Monday, 30 September 2013

Runnymede Pleasure Grounds

Here's Sheena doing the heavy lifting at Boveney lock, where we stopped for water. Not seen many other boats moving today, so the journey has all been quite leisurely and relaxed. The moorings at the 'Bells of Ouseley' were full (again), so no opportunity to stop there for a pint. Which was a shame.

At Romney lock, I expressed my regret for being the only boat in it. It's a *massive* lock, which takes 1.1 million gallons to fill. The lock keeper said not to worry, because if we hadn't used it, it would just have gone over the weir. (into the Royal hydro electric turbines, I believe. Which power Windsor castle).

A quiet night down at the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds for us. Very different to the last time I stayed here (with Sue & Vic). We haven't heard a plane for at least 3 hours now.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Eton Wick

On our way downstream again, while we still can. There's still enough sunshine to warrant the wearing of sunglasses. Though it's noticably more blustery, and the familiar whiff of Autumn is coming from the river.

The journey down from Bourne End was quite busy, with big boats whizzing about. I guess this is their last hurrah, before they get plugged in for winter.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Much less grumpy

Ahhhhh... that's better. After doing the washing at the launderette for the last time (it's being turned into a studio flat), we left Wallingford, and enjoyed an almost perfect leisurely cruise down to Beale park. where the peace and quiet was very much appreciated.

The next morning, we awoke to 'The mists of Avalon', and travelled down to Medmenham barely being able to see a boat length in front of us. I noticed that many other narrowboats don't have any navigation lights. Which must have been quite a bit hairy for them. The lock keeper at Whitchurch was slightly paranoid that we didn't have ours illuminated. Despite us not seeing one other boat travelling upstream.

Had a quiet overnight in Reading (yes, really), because the place was virtually deserted. I don't think we've ever been the only boat on the tesco moorings before.

The final leg of the journey was done in one large chunk. From Reading, down to Temple lock in a day. Stopping off at Sonning for an hour to have a chat with our mate Chas. We tied up just as it was getting dark, and the rain beginning to fall.

Everybody at Bourne End greeted us, made us feel welcome and like a part of the community. Which was humbling. Fitted the new batteries in an hour of huffing and puffing, and am relieved to report that they're holding their charge at 13.10v. So liveaboard life can once again, get back to normal.

Things are up in the air now, because I may be required to give testimonial in a court case relating to "EA vs. a boater". But I can't really talk about that at the moment. Except to say that further travel plans are on hold until it is all sorted.

Monday, 23 September 2013


I'm in a grumpy mood today, because we were woken up at 7:45am by some idiot banging on the roof for money. Being mugged for £5 before you've even had the chance to wake up, kindof does that to you. Note to self: "Never stop here again, ever".

We've only been below Oxford for two days, and already I am dismayed by gits who only ever move their ostentatious wealth boats from one piece of wall to the next. It's not their wealth, or their boats that is annoying. That is entirely up to them. no..It's the fact that they cannot steer them. Two massive engines.... Bow thrusters.... And they *still* manage to ram us. The river is the most gentle I have ever seen it. So it's purely down to their ineptitude.

We are heading for the countryside, soon as. And then down to Bourne End, as quickly as our little engine will carry us, because we need to get some new batteries sorted ASAP. Despite them being refilled with ionised water, the current lot aren't holding their charge, and need to be replaced.

Hopefully, normal happiness levels will be resumed tomorrow. Sorry for the moan. But I needed to get it off my chest.

Friday, 20 September 2013


That was where I used to climb on the roof.
Not impressed.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Ye Olde Woods

Alas, the parts did not arrive in the post. So it was a day of thumb twiddling and waiting. Still, not a bad place to have to diddle about in.. History is absolutely everywhere...

In ye olde gravel pits just south of Eynsham, a large number of mammoth bones have been discovered in the last ten years. But we didn't see any of them today. Archeologists have also unearthed the remains of a manmade stone and pebble causeway, estimated to be at least 4000 years old.

A Field in England.

571 AD in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicles :- "In this year Cuthwolf ('Famous Wolf') fought the Britons at Bedcanford and captured four villages, Limbury, Aylesbury, Benson, and Eynsham; and in the same year he passed away".

This stone now stands at the back of Eynsham’s Catholic church, where Father John Tolkein gave it sanctuary. It was discovered in the ditch of a Bronze Age enclosure that preceded the Anglo-Saxon abbey. It's made of oolitic stone. The same kind that was used in the construction of the Rollright stones. The ditch may have once surrounded a settlement, or it or may have served some unknown sacred purpose, which is now lost through the mist of time. (source)

Tuesday, 17 September 2013


Cold and windy when I woke up this morning. With raindrops hammering off of the roof. Really glad that I don't have to move anywhere today.

