Monday, 21 August 2017

Cropredy (and a 30 foot cruise)

We had visitors coming on Sunday so we moved the boat all of 30 feet to the other side of the cut.  To get to our current mooring means walking through Sarah’s garden and past some of her windows so we didn’t think it right for visitors to be traipsing across her property.

Our mooring for Sunday below Cropredy lock

As my back was a lot better, Karen and I took Buddy for a longer walk than of late and also had a look round the festival fields.

It's hard to believe that a week ago this field was crowded out with festival goers and the other fields full of tents, motorhomes and caravans

At one of the entrances to the site stands the Jonah oak which has plaques to various Fairport crew members who have died over the years.  It’s called the Jonah oak after John Jonah Jones who was their tour manager for many years and died in 2003.

The Jonah oak and some of the plaques

The plaque for their soundman, Rob Braviner who died at a rather young age

Soon after lunch, Steve popped in on his way home from the family camping trip in the Yorkshire Dales.  They had all had a great time even though we hadn’t made it!  

A couple of hundred yards down from where we camp is Janet’s Foss, a waterfall where the local farmers used to dip and wash their sheep.  There is a small cave to one side and history has it that Jennet, the local fairy queen, used to live here and hence the name of the waterfall.

We have never seen fairies there but we did put our last dog’s (Diesel) ashes in the top of the waterfall and all the family have a few moments there on each visit.

Janet’s Foss where we scattered Diesel’s ashes five years ago

Later on in the afternoon, Trevor and Brigitte called in on their way home from visiting their son Benoit in Manchester.  They also had their other sons, Edouard and Dominic with them and Lola, Edouard’s girlfriend, so it was rather a full boat. Unfortunately, it had started raining so we had to stay indoors.  As Brigitte and Lola are French they were all very interested in hearing our plans for moving the boat to France in about 18 months.

With Trevor and Brigitte

I shall move back across the water on Monday and start getting ready to visit my eldest daughter, Sophie, in Hamburg during the week.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Cropredy (and not going camping to Yorkshire)

The girls taking it easy whilst Mike clears the mooring – more further down

After performing for two nights at the Wharf in Cropredy, the Mikron theatre company set off on Thursday morning to their next venue – Fenny Compton.  As they had been moored opposite us for a few days we had got to know them as our walks often entailed going past their boat and Buddy and I would stop for a chat.

Rose driving the boat on their way out of Cropredy

We had decided not to join some of the family for a long weekend camping in the Dales because of my back but we still saw Steve.  He stayed overnight on Thursday on his way up there.  He arrived at lunchtime so I took advantage and got him to do some odd jobs like changing the fuel filters. 

Although we look like twin brothers, Steve is actually my middle son – he ‘s the one on the left 😉

We spent quite a bit of time watching the 13 lorryloads of cement being pumped into Mike and Lesley’s footings.  The guy operating the pump said he only did the job because it was like using a toy all day.  He was walking around with a remote-control unit directing the flow.

Big boy’s toy

I also sent Mike this picture so he could see what he was paying for!

Steve and I retired to the Brasenose for part of the afternoon and I found that laying down and drinking was good for my back.  In fact, my back is practically 100% fixed now but I shall be sensible and not do any single handing for a few weeks.  We shall move at the weekends when Karen is around to help.

How to mend a back

Buddy and the pub cat eyeing each other up

The mooring that we are using at the moment hasn’t been used for a while and rocks and slabs from the bank have been slipping into the water over the years.  Mike wanted to take advantage of us being here and get some of the slabs out so that the mooring is clear for when they get their boat in November.  

Every time the pound goes down our boat has been grinding on some of the slabs and it has rather freaked Buddy out.  Now, every time he hears a boat coming he wants to get near us for comfort as he knows the bottom of the boat might grind.  I have probably mentioned before that he is frightened of metallic grinding and rattling noises but we don’t know where it stems from as he was a ‘rescue’ dog.

