Thursday, 22 September 2011

Back to Clifton

We turned around at Braunston and set off on our final trip of the year.   The weather was kind to us, and although it was chilly and a bit windy there was no rain and there was some sunshine.   The run back to Clifton, like many other stretched on the Oxford canal, has many places where you can moor on a decent bank with piling with no restrictions.   We could have spent a week doing this last stretch but time is running out and Cornwall calls......well not that loudly
The first part of the trip was quiet but soon we began to see more boats and by the time we reached Hillmorton Top Lock, we were third in the queue.  To conserve water they have only one of the tandem locks working, although for the life of me I cannot see how this saves water........if the same number of boats go up and down...there is obviously a rational explanation which my brain is not clever enough to work out.
By the time we went down there were 5 or 6 behind us and when we reached the bottom there were about 10 waiting to come up.   This has been the busiest we have seen the canals for a while.  Presumably it is because there are time restrictions on the Southern Oxford at Claydon and Napton, and even more restrictions north of Foxton on the Leicester line of the GU.  Only essential boats may travel, ie if they have to get back to their home mooring.
The BW man was in attendance flitting from top to bottom lock and winding the odd paddle!
Lovely flower display on this boat
Geoff decided to have a final towpath walk from the bottom into Clifton so I meandered very gently homewards.  
It must be chilly having a bath on this boat!
We were able to moor in Barrogills place as Helen and Paul are away cruising.  This will make like easy for unloading.
8.8 miles, 3 locks, 4hrs 5min
Years's Total  414 miles, 333 locks 
Our average speed over the summer is just over 1.6 miles per hour........beat that if you can Mr Snail

Thats's All Folks
See you next year

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pause in Braunston

The pause was to have our cratch cover and pram hood repaired.   We had excellent service from A J Canopies.  We had taken them in yesterday about 11.30 and 24 hours later Fraser brought them back to Petroc, all finished and did some repair work with the poppers on the boat for us.   Petroc is now suitably clad again and what a difference they make.   We are so used to having the extra space they afford that yesterday she seemed like a strange boat........and of course it rained!!!
The layover day was extremely fortuitous as it meant we could meet up with Paul & Helen from Clifton Cruisers.   Clifton is Petrocs winter home where she is wonderfully looked after by Paul, Helen, Phil and Victoria, and also Neil.
Paul and Helen were starting out on a 2 week cruise on their liveaboard boat Barrogill.  They came past us early after lunch so we walked up to the Braunston Locks to give them a hand locking through.
Ben is also in attendance.  It was very interesting that he ignored Barnaby completely.  Normally when we get to Clifton where Ben is on his own territory he takes a rather unhealthy interest in Barnaby until he gets used to having him around again.
The first 3 locks were negotiated successfully but a faulty top paddle on lock number 4 caused a major hold up.   BW eventually arrived and at least 1 1/2 hours later boats were on the move again.  
In the evening we met up with Paul & Helen at the Admiral Nelson for a meal and catch up.
A good day all round but tomorrow is our last cruise of the sad.....

Tuesday, 20 September 2011


We beat the rain today, although it was a rather dank run down to Braunston with a fairish wind blowing.  
En Route we passed this which we think may have been where there was a breach earlier this year.

We also passed this sunken boat which I am sure was here several months ago when we set out in April, one wonders why it can't be removed??
If you look closely at the above picture you will see we have a boat in front of us.   He appeared seemingly from nowhere and to say he is going slowly is an understatement.............there slow and slow........
Having moored up the first stop was A J Canopies.  Both our cratch cover and pram hood require some minor repairs so all off and we trundled them down to their workshop.   We then walked up to the Admiral Nelson for a lunch time pint (well 1/2 pint for me...) and did some gongoozling on the way.  The first spots of rain came when we were just back at Petroc so it was snuggle in for an afternoon with books and crossword.
Petroc looks very bare and vulnerable without her covers either end.   It also makes life much more difficult when you have to don or divest oneself of wet weather clothes to take Barney for a walk in the pouring rain.
5.88 miles, 0 locks, 2hrs 22 min

