Thursday, 30 June 2016

Manchego.

Turned FL around and headed back to Oxford, we were hoping to get on the East Street moorings, so was nb Holderness' crew who shared the locks with us. We were going to stop to pick up a cheese order off our mate Dot who had managed to find some Manchego (Spanish sheeps milk cheese we wanted to try out in a recipe) in an Oxford market.

Unfortunately the weather was atrocious which stopped moorers from moving on. With no room at the Inn it was on to Sandford where we moored overnight on the bollards before the lock landing.

This morning Sue went to set the lock, while I untied FL, nb Ewn ha Cul and nb Ferndale came into view, so we shared the lock and cruised to Abingdon lock together. After watering and getting rid off the dumpables FL & Ferndale moored up in Abingdon, nb Ewn ha Cul continued to Days lock.

Ray & Diane, Gordon & Dot.
My Outlaw is being deposited on FL tomorrow, deep joy, with that in mind we had to go shopping for her prescription, that restorative potion that will help her constitution namely 'Chardonnay'. I can already hear the tutting that's going to be aimed in my direction.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Weekend with mates.


We stayed on the seven day moorings at Thrupp for a week! At the weekend vehicles were hired to take four crews to Macclesfield to visit a couple of mates we have all come to know as more than just friends, we fondly call them sista & bruvva.

El is poorly, so we went up to put a smile on her face, but the truth is we have never seen her without a cheery demeanour or beaming smile no matter what she has had to deal with or how shite she's feeling. One hell of a courageous lady is our El.

After tiring El out over a couple of hours of chatting and laughter we left so she could rest, booked into a hotel then adjourned to Sutton Hall for a meal with Paul & the boys along with crazy Canadian Wendy who had flown in from Spain.

The following morning we were back at the hospice being regaled by El on stories of her globetrotting days especially her Saudi adventures. All too soon it was time to head off, a quick stop for a cuppa with Paul who is holed up at a nearby farm before we headed back south, a little subdued.



We left Thrupp this morning to make our way back to the Thames, our favourite mooring at Hagley Pool was taken but a good mooring further west on the offside bank was available...... solitude for the night.






Friday, 24 June 2016

Boat safety scheme day

We set off early at 07:30 from Jericho, through Isis lock at the end of the Oxford canal, about turn on the Thames and back up Isis lock, now that FL was facing the correct way we continued through  Oxford suburbs. It's slow going as the canal is lined with moored craft for most of it's length. It's the skipper of Ewn ha Cul's birthday so as we passed we belted out the birthday song and a sleepy eyed Gordon waved his thanks from the cabin window.

Web pic of Isis lock - route to the Thames. The left cut is residential moorings and the towpath walk into the city centre.
FL has an appointment with the boat safety examiner to get a clean bill of health for another four years, this is being done by Mark Paris in Thrupp a six mile journey up the Oxford canal. Our certificate doesn't run out till August but best to have it done early in case there are any problems to iron out.

It was a pleasant but wet journey with light drizzle, while on the water point before the lift bridge a boat passed and lifted the bridge - we set off hoping to get through with them but they shut the bridge on us and away they went, to be fair it was raining, their hooded heads were bowed so maybe they didn't see 17 tons of FL steel motoring towards them.

Our pals on Ferndale & Ewn ha Cul were following on behind, we were all hoping to moor on the visitor moorings in Thrupp, gratifyingly all three boats managed to get on the seven day spots.

A pleasant evening was spent in The Boat celebrating this day in 1952 with good food and company.

Thursday - Spent the morning preparing FL for the examiners visit, had to declutter the newly painted gas locker and electrical cupboard, lift the engine and battery boards to give good access to all things that needed looking at including gas and diesel pipes. Although I knew that FL is in excellent health and would pass with flying colours I was still a little apprehensive. A cheerful Mark arrived on time and thoroughly went over FL's appliances and installations. He declared FL a well put together boat and passed her.

So it was over to Annie's tea room for a tea & scones with Dot, Gordon, Ray & Diane, Maffi came too, he had come to town for the day to cast his vote.

Later we all had our tea sat out on the bank sampling homemade ingredients from the three galley's. Soup followed by pasty's, flat breads & biscuits plus the odd glass of red wine.

