Monday, 29 March 2010

Relaxing Day

IMG_0031We travelled down to Oxford  by bus from the end of the road. The bus service around here is excellent with buses arriving every fifteen minutes. I got my jacket potato fix in the Spa Cafe near Carfax Tower, then we meandered around the shops. We got the bus back to Sainsbury’s Superstore in Kidlington to forage for food to take back to the boat. The bus shelter was odd, it had two bars on which to park yer bum while you wait, a bit like bird perches! We didn’t mind that the afternoon was rather wet and drizzly as we relaxed aboard, reading books and of course our forums.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

More Food for thought.

IMG_0029Inside the undercover market there are many little individual specialist shops. This is one of my favourites, you are absolutely spoilt for choice of cheeses here. This afternoon Milly M passed “go” and collected some cake for tea. Maffi is on his way down to see the new bridge being put into place over the canal and catch a few images. We are looking forward to him joining us for lunch on his way back tomorrow. Quite a few boats on the move today, mainly hire boats zig-zagging their way northwards.

Friday, 26 March 2010



Oxford is awash with posh nosh places which all appeared to be busy. There are also many take-aways and people eating on the hoof. We were feeling hungry but didn’t fancy paying the high prices so went into Marks + Sparks for a snack and to use the loo. Considering all the eateries and drinkeries in the city there is a surprising lack of lavatorial facilities!

IMG_0035We drooled over these exotic rather expensive but exquisitely designed cakes in Patisserie Valerie as we passed by.

IMG_0036Then the drizzly rain set in which made this little alleyway shine. Time for a quick exit we thought.

Oxford Heads

IMG_0009We returned from a walk around the city with cricks in our necks, as nearly all the stone carved masterpieces are placed high up on the buildings. My favourite one was the Elephant. This building was also adorned with an elegant elephant weathervane.

IMG_0014 I wonder how long it took the stonemasons to carve all these spectacular heads? Anyone know what the TB might have stood  for? There were also some smaller heads along the bottom of this window.

IMG_0032 We walked along the High Street as far as the bridge and there was an abundance of heads on the building opposite the botanical gardens. I think I photographed  most of them and none of them are the same. I like the fine lines of this man and the simple little ventilator on this one. We looked down on the punts which all had a fair amount of rainwater in them, so there is still work to be done even when they are not being hired out.IMG_0010

             Some are interesting whimsical gargoyles.    

Feeling very weary we winged our way home on our bus passes. Just after the Squirrel was lit and the dinner was started it absolutely tipped with rain. how lucky was that?  The wind is gently rocking the boat and the canal has now turned brown with all the mud it is carrying south.       

Thursday, 25 March 2010


Today was a milestone, reached by many that have gone before, the using of a bus pass for the first time. I have been ‘qualified’ for a little while but had not managed to arrange for one.

So off to Oxford, a saving each way of £2:80, that’s nearly two pints of beer.smile_wink

Just a few of items that caught my eye:









If you ever visit Oxford remember to look up, there is so much to see. (lots more pictures taken but aware of bandwidth)

Just one more, especially for ‘Maffi’2010_0325Oxford0013

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Nothing Special

As the title says, ‘nothing special’ has happened in the last two days, I had a look at the engine, yesterday, it was still there, so that’s OK. Wozie went shopping, food shopping that is.

Wozie had a clear out of unwanted items, today (glad I kept out of the way or I might have been added to the pile) and took them to the charity shop, I ‘played’ with the computer, after it shut down for no apparent reason, have not found out why but now seems to be working.

Did a little ‘fishing’ with the magnet, (search for Maxigrab)** one mooring pin and one windlass and lots of rubbish, including some wire that was waiting for a ‘prop’ to go by. There were some items that would not come up, they were very large and well into the mud.

** No connection just a satisfied customer.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Tranquil reunion!

Last evening turned out to be a cosy candlelit cheese and wine party with salami and posh biscuits. Bones had thoughtfully  gathered together eight varieties of very tasty cheeses for our pure enjoyment. While we nibbled, sipped and chatted the dogs gnawed noisily on their butchers bones. We are very fond of most blue vein cheeses, the tastier the better!

