Monday, 30 September 2013

Crossing the summit.

Gosty Hill is still up for sale, if you're interested in a hundred year old working boat she's going for a reasonable price. That's her inboard of Ditton.

Yesterday we moved on across the summit level.

Looking back through Fenny Compton tunnel. Opened in 1776 as a tunnel and opened out to it's present configuration in several stages between 1838 and 1870 as it had become a bottleneck for traffic on the canal.

We're having a quiet day moored at Ladder Bridge, view from the kitchen window looking over to Napton, beautiful spot at the moment. Once they build the wind farm and HS2 is driven through here it will lose much of it's appeal as a pleasant mooring.

Thanks to those who replied about the NeoCounter, it seems that everyone can see it except me. Wish I understood how these things work, obviously something my end but what? No point in giving me advice on it, it'll go straight over my head.

Watch this space............

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Banbury and some twigs.

Just to catch up; moved on to Banbury where, as per the nursery rhyme, there is Banbury Cross,

not the original, that was destroyed by puritans in 1600. The current cross was built in 1859 and now it sits on a roundabout.

The fine lady still seems to be worrying about the efficiency of her underarm deoderant.

We treated ourselves to a meal in the best restaurant in Banbury, Quisine. We opted for an Indian meal, we didn't regret the choice.

 Starters for one.

Dessert, unfortunately the picture of the main course wasn't usable, actually the main course didn't survive long enough to be recorded.

See what I mean?
Today we moved on to the top of Claydon Locks.

The new marina at Cropredy is now open and seems to have a fair level of occupancy already.

Intrigued to find, on the top of each set of ground paddle gear, a twig. It took Jill to work out why. The paddle gear had been freshly greased,

the twig was to manipulate the ratchet, avoiding getting grease on ones hands. Clever. I just wiped my hands on my strides, there'll be trouble when Jill spots it.

Meanwhile the willows have discovered a new pastime, covering the roof of the boat with autumn leaves.

Watch this space.............

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

An interrupted days fishing and a request.

Today's view, looking over the Cherwell valley from our mooring by Chisnell Lift Bridge. Definitely one of our favourite stopping places.
I got my day's fishing in, caught a few nice roach in between interruptions from passing boats and the unavoidable towpath walkers.

Why do they always have to try and push past you? No manners at all.

Now I have a request, I'm having problems with the NeoCounter, the background is there but none of the stats. or the flags etc. are showing when I look at it. I've contacted Neoworx and they say it's working and when they look at the blog it's all fine. Are you seeing it ok? Please let me know by leaving a comment about it. Thank you.

Watch this space....................

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

A tale of three locks.

We left Thrupp in an early morning mist and after watering and saying Hi to Maffi we set off to Shipton Weir Lock.

There are several explanations as to why the lock chamber here is an odd shape, personally I think they had the plans the wrong way round so instead of being seven feet wide and twelve feet deep it is twelve feet wide and seven feet deep. Either that or, by the time they got here, they were bored with building all the same shape so had a shot at something different. Boringly it seems that it is just a water control device as this is where the River Cherwell leaves the canal.

About a mile further on, just below Baker's Lock, is where the river joins the canal from under this side bridge. So for a mile we were boating on the Cherwell, a river we had last seen at Oxford, where it flows into the Thames.
When we arrived at Northbrook Lock we were warned by a descending boat that the bottom gate wouldn't open fully so we might need to give it a nudge.

Result? We jammed solid, could move neither forward nor back. We eventually shifted her backwards by lifting the top paddles and flushing her out. By now other boats had arrived so, in the finest traditions of the canals, we set too with a will.

First a meeting of minds to discuss the problem.

Then judicious exploratory operations. We detected a build up of silt in the gate recess.

Some vigorous stirring with the boat shaft then working the gate too and fro and the gate finally surrendered and swung fully into the recess.
Success! We went on our way rejoicing.

Upper Heyford, a perfect juxtaposition of Church, Manor House and barn, all built in the local stone.
We were aiming to stop just above Somerton Deep Lock.

This is why it's called deep lock. At twelve feet it's one the deepest narrow locks on the system.

This is the view looking back once the lock is full.

This was the view looking forward, islands of floating reeds everywhere. Note the piled up weed on the lock side. We eventually cleared a path through and made it to our chosen spot.
Fishing tomorrow?

Watch this space.............

Monday, 23 September 2013

Back in the old routine.

Today we left the big river, the channel to the left is Dukes Cut that joins the Thames to the Oxford Canal, avoiding going through Oxford.

