Thursday, 31 March 2011

Here, there, and everywhere.

IMG_0001 blacking

During the fine weather Bottle touched up some of the paintwork that had been scuffed off.

IMG_0015 Coffee Refil £1.50 IMG_0005 

We have found out that most supermarkets do our favourite coffee in handy re-usable pouches which also works out cheaper to buy. Much lighter to transport and easier to dispose of than the glass jars. Re-cycling facilities along the canal system are very few, which means holding onto them for long periods where space to store them aboard  is limited. We have discovered a new sliced loaf by Hovis that we like called ‘Hearty Oats’. it is made from 50% wheat flour and 50% oats. It makes a nice alternative to the bread we bake aboard with 50% wholemeal, 50% white flour. The beauty of the sliced loaf is that you can take a few slices out of the freezer when the homemade loaf runs out. Another onboard success we have had is the Lemon Drizzle Loaf Cake from Tesco. It is lovely to have one in the freezer if I am too lazy or it is too hot to make my own cakes. Thanks go to Dave who introduced us to it, and it has been enjoyed by many fellow boaters on board for tea. Can you guess what the picture on the right is?

2011_03_25_0324 -1

This Mallard nest was on the towpath, the dark area (top right) is the canal we walked past her on our outward journey, without seeing or disturbing her, she was seen returning to the nest after Bottle took the photo’.

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Thrupp to Banbury


Sorry for the lack of blogging since we were at Thrupp, but the computer signal has not been up to much. This was the view from our cratch as we squeezed nb Kara Sea into the last remaining space next to us below Shipton Bridge. We popped into each others boats to chat over drinks. We briefly met Bones and Maffi before they went off to the vets with Boots and Molly. We also saw Mark to wish him a Happy Birthday before we left. We had received a text message to say that Betty and Graham were stuck by lift bridge 193 because Betty had hurt her back, so would we join them there.

IMG_0016 B194 Somerton Deep Lock

We passed through Somerton Deep Lock looking very picturesque in the sunshine. I couldn’t shut the bottom gate as it was so heavy so Bottle climbed up the ladder out of the lock to help me. We moored up at Lower Heyford overnight right opposite the church and the clock struck on the hour all night, ding dong!

 2011_03_25_0309 -1

We then had another beautiful days cruising up to B193 to moor in front of nb  Tranquility and soon afterwards we were reunited with nb Piston Broke who had cruised south to join us. So, it was out with the chairs on the towpath with nibbles and drinks to catch up on what we had been doing since the big freeze-in at Braunston. The next day we left Lynne and Paul doing jobs aboard while we walked the five mile round trip into Deddington. We saw this unusually shaped thatched house as we passed through Clifton en route. We frequented the Co-Op, delicatessen and Foodies Cafe for refreshments before our long return walk.


This location must be one of the quietest most idyllic mooring spots and needless to say it is one of our favourites with views across the fields. The River Cherwell meanders nearby and Curlews and Skylarks could be seen and heard. Tranquility had to leave for an appointment and Lynne and I walked Crystal and Saffi over the footpath to the railway viaduct near Souldern Farm. I wonder how many blue bricks it took to build those lovely arches? After spending a few nice days together we helped Piston Broke on their way south through Somerton deep lock. While walking back to Oakfield we spoke to a man who was laying traps in the river to catch Red Crayfish. He has obtained the landowners permission to do so and is doing us all a great favour in reducing their presence as they are causing damage everywhere.

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Nest building time is here.

I was watching the Coots building their nest in the canal. When new reeds were added it was quite amusing to see them stamping them down to bed them in. I am not that fond of Coots as they are rather noisy creatures. They also bamboozle us by making a sound just like a pin being hammered into the towpath, amazing.

IMG_0034 Coot scratting

Well the weather is behaving at the moment, things are warming up, and we are now mud free at last. I have washed and buffed up the roof, bow, stern, and towpath side of Oakfield today. Don’t know how long it will look good though as we are moored in the only free space under a tree and birds may pepper it with pooh again. Carmen and Ian on Kara Sea managed to squeeze their boat in front of ours, but their stern is sticking out a bit. It was nice to meet up with the fellow boaters that we were moored with during the winter freeze-in and catch up on each others news. I’ve never seen the moorings quite so full at Thrupp before.  The TCCC have extended their permanent moorings almost up to Shipton Bridge since we were here last time. The toilet and Elsan rooms have been tiled and painted very smartly. The electrifying lift bridge seems to be very high maintenance, two chaps were working on it again today. Annie's Tea Rooms have been taken over and the tea and home made goodies continue to be as scrumptious as ever. The Boat Inn is now run by the same people who run The Jolly Boatman and rumour has it that Guinness is £3.60 per pint, so I don’t think we will be venturing in either of them! Bottle and I have now got a trolley each, so it was off the the supermarket on the bus to stock up yesterday, what fun.

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Wozie Went Shopping and I Went Walking

Not too far mind, only just through the fields to Hampton Gay, the sheep were in the fields with their lambs.

