Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Here endeth 2017 cruising

A last familiar trip back to Clifton.  A little slower than anticipated as one each of the 3 locks in the Hillmorton flight were out of action but the weather stayed dry for us.   In fact it was kind enough to stay fine for all our packing up.  A job we both hate.......

We are now settled back in our granny annexe in Cornwall.......roll on next Spring.

Monday, 9 October 2017

Gently meandering back to Clifton

Wednesday and Thursday wee two bright days for a gentle descent of the Napton Flight.
The mornings were chilly as can be seen by the horses with their coats on

But plenty of sunshine

The buffalo don`t seem to need protection and they were very interested in our passing.
I am always glad to be separated by a strip of water
We spent a couple of nights just before bridge 102 in one of our favourite stopping places.  There were quite a few other boats but there is so much mooring along this stretch that everyone had spaced themselves out nicely, so no one was on top of another boat.

An early start was necessary on Saturday morning so that we could have reach Braunston and have our cooked breakfast in the Gongoozlers Rest Cafe.

A very good breakfast it was.
Later on Saturday saw the arrival of Boe, in transit from the Salt Mines of Krakow, via Nottingham (courtesy of Ryanair!) to Cornwall.

One of Boes pictures as she was out walking Barney on Sunday.
Geoff and I went to the Family Service in Braunston church where we discovered that the Reverend Sarah would be moving on before our next visit here.  I am sure she will be missed as she is so enthusiastic and makes the service come alive.

We then all went to the Admiral Nelson for Sunday lunch.  The food was OK but we were disappointed in the menu.  The two roasts they had on were Lamb Shank or Beef Brisket, neither of which I would describe as a typical Sunday Roast and at £14 I thought it was a tad expensive for this part of the world.  Boe and Geoff decided against either and settled for a burger.  Having said that there was nothing wrong with the food.

Boe departed for Cornwall after breakfast taking with her some of our luggage which was handy.  We do normally manage to get everything in the car but it is a close run thing as Barney takes up a quarter of the space!  

A last trip up to the butcher for a couple of nights suppers and we too were on our way.   Now moored just about Hillmorten Locks ready for the last trip tomorrow into Clifton.

Total distance:6.55 miles 
Elapsed time:2h39m33s 
Average speed:2.62 mph (2.62 lock/mph)

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Wey Hey Toilet mended!

Last nights sky held promise
The promise was fulfilled but before we set off we had the all important visit.    Mike from Lee San had come down yesterday afternoon to have a preliminary look.   His first comments as he struggled with the way the toilet was fitted were not encouraging.   However he was back this morning, having looked back at our history (or rather the loos history) and talked to others in the office and to cut a long story short he has mended it.   It turns out there there is actually noting wrong with the mechanism, it is one tiny bit of the fitting....a rather essential bit......but with a bit of doctoring from Mike, fingers crossed, it is functioning again.  Once again a big thank you to Lee Sanitation.  After it was all complete he did say that he had seen a lot worse installations.  The problem is that it may all look nice and neatly fitted in but when there is a problem the most important thing is accessibility and he did have to use a few contortions to get to all the parts he needed.  (All boat builders take note!)

 BUT  and a rather big but, we can`t use it yet as our other big problem is the batteries.  For a few weeks now we have noticed that the service batteries are not holding their charge like they used to.  We have 3 gel batteries which are sealed for life and have lasted us 11 years of cruising, so despite the fact that they were more expensive to buy we think we have probably had our moneys worth.  We are hanging on in the hope they get us safely back to Rugby in a weeks time.   We have to turn the fridge off at night and the heating won`t fire up in the morning until we turn the engine on.  The loo takes electricity to build up the vacuum every time it is flushed so that is another NO NO at the moment.

Still to look on the bright side at least all this has happened towards the end of the seasons cruising and not at the beginning!!

Moored behind us at Fenny we found an old friend.

In a previous life....ie before PETROC we had a quarter share in Tickey.  We tried the living aboard all 40 ft of her to see if we could cope for long periods in close confinement.   She looks much smarter now, obviously had a paint job, but sadly no one aboard to chat to and maybe get a peek inside.  Since we have been on Petroc for 11 years it was quite a while ago.

Tickey moored in Bugsworth Basin 2006
We set off after Mikes departure, much later than usual for us but the sun was still shining.  We are on the summit now so it is gentle meandering with no locks for a while.

