Thursday, April 30, 2009

Dear Granny and Grandpa

Dear Granny and Grandpa,
I am very pleased Graham decided I needed to live with Bones - it is much nicer here than there and she is looking a bit chubby so I am planning to walk her to fitness. I think I came just in time! She keeps complaining about her muscles but I keep telling her it is a good pain (thanks for that tip Grandpa, it works a treat!).

Apparently I 'stank' when I got here, so I have been unceremoniously stuck under the tap and shampoo'd - within 24hours of arriving I tell you. It seems to have done the trick, but I need to loose my thick wooly kennel coat soon or I will be too warm.

After my rinse throught Mark and Maffi had some bacon Sandwiches, Mark has a dog called Stanley who is very very funny. I decided I would like to play with Stanley but I have to be on the lead so it isn't very easy. Not to worry though, I gave Mark a 'look' and he persuaded Bones to let me off the lead on the proviso that Mark caught me if I ran off. Pah, like I was going to run off!

We had a great time frollicking around the water point until Stanley had a great idea! We decided to leg it over to the other side of the fence, and when Bones and Mark started to have apperplexi about me running away, we would run back - what a hoot - we legged it onto the other side of the fence, but I hadn't quite realised how exciting it would be over there, so I ran into the yard as Bones clutched her chest and Mark came racing after me, followed by Stanley. It was frightfully exciting as there was another dog in there to play with who worked out that if he chased me I skipped and played and then ran away, then came back. Anyway, it got a bit boring so I came home in the end. What a sight - Bones was pale with big white eyes and sitting in the ivy muttering something about Mark. Actually, when Mark got back he looked quite pleased to see me too.
I think I will stay on the lead for a bit longer - perhaps it is a good idea I learn my name first!

Lots of Love

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Annie's Tea Room, Canal Road, Thrupp

OPENING THIS WEEKEND!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can't wait!


So, I am back from my travels, have found my various chargers and here are some pictures.

The holiday ended at Kirtlington Quarry where Mr Paris and Maffi met me for a BBQ, PJ was meant to be coming too but he had to save the world instead - frightfully gallant of him to do it without us, so we had a good time anyway!

Stanley seemed to have a good time posing in front of the fire

Sunday was absolutely divine for the journey home. It only took 2 hours but the countryside looked fabulous in the midday light with the fisherman along the bank.n

The hotel boats Taurus and Snipe went past just as we set off:

Pigeon Lock always looks fabulous,

Nesting swans just north of Bakers Lock:

Friday, April 17, 2009

And off we go

The good ship is about to set sail for southern parts, but I am sitting here in the tranquility of sheep chatting, birds singing and bliss.

I gather the weather forecast has worked out that I wont be boating next week and has decided to bless the country with wall to wall sunshine. Good job I like the rain!


After the horror of discovering that the cake shop in Banbury I went to last year has discontinued Cream Slices I returned to the boat in time for Matilda Rose to arrive with some pipe. They have been very generous as they gave me the left overs from their shower board yesterday. Amazingly enough this is the same as the worktop I got from Freecycle to go around the sink. I will end up with a matching bathroom if I am not careful!

I set off just in time for someone else to open the lift bridge and do the first lock for me which pleased me. As I passed Morrisons Daisy telephoned me to see whether I was still in Banbury to do a home check for a dog. I put some feelers out about adopting a dog and I have been walking through the doors as they have opened. I moored up in a most inconvenient spot and caught up with Dusty (who always makes me laugh) until Daisy and her two greyhounds arrived. The home assessment was a success and they think they have a dog for me. The main worry about having a dog has been leaving it during the day while I go to work, so it would have to be the right dog. It turns out the dog they have in mind is used to being left for 6 hours so maybe it could work.

Next stop is to visit the dog, but I need to make sure I REALLY want to go through with this before I do. I think I do, but I can't pin point why I am worried about it - perhaps I think others will think I am being cruel or something, so I need to make sure I am happy about it... somehow. I am not very good at making decisions!

As I approached Kings Sutton I was getting rather bored sitting on the back of the boat and started singing silly songs.... the lock came up just in time to save me from the spiral of insanity!!!

Last year I found Aynho weir lock most unfunny, this year it was a doddle - probably because the river wasn't flowing fast. I also noticed that the canal was muddy and where the river cut accross it was as clear as glass. Actually, Bones looked rather handsome.

Thursday, April 16, 2009


Last night Madam independence finally decided she couldn't face the trek into Banbury in the morning, and thought she might ask for help (gasp), so I texted Maffi who happened to be just around the corner already deciding to help me. The man is a saint. We dumped 5 more gallons into the tank and the good ship roared, spluttered and then went 'thank you eversomuch' and smiled.

