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Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Windy in Walingford

What  a night, cor wasn't it windy, we were moored against a wall in Wallingford and was tossed and rolled all night, got up once to make sure the ropes were tied up ok which they were, but we were still rock n rolling .

After eventually getting to sleep we woke to a bright sunny morning but their was still a wind around, so we set off under the bridge of Wallingford, and the river widens with farmlands on both sides occasionally a big house sits proud and neat compared to the country side, the wind is a challenge and buffers the boat left and right. The hills gradually narrows around the river as we approach Cleeve lock and then Goring lock where we are going to moor for the night.

Rowers the equilavant of cyclist on the roads, pain in the butt :) 

This lock is set in a fantastic location with massive weirs make a spectacular sight, we moor and baton down the hatches again, but the winds aren't half as bad as light, speak to you tomorrow .
On another note I lost another dental implant, don't know what's happening and will be glad to get back home and to the dentist, maybe it's scurvy the curse of the sailor.

Monday, 30 March 2015

On the Thames

IIWhat a better day, the sun shinining but the wind is keen, but a lot better than yesterday, so we break our mooring and off we set pass the keen young Oxford rowers out training in their different water crafts. 
We pass all the different colleges rowing club buildings before we meet our first lock named  Iffley normally the locks are manned with lockeepers, but this one I'd lockeepers free, so Denise must operate it, but they  are a breeze because they are controlled by buttons which make them easy.
The pretty Iffley lock keepers house .

And onwards down the Thames we travel into suburbia with houses priced out of most people's salary, with there manicured gardens rolling to the edge of the river.loads of wild birds grace the banksides, and one stands out more than the rest, the Red Kite 

and there seems loads here. We then pass Abingdon a lovely village, but today we don't stop to have a look around, but we have a quick stop for water. 

We go through a few more manned locks the river is so much different to the canals with plenty to see and keep you interested, with rowers , other Narrowboats, birds and posh houses, the river goes from open countryside to villages dotted around the river.

We then moor up for the night at Wallingford a town that dates back to Caesars time, but morey recently Agatha Christie use to reside here, which gave her inspiration for her Miss Marple series, also the television series Midsomer Murders were filmed here.

A few ghost stories


The ‘George’ Inn is a very ancient pub with many a story to tell. The best known is that surrounding the so-called ‘Tear-Drop Room’. This guest-bedroom is has a wall hand decorated all over with what are either tears or pears. It is said they were painted by a distraught landlord’s daughter who had been confined in the room for her own safety. The poor girl had gone completely round the bend, upon hearing of the murder of her lover. She apparently mixed soot from the fireplace with her tears and used her finger to draw the only shape she could think of on the wall. One hotel guest was woken in the night by a very life-like young woman with tears streaming down her face. She turned and disappeared into the tear-drop wall. The witness had no prior knowledge of the old story.

In Room 5 at the same inn, several guests are reported to have seen the ghosts of two young children standing by the Wash Basin.

The cellars have also produced the phenomenon known as ‘instant replay’ or ‘delayed echo’. After having replaced all the bungs in the beer-barrels one night, the barman locked the cellar door, only to hear, from the other side, the sound of the bungs being tapped again.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

And still in Oxford

On to the Thames 

We awoke about 10.00hrs which is late for us and even though the weather was pants this morning, raining and extremely windy, we still decided to set off, so off we go and on to the Thames, but the wind is really gusty and controlling the boat is hard work, we manage to get through one lock on the Thames before we decided to moor up as the rain and wind was just to much.
New board telling us it's ok to go on to the Thames by green lights.

So moored up we have dinner and a day in front of the fire and hopefully set off down the Thames tomorrow.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Still in Oxford

We only moved a few hundred yards today, we left our 24 hr mooring and moved closer to the centre of Oxford on to a 48hr mooring. We then took a walk into the shopping area of Oxford and into M&S shop where our niece Rhiannon was hosting a fashion show, Rhiannon lives normally with Denise's sister Val and her husband Tony in Poole, Dorset so it was a bit of a surprise to find Rhiannon was here at the same time of us, we only had a quick chat whilst she was between shows it still was lovely to see her.

We then headed back to the boat and had a lazy Saturday afternoon, but getting ready for our trip back onto the mighty Thames river tomorrow.

An unusual lock :-)

Friday, 27 March 2015

Thrupp to Oxford

Weather is back to its glorious self today with the sun shining, we leave Thrupp and soon we reach Kidlington an extended suburb of Oxford, and nearby is the Oxford Air Traing school of only 20 such places in the world  training  airline pilots.
We then pass Dukes cut which links the Oxford canal with the Thames, and then pass the array of narrowboats that moor here under Agenda 21.
We then moor at our usual mooring spot right next to a playing fields and kiddies park, we then hike to the shops to top up our provisions, and back to the boat for the evening.

Some Oxford ghost stories........

