NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Saturday, 25 October 2014

A final visit to Banbury this year!

We left our summit pound mooring on Tuesday last week, having sat out the awful weather!

We were soon nearing Fenny Compton – where someone had managed to pull up this mooring ring!


We stopped to top up with water, and had a look around the veg and spice stall, we were hoping to find a green pepper – but had to make do with some lovely cherry tomatoes!


As we moved on we discovered the moorings were virtually empty – they are usually packed!

Just a bit further on as we approached the “tunnel” there was someone coming through, so had to wait for them to pass – there may not be a roof on the tunnel now, but it is narrow!


We soon moored up at the top of the Claydon Locks ready to go down the next day.

We were quite lucky with the locks – we met another boat coming up at nearly every one!

Just before Cropredy we saw the remains of the tree that had come down in the high winds two days before – but surprisingly there werent any logs left!


In the dry dock we caught sight of what we thought was NB Hispireon (that we saw sunk on previous runs through this way!)


We went through Cropredy, stopping just to top up our water and pop into the shop for some milk (and another try to find a green pepper – no success!)

On the way out, we passed the newly improved towpath – looking really good!


We moored up just before Slat Mill lock, where, unusually, we couldnt find a satellite signal! The bushes were too high!

So Thursday saw us heading down  the last 3 locks into Banbury, where we moored up in the town centre, near the shops to make sure I could get a satellite signal! Normally we moor in Spiceball Park, but the trees there mean no signal.

After a quick lunch we made our way into the shops to collect Garys contact lenses and buy a few bits, which we then dropped back to the boat before heading out again to find Wetherspoons!

We had a shock when we left the indoor shopping area – the fair was in town! We had not heard or seen anything from the canal side!

After a very nice curry in “Spoons” we wandered around the fair watching everyone have a good time on the rides – some of which were really scary!!




We eventually got back to the boat about 9.30pm, where even though the music had been really loud, we couldnt hear anything of the fair!

The next day we had a bit more retail therapy to do, but were back at the boat before the fair hotted up in the evening.


As we cooked dinner in the evening, some of the local kids decided to “play about” by the boat – but soon ran off when Gary burst out of the cratch!

On Saturday we had had enough of Town Centre Living, so headed off, topping up the water tank on the way, and then stopped by Morrisons to top up the cupboards (and wine cellar!)

We were soon back out in the country and moored up just before Kings Sutton Lock – peace again!

Sunday was a lovely sunny day – but it was a bit breezy! We set off anyway.


Just below Kings Sutton Lock, CRT are doing some towpath reinstatement works using Gabion baskets.


Everyone out there has heard the “leaves on the line” expression, (especially all our readers in Eastleigh!) holding up trains – well on narrowboats we get “leaves on the prop” – there are so many leaves floating (or sinking) in the canal at this time of year, that they “stick” to the propeller, eventually making it slugish and slowing us down (more than usual!!). The answer is to give a burst of reverse to clear it, and we are away again.


As we approached Nell Bridge Lock, we could see another reason for “struggling along” this stretch of canal – the water level was down quite a way!


Even as we crossed the River Cherwell on the approach to Aynho Weir Lock, the river level was well into the green, even after the heavy rain of a few days ago!


After the lock, there was a “breach” in the canal – the ducks and geese were happy with their new pond!


Just then I spotted some deer. A first for me!


We made the decision not to moor opposite Aynho Wharf, but to carry on to our spot by lift bridge 193, so that we could stay in the sun for a whilst longer, as the bushes on the towpath near Aynho made it shady.

As we came out of the shelter of the trees we realised that it was no longer “breezy” but full blown “windy”! So as we approached our mooring spot I prepared the centre rope with a mooring hook to deploy on the armco to help hold the boat in place whilst we moored up!

Things didnt go according to plan! No pictures I’m afraid as things got a bit hectic and the camera was on the boat!

The mooring hook slipped off the armco before I could pull the boat in close and the wind caught the front of the boat. Gary had jumped off the back and managed to get his mooring hook on the armco and the back rope securely tied onto the boat. The front end of the boat was now across the other side of the canal and no amount of pulling on the centre rope was getting it back!

Gary walked down the side of the boat to the front, but couldnt throw the front rope over to me as it wouldnt have been quite long enough! He had to walk back down the boat, pause at the centre to untie our second centre rope, tie it to the front rope and walk back down to the back.

Now the front rope was reachable from the canalside – just, and with the help of a passing walker, Gary managed to pull the front of the boat back to the towpath side! We quickly used the hook to secure the front. Just in time, as now two boats passed from behind, and one from in front!

