Thursday, 26 May 2011

Still at Ayno

We had planned a layover day anyway, at least that is my story.  This is the view from Petroc at one stage of the day....

It is difficult to capture the full effect of rain on camera but I assure you they were heavy showers.   Still we cannot complain too much as it is the first really wet day we have had since we set off.  To be fair they were only showers, there were dry intervals when we could get Barnaby out for a walk, albeit a little shorter than normal.
As you can see from the second picture I do have something to occupy me when kept indoors......  more work on Giles` accounts amongst other things.
0 miles, 0 locks, 0 hours!!

Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Heading South again

Well we were after a short trip in a northerly direction to turn ourselves around.   Another very pleasant stop in Banbury.  We did not rush ourselves this morning and it was almost 10.30 after we had shopped and pottered.  Needless to say by that time other boats were on the move so there was a bit of waiting at locks, but we were in no rush. 
Barney seems to prefer walking alongside with Geoff but when he is on the boat whilst cruising this is now his preferred position
One has to be very careful where feet are put
The wind was still with us but not quite as strong as really is quite delightful ambling up and down the Southern Oxford.  Geoff is still in seriously go slow mode which I think is great but takes a bit of getting used to!

No Kingfishers sighed this year yet but Heron's are around
As you exit Nell Bridge Lock there is a very low bridge and if you look closely you will see the level indicator board for the next stretch...however someone has obviously given it a good thwack and turned it through 90 degrees.
What it should look like.
We had lunch on the go today, a very rare occurrence for us, but we wanted to be on a little way as the forecast for tomorrow is not so good, there is even talk of rain.......
We moored just before Ayno Wharf and it is so congenial we may stay over tomorrow.
Our view

I have walked up the the Wharf and ascertained the price of diesel, 87p + tax where applicable and we can declare our own split.  Interestingly I was informed that places that will only sell at 60/40 have to inform you of this fact before filling up or it is not legal...this is news to me....can anyone verify this snippet of information.
7.38 miles 4hr 16 min 5 locks

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Back to Banbury

Yes we are still heading north........
Another windy trip today.  When we set off for one of our unusual (for this year) early starts it was quite breezy but the forecast had told us it would not be as strong as yesterday............not sure we think they had that quite right.  It certainly made for some interesting approaches and exits to the locks.  However we had no great difficulty until we exited Kings Sutton Lock.   I had swapped over with Geoff and walked on for my morning constitutional with Barney.  After a while(luckily not too long) I checked to see he was following me but there was no sign so I retraced my steps to find him moored up.
Guess what the problem was???
For the first time this year we had something round the Geoff had to engage in one of his least favourite occupations.
When we reached Banbury we found it much busier than our last visit...only a few weeks ago.....
However there was a convenient space that was just long enough for us in our favourite spot just north of Tom Rolt Bridge. 
We had no sooner moored up when Tony Fletcher arrived and whisked Geoffrey away for some male bonding in the pubs of Banbury.  The left me to have a peaceful afternoon with my book........
8.26 miles 5 locks 4hr 56min

Monday, 23 May 2011


We were collected from Petroc by Tony on Saturday morning and whisked off to their place as we were going to Samantha's 40th birthday party.........Geoff's goddaughter.  a good time was had by all as can be seen below..
One of Geoff's rare appearances on the dance floor!!!   I think this was only because the music was so loud you couldn't have a conversation with anyone...........birthday girl Sam in the centre.
Everyone was a little jaded on Sunday morning but we rallied sufficiently and Tony and I drove us back to Petroc.  We did a Sainsbury's shop en route and then Sunday Lunch at the Boat at Thrupp.  The food was excellent but pricier than the Jolly Boatman and not as plentiful....touch of the Nouvelle Cuisine bout it.
Today we had a leisurely start...another......we had the forecast for extremely high winds but it seemed to indicate they would be further north.   As we progressed however it became stronger and by the time we reached Somerton deep lock it was blowing well.  Dusty the Coalman was ahead of us so we tied up to wait (Very securely).  Geoff went up to the lock to help and I sat and waited.....and waited....and waited....
Eventually he returned to report progress.  Dusty had tried to tie up and his line ashore had broken and the boat waiting to come down had got itself into difficulties........stuck across the canal.....when they eventually extricated themselves and came out at the bottom of the lock the altercation between husband and wife was still going was bound to have been the man's fault wasn't it????.
Anyway we only went a little further before we moored up for the night.
4.96 mile, 3 locks, 3 hr 5 min

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Lower Heyford again

After a walk to the nearby village of Kirklington for the paper we set off for another of our mammoth trips.   The village is truly delightful, it has everything going for it, pretty, village green with pond, school, church, pub and unbelievably in this day and age, a well stocked village shop together with Post Office.  It's only slight downside is that a fairly busy road runs through it.  However this does give them a bus service which runs from Oxford to Bicester.   In addition we chatted to a lady walking her dog by the boat who said they had only moved there just after Christmas and they had found it a very friendly village with a great community spirit......
Anyway we set off gently and managed to find a very congenial mooring at Lower Heyford.  We are out in the open which we like although the railway runs right alongside.  After a while you hardly notice the noise of the trains.........

