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2013 begins with a chilly trip to Napton

It’s almost seven months since we were last out on Phoenix III. A combination of poor weather, other obligations and a lack of spontaneity due to to the distance between home and boat has not only meant that we have had no winter cruising, we haven’t even spent that many weekends on board in the marina.

March has been as cold as the previous three months and colder than average for this time of year. The snow that fell last weekend is still lingering in sheltered places and the wind is still blowing in from the east keeping daytime temperatures just above freezing but feeling much colder. This weekend is the last in March and is of course Easter, the temptation to stay at home in the warmth has almost been overwhelming but we gritted our teeth, packed our gear and headed off in the direction of Braunston marina around 10.30. We saw the odd flurry of snow as we passed by Rugby but generally the sky was blue and bright. When we parked the car and stepped out on to the marina car park it was cold, a raw biting wind whistled around us as we unpacked our things and carried them to the boat. The thin layer of ice on the water in the marina served only to make the icy blast even colder but we were still determined to get out on the cut for the weekend.

As soon as we unlocked the doors on Phoenix III, we started the engine and fired up the central heating just to make sure that there would be nothing to stop us going out. It was just after noon when we were ready to start our journey but first we had to punch our way through the ice and negotiate with the strong easterly wind before we could help Phoenix III escape from her winter prison. It took a bit of time but with plenty of care and patience we managed to get out without too much trouble.

Despite the cold it felt good to be back out, we made a quick stop for water since the marina supply is still switched off and then we headed for the junction, Braunston turn. As we pulled in to the water point we were just in time to see a small girl fall off a Viking hire boat, luckily enough her father saw her in time and she was pulled back on board, drenched and no doubt freezing cold but safe nonetheless. If there had been any thoughts of our own madness they were soon dispelled when we saw that there were many other boats on the move along the Oxford section of the Grand Union canal this Easter Saturday. It doesn’t make us right, it just means that we are not alone in our madness.

We chugged along without further incident, the sun came out and warmed us now and again, the snow blew in the wind as we passed Wigram’s turn but we were happy enough when we found a mooring between bridges 109 and 110. We ate some home made soup and then ventured out for a walk, a walk that took us to the Bridge Inn where we met the new management team, Nick and Lisa. They were having some trouble with the pub electrics but it didn’t prevent us having a couple of pints, a coffee and a glass of wine with them. Nick’s children were there and we engaged in conversation with them too. It will be a struggle for the young couple to make a success of this pub and we hope that they will make a success of their venture.

It was nearing five o’clock when we made our way back along the towpath to our boat where we lit the fire and Sue created a hearty chicken dinner for us.

So that was it, our first day out after more than six months had been very enjoyable despite the cold weather and it was still only the beginning of the Easter weekend.