Monday 18th April 2016 This day will go down in history as a most wonderful of cruising days, negotiating two famous & previously well travelled groups of locks & one very famously interesting tunnel. Even though it were mildly chilly & breezy at times. As we passed Braunston Junction late this afternoon we find ourselves & Black Bart are now swimming the most Wonderful waters of the Oxford Canal. We have only briefly dipped Bart’s toes in these particular watery parts of the Oxford Canal. From here South (& back) Bart has many times sailed. Hire boats Channelle & Joey had been our crew’s previous buoyant companions on the northern reaches of ye’ olde’ Oxford Canale’.
Tuesday 19th April Caio Bambinos !! Here we are aboat to revisit the northern ripples of the Oxford Canal. Although Mr. & Mrs. Sun is/are a shining most brilliantly upon our awakening from a night’s slumber. Change of plan matey ! Stay ‘ere we shall me’ dears’. A lovely quiet position & blue skies are to be savoured by one & all. Our crew of three take a walk to the village paying a very rewarding visit to the most wonderful butcher. He runs a fine establishment. Delights now fill our bag. To be enjoyed in the coming days. Back home to Bart via the chandlers for summit special to spruce up her cabin sides. Bring out the best of her sixteen year old paintwork. Now onto moor pressing matters of concern. Buoy, did old Cap’n Tyers make a (ship)wright old mess of our Bart’s paintwork with his noisy old grinder & his three welding machinery thing-emy jigs. Yes. Three I say ‘Sir’ !! Mad I say ‘Sir’ !!! Thanks Gazza. Our poor girl is looking a bit patchy to say the least. Preparation work a plenty & a fair bit of the old rubbing down ensues. Takes a fair while all this worky stuff ya-k-no. Very important cleaning & wiping followed by critical (critical indeed) ‘air-drying’ (a phrase recently added to Skip’s vocabulary) hopefully reducing the risk of infection. It is not always good to be mildly moist. Especially in some of those delicate areas. Concentrate Skip. You and your tangential departures from the narrative are most detracting on occasion. The new pot of magic primer is acquisitioned from grumpy old quartermaster & after a short few hours the cratch hold (sounds more painful than it really is) (you should try it sum-tym) (you might even start to enjoy it after a few goes) slowly metamorphoses into a most pleasant light bluey-grey. Looking much better. Might even leave it this colour. Not a suggestion well received by the rest of the crew. Time to relax & hope those aches & pains ease gently away. Soon be off to bed, if we can actually make it that far.
Wednesday 20th April Still ‘Ere. Lovely bright clear day again. Don’t feel as warm with that fresh breeze though my friends.The boaty black gunky sealant is out. A refresh of protection from the elements is the order of the day. Bit of tweaking here. Bit of tweaking there. cratch hold (no silly comments this time please folks) interface with forward gunnel sides are painted to make them wet & sticky (behave !!) SO THAT grippy granules can be sprinkled in the desired areas. During our next stop, weather permitting, top coats of Bart’s favourite colour will be carefully & lovingly applied to bring said cratch hold back to it’s former glory.
We’re off for a walk along the towpath now, to a field Roxy knows well for a good old game of ‘chase the ball like a Mad Dog’.
Even when the girl is hot & knackered she cannot help herself. She keeps coming back for moor, after brief rests in what tittle shade she can find. That ball is far too enticing.
Relaxation back on Bart is the name of the game for all involved.
Thursday 21st April Good Morning Ma’am !!! !! Happy 90th Birthday !! !!!
The Good ship ‘Black Bart’ & her Jolly Crew Wish you the Warmest of Congratulations
The Union Jack will be flying today in Celebration of your special Day
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Onto moor mundane tings – We are moving on today after landing here in the shadow of Braunston’s Lovely All Saints Church way back on Monday. We must bid fair-thee-well & be on our merry way again. A Brighter Day than expected for our Queen to enjoy sets us well for a slow cruise of relaxation after the toil of recent days. Steady progress is made with a strong breeze intermittently-like influencing some of Bart’s manoeuvres. Not too much though. After many exhausting hours of travel We finally arrive at Hillmorton Top Locks. Lock really, as one is hazard taped. Out of use presumably. A narrowboat is conveniently arising as we approach, so Bart slows & ‘hangs aboat’, creeping in the full (of water), vacant lock as soon as udder boaty peoples have cruised out & is on their way towards Braunston. We make efficient use of the facilities, ‘dropping’ majestically down eighteen feet in three chambers. Shortly after departure from bottom lock we make a short stop for Bart’s water refreshment & then creep along, just a tittle, to moor proper like.
Quite nice here we thinks. Lovely wide towpath for Roxy (& crew) to play. Late afternoon & skippet is working her magic with the old paint brush again. Cratch (don’t even think it) hold is soon looking right again. A lovely satin black. Much Better.
