Thursday, December 30, 2010

Dear Granny and Grandpa

Thank you very much for my lovely Christmas present. Mum has put the blanket in my basket and it is ever so cosy.  I had a lovely Christmas sleeping on the sofa and I really enjoyed all my cuddles.  I thought my cousins were a bit too well behaved and do you know they didn’t drop a single piece of delicious food on the floor during dinner?! 

Apparently we are suffering a disaster at home.  Mum says we haven’t got ANY water at all but whenever I check my bowl there is plenty. I really don’t know what the fuss is about.  Mum says she can’t wash her hands properly… which is quite ridiculous. I have seen her tongue and it is quite long enough and wet enough to do the job. Mum is very odd sometimes.

Lots of Love

Your Devoted Grandson


Sunday, December 26, 2010

Christmas Stroll

Christmas morning was beautiful with the blue skies, fresh air and snow on the ground:

A few of us got together for a stroll acros the fields with the dogs. I was pleased to see the local igloo has taken more of a shape, particularly as the children tell me it is the wrong sort of snow for igloos

The walk over the fields was divine:
Although Boots got a bit tired and had to have a few lie downs:

I always enjoy the company of my shadow and as we walked over the last field it stood strong and tall. John rather likes his shadow too so we introduced them to eachother - it went well, they stopped and had a natter while John and I enjoyed the view

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas Decorations Are UP


And a closer look:

A friend of my mums made these:DSC08297

My Mum gave me these:


Lucy gave me this:


I picked this up from a Christmas Fair at Lower Heyford


Hannah made these:


And when Lucy went to visit Annie and Virginia they sent these lovely spiders back for me:



OOh Maxigrab have changed their website. These are great little magnets so if you don’t have one….

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hats of the Community

I love the way the various objects along the path I tread are wearing different sorts of hats after the snowfall:

A modest tilt to this hat:


A rather pointed, well rendered, attempt (it must have taken HOURS!)


This boats hat is a bit OTT I think – clearly too big and not in the spirit at all:


The one on the right looks distinctly pleased with its hat.


The one on the right looks rather horrified at the one on the lefts hat who looks as though it is ignoring the one on the rights jeer’s:  DSC08270

Apparently Robins don’t DO hats:


the Cyclopes look like they have made an effort because they felt like they had to:


This man has taken it all a bit too far and got carried away:


Snow… More Pictures


here are the obligatory snow scenes of the century/month.

The main road:


The Canal


The moon


The Morning – simply stunning!


Friday, December 17, 2010

Oh Distant Land

A long time ago I wrote this. I was reminded of it today so here it is again:

Oh distant land
Where the sun rises high
Where the birds sing of freedom
And the stars hang from the sky

Oh distant land
Where dreams come true
A child’s playground
Under the sky so blue

Oh distant land
Where the deer frolic
Where badgers dance
From which fear is abolished

Oh distant land
Where do you hide yourself?
Where can you be found?
Oh distant, distant land

Amazing Sky

I didn’t have my camera with me this morning, only my phone. The phone I have now has an even worse camera than before which I never understand as you would think a newer phone would have a better camera. The sky was incredible over the fields:


and over the Sheldonian as the snow gathered


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Coal Man Arriveth and other Tales

16122010394 Dusty came through yesterday breaking up the ice and stayed over night at the wharf to re-load with Coal and Diesel. This morning I pulled my pins and headed north through the previously broken ice to the water tap to fill the good ship up.  I will be more careful with this tank of water as I suspect we are in for another lengthy frozen in period.

Last night Dave Parry, John and Fi Slee and I went to see Travesties which was truly wonderful.  It was my first ever Tom Stoppard play and I thoroughly enjoyed it, I would definitely like to see some more.  I really do like Theatre. This was recommended to me by the delectable Dr Saffin and she has impeccable taste.

