Sunday, 31 January 2010


We awoke this morning to a crisp white frost and thin coating of ice over the canal again. As the church bells started ringing I thought I would go to church for the first time in years. It is a very welcoming place and the stained glass windows looked spectacular with the sunlight streaming down through them. The window above is 'Light of the World' and is one of my favourites. There are eight bells and the clock in the belfry and the bell-ringers practice every Monday night, very good they are too.

We went up to the Brasenose Inn for roast Sunday lunch and were also tempted into having sticky toffee pudding with custard for afters. While walking around the delightful little village we noticed that the snowdrops have managed to push their way up through the hard ground already. Spring cannot be far off surely!

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Rest Day

After the last two days we thought it best to rest and recuperate and  there were people and a cat to visit.

We sauntered down the tow-path to pay our respects to GC (Ginger Cat) a superior cat of renown.
He even has his own web page, LINK

Sorry about the quality taken on phone without flash and edited

He did not even stir from his lofty throne so, we talked to his owners servants, Graham and Jane for a few hours.
Jane has and still is 'in the wars' having had a finger trapped in a car boot and recently whilst walking fractured her ankle in three places and is still on crutches.
Graham feeling left out managed to fall in the boat and crack a rib.
The local boat community has rallied round and given them lots of help, for which they are very grateful.

We returned to Oakfield, via the local shop, for lunch and have not done much since.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

We left our mooring, after saying a farewell to nb Florence E, near Wormleighton at about 10:15, a slight overcast sky and there was ice just round the first bend. The ice was quite thin, the wind was light but cool cold.

A couple of hours leisurely cruising saw us at the top of Claydon locks, Oh! I forgot did mange to run aground on a tight bend but with deft usage of reverse and a shaft extradited ourselves without to much bother.

Just before the last lock a small deer appeared in the field along side us, it bounded off leaping over the ridges of the ridge and furrow, a beautiful sight.
 As we entered the second to last lock Wozie noticed it swimming in the canal, concerned we watched as it swam 'downstream' between the moored boats. It could not get out because of the arncove but luckily it had the sense to return from whence it came and left the canal where it had entered. Relief.

Locks complete and it started to rain, now carry on or moor, we carried on.
The wind level increased and at the next lock got pinned against the side, still we moved on compensating for the wind, nearly all the time.
Have reached Cropredy.
Shall I, shan't I

Yes I will

Isn't she great.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

With Sadness and Joy

Sunday evening was spent on Piston Broke and a great time was had, drank all of Paul's beer.
A big thank you to Paul and Lynn also Graham and Betty for the help and advice over the last few weeks, it was good to have some veterans around for our first winter.

Monday and the time had come to move, joy after being marooned in one spot because of the ice but it would mean leaving some good friends, sadness.
After saying our good-byes to Paul and Lynn, also Graham and Betty, we set off north to the winding hole after turning we retraced our steps to Braunston, saw Piston Broke on their way to Hillmorten.

A bit fuzzy but probably just as well, Paul be careful with that tiller

 Filled with water at Braunston and turned towards Oxford, got as far as Napton, well almost,  bit of a long day but it was so good to be moving.

This morning away at about 9:45 and set off up the locks, all in our favour, when the nine had been completed, it was time to decide how far we would go.
The sun had shown itself and it was almost spring like, a farmer had brought all his sheep into just two fields, guessing it must be near lambing time, someone will be in for a lot of work.

Now moored near bridge 129 with a wonderful view through the hedge back to where we came from, the windmill is on the horizon..

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Everything Happens at Once

Earlier in the week we had arranged to meet Del & Al (Derwent 6) on Saturday but we then heard that Gosty Hill (fuel boat) had had his hole welded and was on his way, expected Saturday morning.
We like our two neighbours were in need of diesel but we would not be here when Gosty arrived Mmmmm but our good neighbour on Tranquillity agreed to be at 'home' and ensure that we were filled.

We were up in plenty of time so, as we had let the fire go out over night, I decided to sweep the chimney. A bit of a non event as it all went well.
We have had solid fuel fires before and are used to chimney sweeping but was a little surprised as to how much 'soot' was up there.
Having used Taybrite until now, we have on recommendation changed to Stoveglow and initial thoughts are that it is better, less ash, lasts well and gives out more heat and as Wozie has just reminded me it is cheaper.
Even Wozie was too hot and the cratch doors were opened.

We set off for the bus, leaving the diesel money with Tranquillity, arrived in Daventry in plenty of time so a quick visit to the bank and a hardware store, before we met Del and Al in Wetherspoons.
We were a little early, had a quick look round but they had not arrived, decided to order some drinks, no sooner had the money come out of the wallet and they were behind us, strange that.