Monday, 19 September 2011

Not quite the middle of nowhere

Only because there is a pub back along a bit!!!
We reached the top of Napton Locks about 10.30, a lovely gentle run to there with the rain holding off.
There is a lot of lovely open country along this stretch, Napton is in the distance to the left.  Barney and I had our usual walk first thing and Geoff picked us up at one of the bridges.   With 9 locks to do Geoff would get his exercise later.   Some of the pounds in the locks were low, but none gave any serious trouble.  We were lucky the sani station at the bottom was free so we tied up.  I always feel somewhat guilty tying up here as it makes it very awkward for a boat to get into the lock but there is not an option.  We then crossed over to the watering point where we had the slowest fill of the year.
When we set off from there I was just negotiating a very sharp bend, and had already had to hover for a boat coming the other way, when Geoff remembered he had left the winch handle at the sani station............ so I dropped him off and I carried on to where we were intending to moor just past the Bridge Inn.....   so he had even more walking than he bargained for...Barney did not complain.!!
We moored well past the pub in what should have been a very quiet place, however a farmer was ploughing his field opposite with a huge tractor right up to the canal bank......but.what the heck this is the countryside.......
7.71 miles, 9 locks, 5 hours 18 min (includes an eternity watering!)

Sunday, 18 September 2011

In the middle of nowhere

We had a good meal in the Wharf Inn last night and this morning we walked into Fenny Compton Village to the church where they had their monthly Family Service.  You take your life in your hands for part of this walk as some of it does not have a pavement and the cars seem to rush past at 100 miles an hour...probably a slight exaggeration but that is what it feels like when you are walking under the road tunnel........
We set off on our return to position ourselves for the run to the top of Napton tomorrow.  They are still on restricted opening times of 10am-2pm.
After a brief shower as we left we were lucky.  There are no locks on this stretch as we are on the 11 mile summit stretch, BUT it is very twisty and bendy.   Sod's law prevailed and the only boats we met were on some of the sharpest bends.  We met one hire boat who was travelling far too fast, despite Geoff having sounded the horn, and it was really quite amusing.  There was a youngish girl reading in the bow quite oblivious to her surroundings when he crashed into the bank...............................that woke her up!!!!
Luckily it is not as windy today as earlier in the week.
After an hour and a half we found our spot.  Just lovely views across open fields and very quiet.  This is what we like about the Oxford Canal....plenty of places like this where there are good banks with Piling to tie up to.  We were joined by a couple more boats later on but not too close.  
We even had a good TV picture.(Satellite)  We are somewhat bemused by our reception as this area went digital last week and we can get absolutely nothing on our digital aerial........
2.98 miles, 0 locks, 1hr 29 min

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Fenny Compton

This is the sign by the moorings above Cropredy Lock.   Most of it I understand and it is very polite, however the reference to Hardwick Lock is more difficult to understand.   Hardwick Lock is 4 locks back and not far from Banbury....have they made a mistake in the name of the lock or do they really want you to relocate over 2 hours away.........enlightenment welcomed.......

Anyway we departed the moorings just before 9, we had 3 locks to negotiate before we reached the Claydon Flight of 5 which are still on restricted opening times from 10am-2pm.

There was a very strange sky as we left as though it wasn't sure what it was going to bring.   In the event the rain held off for a good while but arrived just as we reached the bottom of the Claydon Flight.....and boy did it arrive!!   There were 3 boats ahead of us but we still made reasonable time through, we were at the top by 11.30 and then the short run to our intended destination of Fenny Compton.

By now the wind had increased and as were were on the summit was really making itself felt.   Geoff had difficulty persuading Petroc to turn at one of the corners, good job nothing was coming the other way......

We passed through the tree lined narrow area which was originally two tunnels and then we were nearly there.  There was plenty of room on the moorings so we moored under the trees just as the rain started again.
This afternoon there has been more rain and thunderstorms but we are snug down below...
5.7 miles, 8 locks, 4hrs 5 min

Friday, 16 September 2011


We decided to have a lay over day yesterday as Banbury is so pleasant.  needless to say it was the best weather of the week......

We waited for the shops to open for the paper this morning and then it was goodbye Banbury for this was very quiet on the moorings.  We gather that due to the restricted opening times at the summit the Hire Boats are not being sent this way so that makes part of the difference.
We passed this boat a few days ago.....I cannot remember where, it looked lovely but it must be a major job to keep them all watered.
Today the weather was still kind to us although a grey start.  The wind freshened but nothing drastic and later in the afternoon it was positively hot and sitting out on towpath weather.......
Passing under the busy A40

I had walked with Barney to the first lock and then Geoff took over for the next two.   Barney only rode for the last stretch to Cropredy so by the time we were coming up Cropredy Lock he needed a rest!!!
We stopped at the sani station at the bottom of the lock and then had almost our pick of the moorings.  We moved from our fist selection as we couldn't get a satellite signal and there is something I want to watch tonight.......the second spot was fine.   Now after 5pm and the moorings have filled up somewhat.
Sitting out on the towpath was all very well but I was not so keen on the company
4.33 miles, 4 locks, 2hrs 56 min (includes watering)

