Sunday, 29 June 2014

Stuck down a big hole.

Sorry to leave Somerton Meadows, again I would have been happy to have stayed longer but you know what’s what when you need a pump out.

First fun filled stop was Somerton Deep Lock, now I have to tell you that I didn’t really take too seriously the view,  of the older than me couple,  on the boat in front that the lock door was heavy  “Today”.  In fact I jested that we felt we had been in training on the K&A, but, yes David had to come help me to open the gate after emptying the lock, truth to tell I let him do the whole thing and quite enjoyed him pushing it almost horizontally against the end step, nice shiny slippery bricks they have here too, so fully stretched he was too, I did help, I used one index finger to push, I would have used two but I have broken a nail.
So back down to the WaL which was on the lock landing he skipped and brought WaL into the lock, or indeed tried to as the gate remained open to about 10 degrees.  Doesn’t sound much does it non boaty chums however it s massive in a narrow lock.  So there was me now,  I was the one horizontally giving it my all pushing on the lock gate to keep it as open as I could…. I wasn’t good enough and as Wal came in,  slowed then captain put his collective foot down on the throttle and whammered it for Queen and Country….. Well he did get in eventually but not without a loss of black paint.  
I am not too unhappy about this as as soon as its all off he says we will have the black repainted in that nice non shiny paint.  So with more black paint off, I set about closing the gate.   So yes,  fresh from the K&A angry and determined I was,  could I shift it? Could I heck.
Up David had climb up this time, he hates heights too, only together could we close the lower gate, yes only two young things working together in their joint primes could close and empty lock gate.  Before you ask no nothing was visible behind the gate in the water.
Comments CART? 
Well I am waiting for their comments as I emailed CART with this photo

It does not look that big a deal but Reader it certainly is.

A long climb down for a poor soldier who hates heights.

At last.

So final in we were and up we came and out and on our way, me having a bit of a rest.  Which was just as well as next stop was Aynho Wharf.  Breasted up alongside another boat them wanting water and diesel and us wanting water and a pump out.  Very nice people at this boat yard but that doesn’t change the fact that we were there for a whole hour.
The other boat only decided to put their hose onto the slow filling water point after they had finished the diesel…. yawn yawn.  
Well at least in the hour I had scrubbed the bathroom out, emptied the bin and swept the entire boat floor. 

FINALLY on our way again through the Lozenged shaped lock.  this is where the river Cherwell runs into the canal, there is a feeder stream just above the lock which has to be watched in times of hefty rainfall but clearly not today.
Aynho Weir Lock, such a pretty setting.

River entering from the right

This taken half way along the wall, its where the river water meets the canal water.

Several boats were coming towards us at the locks so I was able to ask what the mooring situation was like in Banbury, the first boat said Oh its pretty full, especially above the lock.
The next one said Oh there’s lots of spaces when we left…..   
Considering that we had no intension of going on any further than Banbury, I mentioned this to another crew lady waiting for the lock after us, this lady said “Oh we are just going here”, so I reported this to David and in two seconds flat we decided to do the same.  

Hope these are rare caterpillars 

Top part of this plant stripped.

Here we are then, just above Kings Sutton Lock.  A nice long straight section of armco, actually we reckon that there is more armco here on this stretch than we saw on the entire length of the K&A…
Its quiet and not busy just how we like it.

Later we got the bikes out, cycled around the bend to the road bridge and away down to the village of Kings Sutton, there we caught the train to Tackley almost to Oxford, fetched the car and drove back here.  This weekend we are going to be “Bridge Hoppers”.

Supper was a Skinny Day supper of salmon, asparagus and french beans with red berry fruit salad.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Pretty in Pink

I could have actually spent a week here, however we have plans, plus we need to have a pump out and need to get watered up we have found to our irritation that boat yards can close whenever they want.  So we set off reluctantly.  
I do really like these sunny sunny days, and today was another.  Suncream applied to baldy.  But just as he was wanting to start up…. there was a cute cute bird, no idea what it was but it was small.  I watched it for quite a while with my brilliant bi-nocs, it went ferreting about in the base of the reeds and I fetched my Birds Spotters book and narrowed it down to a possible one of six…..  Finally it disappeared so I consented to the engine being started.
I think it was one of these.    HERE
But it had a paler chest..... ideas anyone?

So the cruise was sunny, warm with maybe two boats passing.  Birds singing and butterflies and dragonflies in wafts, can you picture it Reader…?

Suddenly there was a Day Boat in front of us, going pretty slow,  the day demanded it but, a bit slow all the same.  Then a lock in front that appeared to be in their favour, they tied up and went forward but they didn’t have a windless or have a look of intent, then a boat coming down appeared to “Take” the lock.. all very perplexing.  Captain dropped me off and he hovered.  I went up to the lock so see what was afoot and found that this lovely couple had hired for the day only and this was their first ever lock.  They had been given a model and had a chat but all the lady could remember was don’t get your fingers caught in it!  Well at least that was something.

