Friday, 25 November 2011

Winding on the Thames

We had plenty of room to moor opposite the old Jericho boat yard.  Lots of boats moored further up, but none here, just us and Matilda Rose

The Jericho boat yard is still fenced off and shows no signs of any development, due to the disputes regarding the attempts to build a four storey block of flats on the ex BW land.  St Banabus' church dominates the view here - and it's bells toll out every quarter of an hour between 8am and 11pm. 

As Beefur is over 52ft (57ft), the only way we can turn around is to wind on the Thames.  Since we were here last, there's a pontoon been put in just below the lock, and large instruction boards telling you the direction in which you need to wind, which seems to be rather illogical and the wrong way round.  Not wanting to go against any instructions - we winded the way which had been set out in a large diagram at the lock, not the way which seemed to be the safest!  No current so no problem.

Job done.  Off we go again, heading slowly back North. 

The locks down here are much easier to operate:  one bottom gate instead of two, so no jumping accross open gates.  Mind you, the gates are a heavier, but you can't have it all ......

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Oxford - Part 2 (Better late than never)

We haven't had a mobile signal for the last few days, so have been unable to upload the rest of the photos from Oxford until now.  We've had to find a pub with wi-fi, dirty job, but someone's got to do it, so we're back in Lower Heyford after spending a lovely few days out in the country, and revisited Nemo's favourite mooring at the quarry at Kirtlington.

Now, where's this pub Graham told us about.... down an alley way under the Bridge of Sighs.  Ah ha!  Brewery delivery van is a bit of a clue, down this alley way...

Then this one.....

At the end, was The Turf Tavern.  Very nice pub, but very busy.

We didn't want to overstay our 48 hour mooring, though any restrictions didnt seem to bother the other boats moored on the 24 hour moorings.  Same boats there when we left, as when we arrived, despite BW person taking their numbers when we passed on our way into the centre.  Probably still there now.

The lift bridges on the bottom bit of the Oxford (the ones around the "Agenda 21" moorings) have now been fitted with a locking mechanism, operated with a BW key.  I remember reading something about it on the e-mailed BW stoppage alerts, but didn't take any notice.  Anyway, we arrived at the first one, I jumped off, indicating to Dave in sign language that there wasn't a chain to pull (and so lift the bridge).  I then proceeded to climb the fence to get a grip onto the balance beam to put some weight on it and lift the bridge.  I failed miserably.  In sign language, I indicated to Dave that the bridge was b*******d, and that he'd have to come and do it himself, and started to walk back to the boat, whereupon I saw the instructions on how to operate the new locking mechanism.  Duh.  Back to boat, get key & do it properly!

Saturday, 19 November 2011


I could bore you with lots of photos of Oxford.  So I will.....

End of the Oxford Canal

Beautiful buildings - and bikes everywhere

Woah!  Like I said... bikes everywhere

Did the sight seeing bit, interdispersed with sightings listed in the Good Beer Guide.  Dave's got a smart phone, with an "app" from CAMRA that locates your position, then tells you how far, and in which direction the nearest CAMRA pub is located.  It even shouts directions at you whilst walking along.  "Turn right into Beaumont Street."  "I said right".  This technology is too advanced for us!  However, once Dave was on the scent of a pub, it couldn't keep up with our location - so we bought a street map.  Bit less embarrassing than standing on a street corner staring into your phone, walking in one direction, then walking back the way you came, to ensure that the "device" knows exactly where you are & which way you're going.  We even found a West Cornwall Pasty Shop.  Beer AND (proper job) pasties - you'll never get him from here....

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Best Cat Mooring

We moored at the disused quarry near Kirtlington.  This has to be the best cat mooring we've come across.  Nemo loved it.  He kept disappearing for hours at a time, before checking in again.  He was running around all over the place.  He doesn't usually go out during daylight hours, but as soon as he heard the fenders dropping as we were tying up, he was out - and stayed out.  He's absolutely shattered today though!

