Monday, 16 June 2014

Oundle and surrounds

11th-16th June 2014

Things did not go quite as planned – the local car hire company were not forthcoming with a hire car for us even though availability had been confirmed, so our plans to return home for a day or so were aborted.  However, we have enjoyed the break and made the most of the time exploring the town and surrounding area.

Oundle Marina

It is a pleasant and fairly quiet place to spend some time and the mooring fees are reasonable - £35 for a week and we are behind locked gates from 6pm, so very secure.  There is, however, no electric hook ups and we have had to breast up. 

It makes nipping home at the end of a convivial evening very easy!  The marina people are very pleasant and welcoming and the chandlery is fairly well stocked.  The toilets, showers, washing machines and driers are good and kept very clean – you need a plentiful supply of 20p and £1 coins.  Rubbish seems to be collected most days, but nothing is recycled.  There is an elsan disposal point; gas and diesel are also available.  We also know they sell petrol when The Captain on nb Cleddau discovered his hire car was empty when he had been told it was full.  An emergency gallon was much appreciated whatever the cost!

Barnwell Country Park

This is opposite the Marina and well worth a visit.  For those with dogs it is heaven sent.  We were very impressed with all it had to offer. 

I particularly liked the many benches in memory of local folk.  One inscription I loved was ‘because he loved the view’.  No flowers on the roadside for me however I go, but a lovely bench at Tardebigge Reservoir will suit me fine.

There is a family of swans and the pen is very protective.  One day Chris and Monty had to turn round and retrace their steps as he was not allowing any dogs across his bridge.

This is a small part of the children's play area and they even have a separate one for the little ones.

And a barbecue area for public use

It has certainly been a godsend to us for walking Monty and it was very gratifying to see how well used it is.


A town of great character.  Wonderful mellow Northamptonshire stone and memorable buildings. 

The Courthouse and Museum

The Catholic Church

A veritable feast for the eyes if you look behind street level

Two old chapels - One now a Bazaar

 And the other a theatre


St Peter’s Church – magnificent outside

And in

The public school dominates the town with pupils on the move most of the time it seemed.  Like Boatwif I was particularly taken by the girls uniform – very wide legged trousers gathered into the waist by a series of darts.  Elegant and yet immensely practical.  A white shirt and black short jacket compelled the ensemble

On Thursday there is a Farmers’ Market which is well worth a visit.  There is a Tesco Express in the town centre and a Waitrose a little further out, which Is walkable as long as you don’t have too much to carry.  How far is the town centre from the Marina?  I can give a definitive answer to that question - on Saturday night Chris was cooking lasagne only to find we had one vital ingredient missing – lasagne sheets!  It took 42 minutes from the boat to Tesco and back including my couple of minutes in the shop!  I would say I have a medium walking pace. 

On Friday 13th it was Chris’ birthday and the crew on Cleddau had a hire car so we allheaded off to Graffham Water for a walk behind the head of the very large dam. 

Then back to The Kings Head at Wadenhoe (our Monday moorings) for a sandwich lunch which was followed by the Pimms Jelly and Ice Cream 
that had been such a hit with the Captain, Boatwif and Chris on the Monday night when I had Baileys Crème Brulée with fruit shortbread biscuit (really good!).    I always had an aversion to jelly and ice cream together as a child and I am afraid that, as nice as this was, it did not do it for me.  Don’t let me put you off – I was outnumbered 3 to 1!  The sandwiches were excellent – this is definitely a good watering hole.

Next stop was the Olive Grove at Ashton.  Someone at the marina had waxed lyrical about this place, so we felt we had to go.  The deli is huge, however we were not tempted.  Boatwif and I went to explore leaving the men to have forty winks or so in the car.  There is a café there and although there was a sprinkling of men, it was more a place for ‘ladies who lunch’.  We followed the signs to ‘The Jungle’ to find an amazing array of creatures for sale to decorate one’s garden.   The variety and quantity were amazing – this is just a small taster

Is this an alligator or a crocodile?
 A rather rangy lion

 And finally the Granddaddy of them all – Guy the Gorilla who will set you back £3500!

Then there was the Alfresco Garden 

Stunning and pretty low maintenance, but at between £13K & £15K I think it will remain a pipe dream!

On one of forays round Barnwell Park we found ourselves by Oundle Mill which is now a rather swish restaurant.  Chris and I awarded ourselves a very slow start today and as we were sorting ourselves out around 11am a helicopter came overhead and landed nearby.  Having had a cooked brunch (bacon, egg, beans and Staffordshire oatcakes (thanks to friends in Staffordshire)), we did a short walk around Barnwell Park, then into town for the paper and a few bits in Tesco and back for the long walk around the Park.  When we came to the Mill – we had to clamber over/under this to get there

 once there we discovered how the other half lives!  The helicopter was parked on the lawn with the pilot in attendance.

 We were sat outside having a swift drink around 3pm when a car left the Mill and went the 100 yards along the track to be as close as possible to the helicopter.  A couple alighted and got into the helicopter.  A security guard stood outside
  until the helicopter was safely airborne
 when he got into this car to be driven away.  We have no idea who they were or why they needed such security and I doubt that we will ever find out!!

The Captain and Boatwif returned yesterday late afternoon from their night away in Yorkshire after a very successful 70th birthday party for someone they have known even longer than they have known us (41 years). 
Today was a domestic day before we start a very slow journey to Peterborough tomorrow.  It also included our first ever Tesco delivery to the boat - if you use this service here be certain to let the driver know to avoid Oundle as the vans are too wide to go over the narrow bridge out of town!
I gather there will be periods of internet desert between here and Peterborough, so it may be a day or so before I return.

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