They had “Given” the lock to the boat coming down in order to ‘Look and Learn’ sound thinking.  The lady coming down jumped ship to go and post a letter and me and the Lovely Couple did the lock.  
He did a pretty good job of bringing in the day boat and she learned how to do the lock, well I tried to keep it simple and safe, and off they went grateful thanks ringing in my ears, I urged them in return to enjoy the day as boating is quite good fun.  David came in next and as the previous boat had taken longer than normal another hire boat had arrived as well, their crew member came up and I apologised but he had realised,  saying only that they were hoping to get to the pub for lunch, we laughed together and he told me of his morning, he was on this boat with his father mother and children, he had gone out for a run at 7am and returned to find the boat gone!! 
His father is always in a rush he said, I had to laugh but Reader,  had that of been me a sense of humour failure would have resulted.
Well, WaL came up and gate open but David called me and said laughingly “I don’t want to go, the dad is such a shocking driver I want to stay and watch!”  
I didn’t let him and we left.
Saw these two tiny sets of babies

So I wanted to go moor at another fav spot, Somerton Meadows,  we were lucky as the last space on the end not too near the bend, perfect. Chains out quick. sorted. Chairs out, kindles fetched, sun hats and a glass of…
Lets go for walk he says, the exercise will do you good…. What a sauce.  We did and I took these.

I have been trying to get a shot of this pink pretty all week but they always face the water... Rewarded today.

Pink bramble

"Tree House" taken at a distance.

Previously unseen wrought iron gate hidden from tow path.

David thought this a most romantic leafy path.

This is said by David to be a nice crop of wheat, he says you can tell organic wheat as they are full of weeds.

Look carefully to see WaL on the Meadows.

Somerton Meadows
Chicken and Amanda’s courgette salad, that is wafer thins slices, soaked in lemon juice, olive oil and sprinkled with chilli flakes, a bit good.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

"Squeakless in Seattle"

David went off on his bike to get a paper and milk at dawn,  I am not completely sure where he went but he took these photos and says he went eight miles.

Churchill and Clemmie's graves in Bladon

We chatted to a NB called Bob Doubles, they were Camponolgists.

After he returned, I dressed,  we breakfasted and then pulled the pins,  (This is a boater technical term non boaty friends, it means that we set off.)
Now Reader I really must urge you when in Thrupp to go to Annie’s Tearooms…  Not only did we have lunch and then tea & cakes but brought jolly scoffable scones for the next day too.  
Cakes to drool over which is fine, given that the cakes are nicely under protective covers.

So after saying farewell to Maffi with a firm arrangement to see him in the autumn…. maybe, 
we departed.
David and Maffi watching boats coming through the Thrupp Lift Bridge, often called by me Maffi's Bridge.

Look in the trees, this chimney kept following us, its the last bit of a cement works being demolished.

Maybe this has started to fall on its own...

After Shipton-on Weir there is a shortish section on the river Cherwell, infested with horseflies today and they always bite David.  We had the river to ourselves, handy as there are some devilish bends.

Short but pretty section of the river Cherwell, very lovely today.

An uneventful run to our favourite hoped for mooring tonight, well that was what we anticipated but this turned out not to be the case.  In the first lock with no one coming either way,  David shot off the boat to finish the oiling of the wood of the hatches.  


Washing.  This a man that never washes his car.

Next lock, with no one in sight we quickly washed the dirty side of the boat down and the bird poo off the roof and as we were wiping it off a boat did come into sight. Bugger, so off we went.
I cleaned the windows at another lock and then finally we bumped into “Dusty Fuel Boat”.  New Dusty has just taken over from Old Dusty (His words not mine) but the phone number remains the same.  He offers a great service and we paid 89p for diesel, coal,  wood and other bits and bobs.  Sadly he does not do a pump out but apart from that we have an almost fully serviced boat now which saves making the extra stops and waiting for the boat yard staff to be available.

Young Mr Dusty
A stunningly fantastic mooring was available for Wal,  the first thing to do was to send David to the kitchen to make lunch while I washed the other “Clean” side of the boat down.  It was pretty dirty but didn’t take long. 
Fav mooring tonight.

A nice long afternoon in the sun reading my new book, then a bottle of Sparkle, (Almost the law if its sunny),  then later still the Scoffable Scones with butter and blackcurrant jam.

 A nap and a family bag of Kettle Chips, so that supper at 9:30pm was only a platter of Italian cheeses, Italian olives and Italian ham.
Did I ever tell you Reader that David loves Italy?  

Another boat had arrived much later after us.  

We didn’t hear a squeak from them.  Lets hope they didn’t hear any from us either.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Good and twitty Painters

So we arrived back at Thrupp and Wal after a few days away.  Our daughter had finally moved into her own place and we jollied along to help paint over the olive green with white…  guess who stood on the roller?

He now calls these his High Vis cycling shoes

We returned to WaL in great weather and to make FULL use of the good weather we did this;

We played hide the car, this game is not a quick game, no indeed we took some time to choose a place away from people’s drive ways and view points from their lounges, close to houses but away from yoofs.  Actually David got rather bored playing this game and ended up saying 
“Just park the bloody thing!”