Friday 22nd April Today we is ‘aving a rest day. Far too much hard work we’ve ‘ad in days gone by, since leaving ta marina. A Hillmorton wander by foot power (not horse power) is enjoyed by crew of Bart.
The day floats by. The new Cratch (don’t) cover extension & supporting tubular framework is erected. Perfect. The crumble has been ‘created’. The Lamb is in the oven & then our guests be arriving.
Cap’ns Morgan & Morgan & 1st Mate Rosie is/are ‘ere. A most Splendid evening of Fabulous Food, a tittle tipple, fun & laughter & just good old plain happiness is had by all. Yes, they do eventually go home. I think it was aboat 5.00 am…. Not sure really. Anyway doesn’t matter matey’s. It was Fantabulous to see’s yow’all again. Until next time. Que Sera Sera. What ever will be will be. How true.
Saturday 23rd April St. Georges Day. A pleasant start to the day & finally with lines slipped Bart is North west(ish) bound again.
Typically twisty-turny this watery thoroughfare be. Mr. James Brindley at his best. Unfortunately a few sections of the great man’s original meandering along super watery highway plan of 1769 were re-routed during later ‘shortening reworks’ completed in 1834. These followed a survey in 1828 by some ‘clever chap’ called Mr. Brunel. Don’t suppose you’ve ‘eard of ‘I’m eaver mate !! Bart & crew wave to nearly lost, now defunct sections of Mr. Brindley’s original, marinas, wharfs, boatyards & many other waterway wonders as Lister propels all of Bart’s 24 tonnes (+ a tittle bit moor) gracefully along the blue (almost) highway. We glide past our local town of Rugby (approx. 20 min. from Base Camp, by Nell) (a few hours+ by Bart) Soon enjoying the delights of the 250 yard short darkness (not dark really, actually) of Newbold (‘new’) Tunnel. If only all tunnels were like this. Much less disorientating than all those other longer tunnels. Not Skip’s most contented of places to spend time swimming through the water. And bridges. So many bridges.
Four miles of water flow follow our recent tunnel experience take us to Rose Narrowboats. Happy memories of two hire boat holidays flood back. A tear of joyful memoirs is wiped away & we continue, slightly bleary eyed, being chased down by noisy west coast train line vehicles. Faster transport for the masses. We remain enjoying our most pleasantly slow mode of (even moor) historical transportation. After what only feels like a few minutes Bart has transported us safely all the way to Ansty. We are now very close to the end of our current North Oxford Canal experience.
Sunday 24th April Howdy Bloggetts !! Skip’s not even up yet you silly billies. Go back to bed. Patience my little chums !! Ha !! Gotcha !! Yes Bart & crew are up. Enjoying a most glorious sunny start to our day. The eggs are boiling & the tittle toasty soldiers are nearly ready. You should know what that is all aboat by now. After a little lazing aroand crew are ready. A walk along the towpath & then into Ansty is enjoyed, including a visit to St. James Church. Most Marvellous Medieval of architectural delights.
It is a wee bit greyer up there now, but we don’t care. Let free again, Bart creeps forward, round the next two bends to restock the fore aqua storage container. After a lengthy, wet delay we are eventually off proper like. Skip ‘enjoys’ the April showers routine & the noisy ‘thrum’ of the M6 which tracks the canal in these parts.
Link off ta West to closed Wyken Colliery. this short arm now used by long term moorers. One of many such ‘arm’s on this canal & most of it’s family network. The ‘Father’ of the Canals final northern flourish of twisty-turny Oxford 18th century high(water)way leads our Lovely 70′ narrowboat (home) – that be named after a most prolific tea-total-ing, flamboyant-ly dressing, fine-ly naval tactician & mean pirate captain – to ‘Sutton Stop’. Known moor commonly these days as Hawkesbury Junction. The stop lock’s (inverted) rise from Oxford Canal to Coventry Canal is only 6&7/8″. Likely, one of the smallest in stature on the whole inland waterways. We wait for a fellow waterway companion to descend the lock, turn round in front of ‘The Greyhound’ & return, back up/through the lock to the Oxford Canal again.
After they be safely past, Black Bart cruises gently into Sutton Stop Lock. Named after the first locker keeper. after many hours of water flowing, we finally be at the correct level to permit safe transfer into our new water companion. The Coventry Canal. nb: Black Bart makes a successful tight (180 deg) turn under the fabulous cast iron ‘roving bridge’ manufactured as Britannia Foundry Derby in 1837.
Black Bart has cruised from Braunston junction to the Northern end at Sutton Stop, swimming 25 miles of the wonderful Oxford Canal descending 4 narrow locks, traversing 1 tunnel, gliding over numerous underpasses & arches, passing under 60 bridges & creeping by 1 (open) swing bridge. Black Bart will one day revisit this canal & cruise it’s 77 miles in their entirety.