Friday, 18 August 2017

To see a fine lady......

Friday 18th August 2017
Cropredy Marina to Castle Quay Footbridge, Banbury
5 miles, 4 locks

We were up and off early again having filled and emptied as required.  It was sunny and bright, but with a fair wind and only warm when you were in the sun.  The upside was that, once again, we were not in a queue of boats.

As we were leaving the marina we noticed the name of our neighbour (Catflap) and yet the crew members seem to include dogs!  I do like the cat over the stern doors.

Once we were in the first lock at Cropredy a boat came along behind us, probably cursing their bad luck that they had left that little bit too late!  Mind having said that we were always out of each lock before they arrived and we had to fill every one before we could enter, so they lost nothing by being behind us.

Once out of Cropredy the cruise was, for the most part, rural with the odd area of - well I am not quite sure what to say about this!

 This is much more to our liking!

We have noticed a few of these - does anyone know what DIS signifies?

 Just before Hardwick Lock (our last of the day) real life intervenes in the form of the M40

Once at the lock it seems to be rural and remote, but sadly no

There are trains one end and

the motorway at the other

 Now who lives in a house like this?

Dink & Malc!

 He/she had a whole field of good grass to choose from, but no, that little bit over the fence was much tastier!

We were moored in the centre of Banbury by 11:00 - not the most scenic of places, but very handy for the shops and town centre.

This is all new to us, so a wander round Banbury to see what it had to offer was in order.

The bridge to the shopping centre which dominates the canal is just behind our boat.  Over we went just as it started to spit, so we were glad to get under cover.  Perfect timing.  Our first stop was the Tourist Information Office for a town map.  The lady was really helpful and gave us an historic town tour guide as well.  I have to say that the latter was pretty useless to those of us who do not have perfect vision!  The print was so small and faded it was really hard to make out, so some of the following information is a bit of guess work, so may well be wrong!

We think this is/was the town hall.

This we know is the Reine Deer Inn which dates back to the 16th Century.  We gather that the panelling in the Globe Room is worth seeing, but we did not venture in today.

 St Mary's Church which, as is the way of things these days, was closed.

I am sure any visit to Banbury has to include the Cross

and to find that fine lady on her white horse

The Old What?  What a shame they had to place the sign right there

One thing we learnt from the Information centre was that there is a Banbury Cake, something we had never heard of.  A quick google told us what it is (a different shaped Eccles Cake) and that there was a Cake shop in Banbury.  We duly tracked it down only to find it sells icing supplies and makes the most wonderful celebration cakes, but not a Banbury cake in sight!

We made it back to the boat in time to be safely inside before a very fierce thunderstorm.  Once that had passed we headed out to take Monty for a run passing under Tom Rolt Bridge

To the park which had more to it than we had expected

There were also large grassed areas ideal for a good game of ball!

This evening friends, fellow boaters and bloggers, Brenda and Graham (nb Jannock) who live in the area came to call and transported us back to the Wharf Inn, Fenny Compton where we all enjoyed convivial company and a really good meal.  We had to run back to the boat through heavy rain which is still hammering it down as I type.  Hopefully it will have gone by the morning when we will be off again.

Thursday, 17 August 2017

The Early Bird Beats the Rush!

Wednesday 16th  - Thursday 17th August 2017
Fenny Compton to Cropredy Marina
5.75 miles, 8 locks

Well the early start worked again and we were off before anyone else around us, so well ahead of any queues.  About a mile before the first locks we came to the first lift bridge which are typical of this canal.  Thankfully most are left open.

And so to the first set of locks - five of them at Claydon.  Spotted in the distance were a couple of C&RT workers.  We knew it was too early (08:45) to be volunteers, so we hoped the reason they were there was not going to cause us too much of a delay.  Thankfully only 10 minutes whilst they moved water down to the next pound that was very low.

These locks are very rural and fairly easy to work, although the state of this lock beam leaves a lot to be desired.

There are more signs that have yet to be updated with the C&RT logo

As we left the bottom lock we found out just how low the pound was!

A bit of scraping along the bottom, but passable as long as you stayed in the middle.  As we were still ahead of the game we did not have to pass any moving boats - I am sure that might well have been easier said than done.

