Saturday, January 30, 2010

view from the window

This is the view from one window:30012010211

and this is the view from the other. I love the morning light!


Hot Water

When I am stationary I get hot water from running my engine.  I rarely run my engine to generate electricity as I have solar panels and if they don’t produce enough for my needs then I change my needs so they do.  The question then, is what do you do for hot water? Are there greener options that actually work?  Summer is not a problem as a black bag of water on the roof soon heats up, but what about winter? So far I have hot water in the evenings by putting the kettle on the fire in the morning, but are there other ways?

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dogs on Board

Every now and again Boots likes to write to his Granny and Grandpa about his antics. His most recent letter was about the training classes we are going to. Not only have Blue and Lou from Indigo Dream suggested I get baking, but  I was highly amused when the delightful Muttley and Baxter off Matilda Rose wrote a delicious comment to Boots about these ‘classes’.

There are 2 approaches 2 these ‘classes’. The first approach is to do everything she asks, first time, everytime. This boosts her public ego, wins you loads of treats (although we agree you should get an upgrade in the treat dept), and makes you so adored that you get away with murder the rest of the time. The alternative,if you really hate it, is pee on the floor and growl at the other dogs. Be consistent and she’ll get slung out. Love Baxter & Muttley”

It would appear that Muttley and Baxter are rather influential in their comments (see Blue and Lou’s letter to them here.

Andy and Lyra have gone on

Well, Andy and Lyra finally pulled the pins yesterday and headed home. I don’t know why, but I am always surprised at how quickly the river goes down after flooding.  I love it when new boats visit the area, and especially when they are bloggers. It is great putting a name to the face and having the opportunity to chat in a format other than comments on a blog. 

I never quite managed to persuade Andy that cake for breakfast is a good thing, but maybe next time…!

St Peter’s Barge London

Following my post last week about the floating chapel in Oxford, I heard about St Peters Barge in London from both Halfie and Sonflower.  Sonflower invited me to join him his wife Fran and the BCF on a day trip yesterday to visit the Barge and have a tour. What the hell thought I, so off I went. While I was there I met the owners of Gabriel who were the first boat to cross the Mersey from the new Liverpool Link canal to the Manchester Ship canal. Their article about the trip was published in Canal Boat Magazine last November.

St Peters Barge is one of 5 Barges moored on the BW side of Canary Wharf


Behind it is this interesting boat


Canary Wharf underground is like an air port terminal


and I noticed that several stations on the Jubilee line have a screen separating the train from the platform.  There are doors in the screen that line up and open with the train doors.


I also noticed that people get thinner the nearer to Canary Wharf one gets.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Scared of Dogs… was

I had always been scared of dogs, especially big dogs.  I did, over time, manage to get over my fear and as you know I now share the boat with a rescue dog, Boots.  I have never been afraid of Whippets (which is partly why I like the breed) but there are certain breeds I have struggled with; Dobermans and especially Alsatians.  The latter probably stems from when I was small and 6 vicious dogs lived opposite the local churchyard where our Goats were kept.  They not only nipped at my ankles every time we visited (which was fortunately only once), but they also tried to eat the goats. The latter was so bad the vet came out and painted the goats blue.

I know it usually isn’t the dog, but is the owner that is the problem, and subsequently I have always tried to introduce myself to dogs and get to know them. I haven’t really been exposed to Alsatians so I haven’t had much opportunity to get to know them and convince myself they are lovely.  My friend Michelle has an Alsatian and she is a darling (so is Michelle), so when Andy turned up with Lyra I was rather tentative.  Andy has some lovely pictures of Lyra playing the snow – she is so full of life and enjoying herself; this one has to be my favourite – I can just hear the music in the background.

Alsatians are like big bears with huge ears that just sit there, pointy and ready. I love the way ones hand disappears in the fur when you stroke them and best of all Lyra really is a lovely dog.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Dear Granny and Grandpa

Mum hasn’t quite worked out that walks are all about chasing deer, eating rabbits and running around. She thinks it is about ‘No’, ‘Come’, and ‘Sit’ and her heal. She does have a nice heal, I must admit, but why she has to keep mentioning it when we walk together is beyond me, besides, she keeps it in her shoes… my heal on the other hand….   Anyway, I have decided that she needs training so I have decided to take her to classes. Thank you for telling us about the ones near us.

