Saturday, June 30, 2012

That will be a dent then

Friday, June 29, 2012

Wild Side Preserves

Belle has, as Captain Ahab so beautifully put it, “bringing a taste of the hedgerow and towpath to the world of preserves” and her website can be found here

What is even better is she is going to be at the Chesterfield Canal Festival this weekend (30th June/1st July).

Having tried a few things from the Belle kitchen as well as having been given a hamper at Christmas I can say it is all utterly delicious. I was in danger of eating everything in one go so I have everything on a rota so it lasts as long as possible– chutney next month!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Henri le chat noir

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Full Steam Ahead. FAIL

The Thames gets quite narrow in places and as I sat in the garden watching this boat I wondered whether it would get through the bridge.  This part of the world was on red boards so you can imagine what the stream was like.  They failed the first time so they drifted backwards and took a run up – full power and off them went. I wondered whether they were going to hit the bridge hole – but they didn’t.


They kept on going


And just when I thought they were going to make it, they cut the power and came back out.  I wonder whether they would have done if they kept going – but the boat before only just did and that probably had more power.

The following day when I came back to see whether they were still moored up waiting they were gone – but I don’t know which way they went – through the bridge or back down the river.

Rose Skinner

Your stories, your talk, your instructions, your lessons and your pride in the things you and your loved ones did will live in those left behind.

May you rest in peace Rose.

Rose’s husband Jack died, aged 88, in 2008

All crew should have a cyclist.

As we approached the lock landing, which was under water, it was a great relief to see Nick loitering on the beam of the open gates as we entered the lock.  He had come for a bit of cruising but after a quick discussion and another lock to go through we sent him off on his bicycle to prepare the next lock – a mere 17miles bicycle ride…We were very pleased to see him in this field as we came up to the lock and I was highly amused as he (the yellow dot in the distance) manoeuvred his way through the cows. 


After the lock he jumped on board for a spot of boating up to the moorings… so he got a bit of boating in after all.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Death, Renewal, life

Yesterday, as I walked the fields of Thrupp, I was struck by the number of poppies spreading across the view. 



An abstract from John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields:

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

It happens to the best of us…apparently

It seems that the leisurely boating of the Thames has upped a notch since I was there last and the learning curve continues to be steep; steeper than a steep thing really. Our tranquil cruise up the Thames this weekend was, again, anything but! With a near sinking, over heating engine, disappearing boat, red boards and general boating trauma we can say we all bonded.

It wasn’t just us either - a lady from a different boat had fallen and needed an ambulance.

It was a particularly tricky manoeuvre getting onto a mooring for the night.  There was a battle between the boat which seemed adamant that it wanted to take a line of inconveniently moored punts out while I was adamant that we had had enough trauma (and was quite pleased to be back on my freshly rescued boat)… I won and we were moored up safely.  I took the opportunity to call a friend who had been on a lovely jaunt up their river with their friends.  One of whom was wearing this:


Although I must say the day in the office has been a great relief after the weekends expedition into unchartered waters.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Through the side hatch



Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Off and Away

I moved away from the noisy neighbours and had lovely neighbours on one side, but then some other lovely people came and moored on the other side.  Surrounded by friends – it doesn’t get any better does it.


I am scattering the pins on Friday and heading off again. This time for an epic two day journey (the usual 30minutes by car) to the wilds of the Thames and then on to unchartered waters (for me). 

It is so long since I single handed the Thames that I had to have a practice single handing through the lock the other day and everything, predictably, came flooding back to me.  I am rather looking forward to it.

I am rather looking forward to it. I gather it will rain for the entire time which doesn’t bother me, but I am eagerly watching the river status AND the wind status, both of which could impede progress.