Moored in a nice open spot which we have frequented before.  If it was still summer and we were not on our way home we would probably stay here a few days.

Total distance:3.02 miles 
Elapsed time:1h19m7s 
Average speed:2.29 mph (2.29 lock/mph) 

Monday, 2 October 2017

Shall we....Shall we not???

Sunday was a day of indecision.  It is not normally a day of travelling for us and the weather forecast was for a dire day, lots of rain and wind so the plan was Church in Cropredy and a lazy day.  However we wanted to reach Fenny Compton on Monday and that meant a longish day........we don't choose to do long days.....so we thought we would carry on after church and get half way up the Claydon flight.

When we woke the weather was nothing like the forecast, admittedly no sun but no rain or wind either.   So after a lot of dithering and mind changing we decided to go whilst the weather was OK and skip church.   

We then had a very pleasant run up to the moorings above the Claydon 3rd lock.  Even the fact that there was one boat ahead of us, which meant the locks were all set against us, didn`t detract from the tranquillity of the day.

Once settled there we all retired for a peaceful afternoon

Barney in afternoon siesta mode

Total distance:2.29 miles 
Elapsed time:2h10m33s 
Average speed:1.05 mph (3.81 lock/mph) 

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Made it to Banbury and thence to Cropredy

These cows appeared to take exception to Barney 
when we were moored at Kings Sutton
as they made a heck of a racket when they saw him.
I was glad I was separated by a fence and a a stretch of water.

We moored just past the centre for a day and a half whilst we had visitors.  Two lunches out.  Once with Iain, Christine and Fiona and the next day with Tony and Di.
Two good pubs visited.  The Reindeer on the first day and the White Horse on the second.  The White Horse was a great pub with a very reasonably priced menu.  I availed myself of the Pensioners special....Fish Chips and Peas and a pudding for £6....can`t do better than that.   The lure was that one of the choices of pudding was steamed syrup sponge and custard......so decadent.  Both pubs recommended but I think the White Horse was the winner.  It is a little further out of town and was incredibly quiet but very comfortable.

After the departure of Tony and Di we moved out a little as Banbury is gearing up for its Canal Day on Sunday.  There were notices saying that the centre moorings were suspended from Friday lunchtime to Monday morning for boats who had booked in for the Canal Day.
We moored just over half a mile out round the corner where it is somewhat easier to do a shop at Tescos.  

We met up briefly with Bones again, although no time for wine this time!

On Saturday we decided to walk in for our cooked breakfast before making tracks for the day.   The goal was to get half way up the Claydon Flight, but in the event we had both had enough by the time we reached Cropredy, I think the cooked breakfast had worn us out.

Getting ready for tomorrow.


Just before reaching Cropredy I decided to take a picture of a dummy on a moored boat
but I was not prepared for what happened when we went past..
Wednesday  27th

Total distance:3.55 miles 
Elapsed time:2h1m22s 
Average speed:1.75 mph (2.74 lock/mph) 

Saturday  30th

Total distance:3.71 miles 
Elapsed time:3h19m26s
Average speed:1.12 mph (2.32 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

slowly, slowly towards Banbury

Well we could have made Banbury in a day if necessary, but since it wasn`t we decided to do it in two days, then changed that to 3 days!!

Leaving Lower Heyford a menacing frog and a rabbit!

and a solitary black swan.   We saw a pair of black ones whilst at Windsor
but have never seen one on the canal before.
We stopped for fuel at Ayno Wharf.  The answer to my question....Can I declare my own split?   was....is there any other way??   How nice, as there are boatyards who will only do a 60/40

It was a grey old day, rain when we started and although it ceased eventually, the day never really seemed to get going......no sun at all.   Despite our early start it was 9.45 before we left Heyford as the water filling took forever.   Geoff blames my doing the washing but think the flow out of the tap might have a bearing!!   Unfortunately the gauge for the water tank has never worked from the day we took possession of Petroc so it is all by guess and by god as to how much is left in the tank.

So we moored just before Cleeves bridge for the night.

Today, Tuesday dawned extremely misty but we were not heading for an early start so by the time we got going it had lifted with the promise of a much better day.

We were held up to start with by Geoff trying to order something online and getting extremely frustrated because it wouldn`t do what he wanted!!   Gilly to the rescue.......I have much more patience......is this a man/woman thing??

I decided on a slight role reversal first thing, so I set off to work the first two locks leaving Geoff at the helm.   The first lock was OK. gates and paddles relatively easy but the bottom gate at the second one nearly defeated me......at one point I thought Geoff would have to climb the ladder in the lock, I shall probably feel the effect later on.

