Go to Allan's Page The Black Bottom trip Canals Home Page Summer 2007, to Leek and Sharpness Go to Deb's Page
Late summer 2007, Birmingham and the Shroppie View Slideshow Autumn 2007, Aylesbury

Spring 2007 trip to Oxford, and then the Ashby Canal instead of the Thames.

I had had a few big repairs to do over the winter. The biggest was the toilet tank: it had been made from stainless steel, which was good, but the metal had been too thin to take a tapped thread so a thicker mild steel ring had been welded into the top to take the bolts that held the toilet. Unfortunately the mild steel had rusted away, nearly depositing the toilet bowl and its occupant through the hole into the tank! The repair was simply to remove the mild steel ring and replace it with a stainless steel one. Simply? Well not really:  it needed a Plasma cutter to remove the old one, and then I found a firm in Cornwall that had a computer-controlled water-jet cutter that could make us a new ring from 6mm stainless steel.

The new gearbox had finally been rebuilt by the manufacturers (PRM) with a new front seal, and the drinking water pump had also been replaced, so hopefully we should have no more leaks of either oil or water. I'd also installed a satellite TV system which I was keen to try out, as well as a new set of 3 domestic batteries, and we had a brief shakedown cruise to Aylesbury to check that everything was working. There was still a leak from the gearbox but everything else seemed OK, and we arranged to take the boat to Hillmorton for blacking.

On the way to Hillmorton I diverted to Foxton so that Foxton Boat Services could check the gearbox again (they tightened a couple of hose joints and added Ultra-Violet tracer to the oil so the source of the new leak would show up), and collected a broken-down boat that needed a tow to Hillmorton. That towing trip went really well, and a couple of weeks later we were back at Milton Keynes with a very smart-looking boat freshly blacked and with the gunwales repainted.

So now returning from our trip on the Russian waterways, we had just time for a short trip before returning to Milton Keynes for a cousin's wedding. The prospect of going to Lechlade again attracted us, and we set off happily for Braunston in the middle of June. A number of friends from the Canal World Forum were going to be meeting at Thrupp the following weekend, and we were looking forward to meeting up with them. On the Wednesday we felt like having a good solid day's travelling so set off from Weedon early and travelled up Buckby alone, down Braunston alone, and along to Napton; it was too early to stop at the pub so we climbed Napton flight to reach the top in a warm gentle drizzle which was actually quite pleasant. We decided that rather than stop straight away we'd have a glass of wine and keep going, then we repeated that decision because it wasn't really pouring with rain all that hard, and repeated it again, until suddenly it was 10pm and we were arriving at the top of Claydon locks in the dark and feeling quite giggly!

After a couple of days we were a little way short of Thrupp, and moored just after the Cherwell river section to settle down for a nice roast dinner. Debbie was walking quickly through to the bathroom in her slippers, when she caught her toe on the kitchen cupboard and cried out in pain. Her toe was obviously badly hurt, and we had to hurry through to Thrupp and get an Ambulance to take her to hospital. It turned out that she'd broken and dislocated her toe, and needed to rest for a week so we cancelled all thoughts of going to the Thames. Instead we met our friends from the Forum, including Bones and Maffi who came by boat and spent the whole of the next week at Thrupp helping us look after Debbie.

 

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Bones arrives forwards
Maffi arrives backwards
Keeping Up and friends

When Debbie felt well enough to travel again, we decided against going to the Thames (the banks are a bit steep for Debbie to hop up, and the pub is often a little way away from the mooring) and instead turned round and returned to the Ashby where there are no locks. On the way back we were shocked to watch the pictures of the floods in Yorkshire and Worcestershire; little did anyone realise how dramatically those floods would be returning in a few weeks time!

As we travelled up the Oxford canal, I was amused to see that someone had rearranged the letters in the lawn at one of the locks.

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Snotmore Lock (???)
Entering Snotmore Deep Lock

Stopping at Hillmorton I was on the roof setting up the satellite dish when I discovered that if you drop it in the water, the Satellite finder box makes an excellent Bottom-of-the-canal finder as well. Fortunately the Sea Searcher searched and found the Finder, which still worked once I'd rinsed out the mud and dried it in the airing cupboard. We continued our way towards the Ashby canal, and on the way I also took a few pictures of the pretty lights in Newbold Tunnel.

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Newbold Tunnel
The lights of Newbold Tunnel
The lights of Newbold Tunnel

Just after this we got held up by a fallen tree in All Oaks Wood, I loved the shapes of the trees in these woods so I thought I'd share these pictures with you. The last one, the spectacular dead tree,  was taken a few miles further on and I thought it was the most wonderfully dramatic shape against the sky.

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It didn't take us long to reach the Ashby canal again. We pottered along, right to the end, and decided it was time to renew our Navigation Certificate for doing so (our previous one is over 20 years old). I don't  think we could have got much further, although we were told that within a year they hope to have at last restored some more canal so we'll have to come back again. I don't mind, I like the Ashby Canal.

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Keeping Up at the end of the Ashby Canal
Keeping Up at the end of the Ashby Canal

Our journey back home was uneventful, apart from our new batteries starting to let us down by the end of each evening. I took a couple of pictures of some wonderful long-horned cattle near Rugby.

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What magnificent horns
I wouldn't want to argue with any of these!

At the bottom of Hillmorton locks we met up with Sue and Vic on No Problem that we'd only met on the web before, and stopped to have a chat in person with them.

A little way south of Hillmorton is a bridge, with a rather blind approach (as you can see, or rather not see, in the picture below) and from the state of the bridge I reckon somebody else hadn't seen it either!

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Spot the bridge (it's just behind the bush to the left)
It looks as if somebody spotted it too late - it's just as blind from both diretions

So finally we arrived back at Milton Keynes. I got my money back on the batteries and bought a new set, and then we drove down to Devon for our cousin's wedding. Why do I mention this? Well, on the way home from Devon it started to rain, very very hard, and that was the start of the great 2007 floods when the South and West of England disappeared under several feet of water.

Hastily re-planning our itinerary to avoid the floods, the next day we set off again towards Leek.

 

 

Late summer 2007, Birmingham and the Shroppie View Slideshow Autumn 2007, Aylesbury
Go to Allan's Page The Black Bottom trip Canals Home Page Summer 2007, to Leek and Sharpness Go to Deb's Page

 

 

All pictures on this site are Allan Jones unless otherwise stated

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