NB Muleless

NB Muleless
Moored at Alrewas Sept 2013

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Back to familiar territory and some visitors from home!

It was 29 July when I last blogged, and we had moored at the Quarry on the south Oxford Canal – it is now 12 August and we are back in Braunston – and it feels like winter has arrived!!

We had a pleasant journey back to Banbury taking 4 days to get there, in more of that lovely hot sunny weather.

We moored up by Morrisons to top up the supplies, and whilst we were in the shop a monsoon passed over, so we stayed moored there until Sunday, as we needed to fill with water and do a pump out on the way through Banbury, and as the weather was promising rain, there was a floating market and too many people around on Saturday, we just settled on a bit of retail therapy instead.

On the Sunday we moved on – filled up with water, pumped out and moored up again at Spice Ball Park just 3/4 mile further up the canal! We had some more retail therapy to do in Aldi and Tesco!

On the way there we passed some canal celebrities – Prunella Scales and Timothy West who were just returning from a cruise!

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When we left Banbury on Monday, we had a long day ahead – because of the Cropredy Music Festival we werent sure where we would be able to moor, so we left at 10 am – early for us!

We passed this cleverly named boat – obviously Star Wars fans!

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We got all the way to Slat Mill Lock and hadnt seen any boats mooring for the festival, but we did see a queue of 4 boats above the lock as only one of the top gate paddles was working!

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It wasnt until between Bridges 155 and 154 that we saw any boats moored for the festival, and there was loads of space still available, even though the festival site and camping fields were right there!

There was a tight squeeze past the CRT work boats by bridge 154 where they were filling in the “new” section of towpath!

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Then we passed the Cropredy “crocodile”

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and the best dressed festival boat!

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There was no-one on the water point, so we stopped to top up and then we carried on through Cropredy Lock, past the Marina and up the next 3 locks – and there werent many mooring spaces left along that stretch.

In the long pound below Claydon Bottom Lock we found some nice mooring spots and pulled in at 2.45pm! Almost 5 hours – a really long day for us!

On Tuesday we had rain showers – the kind that went on for some time! But we decided to move on as there were still boats arriving for the festival and we wanted to be out of the way. So we set off at 10.30 in the rain to tackle the 5 locks of the Claydon flight. We had an easy run as there was always a boat either leaving the lock or just about to come down, so we moored at the top at 11.30 for a cup of tea and waiting for the rain to ease.

It was after lunch and 1.10 before we moved on! We topped up with water at Fenny Compton and moved on to moor up between bridges 130 and 129 which was a lovely spot overlooking the mast and Napton Hill!

Having moved in the rain on Tuesday, we decided to stay put and relax in the surprising sunshine on Wednesday and in the evening we had a fantastic sunset!

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Thursday we moved on and left the Oxford Canal Summit for a while! We topped up with water at Marston Doles and headed down the locks.

After passing the Engine Arm and descending Lock 14 we were faced with the wonderful view of Napton and decided to moor up there instead of at the bottom of the locks where we usually stop.

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We were expecting friends to visit for the weekend and the weather wasnt looking good!

We had a visitor earlier than expected, when one of the neighbours dropped by for a look around!

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NB Josephine was moored in front of us with their two lovely cats!

On Friday our friends June and Chris were coming to see us on the way back from a gig in Birmingham. They arrived at about 10.30 and we walked down the locks to meet them by the Folly Pub.

The weather turned out gorgous after all, and we were soon back on Muleless with cool drinks in hand catching up with our friends. Then of course they had to have the guided tour!

By 12.20 we decided we had better move down the locks. As June and Chris had been with us on a hire boat before, it didnt take long for them to get back into the swing of locking!

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It was very busy, and took us quite a while to get through the locks – especially as lock 10 was still being held together with construction tape!

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We reached the bottom of the locks, stopped to top up the water tank (didnt want to run out of water with guests on board!) and decided that we deserved a cooling drink after all that work – so moored up and popped into the Folly to sample their wares!

After booking a table for dinner Saturday night, we decided to head off to Braunston to make the most of the beautiful weather.

Gary soon had Chris taking the tiller!

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At one of the blind bends we shouted to some people walking by to see if there were any boats round the bend – then we realised it was Mortimer Bones with Boots and a friend – but I forgot to take her picture! But just round the bend we found NB Bones moored up!

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With only about 20 minutes to Braunston the rain started but we were lucky to get a mooring right outside the Boat House Pub – so of course after a quick tidy up we went in for a well deserved dinner, more liquid refreshment and lots of chat!

After the long(!) walk back to the boat in the torrential rain we had to remember how to make the dinette into the guest bed (we have only used it once so far!).

Eventually we were sorted out and retired for the night.

Saturday, after restorative bacon sandwiches, June and I walked up to the shop for some essentials, whilst Gary and Chris took Muleless down to the water point and turned it round, ready for the trip back to Napton.

The weather was glorious again (will the weather men ever get it right?) and as June and I crossed Butchers Bridge we saw Muleless turning in the marina entrance.

