Wednesday 28 July 2021

Oh boy this sun is a bit much, but hey the boats are all pretty today.

 By the time David got back from the car run the sun had come out properly so we stayed put.  I seem to remember a football match England v Denmark... 
We got chatting to the couple on the boat behind, we talked toilets, well we listened and they told us about their toilet.  It's a gas toilet!  
Now I had heard a small amount about gas toilets, but frankly Reader I thought the concept was a April Fool's joke.  I mean would you sit atop a gas burner????

But, it seems I was wrong, firstly all products are incinerated to an ashtray and in the winter the loo seat is warm to the touch!  They insist there is NO SMELL at all,  their boat is a gas free boat apart from the loo so it costs a gas bottle every month to six weeks or theirs does.  
I still reserve judgement though.

We didn't share our recent story.

So we made our way to Braunston with the intension of going down to water up and drop off the rubbish and as we crept past the moored boats "Hey David!" we looked over our shoulders and there were Patsy and Tony form NB Pedal.  
David breasted up against them and we yakked and yakked for a good few hours.

We had first met them on the Kennet and Avon canal back in 2013 when we were lock buddies on the dreaded Caen Flight.

The lovely Tony and Patsy.

WaL slipped away at about 8:30pm save disturbing all the moored boaters in the morning when a very early start was on the cards to avoid the heat.  
We moored on the North Oxford canal miles from anyone and the next morning very early we set off for Hilmorton.

On we went to Hawkesbury Junction and The Greyhound pub, (I had steak and stilton pie and the pastry was beautifully crisp underneath).  

We had moored up button to button, as we always do on popular moorings and here there were not many spaces, I had thought the wee boat in front of us was unoccupied but no the owner returned with two carrier bags of shopping.  
I spoke to him apologising if he felt cramped but he was fine.  We chatted about how Covid had impacted him and other grandparents who hadn't seen their families for months and months, his own grandchildren are in Wales and he didn't fancy the train journey yet.

His boat NB Bosley was a wee thing 27'9".  He said his daughters are unsure that he should continue this boating liveaboard life but he said it keeps him young.  Then he very sweetly said how pleased he was that we had moored up behind him, wasn't that nice?

Crack of dawn, to avoid the heat, we crept away as silently as we could so as not to disturb the nice gentleman.

Much later in the day we did the Athlestone Flight.  Now it was a Wednesday, and on a Wednesday there is a group of volunteers who are a Great Gang of Guys.  They have been together years having fun away from all wives and wifely supervision.  
I had a right laugh with one chap, but I said that on a different trip the three volunteers stayed at the top lock, which although I don't feel that the volunteers should just be doing the lock wheeling all day, it was a bit disappointing he simple said make sure you come though on a Wednesday!!  So that is my advice to you all.

Walking down to the next lock in the town two ladies said how much they liked my skirt.  Nice to hear I must say but this was the second time that day.  David says the third time as he had complimented me too.  Now this skirt is years old.  I had told David that I was going to buy myself two new summer boating skirts as these two I have date almost back to the millennium.... almost but now I have delayed their humane cull for another year.

Reader this is the earliest photo I can find of said skirt, 2015, I am still wearing the top and cardi too, I feel I should buy more clothes.

We moored up near Willingdon to avoid the worst of the heat.  I sat in the shade of the boat trying to hide from the sun, it was scorching, in the end I went inside WaL.

Two amazing boats and their paint jobs in the region of Rugby, firstly  this one, NB Scribendi   HERE   its a library boat specialising in poetry, out of shot was a film crew there too.

and the other one;
I don't think this one was a "Special" boat like the one above but I thought them both really stunningly gorgeous.  I wonder if Adam would call them "A bold choice of colour"?

I didn't catch the name of this one but inside it was most colourful too.  I complimented the owner.

The next day proved trying for David.  He started off with a 20 mile plus bike ride to put the car back into our marina then cycle back to Whittington, then hours helming the boat in the hot sun, with drinks and a good hat.
We were aiming for Great Haywood, but the heat and sun proved too much and with the sight of a straight bit of armco north of Rugby we suddenly stopped and David just wilted and had a good sleep inside the boat as it was just too darn hot.  

