Monday, March 31, 2008

Engine Mounting Bolts is what it was... I hope!

Well, I don't know you about you, but there are certain shapes the human being is NOT designed to be in. I found a perfectly good and accessible position to access those wretched bolts, and after a little while it dawned on me that lowering myself in this contorted position may be comfortable but there was no way I was going to get out of it. I did wonder about calling a passer by, but they were particularly sparse (or deaf) so I had to heave and shove and managed to extract myself with more dignity than I thought was possible.

Something else I have learn this evening is that when you want to do something 'up' turn it the proper way, otherwise you spend a long time undoing it and then ages finding the bit that dropped in the bilges.

I have finally managed to do up the bits that were meant to be done up, and weren't and am now marvelling at my new oil shaped spiky hair and newly covered arms. I thought my hands were getting a bit dry, but I think my bilge diving is going to sort that one out nicely - my arms and my face.

Another top tip is that when you get stuck and need to extract yourself and make a wrong move, make sure your mouth is SHUT when your face ends up in the bilges.

Anyway, it works now.

Presents from Miss T

The lovely Miss T has been on holiday to Madeira and sent me some pressies from her trip! Very kind, and very generous of her - here they are...

Work - fa la la

Gosh, I have survived! I am delighted to be back at work armed with an enormous amount of post, including a letter from my father - I always enjoy his letters; they are an absolute scream!

Everything is strangely unfamiliar, again a good sign of a good holiday, and I am thoroughly looking forward to sitting in this lovely chair pushing back the frontiers of science and ignoring the fact that my engine is demanding my attention!

Thank you to everyone who has helped me on my trip, and made it fabulous, in no particular order: Steve for crewing the difficult bits; James for two days out on land; Maffi for the surprise visits and encouragement along the way as well as help up and down various lock flights; Alnwick for back setting the locks and Mrs Alnwick for helping me with some gates when she was walking back to the car. Chris for breakfast cake, and Mrs Bottle for all day cake (YUM!). And all the canal world forum who rocked up to the banter - that WAS fun! The pub there The Bridge Inn in Napton deserve a medal for their organisation and welcome - they were outstanding!

It was lovely to see lots of people along the way, and especially Kate Saffin and Pip who drove all the way to Fenny Compton for supper - YUM!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Bike and its key

I have a bike locked up on my roof, and I seem to have lost the key. What do people do in situations like this - buy a new bike and use that until the key is found or what? I feel I should know the answer to this - I can only blame my upbringing for having no idea.

Engine Mounting Bolts?

I dispair.

The engine makes a terrible banging noise when I try and start it up and I think the mountings may have died... how do I tell - no idea!

Anyone want to buy a boat?


Well, that IS weird. It now works, but it does remind me I need to check the mountings are ok. I really ought to do something about them, anyone know where I can find out what they are MEANT to look like?

On another note, I don't seem to be able to find the lock for my bike, this is most cross making, especially as I am planning to cycle to work tomorrow!!!!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Home at Last

Another good day of cruising has seen me moored up for a couple of days. I had expected this trip to take 3 days, but instead it has taken two, and neither were heavy cruising. My enormous thanks to Steve Sugg who came along weilding a windlass and assisted the journey!

I was feeling a little worse for ware this morning with my aches, a sore throat and a little queeziness, so we decided to stop in Thrupp rather than the City. Having fished a pheasent out of Bakers Lock we opened up the throttle and hammered down the Cherwell into the lock. I am starting to enjoy that bit of river, but I will always favour going up it rather than down!

Arriving in Thrupp at 11 we moored up hoping for some diesel (which I am allowed until today as a temporary club member) but there had been a power cut all morning, and thus no diesel for me. I was feeling a bit better, and so we decided to carry on down the canal to Wolvercote. We sorted out the cars, and pulled the pins.

Thrupp was stragely familier after my two weeks away, which for me is a sign of a good holiday! I am rather surprised the two weeks away has had such a good affect.

As we approached Langford lane bridge I noticed a boat coming the other way, and became more pertrubed as I noticed it wasn't actually going anywhere. I scraped my way through the bushes and noticed it was a hire boat. I asked if they were in trouble, but it turned out they were mooring! I was so flabberghasted I didn't say a word! I suppose people just don't think, this is why I love hire boaters, they do the most amusing things! I am intrigued as to whether the 6 or so strapping chaps managed to drive the pins into the concrete before someone came along and told them to move.

I was regailing Steve with the tails of the kidlington Sherriff when lo and behold, the sherriff came walking up the tow path. Or at least, I HOPE it was him. It was the same top, and familier looking dog (as all labradors are)... I waved cheerily saying 'hello' in my sprightly voice (saved for speacial occassions), and told him how nice it was to see him again. I hope it was the sherriff, otherwise some poor chap will be wondering why a deluded women on the back of a scruffy boat was so pleasent to a strange man walking his dog. As I sailed past the offending residence, I noticed a space opposite his garden perfect for my boat - what a shame I couldn't stop! Maybe another time.