On Tuesday I finished my heavy two days at work and was looking forward to seeing my friends Allan and Debbie when I got home, but I was so totally exhausted I had to retire to bed before I passed out from exhaustion. When I eventually awoke I found they had left some parcels with my neighbour Maffi. One is for Boots and has to wait till Christmas (you can imagine how he felt about that) and the other was in two parts…one for Christmas and one for Birthday so I extracted out the birthday one – I LOVE it – THANK YOU!!  A tea light for my table:


This afternoon I have carried on the cooking on the squirrel stove theme and I am triumphing with a stew.  I decided I would have a baked Sweet Potato while I was at it. I have been told they go in the ash pan… my potato was MUCH bigger than the ash pan so the potato has been cut down, remodelled, wrapped and shoved in PLACE of the ash pan. It is such a work of art I may extract it and submit it to the TATE.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


There is great excitement on the wharf today because Dusty is arriving and although we enjoy his visits this one is special. He is going to break up the ice on his way which means that finally we can move. Maffi is almost out of water, and I have forgotten whether my taps work, so the prospect of filling the water tank up is outrageously exciting.

I don’t mind running out of jugs and water carriers but for some reason of all the things I find washing my hands particularly un-easy. I must remember not to get too carried away with the ‘water in the tap’ thing as we are set for another big freeze for another age.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ironing….and other disasters.

I have two very busy, very hectic and important days ahead of me and I need to look crisp clean, smart and fine.  This is, of course, how I always look, but I like to make the special effort. 

I was going to iron my shirt but for some reason the generator wouldn’t start and then I realised that the table I was going to iron on wasn’t actually there, so I went up to the garage to iron: here is a poor picture taken on my camera phone.


This worked well, but not brilliantly… but I am not the best at ironing anyway.  If I wasn’t such a shirt snob I would go and buy two new shirts, but Jermyn Street is a bit far to go on a Sunday afternoon at this time. As it is I am hoping that my duties (and joys) for the next couple of days will be held in a freezing cold room so I can wear my jumper all day – an unlikely scenario

Not having water or 240V is a real pain sometimes!  I was asking Mike about the thaw which he seemed to know quite a lot about. It turns out that if the moon holds out for us (this one has bought a change with it apparently) we should have a thaw this week and combined with a dance around a particular tree (which we happen to have in the allotments) we should definitely have a thaw.  I was about to willingly volunteer for the dance when he pointed out it was at 3am and naked.  I think I will stick with squalor… for now. In a few days however I might have changed my mind.

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I had a wonderful morning sorting through some of the stuff under my front deck, and then as the clock struck 9 I donned my shoes, woollens, thermals, wind proofs and coat and set off over the fields with Boots and Molly.  Boots gave me ‘the look’ when we were half way across the first field so I liberated him of his warm coat and he went bounding off into the distance. It wasn’t long before I was feeling rather too over dressed myself. It is remarkable how 8degrees C can feel so tropical after a week or so in the minus’. I saw a suspicious looking chap peering over the railway bridge but he assured me I didn’t need to save him as he was waiting for a steam train to admire.

I spotted the dogs assaulting John Slee in the fields so I kidnapped him (he was rather too willing I felt) for the rest of the walk. It was lovely.  Tea and Cake at Annie’s tea room followed by a stroll home finished the morning off and I set to trying to do more under the front deck.

I have a problem really. The front deck is huge. At one end is the water tank and then I have lots of storage, and a water pump/accumulator. None of it is insulated and condensation is forming.  I am wondering whether I need to insulate it all or whether I should board off the water tank at the far end and then insulate and bored the bit from there to the cabin.  I am not going to use spray foam as PJs dad managed to blow his wheel house off with the fumes, and spray foaming an unventilated area with a solid fuel stove 20ft away would be a recipe for disaster… especially with me around.

Maybe I can just board the whole lot off from the cabin end…..

Unsure what to do I went shopping for goodies with Maffi.  Fortunately Dr Saffin has suggested I dine at her house so I may take my washing up around and smuggle it into the pile when I do hers!

I am now sporting a fine under deck odour and have rust in my hair so I shall go and have a swim and shower. I have been talking about going swimming for absolutely ages so it is about time I did.. nothing like running out of water to prompt one to do something healthy.

The ice is still far too thick for human consumption but I hear that Dave Dare from Oxfordshire Narrow boats took a boat North to meet Dusty who was coming South from Banbury to help break the ice up.  This has proved good news for Mark Paris who has been stuck on Somerton Meadows in the middle of nowhere becoming more wild as he blends in with his surroundings.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Living in the Ice

I don’t know how long the canal has been frozen in as I seem to have a lack of awareness of time, but what I do know is my water tank is empty. Very empty.  Maffi's isn’t so I am scrounging the odd kettle full of water and being very frugal about it. Boots is not being frugal, he has decided that as it is winter he will drink more than ever… or perhaps I am just noticing how long he laps up the precious substance from his bowl.  Each time I fill the kettle and use the water in ever increasingly imaginatively water saving ways I am reminded once again of how fortunate I am. 

