upto 40mins or so at several locks.
We have spent the last three days at the Cropredy Festival. This is organised by Fairport Convention and features mostly Folk and Folk-Rock type music.
Highlights for us were:
Joe Broughton’s Folk Ensemble
Benjamen Folke Thomas
Blackbeard’s Tea Party
Fairport’s closing set
and of course the wonderful Richard Digence.