I was just coming into kidlington green lock past the weir thing, when the wind took me and I was cruising rather close to another boat called Olar Pendragon, but I was a good 6inches away (she says in her defense). Steve was on the front of the boat and heard shouting on the inside, but the first I knew was when his side doors flew open (I am amazed they didn't hit the side of my boat and fall in the water!), and an angry brown haired head was thrust out (on a pole in my imagination, but I am sure it had a body attached) and screamed something about going slow and slammed the doors shut. This is what I love about boating, everyone is so polite and caring and willing to have a reasonable conversation. I had hoped to give the male head a lesson in tick over speed and manners, but sadly he disappeared before I could process what he had said in the first place. As it happens, I don't THINK he swore at me, which I think is a turn up for the books in that area.

I was pleased to see Wolvercote Lock come into view and a little peeved when Steve told me the lock was about an inch away from being against us - and a boat was coming the other way. I moored and waited for the slowest boat of christendom to approach, but the slow boat decided to moor and the crew disembark. I waved frantically (I have seen this done at other locks, no idea what it means, but it usually ends up in some action from the other party), and they started coming into the lock as one of the crew walked up - without a windlass. Steve closed the gate behind the boat - the crew were too busy standing around, and started to wind the paddles. I was rather livid at the fine display of advantage taking and decided to have a rant, but quickly decided this was meant to be a peaceful trip. I imagine Wolvercote will now go down in history as the only manned lock on the Oxford.

So, here I am in the county of the excrement of dog - I swear there is more of the stuff than grass around here. I have had to moor up my boat so that neither the front or the back has the canine welcome mat, yet all the way up I didn't have any problem with the brown stuff at all.

Sealkinz Too

Maffi wrote about his Sealskinz today, and I am going to write about mine. Our experiences are slightly different, but then so is the weather we usually boat in - although I am pleased to see that Maffi is getting more accustomed to the awful wind, and delightful rain, although I do think boating in ones shorts is a bit extreme!

My sealskinz are fantastic, and I love them. I was given two pairs last year! They grip well, keep your hands dry on wet ropes, and generally act like an extra skin. What you can do is immerse your hand in a bucket of water, and STILL have DRY hands! I have been delighted with them. However, if you wear them all day in the driving rain the water gently starts to seap through and after a few hours you have wet hands.

They are ideal for normal boating, but for extreme boating I think a pair that is windproof would help, that way any water they do trap won't get too cold!

Thank you Sealskinz for these gloves - I gave the other pair to Maffi

Friday, March 28, 2008

Banbury to Heyford

Someone has definitely shortened the canal. We left Banbury at 11am, and arrived in Lower Heyford by 4 positively energised, if not in shock. Aynho Weir lock was a easy peasy.

The weather was fantastic, pouring rain, hail and more rain. The sun came out and Steve decided to celebrate by taking his waterproofs off - fool! The rain poured. Next time he disappeared up the front when the sun came out I told him not to even think about taking his waterproofs off - he defiently waved them at me. The sun stayed out longer, but he soon put them back again, and stopped talking about the weather!

Steve is excellent crew, thats two good trips so far, and I think we will make it into Oxford tomorrow.

Maffi has headed up north - he is off for a pole for something or the other. I have really enjoy his company, and we both understand eachother better than we did. I shall miss him, but que sera sera.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Napton on the Hill from WeepingCross

I had a lovely time with WeepingCross (I wonder if he knows there is a street in Banbury named after him!), and I have just heard from him - here is his email in full:

Apparently the Ark of the Covenant is buried under Napton Hill. And we didn't even go looking for it.

Mind you, I remember of old that according to Graham Phillips's other books the Holy Grail is hidden somewhere close to Leicester, and the Virgin Mary is buried in a disused graveyard near Swansea ..

Cropredy to Banbury

These ancient aching bones passed through the clear skies as the mist rose from the waters at some godforsaken hour on this crisp morning.

I am now resting in Banbury and am very impressed with the holograms in Banbury museum!

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Maffi in Banbury

Maffi left Thrupp this morning, and arrived in Banbury this evening - 10hours later. I am officially a wimp.

Fenny Compton To Cropredy

I set of at 8:30 and made it to the watering point by 12:30. As I filled up the boat that had been following me down the locks took the spot I wanted. I reversed up under the bridge but there was no space there. I thought I would have to carry on beyond Cropredy, which was not good news because I ache all over, and my muscles are playing havoc and not behaving at all. I was feeling very sorry for myself as I went sailing past the residential moorings but Alnwick pointed out there were 14 day ones just on the left. PHEW! I have never been so pleased to moor up. I had a delicious coffee aboard Alnwick and am now flaked out. I shall try and muster up some energy to make it up to the shop before it closes, I need milk!

Despite the agony, I was really fortunate on the trip, I followed Alnwick down the locks and they back set them (THANK YOU!) until there were boats coming up, and then I had a bit of help on a couple which was a relief. Maffi is on his way to Banbury, we planned to meet up tomorrow, but it seems he will make it early. I would like to make it early too, but I can barely move now I have sat down!

Normal service will be resumed shortly when I feel less like vomiting and more like laughing!