Colonel Francis Winderbank is the resident scary monster of Merton College. Some reports claim he was shot in 1645 after surrendering to Oliver Cromwell.Those that have seen the apparition say he walks around the library on his knees. It is more likely that the ghost is actually walking on the original floor before it was raised to the present level.
The library of St John's College is also haunted, by the headless ghost of Archbishop William Laudwho was beheaded in 1645 following impeachment by the Long Parliament. Late at night students immersed in their studies have been disturbed by Laud kicking his head along the floor with a candle in his hand.
The lack of a head is a strong trend amongst ghosts. A fellow called Napier was punished for his crimes by being cut into pieces and scattered around the city perimeter. His spirit managed to put himself back together but couldn't find his head. Now he endures eternity riding up and down the Banbury Road in his endless search.
Obadiah Walker was the catholic master of University college and tried to follow James II when he fled to France. Sadly he was caught in Kent and imprisoned. Although he was released for the last ten years of his life he was a broken man. His solemn spirit is still moping around the front quad.
Probably the most tragic tale of an Oxford ghost is that of Rosamund the Fair. King Henry II was deeply in love with the Nun who lived in Godstow Nunnery, which lies on the opposite bank of Trout Island. It was built in 1133, and was consecrated in 1179 by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the presence of King Henry II.It is said that the King kept his concubine in a secret garden that was protected by a labyrinth and guarded by one of his knights. The knight held the end of a silver thread which lead to Rosamund. The Queen was very jealous and killed the knight, stole the thread and when she caught up with Rosamund killed her by making her drink from a poisoned chalice. 

Now Rosamund haunts the Trout pub Wolvercote. She is often seen as a shadowy figure sneaking around in the awnings.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

lower Heyford to Thrupp

Last nights mooring,wasn't that noisy due to the trains, but. We woke this morning to a miserable grey raining day. So off we go despite the rain and as we encounter our first bridge we stop and take on water, then we carry on our journey.

The canal runs through open countryside and farmlands with lovely views both sides, and the grounds of Rousham house, 
We been lucky this journey and have spotted many birds, including Kestrel,Kites, Herons and even last night a barn owl, plus loads of farm animals and there young offsprings.

The  course of the canal then enters woodland and Pigeon lock marks the centre of the woods,then we pass Gibralta with its pub " The Rock of GIibralta "  and then onto this night mooring at the picturesque village Thrupp.,_Oxfordshire

We then moor up again and dry off, saying that the weather has improved this afternoon.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Banbury to Lower Heyford

Another lovely sunny morning but as previously a bit on the chilly side, we get up wash, dress and have breakfast and then it's of to do a bit of food shopping we get a few fresh products to see us for the next couple of days before we get back to the boat.
Then after putting the shopping away we break our mooring and off we set, Denise's first job is to operate the swing bridge wich spans ther canal in the middle of the shopping centre, then we have a lock before we stop to take on water and get rid of some rubbish. 
And off we go again

Then we leave the urbanisation of Banbury and it's back it open countryside again, the train runs adjacent to the canal and the busy M40 crosses over a few times with its hustle and bustle of vehicles.

The river Cherwell also follows this part of the canal  this rural stretch of the canal is punctuated by the characteristic wooden lift bridges which fortunate for us are in the open position.
King Sutton village can be seen in the distance and then its on to the village of Anyho a pretty village whose village square has be unchanged,onwards not stopping we travel into Somertons deep lock, and at 12 ft deep it's pretty deep.

Then onto Upper Heyford  with its difficult lift bridge, so Denise steers the boat while I operate it then we arrive at our over night mooring, at Lower Heyford, here we moor right next to the railway station which is a main line to  London, high speed trains and heavy good train are our companion for the night, the boat actually shudders when the latter trains pass. And no internet for the last couple of days a mast is down for repair , so will have to upload these at a later date.


Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Cropredy to Banbury

Hi we set off quite early this morning to another sunny but cold morning, it's a lovely time of the year, with all the signs of spring, little clumps of primrose and Daffoidls on the banks of the canal.
As we set off  our first lock to operate is straight away with is handy provision store not that far away at the bridge. We are then out in open countryside with only a few houses visable from the canal, only another three locks to day before we arrive at our overnight mooring spot in Banbury.
As we approach the outskirts of Banbury countryside give way to an urban enviroment with factory's, offices and housing. Normanly mooring in Banbury is at a premium as its location is right in the heart of the town but today we could pick our spot, which we did, we suppose that it will be a lot busier I'm the next few weeks and months.
So we moor up,Denise gives the boat a quick vacum, and we then go shopping as to buy myself a new pair of boots, as you all know what I thought was a pair of boots turned out to be two left ones, as luck has it there was a Mountain Warehouse shop in the arcade. I spoke to the girl and explained that I had purchased two left boots in Cardiff, she spoke to her head office and they gave me a new pair to replace the two left boots.
So I was happy as I didn't have to spend money,which was a bit of luck, not so lucky with my tooth after speaking to a dentist she advised that I wait till we see our own dentist, which we will do, so no smiling for photos for me, Denise says that. I don't often smile anyway so no change there.
We are not doing any sight seeing today as we have been here last year but it's best known for its nursery rhyme and spice buns.
Ride a cock-horse to Banbury Cross,
To see a fine lady upon a white horse;
Rings on her fingers and bells on her toes,
And she shall have music wherever she goes.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Wormleigh hill to Cropredy

