Thursday, 28 April 2011

Busy in Braunston


We have been idling in Braunston receiving our mail poste restante from the post office. We have been bussing to Daventry and Rugby for supplies and generally doing much ambling about and gongoozling.. Mick is here on nb Nell so we have been having tea and chatting with him quite a bit too. The junction and nearby service station  have been a bit congested at times with boats coming from all directions. I think the sun has brought everyone out from the marinas to blow away the winter cobwebs and the hire boats are out in force too.


This lovely cast iron plaque explains that tolls were collected here in the past.


At last I have finished the rag rug i started last winter and I am quite pleased with the end result. There are 50 rows, with 100 pieces per row, that’s 5,000 bits altogether! It took approximately a quarter of an hour to put each row in making twelve and a half hours work. This does not include the cost and sourcing of the T shirts and cutting them up into little strips. The hessian and hook cost £3 and Betty donated the nice red material for backing the finished article. Altogether I think it has cost about £100 to make and I really enjoyed doing it.

IMG_0003 Percy

It is nice to see that The Admiral Nelson has re-opened for business. We wandered up to sit outside in the sun to have coffee and to watch the boats in the lock.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Salad days are here!

I walked to the top of Napton Hill before we left, and found a little footpath that wound around the windmill and it’s cluster of houses. The view was well worth the climb, but a little hazy to take any photos with my small camera. Leys Farm seems to be a place for study and there are horned cattle roaming with the sheep. Near one of the gateways was a list of all the names of the cattle, how sweet.

IMG_0025 Windmill

Well, every day is a sunny day now so it seems, so on with the shorts and sun cream again. The cruise up from Napton was very pleasant and we were lucky enough to reverse around the corner from Braunston Junction so that Gosty Hill could deliver diesel and coal for us. Mr B has acquired a little companion called Caleb to share his accommodation aboard Gosty Hill , but only until he finds his owners. I think many boats are being brought out from their overwintering in the marinas for an airing. With all the share boats and hire boats that are passing by, I think that all we hardy live aboard cruisers are now in a minority.



You may have noticed that our posts are coming all at once, that is because the laptop has been up the spout once again. Thank goodness for Weatherspoons and their free Wi-Fi connection, where Bottle was able to download something to put things right again. We like their coffee, beers and food anyway as they are so reasonably priced. A trip on the bus to Sainsbury’s at Rugby has seen our food stocks replenished, mainly with things for salads. With all the jobs of cleaning the boat inside and out and the washing hung up to dry in the mornings, afternoons can be spent lazing in our chairs on the towpath.

Enjoy your Easter weekend everyone!

All around Napton.

Well we soon put our shorts away and chopped wood to light the fire as it has turned nippy again. it soon brightened up again, but not quite the shorts kind of temperatures yet though! We thought we would wander off via the footpaths across the fields to investigate what was left of the canal pumping station at the end of the old Engine Arm. All the fields were full of expectant sheep, although some already had their lambs with them. There was one ewe over by the hedge standing near a lifeless looking lamb stretched out on the grass, how sad we thought.

Anyway we eventually came to the site of the engine house to find that only a few grassy bumps with scattered bricks were all that was left of it. We returned over the stiles across the fields to find to our delight that the little lamb we thought had snuffed it was standing wagging it’s tail next to it’s mother.


As the Folly Inn has now re-opened under new management we thought we would venture in to see what it was like. It seems to be brighter and more welcoming than before and as it is a family run business it has a much more friendly atmosphere. They serve Hook Norton Beers and the menu changes daily depending on the local foods they have been able to source. Bottle had steak and cheese pie and I had chicken croc, both were served with peas and exquisitely scrunchy chips, yum. I wandered around the village and up to the church at the top of the hill, which has lovely far reaching views across the landscape. We are surrounded by fields full of sheep, lambs and Water Buffalo.


On Saturday I got a few supplies from the PO Stores up the hill, they sell Buffalo ice-cream which is delicious. We also had a walk up to see if the farm was serving their cream teas that were advertised by the lock. No luck there as they don’t start until next weekend,(this weekend now). It has been extremely busy here with at least fifty boats ascending Napton Locks, but only a few coming down. So, we spent the rest of the afternoon people and boat watching, while we sipped our rosé wine.

IMG_0022   IMG_0023 Christadelphian meetingroom   

Sunday was a walk round the village time and there are several nice thatched cottages, we particularly liked this lovely porch. The tiny Christadelphian Meeting Room stands on the crossroads. It has no date stone but on the notice it says meetings will take place at 4pm and 6pm on Sundays, God Willing!

IMG_0021 Old BakeryIMG_0020

There are four pubs around Napton. This is the Old Bakery that stands near the Crown Inn. The church on the top of the hill has some nice colourful stained glass. The churchyard is kept very neat and tidy and part of it was carpeted in primroses. There is a marvellous view to ponder over from various seats along the way. It was an extremely busy weekend with around 75 boats going south and about 25 heading north.

Wormleighton wanderings.

Here we are moored on top of the world on Wormleighton Hill enjoying a few peaceful sunny days in the midst of the countryside. It has been so hot we have had to resort to wearing shorts. This is another of our favourite places, except that there is usually a cool breeze blowing across. We set off after elevenses to walk over B129 up the Bridle Path the one and a half miles to the manorial village. Most of the cottages are built from the lovely local rich brown coloured ironstone, including the 13th century church.

IMG_0036 Wormleighton Church  


The gravestones leant lazily in all directions and the grass surrounding them was kept neatly grazed by four legged woolly nibblers. What a brilliant idea, no need for lawnmowers there then!

