Saturday, 27 February 2010

Aristotle Lane Bridge to Kidlington

We left our mooring early-ish in bright sunlight and thought we were in for a lovely days cruising, but it didn’t last long as it turned grey and rained intermittently from then on. At one point I thought that the cratch cover was on fire, only to find that it was steaming with the heat of the sun. We passed a narrow boat with the amusing name of “The Duke of Damnation” and another that was occupied by cats.


Who is the King of the Castle then?

We met up with the good ship Bones and shared the working of the locks and lift bridges together. Several hire boats came up from Oxford Cruisers too, on “Hen” and “Stag” weekends. Maffi came down on his bicycle with Molly running alongside to meet us. Thanks for your help Maffi.




Boots enjoyed a walk along the towpath, I like this silhouette image of him with Bottle and nb Bones. It chose to pour with rain while we filled up our water tank at Langford Lane bridge so we were glad to change into some dry clothes and get a hot drink when we moored up. As I couldn’t contact Graham and Jane on nb Alnwick  which is moored further on at Thrupp, I walked up to see her and her ankle is much better after having all those metal pins put in to mend her broken bones. We six are all meeting up for roast lunch and a jolly good chat tomorrow in the pub.

Friday, 26 February 2010

Oxford Walkabout Take 2


This is nb Oakfield retuning back up through Isis Lock No.46 from the Thames. It says in our Pearson's guide that the lock was called Louse Lock, I wonder why the name was changed?

IMG_0030 Bicycles are very popular in Oxford and probably quicker for getting around the city on. This row would make a good advert for the re-use of Sainsbury’s carrier bags, wouldn’t it?

Yesterday we wandered over Port Meadow, or Wolvercote Common as it is also called. It was rather muddy with some areas of flooding after all the rain. There were a few horses, ducks, various geese, and small brown birds that looked rather like Thrushes. We crossed over the bridge to walk down the Thames towpath, the water was fairly high and running quite fast. It was also fairly windy, even so several sculling crews were out with their instructors practicing their rowing skills. This team of eight seem to have two oars each, is this unusual?


We were glad to return to the confines of our lovely warm boat for a hot drink after all that.

IMG_0002 a canoe tree

This is the “canoe tree” that is at the end of one of the gardens ,opposite where we are moored.

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Oxford Walkabout


We were a tad weary after passing through several locks and five of those killer lift bridges. According to the BW sign on one lift bridge you need to be fourteen stone to operate it, but they forgot to mention that you also need rippling muscles like Popeye, or the stature of the Jolly Green Giant! I think this is because during the winter months the platforms are sodden with rain and are much heavier. So you heave on the chain to pull the bridge up and the beam goes down, the difficulty is the last bit where you have to fling yourself over the beam to keep it down, so Bottle did the hard ones.

Anyway, after negotiating through Isis Lock to turn on the River Thames we returned to moor up at Jericho and dragged ourselves off along the Oxford Arm into town. Unfortunately the canal basin is one big car park which gives the impression that Oxford doesn’t really welcome the trade from boaters.

IMG_0023 After munching a much needed steaming hot Cornish pasty it began to rain so we retreated for coffee to sit undercover outside the Pret. As we sipped our coffee swarms of people passed by like one long continuous free fashion show. With renewed energy we set off to discover the wonderful Market where there were an abundance of little individual specialist shops. There were so many tiny streets, I could quite easily have got lost!


Btw, does this pub remind you of The Two Ronnie's?

Wednesday, 24 February 2010


Monday we had to move, as the water tank was empty and of course it decided to snow. After watering we moved on two whole miles to Kidlington Green.


Tuesday we walked into Kidlington, I needed some screws, we bought two rubber mats for the counter (stern of boat) and a few items we didn’t know we needed. smile_thinking

Wednesday and the move to Oxford was decided upon, a slow journey, as it always is, with all the residential boats on this part of the canal. Uneventful journey, except that Wozie took the boat through two lift bridges. I did did some ‘fishing’ in one of the locks and came up with a shovel and a mooring pin, I think that may beat four windlas we got a few days before with Maffi.


Dropped down Isis lock and turned, the boards were up warning of a ‘Strong Stream’ and came back up on the canal. Moored at Jericho and wandered into town. People everywhere, we had a coffee on the pavement, well not actually on the pavement we sat at a table that was, and watched the people go by. We do like people watching.


