I left Banbury about lunch time for the short journey to Cropredy. I filled up at Sovereign Narrowboats and bought some stern grease (cheapest on the system according to Brian). After leaving Sovereign I received a text from Nick and Diane which asked me to say hello to Elaine…… too late, sorry.
Tom Rolt says it is 5½ miles to Cropredy, the post at Cropredy say 4½. Maybe the canal has shrunk. I was expecting the first lock to be Salmons Lock but instead it was Hawkesbridge. Was Tom was wrong or maybe the name has been changed? Anybody know?
There are only four locks to Cropredy so my journey was short. For those of you that haven't read 'Narrowboat' Tom Rolt set off from Banburyin July 1939 and moored overnight at Cropredy
Quote:Later that evening we walked to the sign of 'The Red Lion' halfway up the street, and found a village inn of the best type which has escaped both stuffy Victorianism and the old-worlde reconstruction of our own age. The bar parlour was as simple and unpretentious as it had always been: a stone flagged floor, benches and tables of wood whitened by constant scouring, and a great open fireplace with its crane and ratchet hooks, sunken ash pit and snug seats beneath the yawning chimney breast, Our beer was drawn straight from the wood in the cellar, so cool that mist formed on the glass. We sat drinking contentedly in this quiet place, listening to the leisurly quarter chime of the church clock…………
Tom and Ann returned to the boat to eat,
Quote:We returned to a hot dinner on board which would have been an excellent meal in any place, but was a veritable banquet in such circumstances and surroundings.
Friday 13 Apr
Late yesterday evening I walked up the towpath and crossed the bridge into Red Lion Street. Halfway up the street I came to 'The Red Lion' of Tom's earlier visit. What I expected and what I saw was not the same vision. The bar is basically the same. The yawning chimney breast is still there as are the snug seats in the fireplace. Some of the mechanism of the open fire is there, but I suspect greatly reduced to look right but with out the huge flue that once would have carried away the smoke. The old grate and 'sunken ash pit' have been replaced by a modern fire, which was totally out of place in its setting. I think I saw the old grate in the dinning room surmounted by a modern MDF fire surround. I did not see one single indication that Rolt had ever been there, should there have been? I don't know.
Cropredy is now famous for its music festival which takes place in August. There is a plaque dedicated to 'Rodders' of Fairport Convention above a snug seat in the fireplace. The walls of the bar and dining room adorned with watercolours all sporting heavy price tags. Not one, that I saw, had a canal theme. I left the pub a bit disappointed.
However not to be put off I walked around the village and tried to imagine what Rolt would have seen or more to the point would not have seen during his short stay. Cropredy is a lovely village of stone houses some dating back to before the civil war. Indeed the Battle of Cropredy took place in the meadows east of the area between the bridges in 1664.
I took it easy this morning getting under way. A number of boats came down the lock and a few came up. There are nine locks to the summit level. Then eleven miles of lock free meandering cruising to the next lock on the down flight. I stopped at the Wharf Inn mid-afternoon where I met Doo-Dah Now if you understand that it is just possible that you have met Stuart York. Stuart's conversation is liberally punctuated with the phrase 'Doo-Dah'. He has many self-inflicted problems which I will not go into here, but suffice to say he is well known to the federalis and is barred from most of the pubs from here to Warwick. He is a pleasant enough man with whom I have a lot in common. We are both relatively new to boating we both play the guitar and write songs. Both like the music of John Denver. We both enjoy nature.
I watched this man, who has a particularly violent back ground, enjoy the antics nine of the smallest ducklings on the canal I swear there were tears in his eyes. Of course this will do nothing for his street cred so please do not tell anyone else.
Stuart and his wife Lisa have 4 dogs. Two Staffys a Jack Russell and a scruffy fluffy thing called Tramp Dog, that’s eats people. One of the Staffys suffers from something like Down's syndrome, but nonetheless is a lovely, lively dog who thought I was the bee's knees and didn't leave my side for the 6 hours I shared with Stuart.
Saturday 14 Apr. 07
I had planned to leave here after lunch, but time passed while I was waiting for a small delivery and I got away at 3:30. This was a push to get down the flight to Napton where I arrived at 9 pm in the dark, but still I continued on to the Bridge Inn for a mooring.