After a coffee with Mr and Mrs Alnwick (fantastic coffee as always) I headed off into the sunset for Banbury.

this house cropped up on the left:

And I thought the use of space hoppers as fenders was original!

Coming into Banbury I saw Jill from Matilda Rose with Mutley and Baxter on her way to Cropredy (BY FOOT!), and told me Graham had the kettle on... and he did. After a good chin wag Jill arrived home and it was lunchtime. In no time at all several hours had passed and I quickly undid the ropes and headed to Sovreign to fill up with Diesel. There was a basket of free eggs on the counter, but unfortunately all the eggs had gone from the basket so I left egg-less, but I do have a full tank of diesel!

Just enough time to do some shopping, relaxing, showering and chilling before Matilda Rose came down for the evening; they are adorably adorable.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Still Stupid!

I was so fed up with the lack of diesel, and not really too sure how to resolve the situation that I decided to take advantage of my extended stay in Cropredy and visit my cousin in-laws parents; it was a year since I saw them last and they are both very good company. Amazingly enough, they took me to Banbury to get some diesel. This leads me to my second top tip for a smooth holiday..

when you have a 5gallon or a 1gallon can; ALWAYS take the 5 gallon. 1 gallon is not enough.

Never mind - Cropredy is bless with three buses a day so I can have another go and doing fuel tomorrow.

In the meantime I am in peaceful tranquil Cropredy with a boat running its engine full pelt in front of me.... my equilibium is teetering on the bring of volotile chaos.

Day 6: Not going very far.. Bones is an idiot

I knew when I left Banbury that I would need some diesel on the way home - my measuring stick said '15'. I would have got it on the way up but there wasn't any available. So, here I am in Cropredy about to set off and the engine is a bit lumpy, then it dies.

It would appear that 15 actually means Empty....


SO my boating holiday is going to become a punting or a walking holiday - I am not sure which!

Day 5: A day out

Alnwick took us to Evesham vintage steam rally yesterday here are some pictures:

I was really impressed with the south midlands area military vehicle trust display and their 3 WW2 Nissan huts. The display was excellent and quite like nothing I have seen before.

I have always liked these caravans:

I like Austins

Just as I found the motorbike display, and was delighted to see a Bantam there it rode off! I would have liked to have a closer look at the instrument panel and front forks:

I picked up an pump and Maffi gave me a hack saw and a poetry book (thanks Maff!). I couldn't find a Dennis lawn mower air filter for dad which was a shame, so the hunt for that continues.

At the end of the day we took Maffi back to Thrupp and I took great delight in seeing Ocelots offspring... who was rather surprised/gobsmacked/freaked out to see me there!

Thank you for a great day out Alnwick!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Day 4: Easter Sunday

I woke up feeling vile yesterday. The cold has wiped me out and left my chest all bunged up, OK I will spare you the details, but I decided it was time to take on board the wisdom of my darling sister and add Manuka honey (factor 25) to the Echinacea and Tumeric concoction. I suppose being ill is one way to make me sit still, but I am finding it most dull because I want to sort the boat out and get it organised and tidy (now now, don't spit your tea out at the ambitious task I have set myself; the results will be stunning I tell you!).

Saturday saw us in Cropredy, along with PJ and one of the Ocelot offspring on Ocelot, and later Kraken on Lucian. I like the Krakens (hmm.. it seems I like most people!). They couldn't moor nearby so we pootled down to wave where they did moor and I retired home. They will be coming back up soon so I hope to catch up with them properly then.

So, Easter Sunday. I like the service in Cropredy, and the Vicar Barry seems to be worth listening to; an interesting chap.

Luncheon in the Red Lion followed by a long afternoon sleep which seems to have shifted my lurgy a bit.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Day 3 - the cottage of dreams

Last year, at this time of year I fell in love with Bourton Lock Cottage, and when it came up for Auction I very seriously thought about buying it. Although the dream ended for me, it didn't for two other boaters who purchased the cottage at auction.
Thus, you can imagine how interested I was to see the cottage again. Here are some pictures of it now.

The Lock garden is still wild, but the smell of the flowers is spectacular

and the pump now has a wooden fence around it:

Friday, April 10, 2009

Holiday - Day 2 Heyford to Banbury

Of course it is raining - Bones is boating! We set off from Heyford at 8am, and after seeing David Jason at the lift bridge, we pootled along in the damp. There are some lovely gardens by Allans Lock:

I checked up on the deer I left near bridge 198 last year, but sadly it had gone without a trace! On to Somerton Deep lock which always looks so much more picturesque in the post cards than when I go through there:

Somerton Deep Lock is the one lock I really do not like doing single handed - but I will have that opportunity on the way home.. maybe my arrival will coincide with a strapping crew coming up the other way...

