Saturday 31 December 2011

Size matters

What is it with UK sizing? "your M and S" does ladies knickers at size 8-10, 12-14, 16-18 etc. What are you expected to do if you are 10-12 or 14-16? Absolutely the same problem with walking socks ( of which I get through many) which come in sizes 3-5 or 6-8. I take a 5 and a half!!!! It's enough to make a girl wail. Anyway, the wind somewhat abated, we moved to Stoke Bruerne, despite my ill-fitting underwear and ill-fitting socks, today. Not a pretty day for pics, but here are the best.

Wishing everyone a healthy and happy cruising New Year with a thank you to everyone who has stuck with us on the blog through our trials and tribulations during 2011 and we hope we  haven't bored the pants off of you (even if you did find the right size). To all our new friends and those amazing people (new and established) that plunged in when we were in trouble, we thank you and know that this is the true spirit of boating and the boating community - OK so there's been a few oiks along the way, but you wouldn't want me getting all sentimental now would you........or would you?

Friday 30 December 2011

...and the winner is ....?

Been a bit preoccupied recently, but a few of my favourite  canal side Christmas decorations

I like the Santa one up the side of the canal cottage - mind you, I did see another similar one but his trousers seem to have.. well, blown up..and I didn't want to frighten the horses children

Thursday 29 December 2011

Decision now irrelevant

My mother 'phoned this afternoon to say she has to be in hospital for 9.00am on Monday. Trying to sort out transport to get back again....Sunday being new years day and Monday being a Bank Holiday in lieu (I think). This is Northampton to East Coast - about 4 train changes and two buses and walks. Sorry, poor old mum - we are heading for the Fens for just this reason. G might get to meet up with NB Chance in my absence so he'll be fine. At least after an overnighter in the marina I have clean clothes and clean bedding!

Wednesday 28 December 2011

Left or right?

Braunston or Stoke Bruerne?
G completed his 800 odd mile Xmas excursion by fetching me back from Norfolk. We arrived back about 4.00pm - tired and hungry with little more than a pint of milk and a packet of cat food (which is ok warmed up with a can of beans - bugger, we're out of beans!)
We soon had the fire roaring and the menagerie happily settled plus, with shore power, the washing machine working overtime. This morning we were up early with G off to Tescos for a major shop before returning the hire car at 12. Good old Enterprise dropped him back and we were out of marina land (like the water and power occasionally but hate pontoon living). I lay awake last night listening to the boat next door banging against the pontoon finger.
The wind has been horrendous today and tomorrow's forecast is not a lot better-so might not go anywhere as we are very tired. Can't be bothered to make the left/ right decision today.
Good news; our gold licence has come. Bad news; our new Vulcan stove fan doesn't work properly and will have to go back. Hassle.

Tuesday 27 December 2011

Daisy goes to the Antartic

I was cooking Xmas dinner when a shout from my mum had me running into the lounge.....I thought something dreadful had happened but, was just Daisy finding a sudden fascination for the penguins on the telly. Mum was highly amused....

Daisy was trying to dig the penguins out of the telly. She tried from the front fIrst and, when that didn't work, she stretched up and tried to dig them out of the back!!!!!!

Saturday 24 December 2011

The mysterious draft blogs

The new blogger 'post' layouts tell me that we have 586 published blogs, 1 scheduled and 30 drafts on file.
Now 586 blogs is a lot of pontificating (or, more honestly, waffling) but 30 drafts...what's all that about..? The new format allows you to find out, so I had a little look. They date from March 2008 (4 weeks after we moved onto MR) to June of this year. 20 of the 30 were just titles and/or thoughts that never developed or duplications for some reason. Some were too boring or contentious to publish or, more excitingly, sub judice - as per the ridiculous situation with the boat on the Fens in 2010. That leaves me with 10 that carry photos and memories worth retrieving. All I have to do is work out how OR just change the dates and publish them. In the words of Stingray, 'anything could happen in the next half hour' or, more likely, nothing at all (case in point, this is exactly the sort of blog I've saved to draft and never published).
I find this amazing; I started this blog just a week ago - before all hell let loose. If there are some that I didn't publish because they were too contentious, with hindsight about what I thought was OK, it's just as well I didn't or we'd probably have been torpedoed (not enough water) or blown up by now! This, therefore rounds off my 2011 with my menagerie at Mum's on the East Coast. Happy 2012 cruising everyone.

 Idiot cat - will you PLEASE get out of the bin

Idiot dogs - will you please get out of the sea - grandma will NOT be impressed

Wednesday 21 December 2011

Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas one and All.

Please press the link below

Thank you Dougie, James and Oscar.

Today I woke up

and made a cup of tea. Then I walked the dogs. Then I went to bed. 

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Hornet's nest-well and truly stirred!!

