Friday, 30 April 2010


Yesterday was a very long day for us as we hired a car and went visiting friends and family in Gloucestershire. It was lovely to see everyone and catch up on all their latest news. We had a lovely lunch out and went to our favourite place where they make their own ice-cream. Just to see if it tasted as delicious as the last time we were there, and of course it did! We spent some time playing with our Grandson who is becoming a very interesting, entertaining little character and always smiling. We took the opportunity to to fill the boot up with food on our return journey back to the boat.

Today has been rather rainy and windy at times so we have just pootled about doing little jobs on board.

IMG_0022Here is the delightful little cottage beside one of Braunston’s locks that I took last year. The boat entering the lock is ‘Muchgigglin’, this has to be one of the nicest boat names there can be.  

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Napton to Braunston

We waved goodbye to nb Piston Broke, although we did notice that Paul didn’t wave with all his fingers, I wonder why? Later nb Tranquility followed them heading north. It was such a beautiful warm sunny day that we were able to sit outside watching the birds of prey gliding about late into the evening.

IMG_0011 This morning I went fishing with the magnet around the bottom lock and was told by a passer by that two men had fished it over the weekend and I may not find anything. Anyway I hauled out a mooring hook and a windlass so it was worth the effort. We left for Braunston under dull grey skies, but at least it was warmish! After mooring up we trundled off to try the ‘Gongoozlers Rest’ which is under new management. The all day breakfasts were just as good as before and it is open every day from 8pm – 3pm which is even better!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Wormleighton to Napton

We set off fairly early this morning after nb Tranquility and nb Piston Broke had left. It was a lovely warm morning ideal for cruising along gazing at the sheep, lambs and cows grazing in the fields. As we neared Napton we saw a large herd of Water Buffalo too. We passed Piston Broke while they were filling with water at Marston Doles and caught up with Tranquillity at the top of the Napton flight. We are now moored up all together below the bottom lock. We spent the afternoon lolling on the bank chatting and later cracked open the wine and beer. Lynne, Betty and I walked to the PO Stores for a few essentials. The Folly Inn opens at 6pm, so I walked along to look at the menu to see if we would all like to eat an evening meal there as we females were quite tired after doing eight locks. The kitchen staff were away ill so no food at the Inn tonight unfortunately! We have seen Buzzards circling, a Kestrel hovering, Green Woodpeckers and Rabbits since we moored up. I wonder if our three boats might be magnetically attracted to each other in some way!

IMG_0001Napton Bottom Lock Cottage is looking good now.

Friday, 23 April 2010

Claydon to Wormleighton.

IMG_0003 Claydon  toplockWe set off at just the right time before another boat poked it’s nose round the corner this morning. Here is Claydon top lock with it’s very desirable residence alongside. There is no road to it and it is such a lovely peaceful spot. This is where the Oxford Canal Company used to have their workshops and stables and would have been quite a busy spot in the past. While we waited for the lock to fill we watched the swallows and sparrows busily flying to and fro into the roof spaces where they are nesting. More swans are nesting outside Fenny Marina. That makes four pairs of nesting swans that we have seen since leaving Kidlington Green.

I wonder why we always seem to meet boats in the narrowest places, as we did in ‘Fenny Tunnel’ and again at Bridge 131 which is on a blind bend past Fenny Compton. Bottle sounded his horn and luckily I was up the front looking out when a large old working boat came almost nose to nose with us under the bridge. I shouted ‘stop’ and Bottle immediately began reversing back avoiding a collision. Then we had to hover while another one followed him through. We are now moored up with nb Piston Broke some four hundred feet above sea-level on Wormleighton Hill.

IMG_0008 Wormleightons 'Eifel Tower'This is part of the sweeping view across the open countryside from our mooring showing Wormleighton’s  Eiffel Tower lookalike. We saw a hare bounding over the field and there have been several large bumble bees buzzing around in the grass. Many Sky Larks have been hovering and singing overhead all afternoon. Bottle has been doing a bit of touching up of the paintwork on the bow of the boat which dried off quickly in the warm breeze.

On hearing that we had lost our tiller pin Paul produced a spare one from his accumulated treasures for us, how kind is that, thank you Paul. Now we can dispose of the stand-in one, which was a screwdriver. After sipping our alcoholic beverages in the evening sun we retired to our boats for dinner and have now settled down for a relaxing evenings reading.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Cropredy to Claydon

IMG_0009After sauntering around the village in the bright morning sunshine we cruised off towards Claydon. Some of the locks were in our favour as so many boats are  on the move making the most of this fine warm weather.

