Thursday, 29 April 2010


Snippet 1
We were waiting at Caversham Lock (just outside of Reading) preparing to go in.  I was standing at the bow, ropes at the ready.  A chap in a wheelchair came along and started chatting away telling me what a nicely turned out boat we had. He then went to John at the stern and carried on praising the boat.  On departing, his final comment to John was:- 
"I think your figure head needs a few more coats of varnish but ............ don't tell her till I'm out of here."
          I actually think this was very witty but I'm still trying to decide:-

                            - Was he referring to my 'Boudica' pose at the front of the boat?
                              - Am I looking decidedly rough these days?

                              NO NEED TO COMMENT .......... THANKYOU!

Snippet 2
I can thoroughly recommend Wargrave fish and chip delivery service which  is fantastic!  Just moor at Wargrave Marsh opposite the posh pad reputedly owned by Vince Hill (remember him?) and amazingly kind and efficient residents of Wargrave - chaperoned by Betty, the dog - deliver freshly prepared fish and chips to your saloon.  Marvellous!  Thankyou, Gary and Joan.  xxoo

 This may well be - Vinces' pad.

Snippet 3
Ric & Eileen:-  
We met Ric & Eileen about a year ago when we were helping to deliver  "April Love" to Braunston marina.  They wanted to buy a narrowboat with the view of becoming liveaboards.  They now own "Our Serendipity" and moor at Boulter's Lock.  We paid them an impromptu visit on our way past and it was lovely to catch up with them and find out what they have been up to.  Not only have they got a lovely boat but their mooring spot is lovely too.  They have lots going on in their lives and we wish them well.

 Snippet 4
 For a short while today, some 'wet stuff' fell from the sky today!  How dare it!!!  
           We are now just outside of Windsor, 'rapidly' approaching Staines, where we intend to stay
           for a week as we have things to do and people to see!

Monday, 26 April 2010

Whatever Floats Your Boat

For Megan .......... it's nightclubs.
For Rodney ............ it's sticky buns.
For Derek ............ it's old antiquities.
For Glyn & Don ............ it's tea shops.
For Gill .............. it's chocolate.
For Anne & John  .............. it's cream teas.
For Mick & Lynn it's barbecues.

For me ........................... it's birds!!  And, at the moment, I am in paradise!


Tightrope walking coot.

Red Kite

Nesting swan

Mandarin Ducks

Cheeky Duck

Egyptian Geese

Mute Swan - We have take off

Great Crested Grebes - Love is in the air.

Black Swan ..... with  hitch-hiking babies!

Isn't nature just fantastic?  

Friday, 23 April 2010

The Domain of the Rich

We are now moored up just below Goring Bridge.  We have passed some amazingly opulent abodes!

We couldn't even afford the boathouse!  Liberal Democrats - their manifesto - creating a more equal Britain?
I might just vote for them this year!!

Anyway, we are now at Goring.
Ken, Sandra, don't miss this place out!  Lots of good moorings to be had below the bridge and if nothing else, you must have a walk up into the village.  The 'perfect' Thameside village, I think, with a really good selection of shops.  Excellent butchers in The Arcade - sells meat, veg and fish.  W.H.Napper - 'old fashioned' grocers.
If I was going to choose somewhere to live by the Thames I think this could be it ................. lottery win necessary though!  The original builders have used lots of flint mixed with brick and it is really attractive.

This afternoon we went for a challenging walk!  We crossed over the bridge to Streatley (which is also lovely) and climbed up onto Landon Chase - a sort of a ridge which overlooks the Thames and is a bit of a smaller version of Cannock Chase.  It was a tough climb but the views were well worth it.

Goring is situated between the Chilterns and the Berkshire Downs - this is known as the Goring Gap.  Two long distance paths cross over Goring Bridge - the Thames Path and The Ridgeway.  The village obviously attracts long distance walkers and tea shops do very well.

                                                                                                               Goring Lock

An 'inconsequential' lane in Streatley.

How the 'other half' live!!!!!!!

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

It makes you want to sing?

