Saturday, 29 May 2010

Onto the North Oxford

We have had difficulty choosing our route for this commissioning voyage. The Crick Show means it will just be too busy to get to Yelvertoft and Welford, our preferred choice. I am keen to go back up the Grand Union, but a discussion with the crew suggests the North Oxford is preferred.
It has been raining all morning, and we are all rather anxious as we leave Wharf House, slipping out among the UCC hire-boats. They are now too busy to fuel us up, so we head for Braunston Boats a little reluctantly: they had been extremely rude to us last year, and they never responded to my polite e-mail complaint. We motored down the half-mile, light rain forming a million glittering ripples on the brown water.
Coughlan himself serves me and is pleasant and helpful. I wonder about mentioning my irritation with our reception before, but decide against it. We joke about the damn diesel declaration and I go on my way.
Our departure is spoilt by the impatience of an arriving boat being so pushy, turning in before we have completed our reversing out. We are forced back onto the far bank, and mutter darkly about our continued bad luck with any link to Braunston Marina. It also distracts us from having a better look at the land currently up for sale in the village. The house two along from the Braunston hotel is on the market (as is the hotel itself) and has land that stretches right down to the canal. It has about 100' of canal frontage, but much of it is right opposite the marina entrance and the narrow stretch opposite the toll office.

We turn north and pass familiar fields of rich green, deeply furrowed by hundreds of years of ploughing. We see the house at Willoughby Wharf that is still for sale, then the big barn conversion at the end of the cutting. Why do we know the location of all the houses for sale?

We wait a while at the start of Barby straight for the in-laws to head off for church, and then motor on with the sun dipping into the clouds to our left. A gang are clearing out the lovely old buildings clustered just south of Rugby: men stand by a flatbed truck and watch us pass.

The tall masts loom up ahead, and we pass under the railway arches, turning west for Hilmorton and Badsey's, where we head after mooring below the locks. Pints of Church End's Vicar's Ruin are downed quickly. Followed by pies. Yes, we are back on the Cut!

7.9 miles, 3 locks

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