Thursday 10 August 2006
By the time we had winded and loaded the boat it gone 4 pm. The Napton Flight was its normal busy self, so there was a steady stream of boats coming down the flight and we only had the Marston Doles pair between the summit and us. The first lock went fine, the boat ahead met a boat coming down and another boat came down as they left leaving the lock ready for us to go up. When we left there was nothing waiting to come down, the reason for this became obvious as we rounded the bend, there sat 2 boats waiting to go up the top lock and nothing in the lock to come down. Steve from BW was there trying to remove a foreign object from the top offside paddle. This was preventing the paddle being closed. He managed to drag the offending object out of the paddle, but as soon as the lock was used it was dragged back in. Eventually we cleared the lock and carried on to Fenny Compton Wharf where we moored at 8 pm for the night eating in the pub. The same company that owns The Boat at Newbold now owns the Wharf Public House. The menu is not as extensive as it use to be and the service has not improved since we were there last. I had to stop the waitress taking our plates before Diana had finished her first course. But the sweet portions were of a very good size.
We set off at 0740 but we didn't see another boat until we entered the top lock at Claydon where I spotted a boat leaving the second lock, I waved to them but unfortunately they still closed the top gate as they left. However they made up for it by their two daughters working me down while Diana walked to the second and reset it. Whilst going down in the second lock a lady came round the corner, windlass in hand. She saw us and went to report back, a little later a boat came round the bend but the third crewmember still closed the gates behind them. Maybe they are reading the BW notices tell you to save water by closing all gates and paddles. We saw very little else until we reached Cropredy where there were loads of people about, Diana wanted to buy a postcard at the shop but couldn't get in due to the queue. After filling with water we pushed on until we met John and Kate just before stopping by “Virgo” to have a look round and a drink with Guy and Connie. One or two boats passed while we were there, the latter leaving all the bottom gates open as he went down the locks, things didn't improve until we reached Banbury. Whilst in Banbury we went shopping in Morrison's, the closest supermarket to the canal right beside bridge 168 on the off side. Just beyond this bridge we picked some huge blackberries on the offside from the front deck of the boat. We continued south looking for a reasonably quiet spot to moor away from the M40. The best we found was just above lock Kings Sutton Lock at 6 o'clock.
We had a lay in but only one boat past us before we set off at 10 AM. In the next hour we met 6 more and we continued meeting boats all day The River Cherwell was hardly moving with next to no water flowing over the weir. We called in at the floating shop "Pan" just prior to Pigeon Lock to buy some fresh eggs and cheese. We decided to moor at Thrupp for the night but all the official visitor moorings were full. We pulled in about 6.30 PM. just beyond “The Jolly Boatman”; we managed to get within about 4 feet of the bank with the stern and about a foot at the bows. We went to “The Jolly Boatman” and had a good meal before pushing off again to find somewhere better to moor. Just prior to the next bridge we met a boat that exited the bridge and rounded the bend on the wrong side forcing me onto the bank on the wrong side, he was quite pleased with this manoeuvre and said it went much better than the previous boat he met where they bounced all over the cut. After extracting ourselves and retrieving the items swept off the roof we carried on to Kiddlington Green Lock where we moored for the night. It raining hard overnight and Sunday continued very showery so I refitted some of the trim that I had to remove the week before when we opened the engine room roof hatch to reseal and de-rust it.
We finally pushed off at about 10 30 when the rain eased to a drizzle and stopped just prior to Dukes Cut lock to fill with water and clean the rubbish of the prop, removing a polly bag and some fishing line complete with hook. We headed for the Thames via Dukes Cut entering the river at midday. We carried on upstream and moored on the 24 hr moorings at Eynsham Lock and walked to the pub for Sunday Lunch, before carrying on upstream to moor in the middle of nowhere about half a mile above Hart's Footbridge.
It was very quiet on the Thames with only a couple of boats coming by before pushed off. We shared most of the locks with Audrey and Dave Smith on “Muffin”. After lunch the traffic increased quite dramatically. Muffin stopped for the night at kelmscot but we continued on to Lechlade where we found Draco and Chesterton moored. It was quite late when we arrived and the moorings were quite full so we were well down towards the Lock.
