Perfect Harmony

Perfect Harmony
Moored at Huntingdon

Friday, 31 July 2015

31st July '15

We're in Banbury and I'm trying to come to terms with the new computer. Putting yesterdays post on would have been quicker if I'd re-written it from scratch and I've decided to add photos to this one before I shot myself!

This is the Jolly Boatman as we are cruising past - we moored the other side of the bridge which was quite good, you can see some of the empty moorings - amazing.

This is one of the two lozenge shaped locks on this stretch. They are both really shallow, under 3' deep so they made them this shape to take more water down from the river apparently. They can be really interesting to get out of because the wind takes you at funny angles.

We've got no idea what these dishes are all about, but we hadn't noticed them going down either time as the hill sort of gets in the way, however they are obvious from the south. Maybe someone can tell us what they are for?

We spotted this newly built house with a stone roof - very unusual. There are a lot of old stone roofs about but we've never seen a new one. Some serious roof joists one imagines.

This beautiful old Tithe Barn at Upper Heyford. Next to it is a matching manor house and Church, so lovely to see them all still in one piece. It's up quite a slope from the canal, hence the angle. Where we moored that night we could actually see the manor house just peeping over the hill in the distance.

Today we left early, before 9.00am and travelled slowly because there was a boat just in front of us, so we had to wait at most of the locks for them to be emptied. In some cases there was a boat coming out, which is always lovely to see.

This one is coming out of Somerton Deep Lock. it looks a bit foreshortened here, I'm not really that close to the opening!

At one of the locks we found a queue of boats waiting to go down, which we thought was positive since they were likely to have come from Banbury, meaning more chance of a mooring.

Twice today we have gone under the M40, both motorway and canal sort of loop in opposite directions. It does nothing to make us want to be anywhere other than on a canal! In front of it is one of the lift bridges that abound on this stretch. Luckily today they were all of the sort that are designed to stay open and there's a chain which walkers can pull to bring it down for them to cross, then it lifts again. Thank heavens, I lost count of how many we went under today and it would have added hours to the trip to stop, let John off, go through, pull in and pick him up again. Tiring to think about it.

CRT are doing quite a bit of work in improving the tow paths and banks on the Oxford. It's looking good, shame they don't do some on the K&A!


this telegraph pole, covered in ivy is at the side of Grants Lock, the last before Banbury from the south. You can see it for ages as it's quite high. From a distance it looks like a stylised Christmas Tree!

We stopped and I did some shopping at the Morrison's just before the town and we have moored just before the lock as mooring is a bit tight in town. There are spaces but we've decided to move up tomorrow to be nearer the centre, this is fine for tonight.

30th July '15

Yesterday we had a short day, leaving Oxford early (about 9.00am) and we just cruised up to Thrupp. We found plenty of moorings there but in the end we moored just before the Jolly Boatman, mainly so that I could hang out the washing. I didn’t feel that the public sitting outside the pub needed to see our smalls, waving in the breeze, even if they were clean!

We went and had lunch at the pub, which was really nice. We had a pate sharing platter, two types of pate, plenty of toasted baguette, butter, caramelised onion relish and a nice little salad, with no rocket. Perfect. I also had a prosecco, which turned up in a small bottle with 2 glasses worth of wine in it, so all in all a very pleasant interlude.

We put the pram cover up as it looked a bit dodgy, although all the washing got dried. Late evening, we suddenly heard torrential rain which didn’t last long and as far as we could tell there was no more during the night, but we were glad we’d taken the precaution of putting the cover up.

We left today a bit later and cruised up to just above Dashwood lock and moored. Paddy had a good run in the open as there were no other boats in sight and I got John his lunch (fast day for me). Then I looked at the map and realised that we hadn’t gone very far and since our plan was to get to Banbury tomorrow, we either stayed where we were and had a long day tomorrow, arriving quite late for moorings, or else we went on a bit further. We decided on the second option so got going again and we are now at Upper Heyford.  It’s a lovely open stretch of tow path WITH pilings and Paddy has had another run without a lead. He really does love to run free, it’s just such as shame he can’t be trusted if there are people about.

