Wednesday, 31 March 2010

You Have To Laugh!

Oh no you don't!  You must Not!!  The Captain has officially said that it is NOT funny.  OK?  Got it?  Then I will continue:-

This morning was VERY windy.  I mean VERY windy.  The boat was blown sideways across the canal at a lift bridge but, after a bit of a struggle, the Skipper managed to navigate through.  The lock wheeler opted to continue to walk in order to make things a bit easier.  On approaching Somerton Deep Lock (it's called that for an obvious reason!) the boat was again swept off course.  The skipper struggled to get the boat back across the canal and secure the centre line to a bollard.  He then went to tie off the front rope.  WHOOPS!!

All I can say is that the score is now 15 all. I scored my points on Easter Sunday 2007 at Staines Bridge and I only blamed myself.  The Skipper blamed his useless ******* deck shoes!  Of course the deck shoes that NEVER, EVER let him down, the deck shoes that NEVER, EVER let him slip ........................... are in a large red Biffa bin at Cropredy!!!  (STOP laughing Ken & Sandra - you were told NOT to!!)
It was just as well that the grey combat trousers of that misadventure had been saved and laundered because they needed to replace the wet, green ones of today!
Where was I when all this was going on?
I was on my hands and knees by the top lock gate trying to remove a mass of weed which was menacingly waiting to wrap itself around our propeller.  I was also wrestling with a large piece of tree trunk intent on preventing me from opening the top gate.
Between us, however, we secured the boat and the skipper had yet another shower and change of clothes.  He stated, quite firmly, that we were staying put - lock mooring or not!!

Along comes another boat the other way.  I go to greet the arriving boater.
"Are you going through?" says he.
"Apparently not", says I.  "Do you know of a good divorce lawyer?"  (I WAS only joking!!)

Visiting boater is somewhat taken aback by this request and hesitates.  Taking advantage of his hesitation I say,  "Perhaps YOU are a divorce lawyer?  Even better!"
"Divorce is a very costly procedure these days", he stutters - obviously just wanting to get away as quickly as possible from this totally mad woman.
Together, we emptied the lock and I helped him to do just that.

By that time another boater was coming our way and another had arrived at the bottom of the lock wanting to go up.  The skipper gave in and took our boat through.  At one point it seemed that lots of weed was about to wrap itself around our propeller!  Well, I wonder how that got there?  Surely conscientious lock wheelers would ensure that debris be removed before letting a boat into a lock?  Honestly!!  You just can't get the staff these days can you?

Now - the BIG question is:_

If/when there's a next time:-
Will he fall?  Will he be pushed?  Or ......... will he just jump?

JRAllebone and Ltd Company.  Est 1974

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Do You Believe in Miracles?

Yesterday we left Banbury heading South.  This type of lift bridge is numerous on the South Oxford - fortunately many of them are now left permanently up!

When we reached Kings Sutton our friends Sue and Mick were moored up in their boat "Peaceful Waters".  We first met Sue and Mick in February 2008 when they had just bought "Peaceful Waters" from the brokerage at Crick Marina and we were moored outside on the tow path.  We sort of feel that we became liveaboard boaters together with all the lessons to learn ahead of us.

We stopped for a chat and a quick cup of tea!  That evolved into sausage and bacon sarnies and, later on that evening the tea became wine!  Clever eh?

It was so good to catch up with them again.  We swapped stories (as you do!) and shared thoughts and feelings about all sorts of things.  I haven't laughed so much in ages!  AND ..... Sue and I were able to engage in some quality "girlie-talk".  A real tonic ...... without the gin!

Another positive thing!  The Buckby can is finished and is now residing on the roof so no more bumps on the head!

We will move on probably to Aynho today but it is all very grey, rainy and uninviting.  Our friends Anne and John have flown out this morning to join our other friends Ray and Chris who now live in Cypress.  Out there it's 75 degrees and sunny - hey ho!!                                                        A thoroughly miserable looking boater has just gone by!  I suppose we ought to get our act together and join him!!                                                                        It's three years ago today that we shut the front door of 44, Gordon Close for the last time and handed over the keys.  We can hardly believe it ourselves.  John is delighted that he hasn't cut a lawn or trimmed a hedge for three years!!!!!

Sunday, 28 March 2010


God Bless Her and all those involved there in the retail trade!

John and I do not enjoy shopping but we had an unavoidable challenge facing us in Banbury - we needed to kit ourselves out for a special wedding in May.

John did have a suit!  A very nice suit and he carefully stowed it away in one of his mum's wardrobes.  When he went to retrieve it a few weeks ago, however, it was nowhere to be seen!  We are convinced it has been sent off to a certain charity shop in Shepperton but a confession has not forthcoming!

