Thursday, 30 December 2010

All change.


Even though we have had a thaw and most of the lovely crisp white stuff along the towpath has changed to soft squidgy brown mud, there is still a thick layer of ice on the canal.

A few days ago we noticed a pair of human footprints along the edge of the canal, so it, or they, were thick enough! It is nice to be able to walk normally once out on the roadside and go to the shops.

We had a very nice cosy quiet Christmas here onboard Oakfield, we had our family visiting on Tuesday and we all unwrapped our presents. We ate some of those scrumptious Cornish Pasties for lunch that we got from the Farmers Market in Rugby. 

Now that our grandson is walking he has become very inquisitive and opened every door to see what was behind it. He has new shoes with flashing red led’s in the heels, he does a little dance to show them off. Although it was a brilliant day we were quite exhausted when we collapsed into bed that night.

On one part of the canal that is defrosted and crystal clear Bottle spotted a Sea Searcher Magnet on the bottom and went back later to fish it out with his Maxi Grab. Now we will have one each when we go fishing, hooray!

I am wearing my new thermal socks and they are very warm and comfortable. Bottle had a Rubik’s Slide puzzle for Christmas and he is driving me mad with the continuous electronic musical sounds and bleeps.

We are looking forward to nb Piston Broke’s next update and that Lynne will be posting some images of the new engine. I hope she won’t keep us in suspenders for too much longer!

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Greetings Readers.


We hope that you are enjoying a safe, warm cosy Christmas day as we are. We have a reading of minus 6  out in our cratch this morning so have stoked up the squirrel a bit higher. The image above  is one of Bottles which we looked up in the bird book that our daughter gave us. It is a Redwing, there has been a small flock of them on the opposite bank eating the remaining Hawthorn berries all week. On Thursday we took the bus up to Rugby Farmers Market especially to visit the Gales Farm stall to buy some of their delicious pasties. They are just like the ones I used to make, very tasty, with plenty of meat and vegetables, so we are well stocked up with those now. When we popped into Asda for a few bits’ we unexpectedly bumped into Lynne and Paul, so we joined them for breakfast at Wetherspoons which was very nice. Yesterday I went to Daventry mooching about and to search for some more books. Before leaving I asked Bottle if he had got me a present, and he hadn’t. So, he said, while you are in town you better buy one for yourself! Men are so thoughtful aren’t they?  I gave him Whisky and chocolates and I had managed to find a Guinness cap for him to replace the one that blew off and sank in the canal. I started a boat cake off before I went and to my surprise he was putting it in the oven when I got back.


Here is one of our three visiting Robins, we also have Blackbirds who are at the top of the pecking order that chase off all the others. most of the morning has been spent on the phone chatting to friends and family. Later today we will be having a small roast dinner for a change, followed by ‘Boat Cake’ with custard, maybe and a large snifter tonight to keep us warm. Take care everyone, will post again soon.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

More snow.


It was nice to welcome Paul and Lynne aboard for coffee yesterday when they came to buy a few things from the chandlers.They still have quite a lot of work to do on their newly stretched boat and I think they are glad to be out on the canal again at long last! Today we were looking forward to meeting up with our friends for our Christmas get together in Rugby, but we woke up to more snow. We’ve got about six inches now and from our mooring we could see that the traffic was creeping gingerly along the road. So, unfortunately we had to forego our trip as we weren’t sure if we could get there and back safely.


These pictures are taken from Braunston Junction, one looking down the Oxford Canal towards the turnover bridge, the other under bridge 94 towards our boat. There has been quite a bit of activity as people had to come to replenish their water supplies.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Bridges in the snow.

IMG_0003 Gongoozlers Rest Hepzibah

This is one of three cast iron bridges in Braunston that were made at the Horseley Iron Works in c1830. Looking out from the marina entrance are two little boats, Hephzibah and the friendly Gongoozlers Rest Cafe. If you are in search of a good English Breakfast with a mug of hot tea and want to find out what is going on in the locality, this is the place to be. You have to watch your drink though when other customers come aboard. Last week the little boat ‘Hebe’ was circling around here breaking up the ice to great effect, but I think it has got thicker now.

