Friday, 28 July 2017

Bascote (I didn’t think it possible to do nothing all day)

Our morning view at Bascote...

My legs have been aching off and on for the last few days.  This normally only happens when I hurt my back and my legs get stressed to compensate for the back spasm.  My back has felt alright this week so we have assumed it’s something else and that my back is OK.  

The plan for Buddy’s morning walk on Thursday was to go to the Co-op in Long Itchington to pick up some salad stuff and then go for a walk in the woods.  As it was, I only got about 100 yards and then started to hobble, so it was back to the boat to take it easy for the rest of the day.  I blame Lauren, my middle daughter, as she caused my original slipped disc 26 years ago.  She was a baby and I was putting her into her car seat one day and found I couldn’t straighten up.  I was taken to hospital and ended up being off work for two months.  Ever since then my back goes into spasm about once year.

We had planned to have an evening cruise up the Stockton flight when Karen got home from work but clearly that wasn’t going to happen and we stayed put all day.  There are several people moored here at present who work locally.  Poor Karen is the last home so gets the worst parking spot in terms of puddles and not quite being off the road. 

I had a good chat with Steph and Maurice on their boat Dibitu, she works in Banbury and he works at Napton.  Before they bought it, their narrowboat had been on all the navigable waterways of England, Wales and Scotland and also a large number of mainland European ones.  Talking about European waterways, Mike and Aileen seem to be really enjoying cruising round France and I have to admit that Aileen’s blog writing puts mine to shame (Aileen's blog).

I mention Aileen as she had a piece of interesting news yesterday, she had been asked to write an article on having their boat shipped to France and their first six months travelling there.  She has now been told that her article will be published in Canal Boat magazine over the next two months.  At least I can take the credit for convincing her to start writing a blog 😊

... looking the other way

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Bascote (a popular mooring spot all year round)

Last weekend Karen and I noticed a lot of blackberries ready for picking and thought it was early in the year.  Since then I have noticed a lot more and reckon it’s blackberry and apple crumble time even though we’re not in September.  Maybe this weekend?

When Karen left for work on Wednesday morning the sun was coming out but by the time I got out of bed it was pouring.  It was still raining at noon so I had an early lunch and thought I would move on afterwards.  Cruising in the rain is fine as long as you’re dressed for it and take care at the locks as they may be extra slippery.

As it turned out, the rain stopped as I ate my lunch so I didn’t bother putting my wet weather gear on; I kept it handy in case the rain came again.  I was going to go up the Bascote flight of locks, a really pretty flight of four locks, the top two being a staircase.

Two boats were coming up the lock behind me as I set off, but as they were already paired up I carried on on my own.

Approaching the bottom lock at Bascote

Although both boats had crew, I managed to keep one lock ahead of them all the way.  I met the crews at the staircase lock as I was in the top chamber as they got the lower chamber ready.  They commented that they had never realised that a single hander can do locks as quickly as crewed boats.  We had a chat about where they were going and how long it would take etc. and then I set off again.

I reached Bascote and the place was practically full of boats already.  It gets busy in the winter with people like us but I’d never seen it this busy in the summer.  I feel that I keep saying that locations, locks, moorings etc. are our favourites but this location really is a firm favourite.  There are no main roads or railways around here so it is deathly quiet apart from wildlife sounds.  There are also lots of great walks and it’s only a mile to walk into the little Co-op at Long Itchington.   

When my sister. Judith, comes to stay she always makes fun of my blog ramblings and is always keen to point out train noise etc., especially when I've said we're moored in a quiet spot.  I’ll have to make sure she visits us here when we return after Cropredy.

Moored at Bascote – we've had many happy times here

On Thursday, I’ll be hanging about during the day and set off again in the evening to start up the ten locks of the Stockton flight.  Karen hopes to get home early and she’ll help me finish off the flight when she arrives.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Welsh Road (it’s a small world)

Buddy and I set off after breakfast on Tuesday, so that once again we could get to our destination for the day by lunchtime.

Straight into it  – Buddy waiting at the first lock of the day – Fosse bottom lock

After the first two locks, we stopped at Fosse Wharf to top up with water.  As the sun had come out I moved the tomato and chilli plants onto the roof.  

Mike and Lesley, whose plot of land and mooring we are heading for in Cropredy, are currently on a two-week canal holiday around Cheshire.  They have been posting about their travels every day on Facebook and Mike has been sending me pictures of stop plank stores to add to my page of stanking planks.  Lesley contacted me yesterday to say the couple who they are on holiday with have a connection with me.  They are good friends of a couple I know, Joce and Martin.  I first met Joce when we shared a house together many years ago in Surrey and when we started our own families went on many winter and summer holidays together!  Also, I had met Jane and Duncan several times at Joce and Martin’s house and think they were in one of the skiing trips Joce used to organise.

Going up Fosse bottom lock

We soon reached Welsh Road lock, the fifth of the day, which is where I wanted to moor.  We love the spot at the top of the lock, opposite the lock cottage.  The cottage is fairly large for a lock cottage and Colin and his wife live there.  I got to know Colin quite well when we used to moor here in the winter and had many a chat with him leaning on their fence.

Welsh Road lock cottage from our mooring

As I was mooring up I could hear a family of buzzards above us and for the first time got a picture of one of them.  Not very clear or close as it’s only an iPhone but at least you can see the classic outline.

Buzzard circling over our boat as we moored up

Us from Welsh Road lock cottage

When I was coming up the lock I noticed a sign outside the cottage; they have now got into selling drinks and ice creams.   

There seemed to be a constant stream of boats passing during the middle of the day and I would say that very few didn’t stop and buy something.  I popped over during the afternoon for an ice cream and had a chat with Colin’s wife (I’m hopeless with names).   She is a mental health worker and is based in Dartford in Kent which is where I was born (well, that's where the hospital was).  When I first left school I worked as a live-in farmhand on farms in the Yorkshire Dales for eighteen months or so and then moved back down south and worked on farms attached to mental asylums in Dartford.  So, we had a pleasant 20 minutes chatting about the various mental hospitals in Dartford and their patients, which are now long gone apart from a small unit where she works – the asylums not the patients, but I suspect many of them are long gone too.

The pounds are still quite low so Buddy has been finding it difficult to get water but he managed to find a spot by the lock when we were chatting

So much better than that tap water they try and make me drink from my bowl
The water is taking on the familiar blueness of the blue lias limestone, the bed rock of this area.  It'll get bluer over the next few miles until we get to Napton where we're joining the Oxford canal.

Later on, Buddy and I had a walk to Long Itchington and on the way a boat was coming past us – it was nb Paneke which I know I have seen around before.  Anyway, the guy driving called out to his wife, “It’s Mr Chalkhill Blue”.  I asked them their names, Roger and Jane, and Roger also told me that they are readers of this blog.  It was good to meet you guys, even if it was fleetingly 😊

I forgot to ask what the boat’s name meant but could tell it was Maori.  I looked it up later and apparently it can mean three things: boat; advance; and point (as in game scoring).  I guess it means boat in this context but I suppose it could be advance as in going forwards.  They also had a good display of flowers on their roof but I didn't think tp ask to take a picture.

Our mooring later in the day when the clouds had all rolled away. The boat on the right is Colin’s boat on their permanent mooring outside the lock house.

In the evening, Karen picked me up and we went for our weekly bridge session with our lady friends in Stratford on Avon.