Monday, January 31, 2011


Sunday was a mixed bag. I started out by cycling to 


This is the second time I have visited St Columba’s and I found it strange sitting in a room of strangers yet feeling strangely welcome.  It was all a bit too much so I followed my visit up with some comfort and took a gaze at the graveyard of St Mary Magdalen. It was looking particularly delicious in the mid day light


and then I took Boots and Molly for  walk to find my friend Dr Saffin. We found her in Shuttleworth Lock


so we turned around and walked home again lifting the lift bridges and doing the lock to make Kate’s journey easier.

I passed this window again, but no cat looking out of it this time:


and I hadn’t spotted this HUGE light on Hieronymus Peypes before.


Hieronymus Peypes is for sale:


After more than 2 hours on foot I returned home for a cup of tea and sat on the front deck in the afternoon winter light. Some canoeists came whistling past:


Boots is being extraordinary at the moment. He seems to have found the increased number of Ducks, Swans and Cats too much and our walks often include sections of me holding his collar while he turns into killer demon canine.  I have had some extraordinary looks but I think I am secretly pleased that I may be getting a reputation for having a fierce, unyielding and unpleasant dog in my charge; particularly as he is really quite a placid dog.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday Picture Book

I had a lovely evening last night full of fun and laughter in the Plough at Wolvercote with a fine mix of individuals. This morning I pulled the pins and headed south. 

Boots and Molly love sitting on the roof when we are going along. Molly is short enough to fit under all the bridges and Boots is lazy enough to lie down all the way. As we set off they always seem to stare at me as if to say ‘come on, we are waiting’ and Molly pointedly looks at the front of the boat as if to say ‘we still aren’t moving’


There was a bit of ice… the pleasant chinking ice


This back door is rather splendid:


and I have always admired the front:


Cascade still captures my eye:


as does this boat:


I am now moored in peace and quiet. Boots will like it here as there is a good place to run and a lovely walk or two.  We went for a walk up the towpath after we moored up and he has been asleep ever since… so I may have to wait a while to go exploring!! We were moored and walked by midday and the rest of the day is to be spent pottering and thinking.


Peter, Kate and I met together for a delightful day out in Stratford. We had breakfast with Peters brother and then walked down to the theatre to see Matilda the Musical. It was absolutely fantastic! I loved it.  The day passed too quickly and I think Stratford definitely warrants another day out pottering around the place; it is an intriguing place.  Peter’s boat Futurest has written a rather lovely account of the trip here.



Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Two Choices

I don’t often go a bundle on email circulars but this one I do. This has been close to my heart for more years than I can remember.

Two Choices

What would you do? make the choice. Don't look for a punch line, there isn't one. Read it anyway. My question is: Would you have made the same choice?

At a fundraising dinner for a school that serves children with learning disabilities, the father of one of the students delivered a speech that would never be forgotten by all who attended. After extolling the school and its dedicated staff, he offered a question:

'When not interfered with by outside influences, everything nature does, is done with perfection.

Yet my son, Shay, cannot learn things as other children do. He cannot understand things as other children do.

Where is the natural order of things in my son?'

The audience was stilled by the query.

The father continued. 'I believe that when a child like Shay, who was mentally and physically disabled comes into the world, an opportunity to realize true human nature presents itself, and it comes in the way other people treat that child.'

Then he told the following story:

Shay and I had walked past a park where some boys Shay knew were playing baseball. Shay asked, 'Do you think they'll let me play?' I knew that most of the boys would not want someone like Shay on their team, but as a father I also understood that if my son were allowed to play, it would give him a much-needed sense of belonging and some confidence to be accepted by others in spite of his handicaps.

I approached one of the boys on the field and asked (not expecting much) if Shay could play. The boy looked around for guidance and said, 'We're losing by six runs and the game is in the eighth inning. I guess he can be on our team and we'll try to put him in to bat in the ninth inning..'

Shay struggled over to the team's bench and, with a broad smile, put on a team shirt.. I watched with a small tear in my eye and warmth in my heart. The boys saw my joy at my son being accepted.

