What a scorcher of a week! Continuing our narrowboat travels we moved the boats again just a few miles back up to Hawkesbury Junction through one lock and onto the Oxford Canal. This is the very top of the Oxford and is a fantastic spot close to the boaters facilities of water points, bins and the pub. We filled our tank with water, something we need to do every couple of weeks. It is a 1000 litre tank so we carry with us a good supply but running the washing machine and lots of cooling showers to cope with the heat this week meant that we had actually completely ran out on the previous evening. Thankfully we no longer have to empty the toilet cassette as we have recently fitted a compost loo. What a big difference that has made! I absolutely hated the horrible smelly cassette toilet and found it impossible to lift a full cassette off the boat. I am so glad to see the back of it. Our new shiny glittery toilet is a sight to behold! I half expect heavenly angels to sing when I lift the lid. Compost loos are generally odour free and do not need emptying as often as a cassette loo. The solids and liquids are separated making disposal much easier.
The Oxford canal runs through some lovely picturesque villages and we are planning on travelling just as far as Rugby over the next few months. There are not very many locks so it’s an easy stretch to navigate. It is a journey we have done before but we were being towed last time as our engine was yet to run. We actually travelled 140 miles without a running engine, we did get some tows but a lot of the time we had to pull the boat by hand “bowhauling” as it known is extremely hard work and it becomes increasingly difficult as you navigate past moored boats and patches of reeds and bullrushes. The boat weighs something like 25 tonnes and would have been pulled by horses in days gone by.
It has been wonderful to be able to sit outside on the deck chairs watching the boats go by and chatting to dog walkers and other boaters. A fantastic evening was spent with one of our boat neighbours singing and listening to him play the guitar. It is never a dull moment on the towpath and the different characters you meet are so much fun. Dave was in a band years ago and played us his set that he would have used for pub nights , a medley of 50s , 60s and 70s songs. We absolutely loved it. A couple of ladies walking by said they would like to be serenaded and were delighted to get a song played especially for them.
It turned out that Dave had actually met the previous owner of our boat, and his late wife, when the boat was known as Unicorn. It looked completely different then as we have replaced the whole cabin but they recognised the story of the boats owner. They even had a signed copy of one of the books Jeremy Scanlon, the owner had written, Innocents Afloat. He also wrote Hotel Boat which has a photo of our boat on the cover and tells the tale of her adventures some years ago now. Jeremy was even kind enough to send us a copy and a silver plate with a unicorn engraved into it that had been on the boat.
A friend of ours has decided to buy a narrowboat and asked me to accompany her to view a boat at a marina. I went along to Barton Under Needwood marina and we had a look at a nice 40 ft boat. Just big enough for her to manage and it had everything she needed to sail away. We had a little look around the marina, there is a lovely Thai restaurant, a pub and a few shops. However, marina life is not for me, I like the open towpath and being surrounded by nature. They just remind me of caravan parks!
When we got back to our boat I spoke to another boater that told me a friend was selling a 40 ft boat and it was 10 grand cheaper than the one we had just looked at. We went off to find the lady and were lucky to get an instant viewing. Fingers crossed it is the boat for her. I think that word of mouth is the best way to find a boat, no brokers percentage added for a start.
I heard someone shouting “Hello” outside the boat this morning . A hire boat had gone past so fast that even I was shocked enough to mutter something unrepeatable . This had pulled the pins of our friends boat next to us completely out of the ground and the boat was now adrift blocking the canal. Their generator had been dragged into the canal as it was chained to the boat also dragging both their bicycles into the water. The bikes had gone under the boat making it impossible to pull back to the canal edge. The helpful gentleman who had called me out of the boat managed to repin one rope but the boat was still blocking the canal. I called the owners of the boat and with a combined effort we manged to pull the generator and bikes back out of the water. Boaters generally keep an eye out for each other, its a friendly community and we all try to help each other if needed. Even if someone is your neighbour just for the night we usually have a chat and introduce ourselves. It is good to know that if I ever found myself in a predicament that I could knock on the door of anyone close and ask for help. I am often asked if I feel unsafe on the canal at night but I can honestly say I don’t worry at all. I have never had any real cause for concern in 4 years of being on the water. The fact that I have a big wood chopping axe comforts me too!
As well as our narrowboat travels ,as always I have managed to squeeze in a bit of crocheting this week. I have started the Four Seasons CAL, a wonderful design of season based squares from 5 different designers and I am designing some Autumn bunting for a pattern release in September. I really enjoy creating simple designs, it is so much fun! It may seem a little crazy but I will be working on some Xmas baubles soon too. I like to plan ahead! Lots of new designs in the pipeline. I feel that I can finally call myself a bona fide ” crochet designer ” and it feels great!