Nb Tranquillity has arrived and Graham and Betty have already popped in for coffee and cake en-route to Kidlington. In addition to her knitted items Betty will now also be selling these lovely crocheted cobwebs to fit inside the portholes.


The towpaths hereabouts are rather soft and we have rescued two boats that came adrift across the canal and secured them safely back against the bank. The moles have been popping up everywhere this year, there certainly seems to be an abundance of molehills here anyway.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Another fine day you’ve got me into!

We woke up to a lovely dry sunny day again, so Bottle finished touching up all the scratched paintwork below the gunnels. He then caught up with reading his canal forums and blogs that we follow. Isn’t the internet a wonderful thing for keeping up with the news from fellow canal cruisers all over the canal system? We always look forward to reading nb Balmaha’s weekly blog and this week it is an absolute cracker!

IMG_0001 Boat knocker I went for a stroll around this morning, on one of the boats I saw this unusual door knocker which I thought was quite amusing. We have made the rather morish Boat Cake today as we have a  birthday party coming up soon. This afternoon we circumnavigated Thrupp Community Woodland with Bones, Boots, Molly and Maggie. Such a great place to walk with the dogs, along by the Cherwell, in the Cherwell and all along the meandering pathways through the trees. After which we partook of tea and cake by the fire. Tonight we have been invited aboard the good ship Bones for “cheese”.

IMG_0003 CellandineCelandines and primroses are now flowering around Shipton Church, but the Snowdrops and Aconites are still hanging on.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

What a gay day.

Bottle said he would let the squirrel go out overnight in order to sweep the chimney and flue as it has got quite thickly coated in knobbly bits. Needless to say the boat was filled with a thick cloud of soot and ash dust that has now settled on all the surfaces. I wonder who will have to clear that lot up then? We awoke to find a fairly thick frost this morning, but even so the boat was still quite warm inside.  So, with the chimney done and as our time was up on the mooring, we moved off down the canal via the services to moor temporarily by The Jolly Boatman. This beautiful sunny day got us both into working mode, so we made some ginger cake, swept and washed the roof of the boat and sawed up the wood that we’d collected. I have now finished crocheting six decorative spider webs for fitting inside portholes for Betty to sell them from their boat. It is great to be able to have the cratch cover rolled up to sit at the table in the warm sun again.


By the way, it wasn’t me whot ate all the bird’s food!

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Deddington Walkabout 2

IMG_0005 Hopcraft Deddington OxonThis drain cover set into the pavement bears the name Hopcraft and Son of Deddington Oxon to a British Standard. Would it have been cast there I wonder? I don’t know what the monogram in the middle stands for either, any guesses? It was a delightful experience exploring all the lanes and alleyways hereabouts.

IMG_0013 Snowdrops escaping

These snowdrops were escaping underneath the railings from the Churchyard. Birds and Squirrels were very bust seeking out food among the gravestones. Churchyards are great places for photographing wildlife, if it’s not too shadowy.IMG_0019

This is a row of four Almshouses tastefully built in the honey coloured Oxfordshire stone, which really seems to glow in the sunshine. I like the matching pointed windows and doors. The ironwork  railings have a wildlife theme with little owls on the fence posts and roundels, with Acorns on Oak branches, set into them. We only post small pictures on our blog, but  you can always zoom in to a picture to see the detail.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Deddington Walkabout.

Bones was driving to Deddington this morning and kindly asked me if I would like to join her and Maffi. We set off early-ish in the bright warm sunshine. While they were visiting the wood yard, I was free to womble about the village among the rich honey coloured stone cottages. There is a central Market Place with a small town hall perched over archways on one side with a listed Giles Gilbert Scot red K6 telephone box lurking behind it. Informative text, maps and pictures telling the story of the villages past are to be found on the wall underneath the arches. Opposite is the 13th Century Church of SS Peter and Paul which has eight bells. As with many of the local churchyards it was carpeted with clusters of snowdrops. There is a network of narrow lanes radiating off from the main street all around the houses, some of which cluster by little triangular greens. One of these is called Goose Green, it wouldn’t be safe to allow geese to graze there now though, as they may have done in the past. On the outskirts there are the remains of an 11 century Motte and Bailey Castle with doggy walks encircling it and a football field in the flat area in the middle.

