Wednesday, 26 November 2014

A Frosty Start

Hi There

Well we've had a good run of mild weather, but I suppose winter was always going to find us !

First sub-zero temperature of this winter, about -2 I think it was, with the resulting morning frost.

Can't take the credit for this photo, it was taken by our son Aaron

And so in signing off,

Day 691 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1379 miles, 675 locks and 723 cruising hours further on from when we started.

Friday, 21 November 2014

Well I'm Back

Hi there

Well, actually, I haven't been away, just AWOL on the blogging scene that probably won't come as much of a surprise to my regular readers of my non-regular blog.  . . . . .

I have got a new toy call a hudl that is a tesco tablet. I don't find the keyboard as easy to use as it is on a laptop, but luckily enough I can just talk and it types in what i'm saying, which I have to say is quite good. Whilst my laptop is still alive I find I can only get about an hour's use out of a full battery. It is less of a problem in the summer when there is plenty of light for the solar panels, but in the winter months we need to charge up whilst travelling and sometimes we don't travel enough. As we can only use it for about an hour we can also only watch part of a film, part of football match or formula 1 if we watch over the Internet before having to plug it in to charge it up again. 

And so far, at the price of £129, it seems like it is a very good buy.

Anyway, back on to the boating bits and to bring you up to date on what has been happening and where we are now.

Having been so long it's a bit like a time warp going back over these 'old photos' that reminds me that I keep meaning to go back to the start of my blog to reminisce one day.

Benji getting bored when we were Skyping one day, all they could see was a hairy chin.

When we eventually got down to Oxford Nicky's mum came for a visit and here they are before they set off on their day out around Oxford, whilst I was allowed to stay home alone with The Boys ☺. Well I say stayed home, but I took The Boys for a quick walk that ended up as about five miles of the River Thames and that was one way. . . . . . .

And here they are with a have to be done selfie whilst on their open top bus tour.

When I was allowed to join them on one of their outings we came across this item sticking out of the water. Any guesses at what it is.

Unfortunately for the chap in the punt it was his pole that got stuck in the mud and was left behind. Not wishing to embarras the guy further we quickly moved on (NOT) and just stood there watching him paddle back to retrieve it.

No photo or video, but there was one other couple that had given up on the punting and decided to just paddle, unfortunately for them something had got lost in translation and one was paddling forwards whilst the other was paddling backwards! I wonder if they're still there.

Grooming time for Binks.

But Benji prefers to take his lying down.

Getting cooler so the stove is starting to go on now for a few hours and here is our tea cooking in the ash tray. Jacket potatoes if any one is confused.

Nearly off the Oxford Canal now, having spent about five weeks on it and have to say it is a very pretty and rural canal. Food wise though, if you are planning a trip, Banbury is the only place where there are proper supermarkets so be sure to stock up. So here's our mooring spot for our last night and with a probably well photographed wind mill in the centre of the picture.

And a close up to make it a little easier to see.

We have hummed and haared (don't know if this is how it is spelt but hopefully you'll know what I mean) about getting a 'pram hood' for Badger Sett since we brought it and finally decided that we would. We think we have got about four more years before we would have completed the whole network and sell Badger Sett and felt that we needed to get it now or not at all as they are not cheap to buy.

For anybody who is wondering, the next instalment of our travels will see us move from boat to motorhome and swap England for Europe, but that's a couple of years and a few blogs away yet. That is unless I get my way and do 50/50 now with the summer here and the winter away, but the boss is saying no at the moment.

Oh what to do when there are two dogs and only one patch of sun.

We clocked up our second year of living aboard on 4th October so had our anniversary meal at a place called the Blue Lias on the Grand Union Canal. Our last anniversary was spent way up north on the Lancaster Canal and there was me thinking that we didn't travel far. And look, they even put the flags out for us. . . .

Okay then, not funny, who took the water away last night?

Ended up securing extra ropes in the night to help us not go over, but in the end the bottom was fairly level so it was okayish, although some stuff was falling off shelves.

Took a walk up the Hatton Flight with our friends Alan and Tina from Jersey who came to stay with us for a week in Warwick. Still good weather for November.

Dragonfly sculpture just off to the side of one of the top locks.

Looks like The Boys have had a better offer so we are dogless tonight.

And of course, the Narrow Boat game had to come out. Guess who won, yes Alan, guess who came last, yes again . . . .me 😬

Don't know if it was the boring company or too much beer (probably the latter), but it's forty winks time for me.

Warwick Castle on another glorious November day.

And that just about brings us up todate and finds us moored at Lapwoth where we are meeting our son Aaron and his girlfriend Emma tomorrow who are staying with us for a week.

And after that it will be a quick chug to Alvechurch Marina where we are leaving Badger Sett whilst we go back home for a month over Christmas and the New Year. I will endeavour to get a post done before we go back and then a year end roundup when we are back home.

And so in signing off,

Day 687 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1377 miles, 645 locks and 718 cruising hours further on from when we started.

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Still on the Oxford Canal

Hi There

Well the dry and sunny spell continues and let’s just hope we won’t end up paying the price with a wet and miserable winter.

Currently writing this blog offline as for the first time since I can remember, maybe almost as long as we’d changed from a Three dongle to a Three MiFi almost two years ago, we can’t get a signal (we’re moored just north of Upper Heyford on the Oxford Canal) and the same goes for the phone. Can’t really complain though, as we have found the Three coverage to be excellent on the whole.

The River Cherwell crosses the Oxford canal just above Aynho Lock, well I say crosses, but it more merges into the pound between the locks and flows out the other side. There are warning indicator boards at these locks with green as okay to travel, amber be aware or red don’t go, but all was pretty mild as we went through.