3.12 miles 1hr 44min 2 locks

Thursday, 19 May 2011

We`ve moved!

Just don't get too excited...a small distance and backwards..........well North again.   In fact it was backwards to start with as we (I) had to reverse back to and through the lifting bridge to turn round.   
Yesterday Geoff became a tourist again as he wanted to visit the Ashmolean Museum which had been shut on Monday.   This time he remembered the camera so below are a few of his offerings of the wonderful buildings in the city of Dreaming Spires  (Morses City for devotees!)

Christ Cathedral
Sheldonian Library
Hertford Bridge, referred to as Bridge of Sighs because of its resemblance to the Venice one.
This time he used the bus both ways.  Meanwhile Barney and I managed a good long walk through fields and then back through the woods.   I wouldn't have attempted the wood bit if I hadn't met two locals with a dog who set me off on the right path.  I walked with them a part of the way and then braved the rest of the woods alone.   It is hardly a jungle but I find it just a little spooky when there is not another soul around in a fairly dense wood.
By arrangement at about 4pm we were descended on by Giles, Susannah and the 3 grandchildren.  It was lovely to see them all but I am not sure that 3 small children in the confines of a narrowboat would be compatible for an extended period!  After taking the elder two to the woods to run off some energy we went to the Jolly Boatman for an early supper which was excellent.  Despite all 3 of the children being very well behaved, the underneath of the table looked like the wreck of the Hesperus when we left......

With the family
 Moorings at Thrupp
Watering at Thrupp
Today after watering at Thrupp we retraced our steps and have now moored on the opposite side of the towpath near an abandoned quarry.  We have looked at this spot before and it looked a little bleak but it is in fact quite delightful.
The bank is not exactly perfect but we have found one ring and several trees to tie to.  Together with several strategically placed fenders we don't seem to be coming to any harm.  Surprisingly most boats have gone through relatively slowly....I say surprisingly because we are finding this year that passing boats seem to have lost the art of slowing down for moored ones.   Not all I hasten to add but quite a few.  Maybe it is just relative because our mindset seems to be definitely slow motion this year.
Geoff was the first explorer of our location and discovered that the disused quarry was delightful as was the nearby village of Kirtlington. 
We spent a very peaceful afternoon here.  I tried out my new chair which I had had delivered to Giles and they had brought on their visit to Thrupp.   I have swapped it for the one we have in the saloon but I have some reservations about it so it may get swapped back again.

Later I went for the walk round the quarry which is now an SSSI.
 There are steps up from the mooring spot which lead to a well defined path which is all fenced
In the middle is a reproduction of a prehistoric maze.
One or two walkers with dogs passed by my chair and me during the afternoon.  One lady had 3 big hairy dogs who had been in the water......they were very friendly and came and shook all over me.......I was not overly impressed and she didn't stop to apologise either........
Another quite elderly delightful lady (and her dog) stopped to chat on the wooden bench beside me.  She was originally from Vienna but had lived in Kirtlington for over 60 years.  She told me that in the summer (Is it coming??)  this was a very popular spot both for boats and campers.  We are lucky to have found it at this time of year and on a day that shows a little promise of summer.  After several  days with a cool wind, there is none at all today, hence my sitting out.
3hr 28 min, 4.02 miles, 3 locks

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

City of Dreaming Spires

Today was my turn to be a may wonder why we didn't do this together.  One of the reasons is Barney, it's a bit long to leave him all day, another is that my walking ability does not match Geoff's so I would cramp his style a bit.  Geoff also wanted to do the museums and I preferred to do churches.......   He was unlucky yesterday as the Ashmolean shuts on a Monday so he has to return tomorrow.
I caught the bus from the end of the road, at least I did when it eventually came, 20 minutes late....I was on the point of giving up.
Once in the centre I followed Geoff's example and took the red tour bus.  I alighted part way round to visit Christ College and Cathedral.

The Great Hall in Christ College
In the Cathedral I was particularly taken with George Bell's altar where a cross had been carved out of the altar stone
I managed a walk through the covered market and then down through Christ Meadow before deciding that enough was enough and the quiet life of the canal beckoned.  I had had my fill of crowds for the day.