After fighting our way through overhanging willows and a fallen tree we arrived at Dukes Cut Lock, our first narrow lock since March. At one time the lock was fitted with two sets of gates so it could work in either direction depending on the river level but now it just drops a sedate six inches or so.

It does boast some rather unusual paddle gear though, all enclosed and with a nice hook to put on the windlass to prevent it closing,

This what it looks like inside if you poke tour camera through a hole in the side, lots of cobwebs.
 We were soon in the swing of twirling the windlass and pushing the gates open, Thames lock keepers really spoil you.

The first of the Oxfords signature lift bridges. It's like coming back home. Just that everything seems so small, Jill wasn't even sure we could get into the locks because they seemed so narrow.

Watch this space...........

Friday, 20 September 2013

The last VC10's

Just as a matter of interest, technically, the bridge at Newbridge is not the oldest on the Thames.

The bridge at Radcot dates from C.1200 but it no longer spans the river but crosses what is now a backwater, just used as moorings.

In 1787 the river was re-routed and a new bridge built across the new cut, presumably the old bridge was not large enough to take the more modern barges. Fascinating eh?
The Thames is lined with WWII pill boxes, mostly made from poured concrete but there is one near Buscot that seems to vary from the norm.

This one appears to be constructed from stone blocks and seems to have been hit by artillery of some sort, notice the round holes in the blocks, these are not architectural features. I don't recall hearing that the Wermacht got this far so who shot at it? Or is there another explanation?

At Grafton Lock there is a small flock of really pretty ducks, the lockie told us that they are Welsh Harlequins and they just turned up, no one knows from where.

Meanwhile, circling overhead, it's the RAF from Brize Norton, noisy bu++ers.
But today was a rather special day for Crab Air*,
the last operational flight of the VC10 in flight refuelling aircraft and I managed to get photo' of the last two as they returned to Brize.

Enjoy, this is a sight that will never be seen again. See here.
After forty seven years of service they are going for scrap. I know how they feel.
We moored on a nice remote bit of bank above Rushey Lock, no sooner had we got the pins in than two cruisers trurned up and moored right on our front end, sigh.

* In the Royal Navy members of our revered comrades in the RAF are known as Crabfats and the aerial sections are therefore referred to as Crab Air. Bit like Ryan Air but not quite as posh.

Watch this space..........

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Lechlade and the head of navigation, at last.

Hooray, we eventually arrived at Lechlade yesterday morning, just in time to say hello to Sue and Vic of No Problem and Graham and Jill on Matilda Rose as they pulled pins and headed off downstream. Hopefully we will eventually catch up and have time for a proper chinwag.

As we ascended St. John's lock Old Father Thames was waiting for us. He used to sit at the rivers source near Kemble, Gloucestershire but has now moved to Lechlade and gained a shovel, perhaps he's joined the W.R.G. and is waiting to join the next work party on the Thames and Severn Canal. I will put in a disclaimer here, I have no connection with that splendid bunch of people who do so much to forward the restoration of so many canals except as an admirer.
The head of navigation is currently a bit beyond the moorings at Lechlade but we were advised that the winding point at the junction of the Thames and Severn Canal is rather silted up we turned below the bridge and after mooring and enjoying a well earned cuppa we walked up to Inglesham.

The well known round house stands at the junction

of river and canal. One day boats will once again be able to travel through the Cotswolds from Thames to Severn, but I suspect I will no longer be boating by then, probably be pushing up the daisies.
Looking at the depth of water and the sandbanks here I think we might just have managed to wind, we're fifty seven foot, anything longer would struggle.
Lechlade itself is a lovely example of a Cotswold town,

Several junk antique shops and, intriguingly,

a shop dedicated to all things Christmas. Each to his own.
This morning we topped up the victualling store and are now sitting out the last day of bad weather for a while. If you can believe that you can plait soot.
Off back downstream tomorrow.

Watch this space.......

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Weather lore and bovine curiosity.

Not trusting the Met. Office I have long been a follower of traditional weather forecasting.

Red sky at night, shepherds delight.

Red sky in the morning, shepherds warning.
So howcum the top picture was last night and the bottom one this morning, sunny periods maybe? It turned out rotten anyway, wind and rain again. As it's a nice spot we took one look at the weather, said a few rude words and stayed put. I'll just watch the B.B.C. in future.
We did find one drawback to our mooring, this afternoon Jill called my attention to some unexpected visitors peering in the window.

Their curiosity got the better of them so they called their mates over to have a look,

One of them

even inspected the mooring lines, he never said anything so I presume the knots met with his approval.
I'll be treading carefully when we pull pins tomorrow.
Lechlade or bust tomorrow.

Watch this space............