Friday, 30 March 2012

Onward ‘Briar Rose & ‘Chance’.

Last evening we all had a most splendid time – good food and wine - and good company of course!


Adrian, Mike, Brian and Adam tucking into nibbles and dips – and bubbly!

Today we continued our journey with the Braunston lock flight soon coming upon us – the six locks were soon done and dusted as we had a good working crew of “lock handlers”……….


…..Brian, Adam, Mike and Doug with windlasses at the ready.


‘Briar Rose’ and ‘Chance’ in the Braunston Flight.


The last lock in the Braunston Flight.


Through the Braunston Tunnel – always exiting – especially when you meet a boat coming the other way! (but not on this occasion)


Soon after the tunnel comes Norton Junction with the pretty little toll cottage next to bridge 10.

We soon descended the Buckby Flight of seven locks…….


………’s ‘Briar Rose’ in a particularly picturesque section of the flight.


Out of the Buckby Locks and we came across this floating forest!

Thirteen locks behind us, onward through Weedon Bec and the very pretty Flore Lane and we’ve  moored up at bridge 28 – a lovely sunny evening after a very overcast and chilly day.


‘Briar Rose’ & ‘Chance’ at bridge 28 tonight.


We teamed up with Adam and Adrian on nb ‘Briar Rose’ today as they are going to a  new marina on the Grand Union.  We’ll be with them for today and tomorrow.  Mutual friends Mike and Brian are travelling with them so a good time is being had by all!


Here’s Adrian keeping ‘Briar Rose’ steady for the first lock at Hilmorton.


Before stopping for lunch at the top of the Hilmorton flight of locks we first had to do a bit of Good Samaritan work and secure a boat that has come adrift.


A liquid lunch of soup and a glass of wine!  being enjoyed by everyone. L – R  Adrian, Mike, Doug, Adam and Brian (James behind the camera!).IMG_0435

Further on we get a great surprise and met up with Chris and Paul on nb ‘Anjuna’.  We haven’t seen them since we were on our last boat  ‘Spirit’, some 3+ years ago, and it really was special to them again. 


Here we are safely moored up on a peaceful stretch of canal just outside Braunston.  Mike, Brian and Doug on board ‘Chance’ and Adam getting his blogging done before us!!!


An odd shot - a rabbit’s eye view of Horsetail just peeping through on the towpath.

Sunday, 25 March 2012

An Evening with Pam Ayres

It’s amazing how quickly dogs improve!  Oscar, today, is almost his old self (blind, deaf, often disorientated – but the back end and front end still work well and he generally is still happy with life) – the hole in his foot where the abscess was is awfully large but it will get better with the anti biotics.  Panic over! 

This evening we travelled to Worthing with our friend Ann to see Pam Ayres at the Pavilion Theatre.  She was hilariously funny and kept the full house belly laughing for over 2 hours.


Ann and Doug enjoying an ice cream in the interval, on the terrace of the Pavilion with Worthing Pier in the background.


James getting Pam Ayres to sign a book and having a chat about their old school days and the places in the Vale of the White Horse where they both grew up.


James,Pam Ayres and Ann.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Back Home for a few days

We planned a few jobs today – just to keep ‘Chance’ up to scratch.  The weather promised to be warm so a few touch up paint jobs could be done.  However, when Oscar decided to surface from his pit (about 10:30!) he could hardly walk.  His back legs, very weak these days anyway, seemed not to be functioning very well but on further inspection it was his left leg and foot where there was something wrong.  Detailed inspection found a very swollen foot.
As we were intending to go back home today anyway we quickly put all the jobs on hold and beat a path straight to the vet in Bognor Regis.
The vet couldn’t quite figure out exactly what was wrong but we had the usual chat about his age and the obvious fact that he can’t go on forever.  Still – we came away with a course of antibiotics and “come back tomorrow if the swelling hasn’t gone down” (and the bill of course!).
Anyway, after an hour or two at home James decided to massage the swollen foot as directed by the vet and, all of a sudden, there was terrible mess!  After a bit of mopping up there was a very much improved Oscar!  It seems there must have been a huge boil inside his paw which wasn’t evident to any of us today.  So perhaps he’ll live to fight another day! 
Pity we didn’t get some of our jobs done!!!!!

Friday, 23 March 2012

Back to Brinklow

Yesterday we had a “lost” day while James took the bus to Rugby for his blood test and Doug held the fort in Braunston with Oscar. When James got back we had very mediocre lunch at the Boat House Inn overlooking the canal.  The sunshine was fantastic as we sat on their terrace and, we have to say, the weather has been superb all week.  Later in the day we motored out a little way towards Brinklow and spent the night in one of our “quiet” spots (and at the moment it’s very quiet!)
This was the view from ‘Chance’ at 7 o’clock this morning.

