Sunday, 25 June 2017

Meadowsweet and Butterburr

Pru enjoying the Braunston Vintage Boat Parade
How lucky were we to get a mooring in Braunston for the Vintage Rally. We weren't intending to stay so long but it's a handy spot for Carl to visit his Dad so we lingered to watch the Opening Parade on Saturday morning. Timothy West and Prunella Scales were the celebrities leading the parade although I was pleased to see that Tim wasn't left to negotiate the sharp turn into the Marina by himself. There was a huge crowd on the bridge and with boating, the more people that are watching, the more likely you are to do something spectacularly entertaining, like falling in or ramming into a wall. Prue was on the butty behind and was positively beaming at everyone, I'm glad she is still able to enjoy boating and anyone who saw her could be in no doubt that she was loving every minute.
Tim on the Tiller

So, what have we been up to this week? After a last blast of heat on Wednesday, when we cowered under a tree all day, the days have been deliciously cool and there has been no need to get up at silly o'clock to get through the locks. I have enjoyed our 5am starts but I'm happy to resume our normal cruising routine which means I can stay in bed till the swans come tapping then wander around in my dressing gown, until the Captain starts to drop hints about missing the tide.
A shady spot in Cropredy

We had a bit of drama in the early hours of Friday morning when a boat caught fire just up the towpath from us. Apparently, it started at 2am and was well ablaze by the time the fire brigade got to it. No-one was on board, which was a blessing but the boat is wrecked. It will be a terrible shock for the owners when they return and it was a reminder to everyone passing that we all need to have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Carl and I missed all the excitement and slept through the whole thing, I'm amazed as I normally can hear a swan breaking wind at a hundred paces!

As well as making an early start when it's hot, we often have a late evening cruise to catch the breeze and watch the setting sun painting the clouds unlikely shades of turquoise, pink and lilac. A Barn Owl flits across the meadow looking for supper and the ducks drift around aimlessly in the undergrowth looking for a quiet spot to roost. The moorhen chicks are all tucked up for the night and only the swallows are still on the wing looking for a late night snack to tide them over till morning. The longest day is followed by the shortest night and Carl will remind me that it's only 6 months till Christmas. Oh no! I mentioned the unmentionable, my loyal band of readers will desert me if I start the Christmas countdown so soon.
The Garden Boat

This week we have travelled from Somerton Deep Lock on the South Oxford, through Banbury and Napton, pausing for a few days In Braunston and then scooting up the North Oxford past Rugby, we moored today a couple of miles short of Hawkesbury Junction. This week, we landed at our very favourite spot by bridge 125 - it's still the loveliest place and it brings back some very happy memories of our first narrow boat holiday in 2006. We crept through Banbury very early and passed a boat with a whole garden on his roof and we've seen him several times since - the feverfew is so tall he can hardly see to steer (have a look in the blog for photos). We came down the Napton flight before the hire boaters had left the lock landings and slid into the best bit of shade we could find to sit out another very hot day. We were so shady that I had my cardigan on till about dinner time, then I made the mistake of walking to the Folly for a tub of buffalo ice-cream and couldn't cool off again. How have you lovely people managed to keep cool? I saw an article about making a cooling system from a cake rack, a flower pot and a saucer of water - I was so desperate that I would have tried it if I had a flower pot. It couldn't possibly work, could it? Anyway, Carl found the little fan he made me last year and I shared the breeze with Tricky. I kept her cool by squirting her with water every now and then - she didn't like it much but tolerated it better than being dunked in a bowl of water. If she see me coming with a bowl she runs away!
Sunset at Bridge 125

We have made very good progress since the hot weather passed, there are lots of boats along this popular route but everything seem to be going the other way. The towpath is so poor along here that there are few hikers and even less bikers passing by. The M6 is a very faint drone in the distance and, for once, we're not listening to music as I tap away, so there's nothing to spoil the peace of this summer evening. There's a fresh breeze ruffling the water and the sun is dazzling as it slips down towards the horizon - this is the very best time of the day and June is the loveliest of the summer months. The towpaths are crowded with Meadowsweet and Honeysuckle; spikes of Purple Loosestrife mingle with Water Dock and fight for space with clumps of something that looks like wild rhubarb but is actually called Butterburr (thank heavens for Google). It throws up giant leaves that are drowning other native species in their shade and taking over large stretches of the canal bank. The Brambles are flowering and I'm already looking forward to their fruit – how quickly this year is flying by.

And I must fly too, the Captain is putting the boat to bed, shutting the hatches, closing the curtains and making notes about battery usage in the diary. Have a lovely week everyone.

Lots of Love
The Floating Chandlers

PS A robin hopped into the cratch one evening, we sat there with bated breath as he hopped around but as soon as I stretched out my hand for the camera, of course, he flew away. 
Braunston church