IMG_0007 Nine ducklingsThis family of nine ducklings are the first we have seen this year. While we were cruising we heard a metal clonking noise and after investigating found that Bottle had lost his knob off the back of the boat. The vibrations must have worked it free, so now we are left with a knobless tillerpin!

On arrival at Claydon we spotted another Fernwood boat, Moose. We were familiar with it as we had admired it when we looked over it at the Crick Boat show some six years ago. The original owners of the boat sold it after only nine months aboard. The second owners they are very pleased with Moose and acquired it at a good price too. We helped them through the lock, they are going on down to the Kennet and Avon along into Bristol.

IMG_0012 MooseTomorrow we plan to catch up with nb Piston Broke and lay siege to their beer!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Banbury to Cropredy

Another beautiful day to be cruising with plenty of other boats on the move also. Oakfield had got extremely dusty so I managed to wash down one side while we were in Banbury and have just finished doing the other side here in Cropredy on the 24 hour moorings. I wondered if it was volcanic ash that had drifted over from Iceland as it stuck to the boat quite well. The gardens are beautifully kept around here and I am eyeing up all the rhubarb that is growing in them. I miss pulling fresh rhubarb from our garden and having it stewed along with a good dollop custard. It tickles me to see garden ponds with fountains with plastic water birds alongside the masses of water that is in the canal with real ducks.

IMG_0001 Aynho WharfThere is usually something interesting parked at Aynho Wharf and this is what we saw as we passed by. Gosh, Piston Broke have put a spurt on, I doubt if we will be able to catch them up before we get to Braunston! Perhaps Paul thinks we are after his beer.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Lift Bridges on the Oxford Canal

IMG_0035 LB170

There are quite a few of these lift bridges on the Oxford Canal. Sometimes they are easy to open and sometimes not, especially if they are wet when they can weigh much heavier. On dry days children can operate them as we saw when we were down near Somerton. When they are wet and heavy you need to be about fourteen stone to be able to pull on the chain to bring the beam down, then throw yourself onto it to keep it down. There are no fixing devices for single handed boaters to use to keep the bridge up while they take their boat through. So they either have to rely on kind passers by to do it for them, or use a ‘Banbury Stick’. This means heaving the bridge up from the non-beam side and quickly sticking a pole under it to keep it open to pass under it. BW are electrifying the one at Thrupp because some chap approached the bridge, walked up the beam jumped off the end and broke both his legs. So, all the other lift bridges must also be classed as dangerous too mustn't they? I wonder what solution BW will come up with to make their operation safer as many of them are miles away from a source of electricity.

IMG_0036The whole bridge pivots and rolls on this simple but ingenious cast iron toothed arrangement. I wonder if these are the original ones which were installed when the canal was built c1770? Obviously the wooden parts of the bridges have been replaced many times over the years. Btw I heard the Cuckoo for the first time on Saturday down near Somerton, have you heard it yet?

Monday, 19 April 2010

Somerton to Banbury

We bid farewell to Piston broke and Tranquillity early this morning having spent a lovely weekend with them. We were in for another super sunny days cruising with a slight cool breeze. At the BW yard at Adderbury Wharf we saw either lock beams or lift bridge beams being prepared for installation. At Kings Sutton Lock opposite the cottage I noticed that the swallows were flying into the old barn, where they have probably got their nest somewhere safe inside.

IMG_0013 Swallows at Kings Sutton LockIn fact we saw many birds all frantically building up their nests and foraging for food. Although they are so busy they still find time to sing their beautiful songs for us. We passed several boats hurrying on their way southwards, it is nice to glide into a lock when a boat has come out and left the gates open for you.

IMG_0029 Grants LockGrants Lock Cottage is very a very plain building, but the white blossom on the Hawthorn in the garden enhances it. We picked up something which was clonking on the prop so were forced to stop at Morrison's bridge below Banbury to investigate. It turned out to be mostly entangled fisherman's line complete with lead weights attached amongst other clutter, ugh.

IMG_0014 Three treesThe wildflowers along the towpath and the Oxfordshire landscape looks quite spectacular at this time of year doesn’t it? This is one of my favourite views that  we encountered during today's cruise.