It's such a waste of good weather, we've all waited in the cold for so long then all of a sudden it feels like we are on the equator.

The next morning and again early to get to the marina early and get going home on the road.  At Colwich lock which is often a bottleneck there was a big queue mostly due to a paddle being out of action.  But we were told that the day before when the paddle broke there were queues of two hours at one point.  Can you imagine how David would have coped?

Below is Holly.  If you haven't heard of Holly, have a peep        HERE  This lovely young couple have done this attractive Day Launch up as a cafe and have a Vlog instead of a blog.  I had recognised them yesterday in Rugeley centre in their canoe and exchanged a few words with them.  

They actually live on NB Zero behind the cafe boat.

The sun proved too much here and we stopped.  Cannock Chase begins to come into view.

So finally back to our Marina.  We prepped the boat for our departure and then later we headed home.  Not sure when we will be back, there's David's birthday to be celebrated, a new grandchild to be soon welcomed, so it will be a while till we are back but lets hope for an Indian Summer so we can come out and have more fun. 
Does anyone know if the Four Counties Ring is going to have closures this autumn?

Bye for now Reader.    

Wednesday 21 July 2021

A pleasant haul to Napton.

We all had a lovely few days bowling along together making our way northwards up the South Oxford canal.  Frequent Flyers to this blog might remember that Amanda has a love of locking, an unusual love of doing locks so it seemed only sensible and KIND to get through the Napton Flight before we allowed them to leave.

You can see from the photo below that the weather was definitely changeable but I am not sure that we had much rain, just the threat of it, a bit at nights maybe.

Amanda taking her pleasure at Pigeon Lock

This is her special new coat too, so nice that the two of them have matching outfits. 

This is Dashwood lock where David C earned his lunch.  The trouble with allowing him to work the locks is that he gasses like mad and holds the show up.

So this is Dashwood Lock, this is the lock that had caused problems when the gate beam fell off.  This beam was either fitted in 2003 or 2008, I was told but can't remember now but I wonder what is the average time a beam serves?

You can see that they have now fitted a temporary arm to the, there's a sign attached saying to handle with care, it had a fair bit of movement when we pushed it as carefully and as gently as we could and I urge others to do the same!

Dashwood lock and the temporary arm.

Use this with the care you'd give a newborn baby.

Aynho Lock, the diamond shaped lock, filled mostly by water from the river Cherwell.

If you look carefully at the photo below you can see that WaL's nose is pointing to the canal, but the river Cherwell here feeds directly into the canal and into Aynho Lock.  It times of high rainfall this short section of the canal can go onto red boards.  The next lock is only just out of sight around the corner but it can be closed.  Not today thought but as I walked to the next tlock water was pouring over the lock gates. 

River Cherwell comes into the lock but also passes immediately to the left under the bridge.

Ooooo the tide took him!!!

There's the next lock.

Just look at the bendy lock landing here!

We made good progress, well its easy with two dedicated crew let alone three.  Someone always available to make the tea and over the course of the next few days we made it up the Claydon Flight where we met the lovely Frankie, she is the CART lady who attends, with others,  the Claydon Flight each morning near enough to ensure the water is flowing down and the pounds are full.


Les Deux Filles, well we're getting on a bit to be called filles, we met at college 43 years ago.

Amanda filming (or trying to) while doing a lock for her Instagram page. 

Amanda rescued this toad from being crushed by WaL in the lock and David L relocated it.

We easily did the Napton flight one sunny day, there were lots of boats using the flight so it was a easy one with boats in and out of empty locks.

On we went to the pub which is now a private house, but its on a main road where David could retrieve our car and drive The Boat Sharers to be reunited with their own car somewhere in another county.

As always we had had a fine time with the fine company, and we thank them for all their help.


Tuesday 20 July 2021

Hanging around like a bad smell.

