So Wednesday last week saw us leaving our mooring at Spiceball Park, and our first job was to fill the water tank! We used the tap just outside the shopping centre.
Whilst we were there, Rudolph contemplated nipping in to Debenhams to get some xmas shopping!
Whilst we filled our tank some CaRT workers brought 3 work boats up the lock.
We then headed off, down the lock and towards the winding hole to turn round.
The winding hole got the better of us this time round – it took a couple of attempts, and as you can see we (and Rudolph) took a bit of a battering!
The wind didnt do us any favours and the trees decided to get in the way! Even the button on the front took a battering and we cant straighten it up until we get some new shackles!
Rudolph soon recovered, and we headed on through the lift bridge – unlike Rudolph, Gary had to duck!
At the first lock out of Banbury we caught up with the CaRT guys and their workboats.
We discovered they were heading for Stockton ready for the works in the new year.
After heading up the lock behind them we decided to moor up below Bourton Lock rather than follow them any further, as the weather had decided to turn for the worst.
Rudolph decided to sleep inside out of the wind and rain.
The heavens opened and the wind and rain got really bad – we even had waves running up the canal!
Thursday was a lovely sunny day with no wind, so Rudolph decided it was safe to come out!
I left Rudolph helping Gary untie the boat and went off to set the lock.
All that rain over night had left the canal topped right up with muddy water.
We carried on towards Cropredy, and who should be coming back towards us but Sue and Vic on No Problem as they headed back towards Banbury!
It was lovely in the sun, so Rudolph caught some rays whilst we filled with water at Cropredy!
We moved on, enjoying the sunshine and blue skies – even when it was a bit of a tight squeeze in places!
We made it to the top of the Claydon flight whilst the sun was still out, but Rudolph jumped on the roof and started to dance about – telling us that the wind was coming up again and more rain was imminent!
So we tucked Rudolph up inside again and settled down in front of the stove for another wet and wild evening!
Friday was another lovely sunny day, but this time a bit gusty, so Rudolph stayed inside, as he was afraid of being blown off the boat!
We plodded along on the Oxford Canal Summit traveling about 10 miles on the twisted route when as the crow flies it is only about 4 miles! Again the sun was out and it was a lovely day to travel.
Again the canal level was really high and the water was really muddy after all the rain draining from the fields.
We stopped at the Wharf Inn in Fenny Stratford to fill the water tank and marvelled at the view across the hills!
The last few miles on the summit pass through sheep fields, and dotted around are all these blue tripod “things” – does anyone know what they are?
We moored above the Napton Flight – and of course it rained again!
Saturday we came down the Napton Flight, and stopped for water outside the Folly Pub – and the black clouds came over again!
We decided not to try to get to Braunston in the rain, so moored up and rang Yvonne and Roy to see if they fancied an evening in the Folly! Of course they did, so we had a very pleasant evening chilling out with them over dinner and a few drinks!
They had a huge Christmas tree outside the Folly, but I didnt take a picture at night with the lights on – only this one!
Again the sun was out, but it was breezy, and it definately got chilly – so we wrapped up warmly.
We arrived at Braunston and were amazed at how much room there was – hardly any boats moored at all! So we picked a nice spot opposite the Boathouse Pub where we could get a satellite signal and settled in for Christmas.
Roy dropped the car up to us so that we could do our xmas food shopping, so whilst the rain fell and the wind blew on Monday, we drove to Morrisons to collect our turkey and other xmas bits.
These hire boaters were getting into the spirit!
By Christmas Eve the wind had stopped howling and the sun was out, so in the afternoon we decided to do the Braunston pub crawl!
We walked up to the Admiral Nelson, almost drowning in mud on the awful towpath! It was quite busy, so after after a drink there we walked up the road into the village and stopped off in the Wheatsheaf. This was much quieter, with only a few locals in. We left there at 6 and headed to The Plough, where it started quiet but very quickly became very busy as the evening progressed.
We then headed back to the boat for dinner and a chill out watching telly.
Christmas day started slowly for us, having a nice lay in, sorting out the dinner ingredients etc. Whilst Gary was in the cratch, he received an invitation from a boater moored behind us to pop along for drinks later in the evening. They read this blog and wanted to meet us!
We visited the Boathouse Pub for a drink in the afternoon before starting dinner, and we duly sat down to our first Christmas Dinner Afloat!
After clearing away we made our way to “Oakapple” moored two boats behind us and had a very pleasant evening with Richard and Sharon, who we discovered also come from Fareham! Before leaving, we invited them for a return visit on Friday evening.
Boxing day Rudolph helped Gary to top up the diesel in the front tank for the stove – there is no way we are getting cold on this boat!
Unfortunately, this doesnt mean we dont catch colds – and yes I had managed to catch one, so feeling a bit stuffed up, we visited Yvonne and Roy for a couple of hours before the storms returned again in the evening, then tucked ourselves up in the warm with a few medicinal drinks to stave off the symptoms!
Friday of course was another windy and wet day, so we stayed on board, cleaned the boat, had dinner and awaited our visitors.
Another lovely evening with great company. Thanks for coming over Richard and Sharon.
Saturday morning saw Oakapple and crew making their way back to their home marina – hope you had a good journey and didnt suffer from the late night!
We had decided it was time to fill up our water tank (we were getting withdrawal symptoms and it was almost empty!) and also we wanted to try the self pump out at Braunston Marina, as our loo tank was just about full.
We duly moved off, after a rush of passing boats, and pulled into the Marina. I popped into the shop to get the token and Gary prepared to do the deed. The machine started – and nothing pumped out! We wiggled the connection, stood on the end, took it off and put it on again – several times and nothing pumped out!
To cut a long story short, after 3 tokens and help from one of the marina guys we still couldnt make it work, so the next customer had a go – and it worked for him – he pumped his tank out fine! So what to do? Whilst pondering (and waiting for the marina “toilet engineer” to finish his lunch and come and help) we decided to use the water tap on the facilities block to fill our tank, and whilst connecting the hose we heard a familar voice!
One of my old work colleagues Janet and her husband Paul (who lives in Portchester) were visiting relatives nearby and had decided to see if they could find us! If it hadnt been for the delay with the pump out machine, they would not have seen us! It was lovely to see you both and your family – sorry I didnt take any pictures, we were so flustered with our problem it didnt occur to me at the time.
In the midst of this chaos, showing people round the boat and chatting, the toilet engineer turned up and proceeded to strip down the pump out hose to check that was working ok. What a time to have visitors. Next time we see Janet and Paul I promise to take them for a lovely cruise!
Our friends duly left and Gary and the engineer persevered with the problem. Eventually after much prodding with the hose and water spraying the pump started working properly – we think we had a blocked breather hose. The engineer said he had never seen a problem like that before! How strange that should happen to us!!!!
He left us to complete our pump out, and by now our water tank was full, so we hurriedly packed away and pushed away from the wharf. We reversed out of the marina and headed back down the canal to the Boathouse pub – and moored up directly outside, as we desperately needed a drink and some food to recuperate!
We are now back on the boat exhausted after our eventful afternoon! – who says narrowboating is relaxing!!!!!