Arthur Whitcher Est 1902 "Quality Menswear at affordable prices"!!!  Marvellous.
An old-fashioned style shop with an experienced retailer who rose to my challenge - "Please kit him out with everything for a wedding!"

I have forgotten just how well he can scrub up!  Lynn - you are going to be SO impressed!!  I might even have to keep my eye on him!  He's certainly going to put me in the shade!

Getting back to Banbury - the first time we ever came through here was on a hire boat more than twenty years ago.  The wharf area was grim and no way invited boaters to stop for long!  With the total redevelopment of the area it is now really popular and everyone wants to stop!  This weekend, however, it has been very quite - there have only been a few boats moored up in the centre.  We have based ourselves by the town park - easy and exciting walking for Maggie with lots of irresistible holes in a bit of a wooded area!  We are near a foot bridge which gives access to a large Tesco's but it is a bit of a hike.  I know that some boaters are wary about staying in Banbury but I have to say that we always do as we pass through and we have never had a problem - let's hope we never do.

Friday, 26 March 2010

Last of the Self-Pump-Outs

When we purchased "Ellen" we inherited a self pump out kit.  There are very few places on the system where these can be used but Cropredy is one of them so ........................

For anyone who is either queasy or easily upset by domestic turbulence - READ NO FURTHER!

NEVER AGAIN!!  It's hard work and unpleasant when it all works properly.  When it doesn't .........!
Mind you, the said 'kit' and attached hoses were not designed to suck up half a hundred weight of gravel from the bottom of the canal! For anyone who likes a restoration challenge - the whole kit is now residing in a large Biffa bin at Cropredy Wharf.   There is also a pair of size 10 boat shoes!  The operator's clothes narrowly missed going in the bin too - they were only saved by the assurances of the Assistant Operator who promised to wash them.  At this point the Assistant Operator would actually have quite liked to have put the Operator in a large bin!!!!  It would, however, be such a shame to waste such dramatic acting talent - the petulant performance was well worthy of an Oscar nomination.  Sadly, there was only one poor soul in the audience and that was the Assistant Operator who was at the sticky, smelly end of the entire failed procedure in more ways than one!!
HER frustration was vented on the next 4 miles of tow-path.

Now the external hard drive on the computer has stopped working - NOT a good day.  Let's hope things will improve tomorrow!  I had such a good picture I wanted to add to this but, where is it?  YEP!  On the external hard drive!!

Lynne and Paul - you have my permission to laugh!

May 2010 - External hard drive has been mended and this is the awaited picture:-

Wishful Thinking!!!!

Wednesday, 24 March 2010


We really like receiving visitors! 

Yesterday we had a rather impromptu visit from Jane and Ron Cole.  They both had the day off so, after checking our blog to see where we were (!!) they came and found us!  We were still at Claydon.  We all piled in Ron's car (dogs and all) and went to the Brasenose Arms at Cropredy which is dog friendly.  We had  really good burgers and chips in a very relaxed atmosphere and it was great to be with them.  We hope they come and see us again and stay for longer.  Mind you, there is always a price to pay!  Before they left to go home I co-erced them into helping us lock through the Claydon Flight! - in the rain!! Cheeky or what?!

We are now at Cropredy moored up behind Lynne and Paul on n/b "Piston Broke".  
Cropredy is a lovely village.  What is it about natural stone and thatch when they are put together in a building?  The other pub in the village is just that - and part of an old terrace of houses.  It is called the "Red Lion" but, as it is rather posh and doesn't accept dogs we have yet to go in there.  One day maybe?

The Red Lion at Cropredy

We are looking forward to receiving our next visitor tomorrow!  Rodney is coming up.  He will like either pub as they both sell a good selection of real ales!!  However, we will only be going in The Red Lion if  ......... he's paying!!  Brasenose Arms here we come then!!

  Betty is being a really good girl and is getting used to 'this narrow boating lark'!!
She know lots of songs (howling!) - her favourite, however,  is
 "I need you both together on this boat and turn that bl**d* engine off"!
This is repeated several times but ................ we love her and would quite like to keep her!

Nearly forgot!  Our latest problem is that the satellite finder has gone ker-put.  We don't watch a lot of TV but it is the final of "Dancing on Ice" on Sunday and it we can't get TV by then ..... I'm booking into a hotel in Banbury for the night!  A little genius called Martyn has said he will meet us in Banbury on Saturday to sort it all out.  We will see.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Fenny Compton

We have been moored up at the Wharf at Fenny Compton over the weekend awaiting the arrival of a very special guest who, it would seem, has had no trouble in making herself at home!

Introducing Betty (alias Beast) Mealing.
She is the most verbal hound we have ever met! She has come to partake of her first cruise and, at the moment, she's not sure she likes the boat when it's moving! She really lets you know how she's feeling and what she thinks about things!! Her owners, our good friends Gary and Joan have got themselves involved in a residential trip with a load of 9/10 year olds! The things you do to support your own children! Alison, their eldest daughter, is in her first year of teaching.
Actually, I'm sure they will have a great time - we just have to convince Betty that this cruising lark isn't so bad!

