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

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Ham Manor Marina (Kennet & Avon Canal)

I’m rather late in announcing the brilliant news that I am now a Granny :-)   Tobyn Oscar was born on September 21st at 6.25am and weighed in at 7lbs 10oz.  The labour was very quick – lucky Laura!  Tobyn is 2 weeks old today and each time I see him he has changed in some little way.

Richard and James got Mary H back to Newbury on September 23rd enjoying some nice Autumn weather.  The inside of Mary H is in chaos as we discovered a water leak at the end of August which Richard thought he had cured.  He thought it was the filtered water pipe which he mended but in fact it was the water pump which continued to leak.  The water has been removed but everywhere is very damp so all the kitchen cupboards have been emptied and the doors taken off and a de-humidifier put in.  Goodness knows what we would have done if we were living on board!

Here are our statistics for this year compared with the last few years.

Swing Bridges
Average miles per day
Average locks per day
141 days
96 days
159 days
173 days
Days cruising
77 days
53 days
95 days
89 days
Days not cruising
15 days
15 days
26 days
19 days
Days boat left in marina
49 days
28 days
38 days
65 days

We have had a good summer – meeting up with old friends and making new ones.  Muffin doesn’t seem any the worse for wear after his accident on the Stoke Bruerne Locks – in fact I think I am the one who was more traumatised and I can still see his little head disappearing under the water.

We have made plans for next year but who knows what will happen.  I want to be at home more frequently so I can see Tobyn which may mean leaving Richard and Muffin onboard or maybe we will all go home – who knows!

Sunday, 18 September 2016

Hayling Island – Saturday 17th September

When we drew the curtains this morning we saw a huge group of runners on the other bank.  It would appear that it was the Abingdon Park Run which happens every Saturday at 9.00am.  Its 3.3 miles.

It was then time for me to start packing and get myself ready to go home.  In some ways I am sad not to be doing the last part of the trip but I really want to be close to Robert and Laura for when the baby arrives.  He is due in a week’s time and I am so excited :-)  When my own children were due I was so big and fed up that I didn’t really feel that excited but this time it is VERY different.  I’m going over to see them tomorrow as long as they aren’t in the hospital!

All being well Richard and his son, James, will be in Newbury either next Friday or Saturday.  Obviously there will be no more regular boat blogging but I will do one when the Mary H is tied up for the winter with all statistics for the year and our a special one when the baby arrives - a Granny boasting one!

Here are a few photos I took of strange boat names.

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Abingdon (River Thames) – Friday 16th September

We needed to be in Abingdon today which was a four-hour trip and to hopefully find a space there we needed to be away by 9am.  I woke up about 7am which is unusual for me, Muffin then woke up which then woke Richard up!!  We were having our tea in bed when the rain started but that heavy as it wasn’t making a noise on the roof.  Richard switched on Breakfast Time and we discovered that there had been terrible storms overnight and that Newbury and Didcot railway station were closed due to flooding.  We weren’t very far from there so were very lucky with the rain.

We left at 9.10am in the dry thank goodness.  Both Godstow and Osney Locks were manned which we weren’t expecting – I wonder if it’s because it is Friday and they are expecting weekenders to come out.

The Head of the River pub has got a lovely floral display – its just such a shame that the building looks as if it has seen better days.

Down through Oxford where it was spitting with rain.  I was quite surprised when we reached Iffley Lock as I had completely forgotten about it!  It started to rain again as we approached Sandford Lock so Richard pulled over and we sat it out.  I do like these flats and houses below Sandford Lock – I reckon I could retire here!

We stopped to use the services above Abingdon Lock then went through the lock and searched for a mooring spot.  There was nowhere on the field side but plenty of room of the park side so we moored there.  The trouble with the park side is that there is a No Dogs policy but there isn’t a soul in the park so we hoped we would be OK. Of course when the schools turned out the park was full of secondary kids – their game seemed to be to fill water bottles and soak each other!

I walked to Waitrose to get some milk – that is the up side of being on the park side of the river as the town isn’t far away. 

Look at the narrow boat in this photo – it looks like a mirror!

11.33 miles
5 locks

Friday, 16 September 2016

Godstow (River Thames) – Thursday 15th September

We woke up to thick mist though it was still warm.

Visitors today and what do visitors equal? Housework!  Richard and I have our own jobs when it comes to housework so we both set too and soon the inside and one side of the outside was sparkling!

We went down through Godstow Lock to turn around and then headed back to where we had been moored.

Dee, Geoff and their Labradoodle, Tess are friends from home and were going to meet us at The Trout.  We wandered round there and grabbed a table on the terrace.  For midday on a Thursday it was already very busy.  As they arrived I took Muffin to meet his friend in a more open space than around the table and it’s just as well I did as they went berserk!  It was so lovely to see – if I had known what would happen I would have taken a video as it would have been lovely memory to keep.

This was our third visit to The Trout and each time there has been a couple of ducks who sit on the wall – there was only one there today and I wondered if it was the same duck.