Tuesday Evening and Kate Saffin

I set sail on Tuesday morning about 10ish, with the assistance of Maffi which I was really grateful for. In the evening Maffi and I met up with Kate Saffin and her fabulously witty, clever and quite charming, daughter at The Wharf Inn at Fenny Compton for some supper.

Kate is performing at Oxfringe this year. Wednesday 2 - Saturday 5th at the Moser Theatre, Wadham College, Oxford.

Judging by the right ups of Kates work you won't be disappointed if you go!
Look here, here

And this is what it is about which I took from here!
Sex in the (post war) suburbs! A boat, a brothel and a long forgotten law. It all adds up to some pretty racy goings on in Wolvercote... Wolvercote? Yes, Wolvercote! Kate Saffin's one woman shows have brought tears and laughter to audiences from Oxford to Edinburgh - and waterways between.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Boaters Banter Bank Holiday Monday

Something I like about the canal world forum, is not only the expertise and assistance one gets, but also the fun and laughter that goes with it. As with all 'internet' things, forums are places where people can throw their teddy out the pram and act without consideration for the fact that there are real people behind the weird names. Despite the agro there is a lot of laughter, if you chose to join in, and with that you start to get to know the people for who they are - boating nutters. There have been a number of Banters over the last couple of years, the first was in Surrey and a huge success. About 8 of us met up and chatted like old friends, introductions were not necessary, and there was plenty of banter. It was fun, and I met some great people. At all the banters I have been to since I have been able to put more names to faces, and it really is like meeting people I have known for years.

This Easter I decided I would take a trip up to Napton on the boat, and to encourage me to get there rather than stop in a hedge somewhere and read, I organised a banter. It so happens that Napton was an exceptionally convenient and popular location for the banter. There were 7 boats by Saturday evening, and lots of fun already. On Monday evening more of us gathered together in the bridge pub for a meal. Again I thought there would be about 8 of us again, and then it turned into a party of 20, and finally last night when it all happened there were 30 of us.
A wonderful evening, thank you everyone for turning up, and to those who came early, it was a really enjoyable way for me to relax, and lovely to see so many happy people! I loved it, and I don't think I was alone!

Monday, March 24, 2008

People are too kind! Cake and Coal

Chris went to the shops this morning and returned with a delicious genoa cake. I decided to take it easy, as it was probably going to be the only cake I would have for the rest of the week...


Mr and Mrs Bottle arrived for the banter armed with one of Mrs Bottles deliciously wonderful ginger cakes.

How lovely you all are! Thank you for the cake, I have been most delighted with both of them, a lovely lovely lovely thought, and Bones is a happy Bones.

Bones is also a warm Bones. Kraken arrived with a bag of coal to the banter this evening, and Tony Collins arrived with some too! Thanks guys!

Day out with Weeping Cross

This morning WeepingCross came into my bedroom to suggest tea - at 8.30! I gave in a little while later and he put the kettle on. For some reason this was taking a while so I lay in bed enjoying the lovely smell of burning wood marvelling that himself had put a log on the fire. After a while, himself wondered why the kettle wasn't boiling and on closer investigation he realised the culprit was the chopping board and a few flames! Ooops.

I tried to be a domestic goddess in the kitchen and do a full English breakfast - had I had more than two mushrooms and NOT had a colony of new creatures on the black pudding, all would have been perfect.

The day improved when we found this holy well at Southam:

And a glorious area rather like the peak district on our way to Burton Bassett:

There was another well near Burton Bassett church:

and the church is gorgeous, well worth a visit:

and has gorgeous gravestones!

We finished the morning having luncheon at the Castle in Edge Hill. LOVELY.

Signs of Napton

farmers can shoot dogs:

we keep the sabbath:

This sign was positioned near an equally rickety looking bench...

What are these geese doing to eachother?!

Impressive hedge laying recognition:

And my all time favourite positioned at the bottom of a telegraph pole!:

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Views around Napton

Weeping Cross and I took a stroll up the hill to have a look at the windmill. I was rather amused at the Lama:

And I have always loved hairy cows:

The windmill is a grand sight:

We eventually made our way around to the village church - it has a rather large churchyard and the church seemed surprisingly large too, it wasn't open:

I liked the rooftops as the village stretched below us:

And then I saw this and thought I might like to live in a *house*:

Napton is also a village of signs... which I will post another time! Happy Easter one and All.

And then there was snow

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Marston Doles to Napton

I emerged from the pit in time to receive a surprise visit from Maffi. He had set his alarm clock for 6AM and set himself up to walk the countryside to give me a hand today. I was surprised, overwhelmed and delighted - not least because he came bearing gifts... this quickly turned to horror when I realised he wasn't armed with cake!!!! It was lovely to see him, and we had a coffee and set off. We managed to approach the first lock sideways, but after that we had the hang of things.

I was grateful for the assistance - not least for moral support. Maffi also taught me a new rope trick for shutting the gates - fabulous for showing off when you get it right....!

