Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Friendly parting.


We had the gang round for farewell afternoon drinks/nibbles and Al kindly brought some of her tasty home-made flapjack to share. It is nice to spend time with friends as it brightens up the dull wintry months. Al, Lynne and I had been out food shopping to Sainsbury's superstore and of course perusing the clothes while we were there. Together with Del, Paul and Keith we spent a jolly evening enjoying a variety of lovely meals at the Stag and Pheasant. The puddings were good too, but bad news for the after Christmas slimming we had planned. You see we had been trying out the scales in the shopping precinct at Rugby. For fifty pence you get a weight, height and bmi readout. Why does it seem to sense there is a female standing on it and give out an overweight reading I wonder? I was grateful to Paul though, as he had lost two inches in height and somehow I had gained one of them!

With our water running low and the threat of icy cold weather we had decided to move on along to fill up the tank. We have reset out water gauge, so we hope we will now get a more accurate reading of our water situation.

IMG_0595 Phobox Co

When I went for my walk around Braunston a gang of about eight men were all busy repairing and painting ‘Nuffield’. ‘Lucy’ can be seen behind undergoing refurbishment in the ‘Phobox’ company yard too. Opposite, in the garden of the cottage on the junction stands this dainty little room with a view. Previous occupants could look out of the tiny windows on either side whilst sitting on the thunder-box!


IMG_0593 room with a view 

The canal has been covered in thin ice at times and there have been quite a few sharp frosts overnight. On Monday we planned to bus it down to Banbury to see Graham and Betty before they go further south. We walked up into the village to catch the No 12 into Daventry and it was half an hour late because of a breakdown. The lady driver made up time along the way, but we still arrived to see our connecting bus leaving. As we had an hour to wait for the next one we went for a coffee to warm up. We were back waiting for the 11.15 am bus along with about twenty others and it didn’t turn up at all. When we got on the 12.15pm one the driver apologised saying the previous bus had broken down too. It was no fun standing around shivering for that hour, especially for some of the elderly passengers. Anyway we arrived to a nice sunny afternoon in Banbury and a warm welcome aboard ‘nb Tranquility’ with coffee and sandwiches. It was nice to see them again and thankfully our return journey went quite smoothly!

Thursday, 26 January 2012



A Tesco van stopped briefly while the two chaps had a walk round on the grass verge. The sheep thought they had brought their hay delivery and flocked over there baaing loudly. During my walk around I did my towpath tidy collecting about a dozen beer cans en-route.

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After depositing the rubbish I walked over the bridge and it seems that the old house is undergoing renovation and the garden has also been tidied up.

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Next I strolled around the churchyard of St John the Baptist parts of which date back to the 13 Century. The lovely old red sandstone tower has a peel of six bells that are still in working order. I got chatting to a gardener there who told me his wife was soon to take over as vicar. The graveyard has been stripped of all it’s gravestones and they have been re-sited around the circular perimeter fence. There are several old Yew trees interspersed with Crocuses, Snowdrops and these yellow flowers just emerging from their winter rest.

IMG_0583 Badsey’s Bistro is closed for January and February as the owners are carrying out renovations. We look forward to them re-opening as their food is fabulous.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012



During our afternoon stroll Saffi and Crystal greeted the friendly ponies over the fence.

IMG_0581 Further down at Hilmorton middle lock BW had pumped the water from above the top gates to work on the ground paddles.

Monday, 23 January 2012


IMG_0576 I’ve made Boat Cakes, Ginger Cakes and Cheese Scones, but the quickest thing I have ever made are Palmiers from a recipe that Betty had given me. It is just puff pastry bought ready made rolled out fairly thinly, spread with Pesto and sprinkled with a layer of finely grated cheese. Then it is rolled up, either as a whole to make rounds, or sides to middle which make ‘Elephants Ears’. I did both. Cut into thin slices about a quarter of an inch thick and cooked on a baking tray for about 10 mins at 200C. They would make an ideal party food snack that would only take about half an hour to complete! You can also make sweet versions too, have a look on Wikipedia.

Sunday, 22 January 2012


IMG_0571 Swift Valley Country Park     IMG_0572 Gosty Hill

While at Rugby I had a pleasant walk up the disused arm of the canal starting near The Bell and Barge Inn opposite the water tap. The area between Masters Bridge and the footbridge is marked in our Nicholson's Guide as a winding hole, but we wouldn’t attempt to turn Oakfield there. The water was crystal clear just after the surface ice on the canal melted revealing many dumped trolleys squashed and embedded into the mud beneath. I crossed the footbridge and meandered along the muddy towpath. There was a slight flow on the water towards the canal and watercress was growing there just out of reach. Turning left before I reached the end I saw the entrance into the Swift Valley Country Park. Someone had used the old tree stump to very good effect by carving a Green Man into it.

