Friday, 24 September 2010

From River to Canal.

On Sunday and Monday we travelled up to Oxford where we finally left the Thames and joined the Oxford Canal at the Sheepwash connection. This put us back on narrow locks and manually operated in stead of the big electorally operated Thames locks. That first night we moored at Kidlington after getting past all the moored boats in and around Oxford. It would seem that British Waterways are making more long term moorings and less visitor moorings, but I suppose it makes more money.

A quiet day Tuesday where we travelled for three and a half hours before mooring in the country side to dry some washing. While there two things happened, first we got a knock on the roof and when I went out it was to meet another reader of the blog, the second was a boat going past in reverse then half an hour later he came back still in reverse. When I enquired if he had a thing about going backward, I was told the reason was so they could wash both sides while it was sunny.

On Wednesday we moved on to Aynho where we had a night out at the Great Western Arms. a lovely old fashioned pub with a Skittle Ally. The brewery was Hook Norton, a new one to me. Their Old Hooky is a very nice pint if you come across it. Thursday saw us in Banbury Just before lunch so we stopped for a look round. The water front is right next to the main shopping centre(Castle Quay)with plenty of moorings. Later we moved on to moor for the night at Cropredy, a lovely village with a good few thatched cottages.

That brings us to today we are now moored at Fenny Compton after doing nine locks in five mile. This lifted us fifty foot six inches to the sumit, from now on it's all down hill. Since Saturday this is the first time I have had an Internet connection, Another Vodaphone black spot. Sorry no photo's, the Internet still playing up.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

Back on the Thames.

Stayed at Sheffield Bottom all day Wednesday, then on Thursday morning we set off for Reading and the Thames. While having breakfast a small steam launch past us. The trip down was very good, moving with the flow of the river makes things easier. We arrived at Blakes lock which was maned, so we paid our £109 pounds for fifteen days on the Thames. I find the pricing works more for the Environment Agency rather than the boater. A day costs £33, so if you are prepared to dash up to Oxford in a couple of days it costs just £66, however if you want to take five days you have to pay for fifteen days. Last year when we came up the Nene we paid £10 a day so five days cost just £50. Why should the Thames be different when it is the same licensing authority.Very few boaters want to do the trip in two days, so you can see the problem. After shopping at Tesco in Reading we moored for the night at Caversham.

On Friday we moved on to Pangbourne, where we were to meet Stephen and the boys today. The weather was warm and sunny and we had a good day with the boys before heading back north. When they left to ride home on their bikes, Marlene and I went up river to Beal Park for the night

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Trouble with Toothache.

Before leaving Kintbury on Thursday i took a photo of a sign on the side of the mooring. When you read the sign on the published photo, keep in mind that the railway ran about eight yards from the mooring and is a very busy line.

Having left Kintbury we dropped down to Newbury, on the way there we saw the fire brigade dealing with a boat on fire. After mooring we went by bus to our son Stephens flat for the night. On Friday morning we returned to the boat and went down to Thatcham where we met our other son, Richard, his wife Gill and our grandson Duncan. The mooring at Thatcham was full so we had to moor alongside another boat for the first night. We stayed at Thacham on Saturday and went to Stephens for tea.

On Sunday we took the boat down to Woolhampton in the morning then walked to Douai Abbey to watch Stephens eldest son play football. In the evening our visitors want home. That evening Marlene was having trouble with a tooth. Next morning it was no better so she found a National Health Dentist in Newbury who was willing to give her an appointment that afternoon. So we caught a bus from Woolhampton to Newbury and after a short walk we found the surgery with a minute to spare before the appointed time.

I'm pleased to say this morning Marlene is much better. Leaving Woolhampton and making our way to Sheffield lock where we are now moored for the night. From here our next move will take us back to Reading and the Thames. That however may be a couple of days away. The second photo is the pub next to Newbury Lock.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Canal Rage.

