Wednesday, 29 June 2011


The fanbelt snapped. An essential bit of kit, as it drives the water pump which cools the engine down, and also spins the alternator, which tops up the batteries. Completely stuffed without one.

But, thankfully, not the end of the world this time, as Chas had bought us a spare. After unbolting the alternator, it took an hour's huffing, puffing and levering to fit the new one on. But now it's working, and I can run the engine again. Phew..

We'll need to obtain another couple of spares, ASAP.
This is the reference number, in case I lose the original invoice..

SPZ1287MC ~ WedgeBeltSPZMCog

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Dogs and Pubs

Dog Friendly PubWe received a comment from Lesley on Narrowboat 'Caxton' yesterday. And it raises an important issue for dog owners, which I feel deserves it's own post..

>> we tend to judge Pubs by their welcome to dogs, it's a good a scale as any I guess

Same here. If he's not welcome, I don't wish to patronise their establishment. Partly my own choice, and partly, the fact that they won't even let us over their threshold. When we do find a place that lets him in, invariably the regulars all love him. He just sits there and rests his head on their knees or feet, soaking up all the attention.

Good point though. There must be other dog/boat owners out there, wondering where they can go together. So, I'll continue to document places where we've been welcomed and turned away. And I hope you will too. I know we can already google 'dog friendly pubs', but it would be good to have a list that is boater specific.

Other boaters, please feel free to post comments on dog friendly establishments. If there are enough, I'll start up a seperate page. I'm not a big drinker, just the occasional pint. But it's very frustrating, looking forward to a nice cool drink all day, and then being refused admittance, because the place has a cat, or it's turned itself into a gastropub.


Narrowboat 'Caxton' blog


Hottest day of the year!

By 11 'o' clock in the morning, the deckboards were already too hot to stand on in bare feet. Can't even touch the roof. Need to run the engine to top up power, but worried that stuff will melt down there. So, I guess I'll wait until the cool of early evening to do it. Sorry, neighbours. Spending the afternoon bookreading in the garden (our newly mown bank), and later on, taking beastie out so that he can go for a swim.

Hil's thoughtful gift (is put to good use)The GRP cruiser "Wandering Ways", finally wandered itself away today. And this is the new view from our back door..

Abingdon Lock ~ zoomedAbingdon LockPriceless.

Saturday, 25 June 2011


Went to watch the "Abingdon's got Talent" talent show, with Alan & Sue. Held in the town square where the kebab van normally sits. The Mayor turned out, and the guest celebrity judge was the young blonde woman who reads the news for BBC Oxford. As you'd expect, there were many entries in the 'street dance' and 'body popping' categories. The worst offender being, 'Swan Blanc', who pranced around like an idiot to the "windows crash remix theme". God, that was embarrassing. And yes, that is his real name. If I'd had any rotting fruit about my person, that would have been the time I would have thrown it.

Ukelele ManStandouts (for me) were 'Big John', who regaled us with some out of tune Northern soul, belted out at the top of his voice. And the man who attempted to play "Swords of a 1000 men" by Tenpole Tudor, on his ukelele. Both destined to fail. But they gave it a go, anyway. That to me, is pure Englishness. Made from the same stuff as Robert Falcon Scott. Bless them. Unfortunately, I wasn't in charge of dishing out today's prizes, and a man who "Irish Danced" won the over 17s group. While an angsty girl with an acoustic guitar, won the under 17s.

Big JohnMister Sumo disgraced himself, by pinching one of the judge's toasted cheese sandwiches. He'd first sniffed it when it was being delivered. And she'd made the fatal mistake of putting it down on the floor, by her feet. Before I knew what was happening, he'd whipped it. The only evidence of what had transpired was a piece of thinly sliced tomato laying forlornly on the ground. The only bit he hadn't managed to cram into his gob.

We then got kicked out of "The Black Swan", before we'd even gone in. Because Sumo is a dog. and dogs are not welcome. "The Black Boar" had a big sign saying "No Dogs", so we settled for "The Punchbowl". The landlady had a fear of big dogs, but he was allowed in anyway, as long as he didn't climb on the furniture. The regulars all made a fuss of him. So, The Punchbowl gets my "Best Pub in Abingdon" award. Rough and ready, unpretentious, and full of lovely people.