The nearest water point, other than Maffi’s ever decreasing supplies, is less than 5minutes walk, and if that is frozen up the one at Thrupp (15minutes dawdle) is not. Some people in other countries have to walk all day to collect their water, and even then it isn’t necessarily fresh.

Maffi ran out of coal earlier in the week and has been exchanging water with me for Coal for him, but Dusty, our local coal man, made a delivery by car (the boat is frozen in further north) so none of us are without coal. 

That a boat is cold in winter is a myth and living without water in the tap is no great hardship considering there is water available.  Living on a boat in winter is a joy – the views, the scenes, the atmosphere and community are wonderful, a real joy to be in.

Boating is, as always, a hard life, but it is a good life too.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

On yer Bike




Wednesday, December 08, 2010

NB Futurest

I have just read the lastest post from NB Futurest’s new blog and it is brilliant!

I first met Peter and his Narrowboat this Spring. I had just moored up after a long days boating and was probably doing my usual bat impressions in the engine room when there was a knock on the roof. I extracted myself and there was Peter. He reads the column I write in Canal Boat Magazine and wondered if I was the same person. We chatted for ages and it was truly wonderful exchanging tales on the towpath that spring evening.  We kept in touch and Peter has sent me regular, delicious emails about his travels. We met up in Banbury for luncheon before he set off to Winter in Warwickshire and now he has set up a blog.

I am deligthed.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Motorcycling: Top Tip

Yesterday on my way to work I stopped because I thought my hands were going to drop of – something that is happening with irritating regularity.  I decided I would warm my gloves on my exhaust pipe and this is where the top tip comes in…

Always remember to remove your gloves from the exhaust before they melt/disintegrate/disappear.

I have just purchased some new gloves.. but resisted the electric glove avenue, I wonder if I will live to regret it.

Picture Book: Morning Frost

This morning was spectacular:




DSC08182 DSC08184 DSC08187

Monday, December 06, 2010


The delightful Caroline pointed out that on her return from her holidays neither of her blogging chums had any frosty pictures. I suspect she MAY be fed up of the frostiness as the boiler in their house has died, but here they are anyway!



and sometimes the light is just divine – same view different day:


Friday, December 03, 2010

Happy Birthday

So, the old goat is :



Happy Birthday Maffi – I hope you have the most splendiferously wonderful birthday.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

A good turn – I bet that was a surprise.

In my post the other day about the lorry someone left a tongue in cheek comment about Maffi

“..had it happened to Maffi, of course, well... ;-)” 

Maffi isn’t renowned in our parts for letting things go or keeping the peace when something bad happens to him but the comment did make me wonder again how people do see him, especially following the vandalism to his boat (and subsequent police visit in which I had to verify a few things which I didn’t enjoy).

Often people don’t see behind the fog that fills their vision from their own or others issues and their interpretation of the so-called “facts”.  Often, I find, the critical finger that points is just the one that isn’t pointing back at oneself three times over.  I wonder if the many people that read Maffi’s blog or interact with him would put him down as a good Samaritan?

I can think of several people who would stop short if they discovered that a man on the bus this morning would think of Maffi like that. Someone said to me once ‘oh you know what Maffi is like’ and they actually meant the grumps, not the good (which is my usual default of thought). People seem to enjoy focusing on grumps  the negative, the bad don’t they.

So, the man on the bus this morning. His grasp of English was lacking and his bus card didn’t seem to be working. He had paperwork to show that he should have money on the bus pass but the driver couldn’t accept it. The driver told him to buy a ticket and claim the money back later but unfortunately he didn’t have any cash on him and he had to get to work. Without a fuss Maffi noticed what was going on and stood up and paid the fare. I doubt anyone even noticed. I wouldn’t have decided what to do before the man was thrown off the bus and we were wending our merry way into the thriving metropolis. Maffi did.

I wonder if he will get any brownie points (not that he wants them) or will this example of good will be stuffed under the carpet and regarded as a glitch in the matrix?

Sometimes I think people just look for a fight.