IMG_0023 Deddington Market place

Two food shops face the Market Square The Co-op and Eagles Fresh Foods. This shop incorporates a Butchers, Fish and Delicatessen supplying all sorts of delicious goodies.

IMG_0002 Eagles Fresh Foods 

A jolly painted Butcher man stands outside to attract the customers in.

Out and About.

On Thursday Dusty came by on his fuel boat and topped us up with diesel. While Bottle was awaiting his arrival Stanley came up to entertain him playing sticks.


In the afternoon I went off on the bus pass gallivanting around Oxford gathering a few things for birthdays, the spring feeling has  now arrived.

Friday I headed off in the opposite direction to Banbury. What a roller coaster ride that was all round bow-wow land on the bus. The bus driver was amazing as we took tight corners, glided up steep narrow windy lanes through woodland and squeezed between parked cars and avoided large lorries in the pretty villages along the route. The scenery was fantastic though and you can peer over all the hedges and walls from a bus. On arrival I wandered up the canal to find nb Tranquility and was welcomed on board by Graham and Betty for coffee and to exchange news.  Graham was busy finishing off the new kitchen layout. After a quick whip round the shops I joined all the wrinklies and teenagers on the bus home. It saddens me to listen to the tsch-tsch noise coming from their ear pieces as the sit plugged into their ‘music’. I’m  thinking that when they are old, will they all be wearing hearing aids instead? As I walked back down the lane towards our boat I noticed that the Daffodils on Shipton green are flowering already.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010


It was a late start, I didn’t get out of bed till 8:45 which is late for me but normal for wozie. rose

After a shower each the tank was empty, now the water point was behind us and my reversing is not that practiced. We decided to go forward through one lift bridge and one lock, turn on the Cherwell and retrace our course to the water point. That went well with wozie steering and me for once doing the hard bit, the bridge and the lock.

There was a boat on the water point and it was Milly M (Maffi’s boat) so we had a chat whilst the tanks were filled.

Big decision, we decided to reverse to our previous mooring and it went quite well, even with the side wind.

There is an ‘acoustic session’ at the Boat Inn tonight and we shall be going, for the music and the excellent company. smile_wink

Monday, 8 March 2010

Canal Sculpture?

IMG_0005These cast iron sculptures stand alongside the wide outside Annie's Tearoom at Thrupp. The poem written along them is entitled ‘Heron’. I think that they are some of the nicer pieces that I have seen canal-side, what do you think? The electrification work on the nearby lift bridge seems to be at a standstill. I wonder if it will be completed ready for the heavy use it will get at the beginning of the imminent holiday season?


We have hung our fat balls on the low branches of the nearby  trees and the Blue Tits seem to think that they are exclusively for them and chase all the other birds away. We have seen two Robins feeding together and some endearing little long Tailed Tits, which I would like to photograph. The seeds and bread crumbs that we spread on the ground beneath seem to disappear at an alarming rate! We have yet to see who is responsible for this.

Today we boarded the bus to Oxford, had coffee in Marks and Sparks and wandered round the shops foraging for a few essentials. It is quite amazing how all the traffic manages to avoid hitting the swarms of cyclists zooming around the city.

We have been so busy in the last few days smile_winkthat we have not had time to update the blog. (Believe that and you will believe anything)

Friday saw us, sawing up some odd bits of wood we had found, all nice and dry, for the fire. I did some checks down the engine hole, the engine was still there. Transferred some diesel from the main tank to the generator tank. Maintaining a record of this just in case HMRC make a call.

Stanley from Helene of Troy popped in for a chat.


Saturday wozie walked to the Co-Op for some milk and called in on Maffi. The evening saw us all at the local with the usual group.

Sunday we knew that Maffi was helping to move three boats from his mooring up to Heyford. Link to his post. So we had to go see.