We had a lovely lunch, in a lovely setting and with lovely friends :-)

We walked back to the boat and pulled pins to give Dee and Geoff a little trip on the river.  By this time the sun was really hot.  Dee and I sat in the cratch while Richard and Geoff took up the steering position.  We went through King’s Lock which was manned and then turned around somewhere near the junction with the River Evenlode.

When we got back to Godstow our space was still free so we moored up, got out the chairs and the wine (Dee was on soda and lime as she was driving) and watched the sunset.  They then left us to go up to Lechlade where they were staying overnight.

It was a beautiful day and to share it with good friends was perfect.

4.74 miles
4 locks

Thursday, 15 September 2016

Godstow (River Thames) – Wednesday 14th September

A beautiful morning on the Thames and with it being mid-September it is really quiet.

We have friends coming tomorrow so stayed put until after lunch when we set off for Godstow via Eynsham Lock – I know it’s upstream but we needed the services.

Opposite the lock landing at Eynsham there is a boat moored and I guess left.  I hope when the owners get back they don’t find things eaten!

It was a glorious day for pootling around on the river.  There is a song about messing about on the river but for the life of me I can’t think of the title!

Duke’s Lock was on self-service but as we approached the Lockie came out and did it for us – what a nice lady and she thought Muffin was adorable!

Under the A34 – it was only two weeks ago that we were sitting up there with a flat tyre!  As we came under the bridge at Godstow we hoped there would be some spaces.  The first space had sunbathers on the bank and we didn’t want to disturb them.  The second one had a couple of cyclists taking a rest but the third one was free :-)

It’s not free mooring here anymore.  You have to text a number giving your registration (!) number then you get a call back asking you to put in the location number which is on the little signs.  Richard tried three times to put the number in but all he got was “that is not a recognised location number”, it was time to give up then!

We sat out under a tree – it was lucky we took the third mooring spot as the others don’t have any shade.  The boat got hotter and hotter inside – up to 33°.  As it cooled down a bit I made a bolognaise then we had a glass (or two) of wine watching the sunset though, once again, it was not a brilliant one though I love the clouds.

4.69 miles
1 lock

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

½ Mile East of Evenlode Junction (Oxford Canal / River Thames) – Tuesday 13th September

I know our location is rather specific but that’s where we are according to the GPS and there isn’t anything else around us so it will have to do!

By 11am it was really hot – 25 degrees in the boat and much hotter lockside in the sun.  However, the sun went in and the wind got up but it’s still very warm and I am in strappy top and shorts.

Three locks and we were onto Duke’s Cut and my last manual lock of the season.  I’m jumping ship on Saturday and returning home as my first grandchild is due on the 24th and I want to be at home and closer to my son and daughter-in-law.  Richard will continue back to Newbury with his son as crew.  Am I sorry I have to miss the K & A locks – draw your own conclusion!!

There were two C&RT engineers at Duke’s Cut Lock.  When they saw me going over the bottom gate they reckoned a walkway was needed – I wonder if it will get done.

Our usual mooring place just after coming onto the Thames was taken, as was the next one!  The banks do seem to be much more overgrown than they were a year ago.  I don’t know what will happen in another 12 months but the third was free so we moored up there for lunch and didn’t move again.  It was very hot though there was a breeze which was very welcome.

From the boat we can see a “forest” on a hillside.  I am fascinated to know why all the trees are the same height except for two places.

Sadly, there wasn’t a lovely sunset but the reflection in the river was still lovely.

5.06 miles
4 locks
1 lift bridge

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Thrupp (Oxford Canal) – Monday 12th September

I was so cold last night – I was up finding blankets and even resorted to socks at 1.30am!  The winter duvet has made its appearance!

It was another lovely sunny morning and the view from the bedroom window as I was drying my hair was perfect.

We passed Jane’s Enchanted Tea Room – it was open yesterday but I didn’t think about it until it was too late.

At Pigeons Lock it was a case of “I don’t believe it”!  Mrs. Private Boater sat on the top gate and watched Richard do the gate on his own.  What is it with people???

I managed to get a good photo of the Mercury satellite communications ground station at Enslow which is part of their telephone network in Britain.

It was then down the River Cherwell to the diamond shaped lock at Shipton Weir.  It’s now a question of what is the difference between the two following photos?

The answer is that the second photo was taken a year ago and had a notice in the window saying the boat had broken down.  This year the sign has gone but the boat hasn’t moved!

We stopped to use the services at Thrupp and as we then went under the lift bridge we could see a Mary H sized space so we pulled in and moored up – result!  We went across to Annie’s Tea Rooms for lunch – definitely not one to be missed.

We had been told that there is a bus service out on the main road at Thrupp which goes from Banbury to Oxford and goes through Kidlington.  As we needed milk and a couple of other fresh things we went to catch the 14.40 only to see it whizz passed the end of the road :-(  We returned to Mary H and then went to catch the 15.40 – we were there about 15 minutes early!  It’s only a short trip into Kidlington where we got off, went to Tesco and then caught the next bus home. 

I took this photo at lunchtime.  The cottages are real chocolate box ones but back onto the railway line which is a busy one – great shame but I guess they were there before the trains!

4.05 miles
3 locks
2 lift bridges