Monday, 16 August 2010

Heyford to Fenny

After watching By Canal in the '50s last night we were keeping an eye on things today. Things haven't changed that much, obviously trees have grown over 60 years but, paddle gear and buildings all seem pretty much the same. The railway secretly follows you up to Banbury, I say secretly, because it's one of the few lines not festooned with dam gantries and electric wires. It only shows itself when a train goes past or you spot the odd signal post or bridge. Could be a nice steam run, Oxford to Cropredy?

Arriving in Banbury I was expecting the smell of the cast iron foundry we had a whiff of, on the way down, forgot it's Sunday and all's quiet. Just the intermittent clang of a hammer making adjustments to some piece of machinery. We meandered through all the moored boats in Banbury. By now it was a pleasant day with lots of people just watching the boats go by and men sticking their noses in the engine room and boring their wife to death with their running commentary. Approaching Cropredy the south bound traffic was nose to tail and the queues at locks were endless, obviously the Cropredy festival was over. We came round in to Cropredy and spotted a boat with it stern against the bank and its bows adrift. It was obvious the steerer had too many things to do at the same time and the brain couldn't cope. As we approached, he's shouting "you're going far too fast" and calling me all sorts of names. At this time I had just passed a canoe, the skegs in the mud and we're doing about 2 mph. Anyway, to our amusement, he was that busy teaching me a thing or two, he went up the bank and grounded. I later discovered it wasn't his boat and I've put the incident behind me, but at the time I was quite irritated to say the least. Cropredy was still quite busy with boats and now it was the shinny boat brigade turn to irritate me. Why won't they just keep coming, stopping and reversing only makes things worse. After Cropredy lock things got better and we just followed the stream of boats up the locks. by the time we reach the top there was just a little boat called Purple Haze, Purple boat, purple lady, infact purple everything. They cleared the way through the Fenny Compton Tunnel for us, which by the way is no longer there, it's just a narrow cutting now and very shallow. We then tied up for the night just past Fenny marina.

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