On my return Geoff wanted to visit Annie's Tea Room for a cream tea.......we hardly ever have one when we are home in we had to do it in Oxfordshire!  Very good it was too.  Highly recommended.

Monday, 16 May 2011

Still at Thrupp

Saturday saw us move all of 3 boat lengths!  When Takara left we reversed and snuck into their spot on the 7day moorings.   After moving Geoff and Barney walked into Kidlington and I pottered and did some more of Giles accounts.  Later I took Barney for a walk in the woods near here, but it was a little lonely amongst the trees and I was not too keen on my own.
There are several tame ducks along here and they come to visit.  Barney takes no notice of them and they in turn ignore him, they just walk all around him.

Sunday we were collected by Iain and Christine and we went to their church in Deddington, followed by Sunday lunch with them and daughter Fiona, whom we had not seen for some time.  A most enjoyable day, further enhanced by unexpected call from Boe to see where we were.  She was en route home in our little car from a wedding and decided to take a slight northern detour.  She was able to take us back to Petroc and ended up staying the night.  This meant a very early start for her (and for us!) as she needed to be in London in case she had a call for work.  She is doing supply teaching on Mondays and Tuesdays.  She had just reached her cousin Marc's in Greenford where she was leaving the car, when she had a call so it was a good job she had left so early.........Geoff and I went back to bed after her departure.....

Today Geoff walked into Oxford to become a tourist, even went on one of the tour buses round the city.  However he forgot the camera so no pictures. He caught the bus back.   Meanwhile I touched up the black paint on the sides of Petroc, did some domestic things and yet more accounts........................

Tomorrow I plan to be the tourist but I shall be travelling by bus both ways and hope to remember the camera.

Whilst we have been here we have met Bones and Boots her dog, and also Maffi and his dog Molly.

Friday, 13 May 2011


And so a lon.....................g trip to Thrupp...see below for timings......
This is Barneys favourite position, lying alongside the boat on the towpath watching the world go by
We left about 1015 to time our arrival at Thrupp when people might have started to move leaving some space as it is such a popular spot.   Only 2 locks today and one of those was the dreaded diamond shape at Shipton Weir lock.   All along this stretch the mighty river Cherwell has been pussyfooting along beside us, sometimes, as last night, just over the other side of the towpath, but today it briefly joins us....or maybe we join with it.....anyway between Bakers Lock and Shipton Weir lock we travel together along a very twisty route.

Shipton Weir Lock

En route we saw a couple of fishermen again today, we saw our first a couple of days ago, we had been wondering at the lack of these patient gentlemen (should I be politically correct and say gentlefolk....there are probably ladies who fish!).  We wondered if we were in the closed fishing season if there is such a thing on the canals.....

And so to Thrupp, past lots of permanent moorings before the sharp turn to go through the lifting bridge, which has now been electrified.  It did not look promising as we rounded the bend and sure enough all the 7 day moorings were full.  However there was space further along on the 48hr ones.  
We had forgotten how busy the small road just alongside the towpath can be, so have to keep an eye on Barney.  Still a delightful mooring, although we are just opposite the first of the cottages which is a bit like being in a goldfish bowl.  How the cottage dwellers feel with all these strange boats just outside their front door.  We know two boats are leaving tomorrow, one of which is Hotel Boat Takara and he is going to let us know when he is going so we can move back into his space.  
2.62 miles, 2 locks, 1hr 28 min

Thursday, 12 May 2011


Another short day, I am getting used to this and feeling quite relaxed........
Moved on to Enslow today, so we are close for the trip to Thrupp tomorrow, we want to time our arrival so that we can find a mooring for the weekend.  Iain and Christine are going to pick us up on Sunday to take us to their church in Deddington and then on somewhere for lunch.
An afternoon of doing Giles' accounts for me, Geoff doing his usual!!!
5.14 miles, 3 locks 3hrs 19 min

Lower Heyford

This was our sunset in our lovely open mooring last night, moored just before Chisnell Farm Lifting Bridge 193, one of the few lifting bridges along this stretch that we have to open.
A gentle start to the day as we did not plan to go far.
Our first lock was Somerton deep Lock and this really did have a pretty lock keepers cottage....sadly no lock keeper anymore.....
It is one of the deepest single locks on the system and when viewed from above, which Geoff did not me, it gives one a vertigo least it dod me when I looked at the photos....

