I am Linda and along with my husband Richard and our dog Muffin we enjoy our summers on the UK's canal system

Saturday, 13 May 2017

Above Kings Lock (River Thames) - Friday May 12th

Mary H says goodbye and hello.
I was decamping today to go home while Richard is continuing to Wigrams Turn with his friend Dave Plumb.  Richard and Dave used to share a sailing boat and would have boys weekends which they haven't done for many years.
Richard went off to Newbury to collect the car while I cleaned the boat from end to end - even the oven got a clean, well a wipe out!  Once the car was in Oxford it was just a case of loading it up, saying goodbye to Richard and Muffin and driving home.  The journey home was good other than a long queue getting off the A34 at Winchester.
About an hour after I had gone Richard walked to the station and met Dave.  Their plan was to go up the river to Duke's Cut and then  up the South Oxford.  They moored up above Kings Lock ready to tackle the canal tomorrow.
I am home alone for 6 days before picking the boys up.  My plan for the time?  Im going to spend the weekend getting a Granny fix then get ready for our cruise.
 I hope to do some sort of blog while we are away.  We use the blog as a diary and its a great way to look back on things.
 The photos today are ones that just haven't made the blog so far!  Catch you soon 😀

Friday, 12 May 2017

Oxford, East Street (River Thames) – Thursday Thursday 11th May

Two farewells and a load of poo!

We left our lovely mooring just after 10am and headed to Eynsham Lock.  We took on water and said farewell to Maffi.  There was no sign of Molly.

There were FOUR lock keepers on at Eynsham Lock – four why????  We dumped the dumpables and headed downstream.

We knew that Sue and Vic were moored near King’s Lock so when we saw them we pulled over and had a coffee with them and saw their lovely widebeam.  It certainly is a totally different way of life living on a widebeam.  We said goodbye – hopefully we will catch up with them again in the Autumn.

I think this was written yesterday!
There was a very jolly lockie on at King’s Lock.  He told me that when had he arrived this morning there was a herd of cows lying down in the car park.  They had come from a field above the lock and he had to shoo them all the way back past the lock.  They had certainly left their mark – poor lockie had a lot of cleaning up to do.

Godstow Lock was on self-service but it is electric so I really didn’t mind.  What I did mind though was the goose poo.  Above the lock it’s just one huge layer of it.  It is absolutely disgusting.  I once worked as a school secretary in a secondary school and one very dry summer holiday a flock of Canadian geese moved onto the playing field.  Just before the beginning of term we rang the Council and asked if they could do anything about it as it was a health and safety issue – of course they said there wasn’t.  The children weren’t allowed on the playing field for quite a few weeks until it had rained enough to disperse it.



I got a couple of nice photos of Mary H coming out of a Thames Lock.  The opportunity doesn’t happen very often.

Past Port Meadow – hardly anyone there today.  Apparently the meadow appears never to have been ploughed, it contains well-preserved archaeological remains, some of which survive as residual earthworks. Of particular note are several Bronze Age round barrows, an area of Iron Age settlement, and the foundations of 17th-century fortifications from the Parliamentary siege of Oxford during the English Civil War.  In the 17th and 18th centuries the meadow was used for horse racing, and low stone bridges laid over washes and ditches for this purpose still survive.  During the First World War part of Port Meadow was used to train the Royal Flying Corps and turned into a military aerodrome. Fifteen air crew and pilots were killed flying from Port Meadow or close by. In 1940, during the Second World War, a camp was set up on the meadow for military personnel evacuated from Dunkirk.

Under Osney Bridge and we took the last mooring spot at East Street – well we only wanted one!

It wasn’t a very nice late-afternoon so we both just read and chilled out.

6.4 miles
3 locks

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Above Eynsham Lock (River Thames) – Wednesday 10th May

A surprise and very pleasant catch up.

Pinkhill lock had no lock–keeper – oh sorry it did!

Pinkhill really is a lovely lock which is overlooked by a row of horse chestnut trees.

Muffin decided to chat up the canine lock keeper – Riley!

I posted a photo when we were in Shepperton of the Lock Cottage with scaffolding all over it – well I reckon a good 60% of the Thames lock cottages have scaffolding on them somewhere.  The Environment Agency must be forking out masses of money to get them all up to scratch.

Pinkhill Lock

Eynsham Lock
We moored above Eynsham Lock where Richard did some more painting on the roof – it is almost finished now – sadly he managed to paint a good t-shirt too   We then sat out on the bank and read – it was so nice to be able to do that in the sunshine.  The mooring on the meadow is really lovely.  This is the view

Between us and Swinford Bridge is Swinford Manor Farm where they have started glamping. The tents look really nice on the website though they really are only sleeping tents.  Each tent has electric heating. This is automatically available when booking for April, May and September and available upon request for the remainder of the season. Hot water bottles and extra blankets are also provided for those cooler nights!