We dropped the magnet frequently, but only found nails:

Going uphill at Kingsutton the plate on the bottom gate is bent. Bones got stuck as Maffi undid the paddles and the front deck started to flood at an alarming rate; the water was a good inch or so inside. We managed to sort it out in time, but I will remember that for next.

After a delve down the weed hatch we were back on our way to Banbury. There are lots of bottles in the water at Banbury, but it was good to finally meet Ten Bob Note!

On arrival in Banbury I noticed nb Alnwick moored up opposite - that was a welcome sight!

I still can't shift my cold and am feeling quite rotten. Nevertheless we had a lovely evening with Graham and Jane eating cheese. They are quite lovely.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Holiday - Day 1

Plans changed and the early departure changed to an early afternoon departure - 1:30. As I was walking through Oxford city centre my heart felt light and my step was on air as I revelled in the holiday fever that had started to swamp me. Back home on the boat I pulled the pins after a quick mental check that I had everything I needed on board (shame I didn't check where everything I needed was before I set off!).

Maffi opened the lift bridge for me, and in no time at all I was along side Helene of Troy to pick up Mr Paris for the first leg of the trip. I was impressed he came as the weather didn't look too promising.. but there he was looking like a 'proper' boater - crocodile hat and jacket with lots of zips (must get me some). We thought we had lost Stanley Mark's dog (who was taking a run), but he was trying to go home with a family with two small children feeding the ducks... after much eyebrow and eye work from Mark, Stanley remembered his loyalty and left the family and continued to run alongside the boat again. Looming up to Bakers lock I noticed the sign had grown a couple of legs, and Maffi stepped out - he had set the lock for us, and we were soon on our way.

It was a glorious day, over caste but the light was stunning as we came through the oxfordshire countryside. Coming up to Kirtlington Mark thought we should stop for a swing. I moored beautifully by managing to get the boat to skip onto a rock bringing the anodes half out of the water on the pointy end. I abandoned ship and my attention turned to the swing. I swung out over the Cherwell (I hasten to add that Mark did a knot check on the swing and took the first throw). Just as I had plucked up courage to swing out (the last time I did this on the Cam I fell in) I heard a yob yelling across the quarry 'MORTIMER'; I like yobs. Matilda Rose was strolling around the area taking some air. I hadn't expected to see them, so that was another holiday bonus, and I didn't fall in!

The swing was fantastic. It was interesting getting the boat off the rocks afterwards though - reverse, more reverse, more rocking, more reverse, more sweat, more levering, more pole work, more whatever and Mark eventually declared the need for a new strategy and he climbed the steep embankment and tied the stern rope to the tree, performed some magic and hey presto we were free. A quick wave to Matilda Rose as we went past and we were on our way again. I would have liked to have stopped to smile at them for longer, but that will have to be another time.

I love going over Dashwood lock; the light is stunning, everything looks so green and the views across the cow fields are splendid. We arrived in Heyford in good time despite the hold up.

Thanks for the good day Mark!!

Maffi met me in Heyford and Mark took the car home. Maffi arrived with a lovely big shop from sainsbury so I now have a full fridge. What a glorious start to the holiday.

Heyford at night with the warmth and bird song in the background; you can see the picture, but imaging the sounds!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A boating we will go!

I am now officially on holiday and I am delighted. I have kicked back the shoes, donned the holiday mood and am looking forward to sailing into the distance tomorrow morning. Oh sweet bliss!

All I have to do now is wire up the fridge so I can use it to store food along the way. I hadn't really bothered with it until now because I have been using the fridges in shops.. but they are few and far between on the canal, and I don't want to spend my time shopping - oh how I LOATHE shopping.

Hurrah. Bones LIKES holidays!

Kate Saffin: Isobel's War 2

We went to see Kate Saffin performing her absolutely fantastically excellent show on Monday night - if you haven't been to see it and want to, tonight is the last night!

He has done it again!

Maffi is thoroughly enjoying his work up at the Quarry, it has not only given him direction but a sense of achievement; both of which he was needing. He has transformed the place since he has been there, and the powers that be seem to be impressed with his rate of work, diligence and work ethic. I have been popping up for cups of tea to see progress and Maffi has transformed it from a desolate place to a pleasant place with all the work he has been doing.

Yesterday I went up to have a look at some new steps that Dean Guy had installed for him. Most swanky! I had just arrived home when the phone rang 'can you come back' so I did... to follow a trail of blood to the poor wounded soldier sitting in a chair clutching some cloth to his head. It would appear he walked into a window cover that was swinging in the breeze - he didn't bang his head per se, but the metal corner cut straight through his scalp. Thankfully the rusty metal had been painted only the week before! Maffi was feeling very sorry for himself (quite rightly!), and I decided he needed a trip to see the nurse. He winced and whined and made interesting noises whenever I tried to have a look at his head, but as soon as the cuddly nice nurse started to look at his head he completely "manned up". Until she started producing needles for the injections of course!!!