When I boat it is always in stunning weather - yesterday it was rain shine and hail (my nose has recovered from its bruising), and today it was rain, shine and snow. It was lovely sitting on the back deck with a cup of tea, and some cake (I picked some up in the shop at the bottom of napton locks) cruising through the snow. Fantastic!

I am now moored up for a few days, and looking forward to our banter on Monday. There are 5 boats here already which is super.

Oh yes, I was so enthused from the boating, that I set too on my other projects. The heron has rotted down beautifully, as has the rooks head. A little boiling when I get some washing powder will see them done and ready. The deer needs a little longer, but I managed to get quite a lot of debris off, and may even encourage it along with some boiling too.

Right. Must be dinner time. Thanks for the bacon Maffi, I will enjoy that with the blackpudding and mushrooms - yum!

I must thank Maffi again for coming over, the assistance was excellent, and the surprise most cheering. Thank you for the thought, and and also for the help; both were lovely. I hope you had a safe journey home!

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Summit

Having made it to Fenny Compton last night, I flaked out and spent most of the day recovering. The boat is almost tidy and I have made use of the storage boxes NB Nobby gave me in Banbury.
After much deliberation I decided to head across the summit this afternoon and make it to Marston Doyle. Tomorrow I just have to face the locks down into Napton whereupon I can have a rest for a couple of days.
I decided to pull the pins and the weather turned grey, wet and cold, so I put on the thermals. No sooner had I headed out than the sun came out. Off with the thermals, and wearing a more appropriate attire I spotted the ideal photo opportunity. I grabbed the camera, took a picture that didn't work out that well and found myself stuck - partly incompetence, and mostly wind (that is my story anyway). I good bit of pole work, a twisted knee (seemed to result in less pain in my knee than before!) and a little bruising, as well as a near miss with falling in, I was on my way again.

The summit is stunning. It twists and turns through lovely countryside, and you don't see a soul for ages - other than the odd boat passing by. Not only that, but the weather was absolutely glorious. The thunder clouds swept across the fields quietly chased by the sunshine leading to some glorious light that I just marvelled at. Having taken my thermals off, the clouds decided to descend and the brisk air chilled further. In no time at all I was in the most amazing hail storm. Each ball of ice bounced off the roof, and my hat as if dancing a rigadoon. The water absorbed each stone with concentric circles of celebration and the clouds darkened with each second. It was truly wonderful.

I haven't, as yet, learnt how to use my camera properly, but here are some pictures of the wonderful light:

Not only that, but I loved this pile of wooded hair styles in the field as I came to an end of the cruise:

I am now tucked up aboard the great ship having had some lovely curry. What I failed to do was make some cake. If only I knew my recipes in table spoons - I could just fancy some of Aunt Gills flapjacks!

I now understand why people find the oxford canal knee quiveringly beautiful.

Sarah Will be pleased

In February as I was collecting jumpers from the rubbish and starting a fashion of jumpers with holes in whilst campaigning for the mix and match wardrobe, Warrior was campaigning at the kitchen sink and the plight of the colander

In order to support a fellow boater/blogger in their plight, I have done some washing up:

the colinder is now draining the right way up, instead of upside down like everything else.
My work here is done.

Bits and Bobs

first off, I am amused of Fenny Compton this morning. The wind is howling, my fire is dead, and the met office tells me the weather is going to be exciting. I love boating in all weather, except blazing sunshine and wind. This weekend I am going to have to battle with the wind. Not a problem on a crewed boat, but a bit dull as a solo boater. I haven't yet managed to work out how to push the bow off, and then dash back to the stern before it gets stuck again. I suppose the point is never to lose the bow in the first place. I shall battle with the wind tomorrow, but today I need to tidy up and clear up all the mess.

Yesterday I spotted a coal man, and thought about tying up and getting some coal to see me through until I saw dusty again 'down south'. Just at the critical moment as I was wondering whether to moor up the coal man said he read my column and really enjoyed it. I was so overwhelmed by the compliment I forgot what I was doing and went sailing past! Not to worry, I have a luciously warm jumper from Mrs Brown.

Not only that but, someone else said some lovely things to me yesterday, completely out of the blue, which have left a warm glow, and then I see Maffi has written on his blog. I often wonder what it is I do to deserve such adoration, but I never wonder for too long, it is just lovely to hear it.

Thank you guys!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Canal Boat online

canal boat magazine have a new website check it out here Andrew Denny will be pleased, I am sure he has mentioned the website on more than one ocassion!

Banbury to Fenny Compton 12 locks and some photographs

Not all scruffy boats are without a licence. I did notice this one didn't have a NABO sticker on it, so I know they will be pleased, as it seems one member (who shall remain nameless) doesn't like scruffy boats. It did however have an up to date licence (which the nameless member will find astonishing):

I liked this old pump at the lock. I lifted the lid and found a well, or at least a deep hole with water in. I have no idea what it is:

I was rather surprised to see these Ducks hanging out:

Just past Cropredy I saw some lovely old boats, and a living van. I love living vans. Here is one old boat:

And here is the tunnel, not covered. You can't see it here, but the boat in front has a HUGE beard! I loved it.

