Saturday, 2 August 2014

Homeward Bound......

This is just a short blog as I am trying to get up to date! You'd think living on a boat that there is not much to do but let me assure you that there is ALWAYS something to do and what is a 5 min job in a house can be a few hrs on a boat!.......anyway's I digress.....I've called it Homeward bound as we are heading for Newbury which is 45mins by car from where Suzie and I grew up and where I lived all my life.....Suzie tho, escaped Southampton at 17 only to return 40 years later to find me !
After the nightmare of Woolhampton we made the decision to carry on as we have an appointment in Newbury that we cannot break. We poodle down the K&A and come across  Monkey Marsh Lock at Thatcham.

Very clever design but didn't catch on

The lock now full.
It was very strange........

It is one of only two remaining working examples of turf-sided locks on the canal today and it is listed as a Scheduled Ancient Monument by English Heritage. We carry on passing through  Thatcham Reed Beds a 169 acres Site of Special Scientific Interest, nationally important for its extensive reed bed, and species-rich alder woodland and fen habitats (quoted from Wikipedia, those that know me know that I am not that knowledgeable). The only other SSSI that I know of is the shore line and marsh area at the Esso Refinery where I used to work.....swiftly moving on as I've gone all cold thinking about work!
We arrive in Newbury and it's time to say goodbye to Tony and Doreen as they have to crack on to Bristol and we have a very special visitor coming........Hooray, after being on Swamp Frogs for 17 months my brother Graham gets to see our home. Graham has learning difficulties and does not want to leave his home overnight and Newbury is 45mins away so John (Graham's carer) very very kindly bought my brother Graham, Brian (another of John's boy's) and my Mum to visit us, we know that John was also desperate to see the boat "in the flesh". The following pictures really is the main reason for us coming to the K&A and we are so glad we made it.
John, Graham, Brian,my Mum and me.

Graham and I on the Tiller

Graham, Mum and me

John with Brian and Graham, 2 of his 3 boy's

Graham and Suzie, what a lovely photo

So it was cheerio to Mum, Graham, Brian and John and once again THANK YOU JOHN for doing this for us it means so much to us.
The next day we decided to hire a car a pay a quick visit to Suzie's Mum. The previous week Joan (Suzie's Mum who is 89 by the way) ended up in A&E after a fall, she was the goalkeeper in a game of football in the garden!!!! How good is that eh? and to quote Sandie Hawkins (my stepdaughter) " I am so very happy that this situation came about because Nanny was enjoying herself, doing something she wanted to do, and not because of an abusive member of staff or an accidental slip out of a chair she had been sat in for 6hrs!" that quote says it all I think! So after a 40min drive to Southampton we met Mum from the ferry and took her for lunch and a wander round the shops as even at 89 years old she loves nothing better than window shopping.
Suzie with Mum Joan. 
While we were at Newbury my cousin Lou and hubby Tony popped up to see us, lovely day with 2 very special people.

So, there you go a very short blog, really it is just about Graham who is my very special brother.....
The Frog that my brother bought us and we have named GRAHAM

Since the last blog we have done 6 miles and 9 locks this gives a grand total of 680 miles 100 yards, 359 locks and 9 tunnels (tunnels over a 1000 yards only)

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

We've made it on to the K and A!

On Monday 23rd June we left Oxford and through Isis Lock and turned left and under Osney Bridge which we were concerned at as to whether we would get under........NO PROBLEM.....It was very low (7' 6" air draft) but we made it ok with about 10" to spare.

Isis Lock which is a drop of about 4-5 ft on to
The River Thames

As you can see.......very low!

Our experience with Fred and Lisa (NB Chyandour) going to Letchlade put us in a good frame of mind for the cruise down to Reading and we both thoroughly enjoyed it although it is very different to the canal system.
A very happy Suzie with frizzy hair!

Gently cruising on the River Thames

Very calm, nice to see

Some lovely houses

Some visitors we woke up to!

WB Moon Gazing heading for London

As you can see we were blessed with lovely weather and the last picture is a Wide Beam called Moon Gazing belonging to Andy and Tracy a lovely couple we met along the way. If you see them on your travels please say hello from us!
When we got to Goring we picked up some new friends (Steve and Lesley) who are having their boat built by our builders (Milburn Boats) sadly the weather was horrendous and it rained all the way to Reading so the could not enjoy the cruise as much, we will however get them back to enjoy a cruise in the sunshine!
Having restocked the cupboards and our small drinks cabinet we left Reading and headed towards Newbury passing right through Reading Town Centre.

