My daughter, Sally, arrived with my grand daughters early on Sunday morning at Teddington for locking through at 9.30, complete with a London Olympics Visitor Pass displayed on the boat. The weather was in complete contrast to the previous day as we hacked up the Hanwell Flight of locks to Uxbridge, where I moored for the night at The Swan and Bottle, where the barman called everyone Mate and is not to be recommended. Sally and girls were collected by car and I was now on my own again.
My goal for the following day was Hunton Bridge, where there is a good pub serving food and beer at Happy Hour prices. According to Herbie’s Canalometer or Herbiometer, it was 6 hours away, but that is calculated for a boat with a crew, so it was going to take a bit longer. Imagine my disappointment, when one of the Tring beers was off and the kitchen had closed at 5pm!
On way up Kings Langley Lock the following morning, I caught up with another single handed boater, who was on his way to Brandon, way out in the sticks. He was happy to do long days and crack on, similar to me. We became more friendly as time passed and we ended up in the pub at the end of the day, ofter for too long! We stayed together for four days in all and ended up exchanging phone numbers. Nigel parted company with me at Gayton, on his way down the Northampton Seventeen.
Getting to the top of the Buckby flight, I was dismayed to find that The New Inn was CLOSED! What a disaster. I was not only thirsting for beer, but I expected to be able to write up my Blog using Wi Fi in the pub, adding a fair number of photographs. Alas, it was not to be. Using mobile internet was usually no go with photographs and I had been on the go for four heavy days with little time for posting a blog, as well as being knackered at the end of the day and being dragged off for beer.
I moored up at Buckby wharf for the night, with the intention of reaching Braunston the next day.
Which I did, and in good time to get a mooring as close to The Lord Nelson as possible. My eldest daughter was there on time......well, almost......... so we had a very long lunch outside and discussed the ways of the world for about four hours.
I was still there on Sunday morning (the mooring, not the pub!) and I set off in the sun for the very pleasant cruise in the sun across the Puddle Banks towards Napton. To my mind, this is probably my favourite stretch of open countryside on the canal, with the rolling hills, meadows and sheep. I managed to find time to pop on to The Folly to see how the pub looked after being taken over and I have to report that it is looking very healthy and it is a free house as well! It makes a change to see that in this era of plastic pubs springing up all around.
I came up to Marston Doles lock and could see a boat coming down in the lock, so I duly waited about 50yds below, whilst the man’s wife was working the gates and paddles. After she had run round the lock to open both gates, she walked down the tow path, looking to be in a bit of a sweat and not good tempered, so I got a scowl. However, the man steering, shouted to me “Why didn’t you help my wife?” in what sounded like a German accent. I am about twice their age and travelling on my own. Do I need to be commanded by a Gestapo Officer to help, when the U-boat is halfway down in the lock? I think with hindsight I should have blown it out of the water with my 4” gun, and then saluted in the style of Hitler. Just a minute, where’s that black leather jacket of mine?
Things calmed down after about an hour, well that’s how long it took me. I found it so surprising that anyone should have the need to say that to a total stranger. Well, as they say oop north there’s “nowt as strange as folk?”
I continued on the summit level and around the long turning which is Cabbage Corner to Fenny Compton and the Wharf Inn. The last time I saw this place was about two years ago and the pub was looking promising. Sadly, it has all slid downhill again and appears unkempt and sadly neglected .........Oh dear!
The following morning, I was up early and hoping to get to Banbury and have my diesel polished, but it was not to be, yet again! I think I will abandon Tooleys and get it done somewhere else. Every time I call in, it is at the wrong time.
I did manage to pop into The Red Lion at Cropedy for a quick one for old times sake – I’ve had some good times there.
Walking through the town square, I almost bumped into Sue and Vic of nb No Problem. They were going out for a very expensive meal later and would I like to come along too. It didn’t take long to make up my mind and we were soon off to find the restaurant called Quisine, with the chef being from the QE 2 at some time in the past. Although there were only three of us, we made our own atmosphere and the chef made the meal, which beyond doubt, was one of the finest meals I have ever eaten outside of France. The attention to detail was minute and the flavours were unsurpassable. There was no menu – it was all described verbally at the start and the saliva glands were in full spate by the time he had finished. The wine list was limited to a choice of two reds and two whites. At the end, Sue offered a bank card for payment, which could not be accepted, as he had not been there long enough, so instead of frogmarching her to the bank machine, she was allowed to pay the following day! Unbelievable!!
The next day I was up and off at 8am, hoping to meet up with Peter Darch at his mooring just above Kidlington Green lock, at the bottom of a friend’s garden. What an idyllic mooring! We cruised together through Duke’s Cut onto the Thames and then through Sheepwash Channel at the bottom of the Oxford Canal – so much more pleasant then the tail end of the cut and all those moored boats.