Today was spent moored at Lechlade visiting the town and talking to other boater,
We finally left just after 11 am. and motored up to the “Round House” which is the normal head of navigation to wind. We then reversed up the Thames for a few bends before heading back down stream to Kelmscott and moored on the outside of “Muffin” for the night. “Wandering Snail” was moored a few yards upstream so we went onboard and had a glass of wine with Ann and Ollie and arranged to eat together at the “Plough” that night. We spent the afternoon looking round "Kelmscott Manor" William Morris's old house. The “Plough” restaurant was almost empty when we arrived with only Audrey and David eating, but it filled up rapidly and the service was a bit slow. This didn’t bother us as we had loads to talk about and the food was well worth waiting for.
This morning we walked into the village to post some cards before setting off around 1030 just before it started to rain. We called in at the GIG site at Radcot for a chat before continuing down to Shifford Lock to fill with water. We then headed back upstream for a bit before mooring up with “Pilgrim” for the night. By now the weather had improved enough for us to enjoy a drink with Barbara and Malcolm sitting on the bank in bright sunshine. Again we had rain over night but Friday morning was fine and we took the dog for a good romp on the meadows before making up the fore’ ad bed ready for our guests. Just before Rushy Lock the skies opened with heavy rain and sunshine all at the same time. Once through the lock it turned black and started to thunder and lightning, not the most pleasant experiences if you’re standing on a boat on the Thames in the poring rain holding an aluminium shafted umbrella. By the time we arrived at Radcot the rain had stopped and the sun was out, however there was a plastic cruiser right where we wanted to moor. By the time the owner had moved it the skies had opened again. We tied temporally to the fence until it abated and they got things sorted out and Boat Shaped.
Monday 21 August 2006
We had a great weekend at “The Swan” at Radcot. We were on an island just below Radcot Bridge opposite “The Swan” public house. The organisers of the weekend did a great job, hiring a marquee from the scouts and a large tent for the beer. On the Friday night we started proceedings with a fish and chip supper and were then entertained by our old friend Bruce Peckett. On the Saturday 4 of us took our boats on a cruise to Lechlade. Just below the lock I could smell something, it turned out to be the engine coolant spraying into the engine room, this was due to a rubber elbow coming adrift from the oil cooler. This was the same elbow that failed last year on the Seven. When I replaced it I could not buy the correct sized elbow, as they are not made any more. The one I fitted was a bit too large and now it had blown off. Repairs didn’t take long and we were soon on our way, we didn’t even miss our turn for the lock. By the time we arrived at Lechlade the others were moored up, we winded and came into the bank against a stiff breeze. A gent on the bank took our stern rope while one of our passengers stepped off with the bow rope. I tried to throw the mallet ashore to hammer in the mooring pins, but somehow it hung in my hand, went almost vertically into the sky and came down just missing the boat into the Thames. The water was only about 3 feet deep but I was unable to find and retrieve it. This was the reason I was awarded the Chris Deuchar wooden know for those who couldn’t get a grip of boaters games. The picnic took place with every one helping to hold the furniture down in the wind before we headed back to Radcot in the rain for a DIY BBQ before the main entertainment for the weekend began, a trio called "Isambarde" who do a wide range of folk music.
On the Sunday the day started with an auction, the highest bid of £100 for being the first person to sponsor Ian to run in next years London Marathon, mind you, in the course of the weekend he relived more of us of a few quid. Following the auction 20 of us had lunch over at the Swan before returning to the site for general socialising and chatting. In the evening we all had a take away meal before the quiz. The weekend was rounded off by some of the attendees entertaining us again lead by Bruce.
This morning was spent packing everything away and returning the site to how we found it, saying goodbye to all our friends and our guests, by then it was lunch time so we set off about 13 44 PM. heading down stream towards Beale Park. The river was very quiet and we stopped at a lock to fill with water and empty the loo tank. We moored at 6 pm in the middle of nowhere about half a mile above Hart's Footbridge. Again we had a very quiet night and on the Tuesday we woke to a blue sky and sunshine. After walking the dog we set off at about 10 am . At the first lock we came to the keeper was enforcing the 15 minuet wait rule due to the water shortage, I can’t quite see the point of this as water is flowing passed the lock over the weir so he sat with the bottom gates open for quarter of an hour while we waited at the top. I don't know why EA are doing this when there is water running over the weir, I'm sure could just as well be used to fill the lock and a lock full must have flowed over while we waited.