We have spoken to a couple of people who have told us that they couldn’t find anywhere to moor in Banbury yesterday. However there have been lots of boats going Oxford way including lots of hire boats so we’re hoping that they are leaving space for us. We shouldn’t have too long a day tomorrow and so are hopeful that there will be a mooring for us, I’d be really disappointed if we can’t stop there as I really like Banbury and I want to get some bits and pieces.

We had a bit of an incident today, as we were filling with water at Lower Heyford, a boat went past going in our direction and didn’t seem very friendly, but some aren’t. Anyway we travelled on for a while having to go slowly past moored boats and eventually came to a lift bridge, and they were just going through. He didn’t look around from the boat and went  on through the bridge and I said to John that we’d better look as if we’re pulling in to do the bridge ourselves and see what they did. Well what they did was shut the gate, and as she is jumping on board she looks around and looks embarrassed and calls that she didn’t see us, I waved them on and as John was going up to open the bridge the man looked back and apologised as well. Strangely enough they moored up soon after that which at least meant that we didn’t have to follow them through locks!

We’ve been extremely lucky with locks today, all in our favour and other boats either coming out or going in as we come out, so life has been pretty good. After a lot of wind and cloud, the sun is now shining and it’s the best bit of the day.

We have no internet here, so I’m writing this up and shall hope to post it tomorrow and add photos then.

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

28th July '15

What a day! totally shattered, and cultured out.

We went off to the Weston Library at first to see an exhibition on Alice in Wonderland. There wasn't a lot there but there were some first copies showing the Tenniel prints which were wonderful and some showing Dali's illustrations which weren't (to my mind in any case). The only thing I will say is that he can draw a good butterfly, but what the paintings were about and how they linked to the story was beyond me.

Then John went off to do his stuff and I joined a walking tour of the city. For 2 hours we walked around Baliol college, saw the remains of the city walls, visited the Bodleian, went in the old Divinity Hall, saw the college where the last Morse was filmed, visited the passage where CS Lewis came out of a door and got the inspiration for The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, saw the Bridge of Sighs and other bits and pieces. I took loads of photos but am having to consider carefully what I can actually put on here, otherwise it will take all night!

Quad at Baliol.

Baliol Chapel window

The last remaining tower built by the Saxons to keep the Vikings out (it probably didn't have the window in it at the time).

The Divinity Hall - the first purpose built lecture theatre, there would be 6 lectures going on in here at once apparently, so not ideal conditions. Some of you may know this as the hospital in Harry Potter and also as the room where they learnt to dance for the Christmas Ball in Harry Potter.

The doorway that on a snowy night gave CS Lewis the inspiration for The Lion etc. he saw the green man in the middle of the door as a Lion and the two carvings either side as Mr Tumnus......

.....and then just off to the side was the lamp-post, and of such an amazing story was born.

Once the walk had finished John and I met up, had lunch and then went to Christ Church College to see the Hall and the Cathedral Church. He baulked somewhat at the queue but I put him there and bought him an ice cream and all was well. To be honest it went down quite quickly, as did the ice cream!

The Hall which was used for the Hogwarts refectory. I think it's amazing how they put it all back together after Bellatrix ruined it.....

This was the staircase leading up to the Hall, I thought the ceiling was amazing.

I had to include this as it's so rare to get one of John smiling!

Christ Church, the view down the nave. A stunning place, unfortunately there is going to be a concert there tomorrow night and our mooring is only until the morning, but maybe another time.

Finally, this is the view from our side hatch, it rings the tones every quarter and is really quite lovely.

Tomorrow we head off up the canal and hope to find a mooring at Thrupp, there's never been one there before when we've gone past but we've been so lucky with moorings recently I've got a good feeling about it. Even the weather isn't meant to be too bad so we shall have positive thoughts!

Monday, 27 July 2015

27th July '15

The rain came down, the wind blew, and we had to get on the way and continue up-river towards Oxford.

We were lucky insofar as either the locks had staff or else someone else had got in before us so we (by that I mean John) didn't have to operate them, so both of us were able to hold ropes. I got instruction from one of the lock-keepers on how to throw a rope to get it around the bollard, but I haven't had a chance to  practice as yet.

It's amazing how different the river looks going in the opposite direction. Quite hard to see the way at times, mind you having the pram cover up to protect us from the rain didn't help, each shower made the front of it impossible to see through.