The weather was fine and to be so near the sheep and the lambs was wonderful. I did not go to near so not to spook them.

One ewe did take exception and stamped her foot.

At the entrance to the field the farmer has placed a polite sign, welcoming you to Hampton Manor Farm and just reminding walkers to keep their dogs on a lead and that there is no access to the derelict manor as it is private property.

Two views of the Manor

2011_03_17_0192 2011_03_17_0197

This little fellah had an itch

2011_03_17_0203 This was a dot in the sky

2011_03_17_0206 cropand this is Shipton on Cherwell church taken on the way back


Friday, 18 March 2011

GC, The Railway and Narrowboat Travelling Cat.


We first met GC, short for Ginger Cat, aboard his narrow boat Alnwick on which he had enjoyed many happy voyages. Although he lived in a house, most of the time, he was never very keen on travelling between the two by car.


He knew all the warmest places where he could curl up to relax undisturbed. His bed was in the top of the bookcase, although the top of the radiator or the engine were also great favourites of his. As you know when boats moor up to the towpath it could be on either side of the boat and GC has  been known to jump off the wrong side and end up rather wet.


Here he is at Crick Show last year, he pricked up his ears when he heard the steam powered narrow boat President blow his whistle as he approached with butty Kildare. Having spent quite a few years living on the Great Central Railway where Graham worked as a volunteer, it was a familiar sound to him, so Graham took him to watch the manoeuvres.












It is unknown how many years GC lived rough on the station and just how many return trips he took as a passenger aboard the trains.  However he became rather fond of Graham, so when he left GC went home with him and has enjoyed twelve years in great comfort being waited on by Graham and Jane. He was such a mysterious individual character of indeterminate age and definitely a law unto himself. He endeared himself to many humans on his travels that he will be greatly missed around the canal system.

As befitting a cat of great stature he had his own website Link


Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Banbury and Beyond.

Since leaving Banbury we have not had a very good signal for posting our blog, until now. We have had a brilliant few days cruising down from Banbury stopping at Nell Bridge, Upper Heyford and the beautiful, peaceful, Kirtlington Quarry.

IMG_0001 Maternity Ward The expectant ewes were reclining in the maternity unit on the sunny slope below this ancient barn. We also saw a black swan among a group of white ones in a field, is this a rarity? We were impressed with all the work BW have done down the south Oxford Canal cutting all the overhanging trees and reeds back. The towpath has been repaired in many places and is well cut too. The locks and lift bridges were easy to manage too. We were glad to see that a lock has been fitted to lift Bridge 193 which is operated by a BW key. We moored near this last year and saw three young girls under 10ish lifting the bridge then running across it making it slam down. Their father was with them and allowed them to do it without seeing the danger of it or the damage it may have caused to the structure. Even when we pointed out the stupidity of it to him he wouldn’t see reason. Anyway this simple lock is a much cheaper solution than the expensive electronically operated lift bridge fitted at Thrupp. A consequence of some dimwit running up the beam and jumping off the end and breaking both his legs!

We passed Mill Farm with it’s fine collection of Morris minors and executive hen houses and into nearby Pigeons Lock. All the reeds that have been cut and fallen into the canal seem to have ended up here, so we had to clear them to get into the lock.

IMG_0011 Pigeons Lock B213Adjacent to the lock stands the lovely Flights Mill a grade 2 listed Cotswold stone building dating from c1799. There are plans to generate electricity for the small community via an Archimedes Screw Micro Hydro scheme, driven by water from the River Cherwell. This is such a picturesque little area.

IMG_0006 Flights Mill

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Banbury Museum.

IMG_0002 Anenome IMG_0001 Baracles

‘Anemone’ and ‘Barnacles’ were part of the Sensory Art Exhibition which visitors were encouraged to touch. The exhibits were specially made with blind people in mind and was excellent.

IMG_0007 Noahs Ark

IMG_0008 ToysThe Museum was on the upper floor and had a wonderful arrangement of old toys.

IMG_0004 Weaving Loom   IMG_0014 County firemark

On the left is an old loom for weaving ‘plush’. I’m not quite sure what fabric was woven, but the plush was made by raising the knap of the material to produce a velvety texture. This is the fire- mark of the County Insurance Co which would be displayed on the front of houses that had paid for their insurance against fire.  I wonder what happened to the dwellings that had no such mark on display. There was a splendid fireman's helmet and some tokens, one of which would be given to a fireman who had pumped the water pump for 45 minutes. He could then exchange this token in the local tavern for beer.

We like Banbury very much, the shops are all within a short walking distance of the canal. It is rather a noisy place though, but that is to be expected with a population of 46,000.

Now that the emergency repairs have been completed on the lock below the town many boats are back on the move again.

The Olde Reine Deer Inn.

IMG_0010On arrival in Banbury we thought we would try the lunches at one of the oldest inns there in, Parsons Street.

