Tuesday 31 July 2018

Lovely day boating but horrors tomorrow.

We were on a tiny bit of a schedule to meet our youngest daughter this weekend coming, but if you can believe it Reader I had to pop home again.  

So as Carol proved that I can get out of bed in the mornings when the need is really there, we departed very quietly from the mooring beside Still Rockin'.  We thought we were quiet but up they both popped and assured us that we hadn't wakened them, it was 5:30am and warm.

View from my kitchen window here.

First night here, not a breath of wind.

Supper the second night.

The very lovely Still Rockin'

We waved and crept away as the sun was just poking its head over the trees.   
The first lock, so at this hour its on DIY, but as I remembered when we brought our young family on a holiday on the Thames 26 years ago, the locks were locked overnight and also during their 1-2pm lunch hours.  The queues built up seemingly at every lock and you waited for the lock keeper to direct you into a particular spot.  
Its all changed.

I went off to set the lock, it was empty, and after reading the instructions twice, nothing happened, I read them again and slowly it dawned on me that the downstream paddles are left open.  So down to the other end to close them first then try again.  This lock took a full 20 mins to fill ooooooooh sooooooo slowly, David got the brush out and started rinsing down the boat.  Finally we got in and the lock emptied completely in five minutes flat.  Keeps you guessing.

This young Redkite was calling piteously for ages yesterday and again this am

First ones on the water.

HERE  Almost three years ago we walked up this hill shown below with companions Lesley and Joe (With whom we've just been to France with).  It was a fine walk but not time this trip just now anyway.

So on we went and by the time we got two locks further on we'd met up with another narrowboat and a large expensive cruiser.  I asked if they would prefer if we went in first, if she was worried about us, so we could go alongside the other narrowboat and the lady driver said yes we could but no she wasn't worried!  Quite a surprise as I have known other cruiser owners who HATE a steel hulled narrowboat even in the same lock. 

David, who is extremely good at maths, quickly worked out that we could all fit in together (Reader even I could work that out too)  well it was easy once we knew the length of the lock!!!!   David promised to reverse out again if they couldn't fit.  We were actually last in the queue but all well and good and off we shot to Abingdon.  Spaces available both sides here....  David fitted us in to the left side  going downstream as he'd seen that we were going to under the trees and out of the sun. Hurrah...

Much later at about the hottest time of day the sun came around and we were in full sun.  Nevertheless it was a great mooring and we walked to Waitrose almost killing ourselves carrying beers, ginger beer, milk and lemonade for Pimms, plus some food.

Second lock this morning

This went on quite a bit... from where I'm sitting he's got his mouth in the water and I'm not sure about that.

Supper was egg salad.  David had fetched the car for me to make an 8:30am departure for home in the morning.  Our house has been lent to my lovely niece and my sister for them all to enjoy a beach holiday in our absence....  I might stay with them and avoid the dentist.

Monday 30 July 2018

Old Friends or new friends.... they're all friends now.

 So here we are Reader, back and almost fully functioning blogwise.

We collected WaL from the very kind people at Enslow Marina at the bottom of the South Oxford canal, loaded up the fridge and freezer and kept it all plugged in overnight to give the batteries a helping hand, these batteries are now six years old and we had thought of replacing them over the winter..... we just thought they'd do another season, well thats actually what we said two years ago too.

Just as we started fannying around trying to "Ease" WaL out of her mooring slot, on a fairly narrow section of the canal for a 70' to manoeuvre in, me on the pointy end clutching a fender to assist with non contact of neighbouring boats, a single hander went past....
Now we love single handers as much as the next person, in fact some of my friends are S.H. but even so, David wanted to get a bit of a wiggle on to Oxford and this chap was über slow and by the time we got to first lock we were third in the queue.
That lock, Bakers Lock he informed me had a dodgy gear, he was right too it kept slipping out so it was a long process.  
We caught him up again on the river section too.  By the time we got to Thrupp, David didn't need any persuading to stop, we had achieved a 2.5 hour cruise, but we both love Thrupp.

