Category Archives: Gardens

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.


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


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


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.

More Kings And Queens. 5th August

Hampton Court Palace

Fountain Court

The Palace isn’t just Tudor, it was a Palace for other Kings and Queens too. When William III took the throne in 1689 he asked Christopher Wren to design a new Baroque palace . Originally the Tudor Palace was to be demolished, but the cost was to be too much for the Royal purse. Instead a third of the palace was replaced.

Pistols and daggers, who needs wallpaper

A grand staircase with small steps and huge painting takes you up to William’s state apartments. This was and still is an impressive way to enter. As with Henry VIII, visitors were vetted before being let through to the following rooms. The guard chamber is almost encrusted with weaponry showing Williams hunger for war. These were not just for show, but could be used by the army should the need arise.

Possibly the first chandelier of it’s kind in the country

Next follows a succession of chambers each with a throne and canopy. The further on you got the less fancy the canopy, but the chair beneath got comfier. Large paintings cover the walls and other than the throne there is little furniture in the rooms, instead they would have been filled with beautifully dressed courtiers. By the time you reach the Privy Chamber the chair is fluffed up and plump the canopy has disappeared, a wonderful crystal chandelier hangs in the centre of the room which lines up wonderfully with the Privy Garden outside.

Ginormous bed just for show
A very busy ceiling that would keep anyone awake

A huge bed sits in the Great Bedchamber, this is where the King was dressed in view public, an incredible painted ceiling above faces the on looker not the king. This was all for show, which the King would rather have lived without.

Padded toilet on a chest. Maybe a precursor to a Kilwick

Below the grand rooms are the more private apartments where the King really lived his life. Here his collections of favourite paintings hang on ropes, many of them night time scenes now hard to distinguish their content. The Orangery houses the orange and bay trees during the winter months, gives a great view down the Privy Garden.

The private dining room

These are less flamboyant rooms, cosy and homely. In his private dining room he surrounded himself with full length portraits of the Hampton Court Beauties. The serving area could be closed off after the meal leaving the king and his guests in peace.

Queen Anne followed doing a touch of remodelling herself. The Royal Chapel which had stained glass and a fantastic blue and gold ceiling from Henry VIII’s time was altered. The window frames left in place, but the glass depicting Henry, Katherine and Wolsey are long since gone. Much of the lower walls are now wood, vertical parquet covers the wall behind the alter and huge wooden columns attempt to hold up the Tudor ceiling. Sadly you’re not allowed to take photos here, the ceiling is great.

The Queens staircase

Then came the Georgians. George I built a set of rooms for his son in which he and his wife entertained lavishly. A new kitchen was also built which you can now stay in as it is one of the Landmark Trust properties, The Georgian House.

What a ceiling

When George II succeeded his father in 1727 the palace entered it’s last phase as a royal residence. The Queens staircase had a make over by the architect William Kent with Roman niches and trompe l’oeil panels below another great painted ceiling.

Two jolly chaps

The Queens Guard Chamber has quite a fireplace. Two men, possibly Yeomen of the Guard have the huge mantle piece resting on their hats. Here as else where in the Palace visitors would be vetted before being let further into the rooms.

Napkin artistry

The Public Dining Room is decorated with more impressive painting and a large table shows off a display of napkin artistry.

Wonderful costumes

Stood in the room are white costumes made from fibrous paper, these represent members of the court and have a small resume on their bodices or cuffs.

The period detail sewn into them is wonderful. There is a more sociable feel to these rooms than those of earlier periods. Courtiers would play games, gambling, loosing hundreds of thousands of pounds.

A bit more painting, anyone would think this was a palace!

By 1737 George II no longer wanted to use Hampton Court as a royal palace so it was filled with grace and favour residents. The accommodation not the best, some residents didn’t have access to hot water. Many residents were widows who’s husbands had worked for the monarch. This continued until the 1960’s and there are still a couple of elderly residents still living in the Palace.

A modern addition

In 1838 Queen Victoria decided to let the public see inside the palace and opened up its doors, this proved to be very popular.

Looking back to the house from the Privy Garden

The Privy Garden needed a closer look, especially as there was a nice boat moored just outside the Tijou Screen (a shame they still haven’t finished painting it!). After a fire damaged the palace in 1986 the decision was taken to restore the privy garden back to how it had been in William III’s time. The trees were kept clipped at 7 to 8 ft high and a view of the Thames was possible. This in later years had been left to grow and had got quite out of hand, no longer could the palace be seen from the river.

Mum feeding her not so small chick

During August there is plenty happening. The King Henry VIII’s sporting academy is taking place throughout the gardens. Real Tennis is played on the indoor court, there is fencing and sword fighting, wrestling, crossbow and falconry displays.

Royal Medication of the chilled variety

After quite a busy day we deserved some chilled medication and a good job we got it when we did as the stand closed soon afterwards. Mick had Chocolate Brownie and I had a very good Raspberry Sorbet, no gluten free cones today though!

From the rose garden

Other areas of the grounds are open to the public. The Rose and Kitchen garden were worth a wander around, plenty growing in the vegetable beds, they even had some Royal Blackberries!

Royal Harry
and his mate Dwain

Even though we’d been a touch reluctant to buy two full price tickets to the palace we were amazed at what we got for our money. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit, so much to see and do. We didn’t quite manage to see everything so we may come back another time to look at the galleries and go round the maze, however, we’ll try to time that with a two for one offer.

Property Game

This one was built by it’s current owners and has three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

Yesterdays Answer

£1,295,000 no chain and it’s detached!

Sorry Ade, at least you were only a million out this time!