On the way back to Thrupp on bikes we visited Woodstock, not to Blenheim Palace but to the town museum.  Built in the spacious grounds and building of a town house there was a great photography exhibition of wildlife, insects animals and birds, pictures from as far away as China.  Then upstairs to learn about Woodstock’s history of Glove Making.  
A couple of artists with work on display here I really liked.  
Nick Schlee    HERE     and Oswald Couldrey    HERE     both of whom work I really liked, do you?

Add caption

Works above of Paul Schlee

Work of Oswald Couldrey

There was a lovely little cafĂ© in the garden and the garden was a delight.  I wish you could smell these as we did.

The entire garden smelled go these.

Woodstock is impressive but of course knee deep in tourists, unlike myself as we didn’t arrive by car or coach.

Nor this.....!

Home,  (Eventually, David who tells me my map reading is bloody awful, took us the wrong way and we ended up cycling down the A44!!!!!) well it has had the pavement converted into a cycle track, eventually home to Wal, tea in Annie’s Tearooms, stories and jokes from  Maffi  HERE           supper, shower and bed.
Supper was ham and boiled egg salad, with extra salad cream, 
salads were made for it.

PS  I can inform you Reader that at long last and not a moment too late, Mr Lewis has had his BMW’s wheel fixed, so that marvellously fun game of tyre puffing up on windy rainy nights in the cold has finished, well until next time that is, currently that handbrake remains the same as in fit for hills Norfolk only, oh well you can’t have it all eh?

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Mooring Roulette

We left early and had already decided to go through Oxford city and not further up The Thames and through Dukes Cut.  Dukes Cut is almost a By Pass for Oxford, a few more locks and I thick a couple of swing bridges extra.  This was for several reasons, firstly there had been closures at Dukes Cut for work on the lock (Although some people had said these were finished now) secondly we didn’t want to be charged an extra day by a lock keeper even for the last tiny bit but mostly that we had gone through Dukes Cut last year and wanted to see the other bit.

Our mooring stretch last night

I think these old buildings or facades have a Preservation Order on them, could do with weeding though.

Last year we watched a cruiser get wedged here.  Not remotely funny.

Looks like you will never fit, but you do.

Turning onto the South Oxford.

 As we were button to button with the next boat I pushed us out so as to keep the disturbance down as as low as possible, we crept along and made the turn onto The South Oxford Canal.  A pretty sharp turn but not nearly as sharp as the second one into the first lock.

Not awfully attractive here, a new railway bridge has been built overhead, but in the first lock there were some Long Term Moorings (Real ones that is) and someone had planted a honeysuckle and some other fab smelling shrub their perfume filled the air.

Oxford's Coronation Street

Under the railway bridge, see Reader, we went 500yds on the Thames and put on Life Jackets.

Now this was the sharp turn form the right, Honeysuckle to the left.

Love these cast iron bridges.

Now we all remember Inspector Morse telling Lewis how rough it was down by the canal in Jericho, but I have to say Reader, it was looking pretty good to me.  Nice long gardens with lots of greenery, admittedly I couldn’t see into any kitchens but some of these victorian properties had classy gardens and summer houses.  I reckon an element of gentrification has been going on here.  
There were some boats moored opposite the gardens and I know how aggravating it must be to have a bunch of tinny generators going but the gardens seemed long enough to mask any sounds.  All in all I think I could cope with living there.
Nice shrubs

Summerhouses and roof extensions.

Own canoe and David wearing gloves.

All in all nice me thinks Inspector Morse.

OH READER LOOK!!!! My favourite, narrow locks with one gate at each end. LOVE THESE.

A fairly quiet run along this section arriving at the Dukes Cut junction then a swing bridge or two more then we did meet a small queue of boats coming down.  A nice chap I got chatting to was on his way to the K&A with his wife…. I cautioned him, but he said giggling a bit that he knows it well as he moored his boat at Newbury for ten years.  He was surprised that water costs £4 there, but after he assured me that it wasn’t a new wife of two weeks who doesn’t know what was coming her way, I allowed him to continue.
All of a sudden we seemed to be arriving at our target.  THRUPP to play the new game here of catch a mooring.  All planned again Reader, early start to arrive between 11 and 12, the boats in this wee queue had come from Thrupp so we were confident of getting in. Its all changed there since last year when a few places were 14 days, a lot were 7 days although I think the vast majority only stay a couple of nights.

Mmmmm not much available where we wanted, there were plenty on the 48hrs but we wanted more.
Bingo!! Or was it?
These post was the cut off point, bugger.
David walked up to see what was what, he paced it out and we did get a space right behind bloggers Swamp Frogs  HERE   and the captain told me that there had been a 70ft there last night, so in we squashed, buttons to buttons.
Called a taxi and had a nice speedy drive to our car which we had left miles away near Kintbury on the K&A, air con on and away home.
By the time you read this we will be back on the boat again having had a few nights at home.
Talk soon