3rd to 16th July – the Brinklow Bash and a few days out on the Cut
It was a fairly quiet week in the lead up to the Bash. The oven engineer came as arranged on Tuesday, but a slight issue with the length of the oven cable meant that he will have to come back, once we have got it fixed. No biggie!
Despite the oven, I managed to bake a cake for the charity tea and cake sale on Wednesday (Lemon Curd Victoria Sandwich). The charity was the NHS and made nearly £80. Fellow Ortomariners Mel and Phil, of Hunky Dory, arrived on Wednesday and came over for sundowners in the evening. I rather fear they left a little less steadily than they had arrived, courtesy of a bottle of gin, but we had a really lovely evening, catching up and getting to know each other better.
Thursday morning was a frenzy of cleaning, tidying and changing beds in preparation for welcoming Sue, Paul and Lulu on board. I had pretty much finished, just as they arrived, so all good. It was great to see them – especially as it had been over a year since they had last been on the boat. We had last seen them back in March in Fareham, so a reunion was long overdue.
We had a good catch up, some food and then popped down to the Village Butty, which was open for the evening session. And what a good evening we had, although that chilly, omnipresent wind verily chilled us to the bone. We all had what might be described as an “elegant sufficiency” of alcohol and Sue and I wobbled home on the bikes! I wondered if there would be sore heads in the morning but we escaped unscathed fortunately!
On Friday we did a trip into Rugby to grab a couple of cheap camping chairs that we can keep on the boat for guests. Homebase did the biz, and then we drove back to the Marina, via Pumpkins Deli to pick up some lunch. Delish! Friday evening was a repeat of Thursday and another good laugh was had by all.
The weather forecast for Saturday was not so good and it looked fairly certain that we’d get a wetting at some point, so we rocked up onto the field with brollies – just in case. We had decided we’d eat “festival food” today, so we would not have to worry about cooking. We were joined by Mel & Phil, Ortomariners Dave and Roma Jesse (N/B Perseverance) and also the King and Queen of Ortomarine, Rob and Caroline, so we had quite a convivial crowd. The bands were all great and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves listening and chatting. The official video of the day gives a good flavour of it all.
The atmosphere at the Bash was really chilled and there were dogs galore. It was early evening by the time we decided to have something to eat. In retrospect, this was a grave tactical error! We should have eaten earlier in the day. By the time we got our acts together, the BBQ stand had run out of food and shut down and the loaded chips queue was thus very lengthy. Poor Paul was in the queue for well over an hour when the heavens just opened. Thunder, lightning and a massive dump of water on us all. It was funny – people carried on dancing in the rain, and then the music was stopped (presumably for H&S reasons?) and everybody just started singing. Then Paul returned – with no food. Just as he had reached the counter, their generator packed up so they could not cook! We couldn’t believe it! We were starving! We decided to go back to the boat to work out what to do and eventually decided that we’d order a Chinese.
Sunday was a bacon butty kind of a morning and we had those before casting off for a few days out on the cut with our guests. We didn’t get away until maybe 2 pm by the time all the little jobs were done. It was pretty windy so I decided to reverse down the Marina and turn at the bottom, which actually worked pretty well.
We didn’t get very far that day and moored just past Rugby. Sue made us a delicious supper of Crispy Spicy chicken breasts in rolls with salad and chips. Gert lush. And all the better for not having to cook it! The weather had been very kind to us that day. Which is more than can be said for the remainder of the time!
We went up through the three paired locks at Hillmorton on the Monday in sunshine and eventually moored out in the countryside just before Braunston. It was a very quiet spot, very near where we had moored before. It was pretty breezy and mooring would have been difficult without the bow thruster.
On Tuesday, we made our way up to Braunston and stopped to do services. Lulu went to get off the boat and fell in. She was fully submerged but Paul R quickly got her out and no harm done – apart from a very wet dog and a very wet Paul R. and for him – that was only the first wetting of the day!
Braunston was, as ever, pretty chaotic. I suggested to the helmsman of a passing hire boat that he might want to toot his horn as he approached the junction, just to alert anyone coming out. He ignored me. And as he arrived at the junction, a boat came haring out (no horn sounded) and the guy I had warned had to take immediate and dramatic evasive action. That palaver could easily have been averted if he’d listen to advice.
The services by Midland Chandlers, shortly before the junction, are located in quite an awkward position with two short bits of Armco on an angle, so either your bow or stern is hanging out – this just adds to the melee! But we finished filling up and emptying out and made our way the short distance to the junction, tooting to announce our presence and turned right, staying on the Oxford Canal. I have very happy memories of our first year on Old Nick on this stretch between Braunston and Napton Junction. So many lovely places to moor, with great views over the rolling countryside and my favourite little bridge on the whole network – Bridge 100.
