Friday, 29th February 2008: Cropredy Church Bells
We have been on our British Waterways mooring at Cropredy since returning from our brief 'Winter Cruise' on Saturday, 12th January 2008. The photograph above shows a typical village scene: Red Lion Street as viewed from the canal bridge near Cropredy Lock. The Church is opposite the Red Lion pub - one of two pubs in the village - the other being the Brasenose Arms. Both pubs provide excellent food and are well worth a visit. We are very fortunate to have our mooring at such a delightful village and the local people have made us very welcome, especially the bell ringers, who welcomed us into their band despite our very limited ringing experience. When we first arrived, the bells were being removed for restoration and to enable the installation of two new bells that had been cast, therefore, we travelled to other towers in the Banbury area to practice. The bells were re-hung by Whites of Appleton , at the end of June 2007 and were ready for ringing again in July - although by this time we were making our abortive trip to the Saul Festival and missed several practice sessions. We also had to spend a lot of time in Leicestershire, following the death of our close friend, Richard Lovatt, so we have only been able to attend regularly at practice sessions since mid-September 2007. Bell ringing is easy to learn but requires a lot of instruction, practice and concentration in order to progress through the various methods. As beginners to the art, we are still in the early stages but we have already been allowed to ring at Church services and we thoroughly enjoy every minute of it. The photograph on the left shows Jane and our friend, Helen, ringing during a practice session at Cropredy.
On the afternoon of Sunday, 17th February 2008 there was a service for the re-dedication of the Cropredy's bells. The Bishop of Oxford, Rt Revd John Pritchard, presided and the service was well attended by villagers and members of the Banbury Branch of the Oxford Diocesan Guild of Church Bellringers. We all had an opportunity to ring the bells for the occasion and we became so involved with the event that we completely forgot to take any photographs. You can find more information about the Cropredy's Church Bells on the village website by clicking here.
One member of the crew who is not so pleased with our surroundings at Cropredy is 'GC' the cat. He may think that there are far too many dogs allowed along the towpath without leads but, whatever the reason, he is extremely cautious when venturing out and then prefers the safety of a high vantage point as close as possible to the boat. As a result, he spends a lot of time aboard (mostly fast asleep) or sitting on the roof. The photograph on the right shows him perched on top of a British Waterways notice near our mooring on a sunny February afternoon - in fact, so far, we have been blessed with excellent weather and most days in February have seen some sunshine.
Apart from the friends that we have made in Cropredy, we have also made many new friends through the Internet Canal World Discussion Forums and this led to a most enjoyable get-together with other members of the forum at Stoke Bruerne on Saturday, 23rd February . The event had been organised to celebrate the 50th birthday of one of the Forum's most popular contributors - needless to say a good time was had by all. At the same time, Graham's 61st birthday passed without celebration, he was far too busy writing articles about railway history for the successful part-work, British Steam Railways. Graham has been working on these publications with his friend, Mike Lee, for almost three years and the work has proved to be most absorbing as well as providing a useful income that helps to keep the boat running!
Keeping the boat running and general maintenance will be our main priority during March and April. We have booked into the dry-dock at Welford for a hull inspection and 'blacking' toward the end of April and, in the meantime, we hope to get on with the re-painting of the front cabin and the replacement of the life expired 'dog box' with more efficient ventilation hatch based on the 'Watertight Skylight' proposed by Walter Bergius (founder of Kelvin Engines) in a letter that was published in 'Yachting Monthly' as long ago as July 1920.
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© Graham & Jane Oliver 2008