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!
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!
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!
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!
Then we passed the Cropredy “crocodile”
and the best dressed festival boat!
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!
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.
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!