Blimey; that put my ratings up!!!!!
Quite extraordinary, my main rant on the blog was the bloke that left both bottom gates of the 7 locks open and some paddles making our day difficult and long but, more importantly, endangering the water levels on the pounds. Not a comment, not a reference; but world war III broke out over my moan about NB Stafford roaring past with sheet ice driving down the side of the boat.
Nearly every 'anti' banged on about drafts, water displacement, our inability to tie up our boat; it's not about that, it's about consideration. Working  NBs Victoria Gosty and Towcester come and go - laden and empty- without any of this nonsense - they wouldn't have many customers left if they behaved in the same way!
I hadn't realised that G had linked the post into facebook - the comments left on the blog are sugar sweet compared to the facebook stuff; some amounting to threats against our boat. Unbelievable.
My blog, my experiences, my thoughts as I see things. Don't like it, don't read it.
Many people quoted NB Stafford's crew as having 40 odd years experience (100s of years cumulative in one case) and they will all have skills I can only dream of; but I have manners and that you will never take away from me.

Monday 19 December 2011

Selfish, rotten b******s

What a difference a day makes - there we were discussing with (new boater) Rob how one of the (many) pleasures of living life on the cut was the fabulous spirit of the boating community and how we all looked out for each other and that there were very few exceptions     -    that'll teach me to be a cocky, complacent little bugger then! We just met two exceptions in two days.
We set off yesterday from the top of the Buckby flight, breaking ice again, but someone had already gone through before us and done the first break ....they had also left both bottom gates and some of the paddles open. Now those bottom gates are very heavy and if, nasty man, you are too wimpy to shut them and too wimpy to drop a paddle, then PLEASE GET OFF THE CUT, because I am 8 1/2 stone and, with difficulty, managed it. Yes, I am cross and, yes, I am pissed off with you. Those 7 locks took us most of the day.
Conversely, we pulled up at the end of a line of winter moorings - at the invitation of the last in line who pointed out the vacancy and had just lagged the tap - just before the waterpoint. Now THAT's what I call pole position at this time in the year. Lovely boaters back again.
Then we woke up this morning to NB Stafford roaring through the line of boats breaking ice and with a big  building sheet of ice on his bow scoring a slice down everyones boat. When asked to slow down (not just by us) he told everyone to piss off and get a life - perhaps I SHOULD go and live in a bungalow.....selfish, rotten b******s.
Yeah, there are pics but too angry to be bothered

Sunday 18 December 2011

Breaking Ice, but not stuck (yet!)

I awoke this morning to the sound of an approaching boat breaking ice. I dragged myself out of bed, somewhat reluctantly, to the thought of 13 icy double locks with none of the hoped for help from my mate Dainion. Soon cheered up though when 3 more boats came down passed us and, therefore, we would have a good road for, at least, the first 6.

Cheered up even more when, stood in the well deck and donning woolly hats, scarves, gloves, dog leads, windlasses, etc.,etc., I was greeted by Megs, a 14 week old chocolate labrador with her new dad who had recently moved onto a boat for the first time. Both were delightful and she was surprisingly calm (credit to Rob) and investigated both our dogs without the 'over-the-topness' so often found in pups. I could have stowed her away in a flash. As I'm writing this, I've just realised that these are the new Crick Marina guys that NB Ellen has blogged about.
Sadly, the encounter cost us dear as, whilst we were chatting, a boat pulled out in front of us and went off up the set double locks without us; so the road was against us all the way. Doesn't matter though, does it. It's all good exercise.

 We slithered and slipped our way up - the bottom gates are so heavy and when you are struggling to keep your footing on the icy brickwork ... but we took our time and it was lovely in the sunshine.
 We went through the tunnel (me on board this time instead of over the top) and stopped at the top of Buckby locks for water and rubbish disposal before setting off again downhill. It was 2.00pm and this was what was coming.......... reversed up and moored and legged it into the The New Inn for lunch just ahead of the storm         
 .......before retiring to a toasty boat for cuddles.....
 .......and snuggles.....
......and the Strictly finals. Not where we thought we'd be, but it doesn't matter.

Saturday 17 December 2011

G goes boating on the Thames...Well not quite!

Friday saw us still in Braunston hoping to take on the eldest grandson as extra crew for the weekend up the Braunston and down the Buckby locks. Unfortunately, he wasn't too well when he came home from school (too much end of term partying?) so it wasn't to be - we'll just have to eat the the new batch of Chelsea buns, crisps and chocolates ourselves.
We also parted with Beefur boat today as we are now heading in separate directions - thank you for your company, guys we have enjoyed travelling with you.

On our way up the Oxford we stopped between Upper and Lower Heyford for a long weekend as Graham was off to London from the station there for the annual Puma reunion on Friday night and then a bit of boating with Richard on Indigo Dream on Saturday before dinner with the Greyhound Re-homing Charity. 

So I'm handing this blog over to G now

Saturday morning with a hangover in London is not the best place to be and needing to loiter til 7pm I put the feelers out for suggestions, well needless to say Sue, from Indigo Dream, came up with the ideal solution, get the train to Redhill in Surrey and spread out in their armchair til the evening event. Great.