Some logs we 'found' when were cruising the Wey earlier in the year. Thankfully, my timing was good, and I got all the rounds split up and stored inside before the wet weather started. Wet logs are better than no logs. But they cause a ton of condensation inside the boat while they're drying out. A situation best avoided, if at all possible.

Only one thing for it.... Made a nice fire and put my feet up.

Monday, 16 September 2013

Eynsham Meadows

Wind dropped.
Sumo snoring on the couch.
The sound of distant church bells.

Oxford Cruisers

Wow... How on earth I managed to get myself into there, without bouncing off of everything, and graunching up those plastic boats, I will never know. It was blowing a horrendous gale this morning too!

Andy cut, welded and painted a new flue for our stove. It looks fantastic. The quality of the workmanship is superb. Well chuffed with the final result.

Unfortunately, we failed the boat safety exam on three niggly technicalities. Though they can be easily fixed, I have to go back on wedsnesday. The service was brilliant. Friendly and helpful. Quite different to what we experience downstream, where we have to chase the engineer for ages, over every single little thing. Can't recommend these guys highly enough. Seriously.

Edit: Sheena wanted to know what we've failed on...

1) vent for gas hot water heater has to be taller (a foot?). Our mushroom vent won't suffice. Thankfully we can unscrew it when it's not being used. Otherwise it would be a rope snagging, bridge banging hazard. 2) the drain plug on our fuel filter must be metal, not plastic. 3) one fuel hose doesn't have BSS approved numbers and writing on it.

On the bright side, at least they are easily remedied. Then we can get on and enjoy another 4 years with a safe boat.

Sunday, 15 September 2013


Anyone at Little Venice?

The reason I ask, is that when I was moored up at Bablock Hythe a couple of weeks ago, I met a couple of caravan residents who swore blind that there was a narrowboat called "Dogma". Which was often moored outside a Sainsburys. With the same colour scheme and everything. I had a hard time convincing them that I've never been to London with the boat, ever.

After Andy (on Nb Festina Lente) said that there were 24 boats with the same name as his, I'm wondering what's going on.

Jim Shead's narrowboat registration website says that we're currently the only ones with the name "Dogma". And (as I understand it) any subsequent boats registered with that name would have to be "dogma II" or "dogma too", etc. If it's at Little Venice, the 'other dogma' probably wouldn't be registered with the EA, as a small ships and rivers craft. So I'm kindof baffled. All a bit strange, really. It could be that they were mistaken, of course. But those two ladies did seem awfully sure of themselves.

If somebody could confirm or deny this, we'd be grateful. Thankyou.

Waiting for the Storm

Spent last night just below Eynsham lock, on the free 24 hour mooring. After the interminable and unremitting traffic noise of the motorway at Godstow, this was a nice peaceful spot...

Too many boats have gone upstream this morning, for me to contemplate gambling on getting a space on the meadows, so I've just moved to the other side of the lock. Thankfully, the boat that was hogging the space there (for three weeks) has moved on.

Eynsham meadows were already stuffed with overstayers, so the chance of getting a mooring up there was pretty slim today. I have to be at Oxford cruisers for 9am tomorrow morning, so I'm spending this afternoon hoovering, tidying up and generally getting ready for our boat safety examination. The flue has to be removed, but I think I'll wait until tomorrow morning before attempting that, as I'd like to enjoy the fire this evening.

Batten down your hatches, everyone.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Friday the 13th

Spent yesterday afternoon at Pinkhill. Where the sunshine was reminiscent of summer. Though it rained all night. This morning it was grey and overcast, but the river was kind and gentle enough to just pootle along without any worries.

Oxford cruisers have agreed to sort us out on Monday. Wehey! Waved at Andy on Nb Festina Lente on my down to Eynsham lock. Hi Andy.

When I was in the lock, a Hireboat (Caribbean cruiser style) further on downstream, got a rope caught around it's propeller and was drifting about in the middle of the river. By the time I got there, they were wedged in some bushes, looking a bit embarrassed. I turned around and towed them back to the safety of the lock landing. Yep, dogma's massive 21hp actually towed something. The bloke tried to blame his missus (who was still shoreside). I am most proud of the fact that I didn't graunch it into nb 'Armadillo' as I was coming alongside. That would have been embarrassing.

After many unnecessary thankyous, I tickovered my way down to Godstow, in the alternating grey pizzle and sunshine. Then ran aground by the footbridge. Ack! Firmly wedged on some sunken debris. So I had to use the pole to punt myself off. Turned around without ending up in the weir, or taking out the bridge. And found a more suitable place a little further upstream.