Three boats all in a row


Under the bridge and ninety degree turn left


They achieved the turn with three boats all tied together, without hitting any other boats and where many single boats have great difficulty, a skill indeed.


Thursday, 4 March 2010

Oxford and Alnwick

IMG_0032 Oxford Maill Kiosk

You don’t see many of these little kiosks around now so I took this one for you. It was in use for selling the Oxford Mail on the corner of St Ebbes Street .                    Beam me up Scottie!.


Today has been the most beautiful sunny spring day, just ideal for cruising up the canal. We walked along the towpath accompanying our friends Graham and Jane on their nb Alnwick to help out by lifting the bridge and operating Shipton Weir Lock for them.  It was brilliant to walk alongside listening to their Kelvin K3 engine as it throbbed slowly along. Once through the lock and onto the River Cherwell, Graham opened up Alnwick’s throttle and it took off upstream sounding rather like a steam train! It has been great to see them again and to find out that Jane and I spent our childhood living quite near to each other but not meeting up until now. Later on Boots called in for tea and brought his mistress with him. It’s good to see that he is training her at last! He likes righting his own blog, reading, music, running fast, snoozing and biscuits, apparently.

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Oxford Walkabout Take 3.

Well we all enjoyed our Sunday roasts and puddings at The Jolly Boatman, who have recently acquired 5 stars on the “Scores on the Doors” for their excellent food. While everyone returned to their boats for an afternoon snooze I made some boat cake to take up to nb Alnwick as Graham and Jane had invited us along with Maffi and Bones for drinks. GC (Ginger Cat) was being very sociable and allowing us to stroke him. He was a homeless cat who used to roam the railway platform, until he was adopted by Graham and Jane, now he has settled down happily to life on board. Except for the times when he forgets which side the towpath is as he jumps ship for a wander!

IMG_0003 Saxon Tower b1040

By bus from Thrupp, Oxford is about an hour away and a very busy route it is too. First of all we took a detour to Oxford Airport which is a pilots training school. The bus drops you in Magdalen Street and the first interesting old building was this Saxon Tower built in 1040. Behind it there is a Fairtrade Shop where I bought a  wooden toy for our grandson. Nearby the sound of beautiful country music was coming from a busker with an electric guitar.

IMG_0005 Oxford Castle

Next was a visit to the TIC to pick up a map of the city so as not to get lost or waste time walking the wrong way. Then a quick tour of the shops on route to Oxford Castle where the site has been used as a place of incarceration since 1071, continuing as an HM Prison until it’s closure in 1996. The site has been preserved and open to the visitors since 2006 and I went on one of their guided tours. This building in the foreground was the 18th century Debtors' Tower and prison D-Wing. The other square building behind is the Saxon, St George's Tower which visitors can climb about 100 steps up the spiral stone stairs to enjoy the views from the top.

IMG_0015 view from St Georges Tower

After much puffing and blowing this is what we saw. The mound on the left is where the 11 century Motte and Bailey Castle stood. The vaulted Well Chamber entrance can still be seen if you climb to the top of the mound. We then descended to explore the deathly quiet 900 year old crypt where some people have had ghostly experiences. Our guide left us in D-Wing, in one of the inmates cells, so that we may explore the rest of the exhibits on our own.

IMG_0048 Quarter Boys Carfax Tower Clock

Back to the city centre crossroads where St Martins Church was demolished in 1896 leaving only the tower standing. It is known as Carfax Tower and this is the 17th century Quarterboys Clock which was moved onto the east side of the tower in 1898. In the late 1800’s a horse drawn tramway system operated from Carfax Tower, which is still popular central meeting place. The bells are still in situe and are wrung on special occasions. I climbed the 100 or so steps up the metal spiral stairway to heaven to emerge among the white clouds in a deep blue sky.

My return trip was an hour later than planned as I missed the bus. I was waiting in the appropriate bus shelter but a double decker was obscuring my view of the No 59 which had loaded with passengers and followed the other bus out without stopping at it’s own post! Needless to say I was rather exhausted after all this. We are now moored at Shipton after visiting the services en-route. We noticed that the River Cherwell is running rather fast and has flooded over it’s banks in places.