It looks as though I won’t be making it to the Braunston Historic Boat Show this weekend but as the highlight, amongst highlights,  is seeing the crew of Chertsey I will see whether I can catch up with them some other time.  I love hearing about their antics and seeing what they have been up to.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


No longer will dinner be ready two hours before the guests arrive. No longer will I have to dash out for a takeaway just after the guests have arrived.  I won’t have to ‘not mention’ the fact that dinner came from Marks and Spencer and never again will I be asked what it is we are eating.

From now on I am the chef extraordinaire and I know this because I have books. Not one book, but THREE.


the only difficulty now will be pronouncing what we are eating… but at least it will look alright.  I know this is true because they come highly recommended and are full (after extensive examination during a fabulous day out in the country) of things I would like to cook.

Friday, June 15, 2012


The greatest disadvantage with red boards is the inability to move away from noisy neighbours.

As my neighbours seem to have to run their generator until gone 11pm I had hoped they would at least not run their boat engine in the morning. No such luck. It is roaring away for the usual 25minutes for hot water before 7am. I have already spoken to them and they did move their generator to the other end of their boat so it isn't all bad. However, the two engines and the five dogs certainly don't enhance the peace and quiet.

I am not particularly into conflict and having had conversations with them I am trying to be patient - there isn't anything else I can do. The EA doesn't have an 8-8 engine running policy on the Thames and my neighbours don't have a 'we want to make lots of noise let's moor in the countryside' policy....rather they said they do consider their neighbours and try to be good neighbours....this is little comfort but then I have to remember this is then them being considerate.

In the meantime my sleep pattern is becoming even more chaotic and the general irritation of noise is no fun.

We are still on red boards and getting low on water. We are plotting our great escape to more rural climates but for now the rain comes down, the water comes up and the days go on. The crisp mornings provide visual peace even if the engines don't.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Narrow and Wide Beam Dutch Barge

Adam wrote about the narrowbeam Dutch barge by Wharf  House in Braunston, Tickety Boo,  in the December Issue of Canal Boat Magazine and on his blog here.  He was surprised how much he likes the boat, and I have often admired it as it went by. 


I was quite surprised to see a wide beam equivalent in identical colours moored in the same town down the river:


It looks like a Dutch barge but I wonder whether it is a widebeam version of a Dutch barge just as Tickety Boo is rather than one of those ‘let’s go to sea’ barges.  Either way, it doesn’t matter and I think it looks grand!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Living is easy

Living is not easy. I am moored next to a boat who likes to run their engine early in the morning, their generator at night and whose dogs like to natter away at strange times in the night.  I can’t move because we are on red boards.

However, this morning when I gazed out of the side hatch to the church rising above the buildings under the blue sky one way and the mist rising up from the water all under crisp blue skies I was swept with tranquillity.

The mist had gone by the time I decided to get my camera out but here are some pictures:




Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brockheim design

I am told a post of words and links isn’t as good as the pictures so here are the pictures:



And that is QUITE enough advertising!

Friday, June 08, 2012

Pirate T-Shirts

At Annie’s tea room on the back wall you can see some rather splendid pirate t-shirts. You may have also seen them on a stall at Banbury Canal Day at one of the Muddy Waters fun days or even as the main t-shirt wear at stag/hen parties along the canal. The creator has set up a website so you can order them on line. Here are the details

and they have a Facebook page:

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

And so a day of boating

My muscles don’t always behave and having decided to pull the pins and head south I was rather pleased when my friends said they were going to move their boat south and perhaps we could go in convoy. This secured the regular supply of tea that I find rather difficult when single handing down the river due to the distance from the tiller to my kitchen.

The muscles took a turn for the worst and after a crew fiasco I thought I was going to have to cancel my trip .  However after a bit of phoning around the accompanying boat said their friend would welcome a relaxing day out on the river.  My crew multiplied and the three of us with me feeling eternally grateful to the strangers set off for an uneventful trip on the Thames…

Uneventful that is until we managed to get beached, towed off, embarked upon some formation boat dancing  and had to stop Boots seeing off a swan.




We stopped off for a very welcome pub lunch and were delighted to find our final stopping place engulfed in bunting and various celebrations for our arrival.

