Bloomin Handy Tree! 16th December

Ladder Bridge 129 to the last bend before Marston Doles

Wreath looking a touch like a beard

Tilly got time to stretch her pouncing legs this morning as we had breakfast, but when she returned the second time the doors remained closed, it was time to move onwards.

Nice view!

Soon after ‘Lucky Sods’ Bridge 128 we started to see evidence of HS2. A huge mound of grey stuff, almost a mountain covered a large area on the off side. Someone had been having fun driving a digger up and down it and a moat ran along one side collecting water. Maize still in it’s husks browned along the canal side, had this part of the field been cut off when the mound was created, does the mound sit on top of the rest of this summers yield?

Wasted maize

Not much going on, a chap was keeping an eye on the big Siltbuster machines and another walked around further away. Has the work force been given a longer Christmas break to wait to see what the new government will do with HS2?

The view this time last year, the siltbusters are now behind those trees

Then we rounded the next two bends, past the boot in the route of the canal and we were back to green quintessential English countryside. Bird scarers BANGing at regular intervals right next to the bright blue Mango chutney pheasant feeders. We decided that pheasants were most probably too stupid to be bothered by the bangs. ‘What was that?’ ‘Not heard that before’ ‘What was that? etc.

Is this the most photographed boat on the network? Or is it the one on the Grand Union with the car?

We rounded a few more bends our aim being Marston Doles today. Maybe we’d go down the top two locks, maybe we’d stop at the top, but there isn’t that pretty. In the end we opted for a big M on our map, a good view to the off side and the typical Oxford Canal high hedge along the towpath.

Tilly was given a few hours of towpath leave. This she made the most of returning a few times to show her face and carry on being busy.

Time to get Christmasy. The lights and Christmas hamper were dug out. The hamper requires a couple of shelf supports to be removed in a cupboard so that the shelf can go at an angle to slide the hamper out. The tree, now on it’s fourth Christmas was brought in and given a drink. It has grown since I first bought it in Newark market, half as much again. This year it just kept on sprouting fresh green bits, but still handily grows at the same angle as our tumblehome cabin sides.

Tree four years ago

Mick set too with the exterior lights, small magnets hold them onto the grabrail. The cratch still needs finishing and a touch of finessing is needed on the off side, but that will be seen to in a lock tomorrow.

She said as Tom was still outside I could have a touch longer shore leave today. So I trotted along the towpath looking for friends. After a while She came outside and tried to encourage me home, but I was too busy and continued on with my trot along the towpath.

Then from around the bend just in front of me I could hear paw pads, sniffing noses. What the????……. Alsatian!!!!!

I quite often stand my ground on such occasions, but I was too far away from the boat for back up. She had gone to put her feet on and Tom was hanging onto the cat walk on the wrong side. Conclusion, LEG IT!!!!!!…….

I ran, and ran some more. She stood at the front calling me her way, the woofer charged behind. I’d already set my eyes on my escape and had too much momentum to stop and turn onto the boat. One leap and a spring, precalculated, had me five woofer heights up the tree right by Oleanna.

Safe at height

The woofer was at the base wondering where I’d gone as I adjusted my footing. Well trees are only toilets and potential sticks to woofers! It turned and headed back to it’s handler who was shouting her head OFF!

I made my self comfortable as I felt I’d need to be up the tree for some time. Well woofers tend to walk one way and then come back again don’t they. I had chosen well with a good vantage point.

The lady was very apologetic, then she realised what had actually happened, she was even more apologetic! She stood two collars firmly in her hands and chatted as I could see Tilly up the tree watching every move the woofers made, her chest pounding. As nice as it was to chat with the lady it would have been nicer if she’d walked away. She did say they’d be back in five minutes, so good warning.

It’s going to be a nice sunset up here!

I’d heard this so climbed a touch higher with a better view to behind me. She thought I had enough time once they were out of view, but I could still smell them. They did return five minutes later and I watch from on high as the lady stood and talked again! They soon walked onwards and at the bend the two woofers were let loose again.

I waited another minute. Their aroma fading now. She stood wondering if I’d stay up the tree for ages, no fear of that I was getting a touch chilly now and I knew I’d get extra nice treats when I got inside!


The Christmas tree kept Tilly occupied for quite some time as I decorated it. She was reminded that grown up pussy cats don’t play with baubles, they just admire them from a distance! We’ll see if she can manage to resist the temptation this year.

0 locks, 3.82 miles, 2 outsides, 3 siltbusters, 1 humongous mound, 0 pheasants, 2 Alsatians, 1 very long lead, 100m feline record, 1 handy tree, 1 almost Mrs Tilly stamp, 25m of lights, 1 big mini tree, 6 shoes boxes into 2, 1 boat nearly ready for Christmas,