Our first stop was near Burghfield at The Cunning Man. The pub's name comes from a local legend of a 'cunning man' - a good wizard who would help to protect people from dark spirits and witches.
We have been told that mooring on the K&A can be an issue so we left there early the next moring to find our next spot......3/4 mile and 1 lock later we moored up in a beautiful spot where Suzie's daughter Sandie came to see us very unexpectedly and Later that same day who should come along but Tony and Doreen from NB Sarah-Olive. Tony and Doreen moored alongside and a great evening was had catching up since we last saw them in March.
Early next morning we set off as Tony and Doreen needed water and not knowing where we could moor it was prudent to get an early start....We thought we'd be able to moor at Aldermaston room! We thought we could moor at Frouds room! so it's onto Woolhampton where we had the most terrifying experience to date! It's quite a story and I'll try and keep it short......
Prior to Woolhampton Lock we are still on the River Kennet and just before the lock there is an electronic swing bridge. Doreen opened the swing bridge and Tony took their Narrowboat through and pulled up just behind a CRT work boat. I came through on Swamp Frogs and struggled to get through the swing bridge due to the current. Doreen closed the swing bridge and joined Suzie at the lock while I was still trying to get the boat tied up. I looked up only to see Tony struggling to hold NB Sarah-Olive on the centre line as the current had pushed the bow right out and the boat had started to list. I very quickly tied up Swamp Frogs and ran to give Tony a hand, we were unable to pull Sarah-Olive in as the current was so strong.....we then heard a mighty bang and discovered that the bed had fallen over. This was followed by another bang which was the tall fridge freezer falling over closely followed by the cupboard doors opening and all the crockery falling out and smashing! Tony managed to jump on Sarah-Olive as the boat had come back and wedged itself on our bow but the engine was not man enough to counteract the current.....we tied 2 ropes together to make a 100ft long rope and with the aid of 10-15 blokes from the pub we had a tug of war with the current......eventually we won!
We eventually went up through the lock and moored for the night.......Phew! long winded I know but very very scary....even when the water looks calm beware of currents!
Anyways, that's enough for now, I'm about 3-4 weeks behind schedule so will try to catch up!

Since the last blog we have done 59 miles and 28 locks this gives a grand total of 674 miles 100 yards, 350 locks and 9 tunnels (tunnels over a 1000 yards only)

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Back to Thrupp and not a lot more....

Yes, I know it's been a while and we've now left the Thames but life's been busy!!!!! ;-)

After our trip on the Thames we went back to Oxford and took a day out and hired a car to go and see my Daughter Claire, Hubby Dan and the Grandchildren Jacob, Ellie-May and the  latest edition....Amy-Louise who is gorgeous and so contented. I think all the time we were there she didn't cry once!
Suzie with Amy-Louise....awww!
We left Oxford the next morning and cruised back to Thrupp where my Son Dave, fiancée Anna and the grandchildren Ruben and George paid us a visit for 3 days which was lovely. I had booked a mooring with Thrupp Cruising Club and they were very helpful in accommodating us for £25 a week which is very good. This allowed us to take the kids out for the day and not worry about getting a mooring on our return. we had 2 trips out and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Lovely picture.....

Yep, me reversing Swamp Frogs!
The boys earning their keep....and they did it with a little
from Dad!

I think the bloke is lost? Lost his sail, lost the sea and lost the surf!
maybe lost the plot too!

After Dave, Anna and the boys went home it was time to say cheerio to some very dear friends...Fred and Lisa from NB Chyandour were moving on to Stratford and onto the River Avon. We will catch up again and in the words of Vera Lynn...don't know where....don't know when....but I know we'll meet again some sunny day! we love you both miss you so much.

We then had a trip back to southampton as it was Suzie's Mum's 89th Birthday and all the family were getting together to celebrate this.
Happy 89th Birthday Mum xxx

