Category Archives: Gardens

Clotted Cream Mouse. 26th January

Pelsall Junction

Pelsall morning view

Me again!

She is too busy and Tom, well I think Tom has lost the ability to write!

Today started off well. They had their cuppa in bed with the papers whilst I dreamed of Ottiwhatsits latest recipe, it does sound nice. Just have to collect the ingredients together to give it a go.

Clotted Cream Mouse, yummy!

Then I was told I had 6.5 hours! Blimey!! At first this seemed great, but then I realised they hadn’t changed the outside from yesterday. Boo.

However today it was raining for much of the time, so not many woofers were around which gave me the chance to explore a touch more. I had a bit of a look for a friend in the cover, even pounced once or twice, but nobody was coming out to play. So the stove called me back inside.

Preparing to pounce

She has been busy with more numbers today. These ones are different, she’s been making them up. She says they make up a budget and it’s very tight. I wonder if it’s as tight as the opening at the bottom of the bathroom door?

Then She did some sketches. These sketches had what looked like trees or maybe sideways trees in them and they changed colour. I think I’m going to like this set.

The Garden with trees!

That special little biscuit from yesterday? Well it has been in my biscuit bowl all day, with very few other biscuits. I very nearly ate it at one point, but it tasted funny so I spat it out. Apparently because I’d spat it out they had to force me to eat it. Being manhandled in such a way is very unbecoming and I showed my displeasure with them by wriggling and showing my teeth off, Lots!

Whilst they enjoy their roast pork, I’m studying my recipe. Now where can I find Rooibos and Rhubarb?

0 locks, 0 miles, 1 wet day, 6.5 hours, 1.5 taken, 5 pounces, 0 friends, 11 sketches, £1500 to spend, 1 little biscuit, 9.75 digits still.

To Limbo, Or Not. 28th November

Somerton Lake to Kings Sutton

Wonder if it’s ever got high enough so you can’t tell where the canal is?

For the last few days we’ve been retracing our steps of last year. Oxford to Kidlington, Kidlington to Thrupp, etc. However last year strong winds were forecast so we decided to sit them out at Somerton Meadows for a couple of days. Today however we hoped to overtake ourselves from last year, or so we hoped.

Th river is where the grass is

For the whole day we have been surrounded by flood water. Huge expanses stretching away from the river and canal, this is of course what all these fields are for, to hold the excess water. Birds were enjoying their new wet land, but we suspect the sheep that have been separated from their friends would rather have more grass to graze than the narrow strips some were left on.

Somerton Deep Lock

Somerton Deep Lock was our first of the day. At 12ft 1″ deep the bottom gate is very large and heavy. I was ready for a battle, but after lifting a paddle, it moved slowly but steadily open. Waiting for Oleanna to stop completely in the lock before pulling the gate closed, only a few bumps were needed to get it moving, far easier than expected.

Level out the coal

Once we’d reached the top it was time to do some adjustments. The mountain of coal on the roof needed to be laid flat, below the height of the horns certainly if we were going to stand a chance of getting under Nells Bridge.

A different sort of view

We pootled along the next pound the various moorings with wonderful views all empty. Next time we’re this way we’ll try stopping at one of these instead of at the meadows. Below the fields were lakes, at times you could only just make out where the river was by the flow. Gradually the river gained height coming up to meet the canal level.

I love the magnetic letters on this boat

Pulling in at Aynho Wharf we topped up the water tank, this might just give us an extra inch above the cabin top when we reach Nells Bridge.

Aynho Weir through the lock

Aynho Weir Lock. I checked the level board, an inch in the red, the same as yesterday.

Hmmmm

Mick looked at the flow on the river that crosses just above the lock, not too horrendous. Some umph from the engine should keep Oleanna away from the wooden protection. We decided to go for it.

Under the bridge before the weir

Both gates on the lock leak so emptying and filling it takes some time. It also being a lozenge shape makes the levels deceptive. The lock still needs to hold a large amount of water so as to be able to keep up with the demand from Somerton Deep Lock, but the river isn’t that much higher than the canal. So the lozenge shape was built with a larger area to fill producing enough volume.

Going
Going

Oleanna easily fitted under the bridge at the top of the lock. We agreed that I’d walk from here, save trying to pick me up. Once clear of the lock gates Mick gave Oleanna’s engine a bit of wellie and off she headed across the flow of the river avoiding the wooden protection across the top of the weir, which today was level.

