We’ve tied up in exactly the same place as we did last Saturday and here is the view from the cratch. First the scenic view, then the not so scenic view.
After yet another busy week travelling, we went to Braunston on thursday evening. It was quite late when we arrived but we unpacked the few bits that we had and then went shopping in Daventry. It was after nine when we got back from Tesco so not much else got done that day.
It was an early start for me as I had to drive to Basingstoke, I usually avoid travelling on Fridays, the morning traffic is normally alright but the afternoon can be problematic. This trip had to be done so I was hoping for good fortune, I’m not superstitious so the fact that it was Friday the thirteenth didn’t bother me.
Maybe it should have bothered me! The drive down took me just 90 minutes, the drive back? 4 hours! As I left Basingstoke at 1.30, I learned of a serious accident which had closed part of the M40 so I decided to try the M3/M25/M1 route but that was just as bad. Congestion on the M25 and then a big accident on the M1 forced me into the decision to leave the motorway and try the cross country route. Driving up past places like Wendover and Aylesbury took my interest but it’s a long slog and by the time I eventually reached Braunston I was knackered! Average speed – 30mph!
We decided to spend another night in the marina and let Saturday take care of itself. I should point out that Sue hadn’t been idle while I had been away, she had once again cleaned the inside from end to end. She had also been in to see Paul in the marina shop so we now know that we have a leaving date of October 20th.
It was warm but overcast when we got up on Saturday, we had coffee as usual, made our preparations and then weaved our way between the pontoons until we reached the exit on to the Grand Union. We had a slow chug past all of the boats moored between the marina and the twin bridges at the junction. Once we were round the turn, we made reasonable progress to our destination near Flecknoe at bridge 102.
We spent most of the day in the cratch with the covers up, occasionally having to close them to fend off the rain showers. There was a steady stream of boat traffic in both directions and with the bridge only a hundred yards in front, we were entertained throughout the afternoon.
We had eaten a tasty “brunch” at eleven so it was gone five before the need to eat returned, Sue producing a Caesar salad – just the job on a summer afternoon.
After dinner we locked up and took a walk up to the village of Flecknoe where we had a short refreshment stop at the Old Olive Bush.
Sue took a few photos along the way, you can see them here.
Back at the boat we just chilled for a few hours as we waited for the football to start at eleven.
We were a little bit later in waking up after our late night. We showered and had lunch before setting off and finding space to turn at Bridge 107. We were a bit concerned with so many boats around and with the bridge sitting between two blind bends but we were fortunate in having experienced boaters in front and behind us. After turning, we started our short journey back to the marina. Despite it being cool, breezy and overcast, the trip was both pleasant and uneventful and we were back on our pontoon for half past two. I completed a couple of small jobs before we gathered the very few bits that we needed to take from the boat, dropped them in the car and drove home. Next week we plan to wash and polish Caxton ready for the following weekend and the historic boat rally.
It had seemed like a very long week, having made business trips to Yorkshire, London and Birmingham so it was off to Braunston on Thursday after work. We had dinner at the Boathouse pub before getting to the boat around six. We had brought the ‘new’ chairs with us so spent an hour swapping them over with the old ones. That might seem like a long time but it did involve a bit of carrying between car and boat as well as dismantling the old and assembling the new.
Next morning, I was up and about and off to work, leaving Sue to give the boat a thorough clean through. I returned to the marina at four and by five o’clock we were out on the cut. Sue had some news about our mooring, following a visit to the marina shop earlier in the day. When we return on Sunday we will be berthed on the same pontoon that Phoenix III occupied but on the other side where Caliburnum used to be before it was sold last year. It won’t change our decision to leave the marina in the autumn but it will make the remaining months at Braunston easier for access to the facilities. The main thing is that we will have ringside seats for the historic boatshow in three weeks time.
We motored on around Braunston turn in the direction of Napton and found a great mooring close to bridge 103. We spent the rest of the evening just lounging in the cratch or as Sue has taken to calling it, the conservatory!