I am staying put as Suzie was off on her yearly "Sansu" holiday with her Daughter Sandie and I was staying here at Thrupp. Whilst here I bump into Mike and Heather who we met last year in Addlington and are the proud owners of their new Narrowboat called "Smile and Wave" so please do if you spot them. Sadly they left before Suzie returned but are heading for the K&A so we will meet up for a beer at some stage.
While at Thrupp on my own Andy and Pete Milburn from Milburnboats came down to re site the tunnel horn and light and fit our new roof box with added solar panels. Thank you Andy and Pete. We now have 360 Watts of solar and in the 8 days post fitting the panels we did not have to run the engine at all....happy days!
New box and new solar panels
So, after my week on my own, Suzie returned from her well earned rest we then get chatting to our neighbours Gary and Della from NB Muleless and also had a beer with Maffi from Aardvarks and Maffi's Boat as we swaped moorings so he could  do some painting....lovely bloke. On our last day before moving I had a text from my daughter Claire to "put the kettle on" as they are now a family of 5 they had to change their car and their first trip out was to come and see us which was a lovely surprise (and also a trip to the pub for sunday lunch)
The following day we then moved back to Oxford to re stock the fridge and while there we took the oppertunity to go to the first ever Hayfield Road Street Party and all profits going to NB Venturer, a charitable trust which provides canal excursions for passengers with special needs. Beautiful sunny day with great music, BBQ, beer tent and Suzie had to get involved and started a trend. A lady had 2 poles with thin rope loops attached and was making bubbles and the kiddies loved it. Suzie paid a pound and asked for a go and she was followed by lots of others so more money raised......great fun.

So, Monday morning it was goodbye to Oxford and through Isis Lock and onto the River Thames......fingers crossed for sunshine!

Since the last blog we have done 26 miles and 19 locks this gives a grand total of 641 miles 100 yards, 341 locks and 9 tunnels (tunnels over a 1000 yards only)

Monday, 26 May 2014

......And on to the River Thames!

OK, so I've had a couple of emails......."where is the blog"? "why haven't you updated the blog"? well, the truth is that we are just so busy I've not had chance.  You see, living on a boat is so hectic, so much to see, so much to, the update could be a few days, could be a few weeks....

So much to see.....

.....and so much to do

We have so much to see and so much to wild life spotting and soaking up the sun!

Anyways, Whilst at Banbury we get an unexpected visit from my son Dave, his fiancée Anna and their 2 boys Ruben and George. It was so lovely to see them and spend the afternoon together and all to soon they had to head off back to Southampton......see you soon x
Fred and Lisa our lovely friends who also live on their boat NB Chyandour join us at Banbury the next morning and it's off to Oxford we go after a quick visit to Morrisons. I guess if there is a downside to our lifestyle then I think it would be shopping as often when we go to the supermarket we make 2 or 3 trips and we have to walk!
We head out of Banbury and take 3 days to get to Thrupp and stupidly we cruised in the rain which was a first for us (we don't like getting wet....or I don't) thank heaven's for motorway bridges eh? great place to shelter a 60ft Narrowboat from the rain. Onwards to Thrupp which is a lovely little village with a few houses,  2 pubs and a post office and not a lot else. Moorings here are good so we stay 3-4 days this will allow Suzie to get over her nasty chest infection which she got from me, sorry darling but you knows we share everything!
We leave Thrupp and cruise into Oxford and with Suzie still ill we contact the local warden and explain and she allows us to stay on a 48hr mooring for 4 days to allow Suzie to recover and to get out of bed and see Oxford.
The Radcliffe camera built in 1739,
camera meaning "room" in latin
for those, like me that
didn't know

Christ college and gardens
Hertford Bridge, popularly known as the Bridge of Sighs,
is a skyway joining two parts of Hertford College

Oxford is a truly wonderful city that is dominated by the colleges, there are 39 different colleges which all are famous for one reason or another and are often featured in many films and TV programs.
In 1790, the Oxford Canal connected the city with Coventry. The Duke's Cut was completed by the Duke of Marlborough in 1789 to link the new canal with the River Thames; and, in 1796, the Oxford Canal company built its own link to the Thames, at Isis Lock. Fred, Lisa, Suzie and I leave Oxford and go back up to Dukes Cut and join THE RIVER THAMES!!!! and on to Lechlade which is the start of the navigation for the River Thames. None of us have cruised on a river before and none of us knew what to expect. We are all used to canals that have no current, fairly straight with no U bends, and not, in places 200+ ft wide! We needn't have worried as it has been a lovely experience mainly due to the weather as I'm sure if it was raining and blowing a hoolie it would have been different.
Some of the bends were a bit tight!

I didn't hit a single one!
Fred and Lisa enjoying the cruise

Suzie trying to....erm..........not sure?

Froggie at one of the locks

Father Thames at St John's Lock, note the wearing of life jackets... first!

Suzie and Lisa taking a well earned rest.
look at the lockie tending the garden, beautiful.

Ha'penny Bridge, the start of the navigation 

Type 22 Pill Boxes built around 1940
line the river all the way

Fred though I was taking log collecting a bit
too far!

