Monday, 30 March 2009

The ones that nearly got away

Look Joe does read about where he's going!

Caxton through the Ice on the Leicester Arm.

Del and Al on Derwent 6 approaching Slat Mill Lock on the South Oxford.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

The disaster of the Brasenose Arms

Having gone to bed Friday, safe in the knowledge that all had been done ready for Pete & Sally in the morning, we were pretty gutted to find more water on the floor in the same place and dreadful weather which would prevent us from cruising. However, they arrived at The Brasenose Arms in Cropredy where we had booked them in for B & B only to be told that they weren't booked in. Then someone thought that they'd look in the other book & yes, there it was.
We retired to Matilda Rose for food & drinks and even braved the weather to walk the dogs and "liberate" some logs. Thanks for the help guys - we logged them this afternoon and filled 4 Tesco boxes; really good wood.
In the evening, we returned to the Brasenose for supper and were served with the most peculiar food I have ever eaten. Beefburgers had nothing in them except minced beef - no seasoning, no onions, no nothing - they made a MacDonalds look like gourmet food as thse actually tasted of nothing.
No one cleared our table (we did it ourselves after an hour of waiting) and no one asked if we wanted puds. We retired back to MR and they disappeared round the back to their separate accommodation. Sally sent me a text early this morning to say that they were on their way back to Nofolk as they had had no heat in their room & they had slept in their clothes and had their coats on the bed to keep warm. The pub was locked and deserted so not so much as a cuppa let alone breakfast!!!!! This is a pub that charges £70 a night for B & B in a double room-the only good news was at least they didn't pay up front. I'd like to be there tomorrow when Sally phones them. My only guess is that they forgot that they'd guests - perhaps they looked in the wrong book.
So, as it's the calorifier that's gone, we need to source a replacement and collect it from Banbury probably. That means taking the boat to bits again and hanging around here for another weekish-we'd hoped to move on tomorrow. Never mind, the weather returned to it's former glory so we cruised down through Slat Mill Lock to get back into the country.

Oops, OH No! Not again!

Just when you think everything is going to plan, a thunderbolt from the heavens hits you, having completed the shower, we still have a water leak,
but this time it is definitely comming from the Calorifier .
Then whilst Hoovering the boat to get rid of the shower repair mess,
the Dyson Rollerball vaccum catches fire at the brush motor. What next?

Mr Muttley, Mortimer Bones will be very upset with you, changing you're allegiance.

Friday, 27 March 2009

If I was a horse they'd shoot me!

Today I went to see a Doctor because I have a frozen shoulder (right) & tennis elbow (left). I was told to rest them (my arms). Have had a problem with my left foot- was told to rest it. I think I should cross my arms and hop up and down on my right foot (the only limb that's still functioning normally). If you should see something hopping up and down along the towing path or by a lock it could be a kangeroo, but it's probably only me.

All in a day's walk

My best mate coming in the morning for an overnighter, G has done a cake and we've made flans & dips and stuff and, hopefully, a meal out cause my birthday was lost somewhere in the shower saga. Another 13 hour day, but the difference is that the 13 hours are doing nice things .

Look at my handsome boy-he is just so edible

Look no leeks!!!!

I see no leaks!

Squeaky clean

Those of you with smelly vision, may now turn your smell button on, as we will not offend!
And I'm keeping my fingers crossed, no signs of any leeks, it's just had its inaugaral wetting.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Great Bourton

The two pubs in Cropredy have a bit of a monopoly - not quite as expensive as thay used to be, but certainly not cheap. If you wander up the hill into Gt Bourton (or do a circular walk via Ltl Bourton off bridge 158 South of Cropredy) you will find a lovely, family owned, pub
with good fresh food cooked by himself (Frank) & allsorts of specialist menu evenings: The Bell Inn, have a beer festival 24th-26th April - no we don't have shares, but I do like to see the little guys that work hard suceed; especially when the effort goes on food & friendlyness, there are too many out there fobbing us off with rubbish.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Tuesday night is jam night.......

........ well, more sort of weak custard really.
Last night 4 legs & a bottle of wine appeared outside our window, personified by Del & Al from Derwent6. I'm not sure how it happened but somehow guitars & recorders came out and a good old singsong (or shoutshout) was had by all. We didn't quite get out the spoons and saucepans, but it was a close call.. Funnily enough, as each bottle of wine slipped down, we really improved-even managing to pause in the right places whilst Graham wrestled to find B7 (a tricky little chord)! Fortunately we had no immediate neighbours as I think we were a little loud (quite a lot loud actually). One of those lovely spontaneous evenings-great company guys.

