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.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

As Seen on TV (Maybe . . . . )

Hi There

Well, a little claim to fame happened at Banbury on the South Oxford Canal yesterday in the shape of Timothy West and Prunella Scales who were filming for their next Great Canal Journey's series.

I normally have the camera handy at the back when underway, but sods law prevailing, I didn't yesterday so I've just downloaded this photo from the Internet.

I passed them as they were getting ready to cast off and were being filmed as I chugged slowly past so who knows, watch this space . . . . They were last seen heading towards Oxford, so if you're down that way, keep an eye out for them.

I was by myself at the time as Nicky was at the supermarket and I was moving closer to meet her so her claim to fame will have to remain as meeting me for now.

And so in signing off,

Day 612 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1278 miles and 537 locks further on from when we started.

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

Legs and Boots

Hi There

Well there was a time that when Nicky said she was going to get her 'legs and boots' on to go out for the evening (and sometimes if I was lucky) when we were just staying in . . . . .  then it certainly did it for me. Now though, I'm not sure if her version of  'legs and boots' on the wrong side of middle age actually works for me like it did.

But anyway, enough of Nicky and her decline  slide  march  graceful plumet towards fifty and onto some boaty bits.

Well, since we've got back to the boat at the beginning of August we've barely stopped. We were due to meet our friends Steve and Angela who had hired a boat and set off on a gruelling journey (well for us anyway) to meet up with them that saw us travel down the Ashby Canal, some of the Coventry Canal, the North Oxford Canal, a bit of the Grand Union Canal and then down some of the South Oxford Canal to Cropredy. In those nine days we travelled 29.75 hours, 67.75 miles (that is normally a months worth of cruising for us) and 23 locks.

During this time we'd also become Mr and Mrs Sociable and met up with Paul Smith and Sally, Paul runs the website 'Living on a Narrowboat' ( ) that I've got and still get loads of information from and is certainly the place to visit if you're a would be or existing boater. We'd then also met up with Clinton and Sharon from narrowboat Tacet that they'd recently brought and spent an afternoon and evening with them.

Oh for a rest, not, as we then travelled with Steve and Angela back to Rugby so it was back up the South Oxford Canal, some of the Grand Union canal and part of the North Oxford Canal and in these three days we'd travelled for 18.25 hours, 39.75 miles and 22 locks and that's more than half a months worth of cruising for us.

Anyway, that aside, we had a good few days with them and needless to say we ate and drank too much during this time.

Here we are in convoy, with Steve in front on his hire boat 'Wild Goose'.

Steve and Angels's daughter Chantel at the Hill Morton Locks.

Group photo of us, Steve and Angela in the middle and then Brandon and Chantel.

Steve and Brandon in The Folly pub at Napton where we had a really nice meal and Angela in the background and at the bar where you'll normally find her !

And yours truly with Steve and rather empty pints of Old Hooky. Two photo's being taken at the same time, hence the looking in different directions.

It's bad enough around hire bases/marinas when they moor their boats two abreast and even worse when numpties then decide to moor right opposite making life more difficult than it needs to be.

And whilst on the topic of numpties, don't moor a wide beam right next to a bridge and definitely don't more a wide beam right next to a bridge in a narrow section of canal. Luckily the oncoming boats were kind enough to hold back for me or it would have been interesting.

Certainly busier down south than we found it up north. . . .

Early morning at Braunston and looking towards the junction with the Grand Union Canal.

So having seen Steve and Angela off, we headed back down to Braunston where we were getting our boat serviced by a friend of ours Chris. Chris was the chap who fitted our solar panel system a couple of years back and we've stayed in touch with him and his wife Marilyn since then and try to catch up if we are in their area or if they are in ours with their caravan. He also sorted out an electrical problem we had and took a look at our hot water cylinder that had started to leak, but unfortunately it was on its way out so we decided to change it that he duly did the following weekend. Just as well though as once we'd got it out it was actually worse than we'd thought and would no doubt have given up completely at some point and flooded our boat. What a job getting it out though as you had to take the wall down to get to it and in order to take the wall down you had to take the stairs out as well, but six or seven hours later that was job done.

I'd certainly recommend Chris, whose fits out boats from shells as a living, services engines, obviously installs solar power systems where we had come across him and pretty much anything else in between. He lives around Peterborough, but does travel and the likes of Braunston is within his commuting distance. Actually thinking about it, he came up to Audlem in Cheshire where we were based to fit our solar panels so maybe he would travel further depending on the job. From some of the experiences we've had previously with work done on our boat and given the choice, I'd only want Chris to work on our boat and should you be looking for anybody then give him a try. His mobile number is 07899 905548 or E-mail him at .

Sunset overlooking Napton Reservoirs up by Calcutt Top Lock where we'd stopped on the way through to meet Paul and Sally again and this time being well fed and watered on their narrowboat James.

Make do repairs on one of the Napton Locks, no doubt to be worked on as part of their winter stoppages program. Unfortunately they've only got one gate paddle working, assumingly to reduce the impact on the weakened area of the lock and therefore takes an age to empty.

Nice scenic set of locks at Napton with some nice places to moor in between as some of the locks are spaced quite a bit apart. We stopped for the night between bridge 116 and lock 14 where there is space for about three boats before you get to the mooring bollards.

During this time we also had visitors who stopped with us for the night in the shape of our friends Lloyd and Sue from Jersey. We weren't sure if Sue was going to like our chosen lifestyle of living on a narrowboat, but she absolutely loved it and can fully understand why we enjoy it so much.

Lloyd in control, even though my mother-in-law can do way better than his poor effort of steersmanship. We'll just have to get him back for some practice.

And Lloyd and Sue having a rest partway through walking The Boys.

For those friends that we can't keep in touch with in person, then there is always Skype. This is our friend Bod in Oz. The old bugger was fifty a few months back and had an eighties style disco birthday party and dressed up in his Saturday Night Fever gear. Unfortunately though, whilst being an old bugger, he's also a bit of a baldy bastard so needed a wig to carry off his transformation. Must have liked the feeling of hair on his head once again though as he wore his wig whilst on Skype. Could be worse Bod, I could have done a close up photo to embarrass you more. . . . .

Well, that just gave me an idea. . . . . .

And what about this little bit of treasure that we picked up from a car boot sale in Jersey for two quid. It's The Narrowboat Game, how good is that. Only played it twice with Nicky so far and lost both times, but I put that down to it being more a game of chance than skill and it is nice for her to beat me occasionally I suppose.

We moored at the top of the flight of locks that would take us back down to Cropredy the other night and made the best of bright evening to take The Boys out for their last walk of the day. As the evenings start closing in we'll miss the option of this final walk as it's sometimes the nicest part of the day to be out.

Thirsty work all this walking. . . . .

In all, August came in at a record month for us having cruised for 65.25 hours, covering 146.50 miles and 54 locks and we're now back down at Cropredy and onto new territory as we head down to Oxford over the next three to four weeks.

That then brings you all up to date with what has been happening and where we are and so in signing off,

Day 607 in the Badger Sett Narrowboat - 1273 miles and 533 locks further on from when we started.