Now where was I?

Oh yes a nasty smell at the back of WaL everso close to my pillow...  
This had been evident for a few days now.  It could only be one thing..... yes, the thing which boaters speak of no end when in the company of other boaters.  The toilet or rather the poo tank.

We knew we were a bit on the full side but we had been full too in the past before but not experienced this aroma....Its been hot, is that the reason?  

David talked it over with David Lewis (Boat Sharer and the man I love) and David L donned his overalls and began the great poo investigation.  Not for the feint hearted, ironically my husband David, isn't remotely squeamish about poo, he has said on many occasions that he'd worked all his life up to his knees in poo (dairy cows, slightly different, smells better too).

Yes there he is dan the 'ole.

This is where our bikes live normally and my wellies.

Its a big cupboard for a narrow boat but not so big for a tall man.

"I have good and bad news" he says from down in the depths, I wanted the bad news first.
"The bad news is there's no good news"  I think I heard a chuckle then.

"There's foul water sloshing around".... Now that is a nasty word to hear, sloshing let alone foul.

So what had happened was the breather on the tank had become blocked, this had caused the tank to become pressurised.

First thing was to clear the breather, this was rock solid and a wooden stick didn't touch it.  Luckily, a lawn mowing contractor nearby had a thick and hearty piece of wire to donate.  A bit of ramming and thumping got it.

Whilst we were on the service pontoon pumping out, ramming and thumping, the nice man at Thrupp said he'd had a similar issue but with a bee.  I think a sort of wild bee that makes a home out of mud, and this mud in his breather vent had turned to concrete, so Reader you are warned.


Rock solid gunk

Head of the bit that had failed.

All the thread had corroded 

So David L cleared the breather and did some other stuff.  It was a Sunday when all this was going on, after pumping out and fixing up a temporary repair and we remaining three promised on our honours not to use the loo until Monday morning, we went to the pub like all good boaters, when the pair of them hot footed up to Banbury and my David was taken somewhere he had never been before, no not a Lap Dancing Club but to a Plumbing Centre where the jolly lovely men rigged up a replacement cobbling two bits together and this below is the result. 
Clean and sparkly with working thread and everything.
David L reckoned it was only a matter of time before it was a much much worse problem.

Clean, sparkly and working.

So then that "Sloshing" we used a £20 hand pump for the majority of it and for the rest.....

Yes nappies.  A bag of nappies from Lidl costing £5 were shoved dan the 'ole and soaked pretty much all the rest.  This was a bit of a comical sight as Amanda, David and Lisa were leaning hard over to get the last dregs of slosh over to David L holding the nappy.  


So I read nine years ago in a magazine that no matter what toilet a boater choses, pump out or a "Bucket and chuck it" it will fail.  We are really hoping that we have had our turn and no more.

Reader;  The smell has gone too.

Eternally and utterly sputterly  grateful to David L or Darling as I call him.


Wednesday 14 July 2021

A week at Thrupp

A week in one place will sound like hell on earth to many boaters of my acquaintance Reader, but not for us when here.  There are masses of places to visit within a hours drive from here.  We didn't have a car one time but easily hired one from Oxford airport just a short drive from here, of course that was pre-Covid before the world shifted on it's axis.
A short drive away in the village of Wendlebury where they held their Garden Festival with about ten gardens open to the public in aid of the village church which was delightful with a huge range of garden styles, one of them with a swimming pool they had had installed during lockdown, it looked like a hot tub but had a big jet in it so you could "Swim".  Nice cream teas served in the village hall too.  We were the furthest travelled that day to view having come from Sussex to amazed faces.  

From Thrupp there are a myriad of footpaths, we took one through a field of flowers and watched the Red Kites   HERE    for the benefit of my Reader in Brazil, these are now prolific hawks but we were down to a handful of pairs in Wales in the 1070's.  I still love to watch them when we are on the boat as we don't have them in Sussex, YET.

On a previous visit here there were dozens of Red Kites as the farmer gathered in his hay crop.

