Thursday, 18 September 2014

Our News

Sheena's mum passed away peacefully in her sleep on monday morning.

I've just completed an epic three day journey downstream. Day one: Abingdon to Beale Park. Day two: Beale Park to Temple Lock. Day three: Temple lock to Bourne End. A lot of hours at the tiller. But, the river was kind, the engine behaved and the journey went without incident. Apart from mister scuffing up the bed in Marsh Lock. Why that particular lock should annoy him so much, I don't know.

Oh, and such was my desperation for pork pies, and wanting to say hello to Vic No Problem (at Reading Tesco), I ever-so-slightly bounced off of Still Rockin's bow. Oops. Sorry. And then attempted to take off while still tied up! Classic. Managed to catch up with Sue near the milk, and conveyed the news to her. It was great to see them both, however briefly. Sorry I didn't have time to stop and chat, George.

To sum up the 2014 season, I would say that it's been "very quiet". There have been the usual manic bursts around the bank holiday periods, as per usual. But boating conditions have been near perfect. With hardly any flow, and beautiful weather to accompany it. Upstream of Osney bridge, it was practically deserted. For, me, personally, there hasn't been the stress of finding somewhere to moor up this year. And with the river being so gentle, manuevering single handed hasn't been that much of a problem, either.

So, that's me for a while. Don't know when I will be back. Sumo is fine, and seems to have forgotten all about his operations. We're needed down in Devon now. Cheers everyone. As my grandmother used to say :-

"Make sure you live every day".

As a liveaboard on the Thames, you get to see this every day. What the picture doesn't convey is the total absence of modern day noise. You can hear the birds sing, and the wind in the trees. There are no car alarms, police, or ambulance sirens. If there is a road or a railway track, it is tucked away at a considerable distance, discreetly behind some trees. Before I moved onto the river, I didn't think such a thing was possible.

That is, until a "Le Boat" hireboat decided to moor right up my arse, and then run their water cooled inboard generator (splash rumble splash rumble) *and* engines (loud rumble rumble rumble x2) until 23:30. I blame the hire fleet for not explaining to them that such behaviour would get them labeled as "inconsiderate assholes" by other boaters.

Abingdon WW1 Historical event
The young lad on the white horse was a nice touch. Very poignant. There were a number of other people in period costumes and uniform. Unfortunately, all of them far too old for military service. And rather (shall we charitably say) portly. The event, appeared to my eyes, as more about charitable donation than rememberance. It would have been nice to have seen more young people involved in it. Though, all credit to Abingdon, for putting on something out of the ordinary again.

Autumn is coming
Stopped off briefly at Wallingford, so that mister could stretch his legs. The willows are starting to moult.

Beale Park
He always has a whale of a time here. The perfect place to run around like an idiot.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014


Pinkhill Panorama

Tucked up, yesterday

Tail-Up swim sesh

Northmoor Beach

Pinkhill Lock ~ Self service

Ye Olde Lock Wheel

Trip Hazard

I love this bridge at Oxford Cruisers, Eynsham. It's amazing it's stayed up for so long. Or is even allowed in this health and safety obsessed day and age. Looks like it was made by a concrete hobbyist with astigmatism. "Oh f*ck it, that will do", I imagine they said. Brilliant.

Not a puff or ripple

Basically, I've just "fannied around upstream" for a bit.

I wish I could say it was "without a care in the world", but our lives are such a juggling act at the moment, it was nice to tick a few days off the calendar in such a relaxed way. With parts of the world in complete turmoil, I fully appreciate that I am lucky to be able to just put things to one side, and bimble about (or not) as the fancy takes me.

Anyway.... No accidents, No dramas, Nothing broke. We had enough food, and the milk didn't curdle. Hard to believe it's nearly mid september, because the sun was full on shorts and t-shirt style.

On the busiest day, I think I saw three boats.

Every time I come up past Osney bridge, I'm struck by the completely different character of the river. The pace is considerably slower, because you're not getting bumrushed by GRP cruisers racing to the next lock. The upper reaches have a lot of wide open meadows, which are in stark contrast to the curtain of willows further down. When it's raining, and you have the wind full in your face, it's not quite so lovely, sure.

But we had sunshine and dragonflies.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Getting the Sniffs

Pinkhill. All to ourselves. Not a cloud in the sky. Awesome.

Apologies for the lack of updates recently. The connection between iPhone and laptop has been tempermental. And the sky has often been overcast with a blanket of grey. The boat is fine. We are fine. Just waiting for Sheena to come back, so we can have some quality time again.

PS. We met the boater who disposed of the "Mooring Fees" signs at Cliveden Islands, all those years ago. So, I stand corrected.

Monday, 11 August 2014

All Clear

Sumo's lumps turned out to be benign. His last stitches come out on Thursday, and then we can travel again.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Eight Quid

We've just been charged £8 for stopping on the Cliveden islands. Both of us were too tired and stressed about Sumo to argue and put forth the "No signs..... No money" proposition. Though we are thankful to report that a few boats downstream did. The gentleman who collected the money said that some signs had gone up three years ago, but that they were vandalised and disappeared almost immediately. Not to call him a liar, but we've never seen them. and we've been coming here quite a bit over the last 5 years.