Not only did I not get a photo of the beard (my manners got the better of me for once), but I didn't get a picture of the owl I saw. Stunning.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Post Box for Virginia

Tooleys Boat Yard

I have been residing here in Banbury over the past few days, and in that time Matt from Tooleys boat yard has been doing some much needed work. I now have a new diesel system and a new exhaust system. Both look fantastic, and will now pass the boat safety (I still marvel how it got one in the first place!). In the process Matt noticed that the alternator wasn't charging, so I asked him to look at it. I had noticed the light didn't go out, but I hadn't really payed too much attention, not least because sometimes it went out, and sometimes it didn't, and most of the time I had battery power. Turns out the alternator is dead. Even when the light goes out there isn't any charge going into the batteries. Matt fitted a new alternator, and after much scratching of head it turns out that one is faulty too!

I thought I would have to head off tomorrow without the alternator, but the owner of the yard is going to try and sort it out very early in the morning. I had already agreed to come back next week, so I am pleased they have been so thoughtful and want to get it fixed before I go, and will actually go the extra mile to do so. Especially as the alternator was an 'extra' job that came up. I will see what happens tomorrow, but so far I like these guys.

And, on another note, it just goes to show that my solar panel is more effective than I thought. I have been running the fridge, and my lights, AND it is winter, on the panel and everything is fine. So fine that I had no idea the alternator wasn't charging at all. It is true I don't usually run my engine, but I do on occasion so I can shower in hot water, I thought these occasions also added to the batteries, but clearly not. All hail the solar panel.

I have spent the day therefore waiting around and chilling out. This morning I met up with Pip to help her with her stats problems, I just love sitting in a cafe helping someone else with their work. Pip is delightful and very amusing indeed, a lovely way to spend the morning.

Cousins and Sunshine

Cousins are great! I find myself moored near to two of my cousins, and had a fabulous evening catching up with one of them on Monday night. Yesterday I saw the other, Jess, and her new (although 6 months old now) son, Will. I went back to their house, showered (bliss) and joined them for supper after cousins husband Nick returned from a hard day at work. Nick has a fantastic video of Hook Norton Brewery, which has a steam engine, I really must pay the place a visit sometime.

I have awoken to blazing sunshine this morning, all in preparation for the deluge we are promised at the weekend. I am rather perturbed by the prospect of boating in strong winds - the wind is a complete pain when single handed, once the bow is stuck in bushes there isn't a great deal one can do. There was many a time when I first started boating that I moored up in bushes (albeit forcibly by the wind) and carried on with daily life - I must have looked a site crawling through hawthorns and walking around with twigs in my hair!

Matt from Tooleys boat yard is doing a great job re-routing the diesel system and making it sound. The exhaust system should be going in today, and then they will clean the bilges out before it is all complete. I am really looking forward to getting away.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Canal Boat Nobby

There I was admiring the lines of a gorgeous boat that had moored up in front of me, when I noticed the name was "Nobby". Hmm - isn't that owned by Ian and Allison Birks a columnist for canal boat magazine - turns out this WAS the same boat.

Allison was out shopping, but Ian was around, and it was lovely catching up on magazine gossip from a fellow contributer.

Ian kindly showed me around his boat, and if I was ever in the position to have a boat built I would want this one. It is absolutely gorgeous. The attention to detail is staggering, every space has a use, and the build is solid, tidy and inspirational. Under the front deck there is wardrobe and drawer space, which has started me thinking about my own deck - should I plate it over in order to solve the low drainage hole problem, and use it as a wardrobe. It is certainly tempting.

The engine room is gorgeous - the Gardiner is stunning. A 2l2 manufactored in 1942, originally for the ministry of defence and re-built and installed by Tony Redshaw - what a beauty!

Oh dear - The Weather

I pull the pins again on Thursday. I have just checked the weather forecast and it is going to be awful! Why is the weather always bad when I go boating....

wind 28mph.... hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

Monday, March 17, 2008

Monday with Tom

This morning I met up with Tom Leary and we went off to learn more about the civil war. I am a complete philistine when it comes to history, and it is about time I learnt! I was delighted that Tom could open up this world to me. We stopped for a coffee here:

a stunning pub in Edgehill, the walls are covered in civil war memorabilia.

After driving around the countryside looking at the sites and piecing together the events, Tom decided we should head over to Broughton Castle:

A glorious day, and fantastic fun. We even stopped so Tom could show me some wild garlic growing on the edge of the road in Farnborough.

I spent the evening chatting away with my cousin in the local Mill Centre.

