Thursday, 30 June 2016

Staircase to heaven


IMG_6093We pulled pins from our mooring near Radford Semele at 07.15 and were soon crossing the River Avon where the canal enters Warwick. You don’t actually see very much of Warwick and to be honest you wouldn't think you were anywhere near it.

IMG_6098Arriving at The Hattton flight of locks we were met at the bottom lock by a volunteer lockkeeper and thought our luck was in. With 21 heavy double locks to do an extra pair of hands would be helpful although we are more than happy to just meander up at our own pace. But it was not to be, he disappeared and quickly as he appeared and was never to be seen again. In fact there were no lockies at all on the flight . With no other boats to share with we were Billy no mates going up the flight.

IMG_6102 Further up the flight and we pass this pair of boats. “That's what we should have” said Carolyn . Just guess where she would want me to live.

IMG_6109As we make our way towards the top this is probably one of the best views of the flight with Warwick in the distance.

IMG_6111This very attractive and eye catching stainless steel sculpture by Gideon Petersen is in a side pond above Lock 42 on The Hatton flight. There is no way that I can ever go past it without taking a picture.

IMG_6115With Carolyn back on steering duty we are nearly at the top . In the end and at 379 feet above sea level it took us 3 hours and 25 minutes and that was with a lot of locks against us ,so that’s not bad going at all.

IMG_6120After Hatton we carried on for a few miles passing the mooring above where we stopped over 3 years ago. Back then the grass and hedges were all cut and it was a neat and tidy mooring, now look at it,and yes it is on the towpath side….Looks like we may need to invest in a strimmer or some shears if we want to carry on mooring out in the country.

IMG_6125We picked up a mooring just past these two old abandoned boats which looked like they had CRT notices on them. It will be fun getting them removed as the one on the outside was well and truly sunk . After a busy and good cruise it’s now time to put our feet up with a glass or two of the red stuff.

                                                                                                             Happy Days

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Drop em !


IMG_6062We pulled pins from our mooring outside of Ventnor farm marina at 07.10 and with a good 6 to 7 hour cruise and 18 double locks in front of us we made good time and soon past the Willow Wren training centre where it looked like they were building a new canal next to their Wharf.

IMG_6067It doesn’t matter if it’s a big shop or a small little honesty box shop like this one located before Stockton top lock, we just have to stop so Carolyn can have a bit of retail therapy.

IMG_6069We have seen this boat a few times before and usually in this area. I’m not sure what it’s meant to be ,but it seems to be a good home for someone.

IMG_6075I mentioned in the last blog about how we liked the paddles on the locks on this stretch of The Grand Union Canal. They were manufactured by a company called Ham Baker who are still in business to this day. But what is unique about these paddles is that you can let them drop under their own weight. On most paddles you are told to wind them down to avoid damage ,but on these you should just let them drop. The only downside to these paddles is that it takes 22 winds to lift them up.

IMG_6073 If you look inside the paddle you will see a massive lump of rubber which cushions the paddle when it gets to the bottom. Last year we shared some of these locks with a Canal and River Trust work party who told us how these lock paddles worked. We have had some funny looks from other boaters when we just let the paddles drop and even after explaining to them that they are designed to operate in this way they still think we are in the wrong…..To all boaters ,Just let them drop !!!!

IMG_6077The South Oxford was alive with Wild Roses, while this section of The Grand Union canal is alive with the scent of wild Honeysuckle.

IMG_6091I’m sure it’s a Kestrel but correct me if it’s not. Anyway he/she spent several minutes hovering over us before heading off to hunt in another place.

IMG_6092After a good days cruise we moored up and this boat with it’s vintage engine passed us. It smokes a lot more than a certain boat we know of with a vintage Gardner engine ,so I will never mention that Smokey Gardner again Rich and Sharon (well maybe occasionally).

Tomorrow and we will attempt to do The Hatton flight of locks which is also known as The staircase to heaven. Hopefully there will be a few volunteer lockies on duty to speed our journey up the flight, but if not we will take our time and enjoy the experience.