Whilst here we have, at last, managed to meet up with Lynne and Paul on n/b "Piston Broke" (just love that name!) We met them briefly this time last year at Weedon Beck and it was Lynne who told me how to set up a Blog. It's been really good having the opportunity to get to know them better and share stories and experiences. They too are going down to Thrupp and, as they seem to travel at a similar pace to us ................................ I'm hoping I might be able to have another (more advanced!) Blogging lesson!

When we first bought "Ellen" in November 2003 Red Diesel was about 32p a litre. How things change!
Another boating friend of ours would say,
"At least Dick Turpin had the good grace to carry pistols and wear a mask!"

Friday, 19 March 2010

Mind Yer 'ed!!

As you can see the decoration to the replacement Buckby can is coming along very well. This is where it is suspended to dry each time fresh paint is added and if each of us had a £1.00 every time we have banged our head on it .............................. !!!!!!! It's not exactly inconspicuous is it?!
(It's definitely more photogenic than the artist!!)

This morning we travelled up the Napton flight of locks. Every time we do this I am reminded of what a lovely setting they are in. It was especially nice today because:-
- the sun was shining
- we had it all to ourselves
and ........ - all the locks were in our favour.

We're not usually that lucky!

At the moment we are moored up on the summit pound walking distance from the lovely village of Priors Hardwick. We have been for a walk this afternoon and must have looked dead shifty because three different people asked us if we were lost and needed help!! "The Butcher's Arms" looks like a really nice restaurant - worth remembering for a very special occasion?

It has now begun raining but we haven't had rain for ages so "fair enough".

In this tough economic climate nobody is safe - even the scarecrows are being made redundant!

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Leicester Line no more

Yesterday we finally left the Leicester Line - well until next Winter anyway!

We did two tunnels and 13 locks and the sun shone all day.
Apparently some people like going through the tunnels - not us and our latest experience has done nothing to nurture endearment.


If 'im at the back
Hadn't been quite so slack
The boat wouldn't be lackin'
So much of its blackin'!

He says that's most harshish
Cos Crick Tunnel's darkish
Especially when the fer-kin
Front light stops workin'!!

Now Braunston was better I have to admit
The light had been twiddled and shone most of it
He eased it in gently without touching the side
"Is this Mills & Boon?" an on-looker cried!

Twenty yards from the end, the light it went out
It would not respond positively despite the large clout.
So off to the chandlers a bulb for to get
He'll come back with more I'm willing to bet.

Well he didn't as it happens - we now have a working tunnel light at the repair cost of £2.20!
We also have repaired mooring pins at the cost of a fiver! Braunston? Marvellous!

We have moved on to Bridge 103 and, who should be there too but Rosie the Rottweiler .............. and her owners as well! Must go - Maggie is nagging me for her D-I-N-N-E-R - yes, she's SO clever, she can even spell certain words!!

Monday, 15 March 2010

Treading Water

Well, not literally and certainly not in this water!

No. We have had a maintenance weekend - we found ourselves a quiet spot just outside of Yelvertoft and set to on some jobs that have been under threat for some time now.

The weather was dry, sunny and fairly warm so John set to with the paintbrush on the front deck. The green was looking very tired and the red was - well, not red any more - it was pink!

Like his dad, son Ben also has an intimate relationship with paintbrushes!

The red is now so bright sunglasses are required to look at it! AND we have anti-slip pads on either side of both front and back decks!

I cleaned out the back cabin. Next thing on the list - windows! Boats are high maintenance.
They take such a bashing both inside and out that there's always something needing to be done in order to keep them looking respectable.

We did an all-round eight mile walk to Crick to get a paper because a free magazine outlining all the F1 racing teams this year was included! Madness but Maggie enjoyed herself.

We have seen more boats out and about over the weekend than since November. We will no longer be able to assume we can moor where we want to!

Today we will be moving on to Crick to do some shopping in the now extended (!) Co-op. John wants to hang around until tomorrow to see Gary in the marina and then we will make our way to Braunston. Good. I now want to get off the Leicester Line (as much as I like it) and get going!!

Friday, 12 March 2010

Inspector Clue-So investigates .............

SO ......What 'ave we 'ere?

Aaah ................ at LONG last!

Sumzing is definitely 'appening!

The signs are indisputable!

WE 'AVE .....................

Ze snowdrops and crocuses ..................

Ze budding daffodils ...................

Ze adorable little lambs .................

AND ...............

Luuve iz in ze air!

Yes, Folks! It HAS been a long time coming ................. apparently about a month later than last year, BUT, finally, I zink zat Spring is most certainly well on ze way. Hoo-ray!