Sunday, 18 April 2010

Another Beautiful Day

Today being Sunday has been a day of rest for the six of us relaxing, chatting and  looking out across the fields bird watching. This year the towpaths seem to be in very good condition with the grass cut and most of the hedges and overhanging trees cut back. Well done to BW for that, I’m sure it’s not just for the boaters benefit though, is it?IMG_0057Several boats have past by and many walkers and the odd jogger or two. Then we heard the nearby lift bridge banging and noticed two girls aged about 8-9 years old lifting it then running across it to make it come crashing down. Bottle cupped his hands and shouted out to leave the bridge alone, which they did immediately. A man then walked towards us with the girls and a dog saying it was unnecessary to shout at them as we did. We replied that it could be dangerous for them, besides causing damage to the bridge. However he did not see our point of view though! I told him that he had beautiful daughters and that he should take more care of them in the future. There is always one irresponsible twit who spoils things for everyone so it seems. Then blow me down an older man was sitting on the bridge holding it down, but we saw no boat coming. To our horror we saw two girls and two dogs running up the bridge and making it bang down. The dogs were fast and almost dived off the edge of it. It is a shame that some people are not really fit to be in charge of children are they? On a lighter note we also saw a steam passenger train heading northwards towards Banbury, but didn’t catch a photo of it I’m afraid. This afternoon we were treated to our very own acrobatic display when a little bi-plane came and looped the loop and flew upside-down right over our heads. 

IMG_0030 Swans nestingYesterday we saw these swans having their siesta on the bank between the River Cherwell and the canal. Nice substantial nest they have built there too.

At the end of the day.


Saturday, 17 April 2010

Enslow to Sommerton

We moored between the canal and the River Cherwell at Enslow, in a nice quiet spot. After a snack and a rest I strolled along the towpath and found some nice dry wood, for lighting the fire on those chilly evenings. Later, we ventured up to The Rock of Gibraltar for an evening meal. We shared a pudding of Baklava with Greek yogurt and honey fruity sauce, which was absolutely delicious. This morning we woke up to a frosty start, but the sun soon melted that, so we set off with the sun warming our backs. We spied Maffi on his boat at Heyford Wharf and he came aboard for coffee, cake and a natter, then we were joined by Bones who was sporting the latest fashion in black painted wear! It was lovely to see them one more time before  leaving the area. IMG_0032The sky was so blue with not a cloud in site, a really beautiful day for cruising.

IMG_0050 LambWe saw our first lambs today some were frolicking on the woodpile and some were taking a siesta in the shade of the trees with their mothers.

IMG_0065 Sommerton LockWe passed through Sommerton Deep Lock, then on up to moor just north of the lift Bridge 193 with our old friends on nb Tranquillity and nb Piston Broke. There is a lovely view across the fields from here and we could see and hear Curlews nearby. After a good natter we indulged in a few glasses of wine and ale together. Graham kept us all well entertained as he was upside-down painting the inside of his gas locker, not an easy job for someone with short arms, so Paul joined in to help him out.

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Wonderful Week!

We have been lingering around Thrupp because we were having visitors on Monday. We hired a Ford Galaxy from Enterprise in Botley to go to pick up Bottles elderly parents and his sister who is over from Australia. It was remarkably easy for everyone to get in and out of the Galaxy and it was a comfy drive. We booked them into their B+B then took them to see our boat for the first time. We weren't sure if they would be able to come aboard  as both are in their eighties and boats move about as you board them.  So, we put a large cushion on the bow which they sat on while we swivelled their legs round onto the deck and they were in, simples! We then enjoyed an evening meal together at The Jolly Boatman. The next day we thought we’d take them for a short cruise up the canal and show them how we manage to get the boat through lift bridges and locks. Of course it is rather a novelty for Australians as they haven’t got any canals over there and lots of photos were taken to show the folks back there. Bottles Dad got into the swing of things and joined him on the stern to see how the steering is done.


Although the sun was shining there was rather a cool breeze so we had re-lit the fire  for them. After winding at Enslow we moored up for a mid-day snack,  luvly jubbly! Everything went well and they enjoyed their first ever cruise on a narrow boat. We returned to moor in Thrupp by the Boat Inn. Would you believe it, as we were helping them off the boat to go for an evening meal, Bottle accidentally dropped the car keys in the cut!. So we got everyone back on board while he fished about with the magnet and luckily enough found them, phew! We then went to The Crown and Tuns in Deddington as they are famous for their home cooked savoury pies with various different fillings, served with crispy chips and vegetables. The food was gorgeous, but alas we couldn’t eat all of it as there seemed to be too much, this was our only criticism, as we don’t like wasting food. On Wednesday morning we fetched them from the B+B for coffee aboard then we walked up to Annie's Tearooms for a mid-day snack. Everything is home-made and freshly prepared. The sandwiches came with a nice side-salad and surprisingly Bottles Dad tucked into a cream tea! All good things come to an end and we set off to return them home to Croydon. On the journey up and down the M40 I think I saw about a dozen red kites soaring around. There was enough time and fuel left in the car to take us into Gloucestershire to make a fleeting visit to see our little grandson and his family too.