                                                                                          Happy Days

Tuesday, 28 June 2016



IMG_6028We pulled pins this morning at 07.10 with a little light drizzle which soon turned in to a little light rain. We soon passed the most photographed boat on The South Oxford canal. It has now been here a couple of years after the owner used a digger to hollow out the field and then removing the canal bank and taking the boat into the field. The canal bank was then reinstated and that’s about it , now it’s marooned in the field. It looks like if you own a bit of land next to the canal and you want free mooring this is the way to go..

IMG_6032With Carolyn on steering duty and me lock wheeling we soon arrived at the Napton flight of locks at Marston Doles.

IMG_6037We reckon there must now be nearly 200 Buffalos in the fields next to The Napton flight of locks. One thing that I can tell you and that is that they taste very good after having tried some a few months ago..

IMG_6040At the bottom of Naton we saw Coalboat Auriga. It’s the first time we have ever seen it as it doesn't normally work this area. It seems that it was down here for the gathering at Braunston. We then passed Napton Narrowboats where the diesel there was priced at 99ppl.

IMG_6047We then made the turn left at Wigrams from the South Oxford and on to The Grand Union Canal towards Birmingham .  OK… So the bridge hole is big enough and I missed getting through it in one go. We all occasionally have lapses in concentration, although Carolyn say’s I have more than most people.

IMG_6050We are now back on double locks and we both love these Ham Baker made self dropping paddles, but more about that in a later post . After another good cruise and with the weather improving we decided to call it a day and moored up outside of Ventnor farm marina.The plan tomorrow is to get to Radford Semele where we know there are some good moorings that will be about 6 or 7 hours plus 18 double locks and and then tackle The Hatton flight on the following day.

                                                                                          Happy Days

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Action man


IMG_5990We pulled pins from our mooring at Banbury at 07.45 . As always Carolyn enjoyed her time there and made the most of our stay. She attended a couple of Aqua fit classes and also she had a lot of retail therapy. Our second lock of the day was Bourton lock in the picture above. Nothing changes here and the old lock cottage still remains empty with a sign saying that it’s owned by boater’s..

IMG_5996Keeping cool …

IMG_6003It’s not only the wild Rose’s that seem to be having a good year . We have also been seeing loads of wild Honeysuckle. There must be an old wives tale somewhere to explain what is going to happen after this year’s profusion of wild flower’s.

IMG_5988On The South Oxford canal from Oxford to Banbury there are single gates on every lock, so Carolyn has no trouble locking because she has no need to cross over . But after Banbury the bottom gates become doubles and there’s no way Carolyn will jump the gates. She has to walk all the way around from one side to the other . So Action man takes over the locking. I am comfortable with jumping the gates although it may not look like I am that confident. Carolyn has said that she will have a bloody good laugh when I get a little bit too cocky and eventually get it wrong and fall in…..

IMG_5991There are some really lazy boaters around these days. It doesen’t take much to put the pawl on the lock paddles back in place and in it’s safe position. The amount of times we find it left down seems to be increasing.

IMG_5993There it’s easy. Just lift it up and leave it ready for the next boater using the lock…Rant almost over !

IMG_6007Can you believe just how stupid someone can be. Its not like its a hire boat ,but its an actual boat owner who moored his boat with the ropes across the towpath .. What an absolute idiot !!!

IMG_6017After a great days cruise we picked up this mooring next to that dirty great mast on the summit of The South Oxford canal. We will just have a night here before dropping down the Napton flight of locks and then taking a left at Wigrams . It is then North and back on The Grand Union canal.

                                                                                                            Happy Days

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Funny boat names


It’s been a while since I put any funny and amusing boat names on the blog, So here are some to look at and have a chuckle…….

IMG_5772We will !!!!!

IMG_5773Well I guess someone had to use that name…

IMG_5777 All us boaters have one of them.

IMG_5351What’s Ant doing on top of Dec ??

IMG_5843You don’t have to be one to be a boater ,but if you are it certainly helps.

IMG_5850Looks to be well Overdraught …

IMG_5853It probably does.

IMG_5864Not sure what this is about ,but maybe the owner is a retired typist ? .

IMG_5898OK ,Nameless it shall remain.