When we reached Eynsham lock the lady keeper was determined to get us all in, including a Canadian canoe, which she managed without much room to spare. At Kings lock things were even tighter, the lock full before us were so tight they could only get one gate open to let them out. We carried on down to The Perch at Binsey and moored for the night on their jetty. We walked to the pub to see what time the kitchen closes, only to find that it wasn’t not even open and they were only doing cold snacks until September when refurbishment are complete. The cold snacks there were producing were very tasty, we ate on the decked area and had a bottle of white wine accompanied by a selection of cow's cheese and hard sheep cheese served with a wedge of very nice bread. Anchovies wrapped in aubergine in a lime marinade, a selection of salamis with bread. Much to our surprise we weren't hungry when we had finished as the portion sizes weren't that big. We had a chat to the Landlord, a young French Canadian chap who only took over last month and has done lots of work already, but it’s defiantly more of a wine bar than a pub. Wednesday morning and we set off at 9, as we wanted to find a mooring to do some shopping before arriving at Beale Park tomorrow. Osney lock was ready for us with a boat buying a Thames licence, we all went down in a bunch to arrive behind a queue at Iffley where the keeper got us all in 3 abreast. Just below Isis Bridge a Salters launch was loading with passengers as we passed through. At Sandford Lock there was even a bigger queue with a couple of boats coming up, just as the top gates
opened to let them out the Salters Launch came gliding past us all to stop against the poles on the off side at the lock mouth. We all expected him to jump the queue but the locky and assistant locky packed us all in, this time 4 abreast , he got every waiting boat accept the Launch in. Talking to the keeper at Abingdon, the Salter Launches have right of way at locks if they are running to a timetable. If they are on charter they wait their turn just like everyone else. We overtook all the rest of the boats before we arrived at Abingdon lock, but they had been closed due to a hydraulic problem so there was already a few boats waiting, by the time the lock full before us went down the Salters Launch arrived so he must have been pushing the speed limit a bit. The lock keeper let him through before us, by now I didn't mind as we intended to moor for the night in Abingdon to do the last bit of
shopping and the Launch going ahead wouldn't affect the mooring situation, or lack of it. Once we were through the lock we moored just by the swimming pool and didn't need to breast up which makes things much easier with the dog.
Thursday morning and we set off at 7 30 AM to try as far as possible to keep ahead of the rush. When we arrived a Culham Lock there was a narrowboat and a cruiser waiting and a working boat had just left the lock. This lock is set to manual operation outside keepers working hours so loads of wheel turning was involved. Just as the lock was coming level "Albion" pulled up beside us and as they were on the outside we let them go ahead of us. We had all just packed ourselves in when the good old lock keeper turned up early for work and worked us through. He had rightly guessed that there would be a queue and turned up early.
From here we had a good run all the way to Benson lock where there were loads of boats milling about, this wasn't helped by a Salters Launch coming up and wanting to moor up to let passengers off right where some of the boats were waiting. We probably waited for three lockings before we could go down. The next hold-up we had was for water at Cleeve lock. Here the lock was open and no boats waiting to go down but there were 4 in front of us waiting for water and by the time it was our turn N.B. Jannock had turned up who also wanted water. Once full of water we waited our turn at the lock and after a couple of lockings we were on our way again. We continued on down through Goring lock mooring about 200 yards below the recognised visitor moorings under the trees where we waited for Beeky on N.B. Uncle Mort to arrive to moor alongside for the night. From here its only about 3 miles to the festival site at Beale Park. We discussed with "Uncle Mort" about leaving time and decided to push off at 9 30 AM. on Friday. About 8-30 AM. Friday morning “Minnehaha” pulled along side for breakfast, this worked well because we were now moored in the same formation that we were due to moor at Beale Park. So at 9-30 we all set off one behind the other for our short run down to the festival site. Once we spotted our moorings we each turned and came in along side each other where we stayed until Tuesday morning.
Date - 29 Aug 06
Day - Tuesday
Departed from Beale Park.