Aynho to Banbury

I awoke on Sunday morning to wind and rain. Typical boating whether for me, but Steve declared it the worst weather he had ever been boating in. We set off in the deluge from the elements and arrived at Aynho Weir Lock to red boards. We both stood around waiting for the situation to go away, but it just wasn’t going to. I did a rocky of the flow and decided it was stupid to head across; the drain holes on my boat are a bit low for comfort (understatement of the year!). Being known for my stupidity we started locking through. Steve opened the gates and I started to come out of the lock, and could feel the bow being pushed over to the weir before I had come out. There was going to be nothing for it, but open the throttle while I had the water under the prop to turn around. I told Steve to meet me at the next lock and rocketed out. I still had no control over the bow, and the last thing I wanted was to get stuck onto the Weir – especially with my drain holes. The current caught the underside of the boat and as it looked like I was going over I decided to do my best, the boat banked, the bow came off the weir, and the stern crashed into the wooden beams protecting it. I was not the first – the beam gave way, but I had a good angle and off I went. I picked Steve up after and we continued in silence marvelling that despite the odds, neither of us needed to change our underwear. Just south of Nell bridge a boat was nearly sinking – they had tied up in the pound (stupid stupid stupid) and I was pleased to see I wasn’t the only stupid person on the cut – they had secured the boat with the centre rope which was pulling it over as it was too tight. BW said they would sort it out (thanks Maffi for sorting that out)
Nell bridge is rather low with only a foot of clearance (JUST) we made it into the lock. On higher ground we looked back and noticed the place was flooding… good job I didn’t see that before I went into Aynho weir lock!
The following locks were very full with water pouring over the top of them, and there was a great deal of water around in places it shouldn’t be. KingSutton lock was rather fun. The door to the cottage flew open and out stormed a teenager and her mother. A cat looked out of the top window in despair at both them and us.
We made it to Banbury, but then the water was pouring over the top gate with such force and there was so much water around a BW chap was positioned on the lock. He had to paddle to get to the paddles.
I was only too pleased to moor up outside Tooleys Boatyard. Here I will stay for four days. I am hoping the water levels will go down for the weekend, but Steve tells me the paper told him this morning of ‘extreme winter weather at the weekend’. Oh well, I guess Bones is out boating!

Let them eat cake


The whole winter goes without seeing any bloggers, and then 2 go past within the space of days and I am out. Imagine my despair then when I heard that Hadar were travelling through Thrupp on Friday, but my delight when they stopped at the jolly boatman. Hurrah! I actually got to meet them, as well as canalworld forum member Steve. On Saturday morning I was not even vaguely jealous that Steve and Maffi were back aboard Hadar eating cake (deliciously wonderful Victoria SPONGE), while I was floating the boat up the canal with Steve Sugg. We were caught behind the most tediously slow couple, but managed to shoot ahead of them on the cherwell. The weather was pretty dull for boating and just as I was getting rather bored with the monotony of standing still I noticed a floating body in the canal. Never one to let wildlife suffer, despite being dead, I whacked the boat in reverse and promptly got it stuck. Before Steve had had time to protest I pole volted onto the bank and dragged the deer out, stuck it in a plastic bag, watched Steve rescue the boat and got back on with the deer at the bridge 'ole.

Again the monotony was getting to me, so I decided we would make our millions and fish for treasure. Top tip to all you magnet holders - don't bother trawling when coming out of the lock. I caught the lock so firmly Steve had to go back and retrieve the magnet.

Just coming out of Somerton Deep Lock we were passed by a steam train - oh how I love those engines! It was absolutely glorious, it kept us going to Aynho.

The great western pub at Aynho has changed a lot since Steve was there. It is no longer a spit and sawdust pub but an oak chair, open fire, candlelit haven. There was a large proportion of customers drinking champagne.

We deposited the deer in some bushes on the way up to rot in peace. I will pick it up on the way back.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Aynho weir lock is NOT funny

yep, I think that about sums it up.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Thrupp to Aynho

Having set off at 10am, in good time we found ourselves following the most painfully slow narrowboat couple. having taken an hour, including one lift bridge and one lock (which left me despairing) to get 20minutes away I wondered whether we would even make it to Enslow before dark. We made it to Aynho in 7hours - not bad! All the locks were in our favour. I have often wondered how I would manage lift bridges on my own. Normally, being a solo boater, I sit around waiting for a walker to stroll by to sit on the beam, this is all very well, but on one occasion I waited so long I actually made a wooden framed bed extension. People told me of the one handed technique a 'banbury pole' (actually, I don't think it is called that, but it is always how I hear it!). I gave this a go once; the idea is you lift the bridge and stick a pole underneath it to keep it up, then drive the boat under. I heaved and heaved and eventually managed to get the bridge up, then realised I had forgotten the pole (DOH). Back I went to the boat, picked up the pole, positioned it carefully and blow me down, I couldn't lift the bridge again - I had obviously exhausted all my strength the first time around.

So, that was the end of that... until yesterday. As I had someone to drive the boat through, I thought I would give it another go. I disembarked to mutterings from the newly appointed skipper - he wasn't entirely convinced by my plan, or perhaps he was un-nerved by my enthusiasm. I strolled down positioned the pole in a handy spot (ah I was GUSHING with pride for having remembered it) heaved and huffed, nearly fell in when the bridge was almost up, and then grabbed the pole. Or I would have done were it not JUST out of reach. A little foot work (Beckham eat your heart out), and me and the pole swayed in such an unnerving fashion I wondered whether I would decapitate myself if I fell in. I managed to get the pole in the right place, stood back and marvelled. I waved the boat through and lent against the gate post trying to look cool. I didn't look at all cool however, panic was written all across my face and I was quite sure my internal shakes would vibrate the pole out of position.