IMG_0007 The Admiral Nelson

The Admiral Nelson stands at the end of a long narrow lane overlooking Lock No 3, which is very busy with customers in the summer watching the boats locking by. The farmer drives over this bridge on his tractor to take his animals their fodder. The temperature has not been above zero today, so we have spent the day onboard keeping warm.

Sunday, 19 December 2010


IMG_0013 walkers         IMG_0012 Lonesome Pine

This afternoon I went for a long circular walk in the crisp clean snow. Every scene seems more spectacular silhouetted against the snow somehow. I started off along the towpath past boats with curls of smoke above their chimneys, I like the sweet smell of wood smoke. The entrance to the marina was crossed all over with patterns of ducks footprints in the snow that had settled on top of the ice. I popped into the little Boat Shop beside the lock and then on up past the Admiral Nelson Inn and back along the footpath through the fields. The farmer had fed his sheep and cattle and they were munching on their hay. I met quite  a few people and dogs enjoying their afternoon strolls, and a boy was sledging down the field.

IMG_0028 Sunset       IMG_0030 Moonrise

Through the village and down the footpath back towards the canal there was a lovely sunset on my left and the moon had risen on the right. As we sit here we can hear the ice crackling all around the boat to hold it in its firm grip overnight. It is quite amazing how the steelwork expands and contracts making extraordinary sounds in extremes of weather.

Saturday, 18 December 2010


IMG_0058 MouseToday we stayed in being cosy by the fire listening to ‘Sounds of the Sixties’ as we ate our breakfast. We are conserving our water by using wet wipes, I’m washing my hair in the sink and we are only having a shower when we really need one. When I looked through the porthole our mouse was outside looking all forlorn because the seed dish was empty. After I fed her she obliged by posing for photographs, I think there must be more than one though! I have a small Canon Power Shot A590 with a 4 x optical zoom, which I am still learning to use. I was quite pleased with today’s results though. We also had many feathered creatures pecking at our fat balls which have been replenished several times.

IMG_0051 Mouse

Well the temperature is due to plummet down to –8 or –9 overnight soon. So take care and don’t forget to feed the wild creatures who are having a hard time finding food at the moment.

Friday, 17 December 2010


IMG_0008 Victoria

Today we left in a snow flurry for the bus stop and by the time we arrived in Daventry the snow was about an inch thick. We met up for coffee with our friends Graham and Betty. Then we popped into Tesco’s, by then the sun had appeared and began to melt the snow a bit, but it was still extremely cold. Apparently the G02 bus from Banbury was held up by an accident, so we had a longer wait for the No 10 to come along. By then our feet were frozen to the concrete and our bums almost welded to the metal bus shelter seat! Anyway we got back OK in time to see a boat crunching it’s way through the ice towards Hillmorton. It was ‘Victoria’ creeping along. Once she had stopped and had her cargo moved towards the back to lower the propeller deeper into the water she set off a bit faster. I quickly got my camera to take a few shots of her underway.

IMG_0009 Victoria

Our fuel boat ‘Gosty Hill’ has had three attempts to get underway in that direction, but had to reverse back. I wonder if Victoria will make it to Hillmorton before dusk? Another one has just gone past, it is to dark to be able to see its name.

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Since the weekend we have been taking advantage of the lull in the weather and zooming about on our bus passes. Saturday saw us meet up with Paul and Lynne for a snack and a chat in Wetherspoons.

They were eager to leave the boatyard at Grantham's Bridge where they have been for the last umpteen weeks. Hooray, today they made it out to moor on the canal, although they still cannot move on because of the  thick ice, boo.

Braunston Locks are free from ice but there are still icebergs floating around, with ducks on them. A couple of boats have been able to move a short distance to get fuel etc from the marina.

On Monday I had a trip to Daventry seeking out more reading material and managed to buy a flat hose for £2 as an extra attachment to reach the water point.

Tuesday we travelled to Sainsbury’s at Rugby. The store has been greatly enlarged since we visited last year. The restaurant upstairs was very warm and welcoming where we killed time having coffee waiting for the hourly bus.

