Ghost Train Or Fancy Bumping Into You Here! 18th May

Priors Hardwick Bridge 123 to Claydon Top Bridge 144

Our neighbours for the night

As we sat in bed with the view out across the sheep field opposite the first boat came past at 7:30. A panel on the side of the boat said Finesse No 2, this was NB Gra, not the second boat Finesse had built, the number a choice of the owners, maybe the second Cowpar Finesse had built. We waved but no-one saw us, I sent a message to Laura on the Ladies of Finesse group to say hello. They’d been aiming to get to the locks before the masses, they were wise.

Soaking up the rays

We got ourselves ready for the off and crept through bridge 123, here along another length of armco were two moored boats, we’d not been on our own, but it had felt it last night.

A hazy morning

We pootled our way along the summit pound the high hedge obliterating any view to the north and rolling ridge and furrowed fields to the south. A misty morning with sheep grazing. As the sun showed itself it became warm, so much so we were down to tshirts, then a cloud would come over and jumpers were required again.

How many boats all in a line?

As we came towards the big boot of the navigation so did another boat from the opposite direction. The lady on her phone nodded to us as she passed. Then another boat came round the bend, followed by a third. The chap at the helm warned us of a fourth boat a short distance behind. Mick held us just before the bend, no point meeting at the bend if we were forewarned. Sure enough round it came. Anyone else? No. NB Gra had been right to be off early as they were now being followed by at least four more boats, there’d be a queue at Marston Doles Top Lock and nowhere to pull in.

Round the boot we tried to remember what the mounds of HS2 earth had looked like in August last year. Plenty of diggers were around then as they were today. A large area looked to have had a membrane laid and then covered with hardcore and sand. Is this the base for an embankment or will there be a lake here?

Another boat passed us as we came towards where HS2 will cross the canal. The temporary bridge has traffic lights at both sides and signs give towpath walkers a diversion to follow. To the north the bridge support is being welded together, catching up with that on the south side. I wonder how it will look when next we pass? Don’t know when that will be, suspect it won’t be this year. Will Bridge 128 remain alongside? Are the things clipped onto the off side armco monitors to keep an eye on the canal?

To the south

The usually popular mooring overlooking the radio mast was empty, is this where all the boats had come from this morning? Or is this no longer a good place to moor due to HS2?

To the north

As we pootled along a few more boats came towards us whilst I wove ends in on last weeks pair of socks. These are having a bit more added to them and I needed confirmation from Clare that I was getting it right, her being a pianist an all! Thankfully I was and I wouldn’t have to carefully snip away any mistakes. The job is a time consuming one, but hopefully the recipient will appreciate it.

Approaching Fenny Compton we pulled into the first available mooring, it’s normally chocka around here. Mick headed into the village to post a card and to buy our Saturday newspaper. I elected to stay on board, there were some secret things Tilly and I needed to do! Lunch and we were on our way again, more miles of the summit needed to be ticked off today, well all of them really!

Tunneless tunnel

Thankfully the traffic had calmed down somewhat as we headed towards Fenny Compton Tunnel, no longer a tunnel just a cutting, but very narrow at times. We got through before a hire boat appeared ahead of us, good timing.

The old railway bridge

The railway runs alongside the canal, however out of view. As we approached the now dismantled railway bridge that used to cross the canal it sounded like a train was on it’s way about to cross over head. It sounded like a ghost train was running from Stratford to Towcester and would crash into the canal because the bridge was missing! How many times had this ghost train crashed?!

The first bridge lufted

Not far on was the first iconic Oxford Canal lift bridge, Bridge 144, usually left open. Soon followed by a right hand bend and a boat heading towards us. Oh Blimey! Mick tried taking an avoidance course, the other boat did it’s best to go into reverse, but did not change course for the turn. Both boats slowed, but contact was unavoidable. Just a Bumph! from a bow fender onto our gunnel. No harm done and we could both be on our way after a ‘Sorry!’ and ‘Fancy bumping into you here!’

Finding some shade on the roof

Slow progress past the long term moorings and then we kept our fingers crossed for a mooring before the top of Claydon. The first spot, only long enough for one boat was occupied and as we rounded the next bend we started to count the number of moored boats. Half a boat length of armco had our name on it, there may have been space further up, but it looked like there were a couple of git gaps so nothing would be long enough for us. Nappy pin at the bow spikes at the stern, then the doors were opened for Tilly to head off and explore.

See ya!

As Tilly came and went and Mick snoozed on the sofa I got round to a job that’s been needing to be done for a while. About this time last year my agent said that she would be cutting back on her work and reducing her client base to just a couple of designers. She would look after me for the contracts already on her books, panto, but anything else that came in she wouldn’t represent me. I was welcome to find a new agent, but as I only do a couple of shows a year, I suspect no-one would really be interested in taking me on, after all I wouldn’t earn them much money!

So I shall look after my own contracts from now on, should any shows come my way! What I have lost though is an internet presence, my biog and some photos were on my agents website, that doesn’t exist anymore. It was time for me to rectify that. So for those eagle eyed readers (I know someone has already spotted it) I have added a page to the blog with my biog and a few photos. When I find myself with a bit more time I’ll add a link to more photos, an online folio.

0 locks, 9.1 miles, 2 many boats, 1st Saturday paper in a while, 1 tunneless tunnel, 1 ghost train, 1 lufted lift bridge, 1 Bumph, 1 boat tagged on the end, 0 key for the locked rooms in the house! 1 head returning to normal.

2 thoughts on “Ghost Train Or Fancy Bumping Into You Here! 18th May

  1. adrian2013

    Love you three on the Oxford. Always seems summer is here! Lovely canal to see a read about your travels up and down it.
    Yes I did spot the new blog page! Was it me to whom you refer? πŸ˜‰πŸ˜

    1. Pip Post author

      Yes Ade it was you, can’t sneek anything past you! We’ll sometimes I can, but JG Ave to be a touch cryptic.
      Yes the Oxford either means summer or autumn to us.


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