The low bridge ahead
A man at one with his chimney

Slipping and sliding along the muddy towpath I eventually caught up with Mick. He’d pulled in below Nells Bridge Lock. The chimney now needed removing, the last thing we could do before attempting to limbo under the bridge.

Wonder if it’s in the red or amber?

We both walked up to take a look at the level marker between the lock and bridge. What looks like a new sign above the lock explains the colours. Green normal, Yellow procced with caution, Red do not proceed (not the exact wording but the jist of it). This is all well and good, but when the coloured marker is broken, therefore missing you have no idea if it is safe or not. This however didn’t bother us, we’d made it across the river, we were just interested in the available headroom marker.

Breath in

In the summer we’d measured Oleanna’s height as best we could whilst on the River Wey, she came in at around 1.88m to the top of her horns. The bottom of the board here is at 1.4m. Then a band of white paint suggesting another foot, so 1.7m. The water level was lower than this, by about a brick and a half, possibly another 6 inches (sorry for mixing imperial with metric here). If this was the case then we had 1.85m headroom. The bridge opening is arched, our cabin sides are angled, was there enough room?

Here she comes
That looks good

Only one thing for it, gently nudge Oleanna into the opening and see what happened. Mick straightened Oleanna up and brought her slowly into the bridge hole. This was the moment where we could find ourselves stuck below the lock until the levels drop or on our way towards Christmas.

Nearly there
Mind your head Mick

Slowly she came in, the horns had missed, a good sign. Then more and more of Oleanna came through and into the lock.

Loads of room

There was loads of space! Admittedly we don’t have much on our roof so that helped.

Phew!

Up she rose the last hurdle/limbo we needed to get past. I can order our Christmas bird now.

A function room maybe

The Pig Place has changed a touch since last year. A new building made from old doors has appeared, maybe an inside bar for damp evenings. As we passed the boats on their moorings the chap from Canal World Forum came out to say hello. We thanked him for his photos and said we had loads of room, his roof box would have been a problem.

here here

Onwards, where to stop for the day? We soon made our minds up to continue up onto the next pound. The canal was being topped up, from the river.

That’s the river coming into the canal

Two weeks ago, part of Banbury had flooded and areas of the towpath had been over topped by the river. Here we could see it happening, the river level higher than that of the canal and towpath. Streams flowing from river into the canal. If the towpath got eroded sufficiently then when levels drop the canal may then flow into the river. A stretch of towpath has been reinforced with gaybions, maybe more of this is needed.

Neat garden by the lock

At Kings Sutton we rose again. Now much higher than the river, for a while anyway, we’d feel happier. Works on the Lock Cottage here now seem to have finished. A neat flower bed on one side of the bridge and a lime mortar wall running along the side of the lock. I was glad to see that the old barn hasn’t been touched, but I suspect it will get a make over at some point.

Weathered and worn

We pootled on a short distance to moor up on some armco and let Tilly out for an hour. Our mission complete. Here the aroma of Banbury fills the air, the trains sound their horns as they pass a crossing and the M40 rumbles away in the distance. Despite this, it is still quite peaceful here.

Kings Sutton Lock

4 locks, 6.18 miles, 1 layer of coal, 1 chimney removed, 1 water tank filled, 1 Black Pig, 1 boat as low as possible, 1 inch in the red, 1 zoom across, 1 limbo with ease, 0 bacon today, 1 river 1 canal almost 1, 1 finished cottage, 1 hour shore leave, 1 spag bol on the stove, 1 mission accomplished.

The Long Damp Pound. 11th September

Pewsey Wharf to Horton Bridge 134

We started off with just fleeces on, but progressed to waterproof jackets followed by trousers. Today was one of those damp days where if you don’t look it sneaks up on you and really soaks you. Luckily we looked.

EMPORIUM!!!!!

Mick took the rubbish for a walk down the towpath to the services in the pub car park. He omitted to inform me of a chilled medication emporium there, it did look closed as we passed.

Pickled Hill

The Long Pound clings to it’s contour through the countryside. Some of the time we had what might have been views on a sunny day. But today with low drizzly cloud the views were somewhat faded. Pickled Hill still stood out, one of the Wiltshire mounds that surrounded us, along with a glimpse of Alton Barnes White Horse on Milk Hill. This is one of eight white horses in Wiltshire and was cut in 1812. Hopefully on our way back the weather will be better.