Yesterday I joined the hoards in Banbury to seek out the last Christmas gifts. Morrison's restaurant was packed to the gunnels with hungry folks, including me supping my favourite Carrot and Coriander soup. While I was out gallivanting Bottle was busy topping up our water tank and helping the others to do the same. Kathy also came along from A.J.Canopies with the cover she has made for our side hatch, it will let in extra light without letting the rain in.

Today we popped into Daventry to get some hose fittings and also ended up buying some little LED multicoloured lights at Homebase, half price.

Who knows what tomorrow will bring, the weather is getting colder once again! Hope you’re all staying cosy and warm, except for those who are in Australia who may need to chill!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Friday, 10 December 2010

Day off today.

We toddled carefully along the towpath as there were still icy patches. Although the canal looks thawed in places it is an illusion with melt water  covering over the top of the ice. While we were in Gongoozlers enjoying our fried breakfast the small converted push tug called Hebe was dashing about in the marina breaking up the thick ice sheets. I think the ducks appreciated it and they also stood alongside the boat watching us through the windows as we ate. We popped into Rugby to buy a few things and caught a double decker bus home. Reliving our childhood we sat in the front seats on the upper deck. After going over several speed bumps and having to hang on and duck as trees bashed along the side, we were quite relieved when we arrived back intact!

IMG_0018   IMG_0017

The boat was beautifully warm as we settled down with a hot drink, Bottle on his forum and me doing some more work on my rag rug. I bought the sacking material and rugging hook for £5 down in Leighton Buzzard, but wasn’t getting on very well with it. I then resorted to a using a crotchet hook which wasn’t much quicker. While mooching around the charity shops I found a wooden handled tool with a metal loop set into the end of it. This speeds up threading the rag strips through as it can all be done from the top side, phew! So, I’m chopping up all our old T-shirts to use, and even one of Bottles good ones by mistake. Graham says he will save all his old underpants for me too, ha, ha! I will probably have it finished by next winter if I can find enough material, so save all your old T-shirts for me please. As you can see we have already struggled to put the Christmas Tree up, so we are all set for the festive season now.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Community Spirit

IMG_0002 Oakfield

Today many of us were running out of water having been here for over two weeks now. Ian on nb Kara Sea slung his hosepipe over the icy canal and hooked up to the water tap opposite. After filling his tank John joined his hose  onto it and did the same, then it was our turn. The three boats further up by bridge 89 had to trundle theirs along in containers in wheelbarrows. Anyway we all helped and the job was completed before the chill set in around tea-time. I was glad that I had my warm fleecy green coat to keep all my bits warm, although our feet, and hands, got chilled standing on the icy path to continually fill all the many water carriers. Living among continuous cruisers is rather like like living in a small village, everyone seems friendly and keen to help one another. I can recommend the spiced berry cordial mixed with gin, or as a drink with hot water added, as a winter warmer! The birthday boy has been too busy today to celebrate so we may call into the boat cafe ‘Gongoozlers Rest’ for a BIG breakfast tomorrow. Bottle would like to thank everyone who sent birthday greetings. We hear that the ‘other’ birthday boy was working hard today too, cheers Paul and see you soon to celebrate with a few beers!

IMG_0003We are glad that we have an extra duvet and new fleecy waffle cover to snuggle down under cosy and warm at night. Some mornings the bungs are frozen to the windows, even though we have double glazed portholes. The ice is so thick over the canal now it will probably take several days for it to thaw out.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Winter Wonderland

IMG_0008 frosty feather tree

This photo of the ‘icy feather tree’ is one I took yesterday as the winter wonderland has disappeared with today’s sunshine. The canal remains thickly frozen though, even under the bridges now! Our neighbour recorded a temperature of -8* overnight. When I went shopping in Daventry it was as though the bus was travelling through Santa’s Grotto with the frost twinkling over everything. Luckily the roads have kept dry, and therefore ice free, so far. 

