Ascending the Atherstone Flight of 9 locks on Monday morning, having lost another chip from a tooth, the chief navigator complained of toothache, which was getting worse. And it was the one that had been causing trouble earlier in the cruise. Tying up at the visitor moorings above the top lock, a dental appointment was secured for the Tuesday morning. By early Monday afternoon the screams of pain were getting the Captain and Chief Cook down, and the dentist’s receptionist suggested visiting immediately. By the time the dentist had taken an X-Ray, the pain was wearing off; he could find nothing untoward, and suggested it might be a sinus related issue. Having shuttled in agony between doctor and dentist several times with a similar problem some decade or two ago, raising two fingers to the medical establishment the chief cook’s emergency supply of antibiotics was raided, and no further problems occurred.
Skirting Nuneaton without ever really seeing it, and turning off Coventry Canal onto the North Oxford Canal at what is variously known as Hawkesbury Junction, Sutton Stop or The Greyhound, the journey home continued without much drama, decent weather or anything else of note. Sutton Stop was quiet, unlike the first time down this way, and for some reason no photos – midsummer and busy – were posted last time. Such an oversight will be rectified in due course, particularly as we suspect we’ll be heading back this way in the spring.
The North Oxford canal itself is quite pleasant cruising, apart from the fact that the edges are (a) shallow and (b) rock infested, so finding suitable mooring without needing a gangplank is problematical. Rugby was similarly skirted, and the “dual-carriageway” Hillmorton Locks negotiated without problems. By Friday lunchtime we’d reached the outskirts of Braunston, and were pleased to see that a pair of peregrine falcons were still in residence on the church steeple.
Finding space in the prime mooring place (just above Napton bottom lock) on Friday evening, we rewarded ourselves with dinner at the splendidly quirky Folly pub, and a visit to the splendid Napton Post Office for coffee and fresh bread the next morning.
Crossing the winding summit of the South Oxford Canal is always pleasant, even though by now well familiar. Obligatory photos of the Napton water buffaloes were taken.
Finally stopping for Sunday night just above Claydon Top Lock, one away from our final destination, we knew there had been problems earlier in the summer with the lock, but on Monday morning we weren’t sure whether to be appalled at the state of things or admire the ingenuity of the “temporary” repair. Armco would be proud!
And so, by Monday lunchtime our 2016 cruise had come to an end, and Song & Dance was safely tucked up in her winter quarters at Cropredy Marina, next to a boat called Catflap (which was a misnomer, as it didn’t have one).
With a car to fetch from home and a boat to pack up, we stayed overnight. We heard Sir exit his catflap early in the morning, presumably for a constitutional. Later, there was a very heavy and prolonged outbreak of rain, and when we got up, no sign of the boss. Despite calling him, he failed to appear. Sometime considerable time later, mid morning, walking to the marina office, a very wet and bedraggled cat emerged from under the recycling bins – some 100 yards from the boat – and moaned mightily. A lady in the office said she’d seen him under the bins about 7am, and was going to feed him if he was still there later. We don’t know if if fell in somewhere, or just got thoroughly drenched by the rain, but he had clearly failed to find his way home. Think we’ll need to send him on a marina orientation training course before next year.