1 canal boat, 8 bellringers, lots of sun, some thunder, some hail, 4 bell towers and quite a bit of booze……

I’ve just come back from a wonderful canal boat holiday with seven other bell ringers. This is my third trip with them and I have so much fun. Looking at the weather forecast for the week it didn’t look brilliant, but most of the time the sun shone and it was dry. We did have a little thunderstorm overhead and opening a lock when it was pissing with rain and then hailing was not my idea of fun, but we all counted ourselves lucky for the weather that we had.

To go on a boat with that many people you all have to get on, and fortunately we all do. We played various card games, I still can’t get my head around Cribbage (I know it’s got something to do with 15 and pairs but who knows), but enjoyed watching it. We also played Bingo, which I got very excited about. I only ever play it on the canal holidays and it’s so much fun. Rummikub was also a favourite. We chatted, laughed, drunk so much tea, ate some wonderful food, got cross with the oven because it stopped working but Jane had bought her slow cooker so we were fine. ‘The Boat Bar’ usually opened around 5pm ish which was perfect, various drinks were on offer, but mainly gin.

We started our little trip at Napton and turned left out of the boatyard onto the Oxford canal. During the holiday we rung at 4 different churches. We started at All Saint’s, Flore, rang a Quarter peal for the coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on the Saturday evening and then joined them for Sunday morning ringing at St Mary’s, Cropredy. We all wore out crowns that Sarah had lovingly made for us all.

We also rang and St James the Apostle, Somerton and finally St James, Southam. All the bells were very lovely to ring and we had a wonderful time. It’s great to ring different bells when you’re away. If Mark and I are away for the weekend, I’ll find somewhere to ring on a Sunday morning. He’s a very understanding husband.

The views as we were going along were amazing with cows, sheep and lambs, donkeys and even buffalo in the fields. It was quiet and peaceful, the birds were singing their happy tunes in the trees and we saw lots of ducklings and goslings. Travelling no more than 3 mph is just so chilling, and the gentle sway of the boat stays with you for a few days once you return home….or maybe that’s the gin?

We all helped out with everything. Everyone knew what to do when it came to the locks, although I still class myself as a novice. Sometimes there were locks fairly close together so while one pair sorted out one set of locks another pair walked on to the next set of locks. While you were waiting for your boat to arrive it was the perfect time to do a bit of ‘lock lying’, according to Jane. It may look slightly uncomfortable, but I can assure you it’s not.

We had a posh afternoon tea on the boat for the coronation with various flavoured sandwiches, sausage rolls, and various sweet treats, washed down with some champagne. We had decorated the boat with union jack flags and we wore party hats and had posh napkins for the occasion. There was enough food left over for the following day, so everyone just nibbled as we chugged along. Well it is hungry work you know.

Before we knew it we were sailing back under bridge 109 and back at the boat yard. We were away for a week (Friday to Friday), but it went far too quickly.

Mark was happy to have me back home though. Poor chap had been on his own for the last week as our daughter and her boyfriend went away the same day as I did. He got all excited when someone came to read the electricity meter.

Thank you everyone for making it such an amazing time I loved every minute of it.

Back home now to see what the garden got up to while I was away…….oh lordy it’s like a jungle.

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