Wednesday, 26 April 2017

An Island visit and then “Chance” at last!


The Easter weekend had us travelling to the Isle of Wight for a couple of days. The journey across the Solent just had to be done on the new hovercraft, which has recently been brought into service. This craft never ceases to impress as it slides gracefully from sea to land ……..


……. and then settles down, skirt deflated, onto it’s hardstanding ready to disgorge it’s passengers.


Within minutes a full compliment of passengers were offloaded and then it was our turn to step aboard.


Being almost the first to get on we briefly had the entire craft to ourselves. It’s very much like boarding a plane with very similar layout – just a lot shorter! Ten minutes after leaving the mainland we arrived in Ryde and were met by friends Jonathan and Graham.


They took us straight to one of our favourite places on the island for a cup of coffee and to meet up with his parents Sylvia and John who we hadn’t seen for quite a while. Here we all are enjoying the delights of Bembridge Harbour.


After going back to Jonathan’s to dump our overnight gear, and to enjoy a celebratory glass of bubbly to mark the occasion of meeting Graham for the first time, we headed off for a walk over Bembridge Downs and onto one of the many fabulous beaches the island has to offer.


Varied and spectacular beach scenery to be enjoyed.


Here we are on our way back across Bembridge Down after spending some time fossil hunting along the beach.


Back at Jonathan’s home we sat outside and watched the evening sunset and the awesome views which he enjoys every day.


This is the huge obelisk on Bemdridge Down which Jonathon calls one of his “garden ornaments”! 


After a lovely meal in the local pub, and a very good night’s sleep, we headed off on Saturday morning for another good walk along the cliffs towards Sandown.


Graham, Jonathan and Doug at the half way point.


Deciding that the beach looked a more interesting place to walk we took a precipitous route down the cliffs where there had been one the island’s many landslips. A good fifty acres of land, probably a few hundred years, decided to head towards the sea and neatly slipped down to reveal a new cliff some two hundred yards further back. Sadly this natural phenomena continues to this day and the island is steadily loosing ground.


On the beach, and heading towards our brunch at a café in Yaverland there was some interesting features to see for those with a geological bent. (James!).


Well, our 24 hour visit to the island, and the tremendously enjoyable catch-up with Jonathan and Graham, came to an end and they took us back to the hover terminal at Ryde for the journey back to (as the Islanders call it) the “north island”. It’s great to watch as this unique method of transport glides smoothly but rather noisily onto the concrete standing. We had a brilliant short stay on the island and thanks so much Jonathan and Graham for such an enjoyable 24 hours – marvellous to be on the Island again!


Another 24 hours was to pass and we were up at Barby marina, loaded up “Chance”, did the necessary inspections before taking to the waterways for the first time this year. “Chance” weathered the winter extremely well and all that was needed was to attach the Taff rail and dodger at the stern, carry out the engine checks and press the start button.


Here’s James, doing a short stint as a lone boater, while Doug transferred the car to Braunston - our destination for the first night..


Our stay at Braunston was enhanced wonderfully and dramatically with a visit by boating friends Del and Al (nb “Derwent 6”). Here we are in the Plough having dinner together. There was much laughter and mucking about ………   


….. as can be seen in these pics. This was a Facebook contest to decide on the best looking couple! Thanks Del and Al for an amazing evening (as always!).


From Braunston we headed down the Oxford canal which was made all the more delightful by the springtime country views.


As we were experiencing the “Blackthorn Winter” (a traditional couple of weeks of cold weather during the flowering of the Blackthorn) there was a comforting wisp of smoke out of the chimney from the stove below.


Getting to the bottom of the Napton flight of locks for our second overnight mooring, we caught up with another couple of boating friends, Sian and Mark (nb “Mochyn Du”). There was another great catch-up we enjoyed over a lovely meal in The Wharf that night. Here we are :- Sian, Doug, Mark and James with the landlord, Mark (who provided some astonishing entertainment for us with his card tricks.


After another good night’s sleep we were on our way again, starting our journey up the Napton flight with the help of Sian and Mark – bless them!


Thanks to you both for a grand evening and help with the locks.


After the Napton lock flight we were on the top “pound” of the Oxford canal and enjoying mile after lockless mile of gorgeous countryside.


Wonderful ! - this has to be ultimate definition of tranquillity.


We stopped for our third overnight mooring at Fenny Compton were we met up, for the first time, with internet correspondents and boaters Rick and Tim. Here’s Doug, Rick, and Tim with their dog on board “Chance” before going to the pub for a meal together. It was great to meet these guys at last!


Up and away again the next morning we continued our enjoyment of the Oxford canal. So much to look and wonder at – here’s a wonderful rookery, very visible at the moment before the trees come into leaf to hide it.


The southern section of the Oxford canal is regularly punctuated with lift bridges.


Thankfully these days they are all left in the raised position, saving us a great deal of time and effort.


Here’s “Chance” temporarily moored up and waiting for the lock at the pretty village of Cropredy …….


……… and after that we were soon moored up in Banbury to do a bit of shopping. Very few boats around at this time giving us as much mooring space as we liked!


Further on, after the shopping was done, we continued south towards Oxford, getting on and off the short bit of the river Cherwell buy using a couple of these very strangely shaped locks to do it.

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