Monday, 26 May 2014

Kidlington Green.


This week we are moored in the middle of nowhere,about four and a half miles North of Oxford at what the Lock sign says is Kidlington Green.We haven’t had a look round the area because one of the locals said there were no pubs here when they asked why we were stopping.Having no pub is about as far from civilisation as it’s possible to get,in this day and age,and from the locals question I got the feeling that they think we only moor near pubs.Whatever gives them that idea? Today hasn’t been a good day for going anywhere anyway ‘cos it’s done nothing but rain since the early hours,well that’s what I’ve been told by Lisa who knows such things.Me,I tend to sleep rather soundly and it would probably need a rather substantial Thunderstorm to attract my attention.We got here yesterday in glorious sunshine so I took the opportunity to give Chyandour a bit of a wash down to get rid of some of the grime we collected in Oxford,the roof was getting a bit untidy too,so that got sorted while I was at it.

After last weeks Blog we had one more night on the River Thames,stopping at Bablock Hythe which is described in Wikipedia as a hamlet,five miles West of Oxford where an important vehicular ferry had crossed the Thames since 1279.The reason we stopped there was because there were good moorings and a pub called The Ferryman.Unfortunately,unbeknown to us,the pub is closed on a Tuesday.Not to be outdone,the four of us,Lisa,Myself,Rob and Suzie,set off like the intrepid explorers we would like to be,to The Red Lion at Northmoor,just over a mile away.We sat outside in the garden where we enjoyed a pint or two and the company of an old Pig farmer who lived in the village.Apparently his claim to fame was that he was the only known elected village idiot with a trophy to show for it,something he was quite proud of.

Wednesday was our last day on the Thames and we cruised the nine miles or so from Bablock Hythe back to Oxford.I have to be honest,I was sorry to be leaving the Thames,we’d all had a fabulous time on it,helped of course by the excellent weather,and I am now looking forward to doing it again in the future.

Thames 3 2014 002  Thames 3 2014 004

As you can see,the Thames was really hard work,it was like this every day.The Lock Cottage at Rushey Lock,all the Thames Lock Cottages we saw were different.

Thames 3 2014 015  Thames 4 2014 003

Lisa at the Helm as we headed back to Oxford and Yours Truly not quite hiding behind the BBQ,message to self,you must find a better place to keep it.

Our plan was to have another few days in Oxford,getting to see a couple of places we had missed last time and stocking up on the essentials ready for our departure yesterday.Saturday was the highlight of our stay in Oxford,in spite of the heavy rain showers,which by and large we managed to dodge.Beatrice,our latest Granddaughter,brought her Mum and Dad to see us for the day and her dad,who’d been a Student in Oxford,was able to give us a bit of a guided tour.He took us to see some of his old College,Worcester,which is right alongside the canal just before it’s current terminus.We got to see the two pubs that both claim to be the oldest in Oxford,The Bear and the Turf Tavern but we settled instead for The Lamb & Flag and The Head of the River.I liked the Lamb & Flag but though the Head of the River had good outside seating by the side of the Thames,it was a tad expensive.Everyone but myself had a Pimms but even the beer was over £4 a pint.We had a look around Christ Church College as well before our final destination The Old Bookbinders in Jericho.Unfortunately we didn’t find this pub until a couple of days ago and it proved to be the best of them all.It’s owned by a Frenchman and his son and the food is excellent,if you like Snails and Mussels that is,and I do.There are other items on the menu and when we go back to Oxford I shall get in there at the first opportunity to sample some more.

Thames 4 2014 006  Thames 4 2014 012

Part of Worcester College and looking towards the college from the college Boating Lake.

Thames 4 2014 014  Thames 4 2014 017

Inside part of the Bodleian Library and the Quad at Christ Church College.

Thames 4 2014 022  Thames 4 2014 030

Recognise this anyone? It’s the dining room in Christ Church,it was used in the making of the Harry Potter movies.

Thames 4 2014 024  Thames 4 2014 038

Lisa in front of the Top Table and pushing Beatrice with her Mum and Dad.

Well,that’s all again for this week folks.Since last week we have done 10 Locks and 25 Miles.That gives us a Grand Total of 734 Locks and 1318 Miles since we set off back in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Monday, 19 May 2014

River Thames.