In the bottom of the eighth inning, Shay's team scored a few runs but was still behind by three.

In the top of the ninth inning, Shay put on a glove and played in the right field. Even though no hits came his way, he was obviously ecstatic just to be in the game and on the field, grinning from ear to ear as I waved to him from the stands.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, Shay's team scored again.

Now, with two outs and the bases loaded, the potential winning run was on base and Shay was scheduled to be next at bat.

At this juncture, do they let Shay bat and give away their chance to win the game?

Surprisingly, Shay was given the bat. Everyone knew that a hit was all but impossible because Shay didn't even know how to hold the bat properly, much less connect with the ball.

However, as Shay stepped up to the

Plate, the pitcher, recognizing that the other team was putting winning aside for this moment in Shay's life, moved in a few steps to lob the ball in softly so Shay could at least make contact.

The first pitch came and Shay swung clumsily and missed.

The pitcher again took a few steps forward to toss the ball softly towards Shay.

As the pitch came in, Shay swung at the ball and hit a slow ground ball right back to the pitcher.

The game would now be over.

The pitcher picked up the soft grounder and could have easily thrown the ball to the first baseman.

Shay would have been out and that would have been the end of the game..

Instead, the pitcher threw the ball right over the first baseman's head, out of reach of all team mates.

Everyone from the stands and both teams started yelling, 'Shay, run to first!

Run to first!'

Never in his life had Shay ever run that far, but he made it to first base.

He scampered down the baseline, wide-eyed and startled.

Everyone yelled, 'Run to second, run to second!'

Catching his breath, Shay awkwardly ran towards second, gleaming and struggling to make it to the base.

By the time Shay rounded towards second base, the right fielder had the ball . The smallest guy on their team who now had his first chance to be the hero for his team.

He could have thrown the ball to the second-baseman for the tag, but he understood the pitcher's intentions so he, too, intentionally threw the ball high and far over the third-baseman's head.

Shay ran toward third base deliriously as the runners ahead of him circled the bases toward home.

All were screaming, 'Shay, Shay, Shay, all the Way Shay'

Shay reached third base because the opposing shortstop ran to help him by turning him in the direction of third base, and shouted, 'Run to third!

Shay, run to third!'

As Shay rounded third, the boys from both teams, and the spectators, were on their feet screaming, 'Shay, run home! Run home!'

Shay ran to home, stepped on the plate, and was cheered as the hero who hit the grand slam and won the game for his team

'That day', said the father softly with tears now rolling down his face, 'the boys from both teams helped bring a piece of true love and humanity into this world'.

Shay didn't make it to another summer. He died that winter, having never forgotten being the hero and making me so happy, and coming home and seeing his Mother tearfully embrace her little hero of the day!

I don’t normally go a bundle on email circulars but every now and again something I get sent hits home.  This sort of thing is very close to my heart and has been for many many years.

Dear Granny and Grandpa

Mum has bought skirts!  She came back from the shops and hung them up so we could sit and admire them (ALL NIGHT) and then this morning she decided she would wear one of them.  She carefully selected it, held it up to the light and then as she put it on her legs vanished. The lack of legs explains the pantomime that followed. She put her shoes on, stood up and then fell over; shut her skirt in the door and then finally when she stepped off the boat she tripped over. It was SO funny.  She decided to wear legs for work and is going to practice having no legs in the confines of her own home where only me and her can laugh.

Unfortunately all this hilarity at home is distracting from my new found skill. I can get all the way from my basket to the front door without touching the floor. Mum classes this as NORTY but she has no appreciation for the sheer talent; it has taken me ages to perfect it.

Lots of Love

Your devoted Grandson


Tuesday, January 25, 2011


I have never gone a bundle on scarves. My Mum used to love them but one day I had to run for a Doctor who lived down the road to come and help as mum’s scarf had caught fire. Not wanting to burn alone it had set fire to my Mums neck and hair for good measure and  my dear Ma needed some treatment.

The injury wasn’t too bad as her head and neck didn’t fall off but I decided that scarves had too high a price and I wouldn’t go near them.

