Friday, February 26, 2010


This knocker:


is possibly worth more than this home:


I can’t walk past the knocker without seeing it, but I did walk past the tent (I wonder if it is home) a couple of times before I saw it.

I learnt a valuable lesson once; you can have a house and be homeless, and you can live under a bridge and not be.  Some people, living under a bridge, chose to live there because it is their home, the place they belong, the place they feel safe, yet they are still homeless. Some people don’t chose it, but have to.

A home, and where we belong, is important but people have an amazing ability to cope and flex in adversity.

What is it that makes something ‘home’. I have lived and stayed in several places. Sometimes where I stay is home, and sometimes where I have lived is not. To have a home is a great privilege.

I wonder what these two think of their home:


Monday, February 22, 2010

The Painting Course: Phil Speight

I went up to Stourbridge on a Roses and Castles painting course this weekend run by Phil Speight and Meg. Anyone that knows me will know I am more a skeletons and tomb stones girl, but as the delectable Wrigglefingers suggested we did the course together I couldn’t resist. It is fun doing things with friends and so, off I went.  I knew the weekend was going to go well as soon as I discovered that Wriggles house, where I was staying, has ensuite steam trains!

Saturday morning saw us practicing painting rose petals; mine looked more like decapitated slugs, but I got the hang of it eventually, albeit a hit and miss sort of hang.  By the end of the day we had all painted a bunch of flowers on a tray


– mine is in the middle:


On Sunday we started on Castles, and while we were waiting for paint to dry we added some twiddles to the trays –


The castles  all looked fantastic:


A closer look at mine:


It was a really enjoyable weekend messing about with paint!  Phil and Meg are excellent instructors and the course was so well managed that not even I lost my temper!


Everything is painted in layers, and it is only when it is finished that we could see that we had actually done quite a good job.

Before I went I wasn’t a fan of Roses and Castles but the course with its history and practical application has certainly made me appreciate it more.  I will only ever paint for relaxation rather than decoration and Roses and Castles is a jolly good thing to relax over. It is a stage at a time, simple and great fun!  I am looking forward to practicing what I have learnt.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


My new licence arrived in the middle of January, but a licence holder did not so I propped it up in the window and asked the patrol officer if he had any spare. I saw him again yesterday, and he doesn’t.  I decided I would write to BW and ask them to post me one.

Today I decided my flowers were wilting due to lack of light so I opened the curtains to one of my windows, took down the pirate flag and was amazed to discover that I have a licence holder in the window bearing a 2008 licence.  I have now dried the 2010 out and removed the 2008. How daft!

It just goes to show how often I look in my own windows!

In Oxford

A long time ago Jericho Boatyard used to look like this:


But now it looks like this:


I have a picture somewhere of what it looked like just before it was closed down several years ago, if I find it I will post it.  The hoarding could be so much more imaginatively painted – it would make a great school project!

The moorings have been greatly improved on this stretch of canal. It is possible to get into the bank, and there are rings all the way down


The area around the arm has been cut back and thus is much wider:



You can see from this picture that the hedges have been re-laid.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

User Groups, BW and lift bridges

I have learnt from the blogs of Oakfield and  Milly M that the lift bridge in Thrupp is in the process of being motorised.  It was a surprise to me that it was being done so soon, but is it really necessary?  Thrupp is one of the only lift bridges on the southern Oxford that is on a tourist hot spot.  Thrupp is perfect for cake eaters, canoeists (you can hire them there) and walkers alike, so it is not often that single-handers have to open the bridge themselves. Not only that, it is easy to access and until Joe (I think it was Joe) retired it was balanced. It has always, in my book at least, been the lightest, best maintained and easiest lift bridge to use.  Even the ring that BW put for boaters to chain it down hasn’t been removed – unlike on the others! OK it is in completely the wrong place, but it is there.  Why are BW spending all the money on Thrupp lift bridge when the lock gate at Shipton is almost impossible to open, when the lift bridge at Shipton is heavier than a thousand giants.  Why fix the bridge that doesn’t need fixing, especially when there are three further south that are dire, really dire.