Back to reality this morning with the large problem of our leaky shower to address. Graham set to ripping out the old tiles & boy had it been leaking. The entire boat stank of cat pee!! We had been whiffing that smell intermittently over the past few weeks and pointing the finger at Daisy-yes, I have apologised to her. So, as the boat was in bits, I took the dogs out with me whilst I split some wood. There idea of help is to grab the logs and run off down the towpath with them so that I have to fetch them back (shouldn't it be the other way round?). The dogs are even having to share a chair 'cause we're so upside down. Never mind, it'll be worth it when it's done. Let's just hope poor G doesn't hurt too much in the morning.

Sunday, 22 March 2009

Thorny Issues & Cropredy Social Circuit Update

Dual carriageway!

We've lurked on this bit of the South Oxford for 2weeks ish now and one of the things I've omitted to mention is that the blackthorn hedges have all been strimmed back. Probably very admirable that it's been done before birds establish their nests, however, no blowers have been used to clear the trimmings back off the towing path (as we have seen on other canals) and these thorns are long enough & strong enough to penetrate the soles of our walking boots. Graham set off from Banbury, on his bike, to recover the car from Cropredy. He only made about a mile before he suffered 2 punctures in the front tyre & 2 in the rear so had to push the bike the rest of the way. He then drove the bike to Halfords & had both inner tubes replaced with slime tubes. On the next recovery mission he picked up three more punctures, one tyre self sealed and one didn't. So Friday he walked back to Banbury to fetch the car. What cost involved here? - £38 (so far). Then there were the people walking their 3 spaniels; it would normally have been 4, but one had narrowly missed a fatal injury when a thorn just missed his heart & "only" required 8 stitches to stem the bleeding. What cost involved here-mental & financial-? There has to be others out there who have suffered damage or injury as these thorns are lethal. Most of us decry a litigious & health & safety mad society, but the state of this towpath is now ridiculous.
Then there is now the hopeless situation with the moorings in Cropredy; the southerly 14 day moorings are very few and, mostly, encroached upon by permit holders/winter moorers/who knows - whatever, it'a miracle if you can get in. We moved an empty boat to get in today because we need to be here for a few days & the only other 14 day places are very North & unusable due to a narrow, eroded & unstable bank. The nicest moorings in the centre have been changed from 48hr to 24hr solely, I suspect, to negate the chances of anyone running an engine opposite the bungalows (look at the pretty water but keep the boats away brigade). I could go further, but I'm totally confident that Mo & V on NB Balmaha will bring up this subject far more competently than I on their blog this week. I love Cropredy, it's such a pretty place, so why when we come here do I always turn into, 'disgusted of Cropredy'?

Enough of these rants because we have actually been having a really good time joining Balmaha for drinks & catching up on events since we met at Kilby Bridge in January. This was especially nice for me, because when we & NB Caxton met up with them in the winter, I'd had to shoot off to my mum's before really getting to know them - worth the wait guys; great evening & great company - I hope we didn't outstay our welcome as we hadn't realised how late it was!!! So, this morning we waved a reluctant goodbye, completed the journey back into Cropredy & segued into the arms of Del & Al on NB Derwent 6 - we're becoming such tarts. Only saw Del & Al briefly today as they had visitors leaving & we had a friend arriving, Adrian, who was in Round Table with Graham at Bicester many moons ago. Sadly, we didn't get to catch up with Adrian's wife Margaret as she had a stinking cold. I'm sure we'll see more of all four before we move on.

I supose, before I close this blog, I should address the issues that I closed the last blog on. We pointed the right way by doing some spectacular reversing (take a bow Graham), but burnt out the bow thruster and blew a 250 amp slow blow fuse (get me!) in the process. G drove to Lee Sanitation & spent £229 on a self pump out - only to find there was nothing wrong with our system - it was the boatyards. Daisy has had a couple of good hunting days in the sun without any swimming, so all is well on planet Daisy. Has that covered everything? Oh no, we still have £240 worth of shower mod in the saloon - well you can't have it all!
Whilst other folks were watching Rugby on Saturday, I walked into Little Bourton to get a loaf of bread from the, "Stores at the garage" according to Nicholsons. Been closed for years; this is going to happen more and more. Gorgeous day for a walk though, so took the long route home; it's a really pretty village & it does have a pub called The Plough which the guide doesn't mention - at time of going to press; curry night Weds, fish & chips Fridays.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Muttley's new friend

Wednesday morning saw G trundling off to Brum to get a new exhaust fitted on the car prior to it's MOT. How come we hardly ever have access to a car but spend enormous amounts of money on it and enormous amounts of time trying to put it somewhere or trying to get it back?

I must admit that I was quite delighted to have the boat to myself for a few hours and happily pottered in the galley prepping supper as Bones and Maffi were coming for supper. Don't you just love boat life where you can invite complete strangers (to me-G had met them once, briefly) to an experimental supper (perhaps I forgot the experimental bit on the invite) & they actually accept. I didn't pre-warn them that I was about to loose my filo pastry virginity.