IMG_0015 Cowslops or Oxslips Thursday we walked into Kidlington to the Ironmongers picking up food supplies en-route. Are these Cowslips or Oxslips I wonder?Then up for one final snack in the ‘Trooms’ to say farewell to Tim and Annie who have been so helpful as they know the local area so well. Today saw us reverse back onto the services at Thrupp to fill up with water etc. While we were there Dick off nb Peruvian Skies had returned from Lechlade and came up for a chat with us. We are now moored at Enslow relaxing and drying the washing in the sunshine. Bottle is not snoring or even asleep, he is just resting his eyes! Well, he has had a busy week hasn’t he?

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Cool breezy day.

On our walk yesterday I saw a snake under the railway bridge by the Cherwell and having googled it I now know it was a Grass Snake as it had yellow cheek markings. This morning we joined Bones and Mark at Annie’s Trooms for coffee. We lifted the bridge for  nb Futurest and helped him moor up. He then invited us aboard for a look round and coffee. He has a Lister JP2 which was still running when we went on board and the whole boat was gently throbbing! It is a beautiful boat and the boatman's cabin is spectacular. We have looked around several sixty foot boats now and it is amazing how completely different they all are inside and out. Now that the Squirrel has gone out for the summer we have just finished doing the spring cleaning to remove all the ash dust that it gives out overwinter. It has been a joy to have it going non-stop since November as it keeps the whole boat warm and cosy. I think I’m going to miss it.

IMG_0004This is a great little character called Maggie who has become known locally as ‘the out of focus dog’ as her outline is a bit blurred!  We had a walk down to the Jolly Boatman and just managed to squeeze in for a lovely roast dinner, they only had beef left, fortunately. Tim has just called in for Bottle to join him for a drink down at The Boat Inn, and people ask us if we ever get bored living on a narrow-boat!

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Nice weekend

Today we said goodbye to Peruvian Skies as they headed off South and we crept up onto their mooring by The Boat Inn. The morning was spent cleaning the boat inside and out as it gets rather muddy at times. Graham + Betty came up and moored  next to us on nb Tranquility and we had coffee together. Lunchtime we went to Annies Trooms for a snack then meandered along beside the river and back around through the woodland. The four of us spent the rest of the afternoon sitting chatting on the towpath soaking up the sun. Betty was doing her knitting and I helped Graham assemble some tyre fenders ready for sale.IMG_0017Here are they are all finished, he makes a good job of them and they are £4 each or two for £7 if you need some. We had afternoon tea, followed by a glass of wine and beer each. It’s amazing the number of people passing by who stop for a chat, and to get their dogs patted. The evening turned a bit nippy so we went aboard for our evening meal, toad-in-the-hole with green vegetables, mmm.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Eventful Times

Well last evening was spent sipping wine and beer in the good company of Lynne + Paul, Betty + Graham sitting on the canal bank in the sun, bootiful. The last time we were all together was when we were all iced in at Braunston over the winter so it was nice to catch up. This morning after Paul + Lynne headed off down South, Graham + Betty called by for coffee. Now we have split up temporarily, but will surely bump into each other again from time to time. Then we headed off up the canal as we had run out of water again. Roundham Lock gate would not open far enough to let our boat enter, so we spent half and hour fishing about removing the bent metalwork and wood that was fouling the gate. Just after we had moored up we saw non other than Dick and Netti on nb Peruvian Skies so had a good natter to them exchanging our experiences. Then Bones and Boots called in for tea and a chat. Needless to say dinner was rather late and we had almost finished eating when Maffi came for tea. Now they are all down the pub and I am enjoying a quiet time putting my feet up, thank goodness. IMG_0018There is one certainty when you live aboard a canal boat that nearly every day turns out to be different. I wonder what tomorrow will bring?

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Spring is in the air

As it was such a gorgeously sunny we thought we would venture into Oxford. Bottle was forced to go into Marks and Sparks to buy himself a pair of badly needed new jeans. They were only £9.50, I think any more than that and he wouldn’t have bothered. He even managed to try them on in the shop. This makes life easier for me as I usually have to buy them, bring them for him to try, then return them if they don’t fit! I couldn’t make him to buy slippers though, he’ll probably wait until the soles are hanging off  them before he does that. Well, one purchase is a great achievement I suppose. The Antique market was in full swing, after a good browse around we weren’t tempted to buy anything here. However I did find a nice wide spatula for my daughter to flip her pancakes and omelettes with in ‘Boswells’, what a great shop that is.