All pubbed out

Thursday, 23 June 2011


Is this new?

Little doggy lamp postI hadn't seen it anywhere before last week, but now almost everybody seems to be doing it. It's spread up and down the river, like a rash. What's up with a Sainsbury's bag? Two immediate downsides to this method, that I can see. Every dog that walks past, will think.. "Wehey! A free ball!", and try to pinch it (like Sumo does). Or else, they will wee on it. Like a little doggy lamp post.

From my observations, it's been predominantly shiny shiny narrowboat owners who seem to use them. So I guess, it's been featured in one of the boating magazines, as this month's "Jolly Good Idea". I do like to see a bit of dayglo in the world, but I think we'll be sticking with our disposable bags on 'dogma'.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011


Sue & Alan (Mv 'Latitude') popped around for a coffee, and to berate me for not updating our blog in three days. Not much to report, really. Abingdon is unique, on the thames, i think. It's got a relaxed attitude towards boats stopping for "more days than 5". Which as I've noted previously, is very kind and generous of them. Their reasoning, so i've been told, is that boaters will spend money in the local shops, which will help the town economy. A common sense approach?! In England?! Unheard of. In comparison, other towns seem much more uptight.

Abingdon isn't 100% idiot free, though. Standing at the non enclosed bus stop and enjoying a roll up as I said goodbye to Sheena, a nicotine nazi loudly complained about us "smoking in a bus shelter", as she barged an elderly gentleman (who was unbothered) out of her way. Before I had a chance to respond, "Madam, second hand smoke has NEVER been proven to cause cancer, by anyone, ever.", she was sat glowering at us from the smokefree(tm) interior of her bus.

So, what else have I been up to? Remarkably little, actually. Which is great. Went for a nice stroll through the meadows with Sumo. And when I watched the evening news, it's cavalcade of fools & idiots, didn't bother me in the slightest.

Miles and miles and miles of meadow to 'dog walk' in, and it's not fenced off to within an inch of the thames path, like in other towns. It really is beautiful here.

Friday, 17 June 2011


This week's award for outstanding and spectacular rudeness goes to a shiny shiny narrowboat owner. Nice as pie, and full of Northern charm & bonhomie before we entered the lock, the skipper of Nb 'Norwood' pulled off something so breathtakingly outrageous, we still can't quite believe it.

We entered Abingdon lock first, then Nb 'Norwood' followed us in. We descended, and all was well. Then, as soon as the lock gates were opening, Mr Norwood decided to break with etiquette and slammed his engine into "Full ahead" mode. Narrowly missing the lock gates, and scraping his stern all the way along our bow. No apology. No nothing. Then he sped off down the river to look for a mooring spot for himself and the boat he was buddied up with.

It's not so much the rudeness, or the dangerous and bad helmsmanship (despite having bow thrusters) which was so upsetting. It was the two-facedness of it all. He knew that we were also looking for a mooring spot downstream, when he made the decision to shaft us. I think that was just plain nasty.

But this story does have a happy ending. As it turns out, we did find ourselves a nice mooring spot, with easy egress for Sumo, and good TV reception. Sheena says, they're doubled up, down past the bridge, with a steep bank scramble to get themselves ashore.

Good Karma.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011


Enjoyed a peaceful night at Oxford, where we made the aquaintance of Dave, and his 12 year old Akita "Oscar", who live on Nb 'Chavori'. We untied and moved up, so he could moor behind us. This morning he regaled us with tales of the towpath, entertained us with "Gypsy Jazz", and gave Sheena enough sugar to last her three months. He also gave a couple of homeless Americans some lunch, and a waterproof jacket. We've met some real diamonds on our travels, and Dave is definitely one of them. Hope we bump into him again. He also recommended one of these, for the times when our sat dish can't find the signal. A "ridiculously small thing that gives a great picture, and can be plonked anywhere on the roof".

Maplins Magnetic Aerial Link

A passerby, who it turned out, used to be a Radio Operator in the Army, extoled the virtues of Communism, Engels, and the novels of Soljenitsin to us, while we were having lunch. Think it was because of our boat name.