We went for our first one on Sunday with Arnty Gilly and my friend Maggie.  Maggie is fantastically funny. She HATES cars, has fantastic eyebrows and her hair style is so excellent that she is perfectly out of focus ALL THE TIME.  WE were a bit worried as mums can be embarrassing  but we had a really good time.  I was really worried I would need to go to the lavatory, but I didn’t.

Following classes, Mum and I have had to reach a compromise. I have learnt that when she prattles on, the way to stop her is to eat what she calls a ‘treat’ – which is actually a dried up biscuit waved in front of my nose served withOUT custard.  Firstly she says something enthusiastically which is exciting to listen to and then it goes quiet and she points at the ground (she calls it down for some reason). This carries on for a while, so I have a sit down and look around. It gets a bit boring, so I try and take the treat and she doesn’t let me have it!!! After a while I get so tired following this treat around that I have a lie down. Then she gives me the treat (still without custard). Usually I am not bothered, but I find that the whole pantomime stops after I have eaten a few of the biscuits and then I can go back to bed and think about poetry, physics or the moon. 

The biscuits aren’t that great to be honest, but something that is good about training is Arnty Gilly showed mum real treats. They stink. All treats should, or they aren’t treats, and they don’t need custard.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Ride to Bloxham and Adderbury

Since getting my bike I have hardly ridden it.  I was going to ride last Sunday, but a friend fell off his bike on black ice (he limped into the tea rooms on Sunday morning), so I decided against it, and then I shut my finger in the back hatch which led to surgery and a glove-unfriendly-bandage.  I had the bandage re-done on Friday and the nurse, on request, kindly did a glove shaped one, so finally on Saturday I was able to climb into my leathers and set off on the Oxfordshire roads.

I decided to go to Bloxham as it was included in a tour guide. Mark came along on his Panther to set the pace.  I wasn’t too amazed by Bloxham,; perhaps because the internet pictures are so good but I thought the piano and Organ made a good sound; I am always delighted when the instruments aren’t locked up and are available for people to play (unlike St Helens… oh dear, am I STILL going on about St Helens!?).  Mark suggested we ride on to Adderbury to look at the church there. The exterior carvings are super.

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This one is my favourite!DSC06034

Jericho Boatyard

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A walk in the park and a helicopter

I decided to walk through the parks this morning to have a look at some trees.  I was rather surprised to see a helicopter sitting in the field. It looked fantastic!

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

BW break ice:



Op done

I have had the op on my finger and to say it feels better is an understatement. Here it is on it’s way home:


The stitches come out on the 29th

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I opened my back hatch this morning onto my right hand index finger, it instantly went black and started to swell. After I had cleared out the bilges, had lunch, done the hoovering and generally mucked about it was beginning to get quite painful and Maffi decided that I really ought to get it checked out. I went to the hospital in order to see whether a Nurse would trephine the nail for me which would reduce the pain substantially.  Lots of people have told me they could have done it, but I learnt that it isn’t a good practice at home when I crushed my thumb in a similar way in 2006.  If there is a break or damage to the bone you need to take antibiotics after trephining.

I arrived at the hospital and had to have an x-ray which showed a fracture, and there seems to be a problem with the nail bed so I am off to hospital early tomorrow morning for an op.


Thursday, January 14, 2010

Starter Motor : Shiny

Following my post last week about my starter motor and exploded solenoid I sent the offending article off at the end of the week to Oxfordshire Narrowboats where Chris said he would be able to re-condition it.  On Tuesday it arrived back – here it is looking very shiny!  I am delighted.


Immersion Heater wiring

Just in case anyone else has one of these and has no idea how to wire it, I thought I would insert Brian from N.B. Harnser’s lovely image he sent me:


It is very simple.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Impending Hot Water

I am currently moored in a delightful place on the Oxford canal with a set of 240V sockets posted through my window. I have very little to plug in so I haven’t made full use of them.  I was wondering whether to invest in a hair dryer and have a go at hair sculptures when I thought I should be more practical and I decided to buy an immersion heater.  I ordered it from ASAP paid for the next day delivery and the parcel did not arrive.  And so started the lets chase the parcel pantomime. I eventually managed to get hold of City Link yesterday who sweetly informed me that the parcel had been sent to Milton Keynes by mistake.  It arrived 3 days later. I am rather surprised it arrived at all!  It doesn’t come with any wiring instructions but it looks self explanatory (or it would if I knew where the earth, live and neutral were referencing)


Nick cunningly asked me whether I had checked whether my calorifier was immersion heater compatible… fortunately (after a mild panic) it is!