Our Blog comes to you this week from a beautiful mooring on the Thames just West of Rushey Lock,which is South of the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire.OK,I know I’ve told everyone who’s prepared to listen that Lisa and I would not be doing any rivers this year,but,as always,our plans are flexible and subject to change at the drop of a hat and that’s what’s happened.No,not the hat dropping,just the change of plan at shortish notice.Anyway,as I’ve said in earlier Blogs,we met up with Rob and Suzie off Swamp Frogs and,having a week or two to spare,we all decided to go on to the Thames at Oxford and cruise to Lechlade and back.We were all a bit nervous about our first trip onto the Thames but honestly,we’ve had an absolute brilliant time.The weather has been superb,it just couldn’t have been any better,with long hot sunny days making both cruising and being moored an absolute pleasure.We haven’t cruised everyday,we’ve had three relaxing days,a day each way between Oxford and Lechlade and a day in Lechlade itself.The days we’ve cruised though have been something special,the River Thames is beautiful as it meanders through the Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire countryside.The scenery is lovely and seems to go on forever,broken only by the occasional well maintained lock and lock cottage,each one unique.In fact our time on the Thames has been awesome,we couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to it.

Thames 2014 002  Thames 2014 007

Looking back over Duke’s Cut Lock to the junction with the Oxford Canal and looking back along our first stretch of the River Thames.

Thames 2 2014 001  Thames 2014 031

On the moorings at Eynsham Lock and in the Lock itself.Our first on the Thames and it was Self Service.

Thames 2014 075  Thames 2014 083

Rob & Suzie on Swamp Frogs and a footbridge over the Thames with a Heron on the Balustrade.

Thames 2014 097  Thames 2014 100

One of the many WW2 Pillboxes alongside the Thames  and a statue of Old Father Thames at St.John’s Lock just before Lechlade.St.John’s Lock is the last lock on the navigable River Thames.

Thames 2014 102  Thames 2014 101

Suzie preparing to open the Lock Gates which are easy for their size and the two boats in the lock,see the miniature houses in the background.

The Locks on the Thames are easy compared to a lot of canal locks.On some of them there are Lock Keepers who take you through the locks and who don’t say no to a bit of assistance.They do like you to tie up fore and aft and switch off your engine though,unlike canals where you can get away with just a centre line or keep in the centre using your engine.Other Thames locks may have a sign saying Self Service displayed,they have big wheels to open the paddles which are so much easier than using a Windlass and the gates open without any effort.They are all wide locks so two of you can go through at one time,more if they are small boats.Up this end of the Thames the moorings are nothing like what you could expect on a canal,there’s no piling and no bollards or rings,you invariably have to moor using pins.Finding a mooring can be a tad difficult too.We’ve been led to believe that you can moor anywhere where it doesn’t say “No Mooring” but the solution is to ask the Lockies who know where the best mooring places are,apparently you do get to know where to moor with a bit of experience.The River itself takes on a very twisty route up to Lechlade and you get plenty of practice on the Tiller.You also have to be very mindful of the Shoals,or Sandbanks,that build up on the inside of the bends,some,but not all are marked with Buoys,so it pays to not “cut the corners”.We saw that one unfortunate boater had got caught out yesterday and he was well away from the inside of the bend.He declined our assistance,waiting instead for a boat going in the opposite direction.We told the Lockie at the next lock,who was aware of the boaters plight,he was already raising the level of the river by adjusting the Weirs.This would help the boat refloat and we found out today that he also got a tow off from a Widebeam

We left Oxford last Tuesday and our plan was to moor for the night on Duke’s Cut before venturing onto the Thames the next morning.Well,you know it’s right what they say about best laid plans,there wasn’t anywhere to moor on Duke’s Cut so we just had to keep going.Our first night was spent on the moorings below Eynsham Lock and from there we walked into the village of Eynsham itself.The intention was to do a bit of sightseeing,that’s all,it wasn’t our fault that there was a heavy shower of rain and the only shelter was one of the local pubs.We only had one before heading back to our boats but it came on to rain again and we were still ten minutes from the mooring so we had to seek refuge again and,surprise surprise,there was another pub close to hand.This one was called The Talbot and sold Arkells ales,a brewery we hadn’t heard of,we felt it rude not to sample a couple of their products before heading home for tea.

We got to Lechlade on Friday with no real plans on what to do but we got into a couple of moorings at the edge of a farmers field,for which we had to pay £4 a night,and when the farmer came for the money the next morning we decided to stay a couple of nights and have a look at what the town had to offer.It’s a nice place with a few pubs,the usual takeaways and a convenience store,where we could get a few things to tide us over on our return to Oxford.While we were there I wanted to have a look at the remains of the Thames and Severn canal which was built in 1789 and connected the Thames at Inglesham Lock near Lechlade to the Stroudwater Navigation at Stroud.The Stroudwater Navigation  connected Stroud to the Severn Estuary and as a result a through route was formed between London and Bristol.The canal was abandoned by 1941 but there has been an active restoration campaign by the Cotswold Canal Trust since 1972 and some parts have been restored.Sadly,the lock at Inglesham that I was hoping to see has not been one of them,in fact it was impossible to even get near the site of the old lock.