Wednesday, 14 September 2011


We set off from our delightfully quiet and secluded mooring just before 8am.   What a glorious morning it was, almost complete blue sky to start with and no one else around...we could have bee completely alone on the canal system for the first hour at least........  Barney and I walked as far as Ayno Wharf and then we swapped over and Geoff walked with him...he gets twice the walking we do, no wonder he stays so slim...pity Geoff and I don't!!
 Ayno Weir Lock which is diamond shaped
There are lots of swing bridges on this stretch but all left open as they seem to be just going from one field to another.  Going under one of them just before Kings Sutton Lock we grounded on the bottom, Petroc seemed to climb up and over and we thought we had damaged the rudder but an inspection when we pulled up at the lock landing indicated otherwise.   We were extremely thankful as we were in the middle of nowhere     and had no idea who we could have called upon for aid....we do belong to River canal Rescue, but I thought they were only engines.......must check.....
After Kings Sutton we did meet one or two boats going the other way, maybe the canal was not just ours after all.......
At Grant's Lock they seemed to be building the entire bridge, just a pity they hadn't repaired one of the top paddles.  By now we had a boat ahead of us and with one paddle only it was a slow process.....
And so into Banbury again, such a lovely town to come through on the canal.  Unlike some places they have embraced the canal in their building and there are plenty of places to moor.   We managed to get into our preferred position just through the main part and Tom Rolt Bridge and adjacent to Spiceball Park which is great for Barney.
In the evening Tony and Di drove over and we visited a restaurant they knew in a village a couple of miles away (I can't remember the name of the village!!) and had an excellent meal.
8.32 miles, 5 locks, 4hrs 46 min

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

On our way again

Reluctantly we decided we must press on is hard to leave Thrupp as it is so pleasant.  We had a convivial last evening with Bones aboard for the odd glass of wine or three........
First through the lifting bridge, thank goodness there was hardly any wind, mind you it was not quite 7am.......
We stopped to water etc.  The Thrupp Canal Cruising Club certainly keep the area very presentable.
Despite the early hour Bones and Boots were up so we went over to inspect her newly acquired motor bike...the last one caught fire as it was parked next to a car which caught fire in the Thrupp car park several weeks ago.   This one is extremely smart and Geoff was most impressed, he said it was much more powerful than anything he had owned in his younger days(pre Me).
Shipton upon Cherwell Church sitting alongside the canal.
Then we were off, Geoff and Barney were accompanied by Bones and Boots to the first lock and then it was farewell and onward we go.
Alongside Shipton Weir Lock are either mushrooms or toadstools for sale!!!
Between this lock and the next the river Cherwell joins the canal.  Even when it leaves it keeps us company for a good few miles.
Goodbye River Cherwell
As the morning progressed so the wind increased.....the early morning stillness was obviously too good to last.......however the sun was shining and the wind was not as strong as yesterday.
Just before reaching Lower Heyford I remarked to Geoff what a pleasant day it was....I shouldn't have said that!!!!
We stopped in Lower Heyford to visit the shop for the paper and some lovely still warm bread.......we also called on Maffi who had reached here safely despite the wind yesterday.  Unfortunately instead of being hard at work blacking his boat, he was waiting for the afternoon arrival of the boss.  He was apparently too heavy for the hoist.......Molly was obviously overweight!!!!   he hoped the boss's arrival would give the go ahead...we shall see.....
As we left the heavens opened and continued off and on for the next hour.........I was absolutely soaked.   When the opportunity arose(there were swing bridges and locks to negotiate) I went below for a complete change of clothes.......I kitted myself in my long waterproof and went up top glorious sunshine......
After negotiating Somerton Deep Lock, with some difficulty as the bottom gate refused to open properly,  we moored in our intended destination just short of Chisell Lift Bridge.   Lovely and quiet and sufficient trees around to give some shelter from the wind which was still blowing well.  They are only small trees and do not seem to pose a threat if they fall.................................
So tomorrow we shall go on to Banbury...or maybe Cropredy...not sure yet......
12.08 miles, 8 locks, 6hrs 56 min (includes watering and shopping!)

