Coping. 17th December

Bend before Marston Doles to between Locks 9 and 8, Napton

No views today

No chance of those views down the Napton flight today as we were surrounded by fog as we pushed off. We paused to top up with water at Marston Doles, both of us checking to see what interesting cars were parked across the way, neither of us checking what state the top lock was in.

Interesting cars as ever

Our last down hill lock was at Blakes Lock in Reading on the 23rd October, when Mick with the assistance of Paul made a break from the K&A and up to Goring on the Thames.

Marston Doles Top Lock

As ever at a first lock Mick had forgotten to get a boat hook positioned at the stern to help close bottom gates, he was more interested in tidging the Christmas lights. My comments about how little he cared for me worked and at the second lock the boat hook was retrieved and ready for use.

The buffalo’s Christmas tree

Approaching the top lock of Napton we came across an uphill boat the first of four we’d encounter on our way down. A small Christmas tree was decorated by the gate to the permanent moorings.

It got busy all of a sudden

Next boat we came across was a Kate Hire boat out for two weeks, hope their crew walking ahead had good boots on as in places the towpath had the potential to be waist deep mud! They were being followed by two single handers who I spotted so I could leave gates open for them.

Nice narrow locks

Last year Lock 9 was more or less rebuilt. The chamber sides had been getting closer and closer together, older boats with middle age spread were having more and more difficulty getting through it. In fact NB Tyseley ( the Mikron Theatre boat) got stuck on it’s way to do a show at The Folly and was left stuck til the following day when boats and many arms pulling along with a flush of water eventually got her free.

Lock 9 Last year

Last winter we had to wait for the stoppage here to be finished. When we came through we were astounded that breeze blocks had been used as Coping stones. A few days later we noticed a sign explaining that the new coping stones that had been delivered were not correct, so new ones would be made, the breeze blocks were a temporary solution to get the lock open again.

That’s better

So this winter there was another closure this time to replace the breeze blocks with rather nice black stones. Have to say it now shows other locks on the flight up. I think they were worth waiting for and given a bit of time they will meld in.

Coping stones no longer breeze blocks

Between Locks 9 and 8 there was a space ready and waiting for us so we pulled in saving the last narrow lock of the flight for tomorrow.

Napton Stores

Time to pick up post and send some. Napton Village Stores and Post Office is always busy. Maybe it’s because we tend to pop in at this time of year and when the school kids are on their way home. Today it was heaving! The chap dealing with the Post office asked Mick to wait for a while as he had a back log to deal with. We wanted some fresh veg and bits and bobs anyway, so this was fine.

Buffalo treats

When he was ready he found us and processed the post. Post Restante would be dealt with at the other end of the counter when we bought our shopping. Two parcels collected, some locally grown potatoes, some Buffalo sausages and chilled medication for Christmas. I’d considered ordering one of their veg boxes for Christmas, but as our plans have now changed I’m glad I didn’t. I so hope they are busy the rest of the year as it is a gem of a shop. The food in the cafe also looks amazing.

Dusk at the bottom of the locks

Once showered and none boaty clothes put on we headed out to The Folly Inn where we met up with our friend Lizzie from Crick. We last saw her about six months ago. Lots has happened since. Sadly this last year has been a tough one for Lizzie, we’d wanted to make sure we got to see her before we headed too far north.

They do good decorations and food at The Folly Inn

So we had a catch up on news and managed to raise some smiles with boat talk and enjoyed some very good food. Yes I had a steak again! Not quite as good as the one in Oxford, but it was very tasty with good chips and plenty of them. The portions were so generous we had to miss out on puddings, a shame as there were two I could have. It was lovely to see Lizzie, just hope next year is a better one for her.

How much food!

8 locks, 2.38 miles, 0 buffalo, 1 tree, 4 boats, 1 full water tank, 2 bags of rubbish gone, 2lbs potatoes, 2 pints milk, 2 parcels collected, 1 posted, 1 missing however it hadn’t been sent, 6 sausages, 1 pot orange chocolate medication, 0 shore leave, 1 big catch up, 1 steak, 2 scampi, 2 many good chips for pudding.