Sunday 15 Apr
Coming towards Braunston I encountered nb Kyamanzi. I stopped for a chat with Mrs Kymanzi who was walking the dogs. About half a mile further on a couple sitting out on deck chairs recognised the boat. "Hey look its Maffi, he said and started to follow me up the Canal talking to me at the same time. I put the boat in reverse and moored up behind Cassie's Dream I hope they read this then they can remind me of their names. We had a chat and I showed them around the boat. While we were chatting Brian Jarret who you may remember I met last January coming down from Warwick passed on nb Kyle.
After getting on my way I went up the Oxford for a few miles, worst part of my trip so far. I followed some bozo on his own boat going at a snails pace. I was just on tick-over. He was all over the place and just would not let me pass. We passed a moored boat just about to cast off. As I drew level with him he said, "Nobody slows down anymore". Now he wasn't talking about me I know that, he said so, but who the bloody hell was he talking to certainly not the twat in front who was probably doing less than 2 mph. Maybe it is just some people have to be obnoxious.
Further along I sounded on horn because I couldn't see the other side of the bridge yet some trad Bozo came speeding through a bridge I slammed it in reverse and had to use the bow thruster to avoid hitting him. This drew his attention to the front of my boat and he shook his head. F***ing Ludite. I don't think the canal system will survive if it has to depend on these ******* ******.
When I moored this evening I washed down the side of the boat nearest the towpath as I am wont to do on these light nights. I noticed when I was washing the Houdini Hatch that someone had tried to jemy it open. Fortunately no real damage was done and the hatch was not penetrated. When this happened I don't know, but 10 points for Houdini.
Monday 16 Apr
I set off from Braunston about 10 am. I got about a half mile, if that, when I saw a woman frantically waving through the cratch. I waved back thinking probably another fan of Maffi. Then a guy popped his head out of the rear hatch. "Hello you old duffer," he said in a Kiwi accent. Then it dawned on me the boat was the Gyps Rover. It was Dot & Derek who I met at Apsley. I moored up again and we chatted for a couple of hours. I then cadged a double up the flight with nb Rusty Nail.
Going through the Brunston Tunnel I bumped a private boat, a mere nudge. "Thanks for that", he said. Well it really wasn't my fault his tunnel light was pointed straight ahead giving me no forward vision. I would have thought someone with a josher bow trad would have known better, obviously symmetry is more important than doing it right!
Coming out of the tunnel I was aiming for Weedon. I set off down the Buckby flight with a German couple, funnily enough I did that the last time I came this way. They moored up in the first pound. So I took the next lock alone. Then I was joined by two boats, no don't be silly, they followed, but they had a surplus of crew who were detailed to help me down. How cool is that.
Tuesday 17 Apr
I thought to visit Nigel Carton at Bridge 47 just before Gayton Junction. Unfortunately he was working on an important mission preparing for St Georges Day, which if my memory serves me right from last year probably involved the procurement of a barrel of ale. I stayed overnight.
Wednesday 18 Apr
I headed for the tunnel and called my brother Robert to see if he wanted to come through with me. It turns out he had done it before and was in no hurry to repeat the process so I came through on my own. Why do people and hire boat companies insist on pointing their tunnel light straight ahead? It is so annoying! I did manage to catch the wall a couple of times and took a bit of paint of the top edge of the cabin. Doh! Coming out of the tunnel, still with my focus on the smoke stack, I bounced off the narrow bit and had to take quick action to avoid hitting a moored boat. Note to self: be sure to adjust focus for long distance when exiting a tunnel.
I like Stoke Bruerne it's a nice place to spend a day, and a night. Alan Jones nb Keeping Up passed and I didn't recognise him nor he me until he put his phone down. He moored up and came back for a chat. He was on his way to tow another boat to Hillmorton, I think!
Thursday 19 Apr
I came down the Stoke flight with a couple of older ladies on a hire boat. There was a lot of excess water when we got down to lock three so we waited for the guy before to exit the next lock. Had we opened the paddles before he had passed through the lock water we let down would have filled the lock over the top of the gate faster than it left his bottom gates. So the ladies made tea for us all. Thank you ladies.