Monday, 12 September 2011

Windy Thrupp

A quiet gentle day yesterday after all our visitors on Saturday.   We went to Church at Shipton upon Cherwell in the morning where we had a very warm welcome.
Listening to the forecast last night we did think we might move today as it did not sound as though the wind would be as bad as we had originally thought.  However by this morning things were not looking so good so we decided that we would stay put another day.  We thought we might be a bit wimpish but as the morning has progressed so has the wind and we definitely made the right decision.
Maffi on Milly M is not so fortunate as he has to be in Lower Heyford tomorrow as he has a slot booked to do his blacking.   He was moored just behind us but facing the wrong way so he had to reverse down to the swing bridge which Geoff was standing by to open.
I was glad it was him doing it and not me as it was not an easy task.
Very difficult at the start
Going well as he approaches the bridge
Not Bad!
Almost through
Made it!
It is very difficult to convey the strength of the wind with the pictures........only belatedly have I realised I should have been videoing it........

Saturday, 10 September 2011

Stride & Ride in Oxford.

Last night we had a convivial evening on board Petroc with Bones & Maffi so we rose somewhat later than usual.
Our friends Iain & Christine were scheduled to do a sponsored walk today round the churches of Oxford.  It was a fund raising effort to raise money for the historic churches in Oxford.  Geoff decided to join them and they managed to visit 13 churches in all...Geoff said there were at least 6 more.   At each one they were welcomed, had their piece of paper signed, and partook of refreshments at several of them, including a very good cream tea at one of them............

He was not very active with the camera and only managed a few photos.  Apart from Stride and Ride it was Open Day in Oxford with many places open to the public which were not normally.   Geoff said Christchurch was exceedingly busy.
They all arrived back at Petroc just before 4 hoping for a nice rest but they had no sooner sat down than there was a knock on the roof.   It was Giles with Finley and Oscar and also Parga (chocolate Labrador) so peace was shattered.   It was a lovely surprise and I went with Giles and the boys and dogs for a walk in the woods to try and tire them all out.........
We then repaired to the Boat Inn for a drink and to feed the children tea.   By the time they had all departed I was shattered........I find eating in a pub with small children quite nerve racking.............we always seem to leave such a mess behind!
We have decided to finish the weekend here and it looks as though we may be stuck on Monday also if the weather forecast is at all accurate....

Friday, 9 September 2011

Back to Thrupp

We left before 8 this morning with the objective of reaching Thrupp at the optimum time to find space to moor.
Bones left just after us (Maffi must have still been abed!) and we hopped swing bridges and locks at first but we were held up after a while.   There is a long line of moorings just before our last swing bridge which only allows one way passage through.  I had to reverse back for one boat and then pause in the middle for another.  Bones on the other hand managed to get through the swing bridge on their opening so was back long before us.
Just before Thrupp there is a water point on a very sharp bend just before a bridge.  A boat was watering there so that made getting past quite tricky.  Then lo and behold there is another sharp turn and we had to meet a boat coming the other way....sod's law.....
We paused outside the Jolly Boatman so I could walk ahead to check on space.....tons of it, so we are nicely placed.  Whether we go on or not tomorrow depends on the weather...very strong winds are forecast and it is so nice here.........
5.74 miles, 4 locks, 3hrs 26 min

Thursday, 8 September 2011


Last run on the river today.......I find that very sad.....
We watered etc above Abingdon lock and had a pleasant run to Oxford.
As we got closer we wondered if we were in the right country!!

We stopped on the moorings above Osney Lock so Geoff could nip up to town to get a few things..........I suspect cigarettes were on the list!!!!!
We moored here on the way down and they are very convenient for visiting the town.  The first 24 hours are free, then it is £5 a night for the next 2 nights and the £25 if you exceed that.  We fee that is quite acceptable for popular moorings and wish they did that at more places on the Thames.  
However once on the canals we are back to free moorings and even the opportunity to moor out in open, especially on the Oxford.
We departed after shopping as we had arranged to meet Bones and Maffi at Aristotle Bridge near the Anchor pub.....I wonder why we were mooring near a pub!!
We took our flowers and aerial off the roof to get under Osney bridge which is very was a close run thing whether we would have got under or not but decided it was better to be safe than sorry.
A few sharp turns brought us to Isis Lock the first lock on the Oxford Canal.  After all the big Thames locks and the double ones on the K&A it looked titchy.........
Just a bit further on and we moored by the park before Aristotle bridge.   The moorings were empty when we arrived but quite soon we were joined by Maffi and a little later by Bones.   They had both been moored down the arm at the end of the canal.
Later we all had a very convivial evening in the anchor with a good meal.....although it is not the cheapest pub we have frequented this year.....
10.38 miles, 3 locks, 4hrs 28 min

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Go away wind!!