One of eight

As we approached Wilcot Wide, Mick said that this was the K&A equivalent to Tixall Wide. But it left us wanting, no views and posts to stop you from winding. A few boats were moored here with their back ends sticking out in the search for deeper water.

Lady’s Bridge fancier than your average accomodation bridges

Then Lady’s Bridge designed by John Rennie in 1808 to placate the land owner who really didn’t want the canal passing through their land. It is very fancy with balustrading and decorated panels of swags and wiggly bits.

Honey Street then appeared out of the drizzle. We wondered where the hire company normally keep all their widebeam boats. All were out today. There was space outside The Barge Inn to moor, but it was too soon to stop for the day, our aim was to cover as much of the long pound as possible, so on we went.

Pretty terraced garden

Another couple of miles to All Cannings. The moorings had one space which looked a touch short for us, but we tried. We’d have just fitted if we’d been rude and nudged a short boat along off the last ring. But Oleanna’s bow was overlapping the boat in front who’s resident woofer acknowledged our presence with a woof, then he stuck his head out past a curtain to check on us. To him we were doing no harm, but to us the space was just that bit too short, even on a canal renowned for lack of moorings. So we pushed off again and I made us a cuppa and lunch to have on the go.

I’d just brought everything up onto deck as Mick slowed us down for a swing bridge. The bolt holding the bridge needed a windlass to loosen it, so all our lunch had to be moved to gain access to the locker beneath and a windlass.

Swing

Maybe today Mick has finally mastered Tick Over, not one complaint, just friendly waves from the dark interiors of boats as we passed. As you approach any road bridge lines of boats are tide up on long lines through the reeds to the banks. We’ve noticed a lot boats using their centre lines as well as bow and stern, this may feel like you are more secure (three ropes instead of two) but it has the effect of rocking your boat more as others pass.

Another swing bridge and we soon arrived at Horton Bridge where there is a water point and 24hr moorings below a pub. We’d had enough by now and were quite happy to leave the last few miles towards Devizes until tomorrow.

Is this a house or a giant spider waiting to pounce over the fence?

Quite a different outside they’d tied up today. A steep hill with some friendly cover then at the top of it, well… What a great place, lots to climb on, slide down, good high viewing platforms. I liked it lots. But the best bit was what Tom called a Dutch Barge all the way from Dutch outside. This boat had a very wide cat walk, I could quite happily have a relaxed snooze on one of those. Then it also had a solid pram cover. Fantastic views from the top of it and plenty of space inside to watch the outside go by. Tom wasn’t too pleased with me having a good look round, they say I’m not allowed on other peoples boats as the other people might decide to move the outside taking me with them. I’d be quite happy if that happened on one of these. Tom said if I can find the money then they would consider one, so I’m going to start hunting for money instead of friends.

0 locks, 9.55 miles, 2 swing bridges, 5 friendly waves, 3rd mooring lucky, 2 damp boaters, 1 soggy horse, 0 Tixall, 1 stove lit, 1/8.5 water torture cabinet drawn, 1 phone about to drown, 1 cat with aspirations of grandeur.

There Is No Such Thing As A Free Cup Of Tea. 2nd September

Beale Park

Sausages!

The ‘Next Time’ list got a little bit shorter today. After a leisurely cuppa in bed followed by a sausage sarnie ( those sausages were nice), we walked upstream to find the nearest church, St Bartholomews.

St Bartholomews

Built in flint with stone dressing in the late 13th Century it is Grade 1 listed and owned by the Churches Conservation Trust. It is a simple building with a brick bell tower that was added later. Surrounding the alter are tiled walls. The church is open daily but the next service isn’t until mid October. We weren’t really here to see the church but to visit the resting place of Jethro Tull.

Looking up the aisle
Jethro’s headstone

Jethro Tull was born in Lower Basildon in 1674. His life work was key to major developments in the agricultural revolution which took place in the early 18th Century. He invented the first mechanised seed drill which was horse drawn. Rows of seed could now be cultivated reducing waste and enabling an amount of weed reduction. His innovations didn’t make him a wealthy man and nobody knows exactly where he is buried in the church yard. A modern stone donated in the 1960’s marks that the church yard is his resting place.

