Thursday, 30 August 2007

All steamed up.

9 Locks, 11 Miles. Now moored at Braunston top lock.
607 locks, 807 miles, 22 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

On Wednesday morning it was goodbye to Rugby for this year as we set off for Braunston. We will be back here in February for our 6 monthly doctor’s appointment.

Along the way we passed n/b President and butty Kildare. President was in fine form with a good head of smoke being emitted from the chimney. It’s nice to see the pair working after reading so much about them in the magazines.

There were still a lot of boats heading north again today and we met one of them in a blind bridge hole. Luckily I blasted my horn as I approached and he reciprocated so I became aware of his presence. With a quick change into reverse I was able to back off in time as he was already in the bridge hole.

Bridge 80 on the Oxford canal just North of Braunston is really looking the worse for wear with a huge chunk of brick work missing.

which we found in a BW work boat just further down the canal. This will be a major repair job.

Upon arrival at Braunston we watered up and went up through the first 2 locks where we moored so that we could visit Braunston bottom lock chandlery who stock Masons paint. We later wandered up to the top lock to see what the mooring situation was there and found 2 slots available. On the way back to the boat we spoke to a couple of BW guys who were painting the balance beams. Their recommendation was for us to move up past the top lock if we wanted to get away to an early start in the morning. Apparently the middle pounds leak overnight and drain out and it may take them until 9 or 10am to refill them again. So we took a chance and set off up the flight hoping that the moorings would still be there when we got there. Our luck was in, a cruiser that had been here earlier fixing his headlight had left and we got a great mooring so we are all set for an early start on the tunnel in the morning.

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Au Revoir Christina and Derek.

1 Lock, 14 Miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Brownsover Park.
598 locks, 796 miles, 22 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Yesterday was another lazy day with only a few chores done. At 7am we motored up to Bedworth Hill bridge and winded the boat and returned to our original mooring ready for Tuesday morning. Later I polished some brass and Dot and Christina went for a walk into Bedworth.

This morning we said our farewells to Derek and Christina on n/b Kalimera who set off early to get up to the Atherstone flight. There was a difference of opinion as to whether they would be dealt with today or tomorrow. They are heading off to their winter quarters to get some painting done before the weather changes.

We set off about 8.30am with the first stop being the water point just before the junction as Dot was planning on catching up with some washing. Moored on the other side of the junction was the diesel boat Gosty Hill so we pulled alongside and filled up ready for the long haul south. We only took 38 litres but at 50p per litre you don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.

The trip down to Rugby was marred by being rammed by a day boat propelled by a complete novice who either had been given no instructions or he only understood Hindi. I hope his car driving skills are better than his boating skills.

There were many boats heading north including Tui Mk3 (? another New Zealand boat) presumably the past owner of N/b Tui now owned by John ( a friend of Les on N/b Valerie) seen here near Hawkesbury junction. I don’t know if the succession of boats was heading home from the IWA festival at St Ives or they were heading up to the Ashby for their festival week-end, perhaps both. Majority of them were private boats, only a few hire boats.

Once we had moored up at Brownsover Park it was off to Tesco’s for a week’s supply of groceries as the next convenient supermarket won’t be until Milton Keynes.

I had to set too and defrost the freezer box before we could the meat and ice cream away as it was badly iced up and the door wasn’t shutting properly.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Bedworth Almshouses

Christina and Dot went for a walk into Bedworth this morning from Hawkesbury junction for a couple of grocery items and were surprised by the shops in the town including Tescos. This photo showing the beautiful old almshouses although they are private residences now.
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Monday, 27 August 2007

Lazy day.

Still moored Hawkesbury Junction; Coventry canal.
597 locks, 782 miles, 21 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Today we had another taste of summer with clear blue sky and lots of sunshine. With temperatures up around the mid 20’s and a light breeze it has been a good day to laze around. Well isn’t that what hot sunny days are for?

Being a long week-end there has been a lot of boats on the move enjoying the fine weather. Another good reason for us to stay put.

Since we have been up this far North we have seen families of ducks which I think are Pochards (Aythya ferina). Unfortunately we have not seen a male but from their habit of all simultaneously diving and the adult female swimming with her tail low in the water this all fits the description in my bird ID book.

Pochard - please let me know if I am wrong

While on the bird trail we have also seen 2 families of moorhens that have raised 2 clutches of young this year. While this may not be unusual what we found fascinating was that the first clutch of chicks which are nearly full grown are helping the parent birds feed and look after the second clutch of chicks. Who says birds and animals are dumb.