Off the short section of the River Cherwell back onto the Canal at Shipton Weir lock. 
As we were approaching the lock, a bloke in a little fibreglass boat slurred  shouted accross to Dave as we passed "Scuse me mate, but there's been a woman following me since I left Oxford, she is, she's following me, honest"  "You should be so lucky was the reply from Dave", and carried on.  I must add here, that this little fibreglass came up & out of Shipton Weir Lock & turned right - the wrong way down the navigation & turned round when he saw us coming.  He then came towards us, we moved to the right, so did he, we moved further over, so did he.  We were now on a collision course - not a problem for us with 20 tons of steel, but it might have been a problem for him.  I gave him a few hand gestures & he eventually moved over.  Needless to say - there was no sign of a woman stalker.
Charming lift bridge

Jolly Boatman and Muddy Waters from Oxfordshire Narrowboats, moored at Thrupp.

Whilst we were a Lower Heyford, I took the opportunity to meet up with Mum at Rachel's house & celebrate my forty-something birthday.  Lovely food HUGE leg of lamb, and Rach had even make a chocolate birthday cake.  Thanks for a lovely weekend.
L-R Nia, Mum, Rhiannon, Rachel & Iona

Rachel & Mum in the kitchen - keep at it - you know you love it!

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

To Lower Heyford

We bumped into Dennis & Lynn from NB The Higgler at Nell Bridge who have de-bunked from the Llangollen for the forseable future.  After a quick catch up, we agreed to meet for longer on our way back up the Oxford. 

Sign on Nell Bridge, indicating how much head room one has, as we cross the River Cherwell.  Levels are low for this time of year, and coloured indicators read normal (green for go)

Safely into Aynho wier lock which is diamond shaped.

Great name for a boat

The lift bridges are all left up.  When we were here last, a couple of years ago, they were mostly down.  I got caught out with one:- Dave and I were both single handed.  I was in front on Beefur, and jumped off to raise a lift bridge, taking the centre line with me & dropping it on the ground.  I then proceeded to lift the bridge but once up, there was no way of securing the bridge in the "Up/open" position, no cord to tie down nor a chain to hook into something.  By this time Beefur had drifted under the bridge whilst it was open, so i was now completely stuck.  I couldn't let go of the bridge as it would close, on top of Beefur.  There's not alot of flow on this canal, so Beefur was now just sat under the open bridge.  Eventually Dave turned up and rescued me, boat and bridge!

This is Dave's favourite house (not that he does houses), due to it's remote location.  There isn't a road within 1/2 a mile of the place.  Somerton Deep Lock.  Exactly what it says on the tin.

We moored just north of Lower Heyford, rather than alongside the railway line.  Lovely spot, but we couldn't understand why we had flies buzzing round all of a sudden.  Checked the map - yep - we were just below the sewerage works.

View of Oxfordshire Narrowboats at Lower Heyford, taken from the station bridge.

MUM:  For more photos of Banbury click here to go to Matilda Rose's blog spot

Friday, 11 November 2011

Trains, Boats and Planes

When we got nearer to Banbury, Dave contacted his pal Mike, (who lives in Llangollen), and is a train driver with Chiltern railways, as he sometimes has a stop-over in Banbury, but not this time (in the hope of a pint in the Raindeer).  Mike said he would be passing through Banbury station Wed afternoon and would keep an eye out for Beefur on the way, as the railway line and canal run side by side for quite a distance around Cropredy/Banbury.  So Dave surprised him by turning up at Banbury station to give him a wave and congratulations for becoming a granddad.  Quite a coincidence, as this was the first time Mike was driving a loco for 8 months (proper engine), instead of the more modern Chiltern units.  No time to dawdle, schedules to keep, so with a flurry of horn blasts as he left the station, he was on his way to Marylebone, scaring the passengers on the platforms to death!

And on to boats, lovely old working boats and buttys in various stages of repair on the way into Cropredy...
some fully restored

some not

and some newly built.