When the weather is fine, there's no better time
For cruising along on the river.
If you take our advice, there's nothing as nice                            
As cruising along on the river.
There are big boats                                         
And small boats
And all sorts of craft.                                               
Narrow boats
And wide boats
And boats with big draft.
If you're not in a race, there's no finer place
Than cruising along on the river.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

If you manage to stop, you can shop till you drop
When cruising along on the river.
It is no surprise that you'll need fresh supplies              
When cruising along on the river.
The anchor, the tiller
The rudder, the plank
For polishing the paintwork you need a good bank
With the wind in your face, there's no better place
Than cruising along on the river.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Skippers and mates and rowing club eights
Out enjoying themselves on the river.
Wear shoes with good grip                                                      
If you don't want to slip
When cruising along on the river.
Daily walks for doggies to keep them in trim
The first thing they learn is the right way to swim.
If you have too much gin
You too could fall in
When cruising along on the river.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Ducks, swans and geese that disturb total peace
When lounging around by the river.                                      
See brightly painted poles and shy water voles
When cruising along on the river.                                     
Fishermen snoozing and joggers who run
Cyclists and hikers all out having fun
Well, we must leave you right now
And cast off our bow
To go cruising along on the river.

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Godstow to Abingdon

For me, boating doesn't get much better than it is at the moment - on the beautiful River Thames in lovely weather and very few other boats on the move.

The cruise from Godstow to Abingdon took us about three hours.  The waterfront at Oxford is both interesting and attractive and, if you want to stop, there's lots of free mooring on the towpath side overlooking a very nice park.                                          

                                 Passing Port Meadow on approaching Oxford.
                                 Some of the spires of Oxford can be seen in the

Rowing clubs abound and so do rowers!
Approaching Oxford  
               These are all rowing clubs!

There's more to Abingdon than at first meets the eye.  There are interesting old buildings, a wide mix of shops, (both Maggie and Maisie thought the pet shop was heaven!  Maggie for the treats; Maisie for the toys!) a lovely town park and .......... well maintained,  free 5 day moorings for boaters!
Moored above the bridge at Abingdon.

Unlike Abingdon, not everywhere welcomes visiting boaters.   For example, the message from places like Henley and Windsor seems to be:-
"We don't need your custom, we are doing very nicely on our own, thank you very much.  However, if you must stop, the privilege will cost you dearly."
There are no free overnight moorings to be had in Henley and Windsor.
Good for you, Abingdon!  And thank you for providing us with nearly everything we wanted!

Sunday, 18 April 2010

"Classic Waterway Walk"

So says an article in "Waterways World"!  "The Oxford Circular" - approximately 6 miles starting from Godstow.
So.................. we managed to moor (just about) opposite the ruins of the Abbey at Godstow and off we went.
Moored opposite the ruins of the Abbey - this is the first brood of goslings (Greylag geese) this year
 - so says the lock keeper and he should know!

We walked along The Thames Path as far as the low Osney Bridge, then through a bit of the city of Oxford before arriving at the terminus of the Oxford canal.  It was so much better than I was expecting!  All I 'knew' up to this moment was what I had read and what I had been told by other boaters and neither had tempted us to travel by boat into the centre of the city.  The terminus itself is actually really quite nice.  There is mooring for about two boats but nowhere to turn - you would need to reverse.  There is a stretch of residential mooring for about eight boats - electric, water, post boxes(!) and really nice surroundings.  To get onto The Thames from the canal you have to go through Isis Lock.  As you walk along the canal towards the junction with Duke's Cut there are sections where mooring is forbidden as they are dedicated conservations areas.  On the other side of the canal are, I think, terraced Victorian houses whose long, thin, well-maintained gardens are lovely.  There are places for visiting boats to moor albeit a bit of a walk into the city.  Next time we go down the South Oxford I think we will carry on and go down to Isis Lock.

Then we encountered 'Agenda 21' , Residential Mooring Sites.  There were, I think, four stretches of the canal where new mooring rings had been installed and there were lots of residential boats - some OK, some scruffy and some really scruffy.  I don't think I have a serious problem accepting this but I do have a problem accepting the unsightly 'tut' piled up along the tow path.  I know that there has been a problem with continual moorers along this stretch of canal but I don't know details - I must find out.

We walked into Wolverton and went to find the famous 'Trout Inn' - made famous because it regularly  featured in episodes of 'Inspector Morse'.  What a lovely old building in a fabulous location but ........... it was heaving with people! 

It's not surprising that this pub is so popular given it's character and it's lovely location over-looking the weir stream.  After a six mile walk we didn't have the energy to cope with these crowds so slunk back to the boat for our own gin and tonics.
                                                The Trout Inn at Wolvercote.  Business 
                                                                     is booming!     

Our friend, Les, could well have painted this pub sign.

The lovely warm sunshine this weekend has certainly encouraged babies to be born!
These little goslings have been  regularly foraging around right outside our boat.
The adult geese are really good parents.

Yesterday I saw my first brood of ducklings of the year and today we saw some little baby moorhens.

A brood of twelve.  Imagine that!