The next morning very early we set off as quietly as we possibly could at 5:30am.  David is always banging on about how lovely it is very early, no people, no cars lalalalalalala but I have to say I agreed with him that day.  We wanted to keep an appointment.  At the first lock I went forward to empty it and this time a single hander came up behind us.  A very cheerful chappie called David I found out later, grey haired but a dyed RED beard in the manner of Billy Connolly.  He told me he had lived aboard 16 years now but didn't know if he liked it yet..... he might stay with it.  He was looking to turn around to head back to Cropedy for the music festival.
Never had we been so pleased grateful and thankful for the turn David was to do us....  On exiting the first lock, we scrapped the bottom, it was really low this morning, then we went aground good and proper just past the lock gates, David reversed to try to get off and BANG went something as the engine cut out.  Turned out to be a lump of wood, half burnt from a fire, totally wedged onto the prop.  

Lovely red bearded David had a chisel and willingly lent it to help.  It took a fair while to free the prop too, although he couldn't have passed us as we were grounded and blocking the lock!!

We parted company with David at Dukes Cut when he turned to head back to Cropedy.  Lovely chap, if you see him say hello from me.

We went down the canal for no reason at all, just to see it, it certainly isn't quicker.  Then onto the Thames, at the first lock I was astounded to see plenty of spaces on the moorings available, it was still early I thought so I reckoned these would have been fee overnight.

Licence brought and off we go, bombing down the river after we had got past Oxford.  We had a way to go and it was getting very much hotter, sun hats were out already.

An idea of how low the canal was this am.

Well guess who?  NB Milly M aka Maffi *

The lift bridge was a two man job and then this....  Dukes Cut for us next time.

Across vertically the entire canal.

So these cottages are right on the riverside, a bit too close for my liking.... the road was having vital repairs too.

If you haven't been on the Thames before, this is your first decision..left or right?  those arches seem low from here so go right into the unknown which is narrow then when you've made your quick decision.... see below

So small, but you breath easy as you can fit both ways, but who was to know?

We went right, or rather David did whilst I scrambled for the bicocs to see....

Nice terrace, dead plants, no stairs and then one gin and you fall in.

I suppose Salters Cruisers have left room....?  

The first of many vintage restored boats I like and shall photograph for your pleasure.

Ideas please? Dutch barge? River boat? We saw this one three years ago moored near the entrance to the River Wey.


I did post this before but I don't expect you to remember, its the old entrance to the Wilts and Berks canal, supposedly being restored but don't hold your breath

  We continued and after nine hours, repeat nine hours, longer than it takes to fly to New York or indeed get to Burgundy in France we arrived alongside NB Still Rockin' and saw friends George and Carol 


and HERE

I have put two links into Carols blog page as she was on the ball and had her camera to hand and I am a bit in wake up mode still!!!

We did have a fab couple of days with them, went blackberrying and were very tempted to swim but the maid forgot to pack the swimmers, did I say it was hot?  After the first night Carol seemed pleased that WaL had kept the direct sun off of Still Rockin' we slept fine but we were a bit tired after the mammoth cruise.

George and Carol quite took the wind out of our sails with a suggestion completely from left field as they say.....  It is going to be carefully considered and researched on both sides and more about that later, but we'll be seeing them further down stream or at least further on on our holiday.

Supper was smoked salmon on horseradish, chicken and courgette bake and chocolate cheesecake with raspberries and extra thick cream then a cheeseboard, David's favourite thing and we are VERY well stocked at the moment, (As David who peddled off to Waitrose hereabouts and got taken on Abingdon's one way system on the way!!   I didn't laugh at all).

 Maffi's Blog is   HERE 

Friday 27 July 2018

The great French Farce.

So Reader we have returned from France after an epic trip, a trip boating.  Epic in several ways, the number of crew (8), the temperatures endured and the milage covered.