I woke up this morning and I'm wondering if I'm still  European! Winter in Spain is going to be expensive this year no doubt. I might evoke my right to hold an Irish passport and stay in - a bit.


Thursday, 23 June 2016

Oxford

We moved off the Thames through Dukes cut and rendezvoused with Ferndale & Ewn ha Cul on the 48 hour moorings at Aristotle bridge (240) in Oxford. We stayed 72 hours so a move down to the Jericho moorings for the final day was made.
Front....

....& rear views at Wolvercote lock.


In the past it would of been difficult to get a mooring in the city but now CR&T employees and volunteers patrol the area twice daily and make sure any pee takers  overstayers are moved on. There are still a group of scruffy vessels on a council owned back water the authorities are trying to move on.

From the Jericho moorings it is an easy walk to explore the city, Waitrose, Aldi, Wickes & Halfords are all about a mile away.

After years of decay and wrangling with planners the Wharf is going to be redeveloped





The City of Inspector Morse, with it's University colleges and one hundred libraries, oozes knowledge and I feel I am getting more intellectual as I walk the streets and peer past the porters lodge to lawned quadrangles.

I climbed to the top of the Carfax Tower  (considered the city's centre) to look over the roofs, towers and spires of the city, forgot to take my camera and phone on the day so no pics!

That was enough touristy activity for the day so refreshment was had at the oldest pubs in Oxford, The Bear  and at the Turf Tavern.




Sunday, 19 June 2016

Eynsham to Hagley Pool.

Cruising down to Eynsham we were plagued by the dreaded horsefly. While I was at the tiller liberally coated in repellent Sue swatted the toothy perishers away with the swatter, at least 50 were dispatched with backhand and forehand swipes.  

Together with Ray & Diane we had a final bankside get together with Roly & Bev who will  head back up north in the morning. They have been perfect travelling companions and we will miss their company, especially the banter, beer, cake's, Bev's beaming smile at every lock and of course "the book". Thanks for a special few weeks both.




Cooling beef.

Taken from Northmoor lock landing.

Saturday we said our goodbyes, Ferndale left too but we will meet up in Oxford tomorrow along with Dot & Gordon who are making their way down to the Thames.

We were staying to watch the Australia V England game in the Jolly Sportsman in Eynsham a two mile hike but it was worth the effort when England triumphed winning their first ever test series against the Wallabies down under.


Goodbye

The mooring at Eynsham hasn't got a TV reception and I really wanted to watch Ronaldo & Co slip up against Austria after their poor performance against Iceland. 

So after tea we had an evening cruise being helped through Eynsham lock by some friendly young lads. We witnessed four different barn owls hunting over the two mile cruise.

Barn owl.






We moored up at Hagley pool put the aerial up to get 115 channels, watched an enthralling 0-0 draw. Portugal kept knocking on the door but couldn't find the net, even the greatest goal scorer of all time missed a penalty opportunity.

Sunday morning we were held up by 200 swimmers on a lock to lock race.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Radcot

Last night we had a good Chinese meal at River Vale with the gang. Only a four table establishment that does more take-away than eat in, the host is most entertaining and the food very good.

We have had an enjoyably quiet five days at Lechlade. The large shambolic antique shops to browse around, descent supermarket, butcher's and a sprinkling of inn's, cafe's and eateries all set in pretty Cotswold stone makes this town a delight to have an extended stay in.

This morning we set off a little after Klara & Ferndale, dumpages were out of the way at St' Johns lock. While taking on water at Grafton lock a charming teenager told me he had set the lock for us, he was on a moored boat that had unfortunately broken down and would be awaiting repairs on Friday - not only was he assisting crews through the lock he was also weeding the lock flower beds to pass the time - good lad.


Bev, Diane, Roly & Ray were sitting out in the sunshine enjoying a cup of tea when we pulled up at Radcot moorings. By the time I had the whirlygig up and the chairs out to join them the rain started along with thunder & lightning - you can guess who got the blame for this.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Still at Lechlade

Saturday - we booked an early breakfast at the New Inn hotel, this gave us access to their sky tv to watch the Rugby Internationals in New Zealand and Australia. Wales put up a good display against a new looking All Black side but as ever the hosts proved to strong in the final quarter. England faired better continuing on their six nations success to go one up in the three match series..... England's Aussie coach Jones is making a difference. 