We stop at Lechlade for a couple of days and enjoy the sunshine and BBQ's. As I said Lechlade is the highest town to which the River Thames is navigable by Narrowboats and it is possible to travel by river or on foot from here to London. The Halfpenny bridge is deemed to be the start of the navigation and it's where we stopped although you can go a couple miles further it's not advised.

We are now back in Oxford for a couple of days so we can go and see my daughter Claire, hubby Dan, grandchildren Jacob, Ellie-May and the new addition Amy-Louise before heading back to Thrupp.

Since the last blog we have done 87 miles and 39 locks this gives a grand total of 615 miles 100 yards, 322 locks and 9 tunnels (tunnels over a 1000 yards only)

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

The Curse of Braunston

So, it has struck again........Last year, readers will know that we were stuck in Braunston for nearly 3 weeks because I had a bad back and during that time Suzie met the most rude and unhelpful man in Braunston Marina so our time here is not full of happy memories! Oh and by the way it's true about everyone knowing everyone "on the cut" as we were telling the story about the blokey at Braunston Marina to a bloke in a Marina in Lancashire, and he said, "I've heard that about him before, he's a miserable git isn't he?", be careful who you upset on your travels!
The very next day after leaving Barby Moorings we are moored in Braunston so that Justin from JG Marine can do us a 750hr service (It's a bit of a squeeze me getting in with the engine, Suzie would fit but she's having none of it!) anyway's, service all done and so it's off to The Plough for a couple of beers, game of darts and a fish and chip supper......happy days! The walk is about 1 mile all told so not far but when we got back to the boat my foot had swollen up and was very painful also my calf was very painful too with very lumpy looking veins??. After a very disturbed nights sleep the next morning (Saturday) I say I need to get this looked at as my thoughts were of a blood clot due to all the flying I've done in the last 4 months.....So, I dial signal! Again, those that have been to Braunston will know that it is a mobile phone black hole regardless of network! Standing in the hedge I get a weak signal and try again. I get through and the guy says he will get a medical operator to call me back, I explain that I have no signal and that I am standing in the hedgerow along side a canal so he says "ok I'll put you on hold" and 15mins later I have to repeat the whole story to another chappie!
It kind of all worked well, an appointment was made for me to see a GP at Daventry Hospital where I was diagnosed with having "Phlebitis" which is in simple terms, an infection in the vein so a course of Anti-Biotic's later and all is good.
So boaters, are you up to speed if you or your partner has to see a Dr and he says that you need to go to Hospital? Not a nice thought to have but one you should be prepared for though!

On the Monday we had a surprise visit from my Cousin Lou and hubby Tony who thought they would just pop up and see us, have some lunch and then go home.......and very nice it was too!
We leave Braunston (thank goodness) and mooch our way round to Napton down the flight and onto Fenny Compton where we meet up with our old mate Dan who we first met at whilst at Stockton Marina and Steve who helped Milburns build our boat......nice that a couple of youngsters can take time out for a couple of oldies.....bless 'em
We leave Fenny Compton and cruise down to Cropredy where we have just been told that Suzie's daughter Sandie, hubby Steve and the 2 kids, Reece and Kayleigh are coming to see us.......yippee :-)
So, we decide to cruise down to Banbury with Sandie and Kayleigh as Steve has to work the we go only for me to hit the moored boat in front of us not once but twice! PANIC! talk about about a Corporal Jones moment (Dad's Army, for our younger reader's) anyway, panic over and my apologies to all and with Sandie's heart rate returning to normal we had a lovely cruise in the sunshine to Banbury where we picked up Steve and Reece and returned to Cropredy. The next day we did a little cruise back up towards Fenny Compton turned the boat around and back to Cropredy where we said our goodbyes......'twas all too short.....oh and Steve, thanks for the shopping trip.
We stop at Cropredy for a couple of days and then travel down to Banbury where we are sat on the 48hr mooring with nobody about? Now, we don't know if this is ok but we've stayed here now for 5 days. Boaters who read this please reply to this question.......Is it ok to stay longer on a 48hr mooring if they are not being used? at no time were there more than 3 boats and there is mooring for about 9?
That's about it for our first blog of the year........boring really with not a lot happening and no pictures bad is that!
Ooop's I forgot, we had a creative day where Suzie made a tea loaf and crocheted me a holder and I made some bread.
Guess what?

Suzie's Tea Loaf....and very scrummy it is!

My cheese and herb bread.......Mmmmmm

And here it is......a little holder for our remote
controller for our bow thruster...ahhhh
Since the last blog we have done 32 miles and 21 locks this gives a grand total of 528 miles 100 yards, 283 locks and 9 tunnels (tunnels over a 1000 yards only).