After doing some litter picking 100 yards each side of our mooring (a task we set ourselves as new year’s resolution) and almost filling an old coal bag full! - we had a gentle, not very adventurous but beautifully sunny journey back to the marina today.  We passed Paul and Lynne on nb ‘Piston Broke’ who were moored up for the day – a quick chat and we were back on our way.  We refuelled and finally got back to Brinklow at about 3’sh.  Here are some photos we took on the way:-
Tug ‘Zulu’ with butty ‘Rollo’ in tow - passing us before we started this morning.

The stern of  ‘Rollo’ showing the traditional rudder and tiller of a butty boat (no engine).  The chimney shows the position of the boatman's’ stove which keeps the steerer warm in the cold weather. The small cabin would be where the boatman's’ family would live and the rest of the boat (under the A frame) would be given over to cargo.

James on ‘Chance’ with only the sheep for company!

An unusual stern design on a new narrow boat at Willoughby Wharf.

Almost home and fancy meeting Del and Al on nb ‘Derwent 6’ again!  Look at the polish on that boat Del – we can see ‘Chance’s’ reflection!!

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Napton and back today

Today we woke to a very clear and still morning.  Our view  out of the front of the boat at 7 o’clock provided us with a mirror calm canal and a  neighbour about 200 yards away through bridge 100.


We had a very quiet trip along towards Napton – very few boats around but we enjoyed the first signs of spring…….


the willow trees are now quite well advanced and there are new born lambs in the fields.

We passed by the tiny hamlet of Lower Shuckburgh which has a very imposing and ornate Victorian church well out of proportion to it’s size.


Lower Shuckburgh church.

We arrived at Napton about mid day, winded ‘Chance’ ready for the return journey and moored up.  Walking round the corner towards the lock flight we came across nb ‘Milli M ’and it’s owner and fellow blogger “Maffi” and his dog Molly who had also just moored up.  After chatting for a while we walked up the lock flight as far as Oscar could manage it and in the process helped a couple get their boat through the one of the locks.


A view of the bottom lock with Napton-on-the-Hill in the background and Napton windmill just visible above the roof of the cottage on the left. 

We called into the Folly Inn for a pint on the way back to the boat, again meeting Maffi and Molly,  so we joined them for lunch.  A  very nice meal we had too.

Getting back on ‘Chance’ about 2’sh we retraced our route today and are moored at the same spot by bridge 100 as we were last night.  We’re now about 1/2 hour from  Braunston which we’ll get to first thing in the morning as James has to get a bus to Rugby hospital to have his warfarin levels tested.

Another lovely, sunny day. 

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Braunston and Beyond

Last night, as predicted, we had a great evening on board ‘Chance’ with Irene and Ian from nb Free Spirit - with a few glasses of wine and a good chat we had a lovely evening together.


James, Irene, Doug and Ian on board ‘Chance’.


Nb Free Spirit  leaving the mooring this morning.  Great to meet you both at last, although having followed your blog for the last few years, we felt we knew you already!

We left the mooring soon after ‘Free Spirit’ and got through Hilmorton locks easily, even though there were major works in progress.  The works gave us the chance to see parts of the lock system which we would not normally see.


The approach to the top gate of one lock without water.


The sluice (which lets water into the lock) with paddle and paddle winding gear at the top.  It’s very interesting to see these details which would otherwise be hidden by the water.

We arrived in Braunston by lunchtime and took a walk into the village to get a few supplies.  We had no sooner had lunch on board and a text came through from Adam, (nb Briar Rose), asking “were we near Braunston?” – he was in Braunston himself and must have been reading our blog as we were moored opposite the Boat Inn!  (Adam arrived within 10 minutes for a chat and a cup of tea – it was great to see him!).   He stayed on board while we winded ‘Chance’ at Braunston Marina in order to get back to the junction and continue our trip on the Oxford section of the Grand Union Canal.


Adam and James on the rear deck of ‘Chance’ in Braunston.


We dropped Adam off at Braunston junction and he kindly took some photos of us starting the Oxford section.  Here we are with the famous junction bridges in the background.  Photo courtesy of Adam.

We carried on for almost an hour and moored just before bridge 100 in a lovely quiet spot.  We spent the afternoon doing jobs on board (Doug cleaning windows and James doing some varnishing) before settling down for the evening.


Our mooring tonight viewed from Bridge 100 – quite a long shot of us but it shows how peaceful and remote we can often find ourselves.  Lovely!


A closer view from the opposite bank  – there are two young swans on the far right, mottled brown but  almost in their full adult plumage.  Another beautiful end to a lovely sunny day.

Monday, 19 March 2012

We’re on the move again!