IMG_0009  jasmine    IMG_0011

It seems strange to see the Jasmine flowering up in the village in such freezing conditions. All the Christmas cards have been posted and I have bought some ‘duvet’ mittens which are a great success when carrying the shopping bags home.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

What a Wonderful World

Wozie took a few photo’s yesterday, like a lot of other people/boaters no doubt.

IMG_0003 nb Empire








IMG_0005 Gosty Hill


IMG_0006 field path

Saturday, 4 December 2010


Well here we are all firmly iced in again, but a little earlier than last year!

Fortunately we visited the services before we became stuck on this mooring.

Luckily, Gosty Hill also came by and stocked us up with diesel and coal too.

Although nothing is moving on the canals the roads are still pounding with traffic.

We caught the bus into Rugby to meet up with Piston Broke and Tranquility crews for coffee and a chat.

Piston Broke was meant to have had it’s ‘stretch’ all finished by now and mooring by us.

Let’s hope that it won’t be too much longer for them now, fingers crossed!

There is only a thin covering of nice dry snow here, so walking around is not too slippery.

The many footprints on the canal were made by Moorhens, Ducks and Canada Geese as they skated by in search of food.

They are able to drink and dabble under the bridges as no ice has formed there.

We have put food out for the birds, but also had a tiny furry visitor eating from our dish


Braunston Stop House and Gogoozlers Rest.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

We are alive.

A quick update, the laptop went blank, this lasted a month and cost a few pennies to fix.
Still updating programs etc. did lose a few items, nothing life threatening just annoying.

Iced in but very lucky had just emptied the 'black' tank and filled 'fresh' tank, coal boat (Gosty Hill)  arrived next day (breaking ice) and filled empty diesel tank and coal bunker.

Saturday, 30 October 2010

Our trip via public transport.

Armed with our Travel Cards we set off at 9.40am from Paddington underground on the District Line to Wimbledon.

IMG_0001 tram from Wimbledon

A short walk took us to board the tram for Croydon. It was a wonderful first trip for us on one of these. It wended it’s way through the colourful autumnal countryside, then out into the busy streets of Croydon amongst all the traffic. Amazingly the driver only had to use the horn once, to alert a chap who was walking along the tramline, of what was behind him!


The tram stops right outside East Croydon Rail Station on a level with the pavement with only an  inch gap between the two as you step off. That’s precision for you! We went to catch the bus nearby for the rest of the journey.

IMG_0006            IMG_0011 Grants frontage








As the London buses are quite frequent we didn’t have long to wait. The building on the right was just part of the ornate frontage to a posh department store called ‘Grants’. A few years ago it was going to be demolished, but they had the foresight to keep the unique frontage. This was achieved by supporting the front wall with scaffolding while they attached the new-build  shops cleverly behind it. This was probably a very expensive operation, but the end product is very appealing. Sorry the image is a bit fuzzy, but the upstairs front window of the bus was rather dusty.

IMG_0012 The Edge

There are still a few nice old timber framed buildings surviving among all the new concrete shops and offices. After a short walk from the bus we arrived to visit Bottles parents who greeted us with a much needed coffee. Anyway the Travel Card saw us complete our journey in two hours with hardly any waiting in-between the changeovers, luvely jubbly!

We spent a lovely day with them catching up on all the family news . When we left Bottles Dad accompanied us to the bus stop to wave us off.

A little information for anyone visiting London and planning to use public transport, if you have a bus pass (over 60’s) then it can only be used on the busses. To use the Underground, Docklands Light Rail and Trams then either an ‘Oyster’ or ‘Travel’ card is required. Ours (Travel)cost £7.50 (each) for unlimited travel for one day after 09:30 on all forms of transport. The tfl. (Transport for London) office at Victoria Rail Station were very helpful.

Thursday, 28 October 2010


Today we thought we would go by shanks pony across the parks over The Serpentine Bridge to the Natural History Museum.

IMG_0003 Monkshood

We were surprised to see Monkshood in bloom with the Bumble Bees busy squeezing themselves into all the flowers. We crossed the bridge over the Serpentine to see the Princess Diana Fountain which was busy with families enjoying themselves.