That was years ago. 

On a shopping trip recently Elizabeth suggested that scarves were the business and I really ought to consider them seriously. I suggested we leave the shop.  We left the shop after I had purchased a couple of scarves. 

Today we went shopping again and I have added a couple to the accumulating pile. I now like scarves; they are rather handy.  Having filled one rib with scarves I think I will stop collecting them for now and just admire the colours:05012011662

Today, in case you were interested, was a lilac scarf day.

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Butty Rudder

I just posted about my Sunday and mentioned this special place:


A friend knew all along and has just told me that in 1993 there was a butty moored there with a women and her two kids on board.  The boat caught fire (probably from candles) and all three of them died that night.

And then there was Sunday

Many moons ago I walked up the canal and stopped at this.  I wondered then what it meant and I still wonder the same now.  My story has changed a great deal since I first saw it but I vividly remember stumbling upon it the first time I walked along the canal with the brightly coloured boats full of character lining the canal on one side and the ruined cottage in the bushes on the other side of the towpath. Over the years the cottage has been restored, but I still wonder what the story behind this is.  Every time I stop at it the last eon whistles past my ears and I stand here transported back in time as if for the first time with the benefit of looking forward along the path I have trodden:


Many people don’t like the run into Oxford but I love the variety of the boats and I particularly like this gas locker; I think of Casper whenever I see it (his blog is full of things salvaged from other things for his brothers boat Sleepy Hollow built by the family).. I wonder if he likes it.


I particularly like this scene:


and then to the local pub for a pint in the evening.  I took Maffi with me. He is on a writing course at the moment (as if anyone could possibly have missed that), and part of his assignment was to buy an orange and write a poem about it (sometimes it is better not to ask questions).  He has been getting to know his orange, which meant the orange came for a pint too. Here it is sitting on the table and a beer.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

On the move again

Finally I have pulled the pins and left the vicinity. Roundam Lock was smooth – and then in the distance I noticed Kidlington Green lock was full:Rick and Sophie were boating too but had managed to get hooked up on a huge log – I was pleased it was them in the lock and not me. A bit of re-floating, jigging and general poking liberated them and they set off taking the log out of the lock with them. Fortunately no damage was done.22012011601

Sophie struggled with the first life bridge – she wasn’t heavy enough to release the new mechanism BW have put on it, but fortunately Rick isn’t so light and left it open for us to glide through.

It didn’t take very long to get through Shuttleworth Lock. The red boards are up at Dukes Cut.


Allan struggled with the next, very rickety, lift bridge which was rather heavy and wobbles precariously. It took a while to undo the mechanism on the next one and then he had to sit on the balance beam. I thought the mechanisms are meant to hold the bridge down but I am beginning to wonder whether they are there to lock the bridges up to stop them being stolen.

When you undo them I thought the bridge was meant to open, but at the moment it doesn’t seem to work like that.  Single handers can use a Banbury Pole as Maffi did today.23012011613

Wolvercote Lock came along pretty quickly


And then finally we moored up:


It took just over 2 hours to get to our mooring so I think we must have flown a bit of it.  I was pleased to moor up in the light and early as it gave Allan an opportunity to put a new gadget in my engine panel. My buzzer alarm now goes off if the ignition OR the oil light come on rather than when I heat the heater plugs or stop the engine or every other opportunity possible. I love this simple solution and now I don’t have to have buzzer issues in the engine room. The buzzer buzzes when I need to pay attention to the engine. Happy Days.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The day we found the moon.

There are often times when I look out of the window and wonder whether the world out there is the same as the world in there. Today as I sit resting recovering from the latest disease I look out and see blue skies, sun shining, frost on the ground and birds in the air. Today the world outside my window is the same as the peaceful quiet contemplative one on the inside.

Last night I looked out the window and saw the big heavy moon creeping through the woods and then, as I stepped outside for a closer look, it flung itself over the fields and hung in the sky gently creeping higher and higher lighting the path as Boots and I stood and watched. 