Suffice it to say a very good time was had by all, catching up on all the events that had happened since our last meeting at Stoke Bruerne. Thanks guys, will see you at Crick if not before.

We eventually parted, Del and Al to walk back to their boat and us to Tesco, managed to catch the last bus back, driver must have been keen to get back to the garage, it was a terrible ride.

Back on board about 5:45and...........................relax. 

Approach with caution
Known to be excellent company

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

The Braunston Six.

On Tuesday we had a girly day out to Rugby, it was really nice to have a man-free mooch about the shops and chat over coffee and cake while we were there.
Today is our 27 th day here in Braunston and I am beginning to think that we are going to miss our lovely neighbours as we have had such a wonderful time here together. We had the gang round here for tea, cakes and alcoholic beverages today which was good fun. Some of us were laughing until the tears rolled down our cheeks.

This plaque depicts Rugby's Industrial Heritage.

Monday, 18 January 2010

Pulling together

Well yesterday's Sunday lunch up at the Old Plough was very good, we all had the roast lamb with all the trimmings and mint sauce, mmm.
Luckily we decided to watch Country File in the evening as it was not the programme that was advertised in the Radio Times. Most of it featured the Kennet and Avon Canal and what life is like living on board a narrow boat.Did anyone else watch this btw?
Today we had a knock on the door and it was Paul shouting out "coal delivery", so out with the trolleys again and along the muddy tow-path we went to collect ten bags of coal each. Ian and Alison on the fuel-boat Gosty Hill had arranged to have the coal sent by van to us, how thoughtful is that? A BIG thank you to them!
Afterwards we were invited for tea by Graham and Betty who served up some delicious warm apple cake  just taken out of the oven, mmm very tasty it was too. Paul and Lynne also joined us and we chatted over glasses of beer and wine for an hour or two before returning home to our boats.
I  think we might all sleep well tonight.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

From white to green

 Mr Blackbird considers this his own feast and chases the other birds away.

Yesterday I walked along to the laundry room in Braunston Marina where there is a boaters book exchange  and got two different books. This is a fantastic facility and their are others like this that we have found in other places too.
As I wandered back past nb Piston Broke I was presented with a little warm package which was some Boat Cake freshly made by Lynne for our tea. It was full of delicious fruit and nuts, it is very rich and similar to Christmas Cake. That cheered up a very dull day for us, thank you Lynne!
Last night was very wet and windy and the snow has almost all been washed away, but the canal is still quite frozen. We haven't even ventured outside for a walk round today but sat by the fire reading books and blogs.
It will be great to be on the move again and to go exploring in new places.
Tomorrow we are wending our way up to the Old Plough to see what their Sunday lunch is like!

Thursday, 14 January 2010

Blue Tit

Blue Tit on our fat balls.

I had already started off soaking the ingredients for a malt loaf and popped it in the oven very early this morning. It is a a fat free recipe and very easy to make, so here are the instructions for you to have a go.
Malt Loaf.
1 cup of Allbran
1 cup of raisins
3/4 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk
After these have been stirred together and soaked for a while add 1 cup of SR flour and mix thoroughly together. Put into a loaf tin and cook for about 50 minutes on 180c, 350f or gas 4.
If you have a fan oven maybe you'll need less cooking time.
I put a strip of baking sheet along the bottom of the tin and up the ends, thus providing an easy way to lift it out afterwards.
As I don't like eating Allbran as a breakfast cereal, this makes a very nice alternative.

After scuttling about a lot yesterday, today has been a more relaxing day.
We will need to build up our energies in readiness for the bulk coal delivery next week anyway!
I took the rubbish and recycling along to the marina today and was fascinated to see all the different footprints of Moor-hens, Ducks and Canada Geese in the snow and along the ice on the canal.
Up in the village the snow is fast disapearing and turning into a nasty brown slippery slush.
Ah, the Braunston bell-ringers have just arrived for their evenings practice, how nice!

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Got any O's?

Graham tapped on our door and said he was going to try to fill up his boats water-tank as it was nearly on empty.
Braunston Wharf Chandlery had very kindly lent him several water carriers and I had already bought a folding one.
Keith and Paul brought an o's each and the three of them went off up to the water-point at Midland Chandlers armed the containers to find that other boaters had already connected up a hose across the canal with two others joined on .
After connecting theirs to these they reached nearly up to bridge 90. All they had to do then was to continuously fill up their containers and transport them on their trolleys for about 250 metres to the boats.
It only took about 5 hours and job done!
Never-mind we are all off up to the Boathouse later as it is their cheap curry and drink night
Yesterday we had a girls day out by bus to Banbury and the snow looked thicker there.
Lynne bought some new jeans and a top, Betty got two new tops and I got some thermal underwear.
The bargain of the day was a pack of three funnels, one for each boat, bought from the pound shop for filling up the water tanks.