Set off downstream about 1 'o' clock. Both of us amazed at the wideness of the river, after the little stream we've been navigating for the last 10 days. Passed Mv 'Latitude' just outside Oxford, but nobody home. Arrived at Abingdon around 5, and glided ourselves onto the last free mooring space in town. It's much busier than the last time we were here. Down below the lock and road bridge, it's completely stuffed with boats of every shape, size and description. Both of us were relieved we'd decided to stop here, and not try our luck further on.

Abingdon ~ Above the lock

Tuesday, 14 June 2011


The sun was beaming on us today, and there were quite a few narrowboaters heading upstream quickly, as we slowly pootled our way down to Oxford again.

The narrowboat that Brian & Diana (Nb 'Harnser') spotted by Park Meadow (Godstow) is still there, high and dry. The Lock keeper said the owner is a young man who doesn't want to pay for a tug. There was a Great Dane onboard when it ran aground, who doesn't like water. The grazing cows seemed to be enjoying their new boredom reliever, and were scratching themselves on it's bow fender.

Down past Rainbow bridge, we were bumrushed by the most inconsiderate narrowboater we've yet encountered. Pulled over to let him overtake, and he whizzed by at full revs with a foot high bow wave that washed us into the bushes. Saw him twenty minutes later, tieing himself up on the free 24 hour moorings just past Osney Lock. Here's looking at you, Nb 'The Great Escape'. Cheers for that..

Bimbling around the back of Oxford, we saw people tending to their allotments and sitting around in deckchairs enjoying the sunshine. A quintessentially English summer scene.

Slowly does it! We took the smaller south channel underneath Folly Bridge, because I fancied a bit of a steering challenge.

Didn't crash into the 'Salters Steamers' tripboats on the other side, and found plenty of spaces on the public moorings just downstream. A nice cool evening under the shade of some trees. In the distance, somebody played the trumpet. We were treated to "the Coco pops theme", "Hey Jude", and "Jerusalem". Whoever they were, they were really good.

Monday, 13 June 2011


EynshamNot a bad morning, after yesterday's torrential downpour. Set off about 10 '0' clock, and around a couple of bends, the first person we see, is Sue, from Nb 'No Problem' walking Meg and Lucy. Around another bend, was Vic, with his feet up. So we "toot tooted" and waved. Sorry we didn't get the chance for a drink on this journey. But, hopefully, our paths will cross again in the future. Thanks for the inspiration you gave us, when we were boatless. And I hope you can get your power problems sorted out soon.

Then we enjoyed a pleasant cruise downstream in the sun, skillfully avoiding the posse of narrowboats that were heading upstream. Decided to pull in to "The Ferryman" at Bablock Hythe for some lunch, and was just about to commit to turning us around, when another narrowboat came steaming around the bend, and we nearly lost everything off the roof because of an overhanging tree.....arrgghh %**&*&!... oh wait a minute... It's Brian and Diana, on Nb 'Harnser'. (Harnser's Travels). Nice to see you both. Again, sorry we didn't have the opportunity for a drink and a chat. It's good to be able to put faces to names, and hopefully we will bump into you again, when we're on the canals. Have a good cruise up to Lechlade.

Where's the Beef?Sumo was unimpressed that he didn't get any of my beef.

Swinford Toll bridgeSwinford Toll bridgeTonight, we've ended up just below Swinford Toll bridge, on the public moorings. Ours for 24 hours..

Eynsham wiki

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Wind & Rain

All Day. Unremitting. Stayed put.

Had a nice fire, and baked us some flapjacks.

Saturday, 11 June 2011


We must have seen at least a 100 of these curious WW2 remnants, on the stretch from Oxford up to Lechlade. But, this was the first chance I've had to stop and actually investigate one. I expected it to be all concreted up, and the entranceway barred, like I'd seen with several others. But, no, it was as fresh inside as the day it was built. No graffiti, poo, or vandalism either. Which was good to see.


The middle of nowhere, turned out to be Duxford meadows, which are close to the oddly named village of Chimney, but on the other side. It was a nice place to let Sumo run around like an idiot, without him getting up to any mischief, or launching himself into the river.