Whenever I set out along the gunwales he said 'don't fall in you'll go straight to the bottom wearing that'. meaning my boat coat. At one point when I finished the sentence for him, he added the proviso that he may have to stand on my head to ensure it. Delightful!

After another long day we arrived at Osney Lock, which is the last one before going up the cut to go through Isis Lock to get onto the canal, we met Simon and Ally (sorry for spelling it wrong before) and we breasted up to them as there were no moorings available, plus officially our permit ran out at midnight and technically we were still on the Thames.

We went out and found a brilliant Pizza place plus we visited a pub that they'd discovered. Excellent evening with lovely company.

This morning we said our goodbyes again and set off for our 20min voyage onto the Oxford Canal. Oh joy! single locks again. It's the little things in life. We have a good mooring and are opposite the Italianate Bell Tower, which tinkles out a pretty tune. It's also not QUITE as far to walk into town from here.

We went back today at lunchtime to the pub of last night but they were shut. The Blenheim, worth a visit if you're in Oxford and like a good pint.

We did the tourist thing today which we haven't really done here before and visited the Castle.

A view of Oxford from the top of the motte. There were some people making a film from up here and there was some poor chap in the road below that was having to run down the pavement, trip, fall, get up and continue running. I don't know how many times he had to do it but I'm sure it constituted abuse!

Right up at the summit there was still a well chamber, to ensure that if they were stranded in the bailey for any time, they'd at least have a water supply.

The castle would have been huge when it was complete and we had an excellent guide who really bought it alive for us. It was also used as a prison up until 1996 and conditions were grim, but to be honest they were at least a bit of a deterrent!

Just up the road from the pub we saw this, also shut unfortunately but it appears to be a story room. Anyone who's read Lord of the Rings will appreciate these lanterns, I just couldn't resist.

We also had a walk around to Christ Church and were going to go in but the ticket was for the Hall as well as the Cathedral and we didn't have time to do it justice with the castle as well. I wasn't too bothered but John has just informed me that the hall was used for filming for Harry Potter, as the refectory, so I'm a bit more enthusiastic now. We're probably staying tomorrow as we have 48 hour moorings here so we shall see.

Saturday, 25 July 2015

25th July '15

We had a good explore around Reading on Thursday afternoon and discovered the station and bought my tickets for tomorrow.

The old Abbey gatehouse, just a few minutes behind the moorings at the gaol.

A lovely little carving that has stayed in remarkable condition at the side of the gateway.

St Lawrence Church that was part of the Abbey complex, originally built by Henry I. Before that apparently Vikings used this corner of the Thames / Kennet at a base for raids on the surrounding country.

ON Friday I caught the train as planned and visited my mum. It was lovely to have such a short journey and it made the day a lot quicker than normal. I like travelling by train though, and missed the buzz of being on the London underground system and charging from one platform to another. I'm a true country girl, but still love London and cities for visits. Unfortunately it poured with rain all day, I'd worked out that I'd been doing these rail journeys to mum's for over a year and this one in July had the worst weather I'd yet encountered! Great British summer.

We were going to stay in Reading until Sunday but the weather forecast was pretty awful so we decided to get moving on Saturday instead. It meant that we had to miss the Mikron Theatre who were going to be performing on Sat, evening in the gardens just behind the moorings, but we thought it was best to move on a good day. As it was. it started pretty miserable but brightened up as we travelled although there was a cool breeze for most of the day. Actually to be honest we had a gale blowing in our faces for the first section, that and going against the flow made for a long day.

Leaving the last lock on the Kennet this morning. It was suddenly busy with two of us in the lock, one waiting to go up and 2 more waiting to go down. We were the only ones going Oxford way though. However we still found it pretty busy in most of the locks, but it was joyful having them operated for us.

A new suspension bridge being constructed across the Thames, beautiful lines.

It's not always clear which way you have to go on the river, but this sign at least is obvious. Some are so obscured by undergrowth that you can't see them and some seem to have disappeared altogether.

Lots of plastic pigs all moored up. At one point the one we'd been following for ages moored up and there were hundreds of them all having a BBQ. At least if they're moored they're not in the locks! It's always a bit worrying because if one of our proper boats hit one of the plastic ones it would be carnage! Try telling the insurance about that!