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Bridge 51

Bridge 103 on the Oxford Canal has always been one of my favourite mooring sites - this is definitely another. Bridge 51 on the Leicester Line.


View from the top of the hill.

Masses of lovely, lovely countryside - really good walking opportunities, no major roads anywhere close, no railway line, no intrusive sound of a motorway and no aeroplanes overhead. Bliss!

Monday, 8 March 2010

Market Harborough.

What a lovely town Market Harborough is. There is much more to it than first meets the eye. We did not find an undercover shopping centre! There is an undercover market though! There are some chain stores but there are also lots of interesting individual shops - the boutiques, men's clothing shops, china shop and shoe shop all ooze a sense of class and wealth! Property prices are high needless to say!

The Market Harborough Arm ends at Union Wharf which has been tastefully restored. Most of the original buildings have been retained and some lovely apartments have been built in vogue. It is even possible, at a price, to moor your own boat outside your apartment!

From here it's about a twenty minute walk into the town - quite a challenge lugging back provisions but ................. needs must especially when red wine is involved!

The weather remains dry and sunny but very cold at night (minus 9 last night!) so every morning we are still awaking to being frozen in. At the moment we are back at the top of Foxton Locks. We missed coming up the locks Saturday by about 3 minutes (jobsworth Lock Keeper!) so spent the night opposite the pubs but it was all very quiet and pretty ......................

Bridge 61 is a better bet as a "Watering Hole" than the Foxton Locks Pub, but the food was disappointing there this time! Maybe just a bad day but it did seem more expensive than we remember as well.

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Foxton Locks - All to Ourselves

And in the sunshine too!

Where is everybody? Today, we came down the locks and carried on to Market Harborough without passing another moving boat.

The area around Foxton is one of my favourite places on the canal system. The flight of locks are very special - there are ten in two sets of five staircases. On busy days they can be a right bottleneck and take ages to get through. Today, we did it all on our own in less than an hour!!

The locks are a gongoozler's delight! No matter the day or the weather there are always walkers/visitors around watching the 'goings on'. There are two pubs, a cafe, a little shop, a small museum and the remains of a famous boat lift so there is plenty to keep visitors occupied.
Money has been well invested in the development of the area.

The surrounding countryside is lovely too - it's hard to believe that the sprawling city of Leicester is less than twenty miles away. This is the view from the top of the now obsolete inclined plane - the boat lift. It would be really good to see it in operation once again but .....££

Maggie just loves all the open fields.
With the possibility of spying a rabbit ................. she will sit and scan for ages!

"Where are those rabbits?"

"Where are those rabbits?"

She is amazingly patient! Don't you just love her?

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Britain's Got Talent

My "Significant Other" !

He can't play an instrument.

He's pretty useless at singing.

He's even worse at dancing!

BUT ................. he's amazingly good with his hands!!

And .......................... at last .......................... finally ........................ he has knuckled down to tackling something he has been threatening to do ever since we acquired the boat and this is the outcome:-

He has also painted one of those old-fashioned road lanterns and, as I write, he is doing a replacement Buckby Can. Remember the demise of the original? That is now rusting nicely away at the bottom of the River Avon having fought, and lost, a battle with a large willow tree.

There is no end to his practical skills!

At the end of last year we thought that we ought to succumb to getting a top box to relieve internal storage a little. So, over the Winter, said top box was designed and made in Megan's garage and is now in situ on the roof of the boat.

Resplendent with it's cover, decorative plank and fancy ropework!

Monday, 1 March 2010

Up Anchor. We have Cast Off!

Yes! We are now out of the marina as our Winter mooring slot has come to an end.

Over the worst of the Winter weather we really appreciated the security and ease of being in a marina - God Bless electric hook up! As an extra bonus, we had (in the style of a Strictly Come Dancing judge) a fan-tas-tic end slot overlooking a little garden with a tree laden with very popular bird feeders.

After the snow we have had rain so the tow paths are currently VERY muddy. BUT ............ this morning we awoke to warm, bright sunshine. Fab-u-lous! Definite 'Feel Good' factor and, I hope, a positive indication of the year ahead.

Our plan is to head South to the Thames but we can't do that until the repairs to the Braunston Tunnel are complete - supposedly the middle of March. In the meantime we are on our way to Market Harborough via Foxton where there is a very special staircase of ten locks. The area has always attracted tourists but even more so now as money is being invested in it's development.
We haven't been there for two years and have missed it!

Over the Winter we do get a bit 'marina-rised' and have to re-adapt to being true water travellers again but we are really looking forward to this years cruising. A lot of new experiences/different waterways are heading our way - I shall enjoy reporting on them.

By the way:- "Pinch, Punch, First of the Month" and a very happy Saint David's Day to all those with Welsh blood flowing through their veins.