IMG_0044 east     IMG_0023

Inside beyond the intricately carved wooden Jacobean Screen there was an epitaph in memory of John Spencer who died after the computation of the church in 1610 at Blois in France. He was only aged 19 years, 8 months and odd days, never married. There was also a small plain memorial for Princess Diana on the west wall. We quite enjoyed the whole atmosphere of this welcoming little church and it was well worth the long walk to experience it. Wormleighton Manor Gate House bears the date 1613 and Tower House adjoins it. The manor, which was built c1512 was burned down by the Royalists in the English Civil War in 1645.

IMG_0034 Tower Farm

Manor Farm looked as if it was concealing an interesting part of the old manor.IMG_0047 thatched cottage

There were several delightful Victorian mock Tudor cottages, some of which had iron plaques on the gable ends dated 1848. There was only one thatched cottage in this sleepy little place.

Fenny Compton.

IMG_0051 Fenny Tunnel

This is the ornate iron turnover Bridge No 137 where the towpath changes sides. Once there was a tunnel here but the top was taken off it in 1868. Even so, it is still known as Fenny Tunnel. The overhanging trees and scrub have all been well cut back since we passed through before. This is a welcome improvement as oncoming boats can be easily seen and allowances made to pass on the wider parts of the canal. Also the wildflowers are beginning to grow back having been exposed to the sunlight. There were masses of blue violets, some cowslips and bluebells.

IMG_0013 Cowslips       IMG_0025 Bluebells

On the towpath just outside Fenny Marina the swans are nesting again this year. One of them was sunbathing as we passed by.

IMG_0052 Swan nest Fenny Marina

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Cropredy to Claydon.


We have taken advantage of this lovely weather to do a lot of washing in order to dry and air it in the sun, as we no longer have the fire alight. As our time was up at our mooring spot we dodged the canoeists to cross the canal to fill our water tank and set off up the locks. We visited the shop and post office and managed to buy a book on canals in the studio book sale.  There are so many lovely circular walks around Cropredy through the fields and around the many delightful little cottages.

IMG_0013MillOne of our favourite saunters takes us over Cropredy Mill Bridge past this old red brick building which would benefit from some restoration, fairly soon. It would be nice to see it brought back into use one day, any suggestions?

IMG_0004   IMG_0006 

We passed by the immaculately kept gardens of Prescote Manor. There seem to be masses of celandines, violets and primroses along the verges this year.



Don’t know if these little sheep are Jacobs or Soays, but they had produced some dainty little frolicking lambs. We also heard the donkeys and chickens that were in the field by our mooring. It was nice to meet up with Del and Al for a chat on their way down to Cropredy. Hope our next encounter will not be quite so brief.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Onwards and upwards.

IMG  001 Sovriegn Wharf

We put the washing on and set off in the sunshine to fill up with diesel at the beautifully kept Sovereign Wharf. It was very reasonably priced as it usually is here at 87 per litre. While Bottle was chatting I chose some postcards and books from the book-swop. Then I spied some Bantams eggs on the counter which they were giving away, so we made donations in their charity box. Last year they raised money for their local St Katherine's Hospice. We then left, having hung all the washing up and opened the doors and side hatches to dry it as we cruised along.

We said hello to Dink and Malc as we slowly passed their idyllic little smallholding. How did we know their names you may wonder, they have a large named poster of themselves on the side of their cottage saying so! The garden is a haven for animals, with donkeys, geese chickens and a big Alsatian dog roaming around.

IMG_0005 Dink Malcs House

Although Banbury is very convenient for its variety of shops and eateries it is nice to leave the sound of the traffic behind. Also we will not miss people walking by shouting on their phones and peering at us as if we were strange creatures in a zoo!


As we approached Bourton Lock we saw two men each wearing high-viz jackets and hard hats which made us gaze upwards wondering what may be descending from above. Anyway when we were in the lock they popped up again over the gate, so we asked them what was going on in the fields. We had noticed a gang of men with chainsaws heavily pruning all the willow trees on our way down. They told us that they would be installing a flood embankment there. Bourton Lock Cottage is still looking un-loved, unlike the garden which is covered in many colourful scented flowers. There were quite a few boats on the move as it was such a beautiful day and we managed to swap locks with some of the ones on their way down. The good weather had also brought out the towpath walkers and cyclists too. The garden centres wood clad building was nearing completion as we came to Cropredy. Instead of using expensive scaffolding they have a couple of ‘cherry pickers’ on the job.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Family and Friends.

IMG_0009 IMG_0014

Our little Grandson came to spend the day with us and was very busy playing most of the time on board while we chatted.  He was fascinated with his Thomas the Tank Engine set-up. The rolling stock cleverly link to each other magnetically whichever way they are connected together, clever eh?  We wandered all around Banbury exploring, with him on his reigns and had lunch, but even after all that walking he wasn’t tiered. Just outside the Castle Quays entrance from the canal there is a roundabout, so as he had been good he was treated to a ride on it. We all had such a wonderful day, but were quite exhausted by the evening.

The pillar box with the unusual vertical posting hole stands near the splendid Gothic Town Hall. Banbury has many historic old buildings and it is fun to spot the towns symbol of the Sun on many of them. Friday was the Farmers Market and I made a beeline for the Gales pie stall as their pasties are so delicious. I also treated Bottle to his favourites, spicy bread pudding and giant Eccles cakes. We have also tried the famous Banbury cakes which are very similar.


We noticed that the latch on the paddle gear at Grants Lock had a useful piece added to it on the left. This enables us to flip the safety catch up without getting oily fingers, what a good idea we thought. It is the only one we have seen on our travels around the system so far, unless you know of others of course?

On Sunday we had a text asking us if we were doing Mothers day things, to which we replied no. Soon there was a knock on the boat side and Boots dashed through the boat, followed by Bones who popped in for tea and a chat, it was lovely to see you both.