Sunday, 7 September 2014

A good day - and a "mini banter".

(Boat Sickle & Chalice - posted by Alan)
Very retrospective post for Wednesday 27th August. 

A maybe slightly different view of Hawkesbury pump-house from most taken.
The run for home with two boats continued.  This is only being written up about a week and a half later, and although I have memories of fairly long boating days, the statistics don't actually seem to reflect it.

More standard view of this iconic place - Cath brings "Chalice" round 180 degrees.
Thinking back, though, I'm aware we did not start particularly early, and then needed to shuffle up to a water point at Hillmorton to refill Chalice's tank, which had taken a bit of a hammering at Alvecote, (we had had the whole family on board for a few days, and also offered showering facilities to others).  We also dispatched large amounts of waste, including the infamous "Duvet from Hell" that had graced "Sickle's" from deck since yesterday.

David takes "Sickle" into Newbold tunnel - Cath follows on "Chalice"
Once you are through the iconic stop lock at Hawkesbury, (known as "Sutton Stop" to boatmen), the early reaches of the Northern Oxford are not that attractive, but quickly give way to a far more rural setting, spoiled at times only by busy roads alongside, or motorways crossing high above.  Also for many miles the West Coast main line of the railway closely shadows the canal - the Pendolinos and heavy frieght are not really obtrusive when on the move, but can affect where you might choose to moor overnight.

James and Amy on "Willow" - a boat I once went to view in the 1970s!
We have decided already that when moving both boats together we need to exert a discipline of actually making proper lunch stops, and to not try simply boating right through the day.  I knew that if I could I would like to stop at "Stretton Stop" near Brinklow, as there is both quite a good chandlery at Rose Narrowboats, and I wanted to stroll down the Brinklow Arm to chat to the folks at Brinklow Boats.  In fact by Stretton on "Sickle" I had got some distance ahead of Cath and David on "Chalice", but managed to get moored up - albeit several feet from the bank.

Synchronized locking - both boats in bottom Hillmorton paired locks.
The chandlery at Rose Narrow Boats finally yielded the 20W-50 oil that few other people now seem to stock, and I was able to find Simon Wain at Brinklow Boats who gave me some idea about what steelwork on a certain old boat might cost, if we decided we had any interest in it.  So Stretton had proved to be a good choice of stopping point.

Synchronized locking - moving between bottom and middle lock pairs.
Next stopping point was Newbold, as I had some very urgent mail that needed posting, if it was not going to cost me money.  I wasn't quite sure whether we would be in time, but found eventually that the Post Office is located in the small supermarket there, and was still open.  So not only did I manage my posting, but we had the bonus of being able to top up some essential supplies.


Synchronized locking - now heading from middle to top locks.
Throughout the day we were leap-frogging with our friends James and Amy on their converted "Severner" working boat "Willow", and they came past us whilst tied up at Newbold.  They tied up short of Hillmorton locks, which we decided to carry on through, but apperaed with windlasses to help work us up the three pairs of locks there at great speed. 

Progress slowed, as we catch boat in front of us.
We had already arranged to meet another forum friend at the Old Royal Oak pub that lies just beyond Hillmorton locks, so James and Amy said they would also be along later for a "mini banter".  I was surprised to find that the Old Royal Oak is a "Hungry Horse" pub, with a "2 for 1" deal type of menu, so our expectations were not that high.  In practice there was a good vegetarian choice, the beers well presented, an area where Odin was allowed inside, and the staff were polite and helpful - don't always judge a book by its covers.  A pleasant evening with friends, and Odin got led away at one tage and apparently had great fun with a new dog friend that lives on a boat nearby.

Old bloke paired with old boat.
A good day!

Hawkesbury to Hillmorton
Miles:  16.5 (Chalice), 16.5 (Sickle), Locks:8

Total Miles: 769.3, Locks:507

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