After lunch, I took Sumo on a pilgrimage to Binsey and the 12th century church of St. Margaret of Antioch. Via the dog friendly "Perch Inn". Not because I am overly religious, but because I've always wanted to visit the 'treacle well' from "Alice in Wonderland". I've never had the opportunity before. It was a bit of a trek. We got a bit wet. But it was well worth it.

The churchyard was a very peaceful place, and I envied the people who were fortunate enough to rest there. Out in the countryside. Under the trees, with no traffic noise. People have been recorded making pilgrimages to the healing well for at least 1400 years. It was so popular, a town of inns and taverns sprang up to cater for them all. Though that is sadly now long gone. Today there was nobody there, except me and Sumo. The earliest readable grave was from 1778. I wondered what they would make of the England of today. Then I thanked them for sharing their tranquil spot for a half an hour, and wandered back to the boat.

No Wind. No Worries. Waterproofs and Hat needed.

The ruins of Godstow nunnery. Brought into disrepute for "entertaining" monks from nearby Oxford. Rosamond the Fair was buried here, in front of the high altar. Before the site was redeveloped into a private house, and then a ruin.

Bisney ('Thornbury' in pagan times).

The treacle well, where the 3 sisters lived. Godstow is the place that "Alice in Wonderland" was first conceived of. The picnic party decided to head upstream, past Port Meadow. Instead of their more usual downstream route to Nuneham.

A pre-christian healing spring, miraculously "found" by Oxford's St. Tildeswilde in the 8th century. The water level was too low to get to, without a bucket or a cup, on a rope or a chain. None was provided. Which I thought a shame.

1778. The name illegible, unfortunately.

On a sunnier, less wet day, this would have been a nice spot to idle away a few contemplative moments. Or maybe offer up a few thoughts to loved ones, who are no longer with us.

..... I had a couple of more pictures to upload, but the connection is painfully slow, and the inverter is down to hotel-three-star. More later.....

Wednesday, 11 September 2013


I forgot to mention....

All of these signs have vanished!

I never did receive a reply to my eMail of complaint. Which was expected. But when I bumped into Sue & Vic the other day, Sue said that the signs had all gone. I wonder if they have been "frequently vandalised" (aka 'blown away in the wind') again, or if they've been removed because they were unauthorised and factually inaccurate.


Abingdon to East Street, Oxford.

Annoying and chilly headwind all the way. Think we have probably seen the last of summer now. Leaves are starting to go brown, and it is noticeably more gusty out on the river. Time for a hat. Singlehanding up through Sandford lock (deepest on the upper thames) went OK, and thankfully I didn't get rained on.

I was surprised to find that there were still quite a few spaces to moor at East street, when I got there. So I stopped for a while, to make some 3x espresso and let mister off for some sniffs. But, then it started heaving it down in big chunks. So I decided to stop for the night. Guess my timing was good today. So I'm counting myself fortunate.

Abingdon was nice. Though, sadly, Roger the lock keeper has retired. There's a picture of him in the lock cabin, watching over the volunteers! I'll miss his extra dry wit. But I hope he's happy, in whatever he's doing now. Cheers Roger.

Oh, and most of the selfish people who were permanently moored on the meadows above the lock (for over a year) have moved on now. Finally. A shame it is so late in the season, because very few other boaters will get to enjoy those beautiful, picturesque and peaceful places. But, at least they have gone.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Lazy Day

The tranquility of solitude.

Lounged around in bed this morning, and did not move the boat. Just as well, because it hammered it down with rain later on, and the journey up to Oxford would have been pretty miserable.

Going to hold on here until tomorrow. If Oxford cruisers can't do our flue welding, I can head downstream to Bourne End and get us some new batteries there. I figure that there's no point in me just heading up to Oxford, finding out that the work can't be done, and then having to turn around and come back again.

Saturday, 7 September 2013


I slipped away from the Abingdon lock moorings early this morning, because all of the meadows are out of bounds this weekend for the 'Dragon Boat' racing, and I didn't want to outstay my welcome there.

A bloke on a GRP cruiser watched me turn dogma around, but didn't help (not that I needed it). As soon as I was clear (like 5 seconds later), his missus popped out, and they both pulled their boat to where I was. Cheers for that! Very kind of you..

Guess who whammed his front mooring pin into a waspnest? Thankfully, I only got stung twice (by the one wasp). Unlike the unfortunate bloke who did exactly the same thing up at Bablock Hythe. He got chased by a marauding posse of them, and stung 14 times.