The other night while quietly fishing off the back of the boat, I got a brief glimpse of a wily old fox out looking for dinner. His big bushy tail was a beauty. He spotted a rabbit and the chase was on but they disappeared over a stop bank never to be seen again.

We can't seem to be away from our fellow countrymen for long. Tonight we were passed by Warren and Wynne on Kiwi Cruiser II with Robin and Wendy Croot from Gypsy Caravans in Levin. Its a small small world.

Sunday, 26 August 2007

Computer programme updates, Humbug.

1 Lock, 18 Miles. Now moored Hawkesbury Junction; Coventry canal.
597 locks, 782 miles, 21 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Two days ago Dot had to update our AVG virus program and firewall at the cost of NZ$37. Well she had no sooner done what was necessary when the whole computer refused to function hence no blog for 2 days. After a lot of muttering and cursing and emails to AVG and Brent (son) in NZ she has now got us up and running again. Running with a temporary virus program in the meantime until the renewed subsription is up and running properly.

Since the last blog we have travelled to Coventry via a stop over at Bridge 4 Oxford canal. We arrived at the Coventry Basin mid morning on the 24th. Our travelling companions Royce and Kathy left us to travel back to London and then to Holland before returning to New Zealand.

Royce and Kathy on Gypsy Rover

Coventry Canal Basin entrance

The canal basin itself as you enter under the bridge

Shortly after this we wandered into the city to have a look at the Transport museum. When we got there we found Royce and Kathy having a quick look around before catching the train. The general consensus of opinion was that for a FREE museum it was absolutely marvelous and reputedly the biggest display of British made cars, motorcycles, commercial vehicles and bicycles in the world. I found a similar car to my first old banger, a Standard 8 and also my first motorcycle, a BSA C15. Along side that was the BSA Gold Flash, my Uncle Roy had owned one of these with a sidecar.

After several hours at the museum taking a trip down memory lane we went in search of the old cathedral which was burnt out in the 1940 bombing raids over Coventry. The ruins are still used as a place of worship every day even though the new cathedral is right alongside.

While looking for the Cathedral we stumbled upon Holy Trinity Church where a wedding had not long taken place. A church has stood on the same site since 1113.

The oldest part of the current church dates back to the Benedictine monks in the 13th century. The church warden told us that this church could have gone up in flames along with the Cathedral across the street because of its wooden roof. However the clergyman of the time along with his son and 2 church wardens climbed onto the roof and extinguished the incendiary bombs with water before they were able to take hold and so the church was saved.

The Holy Trinity Church dating back to 1113 AD

Brave men indeed. Up on the wall high above the congregation is what is called the Doom painting or the Last Judgement which is reputed to pre date the Michel Angelo’s painting in the Sistine Chapel in Rome.

A memorial donated by Richard Branston, together with a similar one in Hiroshima in Japan

I would have liked to stop longer in the city but we had heard so many conflicting stories about the safety at Coventry Basin and because it was a long week-end and a Friday night I was out voted 3-1 in favour of leaving the basin and mooring up else where. Unfortunately good moorings are scarce along this stretch unless you want to moor among factories and council housing estates. There were no boats moored along this whole 5 mile stretch even unlicensed live-aboards so perhaps that says something for the area. Pity really.

We are now moored about half a mile north of the Hawkesbury junction on the Coventry canal where we will stay until Tuesday. We will then go up to the winding hole at bridge 13, turn around and head back down the Oxford canal and Grand Union to the Paddington Arm to meet Dots sister and Brother-in-law by mid September.

In Rugby last week we met up with Derek and Christina on narrowboat Kalimera who we travelled with for 6 weeks on the Kennet and Avon Canal. After leaving Reading they returned to Devon for a christening while we headed for Oxford. While we were caught in the flooding in Oxford, they were at home waiting for the Thames to subside so they could move out of the marina at Reading and follow us north. We head our seperate ways after the weekend as we head south to London and they north. We have plans to meet up again next year and travel up north together. We will miss their company.

Derek and Christina on N/b Kalimera

British Waterways Stoppages 2007 - 2008 list is now out and available as a PDF file. Click here for a copy.

