Thursday, July 27, 2006

The Journey Continued...

After all the excitement of the storm we decided to put my parents to work. No rest for the wicked...
We shouted orders at them, such as "HEAVE!" and "PUT MORE WEIGHT INTO IT YOU WUSSES!". Actually, we didn't because my mum would have probably clobbered me one! So, we offered gentle encouragement like "that's right, let the boat into the lock before you close the gate".

I thought it only fair to help out too. So, when we reached the next lift bridge we all stuck our bottoms in the air whilst Rob steered the boat clear - of the bridge, not our bottoms.

As evening descended mist rose from the fields.

By this time, we had managed to tire out my parents, but made them stay awake until midnight for their supper (it took that long to cook it on the bbq).

And we didn’t make them eat any wildlife, such as this crayfish:

The next morning (Sunday), we set off again. We were very close to the Thames and figured if we made good speed we’d be home before night fall. We didn’t realise the number of tree branches that we’d have to navigate around from after the storm, though.

Soon, Oxford’s skyline was in view. We were back in familiar territory and met familiar faces of those we moor with who were out for the day.

Even mum took to the tiller - look, no handed!

And, aside from having to wind our way around a few sail boats and kamikaze punters, we were safely home before dark. Well done to my folks who helped us do the journey in only two days!

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Storm.

We collected the tin can on Saturday morning. It now has a lovely shiny black hull. My parents came with us to help crew for our journey back. They are gluttons for punishment.
We had not long left Banbury when the sky began to darken:

We made it as far as Grant's Lock (only 2 miles from Tooley's) before the Gods decided to scare the living daylights out of us all.

First, came the odd rumble of thunder and a flash or so of lightning. We were safe, it was far in the distance. Then the odd spot of rain fell. Before we got into the lock the world looked a little dark around the edges:

As soon as we entered the lock, and before we knew what was happening, the storm was upon us. I had to cover my ears with my hands because the thunder was so loud. Fork lighning grounded in the fields and trees around us and my mum ran around informing us that when it strikes the windlass whoever was holding it would die. A game of Hot Potato anyone?

The more cowardly sensible among us took shelter (already sodden) whilst those braver worked hard to get us out of the lock alive. Rob, who loves a good storm, was up for the challenge.

And scared the bejeebees out of me when he ran off with the windlass just as lightning struck somewhere a little too close by. Whilst mum and dad were discussing how bright and near it must have been, I was running around like a headless chicken shouting "WHERE'S ROB? WHERE'S ROB? OHMYGOD, THE WINDLASS KILLED HIM" just as he calmly walked in and declared that the lock was open and we were ready to go.

There was nothing that we could except find a place to moor and wait for the storm to pass.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Checking in on the boat.

Rob was in Banbury today so he popped into Tooley's to see how work was going on the tin can. We're having the rubbing strakes seam welded (they were only stitched) and the hull blackened:

Not much more to do now!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006


After a disturbed nights sleep because of strange shenanigans from our neighbours who arrived at 1.30am, left their engine running and decided to move some boats around before disappearing into the night making us believe we had dreamed it all, we got ourselves ready to dock in Tooley's.

Tooleys Historic Boatyard :

We waved good bye to the tin can and bundled Lolly into her cat bag. A friend met us to drive us back home. Lolly discovered the magic of air conditioning and our friend almost crashed the car whilst watching her snuggle up to the air vents.

We eventually arrived home - in one peice - and whilst Rob trundled off to work, I climbed into bed and slept like a new born lamb.


We finally reached Banbury. It consisted of more fields for a while:

And we discovered that the father-in-law made a good anchor:

Boaters are generally peaceful folk. It takes a lot to get us angry, I mean, we HAVE to be patient as it takes so long to get anywhere. But, every now and then there is a very inconsiderate boater who spends most of his time on the water trying to annoy everyone else. Just our luck to meet him. The tiller man from Rosamund The Fair - Oxfordshire's delightful restaurant boat. Oh, how many boaters shouted at him. Personally, I could have lamped him one. He stopped to wind (turn) in front of us, took 20 minutes before going ahead of us at a speed of 0.002 mph and STOPPED in the middle of the canal to tell his mate on the tow path that he was being an ass to piss us off. I'm a patient person - I work in care with people with behavioural problems, I HAVE to be patient - but the only thing that prevented me from attempting to smack him was the expanse of water between us.