Today Lynne and I went to Daventry to Tesco's food shopping.
While we were waiting for the bus back we did chat to the crew of Timewarp who are moored by the young offenders further up the canal.
They had bought a large tin of biscuits for the prison staff who have kindly allowed them access to their water tap.
Perhaps we may meet the crew of Derwent 6 in Wetherspoons one of these days, who knows!

We had another coating, about an inch, of snow overnight.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

The Ladies Went Shopping

and I had a few birds round

It does seem to be thawing at the moment, though forecast says sleet tomorrow, we shall see.
We are all going for a curry tomorrow night, well they are, I shall not be taking part as curry and me do not get on very well, will just have to hope there is something else on the menu.
Wozie has returned from the shopping expedition, to Banbury and not spent much.

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Friends, feathered and otherwise.

Our boat is acting as a hide and I am just pointing the camera through the porthole window to take these shots of the birds visiting the food dish. I have bought some Songbird and Robin food, it's amazing how quickly they spot you topping up their food dish.

Yesterday six of us went into Daventry by bus for a snoop around the shops. Graham and Betty went hunting puzzles and books around the many charity shops. We bought a small hoover for the boat from Argos, then met up with Paul and Lynne in Wetherspoons for brunches. It made a bit of a change to get out and briefly jostle with the hoards of shoppers, but nicer to return to a quiet cosy warm boat.

During this icy cold weather it saves our precious resources on-board if we can eat out and use the facilities while we are there too!

Our supplies of coal are running rather low and we are thinking of clubbing together to have a bulk coal delivery as the Gosty Hill fuel boat is also stuck in the ice about eight hours away, in normal circumstances and not allowing for his deliveries on the way.

In the evening we all slithered along the tow-path and up at the Boathouse for a long chat over a few drinks.

We are all about the same age and it is interesting to learn about all the different paths each others lives have taken over the years and to share experiences.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Feeding the Birds

Great Tit.

After putting out some bird seed, crushed nuts and porridge oats in a dish outside we were delighted that quite a few birds have been down to feed already. Although, a gang of men came along the tow-path with hedge-cutters, a giant mower and a useless blower yesterday, and I had to run outside and rescue the birds-food before they mangled it up! We have seen, Blackbird, Robin, Sparrows, Great-tits and Blue-tits visiting so far.

 The view looking up towards the village.

We can thoroughly recommend the lovely beef and onion pie we ate for lunch from that the Braunston Butchers that they make themselves.This afternoon we went for a stroll along to Braunston Marina to take some books to exchange in the Laundry Room there. Vulcan and Dover are moored here at the moment. There are quite a few people on their boats along the way as most of the chimneys were smoking away. Why does everything look so much nicer with a covering of snow on it I wonder? Perhaps it's because it hides all the rubbish that people deposit in the bushes. It was business as usual in the canal boat workshops and also up in the village, as all the schoolchildren came into the shop with their mothers.
I hadn't realised just how cold it was until I came back aboard to sit by the fire and drink a welcoming cup of tea.
We will have to get a max and min thermometer to go out in the cratch I think!
So that I will know know cold I am.

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Down on the Farm

Notice the canal boat on the sign?

I was reading on nb Granny Buttons website that Mill Lane Farm had won the award for 'Smallholder of the Year 2009' and thought that Jane was a very worthy winner. It reminded me of our sunny cruise down the Oxford Canal late last September when we saw the farm narrow-boat 'Pan' with a sign attached to it encouraging boaters to moor alongside to buy their farm produce. We went on past and down through Pigeon Lock, Kirtlington to moor up for a break and while Bottle was brewing the tea I walked back there to buy eggs and vegetables.
What a little gem of a place, they have several old Morris Minors, an old tractor, little museum and under a marquee Jane was serving cream teas and huge slabs of her home-made cakes. There were people everywhere sitting at tables in shady spots around the garden relaxing and enjoying their Sunday tea. I asked her for eggs and vegetables and she said she didn't have any. All her vegetables went into her large pot of home-made soup for her customers and the eggs were in the cakes. Anyway I was tempted by the large selection of cakes she had made,  displayed on the table and bought a goodly supply to take back to the boat.