I was shouted at today for going too fast coming over the top of Milton Keynes. I will admit I was guilty, but if people insist on mooring 200-300 yards apart for miles then it is no wonder that I was getting a bit ticked off. And of course if a guy is doing a fit out on a 14 day mooring then who is he to tell me I am in the wrong.
I sent my bro a text a short time before I moored up asking, "What was for dinner?
Friday 20 Apr
Slow day today. I painted the stern deck stool tops again, the finish looked good one more coat tomorrow and they should be top dollar. Robert came over and found the wet paint. Gilly sent him out to go fishing while she finished getting ready for a family visit. He spent a couple of hours fishing off the well deck of Milly. Lots of bites but only two fish, one small Dace and a 1 lb Perch, still it passed the time. Robert dropped me off at Sainsbury's. I bought far too much and had to call him to take me back to the boat. Ho hum!
Since I last moored here there has been a water point installed between the 48 hr and permanent moorings. The overstay charge has increased to £50 a day. Ouch! The owner of w/beam Moose Drool is the new mooring warden and dead keen according to locals so it looks like I will have to cross the canal tomorrow to the 14 day moorings.
Saturday 21 Apr
I went to the shopping centre to get some cash and while there I bought some sunglasses which I had been promising to get since January when my Georgio Armani's were knocked of roof. Reluctant to knock another £100 pair of 'sunnies' in the canal I paid just £3:99 for the new ones. Money well spent too.
I went to Robert's after shopping where I met my nephew Dierk whom I haven't seen in 15 years, he works and lives abroad, in Monaco to be exact and most points east. There was some talk yesterday about a daughter of Gilly's having a border collie with which she could no longer cope, would I like it? Well I have been thinking about a companion so I said I would have a look at him. Robert took me back to the boat arranging to meet John and the collie, Oscar, to show him around and see if we would get on. I showed him around the boat on the way out he pissed up the front of my bathroom cabinet. NOT IMPRESSED!!!! I said I would think about it. By the time everyone had gone my 48 hours was up so I had to shift Milly across the canal to the 14 day moorings..
Colin and Joy came to pick me up and we went off to have a few pints then away to dinner in the theatre district of MK.
Sunday 22 Apr
I had Sunday dinner at Roberts. I spent a lazy afternoon in the garden chatting with Dierk and trying to teach Pollyanna, the spaniel, to fetch and drop a tennis ball. Getting the ball was no problem, bringing it back, far too difficult. She is one dumb dog.
Monday 23 Apr
Well today I was supposed to be taking Robert & Gilly for a trip up the canal, but it's pouring with rain. The sun eventually came out, but not for long. The day was mostly overcast and as it turned out R&G had another unforeseen commitment so I returned to Stoke Bruerne on my way to Hawksbury Junction.
Tuesday 24 Apr
Having spent the night at the bottom of the Stoke flight I filled up with water and set off to the top. The water points at the bottom are just taps, no locks, which is good because I left my key at the top last week. I wont see that again. A young couple ask if they could come up the flight with me, like I was going to refuse! At the top I noticed a BW key in the water point lock which I retrieved. A case of swings and roundabouts. However I saw the hire boat that left it and as I passed I just had to give them back the key. It's just the kind of dumb twat that I am.
The couple I came up with set off for the tunnel. As they passed I suggested that they wouldn't need to cover up until they could see the far end. Some people are so trusting! Me, I donned the long wax coat, that Candy bought me, before I entered the tunnel and stayed dry. I didn't realise that it is possible to the far end of the tunnel, the tunnel being as straight as a die.
I moored up at bridge 47 just past Nige Carton's mooring and popped back to say hello. Nigel was waiting for a prospective buyer for his latest acquisition, Pipistrelle.
Wednesday 25 Apr
When I awoke this morning I was reminded that the view through the window was to be new and exciting every morning. I wasn't disappointed. A Kingfisher perched on a twig over the water and was catching fish, so cool.
I reversed all the way back to Gayton Junction and set forth to see the view from the top of the flight leading down the arm to Northampton. Though not planned by 5:30 I was at the bottom of the flight. Given that the locks are all narrow locks I managed to perfect my technique for closing the bottom gates without leaving the boat. Neat trick!