Anyway, back to our journey! We eventually reached the heart of Banbury to the sound of a haunting folk melody from a nearby cafe:

And finally found somewhere to moor for the evening (beside a nest of flying ants):

We made the in-laws walk the plank let mum and dad in-law go home.

And Lolly decided to go exploring - we finally found her after 4 hours stuck up a tree. Silly thing. She's a good climber but I'm beginning to think she is scared of heights. After all that, we settled to watch the sun set and climbed exausted into bed.

Tomorrow we take the boat to Tooley’s Boatyard.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Day Three To Banbury: Nearly There...

We started cruising early again today (Sunday), though not as early as yesterday as there were only 4 locks to go before Banbury.
The scenery is still the same. Fields of golden corn, small hamlets in the distance, a cat on the bow:

It is difficult to tell the passing of time. Field, field, field, lock, field, field, field, lock, feeling hungry, field, field, still hungry, field... we could have been doing this for years. It is so beautiful and peaceful.

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Day Two To Banbury, Part Two: Enslow To Somerton Deep Lock.

We spent a total of 14 hours on the move today (sat), finally mooring after Somerton Deep Lock, which, as it's name suggests, is deep. 12 foot deep, and lovingly called THE BLACK CHASM OF DEATH by me:

We decided to stop for a bit of shopping en route. Jane's organic strawberry jam is lovely. This is England's only floating farm shop, Mill Lane Organic Farm:

I considered banning the father-in-law from standing anywhere near the tiller as he had a strange habit of grounding us and attacking bushes with the boat:
So we made him work the locks until way past his bed time:

And then settled down to a nice inferno bbq:

My LOTR boat count now includes Rivendell and Mithra.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Day Two To Banbury, Part One: Grandpont to Enslow

We started at 8am this morning from Grandpont in Oxford on the Thames. It was very overcast and a little cold. By 10am we were back in our summer clothes looking for a little shade… It turned out there wasn’t any.
Our last stop on the Thames was Kings Lock. Lock keepers have a very special kind of wisdom:

Then we said goodbye to our familiar territory and had a Sam Gamgee moment when we realised we were going into lands unknown and had never been so far from home before.
Oh, and whilst on the subject of LOTR, a geek as I may be, it is habit for me to spot as many LOTR themed boat names as possible. Only one so far: (Faramir).
I still haven’t topped sharing a lock with Sam Gamgee at Culham last month.
So, the canal beckoned and we dutifully followed…

And waited in lock queues…
And had to catch a runaway cat because she got bored waiting for some fun…
And everybody had a drink or two (especially the mother-in-law!!):

And when it came to the hard work, such as opening locks and lift bridges, well, that is what the father-in-law is for… isn’t it?

And we found the mum-in-law a new job (aside from looking after the alcohol ;-)) - cat sitting:

Day One To Banbury: Abingdon to Oxford.

It was a late start from Abingdon and we hoped we'd reach Oxford before nightfall. Normally, by car, the journey takes 10 mins, by narrowboat it takes 4 hours.

Abingdon from the river is very pretty. There is some very dodgy 60's architecture in the town centre, though.

Lolly was our lookout.

Oxford, just in time for nightfall.

Tomorrow our journey will take us away from the Thames and onto the Oxford Canal.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Getting ready.

Tomorrow we are cruising to Banbury to get some work done on the tin can. Hopefully I'll be able to photo-document the journey (it will take 3 days). The inlaws are coming to help crew as I can't jump on and off the boat with my sprained ankle. And when we get to Banbury our lovely little tin can will be hauled out of the water to have the hull cleaned and blackened (and a few other minor repairs). The whole process takes a week, so on Monday we'll drive back here and stay in our new digs: My parent's narrowboat. I'm just about to start packing everything we'll need for when we'll be wrecking staying on it. That includes Tain, the little chappie in the photo. He'll be moved this evening (and cared for by friends) until we get back.

Second Meadow. Our temporary home from monday.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

The boater's garden. Part Two.

More photographs:

Runner beans.

Lettuce, spinach, peas runner beans and courgette.
And the obligatory long shot looking over the skinny bit of vegetable plot. There is still a lot of work to be done. As you can see from the last photo the gravel path still needs to be completed. The potatoes are almost ready to dig. They've reached the point where they are beginning to topple and are shading the tomatoes. The peas need retying after the heavy winds over the weekend. Most of the onions were blown about too. But they are about ready to harvest. I'm really going to have to find some pickling recipes.