Thursday, 23 August 2007


0 Locks, 5½ Miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Brinklow.
596 locks, 764 miles, 21 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

It was very blustery and cool as we set off from Brownsover in the company n/b Kalimera.It was a slow and steady cruise with a few boats on the move. We had planned on stopping at the Barley Mow at Newbold for water but there was already a queue so we carried on as we are not desperate for water. Our arrival at Brinklow was nicely timed with 2 berths available for both boats.

After lunch we all went into Brinklow to explore the village more fully than on our first visit. We took the public footpath route across farm fields and came out by the Raven pub.

We walked up one side of the village to
St Johns parish church where we found a very unusual graveyard where the grave head stones had been made out of what appeared to be slate instead of the more usual stone, granite or marble. The inscriptions were still as clear as the day they were engraved in the late1700’s, early 1800’s. Some even looked 3 dimensional.

The most interesting tomb stone was of Thomas Bolton, a deaf and dumb woodcutter who died in 1779. His epitaph reads “He chiefly got his livelihood by faggoting and felling wood. Till death, the conqueror of all, gave the feller himself a fall”. Also engraved on the tombstone were his tools of trade.

The church itself dates back to the thirteenth century and it is 1 of only 3 churches in the country with a sloping floor which runs east to west. The bell tower contains 6 bells, 5 dating back to 1705 and 1 dated 1913 which is inscribed “My movrnful sovnd doth warning give that here men cannot always live” I will leave the interpretation of this to yourselves.

In the south wall is a small piece of marble donated by St Johns Baptist church in Canberra Australia as a friendship link in 1948.

From the church we walked down the other side of the village main street where we stopped at the local store run by a very friendly lady for an ice cream. On the way back to the boat we walked around the other end of the village up behind the church to a castle mound where Roman soldiers once stood 2000 years ago. It is locally known as “The Tump” and was a Norman Motte and Bailey castle. The view from the top was magnificent with Coventry in the hazy distance.

Before the Oxford canal was straightened it used to meander through Brinklow and it is said that the Navvies on their horse drawn boats would hear the morning and evening prayer bells in the same day as it took so long to pass through the village. It must have been a very circuitous route.

Wednesday, 22 August 2007

Steam rules.

3 Locks, 4 Miles. Now moored at Brownsover Park.
596 locks, 758½ miles, 20 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

After a leisurely start to the day we meandered down to bridge 74 and winded the boat to return to Rugby. There were a few boats on the move mostly heading north.

We arrived back at Brownsover Park to find 1 mooring under the willow trees which suited us perfectly. We had not long been moored when we received a text message from Christina on n/b Kalimera to say they were close. I went out to have a look to see if the mooring behind us was still clear as the previous boat had left and when I popped my head out the back door Kalimera was already moored behind us. Good to have our old travelling companions back again.

After lunch we all went into town, Royce, Kathy and Heather went to the railway station so that the latter could return to London and we just went into town where I picked up a pair of boots for £15 in a closing down sale. I have just about worn out the pair I bought with me.

Back at the boat we were getting ready to go blackberry picking when we heard what sounded like a steam train whistle. When I got up on deck I found a steam powered narrowboat sliding past with its big chimney up front. The boat was called “Adamant” and with 2 more blasts on the whistle disappeared around the corner.

After this little bit of excitement we went and gathered another 2 containers of blackberries so its blackberry crumble on the menu tomorrow.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Mission complete.

3 Locks, 2 Miles. Now moored at Hillmorton.
593 locks, 754½ miles, 20 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

It was an early start this morning as we had to go to the doctor for a 6 monthly check up. The surgery operates a system of seeing patients who turn up on the door step first so we were first in the door.

On the way back to the boat we called into the Co-op pharmacy to uplift the prescriptions so we are now all set for the next six months.

After lunch I headed off to the railway station to meet another couple of NZMCA members, Royce and Kathy and daughter Heather who have come to join us for a few days on a trip from Rugby to Coventry. Heather only has a couple of days before returning to work so we are just doing an overnight trip from Rugby to Hillmorton and back for her to be able to catch a train home tomorrow.

Considering it was a Monday there were still a lot of boats on the move one of which got shouted at for going too damn fast because we had already had our pins pulled out and one pin actually got badly bent.

When we spoke to Mike on Snecklifter yesterday he was complaining of a burning smell on his boat but we were unable to pinpoint any problem. This morning he found out what it was. The starter battery was as dead as a Dodo so he had to call out RCR who diagnosed that the battery had cooked itself and boiled dry hence the terrible smell.