Here is the picture:

I think the idea is to lift the bridge from the bow of the boat and sick the pole under that way, so next time (if my nerves ever recover) I think I will try it that way!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bones is Proud!

I have just discovered that two people I know actually have a subscription or read canal boat magazine because I write in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How COOOOL is that?!

I am feeling most proud and very honoured. What a treat.

The drawback of course is that I know two people I know will be reading it - the pressure is on.


I went to visit weepingcross yesterday and a parcel arrived. He has some new cufflinks... I admired them so much I thought I would post a picture of them here!

These coffin ones are superb! The lids open and inside is a skeleton:

And the spiders on here wobble...

Now, that is what I call style!

Thursday, March 13, 2008


Ten Bob Note AND Balmaha have passed recently and I was out. Sulk.


The long awaited holiday is looming. Two more sleeps and I am free to be a boater - 2 glorious weeks on the canals, cycling across the countryside, cups of tea on the front deck in the mornings, and best of all, relaxation and fun. Hurrah.

I am excited...can you tell?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Thunder Storms

As I was gazing out of the window across the fields at the expanse of sky it occurred to me that we haven't had a thunderstorm this winter. Do they only occur in summer, and if so why? I suppose the weather conditions are more favourable in summer as the temperature gradient in winter is smaller the air cannot rise as rapidly or something. The idea that thunderstorms start at ground level is rather bizarre, but it must be the case. Does this mean absorption by the sun is essential?

No No NO!

Last year Ten Bob Note passed by and I missed them both because I was at work. Imagine my excitement when I realised they were going to be down this way again very soon, if not already. Imagine my disappointment.....they passed Bones this morning and she was all locked up - no no no! I had probably JUST left for work. Sulk.

I shall have to save my frantically cheerful hello wave for another time - it has already been waiting 6months and is quite uncontrollable... imagine what it will be like next time!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Devotion Aunt Amendment

I decided to email the link of my last post to my sister as an act of encouragement for gifts of new photographs/appropriate wallets, and I just received this reply. It is so amusing I thought I would post it here!

I did have one in my wallet but the whole thing got nicked by some git in a charity shop. Oh no – now none of us are devoted!!!!"

The Devoted Aunt

I had luncheon on Saturday with my chum Zoe to discuss business. In true form neither of us knew anything, and we forgot to bring pen and paper to take notes. I think we were a little more clued up with an action plan by the end of luncheon. Something I found striking however was her wallet and her mobile phone. I made a passing comment about her nieces and their current health (which I learnt was good) and lo and behold I was shown photographs of the gorgeous two with various members of the family. Indeed her brother is also married and is expecting a new baby to accompany Zoe's new nephew, and I saw photos of them too.
Zoe sweetly asked me about my exceptionally gorgeous niece, but sadly all I could find in my wallet were moths and the odd receipt. I think I need to rectify the situation. The question is did the photos come with the wallet, or did the wallet come with the photos? Do the doting parents send wallet and photographs to the family so we can all perform our duties, or am I meant to be devoted enough to collect and trim down my own photographs? And, does the type of wallet matter? Somehow I don't think my kangaroo scrotum is up to storing photographs.
oh dear, I feel a life change coming along - AGAIN. lets hope this one is more successful.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Windy Weather

Bit windy out there, I am feeling an incy wincy tiny weeny bit sea sick.... The ground outside my window won't stay still....

Zoological Findings.....

There I was hanging my head out of the side hatch enjoying the rain when I heard some noises akin to the small cries of hungry wildlife. After much staring across to the bank on the other side of the canal I convinced myself there was a nest. I marvelled and swooned and considered how lucky I was to be so close to nature as it develops into fully grown life, and how wonderful it was that I have a Zoology degree that enables me to appreciate these things. Well, that was until I realised that the small hungry cries were probably the two reeds rubbing against each other in the wind.

What a good job I didn't stay in Zoology!

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Sunday Afternoons

It is a delicious Sunday afternoon. Lunch has been taken, the sun is shining and the walkers are peacefully gliding past the windows enjoying their afternoon strolls. The fire is roaring and the scented wood smells are wafting along the boat. I am lying on the sofa relaxing with a lovely cup of tea. This is tranquility at its best. Or at least, it was.

Low and behold from the silence erupts a noise, bang bang bang. Disturbing the peace I compose myself and investigate the imposing sounds from the external world. It turns out to be the out board engine two boats down.

I am no longer sitting in peace and the boat is shaking to the thump and rhythmic drones of the outboard. I am not impressed.

I am normally a calm person aboard the great ship, but I am wondering whether it would be inappropriate to partake in a new sport - sinking ships perhaps? There should be a law against it. Grrr.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

St Kilda Cambridge

This morning I spotted St Kilda on the Cam. I came accross the website for this boat several years ago, not least because I am interested in St Kilda myself. I re-visisted the site earlier and discovered that the previous owners sold her in 1997.