IMG_5917Never heard of the word before ,but apparently it means to cause trouble, to bicker. A verb (Spuddler), one who spuddles . I think I might know a few Spuddlers .

IMG_5920The best one for last . That’s if you were a Blackadder fan and you love a good pie !!!!

                                                                                               Happy Days

Friday, 24 June 2016



IMG_5959We pulled pins from Bunny moorings at 09.35 and were soon at Aynho weir lock. This is a shallow diamond shaped lock and it lifts us up and through where The River Cherwell crosses over the canal.

IMG_5961Here we go again and the section above the lock is on yellow boards. The problem will be at the next lock where there is a low bridge in front of the lock and if the water level is too high we will not fit through.

IMG_5964With a few inches to spare on the sides we just about got through the bridge at Nell bridge lock.

IMG_5966Just around the corner from the lock and we always try to stop here at The Pig Place. You just cant beat their Sausages ,Bacon and Chops.

IMG_5971While Carolyn went to pick up some meat myself and the lad went and had a look at the stock on the small farm. Hamish wasn’t sure what to make of the Pigs at the pig place. But one thing I know for sure is that they certainly taste good…

IMG_5972Our cruise today involved going through eight lift bridges ,luckily everyone of them was up so it made life lot easier.

IMG_5975  Oops ! This is what happens when a GRP/Plastic boat catches fire. As you can see there is very little left. Lets just hope no one got hurt when this happened.                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

IMG_5980We finally reached our destination of Banbury and we were lucky to pick up this mooring by The Museum and Tooleys boatyard . Within minutes of mooring Carolyn had enrolled herself in a couple of Aqua fit classes at The Spiceball centre. We will now have a couple of days here before continuing our journey North.      

                                                                                       Happy Days       

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Counting Bunnies !


IMG_5978We pulled pins at 07.35 from our mooring at kiidlington on the South Oxford canal. The whole of the canal seems to be ablaze with wild Rose’s. We can’t remember a year that has produced more than this.

IMG_5914On to The river Cherwell section after Shipton weir lock and look it’s on yellow.. It was a good job Carolyn never saw it as we cruised along that section. mind you it looks by the water mark that it is going down.

IMG_5911  Going through Thrupp and we always look forward to see what is written on this boaters blackboard. I’m not sure why they do it ,but it is most entertaining.

IMG_5916Passing satellite earth station at Enslow and the Pearson’s guide book says that the local residents appear to have outrageously exploited planning loopholes to improve satellite television reception.

IMG_5921How a bout this for a bow fender . We have never seen anything like it before ,but it looks like it would do a good job of protecting the bow. I do think it would look better in black..I’m not sure but we may have a mutual friend as someone we know mentioned an unusual bow button.

IMG_5935Passing the 15th Century tithe barn below Allens lock.  A tithe barn was a type of barn used in much of northern Europe in the Middle Ages for storing rents and tithes — one tenth of a farm's produce which was given to the Church. Tithe barns were usually associated with the village church or rectory and independent farmers took their tithes there. The village priests would not have to pay tithes—the purpose of the tithe being their support—and some had their own farms anyway, which are now village greens in some villages.

IMG_5943We soon arrived at Somerton Deep lock ,so called because it is a deep lock. In fact it’s one of the deepest narrowbeam locks on the canal system . With an enormous and very heavy bottom gate there was no chance of Carolyn closing it by herself. So once in the lock I put the tiller to one side and then gave a blast on the engine to push water behind the gate, thus assisting Carolyn in opening it. Of course I could have climbed up the lock ladder and did that way, but why struggle.

IMG_5950After a good cruise we stopped at Aynho Wharf and bought 150 litres of diesel (70ppl) a gas cylinder (£26.25) Toilet blue and a new long mooring pin to replace the one I lost up the river Wey . We then picked up this mooring a couple of hundred yards away . We have named it Bunny moorings as the field opposite contained hundreds of wild rabbits. We put the chairs out and with a few glasses of wine we started to count them, We got to 86 and then we both fell asleep . Who said about counting Sheep to get to sleep. Mind you the wine might have had something to do with it….

                                                                                                     Happy Days