Monday, 20 August 2007

Getting organised.

0 Locks, 6 Miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Clifton upon Dunsmore.
590 locks, 752½ miles, 20 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

We awoke to find that there had been some heavy overnight rain and it was a case of break out the wellies (gumboots) as the long grass, BW take note, would soon saturate a pair of shoes or sneakers.

Mid morning and I went to see Mike on Snecklifter to exchange ideas, hints and tips on servicing. Dot also had an exchange of ideas regarding accessing the internet and Satellite and Freeview TV reception. Food for thought.

After lunch we had to say our goodbye’s as Snecklifter will be heading North tomorrow and we have to go back to Rugby for a couple of days before heading off up to Coventry. I understand there is a museum of the car manufacturing history of Coventry which I am looking forward to seeing. There were so many boats on the move today that it was slow going but with the kids going back to school very soon it will surely quieten down. As we approached a line of moored boats we could see one breasted up against a moored boat. Before we came abreast of these boats we realised that it was a coal and diesel boat. As we pulled alongside they said that we could have diesel so here we were 3 abreast across the canal. A hire boat chose to hang back even though he could have got past but just as we pulled away after paying the vendor a boat travelling in the opposite direction decided he wasn’t going to wait and ploughed on through.

Our first leg of today’s journey was down to Brownsover for a visit to Tesco’s after this we carried on down to Clifton. Just after leaving Brownsover it started to rain, just light drizzle but as our journey progressed the rain became heavier.

Opposite Clifton Cruisers yard we pulled in just to check ahead that our usual mooring by the golf course was available. Luckily it was clear so we moved down and moored up. We are actually opposite the local allotments where there is an apple tree with beautiful bright red apples just going to waste on the ground.

Sunday, 19 August 2007

Changeable weather.

0 Locks, 1 Mile. Still moored at Brinklow.
590 locks, 746½ miles, 19 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

We were up early this morning so that we could travel up to the winding hole at what used to be the Brinklow Arm of the canal. There we winded and returned to our original mooring. After breakfast we walked into Brinklow guided by Liz from n/b Snecklifter across heritage walkways through farm land. On our way back to the boat we followed the road. In the distance behind us we heard the sound of a car being driven fast with squealing tyres as it negotiated the country lanes. The next thing we knew we were met by an ambulance wanting to know if we had seen 2 youths. Apparently they had been in a stolen car which they crashed and one of them was injured but they must have taken the other fork at the ‘Y’ junction we had not long walked through. Serves the buggers right if that was the case.

After a change of clothing and a cuppa it was time to scrub the starboard side of the boat from water line to gunnels, wait for it to dry and then re-black. I had no sooner finished when it started to rain so I had to pack things away smartly.

The rest of the day has been spent answering emails, reading and in my case having a wee snooze.

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Friends old and new

0 Locks, 5 Miles, 1 Tunnel. Now moored at Brinklow.
590 locks, 745½ miles, 19 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Last night Alan and Joy took us to Pizza Hut for dinner as a treat. It was very nice to dine out for a change. Thanks guys. What with the coffee we shared with Les on N/b Valerie on Wednesday night we have done well this week by being spoilt.

Today was the day for Alan and Joy to leave us and head off to London in readiness for their flight to Holland tomorrow. After we had walked up to the bus stop to see them off we went to Tesco’s for a few bits and pieces. As we needed to do some washing we decided to cruise up to Brinklow where we hoped to catch up with Mike and Liz on N/b Snecklifter. We knew they were in the area and Andy on N/b Khayamanzi was also reported to be returning to Brinklow Marina in the next day or so.

Just after bridge 34 we spotted 2 moored boats and the second boat was Mike and Liz so we pulled in ahead of them and moored up. After a chat we had lunch and then I decided to wash the boat as the 3 weeks on the Thames left the hull sides looking very muddy even though I had washed the boat several times since. After closer examination it appears that the power of the dirty water surging around the bow had in actual fact grit blasted the blacking off the boat. Only one thing for it but go and get the blacking paint out and re black the port side of the boat. The starboard side will have to wait until I can turn the boat around tomorrow morning and weather permitting, other wise it will have to wait until we find another suitable mooring as we have to move down to Clifton Wharf on Sunday for a busy Monday.