A rare sight, Geoff steering into the lock...this was the gate that nearly defeated me.
After Petroc rose in this lock we changed places and the status quo was maintained.......all back to normal operation.

Barney walked the whole way today, first with me and then with Geoff so he is a well exercised dog this evening.

We moored just after Kings Sutton Lock, nice wide towpath and the weather was such that Barney and I were able to sit out for the afternoon, the first time for a couple of weeks.......could this be an Indian summer.......having seen the forecast I think probably not......

So just a short hop into Banbury tomorrow where we are meeting friends Iain and Christine for lunch.


Total distance:6.42 miles 
Elapsed time:4h47m25s (includes nearly 1.5 hours watering!)
Average speed:1.34 mph (1.97 lock/mph) 


Total distance:2.95 miles 
Elapsed time:2h2m42s 
Average speed:1.44 mph (2.91 lock/mph) 

Sunday, 24 September 2017

Thrupp, Lower Heyford and London

Thrupp was delightful as always.  We were lucky enough to find a space on the 7 day moorings, although we did not plan to stay quite that long.We had visitors on the Saturday in the shape of Tony and Di.  Di kindly took me shopping to the big Sainsburys in Kidlington whilst the boys walked to the Rock of Gibraltar.  We joined them there and were impressed with the food for lunch.  Very naughty that day as we had also had a cooked breakfast in Annies Cafe!!   Still it was a late lunch and quite light.

Sunday defeated me as far as church was concerned as there was no service at Shipton-on-Cherwell but Geoff did the walk to Hampton Poyle (Kidlington) and the church of St Mary the Virgin.

Looking West with the water point in the foreground

A lady had dropped her camera in!!!
A gallant gentleman
We moved on Tuesday and the weather was kind to us

Shipton Weir lock was the first of the day
This is not my favourite lock as it is diamond shaped and despite being quite a small rise it seems to take forever and it is impossible to keep the boat steady.

Four more normal locks where the crew could relax as Petroc gently rose.
Once again we were lucky at Lower Heyford.  We wanted to moor just outside before all the permanent moorings as it is much more open.  There was just room for us after the bridge so Geoff could be comfortable whilst I went off for a bit of family and urban therapy.

The station is just 5 minutes walk away so it is highly convenient.  In fact the trains are in our back yard so to speak, just over the hedge   Very noisy but after a while you cease to notice them.

So I had 3 days of trains, tubes,  buses and people, but most importantly family.   I managed to have time with all three of the children which was great.

From this........
......to this
.....and this

Boe and I paid a visit to Paddington Basin

Much more developed since our visit here on Petroc in 2008.
It is now a popular lunch time place for Londoners, as there are plenty of cafes and seating areas in landscaped gardens.

However if we had wanted to come in with Petroc we might have been disappointed.  It was chokka, with the pontoons full on the one side and the other side they were 2 abreast.

Back to Heyford on Friday early evening where the train was standing room only before it departed. Luckily I am an early bird so I was second on the train which gave me no problem.

Another weekend of eating out.  Breakfast at Zizzis on Saturday and lunch at the Bell after church. Both excellent meals and good value for money.  Sunday roast at the Bell is £9.95 for two courses, starter and main.   A bit different to all the places whilst we have been on the Thames.

Geoff had a pleasant evening with Bones in my absence....I had seen her before my departure but the only evening she could manage to relax was during my time away.  I think they may have managed to put part of the world to rights!

So onward again tomorrow (Monday)

Total distance:7.01 miles 
Elapsed time:4h11m49s 
Average speed:1.67 mph (2.86 lock/mph)

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Aren`t canals narrow!!

After over two and a half months on the Thames we are back on what is really our home ground.   No longer can we wander along looking for the best mooring place and then turn around if we need to go back.......and so narrow!!

We really felt the difference as we left Oxford and passed the extensive area of Agenda 21 Residential moorings.   A very long stretch of boats, the majority of which could do with a touch of TLC, making it very hard to pass a boat going in the other direction.

Meanwhile the Jericho redevelopment does not seem to have made any progress, there is no sign of any activity behind the hoardings showing what it could look like.  The artists impression in the link above looks great....but.......is it just a pipe dream??   Oxford could well do with improving its image in this area.  Great potential.........