Thames 2 2014 009  Thames 2 2014 008

Ha’penny Bridge at Lechlade with the old Toll house at the end.Bet you can’t guess what the toll was.The Roundhouse at the end of the navigable River Thames.The Thames and Severn Canal went to the right of the Roundhouse but this was as close as we could get.

Leaving Lechlade on Sunday morning we made our way through 4 Locks and along 9 miles of river to where we are now.We call this mooring Buttercup Meadow because,guess what? it’s full of Buttercups.Nothing gets past us on a good day you know.RAF Brize Norton is only about 4 Miles away and we get to see some of the aircraft that are stationed there as they fly overhead while conducting multiple landings and take-offs.We’ve had the Lockheed C-130J Hercules,the Boeing C-17 Globemaster and the Airbus A330 Voyager all fly over us while we’ve been here.

Thames 2014 110  Thames 2014 115

Buttercup Meadow and me deep in concentration pouring a beer.

Well that’s it again for this week.Since last Tuesday we have  done 15 Locks and 39 Miles which gives us a Grand Total of 724 Locks and 1293 Miles since we set off back in October 2012.Take care everyone.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014



I’m writing this weeks blog while moored in the city of Oxford.We did the 5 Miles,3 Locks and 3 Lift bridges between Thrupp and here last Tuesday and pulled into the first likely moorings we saw,they were just past Bridge 240 alongside a play park.The moorings were a little bit out from the City centre but they were quiet and did us for a couple of days or so. There aren’t many moorings on the approach to Oxford,what there are seemed to be taken up by what is signposted as Agenda 21 Residential Moorings.Others that we tried were too shallow to get Chyandour alongside the towpath.Spaces became available nearer to the City Centre on Friday and that is where we are now,a part of Oxford called Jericho,opposite College Cruisers Hire Boat base.We’re going to move off tomorrow,Tuesday,to make our way back up the Oxford Canal to the junction with The Duke’s Cut where we will turn left and go out onto the River Thames.We’ve asked plenty of questions of other boaters,we’ve looked at the Environment Agency’s Website for stream warnings,checked the weather for the next few days,and now we’re going to take the plunge,so to speak,and cruise on the Thames.It hadn’t been our intention to go onto the river this year but,having met up with Rob & Suzie off Swamp Frogs,who are going onto the river later in the year,we all decided to go together to support each other,this being the first time for all of us.We’ve decided to cruise to Lechlade and back but more about that next week though.

We haven’t travelled very far this week,after Tuesdays short cruise we’ve only covered a few hundred yards,most of our days have been spent looking around Oxford City and all the touristy bits.We haven’t done any of the Colleges though,those have been saved for a later date.On Wednesday we all piled onto one of the open topped Tour Buses as that seemed to be the best way to have a look around.All the interesting places were pointed out for us and we could then go back for a proper look at what took our fancy.

Lisa's Oxford 1 2014 006  Lisa's Oxford 1 2014 056

Christ Church College from the Memorial Gardens which were laid out in 1926 to commemorate the college members who fell in The First World War.The Bridge of Sighs or Hertford Bridge,built in 1914 to connect the two Hertford Colleges.

On Thursday,Lisa and I went to have a look at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History and only saw a bit of it,we’ve just got to go back to see the rest and also the Pitt Rivers Museum.There was just so much to see that one day is not enough.

Oxford 1 2014 003  Oxford 1 2014 010

A couple of the exhibits at the Natural History Museum,Lisa’s talking to T Rex.

Oxford 1 2014 020  Lisa's Oxford 1 2014 071

A couple of pic’s of the inside of the museum itself which was built between 1855 and 1860.

On Sunday we decided to take a bit of a walk to see some of the Thames and one of the locks that we are likely to have to negotiate.

Oxford 1 2014 026  Oxford 1 2014 032

A Peacock in the garden of a house in Lower Wolvercote,we saw it as we were walking by on Sunday.The approach to Godstow Lock from the North,this was what we had come to see because all the locks we would have to do on the Thames would have a weir to one side which we have to avoid.

