Thursday, 29 August 2013

Banbury, High Wycombe and Somerton!

Tuesday 27th August

The boat in front woke us soon after 6.30 and cruised off a few minutes later, so we put the kettle on.  Soon two boats came past from the direction of the town, so Dave wandered up to see where the spaces were and by 9 we were moored outside Castle Quay shopping centre, hoping for a quieter evening than yesterday!  Fortunately the bedroom end of the boat, with portholes rather than windows, was less affected by the distant roar of the M40 and the nearby roar of the factory extractor fans or whatever they were, but it was very intrusive in the rest of the boat.

Anyway, we were soon on the train to High Wycombe to visit our daughter Jen in her new house in High Wycombe.  It was a shame her partner Will had to work though.  He we are after a relaxed lunch in the sunshine watching the gardeners in the allotments below and enjoying the lovely view across the valley;

jen and dad

jen and mum

At the end of a lovely day out we were back in Banbury after a hot and tedious journey after the train was delayed, but passed a white Buddleia on the short walk back from the station with clouds of butterflies; here I snapped two Small Tortoiseshells with several others out of shot.

small torts on white buddleiaLater we walked up to the town and had a delicious meal in the Thai Orchid – we wish we could do stir-fried veg as well as they did!

Yesterday evening we went for a walk round Spiceball Park, which has this lovely sculpture near the car park – it is a single tree trunk mounted on a steel base and fantastically carved at the top.  The first picture includes Dave to give an idea of scale – the second is my effort at an artistic shot against the evening sky.

spiceball tree sculpture             spiceball tree sculpture 2

Wednesday 28th August - Banbury to Somerton

Another early morning with three boats away before 7.  By 9.15 we had done a quick shop, gone down the lock, emptied a cassette and topped up with water and were soon out in the countryside again – what a relief.  The sun was out and it soon became very hot.  There were a lot of boats about – the Napton Narrowboats and Black Princes mostly on their way back to base – but we had no long waits at locks and plenty of time to enjoy the lovely countryside.  All the lift bridges today were open;

lidt bridges how we like themHere is Chuffed approaching Aynho Weir lock past the towpath bridge over the Cherwell, which is flowing very gently at the moment;

 approaching aynho weir lock

and in the lozenge-shaped lock; I thought afterwards I should have gone up on the bridge for a better shot!

in aynho weir lock

We moored a few hundred yards before Aynho Bridge for a quiet lunch, watching the trains – yesterday we could see this part of the canal on our way to High Wycombe.  4 hours by boat, 15 minutes by train!  I didn’t get a photo of a train going by, but here is a shot of the viaduct a bit further on from Aynho;

railway viaduct near aynho

There was a very new calf between Aynho and Somerton Deep lock – it must have just been born in the field as although it was fairly steady on its feet the umbilical cord was still dangling.

new calf

You see some odd things on the cut sometimes – this was stranded at the top of the bywash at Somerton Deep lock!

pineapple at somerton deep lock

We had heard horrendous stories about the awfulness of this lock and this notice did not make me feel any less apprehensive (the lock beam was at an angle, and the camera was straight, honest!);

sign at somerton deep lock

Hey you down there!!

hello from somerton deep lock

The paddles were easy enough, as was opening the gate, but I couldn’t get it closed on my own – grrr!

We noticed that the winding hole soon after Somerton Bridge which is still indicated in Nicholson’s had been closed and now belongs to a boat club; we turned here some years ago, carefully avoiding touching the boat on the end of the private moorings – it had the largest assortment of tyres and fenders we had ever seen.  We moored a little further on round the bend on the delightful, if rather full, Somerton moorings.

the lovely mooring at somerton

Time for a few painting jobs (Dave) and some relaxing (me).

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