While chatting with Liz the topic got around to phones and the internet. Recently we had the mis-fortune to drop my phone into the canal. We did retrieve it quickly but not quick enough as water had got into the workings and ruined it. Liz said that she had several old phones from upgrading hers several times. She subsequently found an old Nokia and bought it over and bingo my phone is now back up and running. Thanks Liz you’re a gem.

As I sit here writing this blog I became aware of a narrowboat going past. I looked up to see Andy and his father, Brian on Khayamanzi. I yelled out “Hi Andy” only to receive a puzzled look until he saw the name on our boat.

Not the best photo, hopefully we'll meet up again for a better one.

Andy did a quick stop alongside Snecklifter and we all gathered on Snecklifter gunnels talking across the roof to Andy and Brian sitting mid stream in the canal. Just as well it wasn’t the motorway. After catching up on all our trips, trials and tribulations with recent flooding and a quick photo shoot, Andy had to head off as both his father and he had some miles to cover by car to recover Brian’s car and then get home. We finally got to meet this illusive character after several attempts. It’s nice to put a face to a name after all this time. After all this time it was great to finally meet Andy.

Received an email today from Adam on N/b Debdale who passed us yesterday, nice to meet up with one of our readers and hopefully we will meet again sometime on the cut.

Friday, 17 August 2007

Familiar territory.

3 Locks, 9 Miles. Now moored at Brownsover Park.
590 locks, 740½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

This morning as we were getting ourselves organised for the day n/b Martlet went us with a friendly wave. We met Iain and Myra at Lechlade on the river Thames. We had hoped that they would stop somewhere along the way so we could stop for a chat but alas there has been no sign of them. Hopefully we may catch up with them over the next week on our way to Coventry. We did pass n/b Debdale who's skipper complemented us on our web blog .

The trip was pretty uneventful except for the above bridge which had suffered severe damage possibly by farm machinery passing over it. The Hillmorton locks were busy so it was a case of one out, one in, in fairly quick succession. Once through the locks we stopped for water and then moved up to the 48 hour moorings for lunch. With the sky becoming overcast we pushed on to Rugby where we got the last mooring available on the park side of the canal.

After mooring up I went for a walk and met Mike Stevens on Felis Catus III and had a chat. We have been following Mike’s website since before his present boat was built. After this I went further along the canal hoping to find n/b Martlet with out success. On the way back to the boat it started to rain but I was close to Masters Bridge No 58 so I ducked in under there to shelter until the downpour stopped. Two passing boats had the same idea because it was a real heavy downpour; luckily there was enough room for both of them. As soon as the rain eased we all went on our separate ways again.

We did a quick shop at Tesco’s and picked some more blackberries before returning to the boat.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Thunder and down pours.

9 Locks, 14 Miles. Now moored at Braunston.
587 locks, 731½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

7a.m. and the weather was nice and fine but by the time we set off after breakfast things were starting to become overcast. We managed to get the locks out of the way without getting drenched but as we stopped for lunch the sky opened up and absolutely pelted down with rain. We had just finished lunch when there was an ominous roll of thunder but the rain had eased.

Napton on the hill windmill

We waited until the weather improved before setting off again. Except for meeting boats at bridge holes it was a pretty straight forward run up to Braunston. We turned left at Braunston junction for Rugby and just around the corner we spotted n/b Valerie but Les was out probably in one of the local hostelries. We moored up 5 boats past Les and we had no sooner sat down for a cuppa when the skies opened up again with more thunder.

British Waterways workmen erecting new pilings on the side of the Oxford Canal

Another interesting boat has just passed us, non other than Mike Stevens on n/b Felis Catus III. Well Mike was actually conspicuous by his absence and his good lady, Wendy was at the helm getting drenched. As she approached bridge 90 she had to do a quick back pedal because another boat had stopped under the bridge to shelter from the rain AND feed the swans and cygnets, would you believe it! In carrying out this reversing manouvre of course she came very close to our bow and was very apologetic about her actions but we never came in contact so no harm done. We hope to catch up with Mike and Wendy for a chat now we know where they are.

Beautiful ornate bridge by Midland Chandlery in Braunston

We had planned on walking into the village but the thunder is still rolling around the hills and the rain keeps falling so it’s time to have a read or siesta, what ever mood takes us.
On to Rugby tomorrow and hopefully catch up with Mike and Liz on Snecklifter for a chat and catchup.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Summer, what summer?

0 Locks, 6 Miles. Now moored above bridge 130.
578 locks, 717½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

At breakfast the weather was only a light drizzle but as soon as we decided to cast off the rain became more persistent. It was a fairly uneventful trip except for meeting boats at bridge holes, 3 in all.