We're not expecting the bushes and trees to be cut back. or to see the moorings dredged. Based on the evidence of my own eyes, I assume they'll be left to become more overgrown and shallow than they currently are.

Huge wodges of the river are now fee paying for an overnight. Many of these places seem to settled on the sum of £8. Even though they provide no services whatsoever.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014


I'm famous, fuss me.
 We're at Bourne End for a couple of days, because Sumo is having a small lump removed. He's had it since he was two, but a few days ago, it got a bit red and inflamed. A needle aspiration test revealed Spindle Cells.

He's in surgery now.
We hope to have him back onboard around 18:00

Sunday, 13 July 2014


Big advert in the Sky
A quiet and peaceful spot at night, but ridiculously hot and busy during the day. All the potential mooring places prior to this were either too shallow to get into, being fished out of, or already taken. Such is life during the summer, I guess. Poking the pole in (to test out depth), there is a couple of feet of claggy mud in many places.

The Thames Path
Pretty much fenced in on this reach, probably because they don't want you wandering anywhere near the railway line.

Spotted these chalkings, underneath Nuneham bridge..

This wasn't there last week....

Oh Dear

Sad sight to see. Just upstream from Iffley lock.

Had to run the gauntlet of slightly miffed fishermen to get back up to Oxford again. On both sides this time, which was a first. Heaved it down just after I got through Sandford lock, but thankfully, I'd pulled over for a coffee. Pretty much an easy bimble again, the river being very languid and tranquil.

Sumo and myself are vacating the boat tomorrow. And putting ourselves at the mercy of South West trains for 3.5 hours.

Edit: the sunken boat was bought for 5k a few days previously. It had not been moved for ages, and it allegedly went down because the stern gland leaked. An easily preventable accident. Feel sorry for the new owner, but that (sorting out the stern gland) is the first thing that I do when the engine stops. 2 spanners and a 4.99 tin of grease could have avoided this.

Monday, 7 July 2014

In the Shed

Like a typical visit to the Dentist, we have to go back next week, to get some more work done. Chris the surveyor did a thorough job, and was concerned about two patches on the baseplate that have been scraped down. Presumably, when she was a hireboat. The port side gas locker base also needs relining, because the "hammer test" put a hole in it.

*rolls eyes*

Green boat services (Sam & Jon) have kindly offered to juggle boats around to acommodate us. Apart from the unwelcome wallet spanking, the major downside of this, is that Salter's steamers don't allow people to live aboard, or carry out any work themselves. I have to abandon ship. Kindof gutted about that. But if we don't take action now, we'll not be able to get insurance next year; and there won't be any boating at all.

Some more photos and video...

Dogma on Flikr

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Today I saw...

1 massive Hornet
37 grumpy fishermen
3 Kingfishers
2 Breasts
1 Happy fisherman

We've made it up past Iffley lock, and are tucked up for the evening, just past the riverside pub that doesn't like boats. Sandford lock seemed much smaller and less formidable this time through it. I stood on the roof holding the centre line. No flow on the river, so the whole journey was a gentle bimble. Didn't rain, either. bonus.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Border Morris

As promised, here's some more pics of the Solstice celebrations in Abingdon...

Thanks to Cris (Wb 'Odin IV').

Oxford tomorrow

We've had a nice couple of days doing "not very much". But, that comes to an end tomorrow, with a trip up to Oxford (and a passage through Sandford Lock). Have to be there for 8am on Monday, to get hauled out. Will be glad when the whole procedure is finished, because it's been niggling away in the back of my mind all year.

Unimpressed Face

Happy Face

Full of Pike

Knackered, after jumping in the Pike lake

Friday, 27 June 2014

Summer Holiday

Bimbling about

Laleham Park!



Molesey Lock

WW2 Thorneycroft Shed


Where people live


Big Ass trip boat

The beast of Cliveden


'Adventure Trail' ~ Cliveden Woods

Beetling about

Big Ass Lock

Cheap Essential Scenery

The Joy of Abingdon

Clogs and Hankies

Grrrrrrrrrr Posse

Prefers 'Soulfly'

Chillin & Sniffin

It's been a busy month, but an enjoyable one. I've had a little break from blogging while Sheena was here, so that we could concentrate on moving the boat, and squeezing the most out of our time together. We made it down to Hampton Court, and back up to Abingdon, without any drama at all. We were a bit slow (1.75mph) on the return journey through the wider reaches, but nothing that stressed us (or the engine) unduly.

I'm currently shuffling about upstream, waiting for a haul out and hull inspection in Oxford on July 7th. River conditions are good, which makes things a bit easier. The sunshine is great, too. More pictures of the Border Morris dancers, when Cris sends me them. The Clog stomping and Hanky waving stuff doesn't really do it for me. I can see the tradition, and the history there, but it is all a bit too quaint and parochial for my own taste. The mixed border troupe though, with their blacked up faces, were something else. It was good to catch up with friends from Bourne End, and see them in action. Enjoyed this solstice a lot.

Graham, we saw "Truly Scrumptious" advertised in Towpath Telegraph. They were asking 19K for her.