           IMG_0024 Albert

Leaving Hyde Park we crossed over into Kensington Gardens and saw the memorial that Queen Victoria had erected for her husband Prince Albert.


On all four corners of the monument there were interesting animal groups. A Bull, a Buffalo, a Camel and this Elephant which was my favourite. Albert sits facing the Royal Albert Hall which is a very spectacular building.

IMG_0028 Rpyal Albert Hall

Moving on we passed another building with an ornate frontage which was The Royal College of Organists.

IMG_0031 Royal College of Organists     IMG_0040 Natural History Museum

Eventually we arrived at the Natural History Museum only to find that the queue was about a mile long! Well I suppose it is a popular venue for the half term holidays. Anyway, we didn’t fancy spending the rest of the afternoon stood in a queue so tried the Science Museum where we were able to go straight in.

IMG_0049 Rover

We managed to cover half of the ground floor before stopping for a well earned cup of coffee and a rest. There were all types of ancient transport and industrial engineering displays. This old Rover with aluminium bodywork was one of Bottles favourites. It was the first Jet Car to be built, I wouldn’t mind a spin round in that, would you? After seeing the other half we thought we had better leave the other five floors for another time.

IMG_0061 Squirrel perch     IMG_0065 view from cratch

There were plenty of Squirrels bounding about in the park eating and busy burying their winter hoards of nuts. We arrived back at Oakfield to find that we had a new neighbour. This is now the view from our cratch.


On Wednesday we ambled across Hyde Park to Victoria Station to pick up train/bus maps and find out about Oyster Cards at the information centre there. The chap was very helpful said it would be cheaper to buy a Travel Card for £7.50 each so we can travel by Train, Underground, Tram or Bus anywhere in a day. We thought this was very good value and easy to use as you just show it to the machine as you enter and depart, anyway we will see how we get on!

IMG_0001 Paddington Station This is Paddington Station which is still under wraps as it’s restoration continues. There are fourteen platforms here and people are swarming in and out of here like ants all day long.   

IMG_0007 Barkleys Cycle Hire                IMG_0008 101








We noticed that there are many racks of these bicycles sponsored by Barkley’s for hire quite cheaply. They seem to be in use quite frequently by riders with nerves of steel weaving amongst the busy traffic.  I rather liked this round building, but wouldn’t want the bill for cleaning all the protruding windows. 

IMG_0018 Hyde Park Garden Mews    IMG_0006 London Eye          

On the left is the lovely cobbled lane that is Hyde Park Garden Mews. Once stables for horses and carriages, but now a very desirable place to live these days, as it is peaceful with no through traffic. The Millennium Wheel or London Eye was just visible in the distance from Hyde Park.                        

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Bulls Bridge to London.

Tuesday was  one of those cold grey ‘missley’ days as we set off from Bulls Bridge up the Paddington Arm.

IMG_0002 Engineers Wharf We passed many wharves which were probably bustling with activity in the past. Like Engineers Wharf, many of them have been made into residential complexes now.

IMG_0010 Footbridge         IMG_0011 feeding time

This new footbridge was a complicated metal structure, put in ahead of yet another new development. Someone didn’t finish their sandwiches at lunchtime and flung then into the canal causing birdie mayhem. We passed over the buzz of traffic on The North Circular Aqueduct which also passes over the River Brent.     

IMG_0019 autumn leaves IMG_0018 Kensal Green gasometer

The trees are beginning to change into their Autumnal colours in places. This stretch of the canal is a very industrious area still, with Acton Power Station, Old Oak Wharf recycling centre, Old Oak Common Railway Depot (a sort of graveyard for trains) and North Pole where Euro Star trains are maintained. The three gasometers seemed to be rather low. (No it’s no leaning that was me). We then passed Kensal Green Cemetery where Isambard Kingdom Brunel is a permanent resident.

IMG_0025  canoe storage idea This is where the old and the new can be seen together. I like the canoe stored on the wall overhanging the canal, I wonder if it gets launched from up there? There’s no prize for guessing how many chimneys are atop this row of houses though!

IMG_0029 Gone

Someone was having a smashing time today and completely demolished this little hut while we were cruising slowly past.