                                                            A ball of black cotton wool?
                                                            One of four - a baby moorhen.

Tomorrow it is our intention to reach Abingdon.

Friday, 16 April 2010

Nice Time with the Askeys

We have spent two really nice days moored up with Gloria and Derek on "Completely Foxed" at Farmoor Reservoir near Pinkhill Lock.

Narrowboat "Completely Foxed"

We have walked during the days and played dominoes and cards in the evenings.  They know how to play Canasta!  Result!!  Today we went on a lovely walk to Eynsham which is a gorgeous little place.  We treated ourselves to lunch in a pub - "The Sportsman" which is dog friendly (always worth knowing).

These handsome tups were in amongst a field of lots of ewes and very young lambs.

We also saw four mares with very young, gorgeous foals.
Jake has been swimming -
or as Gloria & Derek call it - 'splish-sploshing'.

Maggie and Maisie think he's absolutely crazy and, not being in the least tempted,  have continued to paddle!

Maisie has taken control of one of Jake's ball-on-a-rope.
She thinks that possession is 9/10 ths of the law and she's not
letting go!
O.K. Maisie, we will get you one of your own and, whilst we're at it, replace Jake's because your sharp little teeth have shredding sections of it!!

Shortly after arriving here Gloria was able to photograph a barn owl out hunting - it was about 3o'clock in the afternoon and in full sunshine.  How fantastic is that?!
Barn Owl out hunting way before dusk.

We are sorry to have to leave the lovely Upper Thames but we have an appointment on May 1st with some very special people in Staines so we need to get a move on.  We will be re-uniting with Gloria, Derek and Jake further downstream.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Good Walking Country

That's mostly what we have been doing over the last few days.  We moved on upstream just past Rushy Lock.
Mooring just upstream of Rushy Lock.  Might this tempt our friends Ken & Sandra?

Information for any interested boater:
Just upstream of Rushy Lock on the Thames Path side there are two or three stretches of bank good for mooring.  Being on the Thames Path side also means that you have access to other footpaths.

One day we did a circular walk crossing the river by means of a lovely old wooden footbridge called "Old Man's Bridge"
Quite a steep, narrow climb so those 'old men' must have been fit!

We did have to cross two separate fields full of cows and as dog owners will know, cows and dogs do not mix well!  The first field was full of cows and their calves but, amazingly enough, they paid very little attention to us.  The young heifers in the second field had different ideas, however.  The lock keeper, who was just going home for the night, told us that they were completely harmless but to keep the dogs on short leads.  Having about three dozen cows following you getting closer and closer and faster and faster somehow made that assurance null and void and we legged it over the first available gate!!  We then did a detour of about a mile to get back onto the Thames Path.

The next day we walked across the meadows and through some woods to the lovely little town of Bampton - full of Cotswold stone - very few bricks in sight.  There is, apparently, a very good butcher here who sells 'prize sausages'.  We think the 'prize' must be catching him open!  We've tried twice now and both times he has been shut.  We had better luck with the ice-cream shop and just across the road was a convenient (and very attractive) bench made out of re-cycled plastic.  Why are we not seeing more use being made of this material?

 Most of us are now very conscious about re-cycling and, put to this sort of use,
 it's well worth the effort.

Yesterday we turned around and started heading back down stream.  It was quite windy and there was still quite a strong flow on the water so steering the boat around the tight 'matchstick bends' (so called because there used to be tree plantations here used to make matches) was no easy task.  There were, inevitably, one or two close encounters with over-hanging trees and bushes.  Our friends, Gloria and Derek, are just getting onto the river today and we definitely want to see them before we pass Duke's Cut on our way through Oxford.  We will probably stay where we are until they catch up with us.  In "The Rose Revived" tonight is 'Curry and a Pint' - tempting.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Scary Happenings

The first scary thing to happen today was ............. we let the fire go out!!!!
Can't believe how lucky we have been to be having this lovely spell of sunshine in such beautiful surroundings.

Second scary thing - just as we had left Shifford Lock which is one of the most "isolated, lying amid the fields and meadows of rural Oxfordshire" (quote Geo Map!) the throttle cable broke!  No power whatsoever - only backwards with the flow of the water!  It is for these sorts of situations that boats on rivers are required to carry anchors.  Fortunately, there was a bit of bank against which we could moor and we managed to guide the boat to it.  These bits of bank are far and few between so it really was fortunate!