Of course now the wind dropped a bit, and we were able to move the boat along to a wide spot (out of the way of overgrown bushes).


The wind wasnt a problem now we were tied up, and we had the sun that we wanted!

Lift Bridge 193 has also partially collapsed since we were here last, so we wandered down to have a look at the damage!


Monday, the wind had dropped, but the sky looked ominous as we pulled away.


The lift bridge looked worse from canal side.


We only had about 1/2 mile to Somerton Deep Lock – but we werent going through it, just using the winding hole just before it. Of course the rain had started then – and it hammered down!

We were soon back at Aynho Wharf, the rain had stopped and we were topping up with water and diesel too! Winter is almost upon us and we dont want to be caught by the dreaded diesel bug due to condensation in the fuel tanks, so we like to keep them topped up.

Once all our tanks and our spare fuel cans were full, we headed back towards Banbury.

No deer this time, but the geese were definitely enjoying their new pond by the breach!


Back through Aynho Weir Lock – clouds still looking ominous!


At Nell Bridge Lock the water level was back to normal today.


The lovely canal side house just past the pig farm has chopped down a load of trees, and you can now see the front of the house, not just the side!


As we approached the motorway, with Kings Sutton Church spire in the distance, you can see those dark clouds closing in again!


This time as we passed the towpath works, the workboats were breasted up, so we had to squeeze through!


Back up through Kings Sutton Lock and we moored up in the spot we had left two days before! Just before the rain came down!

The next day we stayed put, whilst ex-hurricane Gonzalo raged around us, and a few hardy souls boated by!

Wednesday we moved back into Banbury, this time mooring just before the Morrisons bridge (where we could get a satellite signal!).

There were a few more bits we had decided we needed (winter clothes etc) so set off on more retail therapy, and stopping off in “Spoons” for refreshment, we decided to take advantage of their meal deals for dinner too!

Thursday was another Morrisons shopping trip (where does all the food and wine go?) and afterwards we had promised ourselves lunch in the Mexican lunch bar – which turned out to have a power failure so was shut!

We didnt fancy going back to the boat for lunch – so ended up in “Spoons” again!!!!

When we finally staggered out (full up – not drunk!) a walk was in order, so we took the long way back to the boat and chilled out, with no need for dinner later!

So this morning we set off to the water point, and did a pump out too. Whilst we were there guess who found us – Sue and Vic from No Problem! They had passed whilst we had been out yesterday, and were now moored in Banbury.

We had a quick catch up and arranged to meet up later in the week as we are all heading off the South Oxford before the winter stoppages begin on 3 November!

Eventually the water tank was full and the loo tank was empty and we made our way out of Banbury for the last time this year – passing No Problem on the way!


Monday, 13 October 2014

Time to bring the blog up-to-date!

After our great evening with Richard and Sharon from NB Oakapple we had a late start the next day!

Oakapple left first, heading for Braunston.


We soon followed them, but only to the water point (!) and after filling the tank we turned the boat round and headed back to Brownsover.

Our plan was to visit the cinema in the afternoon and the next morning do some shopping in Tescos, before turning round again and heading back towards Braunston (the plan that we put on hold when meeting Oakapple).

When passing through Brownsover the previous day there had been lots of mooring space – but this time it was quite busy – but we did manage to moor on the 24hr spaces under the willow tree! (Its that time of year when the roof fills with leaves!)


After all our needs were fulfilled, we set off to turn round – stopping of course to top up the water tank first! This is the first time we have used the tap at Brownsover, as the bank is difficult to get close to, and the towpath is very low and waterlogged near the edge.

I left the boat as we went under the bridge, but when Gary jumped off he nearly sank in the mud!


Whilst filling with water, we watched the dredger taking “dredgings” out of the workboat and dumping them on the “offside”.


As you can see there wasnt much room to pass!

By the time we were ready to move the first workboat had been emptied and another had been brought up. We waited whilst the boats were sorted out and then when instructed moved past – it was a bit tight, especially when passing the now empty boat at the front of the little tug boat which drifted towards us as we passed!


It was just a short journey to the turning point, and as we turned we saw all the hire boats lined up that had been moved out from the Rugby Arm to make way for the dredging, a bit of a tight squeeze that way!


As we turned, I spotted this sculpture on the offside bank – does anyway know anything about it?


We then had to run the gauntlet of the dredger again! This time after waiting for a boat from the other direction!


The other thing that is going on at Brownsover is the demolition/renovation of the retail park that used to house Wickes/Next etc – apparently there will be a Marks and Spencer there when it is rebuilt. Pizza Hut and Halfords are still there and open for business. We will watch this with interest!