I know user groups liaise with BW, but do BW just liaise and do what they like anyway? Why are the rings under the balance beam and almost impossible to use, why are the bollards (don’t mention the bollards) on the wrong side!? It seems to me that BW does whatever they want, irrespective of the practicality, necessity and expense. Such frivolous spending is fine for the rich, but I certainly don’t put BW in that category, do they I wonder?

Monday, February 15, 2010


I love parcelled up newspapers.  We used to have a big shed in our primary school where they would all go, and periodically a lorry would arrive to take it all away.


When out on my walk this evening I noticed this bit of ‘recycling’ or ‘modern art’ Bottle tops pushed into a tree tunk…


It is so quiet away from the main road, that I remember what it is about boating I enjoy. The peace, the quiet and the tranquillity.  I can hardly remember what to do with the silence!  No doubt I will be missing the comfort of the road by the time I return…

Out for the day

On Saturday decided it was about time I had a look at the other end of the Oxford Canal for a while, so on Saturday I pulled the pins and with the help of Bottle I navigated south.

Boots was very impressed with the work BW have been doing along the bank.



I was amazed that drink water lift bridge wasn’t exceptionally heavy! I wonder whether these plates with the new bolts are an indication that BW are balancing the bridges again?  I must find out whether they have done the same with the one at Shipton which we all struggled to open (apart from the local Hercules Mr Paris) the other weekend.


The following two bridges were opened by Bottle, and when he returned to the boat he reported that one had a sign saying that if the operator was under 14 stones they shouldn’t operate the bridge.  I have written to BW asking them why they don’t provide scales for operators to weigh themselves, and what we are meant to do if we or our crew aren’t 14 stones… can we call BW to come and do it for us? I am not entirely convinced that 14 stones or above is an indicator of strength or ability to open a lift bridge. I do hope BW explain the logic behind it as I think it is nothing short of fascinating.

It never takes very long to get to Oxford, but each time I go I marvel at how it takes 3 hours and not 5. We arrived at one of my favourite moorings spots mid afternoon and just in time for Campanula to decide to come and join me for a day or so.


Maffi came down in the car to pick Bottle up and do a car shuffle for Mo.

I am going to pootle around and then head back to my mooring on the 27th Feb – plenty of time to put some weight on… not sure I will make 14stone though.

Sadly, no disappointingly, no devastatingly there was a casualty from the trip. My gorgeously wonderful much hunted for and very proud making Klaxon horn was missing by the time I arrived at the mooring.  It must have fallen in on the way.

so that’s what the frying pan looks like




Thanks Maffi!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

12 red roses


So that’s what they look like.  They come with a stick in – the porter nearly lost his eye on it when he went to smell the flowers.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fun Fun Fun

Finally, yesterday, Harnser arrived in Thrupp to much cheer and celebration from the good ship Bones. Boots and I are heading into Oxford on Saturday and we were worried we would miss them.  Last time they were here they were cajoled into the Boat Inn in order to change the dates on Kate Saffins flyers for her play. I  had a lovely evening with them, Balmaha, Maffi, a pot of pens and 2000 fliers!  It was really rather good fun.

Anyway, they are back as are the BottlesHarnser hadn’t been to the Jolly, and as they knew it had been taken over, they decided we should spend the evening there sampling it.  It was jolly evening in the Jolly Boatman catching up. They have gone on again this morning… but I hope they will be back soon!

What Relief!

I am not terribly good with wheat products and I tend to avoid them as much as possible (which is almost impossible where cake is concerned).  This morning Maffi rocked up with some cereal.. this isn’t wheat, but Oats. I am still revelling in delight.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Floors Walls and Crochet

I gather that spring is on its way, which means I need to really start to think seriously about the walls and floor of the good ship Bones.  I am still toying with the idea of a wooden floor, but the cost may be a limiting factor.  The walls, at least for today's decision, are going to be faced or painted ply.  The current walls are tongue and groove above the gunwale and on the roof, and then a hardboard (really!) mix below. The tongue and groove e is a bit hit and miss on one side, and the tongue and groove on the roof is held up by a pure defiance of gravity.