Church interior at Hampton Poyle, this church dates back virtually a thousand years, yes a thousand!

Best part of a walk on a hot day, The Bell at Hampton Poyle.  Good menu, we'll come here next time for a treat.

One of the best English Gardens is Hidcote near Chipping Camden and another cracker is Kiftsgate Court which almost adjoins Hidcote and at the turn of the C19th-C20th the two wealthy gardening nuts became the greatest chums.

Hidcote    HERE

Kiftsgate Court    HERE

Tintinhull     HERE.

We spent the best part of the day doing both as we would always do when even remotely passing Gloucestershire.  We left the key under the mat of WaL like you do when you are expecting guests.  
Guess who?

Eating pretty gorgeous ice-creams from Annie's Tearooms.

Kiftsgate Court, The Water Garden, what a place in which to ponder. 

A swing seat with a view to die for.

Look carefully and you might spot the swing seat in the wee pavilion.

The other man in my life, beloved David #2

 Yes when we returned from our jaunt The Boat Sharers, Amanda and Darling David Lewis had arrived, unpacked, washed up and were investigating the source of a nasty smell on WaL.....

Supper was poached salmon, new pots and salad treats from M&S our new favourite food store.

Monday 12 July 2021

Landing in Thrupp

David had planted the car in the vicinity of Thrupp already and had returned that morning to say that there were on five boats in Thrupp on the Honey Pot moorings.  This was quiet startling news as it's hard to get in there.  Thrupp has a Cruising Club, the moorings are all along a straight road, there are a few old cottages at one end of the road, one cottage is for sale at a hefty price with the only parking outside your lounge window, two good pubs with wonderful scope for Gongoozling; 
(Watching boats as they pass and making judgements on all aspects of the boats condition, helming and crew performance.  Gongoozling is a joy of Boaters even if they don't admit it) and also at Thrupp is Annie's Tearoom.

We had filled up with water at Lower Hayford as we came through, we wanted to stay a few days in Thrupp, our destination for this trip, so intended to top up again at the also immaculately kept service point but on arriving at Thrupp where you come past the services before a lift bridge on a right angle to the moorings we could see past the lift bridge that there was what appeared one last space on the seven day moorings.  

Forget the water top up and we went straight to the one space left on the seven day moorings, with the help of the nice people on the boat behind who pulled their boat back nine inches to allow us to nestle in.

Sorted, but water is on ration, we'll do what we've done before, that is collect the cold water from the shower into the kettle and saucepans until the hot water runs through for washing up the next day.  This saves masses of water plus we also have the gallon water container that we could walk and fill up at the water point if the need arises.

Off to change and drive to Kirklington to The Oxford Arms pub for lunch.  We could have walked here from Dashwood lock (the broken beam lock) but the CART men had warned that when the lock is repaired they might shut the lock for a couple of days that was another reason to get south of Dashwood lock quickly.

Its a real treat to come here, I'd booked long before and they are only open Thursday to Sunday.

We sat outside looking at their charming garden, in the almost sunshine, and I had potted shrimps (Fabulous) venison Wellington (gorgeous) and gooseberry and almond tart and clotted cream (delicious).  After a bottle of wine we had a taxi back to Thrupp and will collect the car tomorrow.

The moorings stayed full for the next four days, we didn't dare reverse WaL back to the water point in case a boat arrived and nabbed "Our spot". 

Reeds and towpath, take my word for it.

Moorings on armco.

This is an earlier shot but of the mist on the River Cherwell the night Engerland beat Germany in Euro 2020, a night to remember.


Sunday 11 July 2021

We've had time off!

 Well Reader, 
I hardly know where to start, I've been remiss in attending to my bloggy-diary and I know it.  Thank you to Louise this morning who messaged me and I received the unspoken prod to get writing again.

The fact is that we've been home for part of it, the weather forecast said the next four days were rainy, now I don't mind a day in the boat with a nice glass of,  a good book and a selection of M&S foodie treats but four days is pushing it don't you think?  So with the advantage of having the car nearby, friendly people in a cottage watching over NB WaL we might just as well get rained on at home as here..... and we were.