So, the soldier didn't need stitches as it was a small cut, albeit deep, and we have to keep an eye on it to make sure it doesn't get infected.

Needless to say he is back at work today with strict instructions to wear a hat to protect the already scabbed over cut. Maffi does heal quickly!

Monday, April 06, 2009

Stowe Landscape Gardens Picture Book

Last Thursday I had a day out in Stowe Landscape Gardens. We tried to go here last year, but on route the weather turned wet, then snowy and visibility was not ideal for garden strolling. This year it was much better. I have really enjoyed walking around gardens, and Thursday was no exception:

The house is now a school:

The sun came out:

Gothic Temple - rented out by the landmark trust as a holiday home:

The Grotto is being repaired/re-developed:

Hidden away in a corner is the Chinese House; possibly the earliest Chinese-style garden building in England (1738):

There are lovely views across the lakes:

It was lovely taking a long stroll from monument to temple to secret corner.

Stowe Gardens - The Church

There was a lovely etching in the window:

which looked super when you could see the churchyard in the background. It makes it look as if the arch in the etching is part of the outside:

The Gothic pulpit is part of a set:

and I liked this set of three gravestones with cherubs and skulls:

Saturday, April 04, 2009


Wiltshire is a gorgeous county; not only does it sport rolling hills, but it has the K&A canal which is superb! I loved my trip on the K&A last year with the hedgerows bursting with fruit and wild flowers. The K&A is beautifully rural, with delicious villages to stop at along the way - not only that but it has Crofton Beam engine
and Great Bedwyn Stone Museum.

While Maffi and I were visiting Kim and Jim we went looking for Stanley Lock on the Wilts & Berks Canal. We didn't find it, but I did like this picture of Maffi, Kim and Jim strolling down the country road:

Friday, April 03, 2009

Shameless plug - fundraising

The delightful Pip Saffin is working in Canada, and is currently training to run half a marathon (21.3km/13.1miles) in May and here is an email I received from her. I thought some of you might be interested in supporting her, so here is the email with all the info....

"I'm running with a team from The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Canada - a charity at the forefront of research and patient services. I'm sure you can see where this is going... that's right, I need your help to meet my fundraising goal! However, before I point you in the direction of my fundraising webpage let me (attempt to) explain some of my reasons behind this latest endeavour (articulation of such things is not my strong point so this may be a little jumbled).Having thought long and hard I've decided that the easiest way to explain it is that it comes down to choices. Choices are the single most important thing we have; the ability to choose and the range of choices available are what separates the rich from the poor and the healthy from the sick. Those facing a long, hard battle with blood cancer have many choices taken away from them including, in the worst cases, the choice to live. So I have chosen to run in the hope that in some small way my choice will open up choices to others who otherwise might have been denied them.'Why running?' I hear you cry, the answer here is a little simpler. Running is wonderfully humbling and very levelling. It comes down to putting one foot in front of the other for as long as you can while trying as hard as you can to find your own rhythm and enjoy it - in my eyes a perfect reflection of what we all do day in, day out. Here's the link to my page - As important as it is to me to reach my fundraising goal I am also working really hard to meet my running goals and will appreciate moral support as much as a financial commitment. I'll be sending out progress updates regularly, at the moment I'm at about the 14km mark - doing one long run each Sunday morning and 3 other training runs during the week. Thank you so much for taking the time to get through this rather long email and I really hope you'll be able to support me in this!"

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Dogs and a 'certain class of people'

Over the last few weeks there was a possibility that a dog would turn up on my door step, and I seriously considered the consequences of that. I have always excluded the idea of dog ownership on account of being at work during the day, but after extensive research I realised this was not automatically a problem. During my quest of seeing whether I would be a suitable dog owner (no comments about the goldfish please!...) I emailed some rescue centres with my details and life style, to see what they thought (although I didn't mention the dog in question).

One of the replies riled me:

"In your case we would also be concerned for the dog's vulnerability to being stolen, especially since Whippet crosses are particularly attractive to a certain class of people who desire them for hunting, & who, once they have obtained a dog by whatever means, will maltreat & discard the animal without any compunction if it proves unsuitable for their purpose"

why is a dog more likely to be stolen off a boat? And what did they mean by 'a certain class of people'. Oh I know exactly what I mean, but isn't it amazing that people consider their prejudices to be fact!

not only that but apparently "Another consideration would be the possibility of the dog suffering from heat stroke, which they can do just as easily in the confines of a boat as in a car."

That is indeed a worry; some boats are hot, but not ALL boats...! I would have thought it would be possible to get heat stroke in a house during the winter months.

As it is, it really doesn't matter.