Going to stay here tonight, and wend my way slowly back up to Oxford tomorrow, hoping for some good news from Oxford Cruisers on monday.

Where's me lunch?

Thursday, 5 September 2013


LOL. It took them 20 minutes to figure out they had to tow it.

East street was stuffed this morning, because nobody moved. I hung around after my food delivery, because I knew Sue & Vic were turning up later, and they were expecting mister Tesco too (5 boats got food delivered to them this morning). They were able to breast up, and we had a nice coffee and a catchup in the sunshine. Before we both set off on our respective ways. Them up to Godstow meadows with Nb 'Matilda Rose', and me off down the river to Abingdon. It was nice to see them again. *waves*

I got to fuss Tilly, Buddy (who is gorgeous), Meg & Penny. It was nice to see them all getting along fine together. Meg is definitely topdog, but she just lets the others get on with all their foolishness. Unfortunately their most favoured cruising position is out on the back deck, under Sue's feet. 4 dogs on a boat. It must be chaos at feeding time. Sue said they are well behaved at bedtime though.

My journey downstream went fine. Hot, with nowhere to stop, but fine. Fishermen everywhere though. Was today national "sit by the river and look grumpy day"? Because it felt like it. Only 2 out of about 30 of them waved or smiled.

Missed out on a pint at Sandford, because I saw Matt & Nicky's boat all locked up. Assumed they were out walking their dogs. But they were sat across the river at the pub, waving at me! Unfortunately I was committed to going down through Sandford lock by the time I'd spotted them. Damn... That went well though. The lock keeper gave me a hand with my ropes, so it was all quite chill.

Made up for it, by having a nice Guinness at "The Punch Bowl" in Abingdon. Sumo is allowed in there. The landlord is also friendly and welcoming. A quick bimble around the meadows, and that is me for today. Knackered. I'm the only boat on the moorings at the lock landing. Which is nice. Dragon boat racing taking place this weekend. So no boats allowed to moor on the meadows saturday or sunday.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

East Street

This was my view last night. Tranquil, serene and peaceful. Just me, Sumo and 1001 sheep.

Tonight, I'm on the East street moorings in Oxford. At the end, near Osney bridge. Where I get to experience the joys of traffic, car alarms, police sirens, and eastern european gentlemen shouting very loudly into their mobile phones.

The close proximity of "10,000 assholes" has made me quite grumpy. But I mustn't grumble, because I was lucky to get a space here. Especially seeing as I pitched up quite late in the day. It's free. And at least I'm not down on the Foley bridge moorings, where the 'special brew crew' will steal anything and everything off your boat that isn't nailed down. Last time we moored there, two young guys with bikes said that they (the SBC) had been sniffing around as soon as I'd left the boat to take Sumo for a walk in the morning. You are *watched* there. So, be careful.

The towpath telegraph also says that there have been thefts from boats down in Reading, too. The local boaters know who it is. I won't name them. Just be wary/cautious and vigilant, if you are mooring up near the tesco's jetty. Don't leave stuff on your roof. It goes walking.

On the plus side, I saw Matt and Nicky from Bourne End today. I hope they didn't mind me distracting them as they tried to get their widebeam 'whychcraft' though the bridge. Nice to see that they've made it up this far. It's lovely upstream at the moment, so I hope they have a nice time.

It's allegedly going to heave it down with rain on Friday, so after mister tesco has been tomorrow, I'll be heading off down to Abingdon soon as.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

And down again..

Tiptoe through the Spikies.

Sunset at the Rushey lock moorings.

Some rich geezer's house. Him and his missus were out sunbathing on loungers. They didn't wave.

Approaching Northmoor lock, from Upstream.

Stayed at the Rushey lock moorings on sunday too, because I didn't want to run the gauntlet of grumpy fishermen on the way back down. Made the right decision, because monday was absolutely gorgeous. Full of sunshine, with very little current or river traffic.

When I got to Bablock Hythe, the whole place seemed to be plagued with wasps, so I kept on going down to Pinkhill, where I was lucky to get a 53ft space.

A relaxed journey, with only one moment of slight "iffiness". I nearly ran aground, wedged across the river. Because I was trying to photograph a kingfisher. Thankfully, nobody was there to witness me deploying the pole.

Spoke to 'Oxford Cruisers' this morning, where they apologised for diddling us about. They said they're extremely busy this week. And can't fit us in. But they will call on Monday, if they can do it the week after.

Soooooo... As I have a couple of days, with not much to do, I'm thinking of heading down to Abingdon for the weekend. Not looking forward to singlehanding through Sandford lock, but at least it only has to be done the once.