Here we are on Tuesday back in Fenny Compton on the beautiful Oxford Canal, having left Stoke Bruerne last Tuesday morning. We caught up on some domestic duties before filling up with water and tackling the Blisworth tunnel again. We have both relaxed a little about the tunnels now with Bob going a little faster and more confidently through them and Bron able to read a book while keeping a lookout on the bow.
We only made it just past the Gayton Junction where the Northampton Arm joins the Grand Union Canal. Another arm missed on this part of the journey but definitely earmarked for later. On Wednesday we made steady and pleasant progress through several miles of agricultural landscape and absolutely no locks!! This was a very relaxing stretch and the weather was extremely comfortable. We have indeed been blessed by a long and lovely summer but every conversation we have seems to turn to “what are you going to do in winter?”. The answer is – we are going to experience whatever it brings!!!!
We stopped briefly at Weedon and walked into the town to pick up a few supplies. As we returned to the boat a couple started talking to us from NB Whio which we had passed a little further back the canal. She was previously from Port Augusta in Australia and they travel to the UK to live on their boat for the northern summer!
The final stretch northwards to the Buckby flight of 7 locks and the Norton Junction with the Leicester Arm, follows the M1 motorway, the London Midland railway line and the old Roman Road A5 (which I foolishly said went to Bath in a previous post – I stand rightly corrected!!) We were running late and so moored at the bottom of the flight where we got hardly any sleep due the the continuous road and rail traffic noise.
We left in good time on Friday morning to fill with diesel and purchase a clothesline, additional toilet cassette and engine running requirements prior to tackling the Buckby lock flight, and continuing through the Braunston tunnel to complete four of the six Baunston locks before mooring up beside Moody Blues again. The next 24 hours were very busy and successful on a number of levels.
We made contact with Karl (as recommended by Michael and Jane from Moody Blues) who arrived on Friday morning to discuss all things covers. By the time he had left a plan was in place and we hope to have them completed at some stage in the next 6 weeks. He also gave us very good advice about a possible engineering solution to our roof drainage problem.
We enjoyed drinks in The Admiral Nelson with Michael and Jane that night, also meeting up with the couple from NB The Cornish Navigator who were enjoying their last days before returning their boat to its winter moorings.
We awoke the next morning to find Celtic Maid on a significant lean as the water level had dropped by about a foot in the pound overnight and we were definitely beached. It rose and fell again over the next few hours.Then along the towpath ran a steer (good veal size) clearly out of its field and very lost. It eventually wandered back whence it came so hope found its way home and not onto someone’s dinner plate!!!!
A collective decision saw Celtic Maid and Moody Blues venture through the remaining two Braunston locks where the water level was a little more stable.
On arrival at some perfect moorings we met up with more Kiwis aboard NB Waka Huia – Marilyn and David – who were also enjoying their last few days before returning to NZ for the southern summer. We do very much hope to meet up with them next year again as they are such good company and a wealth of knowledge.
We ventured up the hill into the village and availed ourselves of the produce available at the excellent butcher and supermarket. As usual we bought more than expected but somehow nothing goes to waste.
On Saturday we awoke to the unfolding news of a Hawthorn Hawks victory in the Australian Football League Grand Final. Our friends Bob and Sally were quite delighted but Bron won’t have the conversation with her sister Yasha who supports the Sydney Swans! Our beloved Adelaide Crows had a pretty rubbish season but that is sport!!!!!
We also took the opportunity to catch up again with washing and try our the new clothesline that sits proudly in the Brolly mate stand attached to the tiller (or on its own tripod in other locations!). Worked a treat and the clothes were almost dry in the afternoon before we left on our way to Fenny Compton. Our friends on Moody Blues departed earlier in the day and on Waka Huia (meaning treasure box where the NZ Maoris keep the valuable feathers of the Huia bird) a little before us. We had finally called Jim and Chris on Sylph to let them know of our plan to come and visit them – Chris finally had her cast removed from her broken ankle last week!!
We had a pleasant cruise in the late afternoon sun to find a spot at the foot of Napton on the Hill on the Oxford Canal, by Saturday night. It had been a rather big day and we knew we had the Napton lock flight of nine locks to deal with on Sunday before a further 11 miles to reach Fenny Compton. Lock 10 on this flight has been having some restoration work done on it making navigation very difficult and to get past this section took quite a while. Bron returned to doing the locks and Bob driving as he is much better at the tricky manouvering required.
We arrived in Fenny Compton and found a mooring quite easily well before sundown. Tired but happy. A call from Jim and Chris and arrangements made to meet up for lunch and drinks at The Wharf at noon the next day. It was great to see them both again and of course their gorgeous dog Gina. We spent a fantastic afternoon discussing and planning everything from business ventures to winter moorings to dog management!!!!! They always have a few tips to help us with Bunion!!!! Then another conker collection for their boat Sylph to ward off the spiders. There may be no scientific evidence of their efficacy but we are having a bet on success!!!!!
This morning Bob booked Celtic Maid in to have some engineering work done next Monday so looks like we will be here for a while!!!! And now we are both off for haircuts – look out for the next photos of improved coifs!!!!