And so to planes, well the nearest thing to a plane was a woka woka chinook, swooping very low, and one of a pair.  Something else that made the cat shoot inside.  Woos.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

Cropredy to Banbury

Disaster at Cropredy !!!  The Red Lion has closed.  What a great shame, this was a lovely pub which closed down without warning last week.  This resulted in us going to the Brasenose pub instead.  Dave bought our beers - fine - Hooky at £3.20 a pint.  Pricey but ok.  Graham & Gill arrived & bought a pint of brakespear - at £3.70 a pint. G choked & spluttered & complained.  "Not our fault - blame the brewery" was the reply!    I suppose we'll have to get used to southern prices the further down we go.  We've also lost Nick & Suzanne on Midlands Today, it's now BBC Oxford.  Without Shifali in charge of the weather, who knows what's going to happen now.
This is the first time Dave and I have come down this canal on one boat, the previous times we've been single handed on two boats.  Bit of a novelty being chauffeur driven.  Major flood alleviation works going on around the M40 here, which has encroached on the lovely isoloated lock cottage at  Bourton, leaving them with a few feet of garden at the back before a whopping great 20 foot bank of earth, obscuring any views they may have had.  The cottage itself remains unoccupied, unsurprisingly.

Matilda Rose entering the lock just before Banbury.

Our mooring, right in the town centre.  Nemo had a bit of a shock last night - he was chased back into the boat at 11pm, by what I assumed was a dog, I stuck my head out of the side hatch, to find a fox standing by the back of the boat.  I don't know who's tail was fluffier - the fox's or Nemo's.  He didn't venture very far after that!

Thankfully, Ye Olde Raindeer pub was alive and kicking! Beautiful 15th century pub serving a variety of local Hook Norton ales, at £3.30 / pint. 

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Mousefest at Wormleighton

We've not been getting much sleep lately, due to Nemo cat bringing us presents in the night. Gill & Graham have had the same problem with Daisy - though she doesn't go out at night. So we've got Daisy taking the day shift & Nemo the night shift. We'd better move on from this spot before the whole mouse population is depleated. Nemo brought in 5 mice last night, 4 alive and one dead. We managed to catch them, as we now have a cunning plan in place to retrieve said mice:- Nemo brings mouse in & sits under the bed. We then trap him (and mouse) under the bed using tin trays, lift up the bed base (we've got a cross double which folds up) then quickly trap mouse in plastic jug. This usually works, but last night unfortunately a particularly lively mouse made a dash for freedom before the tin trays were in place, and dived into the skirting board & hid between the pipes. We managed to extracate mouse with the aid of a spatula, a delicate operation trying not to move the pipes too much. A split or leaking pipe is not what you want at 3am!

Yes you ......
Nemo's taken over the sofa as he's had such a busy night

Dave getting some help from Nemo on the computer

Scouting for mice

Monday, 7 November 2011

The Summit Pound

On our way to one of our favourite moorings on 'the summit' pound, we came accross many signs "say no to HS2", and also this one...
Hope you can read it ok - it says "you are about to go under HS2",  and this is it ....

What a lovely bit of the canal - which could be destroyed.  I find it very difficult to justify the argument of ploughing up the countryside in the pursuit of a couple of minutes saved on one's journey time - when we spend our day languishing in the slow lane, with a top speed of 4mph, downhill with the wind behind us.  Dave's view however is completely opposite, and fully supports it.  Hmmmmm!!!

Beefur, with Matilda Rose behind.

We haven't seen a boat today, after the flurry of activity of boats going up and down the Napton Locks before the stoppage started today.  Yesterday we saw a hire boat from Anderson at Middlewich heading south.  I hope the realise about the locks shutting today - cos they can't now get back.  I suspect it's one of the hire fleet which has been sold at the end of the season, we've seen alot of hire boats shuffling between hire bases, and new owners taking newly purchased boats to their new mooring.   We had a lovely view for bonfire night - far enough away not to upset the cats and dogs, but we could still see the illuminations.

Well I certainly didn't expect to be dead-heading on 7th November, after planting the flowers back in May, but they're still going strong ....
Fuschias & geraniums still going strong