From here we walked up the hill, over the railway and along the busy road to the gate houses of Basilson Park, a National Trust property sitting high above the valley now surrounded by trees. We showed our membership cards and got a note to use in the tea rooms for a free cuppa, these are given out if you arrive by public transport, bike or on foot. The walk up to the house is through a thick yew wood which a week ago would have been a wonderful place away from the searing heat. Today kids climbed through the branches pretending they were caught in a maze of lazers.

Basildon Park

On the drive we got our first view of the house. A Palladian Mansion, possibly one of the finest in the country. You are directed up one of two curved staircases to the guests entrance. Here a guide introduced us to the house with a quick bit of history. The estate was acquired in 1771 by Francis Sykes who had made his fortune with the East India Company. He commissioned the architect John Carr of York (the founder of my Fathers architectural practice) to build him a splendid mansion with neo-classical interiors.

Two grand staircases to enter by

The Sykes owned the house until 1838 when it passed onto the Morrison family. During WW1 it was used as a convalescence home for officers and in WW2 it was requisitioned first by the Americans for D-Day training and then by the British and used as a prisoner of war camp for the Germans and Italians. The house didn’t fair well during this time. During the 1930’s it’s owner had wanted to sell the house to America, hoping to make a fortune. Doors, fireplaces, mouldings were removed and taken to the States as examples of the craftsmanship to try to entice buyers but the depression put paid to that and the house remained firmly on the hill above Lower Basildon.

The library

In 1952 Lord and Lady Iliffe bought the house and set about restoring it to its former glory. Other John Carr properties were visited at one in Lincolnshire they were able to buy doors, frames, fireplaces etc from the house as it was about to be demolished. Here the detail with which John Carr gave to his buildings meant that fireplaces just slotted in at Basildon and doors didn’t even need new screw holes drilling for the hinges as everything fitted perfectly.

Reused curtains decorate the walls

Not many of the rooms are as they would have been back in the 18th Century. In the green drawing room the original ceiling is still there, untouched other than by some water damage from a leaking washing machine above and a fire detector. The walls however have been covered with green damask curtains which were found by Lady Iliffe in a ballroom. You can make out where the fabric used to hang in pleats due to the fading of the cloth.

The dining room, the frocks upstaging the room a touch

As you enter the dining room columns of faux marble cut off the servants end of the room, large paintings and details on the ceiling look down on a very long dining room table with a fantastic broderie anglaise table cloth. The paintings from the ceiling were one of the elements that ended up in America, the ones there today were painted only a few years ago. They are good but nowhere near as good as they would have been in the original house.

The Octagonal Room with red baize walls

Around the first floor is a collection of dresses from the 1950’s. Two in the entrance hall were made and worn by Lady Iliffe, the others are on loan from the Fashion and Textile Museum. the displays are not as intrusive as we’ve come across at other NT properties, but because of the dresses the curtains in each room are closed and spot lights highlight the clothes. This does mean the lighting is very dramatic, no chance to see outside to the views from each room and details in the rooms are hidden in dim corners. Quite a shame in the Octagonal Room.

Decorative panel on the wall made from shells
My favourites, Argonaut shells

Up the stairs to first the Shell Room. Lady Charlotte collected shells, vast quantities of shells. She wasn’t interested in them for scientific reasons, she just loved their shapes. Whilst on holidays she would leave her husband to socialise so that she could be down on the beach collecting shells. Her collection not only sits in display cabinets but also adorns them too.

The panelled door has been rehinged
part way through it’s panels

The Iliffe’s added modern conveniences to the house, heating and plumbing. One bathroom has a wonderfully deep bath which necessitated the door to the room to be altered.

Quite a bed

The Crimson Bedroom has 1950’s wallpaper, but central to the room is a very ornate red Georgian bed that Lady Iliffe bought for £100. This was one of their guest bedrooms with a huge vast wardrobe which may at one time have been used by Disraeli.

Quite odd in such a house

At the top of the family staircase we could smell cooking wafting up from below, so we followed our noses. First into the houses kitchen, decked out with worn 1950’s units. A drawer full of familiar kitchen utensils sat out on the long kitchen table opposite a fake Aga. The aromas hadn’t been coming from here. Down more steps and we reached the ground floor and the tea room.

The guest staircase

Time for our free cuppas and something to eat. Mick chose a sandwich and a roast veg frittata took my fancy. We handed over our hand written chit for tea and the young lady then asked us for £12! ‘Er don’t we get free tea?’ ‘Oh Yes, £8’.