Here she is:

Friday, March 07, 2008

Bones' Health

I haven't had a very good year so far with my health, and I have found it increasingly difficult to concentrate, keep focused, stay awake and do my job, and constantly suffer a general thick headness and dizziness. Even walking to the bus stop was too exhausting. As a result I have put my social life to one side, and dedicated any cognitive function to my work during the day. This left me exhausted in the evenings and apart from a few exceptions I was barely able to speak, let alone stay awake, most nights I was sleeping at least 12 hours.

I have learnt over the last few months to pace myself and to plan everything in advance so I can ensure I can function. Last week I saw my consultant and mentioned my tiredness. After a few tests it was clear my cognitive function was not up to speed, and seems my exhaustion could be a result of the concussion I suffered in December. This to me is fabulous news because I can now pinpoint my malaise to something specific rather than a neurosis (which I was afraid it might be!). I didn't have a proper rest at Christmas, so it is possible I didn't have enough time for my brain to recover from the knock.

In order to give my brain the rest it needs, I have decided to extend my Easter holidays by a further 3 days and will be enjoying a full 2 weeks off work. I cannot wait.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Garlic Crush

Maffi had an ill equipped kitchen, and when Kim Jim and I were cruising down the K&A there was a certain amount of despairing. As a result I decided to do the decent thing and buy him some kitchen utensils. Amongst these was a garlic crush.

For the last 3 months, when I have been dining aboard Milly M, which was frequently during my hand incident, I have been interested to note that Maffi apologises for the state of the garlic, apparently it "doesn't crush".

Well ladies and gentlemen, I decided to investigate the problem earlier this week and I have another top tip.

When using a garlic crush, peel the garlic first.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Looming Cruise

It has finally reached the time where I can count down the days until I take the boat out for a lovely cruise up the canal. I am thoroughly looking forward to being away with the wind in my hair rattling through the countryside. The first stop is Banbury where I will get the diesel and exhaust system overhauled by Tooleys Boatyard, and then up to the top of the southern Oxford for a boaters banter, and back down again. By the time I return my mooring in Thrupp will have finished, and I will be embracing my nomadic existence on the canal and river again flitting as the mood takes me. I am really looking forward to being out and about and exploring the area around the canal on my bicycle. I am also hoping to visit Cropredy Battlefields with a knowledgeable guide who can regale me with the historical events that it holds.

Monday, March 03, 2008


..... and the dining room table makes a fabulous workshop. Note the absence of fish tank.... the space is simply yearning for it isn't it!

and the end result was the LED light now in the ceiling which is working (although not making its owner happy)


Some time ago I wrote about depression. The common treatment for depression is pills, amongst other things, and, as I am sure you are aware, these have been under fire recently in our press. The sad thing is that over the last few years I have seen depression rise from something for middle-class housewives who have nothing better to do than howl into their handkerchief to an illness. It is no longer a neurosis for the weak, but an illness that can strike anyone at any time. It has finally been regarded as a real entity, and people who have been of the pull your socks up brigade have seen it as a 'disease' something that eats away at the very thing that makes us human. See here for a brief encounter with Lewis Wolpert of 'pull your socks up' fame, until it happened to him.

I think the latest news about depression is dangerous. The Times newspaper (London) summed it up beautifully when they said (and I paraphrase and interpret) that people don't need drugs, they need a chat. Indeed, a lot of people need to be listened to, but I wonder how much it would cost the NHS to employ people to listen, not to patronise but to really listen - Probably more than the cost of the drugs?

Listening isn't always enough, sometimes it helps to be heard, and to have someone help process those random thoughts into construction into 'how do we go from here'. This takes time, talent and money.

The danger of news articles dissing medications is that people decide not to take them any more. This can be disastrous. Some time ago, a friend of mine who was on antidepressants decided she didn't need them any more and stopped taking them. One week later, I went to visit and found her in her room having taken an overdose, drunk a bottle of brandy and cut her wrists open. That is what happens when people stop taking medication. Regardless of what people think, these medications do have some effect, and not taking them, once prescribed can be a disaster.

Sadly the news recently will be one hundred steps backwards for those who have been fighting for the cause. The saddest thing is that there are millions of people out there who have fought for help, and the paper belittles it, there are millions who want help for their partners and the paper belittles it, and millions who think depression is an excuse for malingering and mopping ones brow, the paper will condone it. I loathe to write about such things, but in light of the papers I can only hope to raise the issue.

The year of nature

Last year was the year of the christian camp, and sadly it was not to be. This year, it is the year of nature, and this IS to be.

On Saturday I was feeling a bit blue, so I decided to do what all good women do to cheer themselves up and went shopping. I trawled around various shops, and managed, after about 40minutes to have filled my arms with delightful things to cheer the soul. Firstly I found a tub of grow your own strawberries, and then 2 packs of bulbs which promise me colour and beauty.

Feeling the vibe I stopped off at the garden centre and spent more of my hard earned cash on herbs and a goldfish tank (see here and here for my deliberations on the matter). The tank is now sitting proudly on my dining room table, I am rather fond of it already.

Retail therepy is exactly the right thing to do. It was glorious.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Fame at last

This made me chuckle: