Sunday, October 31, 2010

To Oxford

Boots started the day with a bit of a balance:


I filled up with water, emptied the bin and then Nick and I sailed off into the sunset for a day of boating. It was a divine day and the Thames was beautiful.

I am always a little nervous of Kings Lock having nearly sunk in there a couple of few years ago, one June, when I decided to leave Thrupp for Oxford, on a particularly bad day.  The good ship behaved beautifully


The colours were beautiful as we approached Godstow Lock


There weren’t ma ny boats out but I liked the look of this one:


And this lass on a paddle board with her dog.


It was a super day followed by a lovely meal out with some friends in Oxford.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Progress on the Boat – I blame Crayola.

Work has slowed down on the boat, and when I was trying to decide why this was the case I simply I couldn’t work it out until I thought back, way into the distant past and realised it was all to do with Homebase.

I took the old lining out, put the new lining in, discovered the dry rot, pulled up the floor, put the new floor down, re-fitted the stove and decided to finally return to the job I had started on - the lining. I had some new panels and had painted them with grey water based paint. I decided that really I ought to use an oil based paint, and declared the water based paint on them as the new undercoat.  With that I went to buy some oil based paint and I failed, I couldn’t find any that wasn’t gloss, and I don’t like shiny, particularly not on my walls.

When I lived in one of those dangerous brick things I had endless supplies of oil based paint, but it would appear that fashion has changed from paint and white spirit in ones hair, clothes and indeed everywhere to being washable.

It is as if the entire paint collection for adults has been inspired and remodelled by Crayola. When did Crayola take over the world?

Can adults REALLY not handle white spirit anymore? do we really need to be able to wash paint out of the carpet? Are we really that sloppy…is it really that hard to get paint on the walls and the walls alone (unless painting the ceiling).  Is oil based something we simply can’t handle any more?

NO. Bring back oil based paint.  And, perhaps, while we are at it, lets bring back LESS colour. There are THREE paint aisles in Homebase and only TWO shades of grey! TWO… and both water based. That is not, even by my standards, a reasonable choice.

Jolly Boatman Car parking: Gone

The Jolly Boatman pub, Thrupp installed a pay and display car park earlier this year.  When I went there the other day I noticed the pay and display car park has been uninstalled!



When friends visited Maffi and I didn’t usually go to the Jolly Boatman for an evening and a meal, but went elsewhere.  Due to a situation I fail to understand we can’t go there anymore and thus we dine here.  Through this process I and many others have discovered that it is actually really rather good, especially for people with allergies (like me) as I get a good selection of vegetables including mashed swede (instead of potato) with my meal; I do like a bit of carbohydrate with dinner! They also have a specific children's menu.

Most of the people we have dined with have been surprised at how the Jolly Boatman has improved with the arrival of the new owners.  Sadly I hear they will be moving on, so once again the fate of this pub is uncertain but I hope it doesn’t go back to the terrible state it was in before with outstandingly poor meals.

So if you are going, go before they leave, which is sometime in December.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Dear Granny,

Something has gone horribly wrong. Mum has started getting up in the dark. Mum says Dogs like walking, but she is wrong, Dogs like SLEEPING, particularly when it is dark outside. Could you have a quiet word?

This morning I decided to stay in bed so mum clipped the lead on me and DRAGGED ME OUT OF BED. You would have thought she would have got the hint wouldn’t you. So I gave in and did two laborious long stretches (I like those, they are really good for getting the message home) and a big yawn. I had just limbered up and got myself onto the top step when she just stopped. Looking for something I suppose…so I took the opportunity to curl up for a snooze.

Strangely she wasn’t amused.

In the end it was quiet a nice walk in the long grass with a lovely red ball but that is not the point.

Lots of Love

Your devoted Grandson


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The wanders arrive

This evening is very exciting because my friends have come to visit. It is AGES since I saw them all. We shall dine locally. Last time Maffi, Joe, Polly and I dined we spent most of the evening in hysterics and were amazed we didn’t get thrown out of the restaurant!


Tuesday, October 26, 2010


On Sunday I drove up to Banbury to see some friends. The morning started with a visit to St Mary’s in Banbury. The building is impressive and has often caught my eye, but I have never walked around it. The church yard had only one tomb stone which was something to do with Gulliver's Travels, but lots of Tombs.  Inside was quite splendid… unlike the service. John summed it up beautifully when he said there wasn’t any joy there.  There wasn’t.2410201009324102010100 24102010095 24102010101

I had morning coffee, lunch and afternoon  tea with my other friend Peter on nb Futurest.  Peter is very good company and a great adventurer. We had a wonderful time whiling away the day and I love listening to his tales and travels.

On Sunday evening I met up with Rick and went to the Boat Inn where we saw Chrisiy Matthews at the Boat Inn; he is a stunningly good guitarist and I was amazed, honestly!  I will definitely be going next time he plays.  Just as I was about to go he announced a special quest who turned out to be a boy, Aaron, who can’t have been more than 12, he was incredible. honestly.  A grown mans talent in a young mans body. Extraordinary.

A busy Sunday, no wonder I am tired!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Dear Granny and Grandpa

I had the most wonderful time on Saturday. Uncle James AND my friend Stanley came to visit.

We had a miserable time watching Uncle James and Mum eat lunch. They didn’t give us a single morsel of cheese which I thought was rather selfish. After lunch we went for a fantastic walk over the fields. Stanley stared at sticks:


Uncle James succumbed to the staring trick and threw the stick. it was great!


So I spent lots of time being a blur:


After our walk we had to sit outside the tea rooms, but Stanley decided we should squeak, so we did.  I thought we were going in for cake, but apparently a dogs pleasure is watching humans eating cake.  I refused to give them the satisfaction and fell asleep on Arnty Lucy’s Feet.

It was wonderful.

Lots of Love


Thursday, October 21, 2010

The BBC: Is Foraging for Fruit Legal

I saw this link today that answers all the questions, but in brief it seems that if it is ‘..not for reward, or sale or other commercial purposes..’  then it is not illegal.

Today is National Apple Day. I wonder what the Apples in your county are doing to celebrate?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Christmas Craft Fair 20-21 November

Craft Fair2

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


On Sunday I was very fortunate to be invited along to Amy’s birthday cruise along the backs of Cambridge on Lucky Duck.  It is quite some time since I was in the City itself and I had completely forgotten how beautiful it is.

Here is Caspar that isn’t Casper


An interesting little boat:DSC07821


Amy and James gave me this delicious gift:DSC07940

Kings Parade:


It was a lovely day.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Dear Granny and Grandpa

I was very excited last week because we went to Somerton for our walk. I knew it was going to be wonderful as we skipped up the tow path to the lock. I really like the lock and when we got there I had a sit down and turned around to go back to the car, but Mum insisted on walking on… I was not impressed.

  I was SO tired by the time we got to Aynho that I thought I might burst with exhaustion. Fortunately Uncle Dave was moored there so I suggested he took us back to the car in his boat, and he agreed. We had to have lunch first so I had a snooze.


When we got onto the boat it was a bit chilly so I wore a coat. I think I looked rather swish:


but I couldn’t stay awake:


Uncle Dave said there were monsters in the deep so I had to keep an eye on them:


Mum went out in the evening so I went to play with my friend Stanley but I was a bit tired so we had to play sleeping. 

Lots of Love


Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Sunday to Thrupp

The light on Sunday was stunning. It started off as a rather dull day, but by the time I had pulled the pins, reversed and turned around the day was beginning to brighten up. By the second lock I was in paradise. I only had my phone camera, but the light was exceptional as the sun burnt through the haze and the trees gave way to glimpses of the rolling Oxfordshire countryside.


I particularly love the stretch from Heyford to Thrupp. I love Dashwood Lock with its open countryside;  as I looked over the fields I saw a man and a spaniel walking out of the trees just as a buzzard flew over head. I also met, briefly, a couple who were walking along the tow path to Braunston or further. They met my pal Dave who was walking south through another beautiful spot – Aynho to Heyford and had a longer chat. They should have been in Banbury last night, and heaven knows where tonight. I often forget that walking is quicker than boating.  Northbrook lock is more enclosed but surrounded by beautiful trees that stretch over the canal forming a tunnel. I was approaching the quarry delighting in the sunshine, the views and feeling exceptionally poetic but by the time I reached Pigeons Lock my engine was making extraordinary noises. I fixed it and then by the time I got to Bakers I caught the Narrow boat Trust up and had a proper chat. 10102010649 10102010648

On the river I saw this:10102010651

and was delighted to notice that all the obstructions from when I went upstream last had been cleared and the journey down stream was much clearer than it has been in ages!