I have also taken up Crochet… I need a tea cosy you see.   At the beginning of the session I though I would need to sign up to pottery lessons to make an appropriately shaped tea pot to fit the new cosy, but actually – I am not doing too bad. Here is the practice rectangle…


It has lovely straight edges… I fear I MAY have triumphed.  Sessions are every two weeks and my eyebrows have only just, over a week later, recovered from the extreme concentration of the last session!

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Picture Book

You can see how arnco piling preserves the bank – here it is eroded away just past the piling

Rowan were just going through the lift bridge as we set off


A new ‘thing’ at pigeons lock:06022010243

Maybe someone spent new year at the quarry:


Monday, February 08, 2010

Muddy Waters and the Jolly Boatman

Last Monday I decided to dine in the Jolly Boatman pub. The Jolly Boatman has had a bad name over the last couple of years, it has changed hands a great deal, the public house was re-vamped in a wine bar style and dogs were not allowed – a bit silly considering the pub sits on the edge of the canal and along a walkers paradise.  When the new people arrived 2 months ago I wondered whether they were here to stay.  It seems they are which can only be a good thing as the pub needed some stability and sensibility if it was to stay open.  The new landlords are boaters themselves appreciating the way of the water and those of walkers.  They are boaters, have dogs and have a sign along the road that tells us Muddy Boots and Dogs are welcome.  They were in the paper last week.  Waterways World and Canal Boat magazine are available to read along with the daily papers, and if you want to take a copy of the magazines home they are for sale too – along with other boat books and eggs. 

The menu is new so I decided to give it a go and Maffi liked the idea so off we went.  The food was good but the company was fantastic.  Maffi and I turned up to dine only to discover that Dan Clacher the author of Muddy Waters was dining with his wife.  We were invited to join them and had a fantastic evening of good food, good wine, good company and side splitting stories from Dans days as a policeman egged on by his wife who is nothing short of delightful.

If you are familiar with Thomas the Thanks Engine and love them, then you will love the waterways equivalent Muddy Waters. On the website you can find all the information you need about the characters, the books, where to buy them and there is even a worksheet to download

Maffi is a big fan of the books and has been promoting them on his blog along with new snippets he comes across such as this video on you tube, and on his blog which the Clachers really do appreciate, so much so they paid the bill, I am not sure why I was included, but it really was a real treat to share a meal together!

Thanks Guys!

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Splendid Weekends

This letter to Granny and Grandpa last October says that Stefan, the Bottles on Oakfield and a trip to Shropshire to visit Ian and Claire were in close proximity. It is rather ironic then that 3 months later history repeats itself. Last weekend I was with Ian and Claire, and this weekend I was with Stefan and the Bottles. Stefan likes to boat, and I like to have weekends away in the peace and quiet, so we organised to have a BBQ at the disused Quarry in Kirtlington.  MaffiMark Paris and Stefan and I met over tea on Saturday morning at Annie’s Tea Rooms before heading off.  I decided to fill up with water and was delighted to receive a text from the Bottles saying that they were just leaving Aynho and could meet us at the Quarry. I love the Bottles.   

It was so good to be out boating again. My boat wasn’t able to go anywhere over the Christmas/New Year break as I had starter motor trouble. the good ship and I sat with itchy feet and tiller bars as other boats went on day trips around the area and we were unable to move. So, yesterday once another cable had been fixed (thanks Mark!) we pulled the pins and headed north.

The cement works look fabulous:


Lucys bridge looks great – it also looks as though some of the branches that were blocking the way have been cleared.DSC06058

Stefan and Boots sat at the front looking contemplative


I resisted the temptation to moor up and have a swing on the rope swing.  I love the way the canal chases the Cherwell.


