Monday And Back On The Cut

Services done, diesel tank brimmed (70p per litre), and a couple of bags of logs purchased, we left Wigrams.

Turning right onto the Oxford Canal, in the direction of Braunston, we moored before Braunston Junction.

John was itching to fit some under gunnel lights, we’d bought them over the internet, and had them delivered to the Marina. Wigrams are as good as gold regarding accepting packages for owners of boats staying with them. Some marinas, we’ve found, are rather stuffy at accepting packages on behalf of their ‘visitors’.

John got stuck into his project as soon as we stopped.

We were in no rush, so we stayed Monday and Tuesday night, cos we can!

Onto The Windy Oxford, And Visiting Wigram Marina At Napton Junction

It was an early start on Sunday (for us), first duty was to visit the services at Hawkesbury Junction, for rubbish and Elsan chores. We passed through Sutton stop lock, onto the  Oxford Canal from the Coventry just before 9 o/clock. We were on our way to Napton Junction, staying from Monday, 23rd October for a week in Wigram Marina.

There was a fair amount of hire boats on the canal thanks to half-term holidays. Patience was needed in the high winds, and not many hire boat ‘captains’ realised that the slower the boat travelled, the more the wind would take ‘control’ of their boat. It’s the engine that needs to be the controlling power, which obviously works best when worked by a confident hand on the tiller.

Leaving Ansty we met a boat coming towards us, and I’m afraid it stopped my brain dead. I knew the boat… then it dawned, it was NB FreeSpirit. I normally follow their excellent blog everyday, except over the past few weeks I’d been out of ‘the groove’ and hadn’t kept up with the many blogs I normally follow. It was great to meet FreeSpirit on the canal, except I didn’t react until they’d passed!

Bother! I do hope our ‘bow waves’ meet again, and I can thank them for their brilliant blog, which has some amazing pictures of wildlife and fauna along the canal. It’s impressive how Irene can spot the creatures, let alone take lovely pictures.

There was a 3 boat queue to climb the three Hilmorton Locks, and all three locks next to the tow path were sealed off, not in use.

Eventually we arrived in the Marina. There’s a field where dogs can be let off their leads for a run about. On the gate there’s a warning notice saying “Un-leashed dogs” for those who have nervous dogs (or is it nervous dog owners?)

On Wednesday we had a fabulous day with Mairi and Brian, and they came bearing scrumptious gifts from their allotment. It was great to have a good old chinwag and catch up. Thank you both for taking the time out to visit us on Cyan.

Each evening in Wigram Marina we had a super treat. A spectacular display of a murmuration of starlings against a peach coloured sunset. We’ve not seen such a display for years, and I can’t remember when I last saw such a spectacle. Just wish we had a better camera. Must write a’ begging’ note to Santa, it’s not that long now till Christmas! (Only about 6-7 weeks.)

Returning To Cyan

On Monday, 16th October, we returned to Cyan in Springwood Haven Marina where Steve had done a cracking job of ripping out our old galley, and replacing the kitchen with a completely different layout. Having removed the old, full-sized, and very heavy Belfast sink, Cyan now sits much better in the water. The weight inside our boat now appears to be better balanced.

We’re that delighted with Steve’s work! Literally his work is flawless, and his finishing touches perfectly shows his expertise. We’re over the moon!

To cut costs down, we tiled behind the sink and cooker, we added the handles, and we’ll be putting in the plinths. We’ve found some drawers where you kick the plinth, a drawer springs out. Perfect for stashing bottles of wine.

The beauty of working with Steve is that we can do some of the easier work ourselves, resulting in keeping down down costs. Though we’re quite handy, we know our limitations when it comes to carpentry, we lack the expertise which make renovations look professional.

The kitchen still isn’t completely finished; where space is tight, as in a boat, there’s a lot of ‘suck it an see’ going on. It’s now become clear we can have two corner cupboards either side of a 1000mm base unit under the hatch, making the most of the space available. Steve will be fitting these in a week or two when we return to Springwood Haven Marina.

Anyone who’s experienced having a kitchen ripped out and replaced in their house, will understand the trauma. Now multiply this trauma several times to have an inkling of what it’s like in a boat!

Once outside Springwood Haven Marina, we moored up for a couple of days while ‘Storm Brian’ did it’s worse, using the time to tile the galley.

We’ve booked into Wigrams Marina (Napton Junction) for Monday, 23rd October, for several reasons. The first reason was because our feet were getting itchy; we needed to get back in the ‘groove’ of cruising with the rhythm of living afloat.

The second reason is that we liked Wigrams and its laundry facilities. We needed somewhere to get our laundry dry as it had built up to an alarmingly huge mountain.

Thirdly it would give us to time to organise the kitchen, and to get Cyan ship shape before Wednesday. On Wednesday we’d arranged to meet up with friends, Mairi and Brian, who were passing through the Midlands on their way from Kent to Scotland.

Despite the wind, and intermittent sun and rain, on Saturday 21st October, we left our mooring near Springwood Haven Marina, stopping to moor by Hawkesbury Junction for the night.

Taking Time Out From The Canal System

We have had a week in the Forest of Dean while Cyan had her kitchen revamped.

The Forest of Dean was brilliant, despite the rain, and moi being held up for 24 hours with a tummy upset!

We met up with friends we hadn’t seen for a while, Barry and Val who are lucky enough to live in the area. Thank you both for a gorgeous lunch, great company, and putting up with our hairy monster, Rusty. It was a real treat to see you again.

We visited Tintern Abbey (for me) in the rain,

and we had a trip on a Wye Valley steam train (for John).

We were rather disappointed we didn’t get to see the Severn Bore due to the tide not being high enough, and that was despite renting a holiday cottage just across the way from the part of the Severn where the bore manifests. Think we missed the phenomenon by two days.

We also manged to get our lock ‘fix’ (as we were feeling a little ‘home sick’) at the historical Lyndey Harbour, which has it’s roots from Roman times.

The countryside verges looked rather messy (we thought), until we were told the verges had been ‘turned over’ by the snouts of feral wild boar in their hunt for food. Glad we don’t have to contend with wild boar on the towpaths (yet!). What should you do if you come face to face with a 20 stone beast? Answer: back away from it. Apparently boar have pretty bad eyesight, though they can ‘feel’ vibrations in the ground on what’s approaching them, or what is moving away.