Thursday, June 09, 2022

Taking it steady

 I'm relieved to say that today has been less exciting than yesterday.  Kath is doing OK after her unscheduled dip in the canal, although parts of her anatomy are somewhat black and blue after we hauled her over the canal edge like a sack of spuds.

Deciding on an easy day we tootled along to Rugby Tesco to restock the fridge and the galley, then we pottered on for the very short distance to Newbold where we now rest for the night.  The height of the canal embankment along here is mighty impressive. Were it not for the trees, you could feel like you were flying.  I'm not sure when they built it but I do know that the North Oxford underwent some straightening and improvement long after it was first built.  Maybe it was late enough not to rely solely on men with shovels and horses. Feel free to enlighten me if you are an aficionado. Now it's wide and has long tree lined straights with high bridges and I rather like it. The difference between the North Oxford and the South Oxford is very marked. 

Since Covid first struck we have visited hardly any pubs but now being quadruple vaccinated and Omicron being seemingly less harmful, we cast cares to the wind and walked along to the Barley Mow for a pint and something to eat.  

If you look at the Barley Mow website it looks like a pretty smart pub, and it is tidy enough, but not as nearly smart as the web site implies.  I would call it a decent enough working man's pub.  The beer was nice and not too dear, so that was good. According to the web site the chef is highly trained, which I can only take to mean that he trained at a college at the top of a hill.  Don't get me wrong, the steak and ale pie I had (with lots of gravy -big tick), and the lasagne Kath had were perfectly ok, but decent basic pub grub at a very reasonable price is the limit of the praise I can offer.   By all means go there, just don't get taken in by the upmarket web site and end up expecting more than it is.

The list of jobs needing doing on Herbie is a bit daunting, so I'm aiming to do one small job each day.  Yesterday it was tightening the stern tube stuffing box or whatever you call it - now it doesn't drip.  Today I had a go at replacing the radio aerial, but the nut inside the roof lining has rusted up and it's two handed job, one person outside to grip the old aerial butt and one inside to try to twist off the rounded nut with pliers.  I hadn't got the heart to ask Kath to help just yet.

Tomorrow we resume a more reasonable pace and we're heading for Hawkesbury junction which should take us a few hours.


Dave said...

We were there last week on Hector from Armada narrowboats. Quite agree what you say about the Barley Mow, even our friend who lives in Rugby who we were meeting was surprised by the difference.
The meal and beer was ok but they had run out of steaks which was odd.

As to the Oxford. Our friend says that the old tunnel under that area went right under the church and the old portal can still be seen in a nearby field.
I think they must have had more mechanical help when it was straightened as the edge seems to be stone or concrete slabs which being angled are a pain when you try and moor

Some history here

Mike Todd said...

see our blog today for comments on our experience elsewhere last night, which seems to have matched yours too closely.

It seems from various canal social media that this is widespread and a direct consequence of COVID with a dash of Brexit for good measure. Customers are not returning at pre pandemic levels, staff are hard to find, waiting staff especially, and costs are soaring. Hence many are not serving food 7 days a week and making do with one full time chef rather than two part time. Also, they are using lots of bought in factory food even sauces/gravy and prepared veg and chips. Even ready made pies.

As you say, cannot really complain but not something to rush back for. I have lots of sympathy for them trying very hard under desperate conditions to scrape a living.