To the right is where the River Cherwell comes into the pound, on the left you can see the barriers protecting boats from the arched weir itself where you would be pushed towards at times of flood and today, Badger Sett making her way towards it.

The Aynho Lock itself is a little different from normal as whilst it’s got a single narrow lock gate, you can actually get more than one boat in so I suppose in a way it’s a double lock. First one of it’s kind we’ve come across and shared it down with another boat. Don't worry, I haven't suddenly aged, this was just the chap that was setting the lock when we arrived.

Our friends, Chris and Maralyn, came to visit us again and kindly picked up some milk and fruit on the way as we were getting low. Chris also brought us one of his freshly baked cakes and with Nicky having baked some scones and a fruit tea cake I’ve been left hoovering up an abundance of cakes the last few days. Oh well, hell of a job, but someone’s got to do it and I don’t of course let Nicky eat too much as I’m watching her weight for her.

Whilst Chris and Maralyn were here we got out our Narrowboat Game and forced them to have a one week holiday with us (that’s a once round the board game) and wouldn’t you believe it, beginners luck, Maralyn won so I’ve played three times now and lost all three times.

There is a deep lock at Somerton that is for some strange reason called Somerton Deep Lock ! and is shown as a 12’ drop.

Coming into the lock from above is business as usual and as an aside, the house doesn't have a road as it's just surrounded by fields. When we went through the lock the guy was on his daily commute in a little narrowboat from the bottom of his garden to the next road bridge.

You can get an idea of the drop from below the bottom gate.

Then from inside the empty lock, whose ladder I wouldn’t fancy having to climb up to get out to open the lock gate and reminds me why I’ve brought Nicky along with me to travel around the network.

And that’s job done and onwards with today’s journey.

Benji looking as photogenic as ever, even though I was taking a photo of the church in the background, but he doesn’t need to know that so I won’t upset him by telling him he wasn’t actually the focus of the photo.

We’ve been moored up just above Upper Heyford for a few days, which is where the Internet signal was bad, so we’d have moved on by the time this blog is posted. We went for a walk a bit further down the canal,

which continues to be very rural and scenic along the way and above is the lift bridge at Lower Heyford. When we travelled down a few days later Nicky found the bridge a bit Tricky, oh that rhymed well didn't it so now I guess I'm a poet and didn't know it, oops there I go again. Anyway back to Nicky's Tricky Bridge story, the bridge wasn't evenly balanced so it was weighted to close and took her a bit of time to get it up (no smutty minds please) and had to then sprawl across it just to keep it from drooping dropping back down.

Spotted a ‘Jersey’ narrowboat, but we were told by the boat moored in front that they had gone to the pub and it had moved when we passed by later. We’ll keep an eye out for them in case they double back our way.

This chap was having a having a bit of a groom and a flapping session although the best flapping was going on when we got there and then as we were walking up the canal so could only get a wing opening / flutter photo.

We also came across a snake (dark green with yellow markings) that I’m assuming was either a grass snake or an Adder, that slithered across the path in front of us and a bit too quick for a photo. Just glad The Boys were dragging behind as I don't know what they'd have made of it and whether a sniff would have got them bitten.
That's all for now, been making the best of the weather to do some work on the outside of the boat so after a few hours a day we've not really felt like moving on all that much.

And so in signing off, and a slight addition to my normal log as I've decided to actually include our cruising hours now,

Day 625 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1292 miles, 545 locks and 660 cruising hours further on from when we started.


Friday, 12 September 2014

South Oxford Canal

Hi There

Well after a busy month for us in August, we've managed to slip back into our normal and preferred routine and have cruised for 8 hours and clocked up 10 miles in 11 days, lovely. . . . . .

Finding those nice peaceful places with a nice outlook. This one is about twenty minutes south of Cropredy.

 Where the boys can have a snooze and watch the world go by,

Only being disturbed by the odd passing cow, until . . . .

They get splashed by some passing canoes,

 And it suddenly gets busy.

When our friends Steve and Angela came over, we played a game called Sequence with them that we quite enjoyed so we managed to pick one up in Banbury. The game is like Connect where you need to make a sequence of your coloured counters, but you can only place your counters on the board from the playing cards you hold in your hand. We first played it as a team game with three teams of two, but it's just as good with just the two of us. Something else for the long evenings in the winter that are coming our way.

On the move to our next mooring and weren't willow trees overhanging canals just made for a summers day, well September actually and long may it last.

Moored up here between two lift bridges just down from Banbury.

Plenty of open fields for The Boys last walk of the day, we call it a Wizz Bang for some reason, but don't know why though, with the plan being to tire them out for the night.

Well, it worked on Binks.

It doesn't really look like it in the photo, but the moon looked larger than usual,

And was picking up some of the colours of the sun set behind us.

Thought at first that this was a micro-light, but. . . .

Turned out to be a guy with a parachute, or are they called para-gliders? with a propeller strapped to his back. He used to go east in the morning and west in the evening. I wonder if he was commuting to work, well I can think of a lot worse ways to travel.

On the move again and passing Twyfords Wharf and stop about twenty minutes further on.

King Suttons church in the background and where once again . . . . .

The Boys can have a snooze or watch the world go by, whilst looking after mum whose . . . .

Reading the first of the Hunger Games Trilogy.

She's currently into trilogy's having speed through the Fifty Shades of Grey set in record time and leaves me worrying about what's in her mind when the lights go out at night. I won't say watch this space though, as some things are probably best left out of blogs. . . . .

And so in signing off,

Day 616 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1280 miles and 538 locks further on from when we started.