An original study for the tapestry in Coventry Cathedral

Quite a few of the tables were occupied, but we found one and put the tray on the table along with our number for food. A waitress said ‘Is that number 13?’ Yes it was. She lifted the number from the tray onto the table to one side, I thought that was a touch too helpful. She then proceeded to pick up our tray. She was clearing it all away before we’d even sat down! ‘Excuse me we’d like to drink our tea and eat our food!’ Oh, right! She did apologise briefly when she came through with my frittatta, which was very tasty.

Free tea!

A look around the gardens, plenty of fushia out and wilting roses. The front lawn looks out across the valley. We tried to work out just where Oleanna might be behind all the trees. Then we made our way back down the hill and across the railway. A permisive track took our fancy so we climbed the style and followed mowed pathways through wooded areas. We guessed we were heading in the right direction, cut across a road and then into more fields.

From the front lawn

Oleanna should be just about there, but the path took us this way then back on our selves. Eventually we popped out on the river bank a few hundred feet away from our bow.

It had been a good day and well worth stopping to look round the house, ticking off another John Carr building, but they certainly didn’t want us to have that free cuppa!

More outside time!

0 locks, 0 miles by boat, 5 miles walked, 1 gravestone, 1 Jethro, 1 Carr house, 3 staircases, 18 frocks, 26 preparatory paintings for a tapestry, 2 Japanese lamps, 1 red bed, 5m table cloth, 732579 shells, 2 cups of tea, 1 ham sandwich, 1 frittatta clung onto for dear life, 2 repeats in wallpaper, 1 crumbling balustrade, 3 hours for Tilly, 1 woofers ball.

Door To The Imagination. 24th August

Radcot Meadow to Kelmscott Manor

Webs

The spiders overnight work was being shown off by the morning dew, a very pretty sight to open the curtains to.

Radcot Bridge

Not far today, but we were still up and away early to hopefully find a mooring. Passing all the glamping teepees and tents by Radcote Bridge (the oldest on the Thames) we wondered how many slices of pig were being fried up for breakfast.

Rowing

A rowing boat was heading towards us, nothing surprising there. This turned out to be a novice team rowing from Lechlade to Teddington raising funds for the NSPCC. Their back up team running the towpath warned that they weren’t so good at steering, well they’ll have a problem when they come to the next twists and turns!

Wonderful view

After a mile and a half we reached Grafton Lock, although on self service there was a Lockie doing his checks, he opened up the bottom gates and worked us up. Another boat appeared from above which he worked down too, how long would it be before he could head off to the next lock?

The cratch will remain rolled up tonight
That rope will help us to get up the bank

Today the Twists and turns have been replaced by pill boxes, they felt as though they were every few hundred yards as we made our way to where we wanted to moor, The easy moorings were full, round the bend was full also. Signs on posts stood high above the friendly cover so it looked like there might be more places to moor round the next bend. We pulled into the cover, no chance of me getting off at the bow, but Mick managed with a scramble.

Pinned in at the front and tied round the post at the stern we had a handy rope to help clamber up the bank. Why here? Why not go on further? Well just through the trees we could see the reason Kelmscott Manor, William Morris’s holiday home.

Kelmscott Manor

In 1871 William Morris and fellow artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti took out a years lease on the house, it was to provide them with a country retreat away from London and the pressures of work. Originally built around 1570 the Elizabethan house had captured Morris’s imagination. The lease was continued, Rossetti moving out in 1874 being replaced by Frederick Startridge Ellis, Morris’s publisher.

By the Brewhouse door

The house and surrounding area gave inspiration to Morris for 25 years, influencing his poetry, textiles, wallpaper designs. The traditional architecture of the area reinforced his convictions about the integrity of craft-based work and design and the importance of conserving ancient buildings for future generations.

From the croquet lawn

Morris managed to secure a 20 year lease of the house and later after his death in 1896, Jane his wife continued to be a tenant moving from London to live in the house full time. In 1913 she managed to buy the freehold of the manor along with 9 1/2 acres of land. In 1914 May, their daughter, inherited the house and in 1938 when she died she left the house to Oxford University. By the 1960’s The Society of Antiquaries of London was looking after the house and serious works were needed to save it from major problems with the stone slating and wall masonry, damp and timber decay. Much work was carried out and by 1967 the house was ready for it’s new lease of life and to have visitors.