Set off around Lunchtime, and enjoyed another tickover speed cruise downstream, which ended up at another large meadow somewhere near Northmoor.

Sheena did Shifford lock, while I stayed on the boat. Heh..

Friday, 10 June 2011

Middle of Nowhere

Don't know where we are.
But it's very nice here.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

And Back..

Lechlade turned out to be a very friendly little place. While Sheena was topping up our supplies, half of the village must have come out and made a big fuss of him. Including the bloke delivering 3 pig carcasses to the supermarket. Sumo liked him, A LOT.

Then we started our journey back downstream, by pulling off a manouever that the old working boatmen would surely have been proud of. Tied the stern up to a cow scratching post, and let the wind carry the bow around gracefully. Didn't need to use the engine at all. Well chuffed. Especially as I'd seen other narrowboats run aground on the shallows of the far side the previous day. A mile or so further on down the river, and...

Old Father ThamesPassed Old Father Thames at St. Johns Lock. Unfortunately, he is not so impressive as our imaginations (and picture postcards) had led us to believe. He's rather weaterbeaten and also chained off. So getting a decent photograph of him is virtually impossible. (thanks to Jim Shead for this one).

13th Century Road BridgeTook it slowly, and did not ram the 13th century road bridge.

It was much easier going, without the wind constantly in our faces. We got rained on a couple of times, but nothing too unpleasant. We breezed through 4 locks, and have covered around 9 miles today. Currently moored up for the night at Buckland Marsh again. A lovely spot to stay. And best of all, it's free.

Window ViewBack Door ViewMeadow Mooring

Wednesday, 8 June 2011


Watched other narrowboaters getting blown around by the wind, and decided to stay for another day here in Lechlade.

Which gave me a chance to get the routine maintanence jobs out of the way. Our starter battery (which we salvaged from our old bank) hasn't been charging to over 80%, so it needed examination. Swapped it for the spare, and topped it up with some distilled water. But, it's still only reading 12.47v after an hour's charging. So, I guess that is scrap too. At least it managed to get us up here before giving up the ghost.

Otherwise, I'm happy to report that we have no leaks, no annoying piddles of diesel, or any electrical problems, at all. The Universal alternator that Chas fitted for us, works brilliantly. Hope to be setting off again tomorrow (whatever the summer weather throws at us), as we need to take on fresh water. And the nearest place for that is downstream at St. John's Lock.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011


Wehey! We made it!

LechladeTravelled 9.47 miles today, and risen through 4 locks.
Radcot, Grafton, Buscot, and St Johns.

"There are no more locks upstream on the River Thames, with Lechlade normally considered to be the end of the navigable river."

Tied up beside the pub for a quick pint, and a shopping run. Then dropped back down below the bridge, where we're currently moored up beside a farmers field, with 100 cows for company. Twisty, Bendy, Windy, Rainy.. for most of the way up here. But I'm glad we did it. Being out in the deepest countryside, with no roads or cars at all, has made it well worth the effort, and the occasional soakings.

Lechlade Cowfield

Monday, 6 June 2011

Lazy Day

the great outdoorsToday we've covered 0 miles. As we'd travelled all through the weekend, we thought we'd reward ourselves with a day off. A chance to enjoy the beautiful peace and quiet of the wide open countryside. We walked Sumo leisurely along the thames path, and then baked some fresh bread.

Stress level = 0.

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Buckland Marsh

We've travelled 10.08 miles today, and passed through 3 hand operated locks. Northmoor, Shifford and Rushey.

Another long haul for us today. Not too many places to stop enroute. And, where there were, there was an inconsiderate moorer plonked right in the middle of them. So we kept going up to Buckland Marsh, where we found plenty of lovely places to stop.

Thankfully, because it was threatening to rain, there weren't many other boats on the move. Which made negotiating the myriad bends so much easier. Did I mention the bends? We've done hundreds of them today. Left handers, right handers, and some with really insane angles. Not good places to meet something coming from the other direction at speed. It was good manoeuvering practice for us though. And we didn't run aground once, which I'm quite proud of.