We stopped for lunch at Fenny Compton as we had arranged to meet an Australian couple, Tom and Jan Jones. Tom had been emailing me for some time on the subject of getting a narrowboat built incorporating some ideas of his own. I had given him my thoughts on what would or couldn’t work and on different products that I was aware of. Tom and Jan are here visiting their son, having a narrowboat holiday which was affected by the recent flooding and visiting a few boatbuilders to discuss ideas. They will be returning home with a some what better idea on boat building and can come up with a design that suits them best. Before they left they very kindly drove me to Tesco’s at Daventry to get some provisions.

Good luck guys and thanks, keep in touch.

By about 3pm the weather improved so a decision was made to put a few more miles behind us which now puts us within 6 miles of the Napton flight. Along the way we spotted n/b Aotearoa who passed us at Fenny Compton so we moored behind them with the intention of doing some serious damage to some bottles of wine that we had been given by Tom and Jan and our good mate Maffi aka Milly M.

We are still hearing of some horror stories of people stranded on the Thames in the recent flooding but don’t let that put you off going onto the river. They say the recent flooding was a once in a 100 year event. Let common sense prevail. We have been on the Thames many times with different conditions prevailing and at no time felt in danger. We have just kept an eye on the long range weather forecasts and taken advice passed out by the lock keepers along the way.

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Hold ups galore

12 Locks, 7 Miles. Now moored above Claydon top lock.
578 locks, 711½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

After an early morning visit to the famous Tooleys boat yard for some bolts we set off about 9am. We had a great run to start with as there were lots of boats heading south from Cropredy and all the locks were in our favour.

Once we reached Cropredy it was a different story. The Cropredy festival organizers were busy clearing up the rubbish as we passed between their camp site and festival site.

Arrival at Cropredy lock saw us 5th in the queue for the lock and this was the norm until we reached the Claydon flight. With more south bound boats appearing later in the day this helped split the boats up but it was still slow going. We finally moored up about 5.15pm making it the longest and slowest day we have had in the nine months living aboard.

Waiting in a lock queue we spotted some more babies, Piglets this time.

We bumped into another email correspondent from back in 2004/5, New Zealanders, Keith McIvor and his wife Bronwyn aboard their narrowboat Kotuku. Keith emailed us for information prior to getting their boat built and they are now living the dream. Yesterday we also met Hugh and Jane on n/b Poetry in a lock. They are another Kiwi couple enjoying the canal lifestyle which unfortunately will be short lived as they only have NZ passports and have to leave the UK at the end of October. Their boat will be up for sale at Braunston Marina very soon. A good buy for somebody.

As we moored up tonight we were passed by another of our fellow countryman proudly flying the New Zealand flag. Unfortunately we never had a chance to chat. This makes a total of 4 New Zealand boats in 24 hours. I wonder if there are any left at home?

Monday, 13 August 2007


3 Locks, 4 Miles, 2 Lift Bridges. Now moored at Banbury.
566 locks, 704½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 19 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Banbury Cross - yes just like the nursery rhyme

This morning was cool and overcast when we set off. As we had set off early again it was a quiet and uneventful trip. Just past Banbury Tramway moorings we pulled in and moored up on the 14 day moorings behind some commercial buildings. Once moored up we realised that there was blackberries growing up against the building with the fattest, juiciest blackberries we have seen to date. It didn’t take Joy, Alan and I long to fill 3 plastic containers.

Gypsy Rover moored in the centre of Banbury

After a quick walk up to the Banbury town centre we found plenty of moorings in the 24 and 48 hour zones so we pulled the pins and heading on up through the lock and lift bridge. Once safely established we went for a walk to buy some meat and veggies but this is where the problem started. The Castle Quay mall shows a Somerfield supermarket on its door plan but after walking all around the place we found out that it ain’t there no more. We had to settle for M & S who don’t have that good a range of produce. The main item required was cooking apples to go with the blackberries and they did have some of those in stock.

After dropping the goodies back to the boat and catching up with Alan and Joy again we set off in search of the Banbury Cross and what ever else there was of interest.

This evening we have only cooked half of the blackberries and apples and had a superb dessert with ice cream. As we had cooked more than anticipated there is still some left over to have on our breakfast cereal tomorrow morning. The remaining uncooked berries will be dealt with tomorrow evening hopefully in pie form.