I love the big bold moon. It reminds me of the magical evening that my friend James and I found the moon.  We were in the car coming off the Oxford ring road having visited the boat in Enslow and noticed the huge moon skulking around the horizon looking stunningly beautiful.  We wanted a closer look and set off on a winding journey around the outskirts of Oxford, up into the back streets of Headington where we encountered many dead ends and moon empty roads  on our quest to find the moon.  We were about to give up when we decided we would drive up to the high point of Oxford, Shotover Country Park, and see whether we could see it from there.

We drove up the steep hill. I was convinced the moon would be ahead of us, and James sure it was behind us, either way we thought we might catch a glimpse of it.  As we neared the top of the inclined plane the bonnet of the car levelled out and there ahead of us an avenue of trees stretched out ahead of us. As we got closer and the car came to a halt there dead centre, ahead of us, in the avenue of trees the Moon loomed in all its glory staring us straight in the face. It was magical: a wonderful reward for our journey full of laughter and glory.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

This and That


Kate and I had a lovely trip the other Saturday to Warwick to visit Peter on NB Futurest. I had a little walk down memory lane as I walked the towpath I boated several years ago with Allan and Debbie from NB Keeping Up. We had a lovely evening in the cape of good hope and I was rather taken by it then so it was good to re-visit. Kate and I had lunch there with Peter.

The camera on my phone is 2Mpix and really quite awful, there simply aren’t quite enough pixels for the natural non-man made human eye to pick up a clear sharp edge and detail without the brain having to do some work of its own.  In ‘small’ it isn’t so bad though. The last phone camera was 3 and the difference is quite substantial.  I was out on a short walk this morning as I am not feeling too well, but it was wonderful standing in the field being bathed in the winter light.

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Our shadows seemed to watch on with a calm soothing spirit.


Monday, January 17, 2011

Dusty on the Radio

Great excitement on the waterway. Dusty has been on the local radio: His bit starts at about 2:39:22 in on the following link:

Dear Granny and Grandpa

I saw my friend Molly this morning and she says that since Mum and I have moved off our mooring for a jaunt (that is what she calls it anyway) a cat sits in the car park of our mooring looking like king of the world and some swans are thinking about moving in on the towpath! This is totally unacceptable and I can't do anything about it, yet. Molly thinks it is very funny.

Despite these changes I am very very excited. Mum says we are going on holiday soon and we are going to be staying near you!!! Apparently we are coming to visit you on our way to our cottage and we might even visit you half way through our holidays! I am SO excited, I think I might pack straight away. There is, however, a down side to the holiday and I was wondering whether you might have a word? Mum seems to think we are going to go on long walks in the countryside. Walks..why would ANYONE want to go on a walk on their holidays??? Holidays are for sleeping and resting everyone ( except Mum it seems) knows that.

I am so looking forward to seeing you. Fluff up the pillows, stock up the compost heap and prepare... your devoted Grandson is coming to visit!!!!!

Lots of Love

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dear Granny

We don’t have a water shortage anymore. Mum seems to keep quite a lot in the bilges in her bedroom which doesn’t seem to make her very happy. She has been spending a lot of threatening it with a sponge but it is still there. She does odd things. Take this morning for example she was busy admiring the sky on our lovely walk through the woods when she walked straight into the flood water on the Cherwell. Not the dangerous bit, just the bit where it is a bit norty around the edges. It was SO funny. Mum said my face was a picture, but I am not surprised – I stood there (on the dry bit) wondering what on EARTH she was doing. Fortunately no-one was watching so it wasn’t too embarrassing!

Mum has been thinking of going to dancing classes again so I said I would go with her. It could be our winter project. Last winter we went to classes and taught mum to give me treats so this winter we could teach her to dance.  Arnty Corin sent us this:

Lots of Love


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Winter Folk Festival at Napton

You can read more about it here


Thursday, January 06, 2011

Camera, Divine skies and suspended cars

Anyone that remembers my purchase of a camera a couple of Christmas’ ago will despair at the mention of camera in the title.  I am not the best at making decisions, at all and the process can drive anyone near me insane.  (I recall mentioning the camera whilst continuing to procrastinate on the decision making process of which one to buy one Christmas morning only to hear the response from my friend Mark of ‘will someone just get her the bl**dy camera’).

