Monday, 14 August 2017

Fairport Cropredy Convention

Monday 14th August 2017 at Somerton.
An overcast morning as we continued our descent towards Oxford and the Thames, 33 miles and 25 locks away. Our first lock of the day was Elkington's Lock.
We have seen many fields beside the canal that show evidence of the ancient "Ridge & Furrow" system, but this one was very pronounced.
Every year at Cropredy, there is the Fairport Cropredy Convention and this weekend was the fiftieth anniversary year. Hundreds of narrowboats and over 20,000 people turn up for the three days - Thursday, Friday and Saturday. As we were heading south towards Cropredy, there was a steady stream of narrowboats coming the other way, so at almost every lock we just had to wait a couple of minutes for whoever was coming out of the lock to leave and just cruised in. Great - a very "good road" as the old boaters would say.
When we arrived at Cropredy, there were still dozens of boats moored up. Some of the decorations were impressive...
Some were just comical...

M was thrilled when a passing chimney sweep greeted her (as you would expect on the towpath) and asked her to blow him a kiss for luck.
She did, and he in turn serenaded her with a rendition of "Nature Boy". She was delighted as she remembers well the intriguing yet lovely words from a release in the mid 1960s, although the original is much earlier.

Very little evidence remained of the convention site and campground, all that was left was neat piles of rubbish bags.
Unfortunately, not all the rubbish ended up in those neat black plastic bags as some of it got caught  up on MM's propellor.
All of a sudden, on the other side of Cropredy, all the boats were going the same way as we were so there were queues for every lock. At one lock we found ourselves fifth in line; however, as always, everyone was good humoured and helped other boats through.
This lovely lockside cottage is now derelict and sadly in need of TLC. It appears that no one wants to buy it as there is no road access. M said that, to her, that was a positive advantage!
Then into Banbury, where R walked M to the railway station, so she could go home early to help Elle and Matt with their move. R will continue on with MM down to Enslow, where MM was launched and where she is booked in for two weeks.
On the way, R passed under the open lift bridge that we always see from the M40 as we go by in the car.
R continued on his own with MM for another 9 miles and 6 locks, although he was lucky enough to have help at every lock but one, including Somerton Deep Lock - all 12 ft of it.
Eventually he found a beautiful overnight mooring next to a wide meadow near Somerton.

Today: 16 miles,13 locks and 9.5 hours.
Trip: 227 miles, 237 locks and 161.6 hours.

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