The Green room which currently isn’t green

Entrance to the house is by timed entry ticket, this gave us enough time to look at some of the grounds and the posh William Morris tat in the shop. A one way route round the house was in operation and volunteers guided you through the house and were on hand to answer questions.

Table and chairs

Many items have remained with the house from Morris’s time and before. These items living up to Morris’s maxim, Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful. That reminds me we need to reapply this to Oleanna.

Burne-Jones zodiac drawing
Rossetti portrait of Jane

Morris fabric hangs from many walls, and wonderful embroideries by his wife and daughter accompany drawings by Burne-Jones, Rossetti, and furniture from other Arts and Crafts designers. Albercht Durer and Breughel works hang on walls all important influences on Morris.

Sussex
Chairs

Various styles of Sussex chairs with their dark wood, rattan or rush seats sit comfortably all around the house.

Light
Window latch

Tapestries. light fittings with reflectors.

Reflecting upstairs

A circular mirror hangs on the staircase wall echoing the Portrait of John Arnolfini and his Wife by Jan Van Eyck.

Windows
framing views

Windows framing views of the garden literally held in place by the window catches.

Intricate embroidery

A recent acquisition is the wonderful ‘The Homestead and the Forest’ cot quilt. A circular Thames encircles Kelmscott Manor and outside are animals from across the world.

Meow
Grrr

Lions, cats, flamingos, crocodiles.

Loft steps

A loft staircase, takes you up to the attic rooms. Here is what captured Morris’s heart and ours.

Look at those beams

The rooms below are very nice with great views, but you really can’t beat the slopping roof and exposed beams of an attic room.

You just have to mind your head

This house doesn’t just have one room up here, it has several. I’d quite happily live up on the top floor of the house. What wonderful rooms.

A door painted by the Scott-Snells

A steep spiral staircase brings you down the house, pausing at first floor level there was a display of paintings by Edward and Stephani Scott-Snell who leased the house for a few years after May died. Then back down to the ground floor.

Built to accommodate three

The gardens are worth a view too, a brewhouse, three seated privy, a mulberry tree and Medlar tree sit around the house.

The Mulberry tree

We could have headed back to the boat for lunch but decided on sampling the cafe. My usual safe jacket potato was followed by a very nice slice of gluten free carrot cake, Micks coffee and walnut cake also got the thumbs up, all at reasonable prices.

William in contemplation

A look around the village was next. More lovely houses with their tile stone roofs. Past the pub to St George’s Church. A simple small village church where William Morris, his wife and two daughters are buried. Interesting that William gets a loop on his M’s on the stone, but the others don’t.

M with a loop

Inside the church is simple, but hidden behind the small organ in the north transept are medieval wall paintings dating from before 1280 depicting Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel.

Medieval paintings

Normally when we visit churches of this size we are the only visitors, possibly for days, but today we had plenty of company. Shame we were the only ones to pop some coins through the whole in the wall to help with the upkeep.

St George’s

The manor was well worth a visit. This year it has been open from April to the end of August on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Only two more days to visit this year. Then the whole operation will close down for major works to take place enabling them to accommodate more visitors and do much needed remedial works on the house. If all is going well they will open for limited time next year, but the house will reopen to visitors in 2021 the 150th anniversary of when William Morris first moved to the house.

Which way?

After avoiding the hot outside all day, then avoiding the woofers and people, then avoiding the wobbly lads on day boats I headed out to see what I could see. I’d been warned that the friendly cover shouldn’t be pounced in as this outside might be missing some floor in places. So I headed across the field to a large wood pile. This was very interesting to climb and poke my arms in. A few friends kept me amused for a while but it was all over too quickly when She came calling for me.

Morris’s bed

1 lock, 3.04 miles, 0 bacon for us, 1 clambering mooring, 12:10 entry, 1 Elizabethan house, 3 floors, 2 peacocks, 1 wonderful attic, 2 slices cake, 2 cups of tea, 3 seated loo, 200 lbs of Mulberries, 1 little church, 4 in one, 3 hours, 1 big log pile, 1 cooling breeze, 1 cardigan back to where it should be.

Inventing Velcro. 20th August

Abingdon to East Street, Oxford

A quick shop at Waitrose so that we could eat tonight, £5 to the Lockie for our extra night and then Mick was in the car heading to Oxford to drop it back at Enterprise. Tilly and I prepared Oleanna for cruising, rolling the covers up, trip computer poised ready to click the go button.