When you attend a IWA National Festival you have to pre book the time you intend to leave to try to prevent 500 boats turning up together at the first lock. We were booked out to pass through Goring Lock at 8-30 so we left our moorings a few minutes after 7 am. We arrived at Goring just as the 8
o'clock lock was filling and there was space, we join them. We had a good run up to Cleeve Lock where we stopped to fill our water tank, the first opportunity since last Thursday. The tap was somewhat slow and probably three lock fulls of boats passed through before our tank was full. At the next lock there was a bit of a wait and we
breasted up with the ex working boat "Renfrew" from here we kept each other company for the rest of the day. The queues grew longer and as we approached Clifton Lock boats were queuing by driving their bows into the river bank to hold station in the wind, then the skies darkened, some one started flashing a big light in the sky, beating drums and poring buckets of cold water down my neck. This was the only real rain we had all day, but in half an hour we had enough to last all day. We approached Culham lock about quarter to four so I was hoping to be in Abingdon about five. However things didn't turn out that way and it was gone six before we
cleared the lock, it was taking over 10 minuets to fill the lock for each locking and they could only get two long boats in at a time and had to call shorter boats forward to be able to take 4 at a time. At the end of Culham Cut they have just started to build the new entrance to the Wilts and Berks Canal called Jubilee Junction. This is about 50 yards long and is due to be officially named and opened the day after we passed. From here it was less than half an hour to Abingdon which is absolutely packed, luckily “Lord Toulouse” was moored beside the park, not only did they agree to us mooring along side but the also offered to move out so we could be bank side to enable Magic to get a shore. While I was in the show some local lads tried to nick the bike off the roof of the boat, it was unusual for it not to be locked, however they dropped it between the cabin side and the bank when the noticed the handlebars were at 90 deg. to where they should be and it had no seat attached. If they had got a bit further with it they would also have spotted the flat tyres. Later we walked over the bridge to have a good meal at “The Broad Face”
Wednesday morning at 9 AM we left with "Lord Toulouse" to joined the queue for Abingdon Lock; they were only locking two boats through at a time apart from a Dutch Barge in front of us who went by himself. As Andrew and Wendy needed to be in Braunston 4 days we let them go in before us and we watched them go into every lock in front of us as while we waited far as Oxford. Here things changed, we went straight into Godstow and King's Lock and then turned hard right into Dukes cut. Just as we approached the Oxford Canal at 2-15 I received a text from Andrew saying there was a queue of 5 boats at Duke's Lock.
He had come through Oxford and was only two boats ahead of us. He stopped soon afterwards to fill with water but we continued on to moor at "The Rock of Gibraltar" in Enslow where we found "Draco" already moored for the night, so the four of us ate together in the Rock. We have moored at The Rock of Gibraltar before, but I think it must always have been at weekends, so we were not prepared for the lorries starting their engines in the canal side transport yard at six on Thursday morning. At first we thought it was early starting boaters going by. Anyway as we were now awake we had breakfast and set off just after 8 o'clock. Most of the locks were against us all day, but we only caught one boat up. We stopped in Banbury to fill the water tank and then headed out into the country for the night. At Bourton Locks we met a canoeist who informed us that the canoe club at Cropredy had a time trial on this evening and that we would be meeting lots of canoeists going fast, he also said that as it was a time trial they may not be inclined to stop! I'm steel and 18 tons, they are plastic and 50 lbs. Am I worried? but I must say that the pair we met when I was half way through the bridge thought it might be a good idea to easy off rather than us passing in a bridge hole. We only did a few hundred yards after this before mooring for the night about 150 yards below the lock. Around half nine the restaurant boat from Banbury came through and returned about an hour later. It was totally dark and no one would have been any the wiser if they had moored on the outskirts of Banbury and just left the engine running.
Friday morning and a couple of boats came by before we were about, we planed to set off at nine. I had just started the engine and fitted the tiller when the narrowboat India came into sight, so rather than jumping ahead of them I went up and set the lock, we then followed them up until a single hander pushed off from the water point at Cropredy in front of us. We carried on in procession up the Claydon flight and with a bit more spacing to Fenny where India stopped for diesel and the single hander for gas. As we passed the Wharf pub a boat disappeared through the bridge ahead of us but we soon caught them up, they were going so slow it was unbelievable, but fortunately after about half a mile they pulled over and waved us passed. We then had a good run back to our home moorings and were all tied up by 5. An hour later India came by, they had caught up with the slow boat and followed them all the way to Marston Doles as they hadn't been able to get by.