We had planned an earlyish start, the forecast said dry but still windy though less than yesterday....they said.......
We were hemmed in by two boats who showed no signs of life, let alone leaving.  The wind was blowing us hard on so we knew it would be an interesting departure....It was managed however with the aid of our friend on the narrowboat Cat, who was behind us.  He gallantly pushed us away from him as we reversed out.
Once clear it was more straightforward but still very windy.  Some of the bridges on the Thames are very appealing.
Little Wittenham Bridge
We had been warned by the lock keeper at Clifton Lock to keep an eye out for David Walliams who was doing his sponsored swim from Lechlade to London.  Sure enough just as we were approaching Culham Lock we saw his party of boats.
He's the one in the silver bathing hat
Needless to say we had slowed right down by this time!!   he certainly hasn't chosen the best weather for his epic swim.  At least there is not any rain today......just that wretched wind.
Approaching Abingdon there is this sign marking the original junction with the now derelict Wilts and Berks Canal
Just beyond that notice is this bridge which also seems to lead to the old canal.
And so to Abingdon itself.   We decided to moor, if we could, before the bridge in case there was no room beyond it.   With a lot of wellie we managed to squeeze in between a wide beam and a plastic job.  The shore is ideal for Barney BUT the bank is very high and it takes quite an athletic leap for him to get on and off.....come to that it is no so easy for me either.   However we only plan to stay one night so we shall put up with it.
After coffee time Geoff took B for a stroll up to the lock and found that there was tons of space beyond the bridge!!!!
7.61 miles, 2 locks, 2hrs 33 min

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

An even windier day on the Thames

So we stayed put!!!!
The mooring is congenial, no time limits, plenty of space for Barney, nearby Dorchester-on-Thames has a small shop, two pubs and a post office.  It also has Dorchester Abbey which we visited when we went down the Thames earlier this year.  The village is about a mile away but it made a good walk in between showers this morning.
The two hotel boats moored behind us last night left about 9.30 but rather them than me in the wind........I looked up their schedule and they aim to be in Oxford on Thursday.  We have been joined by 3 other boats in our field this evening.
We hope the wind will have abated a little tomorrow so we can get up to Abingdon.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Windy day on the Thames

I was chivvied out of bed this morning as the forecast was for rain later and worse tomorrow and Geoff wanted to get as far as possible.
So we set off just before 8, reached Goring Lock before the lock keeper came on duty but he appeared as we were going up the lock.
Lovely and sunny as we approach Gatehampton Railway bridge.
We passed what could be a lovely house but sadly it looked as though some tlc was called for
Not a bad idea for a conservatory!
One of the nice houses on the way
Enlarge picture to see the Canada Geese bathing
Now this house just after Goring Lock looks like a residential or care home so when the time comes perhaps my family could take note!  I would approve of the situation.......I've tried looking for it on google but no luck.....
We were reasonably lucky with the rain, just one or two showers but it was very windy.   Late lunchtime we reached Days Lock near Dorchester and our pleasant mooring spot which we had used on the way down was free so in we went.
14 miles, 4 locks, 5hrs 25 min

Sunday, 4 September 2011

Back aboard Petroc

For me a successful reunion (WRAF Officers) in London where a lot of talking was done!!!!  On Sunday morning a group of us attended St Clement Danes Church in London (The RAF Church)
Meanwhile back on Petroc Geoff observed 2 rescues......
A plastic job lost their umbrella
The Air Ambulance landed alongside Petroc (suspected heart attack on one of the boats)
There were also various steam boats in as they were having a rally somewhere, although he did not see a lot of action and it did not seem to be very well organised.  However there were some pretty boats.

and also a serious swimmer
Geoff also had welcome visitors on Saturday as Tony and Di, very old friends dropped in to see him.  They all had lunch at the Swan in Streetley which is in a beautiful setting, ideal to watch all the river activity as you sit on their patio.   It is however somewhat expensive and they had to send Di's salad back as the lettuce was full of grit!!!!
We rounded off the weekend when I returned with a BBQ at Giles and Susannah's, our last meet with them and the grandchildren for a while.........
We drove ourselves back to Beale Park, leaving the car for Giles to collect tomorrow morning.  Unfortunately both the gates to the car park were locked so we had to leave it someway down the river giving us a 40 minute walk back to Petroc across the fields and along the river bank!!!!  We made it just as it became really dark......we had forgotten to take a torch!!!!!