As we went past the moored boats this one stood out – what a strange name – does anyone know what it means?


We were soon moored below Hillmorton Locks again – this time for a quiet evening!

The next day saw us slowly ascending Hillmorton Locks at the back of a queue of 5 boats. Due to gate replacement works at one of the top pair, only one of each pair of the other two locks was in operation to stop the pounds being drained.

A view you dont usually get of one of Hillmortons top lock gates!


We moored at Onley, one of our familiar winter spots!

The next morning it was lovely sunny and bright – there wont be too many more of these to look forward to over the next few months!


We set off to Braunston, and were surprised to find it really busy and hardly any mooring spots left! Even the towpath from bridge 89 onward was full!


As we passed the junction there was a spot that was not quite big enough for us, but the boat moored behind soon moved their boat back enough for us to get in. As we tied up and chatted to them, we realised that they were James and Debbie on NB Lois Jane – friends of Doug and James and they knew all about us and our hybrid boat! We chatted to them for a whilst, and discovered they too were from the south coast – Plymouth.

Whilst we had chatted the boat in front of us had moved off, and very shortly after NB Blue on Blue moored up there. We had been passing them regularly last winter and often waved to each other but never chatted before. We of course took the opportunity to have a proper chat. James and Debbie had now headed off to Midland Chandlers who were having one of their Freaky Friday events (20% off everything) – maybe that was why it was so busy!

As we chatted to Mike and Ethel from NB Blue on Blue we discovered that Mike was also originally from Fareham – what a small world, and that he and Ethel (who is from Germany) only moved on to the canals last year! By now we had realised that NB Swamp Frogs was moored further up, opposite the Boathouse Pub, and then as a space appeared on the pub moorings, who should arrive and moor up but Richard and Sharon on NB Oakapple! It was a convention of southerners!

We shouted greetings to Richard and Sharon who were with their visitors. There was no-one onboard Swamp Frogs.

We were meeting Yvonne and Roy for dinner in the pub, they had lots of mail for us including our new Boat Licence! We hadnt seen them for quite a whilst and had a lovely evening catching up.

And who should we see also in the pub? Rob and Suzie from Swamp Frogs! We said hello and promised to catch up properly the next day!

Saturday was not such a nice day weather wise, so we decided to stay put. We had been going to pop along to Swamp Frogs for that catch up – but by the time the weather had improved we realised they had moved across to moor outside the pub (ready to meet their visitors on Sunday) – way too far to walk!! Rob later shouted across to Gary and we arranged to meet for drinks in the pub in the evening.

After dinner on Muleless, we made our way round to the pub and had a great evening with Rob and Suzie – I forgot to take a picture! We were ushered out of the pub after 11pm as they were trying to close up!

The next morning Gary took a very atmospheric picture of the misty canal – plenty of mooring space again now!


We set off – heading down to the elsan/waterpoint to pump out and fill up – passing Swamp Frogs on the way. No sign of Rob and Suzie as they were busy with their visitors!


We now had a bit of time before we could head towards Banbury, as we had to be back to Braunston in a few days for a meeting and to collect some bits from Wharf House Chandlery, so we spent the next couple of days moored out in the country, before heading back on the right day.

When we finished in Braunston we finally started heading back to Banbury for the last time this year.

You can tell it is the end of the holiday boating season with all these boats moored at Napton Marina.


As we approached Napton Locks we could see this new house being built on the hill – what a view they must have.


As we made the final approach we saw this appropriately named boat – a real Yoghurt Pot!! (Narrowboaters name for a plastic cruiser!)


As we filled with water at the bottom of the locks the heavens opened and we were pelted with hailstones – at least Gary was, he was dressed correctly, I sheltered in the boat!


By the time the water tank was full the rain had stopped! So we set off up the flight wearing rain gear just in case it started again!


Most of the pounds were really low – so we definitely need that rain!


We moored up on the long pound below Adkins Lock – just in time to miss another downpour!

Later, these clouds made it look like a mountain range, not a single hill!


And this was my best attempt at catching the rainbow!


So now we are virtually up-to-date.

Yesterday (Sunday) we left our nice mooring (Gary had just moved the boat from our mooring spot two boat lengths back, onto the lock landing)


Not only was the pound above low, but the overspill weir could do with some work too!


We are now moored on the summit pound, between bridges 129 and 130, we had a fantastic sunset last night.


Today we have stayed put! The rain has come down all day long. The forecast is not brilliant for the next few days, so we will have to pick the right moment to move on!