Since leaving Rugby, we’ve just been making steady progress as we make our way towards Leamington and Warwick. We untied on Monday morning and pushed Caxton back across the cut to the water point where we refilled the tank, emptied the cassettes and dumped the rubbish. The whole process didn’t take long but it was a worthwhile exercise because it meant that we didn’t need to stop at Hillmorton with its slow running tap and waste facilities on the offside of the canal.
With our services done, we set off and were soon threading our way through the congestion caused by Clifton Cruisers at their hire base. Our passage through the Hillmorton flight was easy enough thanks to the duty volunteer lock keeper and a couple of boats working down. Once clear of the top lock, we made good progress in the sunshine and eventually picked a mooring near Onley. It was interesting to see the new marina but it is still unfinished. There are plenty of boats in there and the landscaping looks good but there are no buildings except for a handful of Portakabins – have they run out of money?
As before, we enjoyed a quiet night on this mooring and on Tuesday we pressed on into Braunston. This was primarily a shopping trip taking in both Chandlers, the local convenience store and of course ice creams from the shop at the bottom lock. It was still early in the afternoon when we returned to the boat so we untied and moved on to the marina entrance where we turned Caxton around and headed out of Braunston. We didn’t go too far after turning left at Braunston turn and found a nice mooring out in the countryside.
On Wednesday, we awoke to a dull, dank morning. There was a cool wind blowing so it was back to jeans and jumpers for the trip. Again we had a quiet voyage and saw very few boats on the move, mid week in mid May, I suppose.
We made the turn at Wigrams and headed for the three locks at Calcutt. We crossed with another boat in the middle lock but otherwise we were alone. At Birdingbury, we moored in a spot that we have used many times over the years and after showering in the newly made hot water, took a walk down to Long Itchington. Our walk took us along the towpath to the main road , from there we carried on into the village and then to the local Co-op.
On the way back, we decided to walk along the road to rejoin the towpath at the Blue Lias bridge. There are a lot of new houses long this road now and still many more being built. Luckily enough, the builders have installed a footpath along most of the route so it made for an easy walk back.
No surprises with our Birdingbury mooring but the sunshine had returned so we got going and descended the eight locks to the water point opposite the Blue Lias pub. After topping up the tank, we decided to push over and moor at the pub. We had no real plans but gave some consideration to eating in the Blue Lias. Unfortunately, we didn’t come to a decision until 13:57 and since the kitchen closes at 2pm and remains closed until 6pm, we decided to pass and eat on board. This left us with the problem that the moorings are for patrons only so some money had to change hands. In the end, I volunteered and had a few pints of bitter in the garden – well somebody had to do it!
Friday dawned with blue skies overhead so we got organised and set off for the first lock of the day. In the event, we only did one more lock after that, travelled for a bit and then tied up near Bascote road bridge. From here, there is a much more pleasant walk into Long Itchington and it was interesting to approach the village from a different angle to the usual one. A quick scoot around the Co-op and then back to our mooring for the afternoon, maybe tomorrow we’ll do a bit more in the way of travelling but who knows?
Yesterday evening as we sat in the cratch, Sue became aware of a cow lying under some trees at the bottom of the field on the opposite side of the canal to us. She was very concerned about the animal’s welfare whereas I was convinced that it had just found a shady area to lie down in.
We went to bed and slept until 4am when we were awoken by a thunderstorm. Eventually we got back to sleep and didn’t wake up until nine o’clock. It was still raining so we had coffee in bed while we caught up with the news and checked out the weather forecast. We eventually got up, showered and dressed and Sue discovered that the cow hadn’t moved since the night before. It was clear to see that the BBC/Met office were completely wrong again (heavy rain forecast, blue skies above) so we untied and set off until we reached bridge 79 where we were able to tie up and walk up Barby hill to the farm where we reported that we had seen a cow in some sort of distress. The farmer confessed that he had not checked his herd the night before but he knew which cow it was because he said that it had been sick for the last couple of days. As we walked away from the farmhouse, the farmer zoomed past us on a quad bike, driving in the direction of the stricken animal.
We returned to Caxton, untied and carried on with our journey. It was warm and humid as we travelled along the Barby straight before we turned around at the winding hole next to the B&B next to the Kilsby lane road bridge. Once turned, we opened the bar and then Sue made some bread, the granite worktops being ideal for kneading dough on.
When we reached Onley and the spot that we had left earlier in the day, we saw that the cow was no longer there, we’ll never know what it’s fate was but at least we know that one way or another, it’s suffering is over. Sue of course is still feeling that she should have done something last night that would have prevented the beast lying in the field overnight.
We carried on with our journey and then reached Braunston turn where we took the right hand fork on to the G.U. Oxford section. We pulled up just beyond the winding hole and moored for the night, there has been the odd shower since but nothing to merit the amber warning issued by the Met Office for this area.
Not quite, we’ve just moored near Onley, that’s all!
As has become our recent custom since we brought Caxton to Braunston, we travelled to the marina on thursday evening. Unlike our time with Phoenix III when we used to cart bags and bags of stuff between house and boat, we now manage with just a few bits from the fridge and maybe a small bag of other belongings, so well set up is Caxton. We were late to bed but were awoken just after three by the sound of torrential rain and loud thunder which was backlit by a terrific lightning show. I was in a deep sleep when my alarm went off at six and I wasn’t at all happy. It’s not that I mind going to work, it’s just that when I am at home I very rarely hear the alarm because I usually wake up before it goes off. I enjoy a better quality of sleep on the boat and in fairness, the same was true on Phoenix III, I’m not sure of the exact reason but it’s a fact. The only facts that I was sure about this morning was that I had to get up for work and that I didn’t want to! I did get up of course and like a good boy, I went off to work.
A mid morning downpour preceded the start of the warmest day of the year so far with the temperature on the outskirts of Coventry reaching 30.5 c.
I got out eventually and made my way back to Braunston where Sue was waiting. She had washed and dried the bedding, been up to the village shop and still had time to spend with her friend Jane before Jane had to collect her children from school.
I got changed into shorts and T-shirt, we made ready and escaped from the marina. Once out on the cut, we made our way on to the North Oxford and headed in the direction of Rugby. There were a couple of boats ahead of us, too close together really and they came to grief when they met another two boats heading south at bridge 83. The first of the northbounds got through but the second had to make an abrupt stop to let the southbound boats through the bridge. The first through could have passed quite easily but headed into the bank for some strange reason causing a log jam. While this was all going on, I brought Caxton to a halt on the offside and waited. With both southbound boats through the bridge and the northbound boat on the towpath side getting entangled with them, a clear path opened up for us so I eased Caxton into forward gear and just gently left them all to it. A short while later we found our mooring for the night close to the prison and YOI at Onley.
There is another storm forecast for tonight so we might be in for another spectacular show.