Mike came down with his waders and we spent Saturday afternoon clearing the rocks and slabs out of the water.  Rather, Mike did the work and we spent the time making fun of him, especially when the water went over the top of his waders. 
It would have been strange not to find a cone in the water

You know when you have a good idea about how to do something practical and you can work it out in your mind?  Of course, it always works out perfectly in your head.  Mike had had this plan of getting a large Ikea bag, cutting some holes in it and then using it to roll stones into it with his feet and then the girls would lift it out of the water.  As it was, the bag was never used and Mike just lifted the slabs out and threw them onto the bank.

Action shot with a slab in mid-air!

To be fair, Mike was clearly happy in his work as he had a smile on his face all the time

In the evening, we all went out for an Indian at the Indian Queen in Wroxton Heath which is between Banbury and Stratford.  It used to be a pub so was quite an unusual setting for an Indian but it was packed and we had a great time.

We had a quick drink at theirs before going home but not before they lent us the latest Canal Boat magazine.  It has an article, written by our friends Mike and Aileen, about preparing and moving their narrowboat to France.

We are expecting visitors today so will probably mover the boat over to the towpath side so that we are not disturbing Sarah – to get to our boat you have to walk through her garden as the building plot is still fenced off for safety reasons,

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Cropredy (a sad day but it's for the best)

We had been going camping this coming weekend to Gordale Scar in the Yorkshire Dales with some of the family.  We go up every year as it’s a great place to get the family together and it’s near my parents’ house in Gargrave on the Leeds & Liverpool canal.  Because of my back, everyone was expecting me to pull out but I was adamant it’d be OK.  I finally agreed and we shan’t be going until later in the year.  Camping itself is great for my back as I lay on hard ground; it’s the long car journey and the fact that I’d be tempted to go fell walking as we usually do.  So as I say – it’s a sad decision but for the best.

After reading yesterday’s blog, Issie sent me a picture of how her boat, Black Sheep, looks this year.  She has been far more adventurous than us on the veg front and keeps herself in courgettes, French and runner beans, cucumbers, strawberries, lettuce and tomatoes to name but a few.  Next year we will branch out as our only edibles are toms, chillis, jalapeno peppers and the staple herbs: rosemary, chives, thyme, basil and parsley. This has been the first year we have managed to keep most of the herbs going through the winter.

Issie’s garden

I’m not sure why she has a pot on the towpath for dogs to wee on!  It reminds me of one summer before we had let the house in Kent out.  We were going back for a fortnight to do the final tidying up ready for renting and, as it was the height of summer, decided to take some of our plants back with us for the fortnight so they didn’t die of drought.  We had moored by a bridge at Wilmcote on the Stratford canal and had the pots out on the towpath ready to ferry them to the car.  In retrospect, it was daft way to do it as the tomatoes were immediately the target for passing dogs.  A good dousing in water cleaned them up and we never seemed to suffer any ill effects.

The only downside of growing produce on a boat is that you should really use fresh rather than canal water on them.  Normal flowering plants are fine as they are not eaten, other than say, Nasturtiums.  This does mean that you use even more of a scarce commodity.

Some of our jalapenos are nearly ready for harvesting and pickling

For the last few weeks I haven’t been walking far each day but yesterday I managed 2 ½ miles in all – the first time I’ve dared walk more than two miles in all that time.  We got up as far as Cropredy marina at one point.  This was built in 2013 and we remember going past in the August when it was being built, thinking the planned opening date was a bit ambitious.

Now the marina is fully open and a second area has been opened since.  For those that like marinas it is definitely one of the better ones, in fact, our friends Jan and Gordon keep their boat there.  There are new stanking planks at the entrance so another picture has been added to my collection of stanking plank pictures.

Nice new stanking planks for the marina entrance

We are moored in the centre of Cropredy village courtesy of Mike and Lesley who are having a house and a boat built simultaneously.  Mike has started a blog for the house build and no doubt will include the boat build as that starts soon too.  Click here to see their blog.