Moved up to Aristotle Lane as it will be quieter here, away from the train station.

Monday, 22 February 2010

A Hunting We Did Go.


We have enjoyed quite a few nice sunny days lately so we managed to get a few jobs done outside.

Yesterday Maffi, Bottle, and I took the dogs for a long walk to go fishing in the canal with the magnets. The stuff that we pulled out were various bits of bicycles, an exhaust pipe and other useless ironmongery. We were hoping to retrieve a lost klaxon, but ended up with four windlasses and a giant mooring pin. Not bad for just one afternoons haul. We were all quite weary and cold when we returned to our boats for tea by the fire.

It was through necessity that we set of in a flurry of snow this morning to fill up with water. We are now moored in a nice quiet spot outside  the Sherrif of Kidlingtons house.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Do Not Believe Everything On The ‘net

Yesterday we were filled by ‘Dusty’ with diesel and coal, I did some woodwork, Bones popped by on her way to one of Phil Speights painting courses. Maffi had dinner with us and stayed for the evening. Such a busy day but the weather was wonderful.

Today Maffi had to do the things that all boaters do fill up and empty out. smile_wink

So we gave him a hand, well I went for the ride, of course we had to pop into Annie’s Tea Room for Chocolate Brownie. Wozie joined us, when all was done Maffi and I took the boat, Wozie walked Boots, back to his mooring.


Edited   2010_0220Kidlington0009adjusted

Spot the difference? Sorry no prizes.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

It’s a grey day for staying in.

We have had rain nearly all day here in Kidlington which turned to snow this evening. Anyway we didn’t let such things spoil our day did we? Bottle made a loaf and I made some of that famous boat cake that Lynne on narrow boat Piston Broke had written out for me.

Maffi called in for coffee and kindly offered to take us down by car to Sainsbury’s to stock up the empty cupboards. He then came round for tea and had to sample the boat cake, 2wice! They have both gone up the pub for a couple of pints while I have Speckled Hen and  Sainsbury’s excellent square shaped crisps here with the squirrel! Rainy days are excellent for making cakes by and it also makes the boat extra warm, luvly jubbly.


Here is a little cluster of brightness to cheer your day. Does anyone know what they are called btw?

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

A Nice Surprise

Yesterday Maffi kindly offered to take Wozie to Sainsburys but he had to go to Oxford first. He called, later in  the day, apologising that he was delayed and he would take her tomorrow (the day of this post). We found out later he was helping Campanula return to her moorings and why not, any excuse to go boating is a good one.

Within minutes we had another phone call, this time it was our daughter to say she was visiting us the next day (the day of this post). Quick text to Maffi to say the shopping trip was cancelled.

All this texting, phoning, visiting I cannot keep up.

It was great to see our daughter and our grandson, he is now crawling and doing what all babies do, getting into everything.

Monday, 15 February 2010

Thrupp Wharf

This was the view of the gorgeous sunset last evening taken through our bedroom porthole window.  We have moved down a little nearer towards Kidlington. It is in easy reach of the two pubs, the tea room and the Co-op. There are lovely walks all around and plenty of dry wood  just waiting to be gathered up. I have cut some thin pliable pieces of wood which I have formed into circles into which I shall crotchet spider webbs to decorate the portholes. Although it may look idyllic in this spot the noise from the traffic on the adjoining road is fairly constant.
IMG_0006The neighbours are friendly though!

Sunday, 14 February 2010

Sunday Lunch

We, Bones, Maffi Wozie and I went to The Jolly Boatman, just outside Kidlington ,for Sunday lunch all we can say is that the portions are excellent and the food is well prepared and presented. The food was hot and so were the plates, highly recommended.

The ladies had pork and the men beef and Bones and I managed to the Bramley apple crumble with custard for desert.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

A varied day.

An unusual duck.
We met Maffi and Bones at Annie's tea Room for coffee and cake and bacon sandwiches this morning. 
Then Bottle went off for crewing duties aboard the good ship Bones which was bound for Oxford. Maffi and I took Molly walking to bid them bon voyage and then returned to the tearooms for a spot of light lunch.
I sampled the most delicious Carrot and Ginger soup freshly made this morning by Annie. She also makes wonderful cakes, scones, and cookies too. 
During the winter months she is only open on a Saturday, Sunday and Monday but also serves up warming snacks. They have a Morso Squirrel solid fuel stove newly installed so the customers are all kept toasty and warm inside.  
As it was a warmish afternoon I washed the boat down and dried and buffed it to a nice shine. The stern and the cratch area were caked in mud after cruising, so I did them as well. The inside of the boat looks a bit like a chinese laundry at the moment with all the washing hanging up to dry.
Tonight Maffi and Bottle are whetting their whistles in the Boat Inn while I am having a relaxing night in.