On the boat I feel a long way down
Geoff and Barney walked almost the whole way, I did a small stretch in the middle between Heyford Common Lock and Allens Lock, but my back is playing up so climbed aboard again.....
We moored just before Heyford Wharf just beyond lifting bridge 205.  We were expecting visitors for lunch and for dinner!!   Tony and Di arrived at lunchtime and we repaired to the Bell so the fellows could have a couple of beers and then lunch on Petroc.....after their departure Geoff managed to have a late short siesta before evening guests Iain and Christine arrived.  Pre dinner drinks on board followed by a good meal in the Bell.
A good day of visitors but no internet connection, the first time I have been without since we started.
4.67 miles, 3 locks, 2hr 43 min

Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Another long trip!!!

For definition of long see stats at bottom of today's blog.
Even a late start for us, just before 9am and with no particular destination in mind.  Weather was dry but a bit breezy, luckily no rain.
Our Pearsons Guide describes Kings Sutton Lock as `delightful` and well it may have been when we passed through here in 2007 and 2008 (I cannot remember) but today it looks as though some tlc is required.

Geoff had walked to here and onward as far as Aynho Weir Lock.  En route he passed lifting bridge 182 which was the scene of him nearly doing himself a mischief in 2008.
 bridge 182 - 2008
On that occasion the bridge was shut and he had extreme difficulty getting it to move, so resorted to climbing on the arm and going down it until his weight forced it down and the bridge up.  In slow motion it would have been OK but it went all of a sudden giving him a bit of a fright.   Unfortunately I missed the best shot and he didn't seem inclined to repeat the performance for me......
Today the bridge was open but sod's law prevailed and I had to hover for a boat to come through.  I then tried to take a photo whilst lining myself up for the bridge with almost disastrous results......a bit of wellie and reversing was called into action.   Unfortunately the boat that had gone through witnessed my less than professional transit.....
Exiting Nell Bridge never seems as if there will be enough space..
Aynho Weir Lock with it's diamond shape...not my favourite locks
Passing Aynho Wharf someone was still celebrating the wedding
A little further on we saw a congenial mooring spot and decided to stop.   When I looked back to my 2008 log looking for the picture of Geoff on the bridge arm, I discovered we had moored in this exact spot almost 3 years ago to the day.
5.13 miles, 3 locks, 2hr 33 min

Monday, 9 May 2011

Good-bye Banbury

Instead of our normal Sunday of Church followed by Pub lunch, we had to settle for Brunch with Boe before her departure.  Unfortunately time wise this ruled out our visit to St Mary's Church in Banbury which had been our intention..... British Rail's Sunday engineering works meant Boe had to leave earlier than planned.

Our weekend in Banbury had been exceedingly pleasant, I had had my shopping fix which will do for a while.  Being able to moor right in the centre is incredibly convenient.  In addition, there are huge green park areas for Barney right on our doorstep.  Banbury has done really well in making the most of the canal going through the town.

Our walks through the town took us past the original site of Banbury Cross of Lady Godiva fame, destroyed by Puritans in 1600

and also past one of the old coaching Inns.

This morning saw us gliding gently through the town area en route to no particular destination but with thoughts of Ayno Wharf a possibility.

Petroc approaching the lifting bridge

We stopped to water etc between the swing bridge and the lock and whilst doing so I came to the conclusion that my suspicions of yesterday that we may have a leak at the base of the loo, were indeed correct.  The question was, how to break the news to Captain Grumpalong????  It had only happened since Leesan had serviced it last Tuesday so it had to be something to do with that.   Geoff took the news moderately well when I said I would call Leesan.  I managed to get hold of them just after we went through Grant's Lock.  As luck would have it the engineer who had done the service was available so he came out to meet us at the next accessible mooring spot which was at Twyford Wharf.
It was a good excuse to stop as by now the wind had freshened and it was getting quite gusty and the rain clouds were beginning to creep up.
Luckily the fault was soon found and was relatively easy to fix but we had had enough for the day and it was a pleasant mooring spot.  It is also the best place to stop to visit Kings Sutton so Geoff and Barney had a good walk later on.  As soon as he started walking Geoff remembered doing the same thing 3 years ago, in fact I walked with him that time.  I have just looked back at my log and it was 3 years ago almost to the day.....8th May 2008.   Geoff said the village was as pretty as ever, 2/3 pubs, lovely church, old buildings and thatched cottages and a tiny Post Office, but sadly no decent village stores.  He got chatting to some locals and they told him the Parish Council didn't want a shop as it might spoil the character of the village!!
Along our route today there were several lifting bridges, but all of them left open for us so no great drama.
Rereading my log of 3 years ago I see that a little further on at bridge 181, it is the scene of Geoff almost having an accident.....  I shall leave that tale for tomorrow.........
2.93miles 2 locks, 2.34 hours  (We could hardly be accused of speeding!)