On Friday our mission was to get to Banbury and check out the moorings as near as possible to the station with a bit of luck, to collect my eldest daughter Lisa and her husband Rob who are arriving by train Saturday afternoon until Sunday afternoon. We'll then go back up to Cropredy for Saturday night, so we thought we'd see what was on offer there and how long the journey would take us.
There were a few locks once again, 14 in total today, and a distance of 7 miles. Supposedly to calculate the time a journey will take, you add up the miles and the locks and divide the total number by three - it took us about five hours in total so I'm not sure how good that calculation is! It wasn't too busy, but there were a lot more boats going towards Banbury than away from it, which didn't bode well for moorings later in the day! However there wasn't too much of a hold up at the locks - we know that in a couple of weeks when the schools break up for their six week summer holiday we're going to be overwhelmed by the number of hire boats - but we'll cross that bridge as it happens and try not to let it cause any stress or distress.
Gate paddles raised and ready to enter Adorable working boats
Locks and cottages - everywhere looks magnificent with a bright blue sky
Arriving at Cropredy just before 1400hrs, we wanted to visit the two pubs there to see which would be the best one to eat in on Saturday night with Lisa and Rob. From the Nicholson's Guide, the Red Lion sounded lovely, but when we went in, delightful as it appeared from the outside (appearances can be deceptive they say!) we were given short shrift by the young man who eventually came to the bar and told us that no there was no food now and anyway they were closing at 1430hrs. We'd entered just after 1415hrs, and would have been happy for him to pleasantly inform us that the kitchen was closed now, sorry, but you're very welcome to have a drink before we close at 1430hrs. Maybe they don't need the custom, or maybe they are particular about who they have in their plush pub?
Lots of thatched roofs around here, complete with the thatcher's signature - the fox and pheasant
Either way, we beat a hasty retreat and found the very friendly and extremely welcoming Brasenose Arms. What a difference - like chalk and cheese! The most charming pub, with a congenial barman, open all day until midnight and serving food. So we had a couple of drinks and a baguette and chips and booked a table for Saturday night for four. Fortuitously they have a live band on too (The Sarah Warren Band from Worcester), as apparently the Landlord used to own a club somewhere in London (I think!) so has many contacts in the music world. The entertainment is all free so we're very much looking forward to that. Much more pleasant than a snooty restaurant round the corner I think!
The Red Lion pub and ... ... The Brasenose Arms
Cropredy is famous for the band 'Fairport Convention' and there's a festival held annually here (see 'Fairport Convention') when around 20,000 people descend on this small village for three days, many of them families who return year after year so there'd be a very happy atmosphere. This year it'll be held on 12th, 13th and 14th August - there's also bands on at The Brasenose from the previous Sunday and all free of charge - amazing!
Derelict lock keeper's cottage, though it does look like someone's working on it
We carried on to Banbury, which only took two hours, and got a fabulous mooring almost in the town centre. Another boat had warned us that it was unlikely we'd find a spot in the town and recommended we moor before getting in, but there were loads of empty spaces in the 48 moorings.
Banbury makes me think of my grandma who lived with us when me and my three sisters were growing up in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield - she would hold me on her knee and jump me up and down singing the nursery rhyme 'Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross'. She died, aged 88, when I was twelve years old bless her. So I'm looking forward to having a look around the town over the next few days, having not visited before (as far as I can recall!).
In the evening, we took a stroll into the town - we loved the 'vibe' of it, and there's many grand old buildings that work well alongside the more modern structures. Banbury Cross lies next to 'The Fine Lady', though it isn't the original Cross which was taken down around 1600.
The Town Hall clock tower and church
More towers - the one on the right is St Mary's Church - 'an architectural gem a few yards from the cross' and open daily 1000 - 1600hrs
Very ornate frontage
The lift bridge before the lock in the town centre
Of course Banbury is famous as the place that Tom Rolt, author of the book 'Narrowboat', had his boat fitted out prior to his honeymoon cruise in the late 1930's on then then decaying canals of Britain. He was subsequently instrumental in setting up the Inland Waterways Association so is understandably an iconic figure in the canal world.
The historic Tooley's Boatyard Our mooring at Banbury
Reflection of the 'Castle Quay' shopping centreThe tranquil view from the bow of the boat late evening