Let’s get the crap out of the way first …. we started the season a bit late, after my cancer surgery in January, and managed just five cruises, because of the need to get home for blood tests and chemo every three weeks. That is behind us now, God willing, and I feel I have escaped very lightly indeed compared with many people. On a more trivial note, Chuffed came out of the water to get the bottom blacked and the rudder checked, and we needed a new starter battery on our first trip and domestic batteries later in the year, so it was a bit of an expensive time too. The great and wonderful bits were, of course, the boating, and the safe arrival of two grandsons during the year!
|All Oaks Wood in June|
|Meg having fun in Spiceball Park, September|
We had hoped to get up to Droitwich Spa Marina for an end-of-season mini-cruise in November, but what with one thing and another it didn’t happen. Suddenly, 25th December was fast approaching and I didn’t even get this post written in time to wish everyone Happy Christmas! It’s
Year’s Day 2nd January as I write …..
|It was somewhat warmer and drier in July|
Usually we travel from marina to marina over the summer, to cover a wide variety of places and visit new waters. This year we stuck to what we knew, mooring at Calcutt; it’s a good base for cruising in the Midlands, and Dave didn’t want to spend precious boating time fetching the car from the last place we left it.
Our first trip was from Droitwich Spa marina to Calcutt. Having delayed leaving home for two days because of the gales, we found ourselves stuck in the marina for another two until we could get out of our berth. We have changed our opinions on bow thrusters! And then we found the starter battery had failed. Dave started the engine from the domestic bank and we bought a new starter battery later in the trip.
|Dave working hard, Astwood locks|
There was a bit of a role change this time, as I was still recovering my strength after surgery – I did a lot of steering, but as many of the Tardebigge top gates aren’t heavy I could at least start opening them and closing paddles too.
|North portal, Shortwood tunnel (I think)|
We went on to visit Birmingham, as we always do, before taking the North Stratford towards the Grand Union. Gradually our roles regarding the locks equalized and by the end of the trip I could manage some of the heavy gates and paddles.
Our May/June cruise took us as far as Atherstone, with a day off to drive to Crick where we enjoyed seeing five of the new boats on display. The night before, we had moored just round Napton junction, where it was easy to walk back to the car, then after our return we had time to cruise on to the lovely moorings at Flecknoe for the night.
|A favourite mooring at Flecknoe|
This was the trip where we toyed with the idea of selling Chuffed, but we’d made her look so lovely we decided it would be too much of a wrench!
|Polishing the brasses at All Oaks Wood|
The next two outings took us to Oxford. We’ve gone that way many times, but we weren’t bored – we had some fabulous days cruising and saw more of Oxford, and had a lovely walk across Port Meadow to Godstow.
|Thirsty dog at Black Jack's Hole, River Thames|
The state of the lift bridges on the outskirts of Oxford was still dire, though at least some dredging was being done.
|Dredging at Drinkwater's Lift Bridge|
We are quite practised now at finding, and remembering, shady spots during heatwaves, and we certainly needed them this summer! That’s a big advantage of cruising familiar waters, and we found we hadn’t missed exploring new waters at all.
|Shady spot above Northbrook Lock on the South Oxford|
Our final trip was the reverse of the first, taking us back to Droitwich. The weather was now a bit more autumnal …..
|Shrewley Tunnel dripping again|
|Wet morning above lock 15, Lapworth flight|
Apart from a brief visit in October, when we stayed in the marina, that was it for the year. We spent only 70 nights on board (normally it’s ninety-something), travelled 406 miles (less than three-quarters of our usual), and passed through 396 locks, which is nearly 90% of last year’s total. We traversed eight tunnels, all twice.
Who knows what we’ll get up to this year? We certainly don’t! But this is my new motto –
|Bourton lock (I think) on the South Oxford|
A happy and healthy New Year to everybody, and a good year's boating too.