Valhalla, used to be moored above the Stockton flight on the GU

We pushed off just gone 11am, winded and headed to the services to top up with water, empty the yellow water and dispose of our rubbish, then we winded again and were heading towards Oxford.

Sandford Lock

Sandford Lock has a big overhang on the lock landing, so we kept away from it. It is also a side filler, but was very gently done by the volunteer. Apparently Environment Agency volunteers always have a full time Lock Keeper with them for insurance purposes, also there is quite a lot that can go wrong with the locks so someone has to be on hand to deal with that.

Iffley Lock

Iffley Lock came into view, no sign of a Lockie here, the top gates wide open, I walked up to press the buttons.

Bee
Heaven

Such a pretty lock with so much lavender everywhere, the bees were having a field day. They got on with their business and I closed the gates and emptied the lock.

Company with a pretty boat

A small cruiser was also heading up stream, so I paused closing the gates and opened them again so that they could join us all the time accompanied by the gentle humming from the bees on the lavender.

The many boat houses all quiet during the University holidays

Now we were looking for a mooring, hoping to find a space before Folly Bridge. Having spent quite a bit of time at this end of the Oxford Canal last winter we wanted a different view and Tilly would prefer it despite the busy towpath. But not one space big enough for us showed itself. So we had to carry on, hoping that above Osney Lock we’d be lucky.

Approaching Folly Bridge

The first stretch of moorings was full, but then on the straight before Osney Bridge there was a long expanse of empty bollards. Phew! A late lunch and no shore leave for the four legged one.

Whilst tucking into my hummus, Tilly sat on the cupboard next to me having a bath. All of a sudden there was a panic. Tilly seemed to have her paw stuck in her mouth. Despite the thought of those incredibly sharp teeth something had to be done to help. La la nnh meola hf la ga so lala phla! No idea what she was saying I intervened getting spiked by claws as I did so.

Not many spires in view today

It seemed that she’d been trying to reenact a manoeuvre she used to do when she was young to remove her collar. Slotting it onto her teeth and then pulling with one foot against it until it came loose. I thought she’d long grown out of that.

Five minutes later the same again! Just what are you doing?! La m lyilyn srh loi meliw gow! On closer inspection I could see what had happened. Somehow the end of her collar (an elasticated one with a fluffy back to it) had got in the way of her bathing. The fluffy side met with her tongue and as she licked she had invented velcro. Her tongue was stuck to her collar! Blimey!! Once tongue was free her collar was removed so everyone could calm down. Antiseptic wipes for my even more spiked fingers, luckily I’d only been clawed and not bitten. Poor Tilly.

The offending length of collar was trimmed back, it is now impossible for this to recur.

Dear Aunt Lucy

Looking at the map for the next few days, it seems like we’ll be away from shops. So even though we’d picked up some bits this morning we would need more supplies before leaving Oxford. We could visit a second Waitrose or maybe get a delivery as we are right alongside a road here.

No delivery slots for the morning with Sainsburys or Ocado, so we tried Tesco, bingo! So the rest of the day was spent online shopping.


Property Game

This one is back in Maidenhead, own private mooring, office space and pretty windows. How much?

3 locks, 1 self service, 8.5 miles, 2 boxes wine, 1 celeriac, 500grms mince, 0 car, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 2 new plants, 0 space, 1 free of charge Osney mooring, 1 feline inventor, 1 inch removed, 3 sore fingers, 1 recovered cat, 1 bowl pizza dough, 16 Ottiwhatsit meatballs, 6 more boxes wine, still 3 too many stitches! Grrr!!

Yesterdays Answer

£295,000

https://www.watersideresidential.co.uk/property-for-sale/?id=10220&type=2

Currently moored in Staines. Two cabins and a roll top bath.

Joa was closest at £245,000 with Jennie a little lower at £225,000.

The Queens Beans. 6th August

Hampton Court Palace

Yesterday in between our visits to the palace I had a go at a Buckwheat and Squash loaf. I’d got so far in making it when I realised I didn’t have any millet flour. In another recipe I could use either millet or maize flour so I gave that a go instead. I think it needed to be left to rise a touch longer, but it is very tasty, slightly cheesy in a way with the sour dough. If I can find some millet flour I’ll give it another go and see how it differs.