 We went for a short walk to the lock and realised just how badly Swinford Toll Bridge is eroding.  The bridge, half a mile from Eynsham, was opened in 1769. It's been described as the finest of the many bridges over the Thames - it was built in the golden age of Georgian architecture, when both design, materials and craftsmanship were all very good.

 Just after the bridge we saw a familiar boat moored but no one was at home.

After some messaging we caught up with Maffi and he and Molly came up to join us on Mary H for the evening.  It was a great evening – I think we talked locks and batteries to death though!

3.44 miles
1 lock

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Bablock Hythe (River Thames) – Tuesday 9th May

Mad women and a ferry tale.

Another short day today. Up through Pinkhill Lock where there was actually a Lock Keeper on duty. 

We moored up at Bablock Hythe – not one of favourite places but it will do for tonight.  There is a pub here, The Ferryman Inn, which has to be, sadly, the ugliest pub on the Thames.  We went in there once and the only people in there looked at us as if we had two heads – we felt very uncomfortable and haven’t been in there since!!

Richard spent the afternoon painting the roof and a bit on the rear deck while I got on doing …… in fact what did I do?  I sat at my laptop for 4 hours and have little to show for it.  I’ve done some banking, changed a few appointments, written some birthday cards and sent two via Moonpig, sorted out one or five things – those must have taken up the time!!!

I’ll let you into a secret now and maybe you will understand why I have been spending so much time on my laptop.  We are going on a big ship cruise in 12 days time 😊  We are swapping Mary H for the Celebrity Eclipse and going to the Baltic for 14 days.  We have never done a cruise before and, to me, it is quite daunting!  I have booked tours, organised a drinks package (but is it the right one!), joined a forum and a Facebook page (both of which take time to keep up with but have been very interesting and helpful), researched the ship from bow to stern (I now know where all the bars and cafes are), as well as ordered some new clothes!  We still haven’t decided on what currency to take as the ship is American, we visit three Euro countries and three that aren’t!  The taxi is booked – we sail from Southampton and we only live 25 miles away.  Have I forgotten anything?  Goodness only knows!!!!  I’m jumping ship on Friday while Richard has a “boys” week with his friend David.  I will need time at home to panic before we go!

During the afternoon I heard talking from the river.  On looking out of the window I saw these two ladies swimming.  No wet suits just swimsuits and hats – oh and fluorescent floats!  I asked them if they were mad and they said they were!

Bablock Hythe goes back a long, long way as a ferry crossing.  Historians have found records showing use of the crossing as early as 946 and it was used as a river port by the Saxons. In the 13th century it provided Benedictine monks with transport between Eynsham Abbey, Northmoor Church and Abingdon Abbey.  Ferries continued to provide a crossing service until the mid 20th century.  There was also an ancient inn, The Chequers, described by William Senior in his Royal River in the 1880s. This was rebuilt in the early 1990s and renamed The Ferry Inn and later The Ferryman.

I'm not sure of the year of this one
I found this on the internet by someone called John McCarthy.

In 1964 we took our new Hillman Minx complete with the family onboard the ferry but as we crossed it began to take on water and slowly started to sink! However we made the other side without recourse to putting women and children in the lifeboat and my wife even managed to take cine film during the crossing so I have full proof we did the passage.  I was subsequently told it was the last time it 'sailed', which was not surprising.

In 1981 the crossing was revived by Frank Bye the previous landlord of the Ferry Inn, as it was then known.  A bridge has twice been proposed at the site, in 1983 and 2003, but each time the plans were scrapped because of the cost.

I found the lovely photos of the ferry on a site called thames.me.uk

3.45 miles
2 locks

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Above Eynsham Lock (River Thames) – Monday 8th May

A story of bridges solved by a mathematical solution!

We only had a hop, skip and jump to where we are now moored.  Basically, we are killing time before we go back to Oxford on Thursday.

I have absolutely nothing to blog about today so I’m going to bore you all silly with some bridge information!!  Why?  Because I like bridges – especially odd bridges and, as you proceed through the “really interesting facts” below, I used to live in Shepperton and Walton bridge was always a real pain.

This bridge is at Iffley Lock and is called The 'Mathematical' Bridge.  It was built by the Thames Conservancy in 1923.  It was built as a tribute to the similar bridge over the Cam in Cambridge.  This bridge was designed by William Etheridge, and built by James Essex in 1749. The bridge appears to be an arch but, is in fact, composed of entirely of straight timbers which are built to an unusually sophisticated engineering design, hence the name.  A popular fable is that the Cambridge bridge was designed and built by Sir Isaac Newton but he couldn’t have been directly involved since he died in 1727, twenty-two years before the bridge was constructed.  The first photo is of the Iffley Bridge taken on May 6th and the second is of the Cambridge bridge taken (by me) on 22nd February 2015.