Saturday morning brought heavy rain, so heavy in fact that by eleven o’clock we were pretty much resigned to staying put for the day. An hour later and the weather had changed so we decided to untie and press on. Of course there was no pressing reason to do so, it was just about playing with the boat and all too soon we reached Napton. We turned Caxton and tied up for an hour, the sun was out and it was hard to believe that only a few hours earlier we had been sitting inside being battered by the rain. Our rest over, we untied again and started our journey back to Braunston, the weather was absolutely glorious and after we passed under bridge 103 we saw that the spot that we had occupied the night before was still vacant so we pulled over, tied up again and enjoyed another sunny evening out in the
Sunday brought more blue skies but since we knew that we were only 90 minutes away from base, we were in no hurry to set off. Eventually we did set off though but only as far as bridge 99 where we stopped and had one of Sue’s succulent cooked breakfasts – Mmmmm
We did more lazing in the Conservatory and then set off again around half past one, this time we only got as far as the Boathouse pub mooring where we pulled up again and spent a couple of hours more in the cratch / conservatory (delete as applicable). We’re going to eat in the pub in a while and then return to the marina where we will stay overnight before going home and then to work in the morning.
Of course this means that we have slept more than half of the week on the boat rather than in the house and whilst that was inevitable at some point, we hadn’t really expected that it would happen as soon as it has.
It rained hard during the night but although noisy, it didn’t prevent us sleeping until almost 8 am. A couple of cups of coffee saw us through the next couple of hours before we got up, showered and dressed. A few boats passed by in both directions, crews suitably attired for the pouring rain. We’ve been there and done that but not today, instead we listened to the radio and had a big brunch at eleven o’clock. Afterwards we have just lazily relaxed inside the boat. I’ve set up the internet router and ordered a new antenna so hopefully next weekend our on-board high speed mobile broadband will be fully operational.
The rain stopped around three o’clock and we contemplated walking up to the pub in Flecknoe for dinner but decided against it because the menu didn’t appeal to us, probably because we were still full from our mid morning meal.
As the afternoon wore on, the weather improved but we did no more than open the hatch on the wet side and let some fresh air trickle inside.
So that was it, we have busied ourselves doing nothing, just like in the Bing Crosby film.
The day started with the alarm clock going off at 6am, reminding me that I had to get up and go to work. We very often did this when we owned Phoenix III but getting up and going to work then wasn’t a great experience because of the lack of space. Today was a completely different prospect, in fact my departure wasn’t too different from any other day at home.
I did my work and then returned to Braunston where Sue had also been working hard cleaning and tidying Caxton from stem to stern and very good the boat looked too. No sooner had I boarded Caxton than the heavens opened and we had a good downpour for an hour or more. We decided to wait until after dinner before making our final plan for the day, we were hoping for enough fair weather to let us escape from the marina.
By six thirty we had eaten and the rain had stopped so we made our preparations, untied and left Braunston marina, heading towards the junction.
We turned left at the junction and boated in the direction of Napton. It was still cool and overcast but still dry as we pulled up and moored just before bridge 102 near Flecknoe. We fed a duck and her brood of ten ducklings before settling down for the evening.
We arrived at Braunston at three o’clock and immediately loaded our belongings on to Phoenix III. In addition to the normal items of food and clothing that we would bring for a weekend out on the cut, we brought some extras for our holiday in two weeks time. By the time we had sorted ourselves out, checked the engine and started it up it was quarter to four. We followed our neighbours on board Havoc II out of the marina and then headed towards the junction.
We were surprised to find very little waterborne traffic as we made our way past the Boathouse pub and turned on to the Oxford section of the Grand Union canal. The sun shone although it was still quite cool, the wind was still present and there was the odd spot of rain.
We passed under bridge 102 near Flecknoe just under an hour after we had left our berth in the marina and tied up on our usual towpath mooring. We had dinner at half past five and then walked up to the village where we visited the Old Olive Bush and had a couple of drinks. This was our first visit to the Flecknoe hostelry and we found it to be a very welcoming pub full of friendly locals.
After an hour we drained our glasses and made our way back down to the canal. The walk back seemed a lot shorter and easier than the walk up to the pub, partly because it was downhill and partly because the wind had dropped.
By eight o’clock we were back on board with the fire lit and so we settled ourselves down for the evening.