Muttley was instantly besotted with Bones (as were we) and decided that she was gorgeous (which she is) and we had a LOVELY evening. Even the pie stood up, but I think Maffi was a bit disconcerted that it contained, "nothing that had previously walked or breathed". It's not so long since Lesley of NB Caxton described us as committed carnivores.

Bones does, however, have some allergies & G didn't link the 'peel' in mixed fruit with orange & we are extremely grateful we didn't make her seriously ill with the pudding. A quick blast of anaphylactic shock is not the ideal end to a great evening!!!!! When it came time for them to leave, separating Bones & Muttley was like tryng to unstick super glue!

We set off in glorious sunshine towards Banbury today to water, pump out, collect shower boards (should have been delivered last Thursday) obtain mended/replacement Berghaus walking boots & thermal mug. Looky who we found - Derwent6 taking buns out of the oven! Blocked the navigation for a while, whilst working out we could meet up at Cropredy at the weekend. We discussed, briefly, the problem of himself (that's her himself not my himself - are you keeping up?) running out of underpants whilst iced in and he said that he had a new solution to the inside out, back to front thing. He would explain at the weekend-are there any by-passes on this canal?
At this point all was wonderfully well on planet Matilda Rose; but it was not to last long.

Our attempts to pump out at Sovereign Wharf failed dismally as we weren't able to dock - Houston we have a problem; G dashed back to Tooleys and spent £40 odd on a new fitting and we raced against time as we were meeting the shower board delivery man at 4.00pm. The owner of Sovereign was wonderful & patient & never charged us a bean, but we had to give it up & meet the plumbing lorry plus we phoned Millets and they hadn't got round to sending our stuff back to Berghaus, so that could be another fortnight.

We, literally, arrived at designated meeting point together and panels were lugged down to the boat. Let Daisy out as she'd been shut in most of the day, & was not happy, whilst we pondered the logistical problem of getting the (large) panels on board. It was actually easier than it looked although we now have the bedroom in bits (poo tank) and the lounge in bits (shower panels).
So we piled the animals back on board, reversed back round the bend & under the bridge & winded, mooring up by B & Q -Daisy jumped out of the starboard side (as per earlier) and hit the water - will she NEVER learn to look before she leaps.
So...we are in Banbury & not Cropredy; we are pointing South & not North; our poo tank is VERY full and our cat is wet & seriously pissed off. If you should see a skinny bint heading off to the woods with a shovel & a loo roll, please don't judge her too harshly and give her some privacy.

Monday, 16 March 2009

'Orrible dogs

After a busy weekend, Jill decided she wanted to put her ankle to a more severe test, so I planned a 4 mile walk to take in the Village of Kings Sutton (Kings South Estate), now had I been Lesley off Caxton I would have been able to tell you which King, but as I'm not as well edumakated I can't.

Kings Sutton is one of the most southerly villages in Northants and also one of the prettiest,

On our return leg to MR the dogs found this lovely brook and decided it was time for a bath, F & F have a lot to answer for!

And at last I was able to catch up with the rugby I missed yesterday, thanks to BBCi Player.

Busy, busy, busy

As always, when back on the South Oxford, it's always manic catching up with friends & family (we lived in this area 10 years ago). We have now sussed where our intermittent leak is coming from - the shower. This isn't the first time that the tiles/grouting have sprung a leak so decided to replace them with Mermaid board. This was ordered and due in for delivery on Thursday, so we moved into the outskirts of Banbury overnight (Spiceball Park) only to discover it hadn't turned up and now won't be available until next Thursday, so moved onto Twyford. So, in the meantime, we have a very inelegant shower mod.

Saturday we were picked up by the family & driven into Oxford-respectable clothes dug out for some fine dining-to celebrate Steph's birthday & our wedding anniversary; I actually managed a pud!

Sunday they all came back & we cruised down through the 3 locks in glorious sunshine to Aynho to also meet up with one of my best mates; Wendy & her husband John (who live on their boat at Enslow). 6 adults, 1 child, 2 dogs & 1 cat makes a boat quite crowded & I'm afraid much wine was consumed. When I woke with a hangover this morning I was very grateful not to have to get up at 6.00am & go to work like Steph & Wendy.

We watered, winded & returned to Twyford - somehow 6 locks and less than 8 miles took over 7 hours and Daisy (who couldn't go out) was seriously fed up with us and buried herself in disapproval.
What a lovely weekend AGAIN

I hoped I'd never have to look out of the window at bricks & mortar again, but sometimes it still happens!

Is this the angelic face of a two year old? or the end of a terrible two's tantrum!