Thursday, 28 May 2009

The Floating Palace

Introducing "Sir" Kenneth and "Lady" Sandra Richardson standing proudly by the emblem of their beloved white rose of Yorkshire.
I call them "Sir" and "Lady" because, as far as John and I are concerned, they reside in a floating palace!

We first met Ken and Sandra last year when they had taken possession of their new boat only three months earlier.  Like a cat that's got the cream Ken showed us around and ..... WOW!!!  Inside it is absolutely stunning.
It is a reverse layout boat, has a cross bathroom and loads of space.  The woodwork inside and the decor is just fantastic.  They have an enormous back deck with a covering canopy so that it's like having a floating conservatory with a large cellar underneath.  Just amazing!

It was lovely to meet up with them again and this time we made sure we could do a proper job of socialising!  Thank you, Ken and Sandra - we really enjoyed the time we spent with you.
"We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when ..................
But I know we'll meet again some ?????? day!!"
and we will look forward to it.


Monday, 25 May 2009

NOT for the Faint-Hearted

Today, I am going to feature something which is high on the conversation list amongst boaters - things lavatorial!  Now if this subject makes you feel nauseous or queasy, then log off now!  You have been warned!

When we bought the boat we inherited from the previous owner a self pump out kit - this is for the marvellous task of emptying the loo tank!  Of course this can be done easily at marinas and boat yards - all you have to do is pay!  I am well cheesed off at the moment because I think some of them are charging extortionate prices.  SO....... when we saw somewhere in Cropredy where we could utilise our own equipment and do it ourselves .........!!!!  This has been only the second place we have come across where it has been legitimate to pump out your own loo.  This is the magic sign:-

It was exhausting and only took about an hour!!  We did share all that pumping though!  Never mind.  What is the point of carrying equipment around with us and not using it when we need to and we can?  Besides, John now has a beer fund in readiness for when we are with the Trotters (Derek & Rodney) next week.

On a much more pleasant note:-  "Ellen's" rear end is looking pert and sexy once again!  We have been looking for new rear fenders for ages but it was really difficult to find exactly what we wanted.  In the end we got them through "The Fender Man" (!) at Broadmoor Lock.  A definite result I am sure you will agree!
                                                                                     Smart new fenders!

Old rear fenders which owed         
us absolutely nothing!


Sunday, 24 May 2009

End of May Bank Holiday

Whatever has happened?  A hot, sunny Bank Holiday weekend in Britain?  How eerie is that?!
For the first time in about 10 yers we decided to give the Crick Show a miss because it's always a wash out!!  I'm really pleased actually because they deserve some good weather and I hope everything has been very successful.

Since leaving the river we have been, as John says, "getting a wiggle on!"  This has meant setting off at least by 9am and cruising  until 4 or 5pm.  A lot for us!  It certainly wasn't intentional but we arrived in Banbury about 2pm yesterday.  By the time we had eaten lunch and visited Morrisons 3 times!  Yes, 3 times! it was gone 5pm.  We didn't think for one minute that we would be able to moor at the Town Quay at that time of day but ................... there was a choice of spaces!  It was all very quiet even for a Bank Holiday Saturday.

Those 3 visits to Morrisons!  In my defence, we are meeting Rodney and Derek in Rodney's boat, n/b "Akela" at Napton Junction next Saturday and together we plan to cruise to Gas Street Basin in the centre of Birmingham.  Catering is down to me for about the first 5 days so I have tried to stock up as much as possible whilst I can.

I do have reservations about going into Birmingham but we feel we ought to do it!

We are currently just outside of Cropedy as we wanted to stop to watch the Grand Prix.  John is busy at the moment repairing some of  the damage we did to the cratch board.  I hope he's remembered the sun tan lotion - might be the only opportunity to justify having it in the cupboard for yet another year!

What fantastic parents swans are!  This is the patch of a family of mum, dad and 5 cygnets. Earlier, one of the cygnets got fishing line wrapped around it's neck and, obviously, couldn't swim off with the others.  Those parents would not leave it.  Neither were they happy letting people get too close but, eventually, a joint effort of about 6 of us - 2 on a boat - managed to cut the line and free it.  A good feeling was experienced by all.