Gosty Hill came by and topped up our diesel and coal supplies while I was cooking the Ginger Cakes. Iain began to drool as he could smell them, so we gave him and Alison one for their tea, which apparently only lasted them two days!

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Frosty window.

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There had been heavy frosts for days and the canal had frozen over during the nights, but on Wednesday the ice had melted away a little. We had a quick dash down to Tesco with the trolley for a few missing items of food. Then we pulled onto the opposite bank to attend to the loo and rubbish before leaving Rugby for a quieter mooring place. You may have guessed that the noisy building work beside the canal is still going on. As there is some space left they will eventually cover that with flats or houses too. Lynne and I had had a brisk walk into Rugby to meet with Betty for a nice long chat over coffee midweek.

Through the cold spell, with the ground being frozen solid for days, Oakfield is keeping cosy and inside. Bottle started a loaf off in the bread maker to cook en-route. Also, while we travelled along slowly through the floating sheets of ice I did some cleaning and hung the washing up to dry. It’s amazing how the trusty Squirrel dries the washing hanging in the saloon overnight.

The sun is beaming through the portholes and it is now time for morning coffee whilst doing the crossword, so bye for now.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Tesco's Trolleys.


Well I toddled off down to see Richard the manager at Tesco's Rugby store, but he was on holiday this week, so I spoke to Lee his deputy. After a lengthy discussion with him, he assured me that they would seek  a solution to the problem. He already has two ideas which he will put forward to HQ. He took my e-mail and blog address, so I look forward to hearing from him very soon!


The top picture shows the trolley barrier and the footpath that leads up to the new housing estate and the canal. The other picture is of the Grunt and Groan Team flexing their muscles heaving trolleys out.

Surely it will be worth Tesco’s cutting down on their continual trolley losses, even a small trolley costs £120 to replace. So, how many food items would they have to sell to recoup the £120 I wonder?

Us narrow boaters have our own shopping trolleys for trundling our supplies back up the footpath to our boats. I do know that many of us visit Tesco’s and spend a great deal of money stocking up our larders. So, come on Tesco, please find a solution to trolleys being dumped in the canal here, because WE’RE WORTH IT!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Trolley Dollies.

You may remember that we posted last year about the problem of Tesco trolleys that end up under Masters Bridge at Rugby.  Well this morning Paul and Bottle went along with a mooring hook on a rope. Between them they pulled the four mangled trolleys out that they could reach. I went along too, as photographer and reporter.


We managed to heap the damaged trolleys onto the least bent one and wobbled them down the long footpath through the car park, where we attracted quite a bit of attention.

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Then into the foyer of Tesco's where we left them to go in to have ‘discussions’ with the manager. We spoke to a relief manager from another store called Julie who said she would pass on our concerns. I have made several visits to the store to see the manager Richard who seems to be rather illusive. The last time I spoke to the deputy manager Rosie, who was a very nice girl who said Richard was in a meeting and she would tell him about the squashed trolleys in the canal.

Tomorrow Richard is rumoured to be in-store, so I will try and see him then! I am quite determined to get some thing done about this, however long it takes.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Winter Warmers.

Well, we are all geared up for a cold snap if we are going to get one now.

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The new Covent Garden Souper Greens soup is quite delicious, even though it also has water and potato in it too! I can also recommend their Carrot and Coriander and Winter Vegetable varieties too. They are about £2 a carton, so are a tad expensive, but I always treat myself when they come on offer for half that price. Makes a nice meal on it’s own with a crusty roll if your not up to cooking something.

I already had a pair of these 2.3 tog socks which my daughter gave me last Christmas. They are good and keep my feet warm and toasty. I now have three pairs and have also bought some for for Bottle. They can be found in the street markets, but I recently found some in Tesco's for £6 per pair.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Friends and Bloggers.

IMG_0555Having spent a few days in the good company of Piston Broke and Tranquility we said our goodbyes and  left our mooring at Hillmorton as we needed to fill with water. Our tank only holds 130 gallons which is fairly small we think. The washing machine was started and I had a quick shower while we filled our tank, which took about an hour. It was probably rather slow because another boat was using the other tap. We had the third lock set for us as a couple with four dogs, they were moving holiday boats down but weren’t ready to enter the lock. They very kindly let us go first and helped us lock down. It was a brilliant day for cruising and we met up with Del and Al  for a long chat, after which they set off too. As you can see the water was mirror smooth today as they slowly glided past us.