Oxford Floating Chapel..

I came across this today, I think it is fascinating.

Here it is cut and pasted:

Oxford Boatmen's Floating Chapel

By Mark Davies
Local historian and walks' guide

Oxford Boatmen's Floating Chapel

The chapel used to be moored north of Hythe Bridge

Blessed are those who sow beside all waters.

For nearly thirty years of the 19th century, anyone glancing north from Hythe Bridge in Oxford would have noticed a curious wooden structure.

Next to the Oxford Canal on the branch of the Thames called the Castle Mill Stream was a converted river barge.

This was a floating chapel provided largely through the benevolence of a local coalmerchant and boatbuilder, Henry Ward (c.1781-1852).

The Chapel was consecrated by the Bishop of Oxford on 29 December 1839. It was 70 feet long by 14 feet wide, and capable of accommodating 150 people.

The weekly newspaper Jackson's Oxford Journal called it "a very pretty floating chapel in the Egyptian style" and commented on its "chaste and elegant design … judiciously decorated with appropriate ornaments".

The paper also noted that "at one end is a small room, to serve the purpose of a vestry room, and at the other a space is allotted for the person taking care of the chapel to reside in".

The Chapel had a dual purpose: providing a Sunday service for what the Bishop described as "that neglected and too often depraved class, the boatmen on your canals" and as a school for their children.

In the early years, according to the Chapel's published accounts, between 50 and 70 pupils attended, rising to over 100 in the 1850s, by which time the school was operating daily, and admitting in addition local children who were not from the boats.

Most of them probably came from of St. Thomas' parish, where many members of Oxford's extended traditional boating families resided.

The Chapel was considered sufficiently permanent to be named on Robert Hoggar's 1850 map of Oxford, and the Oxford photographer Henry Taunt wrote that "at one time it was quite fashionable to attend the services, and we have seen the place crowded".

The Chapel's trustees were honest about their true effectiveness, however, conceding that "ministering to a body of men who have no settled homes is a work of which the fruits can of necessity only very imperfectly be ascertained".

They were nonetheless confident that "the very appearance of a Chapel, set apart to the special necessities of the Boatman and his Family, must be a witness that they are no longer the neglected class they once were, with no man caring for their souls".

This subtle means of gaining the trust of the suspicious and insular boating community was commented on by G. A. Simcox of Queen's College, who recalled in 1874 the "ingenious floating chapel moored near Oxford, that almost solved the problem of looking like a barge and a church at once (it was made of wood, and cruciform)".

He also referred to "a neatly glazed and framed placard in the vestibule: 'No pipes to be lighted till the text is given out' ". This was an allusion to what was considered to be the universal nicotine habit of boatmen of the time.

The cost of maintaining the Chapel was always a concern for the trustees, though the main expense was not for the upkeep of the vessel itself but for the chaplain's salary, and to a lesser extent that of the schoolmistress (who is sadly never named).

Income came from donations by well-wishers and a collection made once a year at an special service at one of several churches in the city (St. Thomas, St. Martins, Carfax, St. Paul's, St. Mary Magdalen, St. Giles, St. Michaels, Holywell, and All Saints).

Oxford Boatmen's Floating Chapel

The floating chapel was a converted river barge.

Notable benefactors were the Oxford Canal Company, which made a consistently large annual contribution, and Christ Church, as the college responsible for St. Thomas', the parish in which the Chapel lay.

Some other regular donors are prominent names in Oxford still: F. J. Morell, Thomas Mallam, Mr. Gill, and Messrs. Gill & Ward (the ironmongers).

The Ward of 'Gill & Ward' was one of the sons of Henry Ward, the philanthropist who was responsible for the original idea of the Chapel.