IMG_0001 Oxford Antique marketWe went into Wetherspoons ‘The Four Candles’ for brunch as the prices are so reasonable. For two breakfasts, a pint of Guinness and a pint of orange juice it was just under £10 , excellent value. On arrival back at the boat we shook the cobwebs from the deckchairs and had drinks outside for the first time this year. Then we sawed up the woodpile while it was nice and dry.

IMG_0015 Magdalen StreetThis is Magdalen Street where the buses run from. There must be a hundred bicycles chained to the fence here. The large shop called ‘Borders’ is now in use at last as ‘Labels 4 Less’ selling casual clothes.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Oxford Shopping

IMG_0001Here’s one advertising feature I missed previously as it is high up above Paynes Silversmith jewellery shop. Having a screen on a digital camera is a big advantage in these situations as you can avoid getting double decker buses blotting out the view. Lynne and I went down every little street and all around the indoor and outdoor markets in search of a pipe for Paul to smoke instead of his roll-ups! Needless to say we couldn’t track one down anywhere. Neither did we find the Gipsy Tarts recommended to us by Betty. I managed to find some nice comfortable jeans, without the low-slung crutch, in Marks and Sparks and we had coffee and a snack in Pret A Manger. Shame, Lynne's search for summer shoes was unfruitful though. On our way back to the bus we encountered this strange lady posing on the pavement.


Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Bright and Breezy

Well the Easter weekend rush of boats all seems to have fizzled out now. It is back to piece and quiet for us, except for the drone of the lawn mowing season starting that is. We have had two or three canoes speeding by us closely followed by the resident swan who doesn’t like them intruding in his space. This morning we joined Lynne and Paul to tootle off down to Sainsbuy’s Superstore in Kidlington to forage for food. On the bus journey back a suntanned chap sitting near Lynne started chatting to her and seemed to think she would benefit from seeing his brown legs and rolled his trousers up for her to oggle at, luvly jubbly! Needless to say this made Paul roll his eyes a bit.

IMG_0007On yesterdays walk we marvelled at the chunky ironwork on the top gate at Roundham Lock. Did it have a special use I wonder? Dukes Cut lock has the same post but with flat ironwork holding it in place. These are the only two we have seen like this. We sat  here for awhile and watched the birds who were all busy building their nests.

IMG_0008A footpath runs from Kidlington over the railway and canal bridge past the lock over this wooden footbridge through the fields via this kissing gate. We like the special lift up gate for dogs to run through on the right. Tomorrow we hit Oxford for a girls day out how nice. The towpath has dried out after all he rain so we won’t be going laden down with heavy muddy boots hopefully.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Thrupp Thatched Cottages

IMG_0023Today was a bit windy but also nice and dry so we walked up the towpath to Thrupp for refreshments at Annie’s Troom. All the old BW buildings around the yard there have been tastefully transformed into a little oasis. Annie and Tim were quite busy today serving up their wonderful home-made cakes, soup and sandwiches. When we first visited Thrupp BW also owned  the three lovely old thatched cottages nearby which were up for auction and they all sold. Much renovation work has gone on since then. When we saw them today this one had already been re-sold. It will really be nice to see families moving into them after all the years of dereliction.

IMG_0027 5.4.2010 resold The above images are the before and after the renovation works. We like this area very much as there are so many lovely walks all around Thrupp, Shipton, and Hampton Gay.


As Wozie has posted we went for a walk in the afternoon but during the morning whilst looking out the side hatch, I saw this2010_0404KidlingtonReserveWal0002

a Buzzard Red Kite, see comments.

I realise in this photo it is a ‘dot’, he was not alone, there were two others, all circling together, higher and higher till they flew downwind at very high speed.



Sunday, 4 April 2010

Wildlife Walk


Well it was a wonderful sunny afternoon just right for a long walk around the conservation area known as ‘Stratfield Brake’. On our way down we saw this lovely old rake that the farmer had used to fill a large hole in the hedgerow. The central hub was cast by Nicholson’s of Newark. It still looks to be in good nick but I expect that modern technology has taken over from it. There are patches of beautiful Blue and White Violets all along the canal bank. We crossed over the wooden footbridge No229 and meandered around the wetland and lake that is in the centre. Although it is quite well laid out we didn’t see much wildlife, but there were primroses and cowslips in flower. On the way back we took the short cut all around the houses, admiring all the cats that were roaming about.

IMG_0006This swan has taken up residence in somebody's garden  near the canal, she may be sitting on an egg we think.

IMG_0007This is her partner who is very protective of his female and sees everyone off from his patch. Many boats have passed up and down the canal. We think that some of them have diverted from the Thames which is running high at the moment.