Friday, 12 September 2014

The perils of going walking

Well, how scary was that?! We set off for a walk on Thursday evening following a path David had found on an OS map. A lovely walk across green fields, harrowed fields, beside lots of blackberries (the biggest I’ve seen so far, and where was my plastic bag, I ask? Not with me, that is certain). We ate as many as we could so they didn’t go to waste, and then David says ‘damn, my phone has cut out – no charge on it.’ He checked my phone but I don’t have the OS maps loaded (failure of the IT dept, I think), so we had to wing it. On we walked, took a left turn and headed to the canal again, which is out of sight but we knew was down the hill somewhere. By this time, the two chardonnays and two ciders had worn off and we were sober and following our noses. We got to the canal, took a left turn across the bridge and headed along the towpath. At this point we realised we didn’t know the bridge number we had moored before (and crossed to start the walk across fields). We came to two plastic boats that we were both sure we had moored just after. Is our boat on that bend? NO, IT BLOODY ISN’T! So on we walk with me getting more and more stressed that someone has nicked our boat – thoughts running through my head ‘did we take the tiller handle off and the key out?’ (We have left them in place before and gone away for over an hour …) On we went through more bridges and around several corners, trying to identify features we recalled from the cruise down and things that we definitely didn’t walk past, with discussions about isosceles triangles and their relationship to the shape of the walk... Eventually, after after I’d had to pee beside the cut as I had primed myself for a much shorter walk back, I sighted the boat at the beginning of the Armco that we really had moored up on, and there in the distance was Waka Huia. Phew!!

Notes to selves:
  • make a note of the bridge number we are moored near
  • make sure phones are charged and loaded with appropriate apps before setting out
  • don’t drink two chardonnays/ciders to diminish thinking capacity!
  • and, of course, carry a plastic bag for free food collection!

One of the wonderful things about the UK is the network of public footpaths across private land.

A combination of sea legs on dry land and chardonnay caused a list to starboard ...
The stiles, with on my left, a little hatch for dogs to go through - lift the piece of wood I'm holding to raise it

Phone back into back pocket, and into the field on the other side - mown ready to harrow

The light here is that lovely mellow softness that we don't have in NZ where all colours are crisp
The light again, and the field over the rise that has the ridges that demarcated, way back when, each family's area for growing crops. These are prevalent in Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds but this is the first we've seen on this trip.

Picking and eating berries as we had nothing to store them in - see them also among the hawthorns behind me.

So, do they look yummy, Pauline? Plenty of them on this walk, esp away from the towpath - makes me think it's not well used
David took lots of photos of the walk (mostly before we started to worry about the boat going missing, but some after - does he have no sensitivity or occasion ???)
If you look closely you can see the bridge number - why didn't we check the camera when we got back on to the towpath?

So that was the evening - I had to have another chardonnay to recover from the stress ... 

In the morning we had got underway reasonably early as we wanted to get within cooee of Braunston, and make a stop or two on the way.
So peaceful as we cruised along.

The first stop was to visit Barby Marina where we are leaving the boat for the winter. It is looking great – lots of pontoons and garden moorings, and plenty of boats in place. It’s still not finished – the roads are still metal and the service area doesn’t have a building, but they do pumpouts, elsan emptying and they sell diesel. They are a family-run business rather than a large corporate, so don’t have heaps of money to throw at the building works, but it is getting there. They were happy for Ed to come and swap out the heat exchanger and pump on the Webasto without charging us or him for coming on site. Penny said they do have some moorers who do repairs etc, but no one with the marina as their exclusive patch.

The feedback on the net about Barby Marina is well out of date. So if you are interested in looking at short or long term moorings, we think they are well worth checking out. On a 60’ pontoon for a year, the fee is £1950 - now that’s not bad. We are going to be breasted up with several other boats as we don’t need access during winter, and we are paying £100 per month plus power for charging the batteries.

One of the three resident alpacas - he likes the bridge as he can see everything and it is warm on the tarmac

I wish we'd got a video of him rising to his feet - ungainly but effective - just like camels
Reasonably newly planted trees, picket fencing, garden moorings and pontoon moorings

Even smaller new trees in the foreground - the planting is being done gradually. We liked the look of the garden moorings and the pontoons are a good length with power and water.
 Three different kinds of boats today:

This boat sounded just beautiful as it phut phutted its way down the cut - I bet it wasn't doing as much as 600rpm.

The beautiful Waka Huia - freshly washed - I did one side while we were at Barby and Ed was doing the Webasto heat exchanger swapout, and the second side when we moored up for the day - before the fateful walk ...

These look wrong to me - firstly, they should be travelling in waters where they can go at far more than 4mph, secondly, they look ridiculous festooned with fenders which clearly indicate their vulnerability, thirdly, more properly they should have fishing rods for BIG fish (the kind Robson Green hoiks out of the water/sea). OK, rant over.

 By the way, these are the boats I thought we'd moored just around the bend from when we came back from our walk, but no - it was at least half a mile further on ... Doh!!

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