Yesterdays first attempt
Buckwheat and squash sour dough bread

At Hampton Court Palace moorings you can stay for 24hrs for free, after which you can pay £8 for each additional 24hrs. As we were still in Zone 6 we decided to have an extra days mooring so that Mick could pop over to Hackney to pick up our post using his old gits oyster card. The post included plans that had been sent over from Vienna, so better to have them sooner. I stayed behind with Tilly to do some bits of work and try to get the grey cells thinking about the next show.

Yesterday when we’d been in the Kitchen Garden we’d noticed signs up advertising the sale of garden produce. As we were without any veg it was worth going to at least have a look. I decided to set off at around 1pm to walk the five minutes and see if there was a queue.

Just as I’d clambered up the steps from the moorings there was a pinging sound near my face. What on earth was that? Nothing seemed to be missing, until I noticed that a screw that should have been holding my glasses together had vanished, the right lense only being held into the frame by luck. Back to the boat to change glasses, this was taking up precious queuing time.

The sign

A lonely sign stood by the pavillion marking the start of the queue, nobody, brilliant! Except they’d all got here early enough to get a seat in the pavillion. Oh well, it looked like I’d be tenth or so in line, a courgette would do me. A lady arrived and asked if I was the end of the queue, she managed to find a seat, someone else arrived and made note of who was the end and so it continued in a very English way.

From the centre of the vegetable garden a laden trolley was pushed, the lady in purple obviously in charge. As the trolley got close the sitting queue stood up and everyone jostled into the correct order as the produce was put out on display and blackboards with prices were added.

An orderly affair of veg

This was a serious affair, we were on royal turf and nobody would barge in. The young lady in front of me was joined by a friend who quickly said that she wasn’t pushing in, just joining her friend to see what happened. I believed her, maybe others were too polite to challenge her from the now lengthening queue.

The first lady was invited up followed by the second and third. Cabbages, carrots were all being claimed, what was on the stall was what was on offer, once it was gone it was gone. At last it was my turn, I’d maybe been stood a little too close, too eager to get a courgette, but at least I’d let on to those behind me that this was my first time. An elderly chap accompanied me as I chose from the display and popped things into my bag, he was there to tot up my purchases as I went. Everything was good round numbers, not the cheapest, but with there being zero air miles and having only been picked a matter of minutes ago, oh and being from the palace gardens it was fine.

Look at those courgettes!

Just what to get? Multi-coloured beetroot, some runner beans. Actually not runner I swapped and changed my mind to get a bag of purple green and white french beans. The chap didn’t understand why I wasn’t getting both. A Pattypaw squash and the courgette I’d come for in the first place. I could have got far more, but we’d not eat it in time to make the most of it’s freshness. The young lady in front was walking away with a bulging bag tufts of green sprouting from the top, she’d got a good haul.

I paid my £6 and had a look round. The veg was now half gone and the queue was still 20 deep, the lady behind me picking up three bunches of fantastic smelling herbs, maybe I’d like some, but my time was over.

The first lady had taken her time in packing away her veg on her bike. The front basket brimming and the basket at the back bulging, the smug grin on her face as she walked past those hoping that there would be one runner bean left. Then the lady from behind me came past, she’d been even more prepared a trailer on the back of her bike, the cover over it meant nobody could see how many bags she’d got. They take this all very seriously round here.

My vegetable swag

Now, what should I cook? There was still some roast chicken. Hmmm. As I re-read my script all I could think of was what to cook. In the end I opted to roast the pattypaw with some fennel seeds along with a white beetroot and a couple of red ones which I segregated behind some foil. Some basmati rice with a few of the multicoloured beans and chicken mixed into the equation and a good grating of Parmesan made for a tasty fresh meal. Now what to do with that courgette?

Very yummy it was too

0 locks, 60ft backwards, 2 buses, 3 trains, 7 envelopes, 2 plans, 1 bumper catalogue, 3rd read, 4 emails, 1 weeks painting sorted, 1 lense hanging on for dear life, 11th in line, 3 coloured beans, 1 pattypaw, 2 coloured beetroot, 1 courgette, £8.80 to get lost!


Yesterdays Answer

https://www.waterview.co.uk/property-for-sale/house-for-sale-in-wheatleys-eyot-sunbury-on-thames-tw16/883?layout=printdetails

£945,000.

So Dog was doing pretty well with £700k, but then Ade got even closer with £1.1million. Sadly neither was close enough.

I’ve run out of properties for now, but there’ll be more tomorrow I’m sure.