Thursday 7th July; Claydon bottom lock to Banbury
Early rain cleared quickly and we started with the short trip down towards Elkington’s, the first lock. We always enjoy scarecrow-spotting at Forge Farm, which grows a lot of pumpkins. They are all in flower at this time of year.
Suddenly, as we pulled in at the lock, Dave noticed the water temperature had shot up! He hastily lifted the boards to stop the engine and we pulled the boat back off the lock moorings and banged in the pins. It was quickly obvious what had happened – there must have been a lot of air still in the system after yesterday’s shenanigans and when the engine was stopped yesterday it gradually found its way out, leaving insufficient water to cool the engine. We were so lucky, not only being somewhere we could stop easily, but mainly that Dave spotted the water temperature in time to avert disaster. Once the engine had cooled a bit he released the pressure relief valve then managed to find the bleed valve on the skin tank which got rid of the rest of the air. He commented how much he’s learnt about the engine this trip! Anyway, it was much easier to finish filling the water with all the air out of the system. Seeing the engine boards up, a boat we met yesterday at Fenny, now on their way back after turning, stopped to see if they could help. They could, now we knew what was wrong, and they had a spare pressure cap. There was no indication of the pressure it could take – it is important to use the correct cap – but the washer was the perfect size. So although the emergency washer made by Fenny Marina had done its job, Dave replaced it with a proper one. Here they are on their way, the lovely chaps on NB Margaret.
Eventually we were on the move again and stopped for lunch at Cropredy. There was a boat on the water point, so we opted to water up later. As we passed we realised it was Dave and Trish, who used to live in our village, and after a quick hello we were on our way.
Dave hopped off to do the offside paddles at the locks and some of the boat crews coming up were so helpful I could take time off.
We watch out for certain cues on the way into Banbury; first the smell of coffee, always rather burnt I think and not very nice. Then the cottage with the hot tub outside, where the occupants raised their gin glasses when we saw them one year, then the geese and donkeys in their field;
and finally the smell from the Fine Lady bakery. We moored in town by the footbridge, and I went for a walk round town for a couple of bits of shopping and to remind myself where everything was. I still hate the soulless Castle Quays shopping centre and the rest of the shops aren’t that wonderful either though I did get some books in a charity shop! I went up to see Banbury Cross, which I haven’t done for a long time, and also the statue of the Fine Lady upon her horse.
Finally I took a snap of the remarkable front view of St Mary's church.
I went back to the boat and joined Meg and Dave who were playing ball in Spiceball Park. We went to eat at Bellini’s, the Italian up near the cinema on the main road. The waitress was lovely, but the food was only ok and the wine poor, luckily only one glass! We won’t bother again.
Once we are sure the engine is behaving itself, we will push on to Oxford, so that our daughter can come to visit.
5 and a half miles, 7 locks