Strangely it is good to be back on my mooring. I will stay for a while as I have things to do, but then I will be off again before the winter sets in and it is time to baton down the hatches!

Aynho Junction

When I arrive in Heyford I enjoy seeing the familiar sight of Robin walking his two terriers. We often stop for a brief chat before we continue on our respective walks.  This time, I arrived home from work, to find a book propped up against the front doors:


The author is Robin, the man who has greeted me for so long.  I had a few books on the go at the time, so I didn’t start it until recently, and actually, it is rather good!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Banbury Folk Festival: Maclean and Saffin

When I was at the Cropredy Folk Festival I noticed that Dougie Maclean was playing at the Banbury Folk Festival this weekend.  I heard him for the first time at the Cambridge folk festival years ago, and it is one of his songs that I learnt on the guitar.  I jumped at the chance to hear him and purchased a day ticket.  He was, as I remembered, brilliant. Each artist does 2 shows (or so) and I saw Dougie Maclean’s after noon show, I was unable to make it to the evening show. It was great. I also saw Dr Saffin performing a short piece during the day and a repeat of “The Mary Rose: A boat of ill repute” both were wonderful.  I love Saffin’s one women performances and talent with words.  The music was great, but the best part was meeting up with new and old friends. It is, as I often say, the people that make it.

Monday, October 11, 2010

let them eat cake and other animals

The delightful Adam had another birthday this year and in order to celebrate Miss Traves, the Pie Eater (who I don’t often see eating pies) and I went off to The White Hart at Fyfield. Oh my, what a wonderful place to dine, the crackling on my pork was an art in its own right!  The service seemed to drop off as soon as the owner left the premises, so we decided to return home for some coffee and delicious cake that Miss T had been busy creating during the day. Here it is – delicious!


I thoroughly enjoyed sharing Adams birthday with him and the lovely Lucy! Thank you!!!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Nuneaton and Brighton

These two boats belong to the Narrow Boat Trust and are currently being crewed down the Oxford with 18tons of coal on the motor and 22tonnes on the butty , all crewed by amateur enthusiasts using their holidays. I heard about their journey (and the above information) from this thread on Canal World Forums. I wondered if I had missed them but no, here they are! I love this style of boat and I bet the crew are having fun.

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Tuesday, October 05, 2010

A day of oddities





and a duck eating a fish…Just as Joy had set the camera up to take a photograph the duck swallowed the fish and looked smug. I took a picture before hand on my phone but it was too far away…


Beautiful Day

It was a glorious day on Saturday and on glorious days church yards look divine. I spent some time in one yesterday:



and as I sat looking at all the lives wondering where they would be now the clouds gathered. I sat, relaxed and watched the world go by. It was divine.02102010558

Monday, October 04, 2010

Banbury Canal Day

I was very taken by the Goth Morris dancers!



And this lady framed by men in the crowd:


Saturday, October 02, 2010

Not impressed

The other day I left work early in order to come home, relax and do some much needed reading. When I got to the village I noticed Maffi on Granny Buttons (the boat) looking a bit anxious – he had lost Molly.  He THOUGHT she got on at the last lock, but she wasn’t anywhere to be seen.  I asked whether he had checked the boat, and he had… so I said I would cycle down and see if I could find her as he was looking exhausted and Granny Buttons was in the diesel queue. I cycled like the wind hollering after Molly but to no avail.  I got to the lock and there was no sign of the much beloved pooch so I cycled on. The tow path below the lock was so lumpy I thought my head might roll off so I took to pushing the bike… but still no Molly. I called Maffi and asked whether he had checked the cupboards and checked everywhere on the boat ‘no’ says he ‘there is a door in the engine room and she can’t get beyond that’ for a second I wondered if we were talking about the same rather clever dog, the same dog that has made her way through many a door, the same dog that sticks her tongue out at Henley Rowers, the same dog that seems a bit sharp for a pooch.  I urged him patiently to look everywhere, and finally he gave in and said he would.  Within seconds I had a call back – she was behind said door.

I had cycled 3 miles to look for a dog that wasn’t lost. 

Friday, October 01, 2010

The house by the lift bridge

  In Lower Heyford there is a lift bridge.  There is a good walk from this bridge; when walking north along the canal turn left at the bridge. I have, in the past, often taken this walk and have wondered what is behind the big wooden gates that face me as I turn. Now I know:


The gates are hiding some rather splendid pyramid bushes.