Another Mathematical Bridge was built, again over the Thames but between Shepperton and Walton-on-Thames.  The bridge was also designed by William Etheridge.  Construction of the bridge was started in 1748 and was completed in 1750. The construction was paid for by Samuel Dicker who was the MP for Plymouth and owned property in Walton on Thames. By paying for its construction Dicker also obtained the right to collect tolls from users of the bridge under the statute. Opponents to its construction comprised: ferry operators, who foresaw an impact their livelihoods; the bargees who thought it would make the river unnavigable; and a minority of residents of Walton-on-Thames who were worried about an influx of undesirable elements from substantially rural and wayfaring villages of West Middlesex north of the river. Despite the late opposition following his Act, Dicker pressed on with construction, probably motivated by his own desire for easy access to London and for the financial benefits the tolls would bring.

The Old Walton Bridge was supported by four central stone piers connected by three arches built of wooden beams and joists. The span of the central arch was 130 feet - at the time the widest unsupported span in England. The other two main arches were each 44 feet, though Dicker later suggested that the design would have allowed for side spans of 70 feet or more. Away from the water were five further small brickwork arches on each side of the river. Although considered an impressive feat of engineering at the time of its construction, the bridge stood for only 33 years. Dicker died in London in 1760 and his estates in the area were sold. The bridge passed to his nephew, Michael Dicker Sanders, but he found it difficult to meet the costs of its upkeep. A report on the condition of the bridge in 1778 suggested that decay in the wooden frame made it unsuitable for use, and it was dismantled in 1783 to make way for a stone-clad brickwork bridge which was completed in 1788 and eventually collapsed in 1859.

Caneletto painted the original Walton Bridge in 1754

A second Walton bridge made of stone (and internally of brick) was opened in 1788. This bridge inspired three paintings by Turner in 1805 of different scenes featuring the bridge. 

The second bridge stood for 73 years until disaster struck in August 1859. The two central arches collapsed suddenly into the river.

A third bridge was built 1863-1864.  In 1940, the bridge was damaged during a German air raid. The structure was weakened as a result and weight limits were imposed. After the war, and the construction of the fourth bridge, the third bridge remained in use for pedestrians and cyclists but by the 1980s it became too costly to maintain it and it was demolished in 1985.

The fourth bridge was constructed in 1953 on the downstream side of the old bridge, using a construction designed by A.M. Hamilton.  It was used initially by motor traffic, but, after the opening of the 5th bridge in 1999, it became a pedestrians and cyclists only bridge. 

In 1999, while the fourth bridge remained standing for use by pedestrians and cyclists, another temporary structure, the fifth bridge, on the site of the original bridges, was opened for vehicular traffic. However, engineers predicted structural weakness by 2015, and plans had to be made for a new bridge.

The sixth bridge was opened on 22 July 2013.  The £32.4 million bridge has no piers in the river, thus opening up views along the river and improving navigation for boats. 

All the above photos, with the exception of the last two, have been borrowed from the internet.

If you are still awake hopefully there will be more to blog about tomorrow!

2.62 miles
1 lock

Monday, 8 May 2017

Above Kings Lock (River Thames) – Sunday 7th May

We woke up to blue sky and sunshine and it lasted ALL day 😊

We were invaded by a flock of geese but only one gosling.  I always feel very mean when ducks etc. come to the boat as we don’t have any bread on board.  I know, I shouldn’t feed them bread, but if you give them grain it sinks before they have time to eat it!

Iffley Lock was on self-service and while the lock was filling I took the opportunity to take some photos.

Up through Oxford where the continuous moorers are still moored – AAAAAAGH! 

I mentioned last year that the Heads of the River pub was in a sorry state, sadly, it is even worse now.

We stopped just before Osney Bridge at East Street for lunch and I popped down to Waitrose as Richard wanted to do a BBQ.  The new Waitrose is brilliant – an 8 minute walk from the road end of the moorings.  I took this photo while we were having lunch – the blue tree (whatever it is) is beautiful.

Under Osney Bridge – no trouble today.

Just after Osney Bridge they have knocked down an old warehouse and are building new houses.  Being built by Cala there will be six 3 and 4 bedroom townhouses.  No prices as yet.

Port Meadow on a sunny Sunday was busy with people – it was lovely to see everyone out and about.

We had thought about mooring above Godstow Lock but there were so many geese there that we decided against it.  There is nothing worse that mooring alongside a mass of goose poo.

It was then King’s Lock – the first of the manual locks, passed the junction of Duke’s Cut (Oxford Canal) and round the corner to one of our favourite spots.  In the middle of nowhere 😊 

Richard cooked a lovely BBQ in the evening though it was a bit chilly to sit out.

If anyone had rather a lot of test posts from me yesterday, I apologise.  Since I started writing my blog in 2010 I have used a programme called Twitterfeed to automatically feed the posts to Facebook and Twitter.  But last October Twitterfeed, in their words, shut their doors.  I’ve been doing it manually so far this year but decided to try and find a replacement.  It took a lot of trial and effort but I finally found one that was user friendly.  I’ve only got a month’s free trial and I don’t know how much it will be but I thought I would give it a go.

6.14 miles
4 locks