All five cygnets Safe & Sound again!
I get far too emotionally involved with these dramas but I don't know how to distance myself!!

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Spring Migrants arrive in Britain

Our 'old' friends Chris and Ray Lowe have flown over from Cyprus where they now live and came to find us at Bablock Hythe.  It was really nice spending time with them again.  We had a good, old, traditional card session in the evening and, it will come as no surprise to those who know us, that a copious amount of wine was consumed! 
They are both really well and very happy living in their lovely villa in Cyprus.  

Tonight we are moored by Swinford Bridge which I think is lovely.  The plan is that
tomorrow we will walk into the little town of Eynsham to see what it has to offer and then make our way back to Thrupp where Rodney is to meet us on Thursday.  He is bringing tools
and materials for John to begin the task of mending the cratch-board.

                                                                                        Swinford Bridge

We have really enjoyed out time here on the reaches of
the Upper Thames despite the dreadful high winds and heavy showers we have had.  It is all really pretty and the birdlife has been lovely.  Highlights:- hunting hobbies and barn owls.
Lechlade is a lovely little town with interesting, individual shops.  Walking opportunities across the meadows have been good too and I always like seeing farm animals.

These ponies were really interested in Maggie and wanted to follow us across the footbridge.

I will be sad to leave tomorrow. As I said before, having grown up with it,  I love The Thames.

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Disaster strikes

It's amazing how quickly accidents happen!
Up to now we have been very lucky - we haven't done any serious damage to the boat but.......
today going into Grafton Lock whilst the keeper was on his lunch break we only opened one gate.


The boat got a bit out of line and the cratch board ended up having an argument with the walk way of the lock.  The cratch board, of course,  lost - big time!!  In fact, it was ripped right off.
Initially we thought it was a total right off but, as politicians might say ....... some green shoots are beginning to emerge!  We will see but whatever happens it won't be an easy fix.

I thought it was a very drastic way to get rid of the eight legged creatures who are enthusiastic 
stowaways in that area of our boat!

"Ellen" without her
 covered cratch area.
Poorly-sick cratch-board!

Monday, 11 May 2009

Wind and Sun

We have been making our way - slowly - up the Thames towards Letchlade.  Some days have been incredibly windy, others incredibly warm and sunny!  The area is so pretty - very rural and undeveloped because of the flood plain.  Both sides of the river are water meadows currently blanketed with buttercups. 

This was not the case in July 2007 when the area was badly flooded - it must have been very scary being stuck here on a boat then.  From the level of the river at the moment I estimate that the water rose at least 10 feet.

On Saturday afternoon and evening we were moored at Bablock Hythe near the Ferryman Inn.  There was obviously road access and a large playing field right by the boat so Gary and Joan (The Mealings from Wargrave) and Betty came to find us and we had a barbecue.  They stayed the night but had to go home on Sunday morning because of work commitments.  Shame.  Really good to see them - hope to catch up again soon.

Was it really that 


Thursday, 7 May 2009

All to Ourselves

We are on the Thames! 

We deliberated alot - mainly because of the cost of the additional licence but ....... here we are £106 lighter!

I love The Thames and we really have had it to ourselves today - we have seen one other narrowboat (moored up by the time we reached them) and one small plastic cruiser.

We are currently moored just upstream of Pinkhill Lock by Farmoor Reservoir and it's accompanying nature reserve.  Already I have seen lots of gosling greylag geese, great crested grebe, swifts, swallows, a reed bunting, a reed warbler and a barn owl taking prey back to it's nest!

Yes, on the river the water is deeper, cleaner and the wildlife better - I love the Thames!

This section is the Upper Thames and it really is quite remote but we intend to while away the next couple of weeks between Oxford and Letchlade........ as long as the red wine lasts really!

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

The sun always shines on the righteous

NO!  Not us!  I mean the Elliotts!  Anne and John joined us for the weekend and they really are jammy little whatsits!  Whenever they go anywhere the sun always shines!

We had a really nice weekend together cruising from Aynho to Thrupp.  

It wasn't ALL play and
 no work, however.

Some people just HAVE to take advantage though!

Thanks for a lovely weekend you two.  Don't work too hard and we hope to see you again soon.