Before this trip we had two nights on the Oxford Road east Moorings, which are part of the Thames Visitor moorings.  Here one can have one night free and up to 2 further nights at £5 a night.   You can either register your arrival on line or call the telephone number given on the notice.  It was a very pleasant and cheerful gentleman I spoke to when registering.  When I asked him where he was controlling the system from, he said from his boat which was presently moored in Weybridge.   I forgot to ask him how he kept a check on whether people bothered to call or not.  In fact a gentleman in a wooden boat in front of us told Geoff that he thought someone came around to collect the money but we didn't see any sign of that.

The moorings are well placed to either walk into town or hop on one of numerous buses just up along from the bridge.  The new shopping centre has made progress and is due to open next month...at least it says so on the notice!

The goal today was Thrupp for the weekend providing there was space.   After a pleasant run (after the had escaped Oxford)  we stopped at the first space available by the Jolly Boatman just in case there was no room further up on the 7 day moorings.   Geoff walked up and soon rang me to say there was plenty of space......this is the advantage of arriving late morning/lunchtime.   Soon we were nicely settled in.

The mooring notices do ask boats not to run generators or engines but am not sure how they think one can manage for 7 days.

Total distance:6.95 miles 
Elapsed time:4h17m30s 
Average speed:1.62 mph (2.79 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Back to Oxford

Abingdon has to be the most welcoming of towns on the Thames to visitors.  What a pity some other places are not as welcoming.  Sadly I failed to get a picture of the notice by Reading Bridge which is really quite threatening if you stay over the allotted 24 hours.  Not just a fine of £100 but dire consequences..............................

Other places on the Thames could do well to take note.
So we were sad to leave, but Tuesday was forecast to be a window in what didn`t promise to be a good week.   However they said Monday would be bad, hence our delay, but in the event it was not nearly as bad as forecast.

When Geoff walked Barnaby on Monday past the lock and the water point, it was very busy with at least 4 boats queuing to water.   Since we don`t like situations like that we crept away at 0730!!

We were locked through and watered and on our way by 0830 and didn`t see another boat for over 2 hours.  Chillier than of late but no rain and a very pleasant run up to Oxford.  We met our first boats at Iffley lock when 4 were locking down which we hoped boded well for space on the moorings above Osney lock.
Approaching Folly Bridge
The channel to the left is still closed off.
So round to the right we go
Followed by a smart little trip boat
Osney lock was on self service which we did not realise.  (No sign up) There was now a boat ahead of us who had just gone up the lock and decided to do his good turn for the day by emptying the lock and opening the gates ready for us.   However we thought he was the lock keeper so Geoff stayed aboard.  Once inside he then had to climb the steps which is something neither of us is too keen on him doing......they are very slippy.  Still all was well and we were pleased to see that there was room for us on the moorings just above.

So endeth our two and a half months Thames travelling.  We left here on 29th June.  I only managed to persuade Geoff to go as far as Windsor but it has been a very leisurely time.  On Thursday we shall go through ISIS lock and re enter our world of canals.

Total distance:9.06 miles 
Elapsed time:4h4m50s
Average speed:2.22 mph (3.20 lock/mph

Monday, 11 September 2017

Weekend in Abingdon

The bank is slightly high here downstream of the bridge but manageable.  Lots of meadow for Barney

My early morning view as I make the tea!
Giles and Finley came over on Saturday morning.  Giles to do a training swim in the river.  he is signed up to a half iron man  (I think that is what is called) next May so has to keep the training up.   2 Km swim, 80km cycle ride and 1/2 marathon....one after the other.......Finley Barney and I went alongside him to check his distance and also to warn him of approaching boats.

Afterwards we repaired to Annie's on the Waterfront.   This is the same people who run Annie's cafe at Thrupp.   They only opened two weeks ago in the building on the waterfront where there used to be a chandlers.   Great service and breakfast.

We had still not solved the aerial problems and were having to take a direct feed from the aerial through door and window (door for the front and window for the back).  With the weather turning colder I was none too happy with the window above my head permanently open..  This spurred me on to make yet more phone calls trying to find an aerial engineer to solve the problem.   

To cut a very long saga short we were visited by Brian from Aerial Solutions on Saturday afternoon.   What a star!!   Faulty connections were the problem, all now fixed and at a very reasonable price.   We can recommend him if anyone has similar problems.