We've got a superb mooring on Benson Lock for tonight, with permission from the lovely lady lockkeeper! I'd been chatting to her and then said as we were leaving that we were just going to stop outside the lock for Paddy to have a pee break! Poor lad had been hanging on for hours.... and she said if we went over the other side we could stay as long as we liked, so we asked if that meant we could moor there for the night and she said that would be fine. We are really having so much better luck with moorings since we bought the shears.

We'd covered 20 miles and 7 locks and by the time we'd moored up we were both pooped, because it took about 7 hours. so we went out and found a pub (Three Horseshoes) recommended by the lockkeeper and had a lovely meal. We went out last night for an Indian as well so my diet needs to be got back under control asap

Traction engine sat outside the pub. It been a busy day today, as we came past Goring they were having their Regatta, thousands of people, hundreds of boats and at least the sun was shining. Not as posh as Henley one feels but everyone looked as if they were enjoying themselves.

Tomorrow we have to get to Oxford as we only got a 2 day pass for the Thames, it was either that or a week and we want to get back onto the narrow canals again, and explore the Oxford one more. Rain is forecast, so we have our fingers crossed that they are wrong!

Thursday, 23 July 2015

23rd July '15

Well yesterday evening brightened up considerably, in fact the rain only lasted as long as it took me to type the last couple of sentences yesterday!

So the four of us decided to have our BBQ after all.

Here's John busy doing 'man' things with our lovely Cobb that doesn't get half the use it ought to, but now we've discovered the foil inner thingys that catch all the fat, I suspect we might be tempted to use it more often.

At the risk of losing two very new but already dear friends.... here's Simon's BBQ bucket....

To be fair it IS a Waitrose bucket, and it cooked their steaks beautifully. It also stayed hot for a long time....come on Simon, what else can I say about it?

Ali and I did our bit in the background, preparing salads, side-dishes and potatoes, and a feast was had by all!

The ladies with a drink or two!

Ali still with a drink or two.....just saying....

A visitor - not sure why it's so hazy, I think the sun was going down and it was rather dappled on the water. She's a Mandarin and we saw her with a chick when we came up a month or so ago, but no sign of chick now and neither times have we seen hubby. Poor girl, hope she hasn't lost both of them.
We stayed up chatting until almost 11! quite something for us and I probably drank more than I've done all the trip, but it was lovely. When we realised it was dark we packed up and fell into bed. There was a minor incident with the lid of the Cobb falling in the river, but I got it out, with Ali's help and so far John doesn't know! Oooops!

We left our moorings fairly soon after 9 this morning, and although it was somewhat overcast, it was dry. We negotiated just over 6 miles with 7 locks and one electric bridge today in a bit over 2.5 hours. we really got into a rhythm and this included quite a few right-angled bends in the river, most with overhanging branches!

They're pretty sizeable locks around here, apparently they were build to accommodate 'Newbury barges' which were 19' wide and 109' long, able to carry loads of up to 100tons. They must have been a joy to navigate around afore mentioned bends, it was bad enough with 20tons and 62'!

This one's for Ali, she was very excited about seeing a traffic light on the canal. It's at County Lock leading into Reading and is necessary because there is a rather low. narrow bridge to navigate and you can't have boats going in opposite directions trying to get through at the same time.

We said our goodbyes here as Simon and Ali were heading off to the Thames for a week or so and we were going around to moor by the gaol again. Have a good time on the Thames both of you.


Shots of Reading coming through the Oracle shopping centre.

The others heading off to the Thames just before we turn left to find a mooring. And there were plenty to be had. We managed to get into the 'nice' end for the first time, next to the gardens rather than by the overflowing rubbish bins!

We're off to find the station as I want to go and visit my mum tomorrow on the train. Apparently it's not too long a walk so we shall see. I put some washing out when we arrived and we've had the obligatory 2 minutes of rain and now it seems OK, so we shall go exploring.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

22nd July '15

We went over to the pub last night, as it was there and I had the worst beer I've encountered on the trip. It was called Same Again, and I can only say not for me thank you very much! I tried John's and his wasn't too good either. Shame but there you go.

Just to prove to myself that I really did see their boat!

This is Woolhampton Bridge that has to be raised (after traffic has stopped, not as much fun but safer) after you get through the lock. Doesn't look so scary now somehow.