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We had decided that if we could find a new mooring we would walk down to the Admiral Nelson Pub, where they were having a music festival – and as luck would have it we found a spot.

We walked back to the Admiral Nelson and had a couple of drinks whilst sitting at a table in the sunshine, listening to the faint music from the festival field whilst watching lots of people arrive.

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As we had to get back to Napton we couldnt stay too long, so started to walk back to the boat. As we passed Wharf House Chandlery NB Yarwood was still moored outside after having some works done, and we stopped by to say hello to Lesley and Joe. (Forgot to take a picture though!)

Eventually we had to get back to Muleless and set off back to Napton. It was still sunny, but the wind had come up, but it was still a pleasant run back. We found a mooring on the 48hr slots and after a quick freshen up headed to the Folly for dinner.

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We had a lovely meal – June and I tucking in to a fabulous “whale” and chips!

On Sunday the weather was forecast as rainy and windy and ex-hurricane Bertha attacked us – and for a change the weather men were right!

June and Chris had to head home around noon, so we walked them back to their car and wished them a safe journey – great to see you guys – hope to see you again soon!!

After we waved them off, we nipped into the shop to buy some milk and the heavens opened again – so we took refuge in the Folly! We had intended to cook our own dinner, but when we saw the menu for the Sunday Lunch (2 courses for £12.95, beef or turkey roast with all the trimmings!) we couldnt refuse, and booked ourselves a table for 3pm!

We headed back to the boat to give it a quick clean and tidy up and then headed back to the Folly for a fantastic sunday lunch!

We staggered back to the boat and spent the rest of the day relaxing!

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Party Time!!!!

We had a terrific sunset the Saturday night at the lift bridge mooring – my picture doesn't really do it justice!

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On Sunday, we pulled pins and set off on another hot day. When we arrived at Allens Lock by Upper Heyford these dogs were having a good cool down in the overspill weir!

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At Heyford Wharf all the holiday boats were out – school holidays must be upon us!!

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We moored up on our nice spot above Dashwood Lock, and when it was a bit cooler, went for a walk to Northbrook Bridge (No. 210) – we had tried to get across it before – but it is only accessed from non-towpath side, so we had to find the cross country route!

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The original “packhorse bridge” crosses the River Cherwell, and the later canal bridge that joins it was built in the same style (the canal bridge can’t be seen in this shot – it is past the tree on the left.

Next morning, shortly after setting off, we went under the canal part of the bridge – the river is to the right behind the trees!

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Another hot day saw us mooring up at the Quarry after just 1 hr 40 mins! (long enough to put the last nights use back into the batteries!

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We decided it was time we walked into Kirtlington Village, which is just behind the quarry – to see what the pub and village shop were like!

It is a very pretty village, with a very small village shop, a hotel (with bar) and the Oxford Arms Pub (which was more of a bistro!)

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Tuesday dawned as another hot day, and as I was eating my breakfast Gary gave a shout from the stern “Jam Butty approaching”!

Surely not, I thought, last time I checked the blog they were at Cropredy and I thought they were stopping for the Banbury waterside market!

I grabbed the camera and managed to get a shot of Captain Ahab, Wand’ring Bark and the Jam Butty as they passed us by!

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Our destination today was Thrupp, about 2 and a half hours away, so not too much hanging about saw us move off about 10.40. A pleasant run with only 3 locks to do and quite a bit of shade from all the trees.

As we passed the Rock of Gibraltar Pub at Enslow we saw this example of how not to tie up a boat – hope no-one tripped over the rope!

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Then there was the hazard of the boat moored just passed the bridge – not a lot of room  to pass!

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We were soon approaching Thrupp services, and pulled in to fill up with water!

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We wanted to stay at Thrupp till after my Birthday, so whilst we topped up the water tank, Gary checked on moorings – and luckily there was a nice spot just our size just one boat down from the lift bridge.

We didn't fill the water tank completely, as with other boats approaching we decided to move into the spot before some one else did!

We were soon settled onto our spot, chairs and brolly were deployed and I made some lunch.

I had earlier sent an email and then a text to Doug and James on NB Chance, as I knew they were heading towards Thrupp and we wanted to catch up with them as we last saw them in Leicester last September, when we left MGM for our great adventure on Muleless.

Just as we were finishing our lunch I received a reply – there was an open house on Chance if we wanted to pop along and join in!

We were soon heading up the line of moored boats looking for the famous blue boat. We were welcomed in – and guess who else was there – Capt Ahab (Andy), Helen (Mrs Ahab!) and Maffi! and very shortly after, other friends of Doug and James, Rich and Andy from NB Carpe Diem – we had a very full house!

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The wine flowed, the company was terrific and we had a fabulous afternoon – which then turned into evening! After being shown The Jam Butty up close and having a tour of Carpe Diem, all boats contributed more wine and food and Doug whipped up a feast for us all to share!

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Some more pictures borrowed from Chance and Capt Ahab blogs.

