Saturday, 30 August 2014

Warwickshire Plains

The sun was being a tease, hiding behind clouds but popping out to faintly warm FL's steel and crew as we made another early morning start, destination Napton. There is a 7-mile lock-free pound before the first of the nine lock's that would lower us down to Napton. On the way down the Napton flight you pass the grazing water buffalo, seeing them here in the Warwickshire countryside instead of the African plains is always gives us pleasure, especially when Sue got to close to one and it charged, luckily he couldn't jump the wall.

Napton was too busy to stop so we have pressed on to bridge 102 where I sat on the bank drinking tea while watching the farmer opposite gather in the hay.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Getting spliced in Fenny

A blustery day as we headed for Broadmoor Lock,  EHC's crew headed us and lifted a bottom paddle as they left each lock which aided our progress to the top of the Claydon flight of five locks. 

My rope work lesson continued today under the watchful eye of sea dog Gordon, today's lesson was spicing. I now have neatly spliced eyes in all the new rope's I purchased at last years Crick show ready to be used at the start of next years cruising season.                                                                                  
We spent a couple of hours in the Wharf Inn with glasses of Wychwood Piledriver, we also partook in the extensive menu which was very good indeed. Another nice evening in good company.
Fender maker at Broadmoor Lock

Lock side shed with chimney.

Sue is up there heaving the gates open.

My girl resting at top lock.

My eye splice.

Bowlines beer and rolling pins

We left Kings Sutton at 08:00 had several short stops in Banbury, first to service FL, then for some 83p a litre fuel and a stop at Morrisons for supplies. After a good sunny cruise, we have ended up in Cropredy 22 days late for Fairport Convention.

While dinner was cooking Gordon and I walked to the village's Brasenose pub, over a couple of pints of Adnam's Broadside the old sea dog taught me how to tie knots with a length of cord he produced from his pocket. I listened carefully and practised enthusiastically and can now make a good fist of bowlines and hitches. Up until now, I have always sort of knitted FL to the bank, while this works to hold FL steady it will be nice to show off an efficient knot on her cleats, that's if I haven't forgotten my lesson by tomorrow. We were only 30 mins late back for dinner, a rolling pin was being waved at us menacingly from out of FL's side hatch............ my toad in the hole was just how I like it..... 'crispy'!

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

King's Sutton

Wednesday - I'm up at 06:30 and the sun is back. We set off  Dot raises Mill Lift Bridge for us. The brown canal water filling this Oxford ditch on the floor of the Cherwell valley carries FL northward, passing Upper Heyford, through Allen's Lock and deep into Oxfordshire's rural landscape. No enclaves abut the canal until Banbury ten miles north. The M40 which runs parallel to the canal is a distant drone in the peaceful countryside. We caught another glimpse of a kingfisher, that is about 20 in total this year.

We stopped at the pig farm for sausages, at King Sutton lock we are fourth in the queue, the traffic is a result of boats turning around after a bridge collapsed near Thrupp blocking the way south. We decide to moor just after the lock and have an early start in the morning.

Allens L:ock.

Isolated lock cottage, there isn't a road to it.

High-speed limits on rural roads

Aynho diamond shaped lock lowers boats afoot.

Catch up.

Monday- Another wet day, I decided to replace the three LED lights in the saloon that had failed. I had been meaning to do the job for a couple of months but as all retirees' will tell you 'I just couldn't find the time'.

Dot and Gordon arrived in Thrupp and pulled in two berths behind after Sue asked a less than pleased skipper to come out in the rain to move his boat up five feet. This done we all trotted over the lift bridge to the very comfortable Annie's tea rooms where we passed an interesting couple of hours chatting about boating and the world in general with Maffi, with his dog Molly.  We met up with them again in the bar of the Boat Inn for after-dinner drinks and continued discussions.

Tuesday - Wet again at 09:30 when I opened the side hatch and had a boaters meeting with Dot and Gordon before I had my strides on. The plan was for Dot & Gorden to set off while Sue got herself out of bed and we prepared FL for the off, we would then catch them up at Lower Heyford. This plan was shot to pieces when we set off at 11:00 and passed them fifty yards away waiting at the water point.  We did meet again at Lower Heyford but not as planned. While Sue cooked a Moussaka and Dot worked on her stained glass, Gordon and I took the opportunity to walk into the village to find the local hostelry. The Bell was shut, some of these rural pubs keep curious hours, we detoured to the mini shop at  Heyford Wharf for milk and eggs on the way back to the boats.

We all enjoyed the dinner aboard FL with a glass of red wine, the rest of the evening was spent playing Newmarket, a rather large stash of coins in Dot's corner of the table declared her the winner.

