Back from the Freezing, er,Northamptonshire area
Sunset somewhere in NorWarOxfordshire.
Last October, we moved our 12th share of a boat (along with the other eleven 12ths) from the medium North (Nantwich) to the medium South (Napton on the Hill in Warwickshire – or Northamptonshire, I’m really not sure). This is a two hour drive from home as opposed to a four to six hour drive up the M6. Yay! Also, it’s on the Oxford canal which meanders through bits of Warwickshire, Northamptonshire and Oxfordshire, ending up at Oxford. You’d think this would be a good area for lovely pubs, excellent meals and perfectly reasonable shopping? Yay? Also, as it’s a very, very popular boating area, you’d expect plenty of marinas, boatyards and canalside shops, all selling all the stuff that boaters need, like food, drink, gas, coal and kindling. Well but on the other hand, it’s the depths of winter and lots of people aren’t mad like us so there isn’t much boating traffic around. And the canal meanders a lot in this area – sometimes two or three miles to a meander and back – often, it seems as if it was built to stay as far away as possible from any kind of human habitation.
We were in fact the only boat setting off on a cold, windy afternoon last week, heading vaguely towards Oxford and calling at The Bridge Inn, where we had a slightly below average dinner and then, next morning, at the shop at the Folly Inn, Napton where we hoped to replenish our coal. “Open”, it said on the shop door in big letters and then below that it said “winter hours, 12.00 pm till late”.
It was 11.00 so we decided to have a nice cup of tea and wait.
At around 1.00, a man arrived and unlike all the previous arrivals, didn’t go straight into The Folly but seemed to be heading for the shop. We got coal. He was a nice man (“retired off the canal”) and I told him we’d see him on the way back. Local gossip (on their way to the Folly) had told us he wasn’t in good health and usually, but not always, might turn up at 12.00 or any time after that so we were lucky to get the extra coal.
It was a bit cold – here we have swimming drake and standing duck, on ice.♦
We moored somewhere high up and far away and cooked chops and enjoyed the shower and felt quite cosy.
Next morning, we woke up to a freezing boat and snow outside.
The heating had died in the night – fortunately, the coal burner was still alive and of course, we had all that coal from the Folly shop. Phew. It seemed that we’d overdone the electrics the night before, what with showering and hairdrying and keeping the heating on quite high all night because it was quite cold. So we faffed around with the engine and eventually the boiler fired up again but after a while it went out. Ah! The gas had run out (we probably overdid that too, the night before), so we changed the gas cylinder and made a note to get more gas as soon as possible – perhaps at Fenny Marina? Or Cropredy?
The Fenny Compton Tunnel.♦♦
Next, we moored at The Wharf Inn, where we had a perfectly average dinner but the shop, cunningly concealed behind the bar, sold only bare essentials like milk and sweets. No yoghurt though. Oh well. We can make curry without yoghurt. They did also have a stock of interesting spices left over from some long ago enterprise. Unfortunately I couldn’t think of a use for any of them as the only ones left were those for which no one had ever been able to think of a use.
We passed the Fenny Marina where there was a sign saying “closed”. But a quick google check suggested that this could be because it was open Tuesday to Friday? However, we were bound to be able to get more gas at Cropredy. There’s a ‘useful’ shop there, the book said.
Bridge 115 and the lock above it, in the Napton flight.
Lightly iced keyhole. Somewhere between Napton and Fenny Compton.
We got to Cropredy (where the shop didn’t sell gas in spite of its big sign on the towpath which said “Calor Gas” or yohurt or anything much useful like meat or cheese or newspapers though it did sell vast amounts of feminine hygiene products and nappies), and turned round and moored and after showering and making ourselves nice and clean and tidy, we set off to the Red Lion which didn’t serve food on whatever night that was. We asked about The Brasenose at the other end of the village and were told that the barman had no idea about them (it’s quite a small village so I felt that this was unhelpful rather than truthful). We trudged a bit to The Brasenose where they did indeed have food and it was very nice.
Arctic geese near Cropredy
Anyway, After Cropredy, things got more exciting. I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow. Or soon anyway.
♦Some sort of martial arts cocktail?
♦♦Yes, I know the roof is missing – it kept falling in after they built it so they took the top off.