Oxford 1 2014 035  Oxford 1 2014 039

Godstow Lock from the South,non of the locks we will do between Oxford and Lechlade are very deep and we got some sound advice from the Lock keeper while we were there.Looking North on the Thames from Medley Footbridge by Bossoms Boatyard at Binsey,it’s wide but there are warnings that the sides are shallow so stay in the middle of the channel,a bit like being on the canals.We called in to The Perch at Binsey,it’s an 800 year old thatched pub,for a couple of beers as we made our way back to our boats.

Oxford 1 2014 043  Oxford 1 2014 045

The disused Rewley Road Swing Bridge at the side of the Sheepwash Channel which connects The Oxford Canal to The River Thames.The bridge was built in 1851 and went out of operation in 1984,the bridge in the background now carries the railway line.Isis Lock,this is the way down from the canal to Sheepwash Channel where you have to turn and go back into the lock to head back up the Oxford Canal if you’re boat is over 52 feet long and you don’t want to go onto the Thames.

That’s all again for this week folks.Since our last blog we have covered 6 Miles and done 4 Locks,that gives us a Grand Total of 709 Locks and 1254 Miles since we set off in October 2012.Sorry it’s late again,been busy enjoying ourselves.Take care everyone.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014



This weeks blog comes to you from the little Oxfordshire village of Thrupp.It’s a lovely little canalside village with a few houses and a couple of pubs,the Thrupp Canal Cruising Club is based here and most of the moorings come under their control.The only claim to fame that I can find about Thrupp is that there was an episode of Inspector Morse,called The Last Enemy,filmed by the canal and the Boat Inn back in 1989.We got here on Friday afternoon after quite a long days cruising and are staying till Tuesday when we hope to get to the outskirts of Oxford.

Thrupp 019  Thrupp 020

Swamp Frogs and ourselves moored in Banbury,we only stayed the night because we will have a day or two there on the way back from Oxford.

Thrupp 021  Thrupp 022

Approaching the lift bridge in Banbury with the Famous Tooleys Boatyard to the right,bit of a squeeze to get past.The lift bridge looking back,there are a lot of lift bridges like this on the South Oxford but most are left open.

Thrupp 024  Thrupp 025

The lock in Banbury with Lisa and Suzie gently pushing the top gate open and there’s Chyandour,opposite the Castle Quay shopping centre,waiting to go down the lock.

We left Banbury last Tuesday,in the company of Rob and Suzie off Swamp Frogs and stopped after a mile or so to do our shopping in the Morrison’s store beside the canal on the outskirts of the town.A couple of miles after leaving there we moored up in the middle of nowhere,which is our preference,and stopped for a couple of days just relaxing.I think we had earned it after last week.On Thursday we foolishly set off just before it began to rain rather heavily and,after stopping under a Lock Bridge to let it ease off a bit,we just did three miles and called it a day.

Thrupp 033  Thrupp 035

The approach to Aynho Weir Lock,the River Cherwell crosses the canal here at right angles and goes under the arches to the right.Chyandour in Aynho Weir Lock,a lozenge shaped lock which is bigger than a conventional lock and so allows more water down into the canal as it only has a fall of 12 inches.

We had what we thought would be a good mooring to head for on Friday but when we got there we weren’t all that impressed so we continued on our way till we found somewhere more suitable.That was when we discovered that pleasant moorings are few and far between on this end of the South Oxford and so we just kept going,a bit like the canal version of the Flying Dutchman.Well,that’s how it felt at the time.Finally,after 10 Locks and over fifteen Miles we found a couple of spaces here in Thrupp.With it being the Bank Holiday we decided to stay till Tuesday and just relax and make do with a couple of gentle walks around the village.There is also the delights of the two pubs to enjoy as well,so of course we sampled the fare in both of them.Both the Jolly Boatman and The Boat have food and Real Ales so all in all it was worth the long cruise to get here.

Thrupp 037  Thrupp 039

Somerton Deep Lock looking down from the bottom gates and looking back as we exited the lock.This lock has a drop of 12 feet.

Thrupp 045  Thrupp 047

An interesting sight as we left Lower Hayford on Friday afternoon.Is it aiming at speeding boaters perhaps? Another lozenge shaped lock,this one is Shipton Weir Lock which took us off another stretch of the River Cherwell.It was the last lock we did on Friday before getting to Thrupp,about a mile further on.

Thrupp 050  Thrupp 059

Part of Thrupp Canal Cruising Club and enjoying a glass or two of our homemade Cider on a lovely Saturday afternoon.

Well,that’s the lot again for this week folks,a day late I know,but I forgot to put the lappy on charge yesterday.Since our last blog we have done 13 Locks and 21 Miles,giving us a Grand Total of 705 Locks and 1248 Miles since we set off on our journey in October 2012.Take care everyone.