Sunday, 24 August 2014

Leaving Isis

Isis is the name given to the Thames that flows through Oxford not a barbaric Islamic state.

 Last nights sunset snapped by Sue

We had a late start for a change, while our cruising buddies went to explore Oxford we were heading for Thrupp. It was T-shirt weather as we pulled the pins and cruised to Eynsham lock to service FL. Kingfishers were flashing their feathers, a scruffy heron trying not to look conspicuous as it stood statuesque at the waters edge. Just one more mile and we leave the Thames for the Oxford canal. The channel for the Oxford canal and Dukes cut is well signposted from the Thames. Our first two locks on the Oxford canal have a build up of crud behind the bottom gates and they cant be fully opened, a cultural shock after the impressive pristine Thames locks.

A boat in front of us had stopped to open the lift bridge, they waved us through, so at the next lock we reciprocated by setting the lock and locking them through first, they were very grateful and a bit surprised by such courtesy.

We have found a good spot in Thrupp on the 7day visitor moorings. We had a Sunday roast in the Jolly Boatman and a glass of Boatman's Tipple both were mediocre, but the brass band was very good.

These signs I find confusing, why has it got a no mooring sign.

Saturday, 23 August 2014


Just a short cruise to Eynsham where we had a lovely afternoon when our three beautiful niece's my sister Yvonne and hubby Charlie came for a visit. It was great to see you guy's, don't leave it so long   next time.                                                                                                                                                           

Jacqui, Clare, Yvonne, Skye, Charlie, Sue and Andy

Bablock Hythe


We decided on an early start, 06:30 we were away heading into St Johns lock, we had forgotten that there are two 6:30's in a day. Bacon buttys and tea on the go were supplied by Dot. The cows where we had moored for the night were already awake and chomping on their breakfast, swans, however, were resting heads on feathery pillows.

After a long peaceful cruise ( 7 hours) we moored on Bablock Hythe's grassy field, had a 6X in the Ferryman and a BBQ on the bank in the evening. 

We had three mishaps today first our domestic water pump packed up, Sue slipped over on the lock side bruising her derriere and EHChad to be pulled of a sand bar by FL after running aground, these events Sue has firmly put down to seeing that other 6:30 in the day.

Tomorrow we will move a few miles to Eynsham where we will meet up with my sister and family over here on holiday from Wisconsin.

Radcot bridge

Thursday, 21 August 2014


We had a leisurely start to the day, pulling the pins at 08:30 for the two hour cruise to the head of the navigation at Lechlade. Again the morning is warm and sunny in the unshaded bits. More meandering through the twisty Thames, at Buscot lock we let a hire crew ahead of us as they asked so politely, they had to get the hire boat back by 09:30.

We moored FL at Thames lock so I could renew the Thames license that ran out today. For one day the charge is £38.50 and for a week it's £60, so we took the second option. My cunning plan to save a few pounds didn't quite work out, by not paying for a gold license this year and paying for a months Thames license  + an extra week, the C&RT fee we have paid was 0.50p more than last year.

We had difficulty winding at the head of navigation as the bank had collapsed and narrowed the turning point, we collected a few leaves and twigs in the cratch but we got FL around.

We walked into the town, had a look around St Lawrence church and lit candles for departed family and friends. Picked up supplies in the superb butchers/deli/greengrocer had a glass of Thames Tickler in the Swan and lunch in the Riverside. Evening tea was taken at the Khushi Indian restaurant which can be thoroughly recommended  by both crews.

Last nights mooring in Kelmscot

The Roundhouse is the head of navigation.

I had the pedal version.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Dot was making pie's, Gordon and his axe were missing.

Overnight mooring at Eynsham lock.

 The early morning light was outstanding although quite cool as Sue and Dot prepared Eynsham lock for our departure.

 Pinkhill was self service, lockie still at the breakfast table, this was as far as we got to Lechlade last year because of FL's engine mounting malfunction. Now we are past Oxford the Thames in between the locks  loses it's restraints, it was good fun taking FL's  58' of steel  around some of  the tight  meandering sections.
Eynsham lock

Radcot Bridge

Tadpole Bridge.
We are now moored at Kelmscott  a long and enjoyable cruise..... by the wayGordon turned up... phew.

Tuesday, 19 August 2014


We got off early this morning 07:30, Dot set Abingdon lock for us and we were soon through and taking on water and disposing of the dumpables. Then it was a nice cruise through Oxford and under the Gin Palace halter that is Osney's low bridge. Port Meadows open plain is crossed to Godstow lock and it's adjacent Abbey ruin. From here the river meanders untethered until we reach Eynsham lock, our over night stay. I walked with Gordon across the lock and field to the Talbot Inn for a pre dinner Ale.

Opposite Port Meadow

Chaps on their way to the Talbot