IMG_0009 built early 1500s  This is the mosaic entrance to the left of the large double courtyard gates carved with the name of the previous owners, the Knight family, and the date 1570. The Globe Room was built on to the rear of the inn in 1673 and has beautiful carved wooden panelling. It may have been the meeting place of the Roundhead officers when they were planning the siege of Banbury Castle.

IMG_0004 The Globe Room 1637 IMG_0003 Olde Reindeer Inn

We had Chicken and Stuffing Pie with plenty of chips and fresh vegetables at one of the tables with lovely painted cast iron legs. All around the walls were old local pictures depicting the buildings history.

Cropredy 2


We did a circular walkabout passing Cropedy Mill and up the track to the school. Foundations are in the process of being laid in the field between the track and the canal. On enquiry we learnt that it is to become a plant nursery and not another marina, phew!

IMG_0014 B152 We thought we would go to the little coffee shop for a change only to find that it had closed down. So we popped into the Spar shop and the PO, then made our way back under bridge 152 for coffee on board Oakfield.


We like the paint jobs on the sides of the LeeSan vans, advertising the Marine Sanitation Team, “No arsing about, just great service’’, it says.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


IMG_0011 mixed weather  Our journey to Cropredy was in a mixture of weather, sun, occasional showers, cool breeze, blue and grey skies. As we cruised along through Fenny Tunnel we only encountered one other boat. Two BW contract workers were cutting trees back and clearing the overhanging scrub. Hooray, no more scratches all along the paintwork when we pass other boats next time.

IMG_0005 sunbathing chickens These three hens were taking advantage and doing a bit of sunbathing.

IMG  0010 nutgarden I liked this little miniature nut-garden by one of the the lock gates. We passed through the only other pair of cast iron lock gates on the system which are at Claydon. The other pair have just been refurbished and reinstalled at Hillmorten, remember?

IMG_0009 Clattercote Wharf Further on down we saw the busy Clattercote Wharf, I wonder what the origin of that lovely name is? Then we arrived at Cropredy in time to moor up just before another shower of rain.


On Sunday we made our way up the locks to cruise along to one of our favourite country mooring spots on Wormleighton Hill. As soon as we had tied up we sat in the cratch with our cuppa tea looking across the landscape to Napton windmill bathed in the deep orange sunset. It is so peaceful there and the sweeping views across the fields are breathtaking. We saw a hare bounding across one ploughed field, too fast for me to catch a photograph!

IMG_0004 Swans

The swans were busy helping themselves to the farmers crops.


The sheep had a notice saying ‘NO HS2 RAIL LINK’ on their WW11 abode.

IMG_0007 Noahs Ark

We saw that one of the farmers had his Noah's Ark ready to evacuate his animals in case of flood.

An early start on Monday saw us scrunching through a thin layer of ice that was lingering in the shady spots. On arrival at Fenny Compton we found that the internet signal was not much good. We decided to walk into the village which was about a mile. Being lunch time Bottle said I’ll treat you to lunch at the Merrie Lion. When we got there it looked as though it had been closed for sometime. Never mind, we got the Radio Times in the Co-op and headed back to do the crosswords and track word puzzle.

Sunken boats.

We left Braunston to cruise south and just past the puddle- banks we had to carefully negotiate around the remaining sunken boat.

IMG_0007 sunken boatIMG_0010

We thought that there used to be two here but that one must have been rescued since the last time we came by.

IMG_0012 sitting on it's bottom IMG_0014

Further on just round the corner is another old boat which appears to be sitting on it’s bottom. I suppose it will cost quite a bit to restore them to their former glory though?

At Napton.

IMG_0017 Napton WindmillWe had a gorgeously sunny, but cool day for cruising down to Napton passed the lovely residential Windmill on the hill.

IMG_0018 the sheephorse Sheep-horses were merrily grazing in the sloping fields below.

IMG_0021 boat too wide for locks reversing

Whilst we were moored up for the night we saw this boat being reversed back from the bottom of the locks by a BW man. He told us that unfortunately it was too wide to get up the flight and would have to turn and go back whence it came. We heard a faint knocking on the side door at 8am and hurriedly got up to find that Ian from Gosty Hill was soon to arrive with diesel and coal to replenish our stocks. I then went along to the Canal Shop for a few things and was told that The Folly Inn was back in business. The couple who run it now have been catering for twenty years or so and do lovely food. Maybe we will pop in on our way back and try their home cooked cuisine.

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Canal Cottage.

IMG_0003  IMG_0001 cottage by Stophouse

No-one knew that hiding under a thick covering of ivy there stood this desirable little red brick cottage. Now at last all has been revealed and there is something to photograph. It stands next to The Stop House at Braunston and was recently purchased at auction along with outbuildings and a substantial piece of land. There must be some history to it as it could have originally been a stable or suchlike. One side of it overlooks the towpath, while the other faces the driveway towards the main road. Anyway we shall look forward to seeing what it’s new owner has in mind for it when we pass by next time.

IMG_0049 newspaper narrowboat

Newspapers can be useful when you become a do-it-yourself boat painter!