We spent the weekend in Brinklow Marina getting all the necessaries done ready for cruising.  It rained on and off all day Sunday, a pity but we desperately need it for the canal levels if nothing else.  Ali and John from nb Triskaideka came to visit us for coffee mid morning - they stayed for a few hours so we had a lovely afternoon with them (as always) before they returned back home to Lincoln.

James, Ali and John having just enjoyed a very nice chocolate cake that Ali and John brought.

Today (Monday) we awoke to a lovely sunny day so, we finished off a few jobs that should have been done yesterday, and set off from the marina at 11am.  It was a very quiet journey with few boats passed.  We got to the other side of Rugby and moored for lunch near the golf course and who should be loitering there but Del and Al nb Derwent 6 and Paul from nb Piston Broke.
Al, Paul, Al’s nephew, (sorry can’t remember your name!) Del and James (not his best side!).

After spending some time catching up with this merry bunch we carried on for another 20 minutes and moored up below the Hillmorton Locks at 3pm next to Ian and Irene on nb Free Spirit. They kindly offered us a very welcome cup of tea on board Free Spirit where we had a good old chat.  We’re about to tuck into a nice roast dinner this evening and looking forward to Ian and Irene coming aboard ‘Chance’ tonight for a drink.
‘Chance’ and ‘Free Spirit’ moored in the sunshine this evening.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Back on board “Chance” and a night of stars!

On Friday evening we went to a concert in Selsey Town (Village?) Hall.  It was a long awaited performance by Christopher Beaumont – a protégé of Sir Patrick Moore – this very talented young man who gave a stunning performance on the xylophone.  Selsey might be at the end of a long road off the A27 but we’re up with the best when it comes to the arts!


Christopher played quite a few compositions by Patrick Moore as well as classical pieces by Mozart, Strauss and many other well known composers.  We were treated to the Star Wars theme tune and the Flight of the Bumble Bee.  The orchestra included brass, woodwind, percussion, bass guitar and piano. 


The speed with which Christopher played his xylophone was fantastic and it was very evident that this instrument should be played much more for the publics’ entertainment and education.  Some people will remember how good Patrick Moore was on the xylophone and how entertaining he was – often playing with two ‘sticks’ in each hand.  Christopher deftly demonstrated the same on Friday evening.


Christopher with the great man – who has just celebrated his 89th birthday! (Patrick not Christopher!!)  Christopher kindly played for us at Patrick’s New Years’ Eve party so we were very much looking forward to this event.  Christopher’s web site is

Well – yippee!! we came up to the boat yesterday having gone a bit stir crazy over the last few weeks not being on the water.  ‘Chance’ is in fine fettle but we’re up here for a few days to get some jobs done and go out for a spin.

We would probably be starting our seasons cruising for real by now but, frustratingly, it is being delayed by a minor problem James has with his heart.  We learnt a few weeks ago that he has Aortic Fibrillation – nothing too major but his heart is not beating properly.  He’s  due for an Electro Cardio version operation on 17th April where it’s hoped they will get the heart back to normal operation.  This is a common condition evidently but it means that he is on Warfarin to thin the blood and lessen the likely hood of any clots forming prior to the op. He is therefore required to have blood tests each week to make sure he’s ‘within range’.

So – that all means we have to hang around a bit instead of getting on with the cruising.  Hay ho!  never mind we’re afloat now and looking forward to a trip out – hopefully will get some nice pics!

Monday, 12 March 2012

Selsey Life

On Thursday last week daughter Vicki, and partner Tom, found a couple of days in their busy work schedules to come down to see us.  Their young, and very energetic dog, Ernie, provided us with a different perspective on life compared to our ‘normal’ lifestyle with dear old Oscar!


It was Oscar’s day for swimming at Therapaws and ‘nephew’ Ernie came along too – it was his first proper taste of swimming and, although very hesitant, he did quite well.


Uncle Oscar showing Ernie how to do it!


Ernie not so sure about all this wet stuff.


Back home in the evening - relaxing after a good work out in the pool.


On Friday we went for a walk in nearby Bosham.  This is the village green right on the waters’ edge – the church in the background houses the small grave of the young daughter of King Canute.  In fact, it was at Bosham that Canute is said to have tried to hold back the tide to demonstrate that he was NOT as powerful as his people thought he was – the complete reverse of the popular belief.


Back home on Friday evening and the ‘best buddies’ are relaxing again! and Ernie getting ready for the journey back home on Saturday.

This evening we took a walk along the seawall at the end of the road and this was our view…………………


……..mirror calm and total silence, the Selsey fishing fleet beside the lifeboat station.  Moments like these are worth savouring.

We are planning to spend next week on ‘Chance’, getting a few jobs done ready for the summer and hopefully getting out on the cut for a few days.  More of our plans for the summer in the next blog.