We left our mooring with its views over glorious countryside, we then pass Fenny Compton wharf here we take on water, this is also  nice mooring stop with the Wharf pub,which also sell provisions, milk,bread, and the like. After filling the water tank we set off through a cutting which was originally a tunnel and Just after going under Bridge 138 (which carries the A423 road) you will see a narrow path going half back and up the canal bank - just a little way up you come to an old brick kiln. This was where the bricks were made for the old tunnel - the building is still intact though somewhat covered in vegetation including some huge stinging nettles however you can go inside it.

Next we reach our first lock of the day, Claydon top lock with its village set back away from the canal,we have another eight lock to operate as the canal now drops down to the village of Cropredy, all of these locks are straight forward, and it's not long before we moor for the night at Cropredy a sleepy natured village which every August burst into life with is annual folk festival wich began in 1979 when the sixties band Fairport Conventions held there farewell concert here.

Also at Cropredy a civil water battle took place in the year 1644 on the 29th of June here the Roylalist Cavalry managed to capture Cromwells forces artillery and scattering  their army, thus protecting Oxford. Cropredy Name comes from ‘croppe’ meaning hill and ‘ridig’ meaning small stream, it's pretty village with a Post Office,local store and local pubs.
So we settle down in front of  a warm stove , before dinner and a night of telly.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A couple of days in the marina till we left for the Oxford Canal today

HWe stayed in the marina as we had a few little jobs to do, things like riveting the hooks as to attach the cratch cover too,a bit of touch up painting and other little jobs. We were going to move on Saturdayt but decided that as we had a great television signal in the marina that we stay put as to watch the climax of the Rugby Six Nations, and what a seven hours of rugby it was so Congratulations  to Ireland for winning the championship.
So  back to today, we got up had some breakfast before setting of on our journey, we left the marina and turned left on to the Oxford Canal, this is the second time we travelled down this canal but we need to to this as to eventually get on to our main destination the Kennet and Avon canal. The sun is warm on our faces but their is stil a chill in the air, all was going well till we came to our first lock, Napton bottom lock one of nine in this flight of locks. As we approached it we noticed a queue of Narrowboats waiting, and one of the boats crew came to us and told us that a boat had run a ground in a lock, and as we found out later a few locks and there water pounds were low on water, so we had wait until the water was transfered all away from the top lock down nine locks till the bottom lock which increased the water in all the locks and re floating the stuck in the lock boat who could the carry on their journey.
This costs us over an hour of our journey, but we were in no hurry so didn't really bother us and eventually we were on our way. Passing the tiny settlement of Marston Doles which owed it existence to the canal, towing horses were stabled here and the remains of the old pumping house building was situated here, pumping water between the top and bottom lock, today we could of done with this water.
We reached our last lock  and then pass the little village of Prior Harwick before we decide to to moor at the brow of Wormleighton hill for the night, where we enjoyed a spectacular sunset, unfortunately I have a new  camera and can't transfer the photos from it to the IPad for some reason, hopefully will be able to work it out soon.
Another problem I found out today is that whilst back in Cardiff I bought a pair of new walking boots, today when I went to put them on I found that they were two left boots, so no new boots for me today.
And also one of my front teeth implant came out so I have a gap in front, not the best start of to the week, hope it gets better.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

A new adventure gets ready to begin

Hi everyone, Denise and I Are back on the boat, getting prepared to start a new journey, our plan is to travel back down the Oxford then on to the Thames again, before we start a new canal The Marvelous Kennet and Avon.
We traveled up yesterday on a beautiful spring day with plenty of new born lambs frolicking in the fields,we transfered our clothes, food and other bits from our car to the boat, unpacked then Denise gave a clean to the boat whilst I tried to repair our tiller.
Some of you might remember from last year that we knocked  the tiller out of alignment whilst in a lock, which meant that I had to hold the tiller arm at an angle as to manoeuvre straight, it's been a right B to fix, I have tried banging it with a lump hammer, with no joy so we bought a gear puller so that we might pull it off all to no avail, so I gave up for the day and we settled down by our nice warm stove for the night.
Today a cold overcast morning so we got up and paid a visit to the local Tesco for fresh supplies and then back to the boat and for me back to try and fixing then tiller, I spent ages  putting this gear puller on and off and on and off, still I couldn't get the tiller arm off and gave up and asked our engineer at the marina to have a look. Ron the engineer came over with a gas burner heated it up and whacked it with a sledge hammer ..........job done, I spent hours trying to do it and Ron done it within minutes.
So a straight tiller again hooray, and back to the warm boat for another quite eveing, up earlyish tomorrow as a solar eclipse is due as long as the weather is kind to us, speak to you tomorrow .