Sunday, 12 August 2007

Islands in canals?

6 Locks, 10 Miles, 2 Lift Bridges. Now moored at King Sutton.
563 locks, 700½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 17 lift bridges since Nov 2006

The River Cherwell yesterday, a bit different from a couple of weeks ago.

We cast off from Heyford and moved several boat lengths up to the water point where we refilled before setting off. We had only gone about 500 yards when we spotted Clare and Doug aboard Zanzibar who we first met at Reading on the Thames. We pulled in for a chat and eventually got away about half an hour later. Passed Narrowboat Quidditch just out of Lower Heyford but no signs of life on board, must have been too early!

It was an uneventful cruise until we got to Somerton deep lock where a solo boater was trying to bow haul his boat out of the lock. Several other boat crews got stuck in and helped him out. Apparently he had picked up a prop full of weed coming into the lock.

As I approached the lock I could see a small clump of floating reeds in the lock which Dot and Alan tried to flush out before I got there. I got into the lock OK but as I rose to the top I could see a hive of activity going on above the lock. The lock exit was blocked by a huge floating island of reeds which had broken away from somewhere and floated down to the lock. It took 4 of us half an hour using a long fork and pole hooks to pull the island out of the canal onto the bank. The occupant of the old lock keepers cottage gave us a hand and said he would wait for it to dry out and then fork it over the fence. The lockkeepers cottage is for “Sale by Auction” on Wednesday with strong interest and then the couple will retire to live where else but on the canal in their narrowboat.

We stopped at Aynho wharf for lunch and then carried on until we found a good mooring just above King Sutton lock. From our mooring we can see a combined harvester in the distance making the most of the fine weather.

For the last 2 days we have been taking note of the flood levels of the recent flooding. All along the canal banks and hedgerows we could see where the water had risen to and they were quite frightening levels. It became quite obvious why BW had to close the canal for a time. It’s no wonder that the river Thames has been taking so long to return to normal levels.

Beautiful sunset tonight with Gypsy Rover in silhouette.

Saturday, 11 August 2007

Lock queues.

5 Locks, 7 Miles, 2 Lift Bridges. Now moored at Heyford Wharf.
557 locks, 690½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 15 lift bridges since Nov 2006

Another early start was the order of the day on Friday but with boats all going the same way we soon found ourselves 5th in the queue for the first lock. We did meet the occasional boat travelling in the opposite direction which spread the boats out a bit. At Kingsground boats yard we stopped for diesel which was only 50p a litre. The site is under development and there is an on site lady who will sell you a pump out card but you have to ring the main office to get somebody to come down and dispense the diesel. Apparently the contractor who was developing the site for Kingsground went bust (familiar story these days) and until the liquidator has finalized the winding up of the business they cannot appoint another contractor. Eventually there will be a chandlery, shop and workshop on the canal side site.

The trip up to Heyford wharf was slow but it has been a beautifully hot day. After lunch we went for a walk up to Oxfordshire Narrowboats where we were hoping to find Doug and Clare of n/b Zanzibar who we met on the Thames at Reading. The boat was in the marina but the crew were not onboard. Normally they are in the yard on Fridays and Saturdays but for some unknown reason they were AWOL. We continued on a circular route around the village and along the towpath north of the village before returning to the boat. We were on the lookout for blackberries but they were very small which indicated lack of water early in the growth period. We had found some nice berries around Oxford bit insufficient in quantity.

Elderberries are in abundance so home made wine makers will have a bumper crop to make their favourite tipple.

Friday, 10 August 2007

Finally under way.

5 Locks, 6½ Miles, 3 Lift Bridges. Now moored at Thrupp
552 locks, 683½ miles, 18 Tunnels, 37 swing bridges and 13 lift bridges since Nov 2006

We were up early this morning so that we could make an early cast off and hopefully beat the rush. Pulling away from Osney we had to use plenty of power (1800rpm) to fight the flow. By the time we reached the Sheepwash channel we decided that the best route would be through Isis lock so we turned into the channel where there was a marked difference in water flow.

Alan, Joy and yours truly at Thrupp

We had a good run up as far as Dukes lock where we started to catch up with other boats. Most locks were set for us as there were as many boats going down as up. Just past Roundham lock we were forced into the trees due to an oncoming boat and moored boats. I had to cut my way through using a pair of secateurs that we keep handy for just such occasions.