Bird Nest Skull


Tuesday, June 05, 2012

After a little fiasco I decided to move (with crew scooped up from the tea rooms...Maffi...and the tow path..i didnt get his name).... It went rather well considering....and now I am moored to rings I can relax, again.

I am also moored between two generators. Generators are NOT my favourite long term auditory input but i am torn. The generator to the right is four boats away, as is the generator to the left. I hate the noise, but I am softened by the symmetry.

Please don't post comments about your silent generator and how everyone should have one. They are only silent because the TV they run is so loud.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Well. Here I am moored up on a new bit of river gazing at a web of mooring ropes and pins.
I spent a happy 90minutes chatting away on the boat as the stream got a little more frisky and decided, after another boat got in a pickle, to have a chat with the lockie. We are on yellow boards. Having watched a boat come adrift and decided to stay where I was we went on a walking tour of the sites.

On returning I found my neighbour wafting around on the bank.....turns out he was rudely awoken from his sleep to a load bang. Donning his dressing gown he stormed to the front deck to offer 'advice' to whoever it was only to discover the bank was missing. He had come adrift and I was following. Fortunately the obliging salters steamer helpfully helped and we returned just in time to wield a hammer, pins and more rope.

The river is proving to be quite an adventure....

Sunday, June 03, 2012

White Cliffs of Dover - again

I took this picture with my phone camera. It was so lovely seeing the cliffs rising so high above the sea below and these wild flowers along the verge. It was a lovely walk under blue skies.


Saturday, June 02, 2012

The Bones of Hythe

The largest and best preserved collection of ancient human bones and skulls in Britain is to be found at St Leonard’s church in Hythe.  Referenced in 1968 as ‘an orderly pile of dead men’s bones’ . There are four shelved arched bays and a stack of bones that is 7.5m x1.8mx1.8m.  The collection has remains of 4000 people with an estimation of 1500 skulls. The collection is unique and so I went off to look at it.

There are, as one would expect, several stories about the various bones and one note supposed they were those of ‘Danish pirates slain in a battle’ or ‘men who fell in the Battle of Hastings)… but a 2009 analysis of the skulls suggested a higher proportion of females than males… and 10% were juveniles…. The general consensus, however, is that they were dug up in the 13th century to make room for the church extension.P1000522




Taken with my HTC. The Thames at Eynsham

Friday, June 01, 2012

Self perception

I am not often around when people are talking about me. I don't suppose many of us really know what others think, let alone say about us. It is even rarer that we get to enjoy looking at ourselves through our own eyes as if looking at someone else.

So, when I came across this post I was rather amused, in many ways.

Romney, Hythe, Dymchurch Railway: Kent

When Captain Howey (the one with the money) and Count Zborowski (with even more money) put their interests together and failed to buy the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway in the Lake District the Count ordered two locomotives to be designed by Greenly.  Unfortunately the Count was killed racing at Monza and Howey was left with two loco’s and commissioned Greenly to help find somewhere to run them.  Greenly came up with Romney Marsh.  Hercules hauled the train from Hythe to New Romney in 1927. My friend remembered it in 1973 and I saw it last week.


The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway became famous and people loved to ride on the ‘smallest public railway in the world’.  It now covers 13.5miles from Dungeness to Hythe.

I rode from Dymchurch to Hythe. Honestly, it was the most uplifting hilariously amusing, quite comical and delightful train ride I have had in a long time.  Boots and I almost filled the carriage for 6….the long dog was so bemused at having his tail in one door and his nose in the other that he failed to consume (despite having noticed) the spilt packet of crisps under the floor (although to be fair he may not have done anyway as he doesn’t really ‘do’ eating between meals).  There was no time for eating on this extraordinary journey, just peering, and giggling.

The line was even requisitioned by the War Department and there are pictures along the railway line of those days.




It isn’t all steam:


and I think Boots much preferred the return journey.