Thursday, before travelling, I get a message from Richard asking if I fancied a white knuckle ride up the Thames Saturday morning as he needed to inspect part of the flood wall. I couldn't refuse knowing  it would either kill or cure me.
South bound on Bow Creek

Having walked back to the UJ club at around midnight on Friday, Full English breakfast at 8am Saturday I set off to meet Richard at his mooring in Limehouse Marina, the normal journey would have taken around 16 mins, but the whole of the London Underground decided that it was the right weekend to do maintenance and needless to say it was horrific, well over an hour and four changes.

Decision point-too choppy-about turn. Thames and O2 arena in the background.

Richard had needed to look at part of the flood defenses down Bow Creek, unfortunately the tide was up  too quickly and the part of wall he needed to see was disappearing, as was my hangover. Richard had made plans to go with the tide up the Thames back to Limehouse Lock, at the junction of Bow Creek and the Thames. I said it would be quite nice to see the Olympic Park (it doesn't look too bad in the above photo but the winds were gusting 30 knots).

So back to Bow Lock

and up to the Olympic Park

Some form of Artistic Viewing thing? 

Winded at Old Ford Lock

Back past Bow Lock

Limehouse Marina
Breaking bow waves which on occasion reached me at the tiller!

When he returned on Sunday I walked up to Steeple Aston with the dogs to meet him off the bus (no Banbury to Heyford train service on Sundays) and on the way back a farmer out shooting gave us a brace of pigeon - perfect timing as Monica had just shown us what to do with them on Masterchef - jolly nice they were too.
It took him about 10 minutes, once back on the boat, to fall soundly (and noisily) asleep.
I rather think he had a very special weekend.

Friday 16 December 2011

A blast of hot air

I suggested G went to find a bus stop which would take him into Daventry, or anywhere really that would provide me with a hairdryer as well as the other stuff we needed. I'm sorry if this sounds a bit precious but, you know what they say, 'walk a mile in Jill's shoes  before.......' You see G is never in a rush in the mornings until he is ready. Then he needs to go now. At this time of the year, with temperatures close to freezing, it's not a lot of fun to set off down the towpath with wet hair dripping down your neck! Anyway, excellent feller that he (sometimes) is, he trundled off to Braunston's bus stop meaning that I had about 3 hours for my own agenda. I still hadn't achieved breakfast when he returned, throwing his rucksack into the boat, and muttering that A J Canopy's were shutting for the holidays in an hour but had 2 machinists free who could fix our cratch cover - usual story; caught on the side of a lock - if we took it down there now. Anyway, cover removed in a panic and delivered he still made the bus and I still - just- had time to give the dogs a run before picking up the cover - £20 and the bottom piece replaced as well as the studs. A J's are brilliant. Himself returned with all things on the list and I managed to get the cratch cover refitted, the dogs walked, the food shopping done and dinner made before  he returned. Plenty of hot air on this boat again!

I've never seen Braunston so deserted, you can moor just about anywhere you want at the moment. Every other time we've been through-no matter what time of the year- mooring has been like being in the queue for the first day of Harrod's sale.
 Not a  single boat on this stretch outside the marina (left below) and we are one of only two on the other side of the bridge
 The footbridge over the marina with my boys posing up on high
 Re-building the towpath by the pump house

 It really is a lovely spot

 Looking down on the marina from the bridge

Thursday 15 December 2011

Buns and blow ups

The former (buns) were G's Chelsea's - I should have taken a pic but we fell on, and devoured them, with indecent haste like demented gluttons; they were sooooooo good. It's Chelsea bun and mulled wine weather really!
Blow ups - well that was my hair dryer (oh, and my camera but I am absolutely not discussing cameras anymore) so now I desperately need a hair cut and have no hair dryer - even more reason to keep my head under the duvet with Daisy and Baxter still not sharing with Muttley; he still smells.
We didn't like the look of the weather forecast for the next few days so we thought we might be best getting into the civilisation of Braunston. G cruised and the boys and I walked in with plenty of time for lunch, a bit of shopping and a pint at the Plough before Gosty Hill delivered coal and diesel.

Back to our South Oxford cruising, I couldn't wait to revisit this lovely circular walk; I think it's 40 years since I last did it!

The next 5 pics are of the ruins of Hampton Gay Manor

Across the fields to the church - completely isolated now.

Striding out across open fields, we head for Hampton Poyle

Passed this straw bale house under construction

into the hamlet of Hampton Poyle
and it's church
the boys were more than ready for a drink and a swim - and then I remembered that there was only one way to get the dogs over White Bridge
lift them! all dripping wet......yuk! The dogs of my youth swam across and met me on the other side - not these two

this is the back end of Kidlington and the church in the distance - my 3rd on this walk
hang a right and follow the Cherwell back through the (new) woods to Thrupp - a fabulous walk and a very special day