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Wednesday morning Maffi had offered to take Doug and Gary down to Sainsburys – as supplies of wine were running really low! (We understand there were 15 empty bottles taken to the bottle bank that morning – they must have been saving them up!) and no sooner had they returned than Carpe Diem and Chance pulled pins – on a mission to reach The Great Western Pub at Anhyo for dinner that night.

Hope to catch up again soon guys!

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Andy and Helen with the Jam Butty had headed off to Oxford earlier too.

As it was another scorching day, we soon had the chairs and brolly out and relaxed after the hectic “party” the day before.

As evening approached, Maffi and Molly joined us for a drink and we put the world to rights until well after dark!

Thursday we needed a lay-in to recuperate (again!) and then spent a couple of hours sat by the boat just relaxing. We had decided to visit Annie’s Tea Room during the afternoon, and as we headed off we bumped into Maffi again. As we chatted he told us that The Jam Butty was heading back and would be arriving shortly, so we hung about to say hello when they arrived.

Of course, since they were hot and thirsty after their trip we all thought it would be a good idea to pop into the Boat Inn for a cooling drink – so Annie’s was put on hold!

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Some time later, as Andy and Helen had to pick some plums from the front garden of the pub, and we had to nip to the shop for some milk, we agreed to meet up at our boat later – for more drinks!

Of course Maffi and Molly were invited too and everyone duly arrived.

Andy had come via the Elsan point, and Helen was helping Maffi bring his table and chairs over – and Maffi was supplying Cheese and Wine!

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We had soon organised the goodies, and yet another fabulous evening unfolded.

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Of course Maffi made sure Molly wasnt left out!

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We waved Helen and Andy off in the morning. Thanks for a lovely evening guys, look forward to meeting up again sometime!

Friday was the day we were visiting Oxford for my special Birthday treat!

We caught the bus (slightly later than intended!) and arrived in time to get some delicious filled baguettes for lunch before the main event – a trip to the cinema to see the latest Transformers movie!

The film was great, despite the hiccup of being played in 3D first – staff were told and they soon had the 2D version showing!

After the movie we had a walk around – first heading down towards the bottom of the Oxford Canal and Isis Lock.

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The canal is on the left and behind, and beyond Isis lock is the Thames! (Sharp right turn needed here).

After stopping off for a cooling drink, we wandered around a bit looking at some of the more famous sites of Oxford (or of Morse or Lewis fame).

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It was really busy with loads of foreign tourists about, so we were glad to catch the bus back to the quiet of Thrupp. (Last bus back was at 7.15pm)

We got off the bus close to The Highwayman Pub, so thought it was time to try them out, and as the Spice House Indian Restaurant is based inside we had a lovely indian meal and then walked back to the boat, totally full!

Saturday we needed some serious relaxation after the bustle of Oxford, but in the afternoon we finally got round to visiting Annies Tea Room – and had some fantastic sandwiches and I was allowed to have a scone with cream and jam!

In the evening Maffi came past and invited us along to the pub – I was feeling way too tired, so opted for a quiet couple of hours watching TV, but Gary went along and was treated to some really good guitar playing by Maffi and some others!

Sunday arrived – my Birthday – 21 again!!! More relaxation was required before we headed off to the Boat Inn for Sunday Carvery – which we enjoyed and then staggered back to the boat and decided that a walk was in order.

Maffi said we could take Molly with us, so we followed the path down to Thrupp “beach” were Gary and Molly had loads of fun splashing about and chasing sticks!

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We returned Molly to Maffi very wet and tired, and headed back to the boat. It had cooled down quite a bit, but that didnt stop us sitting out with our most recent “neighbours” for yet more drinks!

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Andy and Di from NB Fenakapan have been leapfrogging us for the last couple of months, but this was the first time we had a proper get together. They are heading for the Kennet and Avon and eventually Bristol.

They make and sell country wines on their narrowboat, so if you see them make sure you pop along for a “taster”.

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Thanks for a great evening guys, we hope to meet up again some time!

So at last, this morning, it was time to leave Thrupp, after a week of almost continuous partying!

Gary reversed Muleless back under the lift bridge and on to the service point.

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We needed to fill the water tank and get a pump out, so it took a while!

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I popped down to the shop for some essential supplies whilst the water tank filled, and Gary chatted to Dan and Pickles,

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and Maffi and Molly (who of course had to help some one with the lift bridge!)

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We said goodbye to everyone and at last left Thrupp – but we will be back!

As we passed the moored boats at Enslow there was a tree down – it had been partly cleared, but more work was needed, there is only just room to pass and the canal is really shallow – we almost got stuck on the mud!

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Just a short distance further on we passed this lift bridge – brickwork hanging by a thread!

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and just a short distance after that, we came across this hireboat pretending it was a speedboat!

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We moored up at the Quarry again – and organised a BBQ tea. One of the Thrupp dayboats came by – and all its passengers were sat on the roof (about 10!) – the steerer couldn't see over the boat at all! You can definitely tell it is peak season now.

Well that’s us caught up on the blog again – I really must try harder to blog more frequently!