Sunday we went to St Helens Church.  The Sunday morning Eucharist was also welcoming the Mayoral party.  It is heritage weekend here in Abingdon.   Various events taking place and lots of historic building open and free.  James and Hazel with NB Gabriel are here and kindly brought us a brochure of everything going on.

Layover another day tomorrow as the forecast is less than pleasing.   Oxford beckons on Tuesday.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Back to Abingdon

Back to where we were over 2 months ago.   But first we had a couple of nights in Wallingford.
There are still a lot of boats around and a mooring space was not straightforward.   We had to moor on the town side at first in the only available space.  However the bank is far too high for us and my getting on and off would have been very undignified....if possible.   Barney was none too impressed either, but as he had had a long time without being able to get ashore he made a superhuman effort and threw himself up.   We then sat eyeing a hire boat on the other bank for about half an hour whilst we considered if he was going to move or not.   Eventually he did and a smart bit of reversing allowed us to moor with a slightly lower bank.  We were then moored alongside the park area and the swimming pool.   When we were here on the way down it was during the excessively hot weather and the pool was a godsend.  Now it is closed and the temperature somewhat different!
The view of Wallingford from our mooring.
On Wednesday Geoff and I actually went walking together with Barney, a rare occurrence.  We walked the Thames path up to Benson.  I had walked this in the extreme heat with my sister-in-law Edith and thought I would never make it.  Today was much easier and the goal at the end which was the Waterfront cafe at Benson was much less crowded.  We were able to site in the comfortable chairs overlooking the river and enjoy our coffee........and cake......it was still warm enough to do that.
Looking from the weir at Benson with our goal in the distance.
Today, Thursday we set off at the crack of sparrows as we had over 12 miles to go.

Waiting for the Benson lock,  sun just awake
The sun was kind to us for nearly 3 hours before the weather took a nose dive.   We had the river to ourselves apart from 3 canoeists until well after 9 o`clock.

At Abingdon there was space on the moorings downstream of the bridge so decided to moor there for a change.   The moorings here are very civilised, the notice says they are provided free for our enjoyment and we may stay for 5 days.   Great pity some of the other places don`t do the same.   We don`t object to those that charge £5 a night but some places are more.   Marlow is the highest we have encountered at £12 a night.   There is space there on the free moorings but only for about 3 boats and it is, understandably, 24 hours only.   The paying ones are free during the day time so they tend to get filled up with local boats out for the day, hence our not being able to moor in Marlow on our way back upstream.

Total distance:12.81 miles 
Elapsed time:4h33m44s 
Average speed:2.81 mph (3.68 lock/mph) 

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Boarded by Pirates

After a lot of dithering Geoff decided to spend his peaceful weekend in Goring rather than Beale Park so we tootled up there on Friday morning and were lucky enough to find a mooring at the far end.

I packed my bags and was collected by Giles for my Granny sitting duties.  Thankfully Boe was there also.  If it were just the children it would be fine but there are 17 chickens, 1 poorly cat who has to be injected, 2 well cats, 1 poorly dog who has just had a stroke, one well dog with boundless energy, 2 ducks and a goldfish!!

The weekend went well, with lots of activity including a trip to this water obstacle course.    Needless to say I was a spectator, leaving Boe to accompany the children.

Boe came to spend Sunday evening on Petroc and, together with Geoff, we sampled the Indian delights of Massooms restaurant.

Boe left us on Monday morning and we had a short run up to locks, watering at Cleeve lock and aiming for the field mooring where we had moored on the way down.   We couldn't`t take the exact same spot as it was filled with George and Carol on Still Rockin.  We managed to get in a little further back but had to use the gang plank....the first time since we were on the Lancaster canal a few years ago.   First time ever for this new gangplank.   Barney took one look at it and disdainfully did an almighty leap for the shore without it!

Late afternoon wee had a surprise visit....Giles and the children in their boat called the SLACK DODGER!!
A boat that has seen better days but the kids love it.

Moved on today to Wallingford, where we were initially unlucky with mooring.   We managed to squeeze into a space on the left had side but the bank is far too high for us here.   Barney did eventually manage it but I would have struggled.   We sat waiting for a hire boat to depart from the opposite bank.   This he duly did after about half an hour so a swift bit of reversing before someone else came along.

Our TV aerials are playing up again, they have not been right since our boatyard fitted new ones for us at the beginning of the season.   This causes a lot of angst for Geoff!!!

After several phone calls I have the possibility of a visit from someone a week today.........we will be around Oxford by then in all probability.   Another call out fee!!!