Henry Ward is as good an example as any in Oxford of the opportunities the industrial revolution provided for social mobility. His father William (c1755-1815) had been one of the original coalmerchants operating from the terminal basin of the Oxford Canal (now Worcester Street carpark) when the first boats were admitted on New Year's Day 1790.

William had probably been a boatman in his earlier life, and after his death, Henry (described with surprising candour in William's will as his "natural born and adopted" son, born at the small canalside village of Hillmorton in Warwickshire) expanded the scope of the family firm.

By the 1830s, as well as the mainstay of coal, he was trading in corn, malt, slate, seed, and salt, and also built canalboats in Jericho from at least 1819.

Henry Ward's eldest son William (1807-1889) continued to guide the family fortunes, and was elected Mayor of Oxford on two occasions. The family were also highly active nationally in restricting Sunday trading on the canals, and demonstrated their continuing spiritual concern by donating the land for Jericho's St. Barnabas' Church in 1868.

This was the same year - and it is probably no coincidence - that the Chapel ceased to function. The Rev. A. B. Simeon summarised the event in his tribute to Thomas Chamberlain, the long-serving (1842 until 1892) vicar of St. Thomas' parish: "Being possessed of less endurance than the Vicar, and probably weary and disgusted with its poor surroundings, it quietly sank one Sunday morning. It was not worth raising."

Henry Taunt put a more positive spin on the situation, saying that the Chapel had "fulfilled her mission". It was replaced, with Thomas Chamberlain's backing, by a permanent building on Hythe Bridge Street, which doubled as a day school for infants and a night school for the men. Services were held in the building until about 1892. It is now the 'Bangkok House' Thai restaurant.

Friday, January 08, 2010

more pics

I was walking down the road at silly o’clock and the moon looked fantastic as it looked over the snowy scene before me.  I only had my phone camera with me, but I still think it looks glorious!08012010140  

There are some lovely snowmen in the town and I like this collection on the war memorial steps:08012010146

Particularly the one with this hat – the feathers were swaying around in the breeze:08012010147

12v LED lighting from Baddie the Pirate

So, Baddie the pirate started selling LED/SMD lighting for boats because she found it hard to find decent ones.  Click here ( to learn more

Skeleton in the car

Yesterday I was having a warm up in the BOAT INN in Thrupp and a chap came in seeking assistance as he had run out of petrol – at the lift bridge of all places – which he told us was a long story. I wasn’t sure what to make of him, but when a 6week wire haired dachshund (Dachs “badger” Hund “dog”) climbed out of his jacket I decided he was probably O.K.

The taxi firm wasn’t running cars last night so he really was stuck, but PJ raided his generator petrol stash and found a gallon.  The car still wouldn’t work so it wasn’t petrol after all.  The chap said he would call the RAC and then come into the pub to wait.  5 minutes later he turned up and the car was running (he turned the key another time and it roared into life).  I went out to have a look at his SMART car (I rather like them and coveted Maggie’s as soon as I saw hers) and he had a full size skeleton strapped into the passenger seat.

Some times life is better than a novel, you just can’t make it up!

Pubs and Art

I notice our local hostelry ,The Boat Inn, has a rather flashy new website clicky. It has reference to all sorts of things and I notice that local artist Tim Richardson has a mention. I am particularly fond of Tim Richardsons signs. I happened to mention how much I liked one of his signs I saw and he gave it to me in a post card when I saw him next which I am still over the moon about!

Thursday, January 07, 2010

does the man at the bus stop live here?

Outside the cottages:


Waiting at the bus stop:


Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Picture Book: Snow

The tow path looks glorious:


The dogs seem to like it:DSC06001 

The obligatory robin:DSC05972

Mark had to check his bee’s and make sure the door was clear for them:


The tea rooms:


Boots and Stanley in the car park:DSC05974  DSC05983

Stanley leapt in the air for the snow balls:DSC05995

Mark Decided to make a snow angel:DSC05996

And the Dogs joined in:DSC05997

The view from my front doors:





Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Thrupp in the Frost



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The canal has frozen over and the snow has left a white carpet on it – it looks amazing here at the moment!


starter motor OFF


Mr Paris arrived this morning to rescue the damsel in distress and while I was out purchasing lunch he removed the offending article:


The solenoid looks rather exciting with a bit blown off it!


It has gone down the road to be fixed/replaced and a new one will be in the post. Phew.