My camera (which I left at the Ancestral on a recent visit) is fantastic and I love it, but I am thinking of getting something small and brilliant with no zoom that can sit in my pocket all the time.  I have no idea where to start.

The camera on my phone previous phone wasn’t great but if you got the light right and were in the right place it actually looked pretty good. The current one just isn’t up to much (maybe I will update it when I get a better phone, but will that be enough? The camera is O.K. and you can get the gist of the gorgeous morning sky yesterday:

05012011505 05012011504

This time of year is simply divine for glorious skies in the mornings.

Onto suspended cars…

I was rather pleased with this construction – I was inspired by Casper’s  Lego castle so when the Lego was produced the other Day I set too on a gate house. The site manager wasn’t too keen on the elephant which is why you can barely see it, but the suspended car was a huge hit.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Dusty Comes Through and the Sun

The ice on the canal is 3 inches thick where I am and there were many happy boaters yesterday when Dusty, the coal man, came through heading north to Lower Heyford.

I wasn’t there to witness the ice breaking but Fi has captured some of it in some stills and words on her blog.  The ice is now in bite size chunks and with the warmer weather we are all hoping it will thaw so we can move about again.

We really rely on the coal man in winter and when the ice is this thick we really notice his absence. That he has broken up the ice is a great blessing. I think he should get a medal. Not only does he deliver supplies even when we are out at work, break up the ice and campaign for better facilities but he brings news of the canal and a great deal of cheer to the people he meets along the way.

I pottered out to see the Solar Eclipse yesterday morning but I was a little bit early and I had to get to work. Even though there was a strip of clear cloud I don’t think it would have been terribly visible anyway.  It is a shame the eclipse wasn’t today as the sun was looking stunning as I walked over the fields this morning.  I saw some lovely pictures from the OTHER place here

Monday, January 03, 2011


The water I put in the tank is still in the tank and not in my bedroom which is a good sign that the joint I replaced was the problem.

The warmer temperatures of late have meant that the ice around the boat has melted and so it is moving but last night temperatures dropped and once again the boat is surrounded by ice.  The ice further down the canal is at least 2 inches thick by the bridge (big beast Ocelot did some ice breaking the other day to get the water point!)  so heaven knows what it is in the less sheltered areas!

News is that Dusty is heading up this way on his way to Heyford to load up for his trip north… we all wait eagerly hoping he is making progress.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Water and the Jolly Boatman!

When the local hero Dusty came through just before Christmas I made a dash through the broken ice to the water tap and filled up. I decided I would be very conservative with this tank as the freeze was set to be with us for a long long time.  My water pump decided to embrace the same spirit and decided it wouldn’t work all the time and froze up at every opportunity.  Then, on Boxing Day, I went away for a few days and Maffi kept my fire going. When I came home I checked the connections and noticed that one from the tank to the pump (which I didn’t put in!) was looking a bit dodgy – unsurprising as it was made up from TWO JOINTS!!!  I fixed it immediately (it had lasted 4 years but not in such extreme temperatures! It was -13.5 here on Christmas Night, and hoped I hadn’t been too late – I was and I had a swimming pool in the bedroom.  I pumped it all out and returned to the water container technique.

I wasn’t alone as both Maffi and Dick had run out of water too (the sensible way)

Yesterday Andy from the Jolly Boatman suggested we could borrow some hoses and fill up from his tap at the pub. A VERY big THANK YOU to Andy and to everyone who lent us their hoses so we could reach from the pub to our 3 boats on the wharf to fill with water. We couldn’t have done it without four hoses from Annie’s tea rooms – I have never seen such long hoses!  Not only do I support my local community, but they support me – fab!

Dick wasn’t about for all this and we couldn’t just fill his boat up in case he had decided to take the opportunity to do some plumbing but then I remembered where he worked so I gave the rather large location a ring… lo and behold he answered the phone!!  The three wharf boats are now with water, in the right place!