We were getting ready to leave this morning, when a boat went past and asked if we wanted to share the lock. We did and continued to share with Simon and Ali through all the locks. We did 6 miles, 6 locks and 6 bridges (various) today in 4 hours so it was a good partnership!

The river becomes very bendy, green and narrow around here. Hard to believe that it's a wide beam navigation. The branches practically meet overhead in places and I had to hang onto the aerial that we keep on the top of the boat at times.

Some of the locks were quite busy, although the waterway has been remarkably quiet all day. The sun was out right up until the moment we moored, so my lovely white cotton bedding is having to dry under the pram cover at the back rather than blowing in the breeze, typical!

I was very taken with their Buckby can. I've been supposed to be painting one for us for a couple of years - I actually bought it on the Buckby locks 2 years ago, but somehow it seems to be taking forever. Then I see one as beautiful as this and I get a bit despondent. I think mine will be, let us say, more rustic! I certainly couldn't emulate the beautiful kingfishers on this one.

Here they are following us around the corner just before Sheffield Lock, where, miraculously, there were moorings for us and to spare! This means that tomorrow we can have a relatively easy ride down to Reading and then I shall go by train to visit my Mum on Friday. Excellent.
We had a chat with Simon and Ali when we moored and have agreed that our methods of dealing with the locks are very similar and so we shall travel together tomorrow as they are going onto the Thames, when we head into Reading. Lovely.

Shame about the weather or we might have had a BBQ. we have all the kit and the path is wide enough here to mean we're not obstructing anyone....but it's not to be.

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

21st July '15

We didn't move yesterday as all three of us had poorly tummies. Plus the weather was miserable, so we decided to stay put and John was able to watch the golf all afternoon and into the evening. It was the Open final so he's allowed!
I spent the day nursing my poorly eye. after yesterdays problem with a contact lens I tried putting them in today but my right eye was still sore, so I gave it a days rest. I went out and bought an eye patch so that I could still wear my other one without getting a headache, but it wasn't a great success.
All of this after getting up at 7.30am.... early starts are obviously not good for us!

This morning the sun was shining, we all felt better and so we were off at 9!

Goodbye to Newbury! leaving our mooring.

We had a brilliant day, 6 miles, 8 locks and 4 swing bridges in just over 4 hours! We had all but one lock in our favour and of course we are now going with the current. There was also quite a stiff breeze that was behind us most of the time so all in all a good time.

This is Tesco's from the canal...don't you think that they could do something with CRT and make a few moorings for shoppers? We'd have bought a lot more in there if we hadn't had to lug it so far back to the mooring.

Not altogether sure why I took this one,  probably because there were two boats coming up and so I was able to go straight in.

Monkey Marsh lock - one of the turf locks. I know I've put pictures of this up before but I am half fascinated and half appalled by them and since this is the second to last one I'll ever be in I've added it!

As we came out of the lock I saw this little sign, that I'd never noticed before. Thought it was rather nice and very overlooked.

We are moored at the top of Woolhampton Lock, all ready for the worst bit on the canal tomorrow. Its such a nice day that it's a shame not to cruise for longer, but the next mooring is at Sheffield lock and getting there as late in the day as we would, we  wouldn't get a spot. Here we're not actually on the moorings but at least we can get off the front easily.

John won't be amused that I'm sharing this but for 2 of the locks there was a gate open and so he took us in. This is normally my job but if he's on the boat he does it. Both times he made a right pigs ear of it. I felt so smug. When I make an error he stands there with a pained expression making me feel 10  times worse, so I quite enjoyed my brief moment of superiority!! especially since at the second lock it happened, there were crowds of volunteers painting it all.

I've just taken Paddy out for a walk past the lock and bridge and spotted a boat coming this way through the bridge. This confused me because there was a boat in the lock going down and instructions are very specific to work the two together. I called out to the lady steering the boat that she'd have to stop there as there was a boat in the lock. She looked bemused but I carried on. Coming back a few minutes later (Paddy doesn't hang about on walks, he does what's necessary then turns for home) the chap was pulling her in against the current. I said that it was best to get the lock ready before the bridge and her comment was "Yes that's what it said in the book" NO hope for some is there? They survived as we saw them come past a bit later.

I also spotted the Mikron boat outside the pub but strangely they aren't performing here, they were a week ago but are in Oxford tonight? Very confused.