Thursday, 11 February 2010

How Many?

People does it take to discuss the automating of a lift bridge?

This many, ten

IMG_0002The work will be completed by Easter and there will two push button controls, one each side of the canal. We managed to engage them in conversation and mention the problems we had had getting to Thrupp, we were informed that all the problems were in hand and as we spoke some repairs were already taking place.

How is that for service, well done BW.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Yesterday we met Maffi at Annie's Tea Room for morning coffee. When we came out we saw that Pugh, Pugh, Barney McGrew, Cuthbert, Dibble and Grub were topping up the canal.

IMG_0002 The row of three quaint thatched cottages are in the process of being restored. There are many clumps of snowdrops around the grassy area in the foreground, and the moles have been busy here too!

IMG_0001I am particularly fond of all the little old redbrick wash-houses, wood-sheds and lavatory’s in the back gardens. There are wells and washing coppers still in situe too. Usually when property is sold the land is totally cleared, so I wonder if these out-houses are listed too?


A Quiet Day

Busy doing nothing, we had a short walk along the towpath today just to see how the cottages at Thrupp were coming along. Some work has been done and one is in the process of being re-pointed.

We have just had the wonderful Bones and Maffi visit for coffee and cake.

It is quiz night at the pub but we will not be going, I just do not like them.

So a quiet night as well.

Monday, 8 February 2010

Still dreaming about our wonderful weekend

The moorings near Shipton Bridge must be one of the quietest places that we have stayed in. No traffic noise whatsoever and only the occasional train or light plane to be heard in the distance. So we seemed to get a very good nights sleep for a change! Although we have woken up to a rather dull drizzly day which has me dreaming of our weekend adventures.

The camp-fire warmed our fronts and made our boots steam!

Is Maffi making a wish here?

Bones got all puffed up for the return journey, mind yer ead!

Molly thinking, I wish he'd cut the chat or we'll be off without him!

Locking down onto the River Cherwell which was nearly up on the red board, it was good fun going faster.
I did find that Shipton Weir lock gates were extremely hard to operate though.  I now have a short list of items that need BW's attention so I will be informing them by e-mail, then we'll wait to see how long it takes them.
They do seem to waste an awful lot of money on environmental improvements we've found. Is there really any need to install soft coir banking areas along the tow-path side of the canal to encourage wildlife?
From what we have seen the water-birds seem to prefer to be on the opposite side. There are so many places along the tow-path where it is imposible to moor up that need to be improved.

Sunday, 7 February 2010

Aynho to Thrupp

 Lower Heyford Wharf Bridge.

It was impossible for us to line our boat up with the bridge hole here as there were far too many boats moored encroaching right into the middle of the canal. We scraped the bows of these two as we passed and noticed that many other boaters has also done the same. 
Oxfordshire narrow-boats should not be allowed to do this, should they?

Doctor Bones contacted us to ask if we could rendezvous for a barbecue with them at the Old Quarry at Kirtlington and luckily we weren't far away. When we arrived we moored up behind Mark's boat Helene of Troy,  narrow-boat Bones and Maffi on the Milly M. Stephan was a house guest aboard the good ship Bones for the weekend too.
We had gathered plenty of dry firewood for the camp-fire along the way. After a chat and cup of tea  everyone retired to their own boats for a rest and to cook baked potatoes, roast vegetables, lamb and sausages. We were going to finish the cooking over the BBQ, but after much fanning and blowing with our bellows we couldn't get it going. We gave up after Bones discovered that the charcoal was in fact coal!

Stanley was too exhausted after chewing his bone to even hold his head up!

After eating all the delicious food we settled back with plenty of wine and beer and listened to Bones then Maffi sing a few songs accompanied by their guitars. Boots, Molly and Stanley amused themselves while we all chatted away. Strangely, everywhere Stephan pitched his chair he  found that he was sitting in the smoke from the fire. It was nearly 12 o'clock by the time we realised that it had gone way past all our bedtimes.

