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  • clivenmel

March 9th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} We did stay for another day, which we spent doing nothing much at all.  We read, did things on the computer, played music � I learned to play a new tune on my flute!  We also spent quite a bit of time watching the various birds and animals in the fields and trees around us.  We saw a family of buzzards, four of them in fact.  There was a Great Green Woodpecker in a tree in the field opposite, Clive managed to get a glimpse of him through the telescope but I couldn�t catch him with the camera unfortunately.  There was also a flock of unusual sheep in the field, some sort of rare breed, quite different to your average sheep. That evening there was yet another glorious sunset and I took sooooooooooooooo many photographs, but I won�t bore you with them here.  I made another attempt at Pat�s technique of baking potatoes  by wrapping them in tinfoil and shoving them in the stove.  They were much better this time, thoroughly cooked and only a little carbon on the outside!!  We had them with a chilli I had prepared last week and frozen � yum!  I also now use the stove to heat up food, I just pop it in a cast iron casserole and put it on top of the stove � it works a treat and saves on gas!   I had mentioned the other day that we needed fuel for the stove.  Well we were in luck � a Coal Boat came passed and Clive popped his head out of the window and flagged him down and we bought a couple of bags of Taybrite from him.  I must say � with his dreadlocks he doesn�t look anything like the coalmen I remember when I was a kid!                                  As we have said before, it is good to buy stuff from these old working boats as it helps to keep the tradition of trading on the cut alive, a bit of living history so to speak.   We decided that we wouldn�t rush off the next day, so we had a very leisurely morning, we walked round to the little shop by The Folly pub just to see what they had.  It was a sweet little shop selling all sorts of stuff from fizzy drinks to fenders, we bought some cards and some chocolate and that was about it, there was nothing in the way of fresh meat of vegetables, just tinned and frozen stuff.  We got back to the boat and whilst we were getting ready to set off a fellow boater stopped to have a chat with us, with his little dog, Jack.    Jack was a very friendly little chap, he jumped straight onto the boat and made a great fuss of Clive (most dogs do!) so we took his photo � bless! We said goodbye to Jack and his owner and I strolled up to the first lock and got it set then walked up onto the bridge � as the boat was moored round the bend Clive couldn�t see the lock itself and as the walkie-talkies needed charging we had to resort to less technical means � so I waved!  The reason he had waited for a signal is that this canal is so narrow and winding that he didn�t want to set off and then find there was another boat in the lock as it would have been a bit awkward trying to pass it in the rather confined area just before the lock.  As it turned out there was a BW boat with a dredger tug moored right in front of the lock gates, however they kindly pulled it back when our boat arrived so she got in without any trouble.    The locks in this flight were all pretty easy to operate, though the rear gates are quite heavy and took some handling.  Each lock was a reasonable distance apart so I had a nice walk as well.  It was a very pleasant afternoon and I really enjoyed myself.  We finally arrived at the top lock and the canal turned a right-angled bend immediately after it, as it was quite windy Clive decided it would be easier to turn the boat by using the centre rope, so he jumped off and hauled on the rope till the boat came into the side and then pivoted on the corner till she was facing the right direction � we�ve learned all sorts of tricks on this journey!  I stayed on the towpath as we were expecting to moor up on the visitor moorings at Marston Doles, which were about 100 yards from the bend, however when I got there the moorings were all taken up by other boats, all of which looked like permanent moorers to me, with generators going on the bank, washing lines full of clothes drying and everything but the kitchen sink on the roof etc.  This sort of thing does get a bit annoying � the whole idea of the visitor moorings is that boats can moor up there for short periods only, some are 24 hours and some are 14 days maximum.  These boats looked to have been there considerably longer than 14 days!  So we just had to keep going but we eventually found a much nicer place to moor up just before a bend, out in the countryside and away from roads and houses, it was lovely and we had an excellent TV signal.    The following morning as we were getting ready to set off we became aware of one of the strange sights on this canal � from where we were moored looking across the fields, parallel with our boat, was another boat, which looked as if it was going the same way we were!  In actual fact it was coming towards us.  The canal here is very winding and in places goes around �hairpin� bends, within a couple of minutes the boat appeared coming round the bend in front of us.  Several more boats came through before we set off, including an old working boat towing a butty.  A butty is a narrowboat without an engine, just a huge rudder at the stern and these are towed along by a boat with an engine, or in the olden days by a boat being towed by a horse!  Wouldn�t fancy trying to negotiate locks with one of those!   Finally we set off and meandered our way towards Fenny Compton.  It really is a lovely canal, the winding course takes you through some very pretty scenery.  From time to time we passed other boats coming the other way � boaters always have a friendly wave as we pass.  We passed the pretty village of Wormleighton up on the hillside - it is a very old village and boasts a gatehouse which dates back to 1613, which unfortunately we couldn't see!         Other than that it was a very uneventful and pleasant cruise and we finally saw The Wharf Inn up ahead, which signalled the visitor moorings at Fenny Compton.  We moored up just beyond the pub, then went for a walk down to the Marina to suss out the pump-out facilities.  However when we arrived at the office we were very disappointed to find it was shut and wouldn�t reopen until Tuesday 10th March!  This meant no pump-out, which although we were not desperate on Saturday we knew it would be pushing our luck to have to wait until Tuesday!  So it was back to the boat and onto the internet to see if we could locate the next pump-out facility.  It turns out there isn�t another one until Banbury!    The problem is that before going on to Banbury we wanted to spend a couple of days in Cropredy, which is a place we have known of for many years but have never visited.  There was a battle there in 1644 between the armies of the Puritans and the Royalists.  It has been made famous by the brilliant Folk/Rock band Fairport Convention both in a song called Red and Gold, which was written by Ralph McTell (who wrote Streets of London) depicting the battle and also thanks to their annual folk festival the Fairport Cropredy Convention, which takes place there every August.      What to do?  After some discussion it was decided that we would be better waiting here another day and then getting the pump-out done in the mrning at the marina before heading off to Cropredy.  Its not ideal as we are running low on supplies, also we need to fill up with water but we came past the water point on Saturday, its just by the pub, which means reversing but there are boats behind, between us and the water point � oh dear!  Of course we didn�t require water on Saturday or we would have filled up then.  We have hardly any bread left and very little in the way of food, the only good thing is that we are moored very close to an excellent pub, The Wharf that serves excellent food at incredibly low prices � for example on Saturday lunchtime we popped in and Clive had ham, egg and chips and I had sausage and mash at �3.99 each!!!  Yesterday we went in again and had a lovely Sunday roast dinner for �6.49 each � unbelievable value.  It was delicious too, just like homemade.  So, we won�t starve!  We were not surprised to learn that last year The Wharf won the Canalside Pub of the Year competition - well deserved!   We actually didn�t fancy going anywhere at all yesterday, it was not very pleasant outside at all � it was extremely windy, blowing a gale in fact and there were squalls of rain, which actually turned to snow in the afternoon whilst we were in the pub.  It was also very chilly, for the first time last night, even though the stove was on, I felt cold, my feet were like ice blocks!  I took myself off to bed with a new book and left Clive working on the laptop.  When he finally came to bed his feet were even colder than mine!!!   However, we both soon warmed up under our lovely feather quilt!   So that is that, we are stuck here for another day!    

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