As I phoned my mum to tell her we were coming home for a long weekend David had already booked two days of golf with his chums.  Sadly (hahahahaha) one day was fogged off and the other raining so badly his chums cried off.  So he helped with gardeny jobs.

Mother in the mean time has had her second eye cataract operation completed and is currently enjoying convalescing at a nice hotel called my sisters house!

We arrived at Somerton Meadows and went for a nice walk, it was really lovely actually, along the canal to the second bridge, through a field with bullocks which I am not keen on, then past a new build which was almost completely hidden from view, the only access was a very dirt track and through a field.  Almost certainly will be flooded but they had taken the precaution of building it up on stilts, completely surrounded by trees my pet hate but it did get me wondering if the owners actually had planning permission!

Pretties on the walk.

We carried on walking steadily uphill and ended up at North Aston where there is Aston Manor or Hall or somesuch which hosts the public footpath over its frontage and the new owners have seen fit to put this where the footpath is;

Bloody great bull.

The owners will get the wrath of my pen descending on them soon I can tell you.  
Well I can now tell you that my fence vaulting skills have greatly quickened. 

Gently climbing the Cherwell valley.

This scene below reminds me greatly on the scene in 
The Fellowship Of The Ring, the first of the Lord of The Ring series when the five hobbits were on the road here then the Wraiths galloping along, Frodo shouts "Get off the road get off the road!!!!" and goes giddy....

For anyone who didn't see the film then its a pretty green path in trees.

More pretties.

Now there's been an incident at a lock further down the canal, Dashwood Lock, maybe you've heard about it?
The arm or Beam of the bottom gate has broken off!  Hard to believe isn't it?  The lock was being worked by CART (Canal and Rivers Trust) staff but the times were restricted to get through to two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon.  

We decided to get through while the going was good.  I had expected there to be a big bottleneck and a long wait but no, just us and another boat so we went down it although Dashwood Lock is one of my favourite mooring spots, actually used to be for now the lovely open views all around have been removed by the unchecked growth in the hedges heights on both sides.... Note to self to buy idiot proof heavy duty hedge trimmers.

You can see here that the views all around have been lost or misplaced from behind David at the end of the long lock landing.

Hedge trimmers badly needed.

Well that's broken alright.  Interesting to see what the beams look like on the inside.

The CART operative's jacket.

The CART operative.

The lock now emptying and a handy rope attached.

Heave Ho me hearties

Yes it worked and that's how to do it if you break a Beam.

So let's us just continue on that conversation of cutting back the towpath greenery for a minute.   Whilst I had a captive audience (CART employees) I asked about the policy on the South Oxford and yes the "Policy" varied from district to district, yes the recent weather has played a big part, rain that is Reader, as all our lawns have grown up high too, yes there is a variation of demands of boaters starting from those who want the canal towpath mowed and maintained and manicured the entire length of the canal, those who love it overgrown and countrified or jungle-fied and those who want a happy medium of having armco and possibly where there are mooring rings made visible.  Currently it's not entirely safe to step off your boat in the sure and certain knowledge that its firm or there's not a bloody great hole to sprain your ankle in because the grass is knee deep.

Anyway that conversation is going to roll and roll for the present time.

We went on a little way more looking to moor up as the sun had come out.

This is what we found, wild geraniums abound all along the pathway, the sound of birdsong and bees was pretty wonderful, Now there's an argument to be made here about NOT cutting back.... 

Only about two boats passed us for the rest of the day, goodness knows where all the boats and boaters are, but I'm glad they are not here.

Wild geraniums in abundance with associated Damsel flies and buzzy bees.

Looking to my right from my chair, its the tow path but on the left of the photo is the River Cherwell, a glass too many and I'd be in the drink.

Chairs, sun, a kindle and a glass of, what could be nicer?

I have no idea what supper was.  I'm now making notes to remember.