Thundery showers were promised but it was sunny and breezy as we set off along the arm. We could see and hear a lot of engine noise and water displacement a little way ahead. It was none other than Mr “Ignore Me at Your Peril”. They were trying to moor at a very shallow spot. We asked oi he was OK and he replied that he realised that they should probably not be trying to moor there but was having difficulty getting off the mud. I suggested that he get one of his crew to push the stern into deeper water and reverse off rather than try to go forwards. He was a little more receptive this time and did as we suggested. Shortly afterwards, we pulled over for lunch and as he went by, he actually thanked us for our help.
Our plan was to go down to Napton junction, wind and return to find a nice spot to moor. As the afternoon wore on, the dark clouds started to muster and we began to think we might turn earlier and try to beat the rain. We did just that but we didn’t beat the rain! Paul R volunteered to stay at the helm. How we laughed – all of us! It was just a a couple of short sharp showers and a bit of thunder and we went out to join Paul, mopped up and then it started again! Larks! . We eventually found a spot with a pleasant aspect and moored – just before the skies opened once again.
Wednesday saw us head off once again towards Braunston, where we needed to get some milk. I should mention that Paul S had been busily beavering away while Sue, Paul and I enjoyed ourselves cruising these past couple of days, poor chap. I dropped Sue, Lulu and Paul off at B91 to walk into town, while I went up and winded the boat at the entrance to Braunston Marina. By the way – if you ever need to walk into town, there is a short cut as you can see on this pic, which cuts off a long loop and gives a faster route into town. It is a path or bridleway just by the bridge which crosses a field and brings you out right on High Street.
Mission accomplished and the risk of being restricted on our copious hot drinks habit averted, we set off again. Once again the weather looked a bit iffy and once again, the Gallant Mr R stepped up to the tiller. I think we need to keep him on board permanently. We could store him in the Bow Locker or something? Note that Ted looks slightly less thrilled than Paul does!
We moored for the evening just past Dunchurch Pools Marina, had dinner and introduced Sue to the delights of the game “The Crew”. It was a pleasant spot, nice and quiet and was enhanced by a pretty pink sunset.
Thursday – our penultimate day with Sue and Paul already! – saw us making our way down to Newbold on Avon, where we planned to spend the night and have our evening meal at the Barley Mow. In common with the two previous days, the day started reasonably bright and then deteriorated. It was time for another wetting for Paul R. I told him to do something silly so that the pictures would not all look the same. Here’s the result!
As it was our last night, a little silliness ensued, started by Paul R – who suggested we all do shots of Toffee Vodka. Madness! Of course, after the first one, he immediately backed off but the remaining three of us, set too with a will. It turns out that Toffee Vodka on the rocks is rather pleasant and we virtually polished off the bottle which caused much hilarity. It was a slightly tottery walk to the pub for some!
We had a reasonable meal – although we are getting a little tired of the lacklustre, cookie-cutter food you seem to find in 9 out of 10 pubs these days, but it must be hard to survive. My suggestion would be a smaller, more interesting menu, done well. Returning to the boat, we were all a little undone by the vodka and the food and all opted for an earlyish night!
The next day was wet from the get go. Not very nice for Paul and Sue’s last hours on the boat. It rained steadily pretty much all day, which made for a less than pleasant and slow journey home for the Rogerses. Paul had an appointment with the dentist. He has just one filling and that tooth has always been a bit dodgy. For the last couple of weeks he has had bouts of pain and we all know that’s not going to go away. So off went the Rogerses and off went Paul. Leaving me alone and feeling a bit flat all of a sudden. We’d had so many laughs in the past week and now I was Billy No Mates.
Paul returned one tooth lighter. The offending tooth had actually split and it was thus irreparable. Those of a squeamish disposition should not read any further as the photo is quite graphic! Or skip the photo and read on.
Saturday was very windy, changeable and absolutely flipping useless for the particular jobs we had planned to do this weekend. The pic below was taken at 14:30 on Saturday, but looks like night-time. We popped over to Rugby on Saturday and spent Sunday doing a little packing and tidying the car and under bed space. Boring but necessary work.
Baby Sumps has not yet turned up. Poor Beth – overdue babies take really their toll on you, as I know from my own experience. But she has another appointment on the 19th, so we will hopefully know a little bit more after that. Watch this space!