Good practice:- carry spares of everything or subscribe to the AA/RAC of the waterways - "River, Canal Rescue".  John had a spare cable and although everything was disrupted for a while, he was able to sort the problem.  After that we stayed put!  We have only seen three other narrow boats today - two private and one hire boat with four young couples on board having a lovely time. Cruisers - three.  Not exactly busy then!!

Friday, 9 April 2010

On to The Thames

We had a really nice few days staying put at Shipton with Megan on board.  We have now said 'good bye' to her for six months - she is flying out to Malta tomorrow.  She didn't want to feature on my blog but one doesn't always get what one wants in life does one??

Filling up with water at Thrupp

                  Next stop - Malta.

We left Thrupp at about 2 o'clock and made our way to Duke's Cut.  We had been monitoring the condition of The Thames for several days via a website and yesterday, certainly upstream, it said that everywhere had gone back to yellow boards - "stream decreasing" 
In the cut it didn't feel any different from other times we have navigated through there.  On joining the river the current was obvious but, again, the boat didn't really have to struggle.  It was quite spooky though because we really were the only boat on the move all the way to the first lock, Eynsham.
 "Water, water everywhere but not a boat in sight!"  
When we got to the lock it was after 5o'clock and the lock keeper had gone off duty so we decided to moor at the bottom of the lock on the 24 hour mooring.

Moored opposite the weir at Eynsham

Not, as it has turned out to be, one of our best decisions!  
We have been buffeted by the current of the weir stream all night and had to listen to strange gurgling sounds just outside the kitchen window - can cope with that; we are well secure.  However, just upstream of the lock Oxford Cruisers run a hire fleet and it would seem that Friday is their change over day.  Three hire boats have now passed us and each one has removed some of our blacking by bashing into us and scraping all along the side!  Not their fault really as the current of the weir stream has pushed them over onto us - when we stopped here late yesterday afternoon we didn't realise how vulnerable we were!  Live and Learn!!
Time to get our own act in order and move on I think!!

The forecast for the next few days is good - especially the weekend.  The Upper Thames and sunshine?

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Two of a Kind

Megan and Maisie joined us at Shipton-on-Cherwell on Easter Sunday and Megan is leaving us tomorrow.  Next weekend she is off to Malta for six months - she has taken a break from work and has volunteered her services to help The Dogs' Trust over there.  Lots of visits to clubs, bars and beaches are also planned!

What about Maisie?  Maisie is becoming an extra crew member with us for the six months!  She and Maggie are good pals and enjoy each other's company.  They are ready to tackle The Thames - one in yellow and the other in red!  Mine and John's are black!!

John and I apologise but we have had a 'momentary lapse of reason'!  We said that we would never do this but we have succumbed and have become 'Harold and Hilda' in matching fleeces!!!!  Complete with boat logo!!!  I know - it's all downhill from here!

The last few days have been mostly dry and the forecast for the next few days is also looking more settled.  Tomorrow we will make our way to the Upper Thames so long as there are no remaining red boards.

Monday, 5 April 2010

Rain, Rain and more Rain

On Saturday we arrived at Shipton-on-Cherwell just outside of Thrupp.  It rained and rained and .......... rained!  The towpath was incredibly muddy and the fields very flooded.
The section of the River Cherwell which we had to navigate was just about still in the amber.  We are moored just opposite the church at Shipton because it enabled road access in readiness for Megan's arrival.

Because of all the rain we have had The Thames is now apparently on red boards.  Just because we have shelled out £££ for a Gold Licence this year!

Megan and Maisie are coming to stay with us for a few days so we will just have to stay put and hope that the river levels drop soon.

Solace is, however, in the shape of The Boat Inn is just around the corner in Thrupp!  This is one of Rodney's favourite places!

The Boat Inn
We have discovered a very handy walk from Shipton churchyard that leads right to the pub!  Dogs are allowed in the bar.
Cottages at Thrupp

Thursday, 1 April 2010

Happy Easter

Yes.  Happy Easter everyone.

John calls this my Holy Grail!  Something about a film he saw where, one by one, the Knights of the Round Table who had been searching for said Holy Grail were "got" and suspended from barren trees!
What an imagination!!
These are actually a simple collection of ornamental eggs it has taken me years to build up and I insist on bringing them out of their tin every Easter!

April 1st:- It was no "April Fool" that today we saw our first swallows for the year.  They, poor souls, might have thought Britain was having a laugh, however, in respect of the weather and, if I were them, I would be e-mailing home telling kith and kin to delay departure.

We are currently at Dashwood Lock and aim to move down to Pigeon's Lock tomorrow.  Worrying news is that the Thames is on red boards - this means it is too dangerous to navigate.