Thrupp facilities and lift bridge

When we arrived at the Jolly Boatman at Thrupp we moored up and I got onto the roof to sweep all the leaves away. Hello, where’s the boat hook pole? Bugger we must have lost it in the trees. A quick walk back down the towpath and sure enough there was the end of the pole sticking out of the water. Hmmm, how to retrieve yonder pole? A boat in the lock heading my way was my saving grace. I hopped aboard and when alongside the pole I managed to hook it towards the boat where John, the skipper was able to grab it for me.

All present and accounted for.

He then kindly gave me a lift back to Thrupp. Thanks John, I forgot to get your boats name.

We thought we had it bad being stuck on the Thames for 3 weeks, John told me that he had been stuck for 7 weeks which included wading through waist deep water, a rescue by the tug Tungsten from Oxford cruisers and a week in the marina.

Thursday, 9 August 2007


Still moored above Osney lock.

Today has been the day many boaters have been looking forward to for a very long time. The red boards are coming down to be replaced with yellow boards. Needless to say the flow of boats through here today has been fairly constant. We have had about 15 boats going up river and only 6 going down. The latter were really flying as they went through here.

Mid morning we went to the railway station to meet our guests, Alan and Joy Moore from the NZMCA who are joining us for a trip to Rugby. After getting them settled on board we went up town to buy some fresh milk, fruit and vegetables.

The rest of the day was spent adjusting mooring ropes, tidying up and checking everything in the engine hole ready for cruising tomorrow.

We have enjoyed our enforced stay here in Oxford and made many new friends but we are looking forward to moving on to new territory and a change of scenery by the end of the month.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

The lifting of n/b Hertford.

Still moored above Osney lock.

This morning we had a busy morning doing 2 water runs from the pub using our neighbours’ wheel barrow. Using every receptacle we could find I could carry more each trip. We had no sooner done this when our Tesco delivery arrived delivered by a very attractive Tesco lady. Unfortunately she wasn’t part of the order.

A short while later a couple of boats went past us which caught our interest. The first was a narrow boat that had come up through Osney lock yesterday. He was heading up river until he was abreast of us where the channel narrows and he just sat there motionless going no where. It wasn’t until he was just about at full throttle that he started to make headway. By the time he reached Botley Road Bridge his speed started to increase but only marginally.

The other boat was a tug from Oxford cruisers and we took a guess that they were going to try and recover the “Hertford” See our earlier story here.

So with cameras in hand we locked up the boat and set off for Folly Bridge.
Upon rounding the bend we spied the tug alongside Hertford with 3 pumps set up trying to pump the boat out. After a while they attached some ropes and a steel hawser to try and pull the boat away from the channel marker but she was stuck fast. They managed to raise the boat so far but then they were fighting a losing battle with more water pouring into the stern.









Using the engine hole cover board across the rear access with a sheet of plastic and stuffing a curtain that was unceremoniously ripped out of Hertford, into the engine hole vent they managed to get control. When the boat was fully afloat but listing they put a rope onto the bow and with quite a lot of power applied by the tug they managed to pull it free. They towed Hertford up river a wee way into the shallows and re-arranged the pumps to try and get the boat on a more even keel. The whole operation took about 2 hours and eventually they started to tow the boat back up river on a short tow rope.


Once they had come up through Osney lock their worst nightmare was about to come true because with Hertford having no power it would be at the mercy of the river once it got into the weir stream. They maneuvered both boats as far away from the weir stream as possible so that they were not too close to moored boats should Hertford become uncontrollable. Between the 3 crew they managed to keep Hertford under control and moored outside the Watermans Arms pub for a well deserved lunch. An hour or so later they set off again and coming through the narrows alongside us the tug was really working hard to make headway. We heard on the towpath telegraph later that Hertford was now back at College Cruisers on the Oxford canal awaiting a very extensive re-fit.


As I sit here writing this blog we have heard that the red boards could come down tomorrow BUT there will still be a strong flow to contend with. Another narrowboat has just come up through the lock and he is making hard work of it with black smoke belching from his exhaust and a huge bow wave as he punches into the flow. He slowed down approaching Botley Road Bridge as he has a lot of gear on his roof and Dot tells me that something did hit the bridge but he didn’t lose anything overboard. Another narrow boat coming down river met the first boat at the bridge and had to do a quick back pedal because there isn’t room for 2 boats to pass at the bridge. He has now just gone flying past us.