Leaving Pewsey on Sunday after a late brunch we ambled along in showery conditions to the bottom of Wooton locks. Here we twined up with Steve and Tanya on their boat April Love. It was a day of seven mile and ten locks(4 up & 6 down)plus the Bruce tunnel. Some 4.2 hours later we moored at Crofton Pump House. At the last lock I got talking to a lady who reads the blog. It is nice to know I'm not writing it for nothing. The last lock took an age to fill, with only one paddle working. It seems to be a theme on this canal that only one paddle per lock works.

On Monday we agreed to twin with Steve and Tanya again. I set the lock and Marlene took Doublefracture in. As Steve was leaving the side to join us in the lock another boat tried to beat him to it. There was an exchange of words and he relented. Cutting across April Love to moor again, this caused another exchange of words. Today we did six and a half mile with thirteen locks before mooring at Hungerford. The pound between the last two locks was very low due to some trouble with the lock gates and a boat coming in the other direction. After mooring Steve and Tanya were going home for a night leaving their boat at Hungerford.

Early Tuesday morning there was a tap on the window, it was some one we had met last year, he wanted to know if we were going down the lock but we were not ready.
I must confess I could not recall him and his wife, however looking back on past blogs i found out it was Tony and Mo who we had travelled with near Chester. So if you read this Tony or Mo on Elamiah, sorry but my memory is not as good as it was. When we did set off we travelled with Geoff and his wife (another name lost in a memory lapse)on Celtic Dream down as far as Kintbury a short day for us, they carried on to Newbury. Today we are having a day off before going on to Newbury tomorrow. See you around the weekend. Pictures are of mooring and pumphouse at Crofton and mooring at Kintbury.

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Devizes and Caen Hill Flight.

It was Thursday morning when we arrived in Devizes and moored at the Wharf. It had taken just over an hour to cruise from the Bridge Inn. Both Poppy and Soulmates, two boats we had travelled with over the past few days were already moored there. We had decided not to continue down the flight as time was running out and it would take us another two week to go through to Bath and back. So before lunch we took a walk to the locks. They are very impressive as we got to the top of the 16 locks of the actual flight, 29 locks altogether in two and a quarter mile. At the side of each lock in the flight is an oblong pound. The complete drop of 130ft 8ins in the 16 lock flight. The reopening was commemorated on 8th August 1990 by Her Majesty the Queen navigating through lock 43, which is now known as Queens lock.

On Friday we stayed in Devizes and looked round the town and the Canal Trust shop on the wharf. The rest of the day we spent relaxing on the boat. Today having turned round we started back toward Reading and the Thames. Our over night mooring is at Pewsey, which is very busy. On the way here we stopped and walked into the village of All Cannings, a lovely village with a mix of old thatched cottages and new build houses.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Over Grown banks.

Slipping our moorings at Great Bedwyn on Monday morning we headed for the first lock of the day. We were joined by the couple on Soulmates, we would spend the day together doing a total of ten locks. This brought us to the summit and the 502yd Bruce Tunnel, from now on the locks would be going down. We moored for the night at the first of these, Wootton top lock. The mooring was not a good one.

Dropping down the four locks of the Wootton flight on Tuesday morning,we now had no more locks until we reached Devizes and the locks leading to the sixteen locks of the Caen Hill flight. We stopped for lunch at Pewsey Wharf calling to sample the beer at the Waterfront Inn. These beers were cask ale on tap straight from the barrel. Carrying on in the afternoon we moored that evening by the Barge Inn at Honey Street, however we did not go in. From the mooring we had a good view of the white horse carved into the hill. Moored a few boats in front was a boat with the largest wind turbine we have seen on a boat.

Two hours travelling today brought us to the Bridge Inn at Horton Bridge. The morning was hard due to the over grown banks narrowing the canal to a single narrow boat width. Two or three times we had to pass boats coming the other direction as best we could. Mooring at their mooring we treated our selves to lunch and a couple of drinks. This afternoon we walked across the fields to Bishops Canning and back. Tomorrow we will arrive at Devizes.