This little Moggy advertises a mobile 'Wooden Wheelbarrow Workshop' and if you are ever down that way I recommend that you call in and see for yourselves and have a good old-fashioned cream tea in the garden, needless to say our cake supply didn't last long!

It is a special place that is welcoming and homely.

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Three boats in the snow

After the canal has frozen over several times, today we had our first snow overnight. At least we can all visit each others boats for tea and cakes in the afternoons which is a nice way of passing the time of being stuck here for a while. I popped outside only long enough to take a few quick photos for the blog as there was a cold wind blowing the snow at me.
Yesterday Bottle went for his first bus ride in donkeys years with me into Daventry to get some much needed supplies in Tesco's. We caught the Geoff Amos yellow bus there and the Stagecoach bus back. I wonder why two companies run buses at almost the same times on the same route? Anyway we just got on the one that arrived first as it was so cold. We have put some birdseed out for the little critters but  they haven't noticed it yet. We are missing all the Canada Geese, Moorhens and ducks as they have scuttled off somewhere else. At least we had a gang of six men along the towpath cutting back the bushes yesterday. The blower they had was a bit useless at clearing away what had been cut down though! So I suppose we'll have to do that ourselves. Now we know why a man went by carrying his bicycle, he must have read Maffi's blog I guess!

There are six little recesses in the canal bridge and small clusters of snails are hibernating in each one.

Monday, 4 January 2010

I am going to be a bit lazy, nothing unusual there then, and give a link Piston Broke's latest post (here), they do it so much better than me.

'Boat cake' is to be recommended as is Paul's beer, did not realise it was a rare commodity, should have savoured it more.

After our meeting in town, we carried on to Tradline, Ropes and Fenders, etc. we needed some more rope and 'fender hangers' as Graham (Tranquillity) has supplied us with some Go-cart tyres.

As Lynn says we are iced in again, so staying put, forecast is below freezing, for the next five days and as low as -6º C at night.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Three boats in the sunset.

Bottle has hardly noticed I was here for the last couple of days as he has had his head in a very good book that our daughter brought for us. It is Paul O'Grady's "At my mothers knee and other low joints", which made him laugh out loud in places and recite bits of it to me. I will be reading it too, now he has finished it, but it will take me much longer as I will have to fit in all the chores around it! Has anyone else read this one?

Yesterday was lovely and sunny, but the ground was still covered in a crisp white coating of frost when I took myself off for a stroll around the village. The main street is lined with a variety of interesting cottages, non of which appear to be the same. I particularly like this one with the window in the roof like a half closed eye and the Moggy parked outside! The raised pavements are a very unusual feature, with pebbles set into the slopes down to the road with quaint little steps here and there. Some of the paviers are those nice blue bricks with diamond patterning on them.
I met several families out walking and many do a circular route which includes walking back along the canal tow-path.

Friday, 1 January 2010

Braunston Sunrise

This is the lovely view across the fields that we see from our boat every morning.
It makes such a difference to have the sun beaming in through the portholes and with the Squirrel being constantly hot we have that cosy glowing feeling. What a great little place to spend Christmas and New Year.

There are plenty of little footpaths here criss crossing the fields and canal bridges to explore, two grocery shops, a good butchers, fish and chip shop, three pubs and a floating cafe. What more could we want?

The highlight of the week was when our daughter and her partner brought our little grandson to see us. Although Wednesday was a gloomy wet day it was like having a little beam of smiling sunshine aboard, as he is always so happy, despite teething and having the snuffles. We cooked lunch aboard and found that our tiny folding table sits four people easily. The afternoon was spent having many cuddles and 'playing' the xylophone. Whenever Bottle has grandson on his lap he makes a grab for the beard  and practices pulling himself up on it, good job it is super-glued on!

Last night we wandered along to the Boat House with fellow cruisers Lynne and Paul (nb Piston Broke) and Graham and Betty (nb Tranquility) where we had a table booked for an evening meal together. I expect they could guess that we were boaters as we pealed off all our layers of coats! It was good to chat and compare all our cruising experiences, some very amusing and some not so. About three hours later we emerged all jolly into a thick frosty covered car park and crunched our way back along the towpath to our cosy little homes.

We didn't bother to wait for the new year to arrive and snuggled up in bed. We  were awoken by a very strange sound, a bit like the Canada Geese honking, I wonder what that was?

Anyway we settled down again only to have our sleep interrupted again by the church bells ringing in the New Year for about half an hour, luvly jubly!
It is great that we can keep in touch with friends and family by mobile phone and via the internet, when we have a signal of course, but it is not the same as meeting up over a meal and a few drinks in good company.

We wish all our friends, family and fellow boaters and bloggers happiness and success for the following year.