IMG_0556 Del AlAwww, lovely!



As we passed by this unusual shaped boat by Clifton Cruisers there was someone at work inside and they gave us a wave.

Hmmm, Shepherds Pie for dinner this evening I think, so bye for now.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Rock and Roll.

IMG_0037 Hillmorton Jan 2012

Oakfield has definitely been rocking about at times in this stormy weather. Today though there is sun and some blue sky and the sheep have been walked over from the field opposite to pastures new. Saturday is usually a relaxing day for us starting with ‘Sounds of the Sixties’, walking, cleaning, reading and catching up on the internet blogs that we follow. joining the hoards of Saturday shoppers is not for us. We have also been frequently flexing the bus passes as it is not much fun cruising in such weather conditions. Hillmorton is a convenient palace to moor as buses run every fifteen minutes from just up the road into Rugby. From there we have accessed buses to Coventry, Braunston and Daventry. Rugby and Daventry have weekly street markets and there is a huge indoor market at Coventry, plus all the usual large superstores to peruse. Many improvements are being made here around the Lady Godiva and Transport Museum areas in readiness for the Olympics.

IMG_0001 BW finishing off  IMG_0026

Although the three locks here are all duplicate ones, one side has been locked off, presumably because of the water shortage. The signpost opposite Granthams Bridge points left to Oxford 62 1/4 and Banbury 33 1/2 and right to Coventry 22 miles, but you’d need binoculars to read the small lettering from your boat as it passes by.

IMG_0036 Badseys austin truck

Badsey’s Bistro looking good in the sunshine.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


IMG_0041 hillmorton

It’s lovely to see that the snowdrops have appeared already. I do hope this is a sign that Spring is on it’s way, or are we in for some more icy wintry weather, because we haven’t had much of that yet?

IMG_0036 Ladybird aboardDuring the Summer months we had quite a few Ladybirds hitching a lift aboard Oakfield. Today though is dull, dark, very windy and raining horizontal ‘cats and dogs’ at times. We think you could ease off on the rain dance a bit now Dave!

So, it’s lucky that we can take it in turns to host afternoon tea, usually followed by an alcoholic beverage, with our friends on their boats. I don’t know what we find to chatter about , but we always do somehow. The Squirrel is still ticking over gently in the corner making everything cosy and warm.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Family time.

We were so excited as we were off to spend time in a ‘house’ with our daughter, her partner and our Grandson. The latest member of their family is a kitten who is aptly named ‘Pickle’.

IMG_0531 Pickle in Igloo      IMG_0521 Pickle

Here he is peeping out of his cosy little Igloo which is also his retreat for a quiet time by himself. He also has this new fluffy bed which hangs on the radiator in the kitchen. Although he is already well trained he is still very lively and playful.

IMG_0520 Christmas Tree   IMG_0535

You may notice that the Christmas tree is bereft of decorations, except for tiny lights, and the ribbon is rather askew as he thought it was great fun to rearrange it. When we played the football game Pickle joined in too, pawing the ball into the goal several times. We exchanged presents and spent our time reading stories, doing puzzles and playing games with everyone. I volunteered to bath my Grandson, not realising that it was his first ever bubble bath. Needless to say he enjoyed it so much that I got extremely wet too. The time passes by so quickly when you are enjoying yourself and you just don’t realise how tired you have  become, until your head hits the pillow at night. Thank you for a wonderful action packed time,’that’s the way to do it’!

Sunday, 1 January 2012


We have been busy since our last posting enjoying time spent in the company of family and friends. We would like to thank everyone for their festive greetings sent by snail-mail, e-mail, text, and phone. Thanks to our blog reader Dave for wishing upon us much rain so that we could cruise freely along without bottoming out! Unfortunately we had a whole weeks worth on Friday and got rather soaked! Apart from a couple of visits to the Boat Inn at Braunston we have spent a quiet time on board doing our own thing.

IMG_0509     IMG_0021 Swan at Wheelock

Some evidence of stowaways was found in the front locker of our cratch where there were two neatly constructed balls. Obviously a mouse, or mice, had found their way on board and chewed up parts of my mop and polishing cloth and made a couple of cosy little nests. I think they may have been attracted by the fat balls that I had out there for the birds food. Anyway after clearing everything out, I think that they have now jumped ship and gone back to their country habitat, hopefully!

It is difficult to find things to write about on the blog especially as we are not cruising so much or taking as many photos either.

So, while we are idling in partial hibernation, cheers to you all for 2012, make the most of your year wherever you are!