Kirtlington to Thrupp.

The Old Quarry Wharf BBQ venue.

We took the dogs for a run around the quarry after breakfast, it is so beautifully laid out with walks all around a large central flat space. It provides a wonderful peaceful place for contemplation and is very well used.

The Stone Circles.

The dogs enjoyed their freedom.

Bottle and Maffi enjoying their coffee break while I walked back to close the lock-gate and then on to open the lift bridge. It was so heavy and out of balance that this would have been impossible for me if a passing jogger had not offered his help! Thank you that man.

We moored up on the 14 day spaces below Shipton Bridge and went along to Annie's tea rooms for refreshments. Bottle helped Maffi turn and reverse his boat to its mooring. Later on we all walked down for tasty soup, bread and a selection of cheeses, tea and cake prepared by Bones.
Thank you Bones and Maffi for a wonderfully entertaining weekend, we really enjoyed ourselves.

Banbury to Aynho Wharf.

This stall was selling a wide variety of mushrooms.
Banbury Farmers Market is excellent for buying fresh locally produced food. The  goodies on offer  included, cheeses, venison, vegetables, pasties, cakes, fish, meat, eggs and plants. Some things you could taste before you buy. I stocked up on cheese, eggs, pasties and cakes.
We left our mooring around 10.30am and cruised down under a lovely blue sky and sun to Aynho.
After filling up with diesel for 71p per litre (domestic) at the wharf, we moored up on the opposite side for the night.

This large crab looked like it was trying to escape!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Ride a cock horse

Here is the fine lady on a white horse at Banbury Cross with rings on her fingers and bells on her toes with music wherever she goes. Or as bottle refers to her, the lady with the smelly pits!
We have wandered around most of the little side streets and alleyways here now and it is a fascinating place to explore. I bought some combat socks at the Army and Navy Store which are very warm and comfortable. Today was the weekly market and I can thoroughly recommend the cake stall which had such a wide variety of delicious wares.
We tramped about a mile out of town to Maplins this afternoon for the carbon monoxide alarm. On route we discovered a huge Tesco's but it was too far away from the cut to lug any shopping back.

This quaint little place is the Old Wine House and dates back to 1557. I like the intricately carved wooden gables and ornate plasterwork patterns. It looks like everything has been maintained in it's original condition, amazing.
Tomorrowis the Farmers Market, after which we shall have to be on our way again.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010


Today is one of those sort of grey misty-moisty days here. Bottle walked to Screw-fix for fire and carbon monoxide alarms, he got one, but the other one won't be in until tomorrow.
Then we went off to Morrisons to stock up the food cupboards, returning like a couple of donkeys with heavily laden rucksacks.
After stowing everything away we trotted off to Wetherspoons for a very late lunch. It always seems to be fairly busy in these places and there was a notice saying that they sold 1048 pints of real ale last week! We were sitting by the entrance where all the packets of condiments were kept. We noticed that it seems to be a habit of some exiting customers to fill their pockets up with sachets as they passed by! One old boy had a few too many in his jogging pants, hope he managed to totter home without them falling down.
This evening we shall relax by the fire with hot cross buns for our tea, luvly jubbly!

So, as it was too dull for taking any photos today, here is one I took earlier, as they say.
This chap was sitting by the lock with his Barn Owl last September.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Cropredy to Banbury

We have enjoyed our few days in Cropredy very much it is such a beautiful village with so much interest.
It was good chatting with Graham and Jane while visiting each others boats for tea. GC even graced us with his presence yesterday and strolled around investigating all the nooks and crannies in our boat. We learnt from Graham that a fellow permanent moorer had been filling his water tank at the nearby service point while chatting to someone. After a few hours he looked to see if his tank was full and found that the water had leaked into the boat and under the floor, oooh expensive! It is now away to have it's floor and ballast taken out to inspect the damage and put it right. So do take care when filling your water-tank as some taps can be slow and some, quite fast.

If I had to choose a little cottage to live in here I think it would be this delightful little place. It is opposite The Old bakery which interestingly has it's name written on an old wooden oven paddle fixed above the doorway.

This colourful sign portraying the Battle of Cropredy and other features of the village was erected to commemorate the millennium.

After this post had gone up we had a visit from Owen a fellow boater and member of Canal World Discussion Forum, it was good to meet you Owen, we shall meet again.