On past Clattercote Wharf (what a great name!) with this BW historic boat

and onto the start of the next three locks.  It was still wonderfully peaceful with far more of these ladies than humans

 This is Chris approaching the first of the last three locks, Elkington's lock, which is where we met our first moving boat. It was in the lock coming up - always helpful.  There were also other boats down below waiting, so plenty of helping hands to work the lock.

We only had two other locks to do and once again there were boats coming up at both of them, so a very easy passage for us.

At the last lock, Broadmoor lock, there is a stall selling ropes, fenders, apples

and plums at £2 a pot - they are certainly fresh and represent a good profit for the vendors as they

(we assume) been picked off the tree next to the stall!

Needless to say we passed by without opening our wallets!

We arrived at Cropredy marina around 11am.  The instructions were to go past the first entrance

and into the second

We filled up with diesel and were then shown to our mooring.Shortly after we moored up the boat next to us moved off leaving us a double space all to ourselves! Very much appreciated as with the side hatch open, you don't feel so hemmed in.

It rained and rained in the night and the air was still very damp when I took Monty out first thing. The sun came out and in the main the day was hot and sunny, but with a brisk wind.

An engineer was due around 09:00 to service the engine and Tesco was due with lots of provisions to re-stock our very empty fridge and freezer.  Both came and went and I spent quite a long time re-packing all the fresh stuff (I tend to remove most things from their packaging and put them into plastic pots as I find they last better and take up less valuable space).  Monty had a short walk around the marina, but all in all it was a pretty non-event of a morning.

After lunch we set off to walk to Cropredy itself.

As you walk across to the reception area you go past this gate - the marina is closed today as all electric supplies to the area are off for some essential maintenance, so there is no one we can ask who Chris is/was and we will be gone before they open in the morning.

The road to Cropredy is long and straight, but not as long as the one to Fenny Compton

There is a welcome seat at  the top of the incline where one can take a breather

Past this lovely field with a fabulous outlook, but a sad sign of the times that they have had to comprehensively block all vehicle access.  Having lived near an area that at one time that was invaded by 'travellers', I can fully understand why they are protecting their property.  The damage, filth and devastation they frequently leave behind is horrendous.

Not something you can miss as you enter the village!

I was chatting to a fellow boater and blogger yesterday (Brenda from nb Jannock who we hope to meet up with tomorrow along with husband Graham) and she told me to look out for this charmingly named street.  I have to say the name conjured up chocolate box cottages rather than these semis!

This is what I expected to find in Cup and Saucer!

Next door but one to the above was the unmistakable sound of children having fun on a trampoline and in a large paddling pool.

Almost opposite the thatched cottage is a sign with details of a village trail.  We could have done with this sooner and then we might have found the stone feature in Cup and Saucer - another time, maybe.

On we went towards the canal and past Vicarage Gardens with a view of the church in the background - I would love to have seen this when there was a large vicarage and gardens rather than a housing estate.

When you reach the Old Canal Wharf you are,  not unexpectedly, very close to the canal

I hope not too many more boaters want to deposit their rubbish - the smell was not appealing

Views both ways along the canal

We reached our destination - the Bridge Store.  It is well supplied with most basics, but not brilliant if you are after fresh fruit and vege.

I do love this sign

Our route back was to take us along the canal past Cropredy lock to Broadmoor lock where we would go back along roads to the marina.  At Cropredy lock are these four sculptures

The wording is as follows:

The humpbacked bridge
Is taking umbrage
and making a bright hoop

of its bricklined arch
like a sturdy instep 
on the unbroken surface

Where the quilled stumps
of pollard willows
shiver like the steel bristles

On a flea's armour
or rest head-down like sable
brushes in a jar of turps.

Make of that what you will!  I assume this is the bridge it is referring to.

There is very little mooring below the lock, but plenty above.

One of the houses opposite these moorings has a really pretty garden - I do love it when people embrace the canal and make the most of their wonderful settings.

The walk takes you past the marina which is not accessible from the towpath.  The arrow marks our mooring!

Back at Broadmoor lock the plums are now £1 a pot!  Chris is sure they were £2 yesterday, so they have either lowered the price or he got it wrong!

Boats seen today:

This is for a friend of ours - if the Chinese underneath is impolite we deny all knowledge!

And a name that took our fancy

I am not sure whether this sky bodes well for tomorrow or not.....

Having now read the guide book it appears that we missed a treat both visually and gastronomically in not visiting The Red Lion - we will just have to come back again one day!