Lechlade moorings 
Sunday - It's been raining this morning but it dried up to allow us to go for lunch at the Riverside pub. An addition to the farmers field is a permanent moorer complete with electrified fence next to the bridge.

St. Lawrence.

Resident moorer.

In the afternoon nb Ferndale moored up behind, last time we saw Ray & Diane was in Spain, after a catch up while sat on the bank we all adjourned to the New Inn to keep dry.

In or out.....

.......that is the question.








I tried to register to vote the other day but couldn't because I have been resident outside the UK for more than 15 years. I was undecided anyway, I wouldn't be able to make up my mind with the poor information and scare tactics both camps are using.............so you can't blame me when/if it all go's belly up.

Friday, 10 June 2016

Lechlade

We ended up cruising for 20 miles yesterday (Thursday), we moored up at Lechlade at 18:00 after a quick shower we were having steak meals and cold beer in the Riverside pub

We have reached the furthest upsteam we can go on FL. We will stay put for a couple of days and chill. 



Deer



Tadpole bridge.

Hot tub at the Trout

Tranquillity was shattered by this B52 at St. Johns lock.
Green Woodpecker

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Spring Watch...

It was a bit like being in an episode of Spring Watch during todays cruise to Eynsham. As well as the usual coots, moorhens, kingfishers, red kites, sheep, cattle and horses, a family of otters swam across the river in front of the boat in the cut before Port Meadow and disappeared into the undergrowth, I was too gobsmacked to reach for the camera quick enough to take a picture.

After mooring in the reach above Swinford toll bridge we enjoyed towpath tapas, courtesy of Klara's galley, during a leisurely afternoon sat on the bank.  

We just got the washing in from the whirlygig before a thunderstorm rumbled overhead for an hour or so. Sue won't let me hoist the pole/aerial when lightning is about so we missed last nights coverage of the TT.

We had a hitch hiker on the roof.


Folly bridge at Oxford

Port Meadow




Wednesday - Spotted a barn owl out hunting at 08:30 and watched it as it took a small mammal back to it's nest. 

We had a boaters meeting with Roly & Bev to decide a plan for the day, our plan was to have no plan at all, just bimble along the Thames and stop sometime.....now that's the sort of target I can cope with. 

In the event, we cruised for 4 miles and pulled in on the privately owned well managed field at Bablock Hythe, yet more towpath tapas followed by a summer pudding was had sitting in the sun on the bank.

The owls home.

Monday, 6 June 2016

To Sandford.

It's been hot the last two days and set to continue for awhile.

We have made good progress too, there has been a lock keeper opening the gates as we arrived at each lock, we haven't had to wait on a landing once, what little flow there is in the river is unnoticeable as we head upstream.

Stopped overnight above Day's lock, after getting the bank side chairs out to rest awhile it was a hike up to the top of Whittenham Clumps to take in the fabulous views.

 A glorious sunrise set the weather for Monday, a short stop at Abingdon to get supplies from Waitrose across the park and fill up with water above the lock. Lot's of glass clinking was heard as Roly used the re-cycle bins.



Leaping lamb.


Open water swimming

African Queen

Protecting George Clooney's pad at Sonning bridge.

Black swan.

Lovely Freeman 22.

Alpaca farm.


Cleeve lock.

Youngsters enjoying the Thames

Bev, Roly & Sue atop Whittenham Clumps



Now I get it.

Klara's mt's.


We moored on the meadow above the deep Sandford lock, it was decided it was too hot for bankside chairs, so we sought out shade in the garden of the lock side Kings Head. Cocktails for the captains, ice cold lager & cider for Roly and me.



Pimm's for the ladies.

Saturday, 4 June 2016

Cookham to Medmenham.

Friday - Ruddy grey and cold again. Hat & gloves were required when we pulled the pins, we followed on behind Klara to Hambleden lock. Sue did the honours with the locks push buttons, we were soon gliding through the Henley reach which was alive with early morning rowers practising for the end of the month regatta


Henley regatta course




Moored Medmenham.


Mooring was at Medmenham, I rang Chris on the fuel boat Merchant to see if he was around the area. He was an duly arrived two hours later and topped the tanks up (84ppl). Later we walked to the Dog & Badger which dates back to 1390, you wouldn't of guessed it by the bright contemporary bar area.



The Riviera Bar at the Dog & Badger.