To be honest I have had a real crisis of conscience sitting down to write this post. We received the tragic news earlier this week that our much loved friend, Jackie, passed away peacefully after a long illness which she fought with such bravery and fortitude. We are heartbroken for Trevor and her beautiful family.
After many tears and a lot of thinking, I have decided that she would want our blogs to continue as the whole family have supported us and kept in touch along our JWalking road. Although this may not sound appropriate now, I can’t hear the song Happy by Pharrell Williams without smiling and thinking of her – it was part of the warm up for a 20 charity walk that we did years ago – our exercises were not quite the same moves as choreographed but we had fun!! We certainly were and are happy to have so many precious memories including one get-together a few years ago at Stoke Bruerne on the Grand Union Canal ( Messing about on the River).
A New Temporary Home
Touring around counties and getting a feel for areas has become our new JWalking life. With the ultimate goal of finding a new home somewhere we have spent a good few months in Wiltshire and we are now on the Northamptonshire/Oxfordshire border. Our accommodation is a first floor apartment in a converted manor type house. It is very comfortable and has everything we need, including a multitude of footpaths and bridleways on our doorstep.
Good name for a band as Jonno would say. Our first venture out onto the local footpaths on a cold morning took us about 8 miles through Thenford and onto Marston St Lawrence. It was a cold misty morning but even so the views across the fields were endless.
What wasn’t so scenic was the amount of “field” that accumulated on our walking shoes. It was the stickiest clay like consistency which no amount of stamping, banging or shaking would budge.
The claggy cud episode prompted us to take a shopping trip to Banbury to get myself some new walking boots. The walking shoes just weren’t up to the job. It was a miserable day and the stall holders in the market looked decidedly dejected but not as sad as this canal boat that was obviously awaiting either renovation or scrappage at Tooley’s Boatyard. A boatyard that has been on the Oxfordshire Canal right in the centre of Banbury since 1778.
If you follow the canal in a northerly direction for about 4 miles you arrive at Cropredy. Jon had chosen this unassuming little village for a walk along the canal. Little did we realise how quaint it was or that the bridge over the River Cherwell next to the canal was the site of the Battle of Cropredy during the Civil War in 1644. How does he manage to bring together my favourite things of a scenic walk by water and some gritty English history?
We started our walk by descending some steps by the Bridge Stores and heading north to pass under a steep humped bridge and the first of a few locks.
We wandered along the tow path past some lovely canal side properties, canal boats and the large Cropredy Marina. Most of the boats looked as if they were in winter storage with only one or two emitted wisps of smoke for their stoves.
This little stretch of the Oxford Canal had so much to see. The Marina, a boatyard that looked like it specialised in paint restoration on canal boats, two very angry geese, a dead hare in the canal which initially we thought was a small dog and this canal boat that Jonno seemed to think would sum up my navigation technique on the waterways.
Seeing some of the canal boats for rent in the spring/summer season made me think what a giggle we would have had with Jackie and Trevor on the waterways for a weekend . I realise now that we definitely have a connection with canals and our friendship because we also enjoyed walks spanning many years at Foxton Locks, a flight of ten locks further north on the Grand Union Canal near where they live.
We miss you Jackie. Rest in peace our dear dear friend.
23/01 – 30/01/2022