It was a very full day with lots of different activities happening. We wandered back to the centre of the town of Banbury to where the lock that the deer had fallen in yesterday. The deer had been removed and talking to some people at the lock this morning, they informed us that it was a Muntjac Deer. Can’t say we have heard of that kind of deer but they are well known here and are of small stature. It certainly did look a bit like a dog.
The small, Chinese muntjac deer was introduced to Woburn Park in Bedfordshire at the start of the 20th century and rapidly spread into the surrounding area. It is now a common animal across South East England and can be found in woodland, parkland and even gardens. Muntjac deer are notorious browsers, eating the shoots from shrubs, as well as woodland herbs and Brambles. Male Muntjacs have short, unbranched antlers that slope backwards, and a pair of long canine teeth. They breed all year-round, but females usually only have one kid at a time. Muntjac deer are also known as ‘barking deer’ because of their dog-like calls.
Di wandered into the shopping centre to get her fringe trimmed whilst Fraser sat on the man seats with Toque and spent the time watching canal boats going up and down the locks. Meeting up again with our coffees in hand we walked across the canal to the historic Tooley’s Boatyard and Museum. They still had the original forge going and a gentlemen had it all cranked up and making a unicorn for his granddaughter.
He gave us a bit of the history of the place and it was just fascinating to watch him work. Di was dead keen to get in there and get her hands dirty. The gate tells the year of 1778 which is the year the forge began operation. It would have been used to make shoes for the horses, gate paddle mechanisms and all kinds of metal bits and bobs for the canals.
When we went further into the museum, there was a light blue boat parked outside called Nook and Kranny. We recognized this boat from back in 2016 when we did the Tardebigge Flight of 30 Locks with friends Pete and Nadine from Calgary. They were just ahead of us in the locks and we shadowed them for a few days. We asked a lady in the museum if she knew the owners and it appeared she was the owner and also remembered us but not by person, but by kermit green NB Lucy. That is usually the way on the cut, you know people’s boat names but not their personal names.
Tooley’s is very synonymous with the canals as this was where one of the major saviours of the canals, L.T.C. Rolt, had the docking and refitting of his boat Cressy prior to his cruise in 1939.
There is always something to keep you amused on the canal. That man had no pants on. It is this mannequin thing that seems to appear reasonably frequently on the canals. We certainly evidenced a lot of them on the K&A.
We had a cruise of only 2.5 hours to the village of Cropredy for the day.
The village of Cropredy is known for two major events. A major civil war battle in 1644 of which 10,000 men took part and after becoming bored of it all because it went on forever they wandered off and left heaps of their clobber behind such as helmets, bayonets and cannon balls. There has never been any recognized victor or loser of the battle. Their other claim to fame is the Fairport Convention. In folk music circles it is famous as the location (August – we just missed it) of an annual festival centred round the enduring rock group Fairport Convention. Sorry, but can’t say we have heard of them. It has been known to pull in 20,000 visitors over three days to the village with a population of 600 people. That is pretty good going.
For us it has very happy reconnections with Mike and Lesley who we met on the Maccesfield Canal back in June 2016. Mike, Lesley, Marlene and Wolfgang rescued NB Lucy from the other side of the canal as we two inexperienced boaters had not moored her up tightly enough. We had wandered into town and came back to find these hero’s saving our home. This called for great celebrations of multiple bottles of wine consumed on the back of Mike and Lesley’s hire boat standing under umbrellas in the pouring rain. None of us can fathom why we didn’t go inside and imbibe in the liquid, rather than standing there with water from the umbrellas dripping down our backs.
We certainly don’t think it was anyone’s intention to repeat the drinking session of 2016 even though we ended up in the Red Lion Pub after we were taken on a tour of the lovely village of Cropredy by Mike and Lesley. The village was a mixture of thatched roofs, slate and tiled homes of different vintages. It was very neat and orderly with Mike and Lesley giving us a good run down of the functions in the village. On our stroll, we met this gorgeous little 12 week terrier who gave Toque some youthful action.
Lesley and Mike have only lived in Cropedy for just three years and have become heavily involved in village life and volunteer on a number of committees. Talking to them, you discover that they are like many retirees and that is, they are busier now than when they worked. They have built a lovely home on the canal with their new boat Charlie Mo moored at the bottom of their garden. All this completed in the last 18 months so it has been a tumultuous period of time for them.
Besides Marlene, Wolfgang and us we are so pleased to meet other narrowboating tragics. After a very scrummy dinner we spent a few hours in conversation about impending canal trips and successfully survived canal trips. Mike and Lesley offered us a torch to make our way back along the puddled towpath in the darkness but brave and stupid us said we would be fine. We did arrive back safely to the boat but our feet were pretty wet.