Calm Returns. 15th August

Thrupp Canal Cruising Club

A slightly damp morning meant that the campers would be packing up their tents today to then have to dry them off when they got home. Messages came through from 1km away as they prepared to head back to London. It has been a lovely weekend with them, but now the calm of the waterways can return.

Floating on by

Tilly was given free reign coming and going again today as she liked. She certainly keeps herself busy for hours on end before returning home to check we’re still here. This mooring in Thrupp is far better than alongside the road with only walkers to dodge and not the occasional car to run away from!

Despite it being Sunday I sat down to do some work. The budget for #unit21 needed a bit of pruning. On Friday I’d had a long chat with Graham who will be building the set for me to see if we could get down the price of materials. He had quoted for a set to withstand the rigours of touring to a couple of venues a week and I had designed it to fit plywood sizes. Making the whole set lighter (less robust in the long term, but with some care it will be fine) and adjusting some dimensions to fit other materials better we managed to trim nearly £400 off the build. A couple of pointers from him to cheaper flooring may also save £300, so the budget is just about back on track.

I miss working with people like Graham.


Next up was a paint list for panto. I worked my way through the model deciding what colours I’d be needing and in roughly what quantities. Next week I’m paying a visit to Chippy so will see if there are any paints still usable from previous years to help reduce the long list I have. My biggest dilemma is on the glitter front.

Panto sets are known for their sparkle, mine not so much. Stage glitter tends to be bigger than that kids glue onto their cards for Granny and Granddad, sharp 5mm squares of plastic that get glued onto scenery, then when dry the excess tapped off. But glitter is not good for the environment it being made from plastic. So far Eco-glitter has reached the makeup world, but not reached the scenery world and some theatres (The National) are locking away their old stocks so no-one can use it anymore.

The Commodore from St Pancras

There is one scene that really needs a sprinkle of panto glimmering glitter. I’ve found one product that may do the job but it still doesn’t tick the box environmentally. I need to look harder!

Cats don’t need special gates

With Tilly out being a thug and Mick listening to the cricket all day I took myself off for a walk. My route heading towards the campsite in Hampton Gay. Here there is a church and the ruins of a big house that I wanted to explore.

Keep Out!

Hampton Gay was once far busier than it is now, excluding campers of course! There was a Mansion House, a mill, church and cottages with a population of around 86. Now the ruins of the Mansion House stand behind fencing and warning signs. The church opens around once a month and the cottages have vanished unlike the occasional train that runs right past the grave yard.

Fire, bankruptcy and even a curse at the end of the nineteenth century brought about the abandonment of the settlement. In medieval times the mill ground grain. In the 17th Century the mill was converted to produce paper and the population grew. But two separate fires struck the mill, each time it was rebuilt the last time it went bankrupt. In 1887 a huge fire overwhelmed the Manor House, without this or the mill people moved away and the population shrank.

The ruins

Some stories say the manor was set on fire deliberately for the insurance. Others believe it was the result of a curse. On Christmas Eve 1874, a Great Western Train from Paddington derailed just a few hundreds yards away. Despite calls for assistance, the residents of the manor house refused to offer help and shelter to the victims. Thirty-four people died that day and sixty-nine were injured and according to legend a curse was placed on the house.

Not able to get into the church or a closer look at the mansion I decided to walk across the fields towards Hampton Poyle. From the meadows you can see across to London Oxford Airport where a plane had just landed.


Looking back towards St Gile’s Church I could just see Holy Cross Church which stands on the other side of the Cherwell and canal. Both churches less than half a kilometre apart

Holy Cross just visible on the left, St Giles on the right

Over styles, through fields with grazed grass, numerous horses everywhere. My straight line brought me to St Mary’s Church just over a mile away, just how many churches does one area need? There’s even St Mary’s Field Church only another half mile away, it’s spire visible from quite a distance.

Starting to ripen

Hampton Poyle’s St Mary’s has a 13th Century chapel, it’s north and south isles were added a century later and the double bellcote was an 18th century addition.

St Mary’s Hampton Poyle

In the16th-century, priest Richard Thomason, was allegedly condemned to hang in chains from Duns Tew steeple (near Bicester) for his opposition to the first prayer book of Edward VI. The 17th-century rector Edward Fulham was forced to resign and flee abroad on account of his strong Royalist views and his opposition to Puritanism.

The other St Mary’s spire

Across another field with more horses to White Bridge which crosses the Cherwell, not the prettiest of bridges but it’s concrete serves the purpose. On the south bank of the river I now turned westwards across the fields following the course of the river until it reached Thrupp Community Forest.

Serving it’s purpose

Here paths weave themselves through the trees, some more muddy routes have been bypassed. I was glad I’d got long trousers on as the nettles were rampant and my arms had to keep being lifted aloft. The river remained shy behind the not-so-friendly cover.


Soon I popped out to where the railway crosses, just that little bit too close to Thrupp, the path now bringing me back to Annies Tea Room. We still haven’t visited here, one day hopefully on a weekend when the Ice Cream Parlour is open!


With small amounts of food left over from the weekend I made us some fried rice, one chicken thigh and a couple of inches of salmon were added along with a good scattering of frozen peas. From a very full fridge on Friday morning to an almost empty one.

The lane leading to Annies

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 quiet day, 3 campers back to London, 2 boaters pottering, 1 test, 9 hours, 1 very pooped cat, 1 shade of glitter, 10 litres emulsion, 10 litres bona mega silk matt, 12 colours, 1 panto paint list complete, 3 miles, 3 nearly 4 churches, 1 feast of leftovers.

Today’s route