It started with us being collected and chauffeured to Folkestone by "The Boat Sharers"  our good pals The Lewis's, we met up with the other car containing The Yars, as they are still known to us but Lesley and Joe former owners of NB Yarwood, and Sarah and Andy who organised the whole thing.  
David and I just packed (I packed ear plugs and my marigolds) and were collected.

The boat was the sort of boat I have scoffed at repeatedly.  In fact friends of ours who live on a yacht and have indeed sailed the oceans blue, said it's not a boat, it's a bathroom appliance.

We collected it from Branges, a small town in the Burgundy region, sailed it down that river and onto The mighty Saöne  river and northwards to Challon-sur-Saöne, then continuing to Besançon, before going onto another canal whose name escapes me but when I remember it I'll tell you.  Before finishing eleven days later in St-Jean-de-Losne.


I think it's probably best if I let the photos do the talking.

This was shortly before departure, the little man down the engine hole was trying to make it start.....  He did after a wee while and we sat patiently in 36C shade.

The Yars, Lesley and Joe.  Sunhats were essential apart from idiots.

The very first lock and Sharers, Amanda and David were off like rats up a drainpipe.  Note lack of a sunhat.

Truest Darling Angel Love.  I won the in the nickname competition, he was instrumental in the ice production line.

We all had ranks.  Sarah was Captain, Vice Captain was coming up the steps and Amanda was joint Head of Galley operations.

Challon-sur-Saöne, note the beautiful trees.

I held no rank other than toilet cleaner but had a go at driving which is a bit odd to do.

If you fancy a holiday afloat here is a hotel boat to consider,  no way I'd have a cabin right down there though.

Quite liking this little number to have for future holidays.

Our bedrooms were the size of two sofas pushed together with 8 inches of floor space, cosy if you are in love, murder if you've just rowed.

Very active lock keepers who are friendly smiling and actually help you.

Any ideas anyone?  Lovely blue colour.

Friends now for 40 years.

While we waited for the boat to arrive, Amanda and I deadheaded the glorious boxes.

Now these are a bit of fun.  Two Captains here together

Brilliant skilful Captain Sarah.

Lesley et moi in rain.... almost pleased to see that rain that morning.

Sarah and Amanda.

Action shot of Lesley, locks aren't to be sneezed at.

This part of France had had a lot of rain prior to our arrival.

A lot of this went on, wine consumption proved pretty high but that's holidays for you.

This tunnel doubled up as an art installation with lights and a wall of water which actually did stop when we passed under.

Quite a bit of this went on.

Very impressive Besançon river front.

I do love a bit of modern art.

This lock slowed them down a bit, a hand winder.

A fort on the top and the town down below, see those houses?  Look carefully for the tunnel underneath them.

Big Fat WOW!

Two Darlings.

and my Darling Joe 

I would have been very twitchy if on guard in THAT.

The local cow breed.... Charolais.  Über pretty.

This is a working French barge, their owners live onboard at the back, they charge down the rivers at about 70MPH.

Now pay attention CART, this is an automated lock.  You get given a zapper and as you approach the lock say 200 mtres the lock flashes and either empties or fills accordingly.  Not foolproof but good.  When you get in and have attached your ropes, you wang hard the blue one and that starts the lock.  Yank the red for emergencies.  We did have failures but Vice Captian Lewis went a waggled a broom in front of the sensor and made it work again. 

Lock cottages, this one was not lived in but others were.  The blue enamelled plate above the door has the name of the lock on, the distance in both directions to the next locks and the name of the canal.

Amanda went off taking the zapper with her to prep the locks.

Very French.

I can report that yes we are all still on speaking terms and did come back friends.  The Le Boat was tight on space and if it had rained for days I would probably have jumped ship, but the countryside was wonderful and if pressed I would likely go back again.

Normal blog service resumes very soon now.