And then the welcome sites of the quarry walkways

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It took us ages to light the charcoal, so long in fact that we realised it wasn’t charcoal at all.  We did manage to light a bonfire though. Mark was insistent that it was impossible to take pictures of a fire…DSC06096 DSC06097

You could always tell where Stefan was standing because the smoke was billowing in his direction!


Here he is in a rare moment of not being engulfed in smoke:

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Mark looked very peaceful


So I took more pictures of the fire:


It was a really good fire and Maffi collected most of the wood from the Locks on the way up – Thanks Maffi!


It was a fantastic night


The journey home was rather eventful. The engine over heated, then we got hung up in Shipton Weir Lock. Shipton Lock is getting harder each time I go. I can barely open the bottom gate. The lift bridges are harder too – and lots of people have complained about them. I don’t think they balance them any more which is a great shame. Especially for paper pushing single handers like myself!

As we left the Quarry Oakfield were behind me – it was glorious looking back down the cut at them. I remember the patient wait to sell their house, then to have the boat built and then finally 3 months ago they cruised into Thrupp.  To see a dream develop into a reality for two such lovely people is nothing short of fantastic, to get to share it is even better!


Dear Granny and Grandpa

I went to see Arnty Claire and Uncle Ian last weekend. They have a nice house with carpet and a garden with Rabbits in it.  I didn’t catch a rabbit this time. Uncle Ian says I should do it ‘his way’ and that he could see them. He was pointing randomly into the grass and lumps of soil and things saying they were rabbits.  I don’t think they were. I like to hunt for Rabbits the doggy way, by smell.  Uncle Ian says that is no good.  I didn’t catch a rabbit. He put me off – looking doesn’t help surely!

Here i am in the drive looking at a clump that Uncle Ian said was a rabbit… I couldn’t see it – it looked like a flower bed to me.  I sat nicely though.


I haven’t taken mum to her classes since her last training class (although I think they MIGHT be for me). Mum says we have to go next week WITHOUT FAIL. We couldn’t go this weekend because Uncle Stefan was visiting.   We don’t have visitors next weekend. That is a shame isn’t it. 

We went to the Quarry with Uncle Stefan this weekend. We had a BBQ apparently… but there wasn’t a BBQ because the BBQ wouldn’t light.  After a while of trying to fan the flames Mum said it all came flooding back – before I was around  an ‘incident’ with the charcoal occurred and it wasn’t charcoal after all but coal so we didn’t have a BBQ; Mum gave Stanley, Molly and me a HUGE bone instead. It was delicious.  We did have a fire – it was magic.  I had a really late night! Stanley was so tired he rested his head on Uncle Bottles leg and fell asleep. 


I was exhausted from all the running around, and so was Uncle Stefan so we stayed in bed while mum took the boat back home.  I was just having a nice dream about Lord Byron and his romantic works when Mum hollered at us for a kettle of cold water QUICKLY.  By the time we were up out of bed and racing down the boat armed with COLD WATER as instructed Mum had magically transformed the engine room into a steam room. It was really clever, but very boring and seemingly pointless as we weren’t home yet, so I went back to sleep.  We stayed in the bushes for a while while Mum sat in the engine room and then off we went.

Molly was so tired today that she couldn’t keep her eyes open. She was sitting all nicely and then almost fell asleep – but she lay down instead.

Lots of Love

Your devoted Grandson


Nina Simone: Feeling Good

I am sitting in my arm chair, after a weekend of fun and frolics with friends and having fixed my glasses I am feeling good.  I have had two good weekends, a good productive week, my family are well and I feel good. Time to write about it all.

I was driving back from Weybridge last year after a lovely weekend there and Nina Simone was on the radio. This is the song, and I really love it.


Tuesday, February 02, 2010


This is the throttle cable – bit short isn’t it!  Oxfordshire Narrowboats have some in their workshop… I just have to work out how to get the rest of it off.  Once it is attached I can pull the pins and go cruising!