Category Archives: Oxford Canal

Anchor, Check. Life Jackets, Check. Escape Pod, Meow! 28th May

Jericho to above Days Lock, River Thames

The lovely Isis Lock

Guaranteed to get wet today so it was hard to muster ourselves for the ready, a passing boat helped jolt us into action. We took the opportunity of being near a tap to top up on water and also empty the yellow water whilst in Isis Lock. The fresh water tank took a similar amount of time to fill as the lock took to gradually drain down to be level with the Sheepwash Channel. A hire boater walked past with a rucksack full of washing, she’d spied a washing machine just a little bit further along the cut, we warned her that her key of power would most probably not work as the services there were for the Agenda 21 moorings. She was still hopeful, but also had sussed out a laundrette a walk away.

We’re ready!

With tanks emptied and filled we turned into Sheepwash Channel, passing under the railway and then a left to head downstream onto the Thames. The flow was quite fast through Osney Bridge and as we approached the lock we could see a Lock Keeper setting it for us, we pulled into the layby and waited for the gates to open.

As we pulled into the lock the Lockie asked what we’d done with the weather and that she’d be adding a tenner to our licence because of the rain. We needed a licence so tied up in the lock gave the Lockie our vital statistics (length) so she could fill out the paperwork. Just as she pressed the button to open the sluices we got a hint of sunshine, she said she’d refund our tenner.

Round and under Folly Bridge, we’d driven over it yesterday, slowly in traffic. Then past all the college boat houses, several rowers out on the river, an eager pair trying to overtake us but having to pull back as a trip boat approached.

Iffley Lock

Iffley Lock, my favourite on the Thames. It’s the position of the lock cottage and it’s gardens that even today smelt of lavender, not normally a favoured smell, but right in this setting. The sluices wouldn’t lift, a walk to the far end required to close them there, then we could work our way through.

Graffiti with a social comment

The artwork under the big bridges have changed since last year, no longer knights but a dragon and on the other bridge a reclined cigar smoking fat cat from Thames Water. Round a few bends we came across a Dutch barge that looked to have slipped it’s stern mooring line, bow into the bank, stern out towards the channel. The engine boards were up and someone was very busy.

At last we’d reached Sandford Lock, only a day late for our Leckenby lunch. The chamber was empty so I walked down spotting a couple of boats heading upstream. I signalled to Mick there’d be boats coming up and went to open the bottom gates. The open sluice light was a fixed green, meaning the lock was empty and I could open the gates. However it was lying! I could see the sluices were up and the lock was empty. I closed the sluices then opened them again, the whole emptying process has to be gone through despite the lock already being empty! This took forever and a while longer. Luckily the crew from one of the boats had had the same problem a couple of days ago, a Lockie had been around who did just as I’d done. Thankfully the gates now opened and we penned the boats up.

Sandford Lock and the King’s Arms

Now our turn. Oleanna in the lock, sluices open button pressed. This all seemed to be taking a long time. As the sluices raised I could see the far side one was lagging somewhat behind. I lowered them again, then lifted them, the far one kept up this time. By now the Dutch Barge had arrived behind us, the skipper came to thank us. He’d got grounded after picking up a lot of stuff in his cooling system and had been trying to clear it as we came past. Our movement lifted his boat enough to free them. He then quickly needed to put pipes back in place so that he could avoid being pulled onto the next weir!

Now the long reach to Abingdon. Boat houses I could live in, trees clinging onto the banks, all the normal moored boats had moved to the opposite bank and the boat that had been sunk for some years has now gone. We wanted to stop for lunch and hoped for a space above the lock, but this was all full, new paving displaying hazard striped edges.

Only NB Escapology and one other in the whole of Abingdon

We pulled in to make use of the elsan and skips as a pirate boat crewed by children came up through the lock. Our turn next, they’d closed the top gate and the level had dropped an inch, the top sluices had to go through the whole thing of lifting carefully before the gates would open. I think I’m going to get used to this as many of the locks will be unmanned this year. 8 minutes to fill, 4 to empty.

House for Sale hidden out of view, click photo for details

Only two boats moored in Abingdon, we headed for the rings through the bridge and really should have winded to have more control coming in. We managed to tie up and sat down for a quick lunch before pushing off again. Normally we’d have stayed for the rest of the day, but we wanted to be further on today if we could.

An improvement as month ago it took an hour to fill!

Out the other side of Abingdon we turned away from the weir and onto Culham Lock Cut away from the danger. Another lock that needed to be reset. A note stuck to the control panel warning to be patient, it may take 20 minutes to fill! I will get used to this. Plenty of time to sit down and reply to some messages.

15 minutes later the flashing green light became solid and I could open the gates, thankfully the lock didn’t take so long to empty. What seem like new instructions on the control panels suggest the lower sluices should be left open. I don’t remember this from when we’ve headed upstream in the last few years and several of the locks have had them raised when we’ve arrived. So I left them up, stepping onto Oleanna I looked back a cruiser just arriving behind us, sorry.

A long sweep round to Clifton Lock, much shallower and far far quicker to do anything. A shame in a way as I was busy admiring the plants in the garden and the long line of wheelbarrows.  This would be our last lock of the day. We now passed excessively long gardens, some of the houses so far away they felt like they were in a different country.

I prefer the artists impressions

A new development of two quite ugly executive houses. I grew up in a house with wood cladding and rather like the natural silvering that happens to it, but here it looks like the wood has been treated with what I call ‘paint on poo!’ coloured varnish. You can see some details in the link, but I haven’t been able to find any mention of price!

The lovely Clifton Hampton Bridge

We headed to the field moorings above Days Lock. Here the river runs north to south and when nestled into the bank you can enjoy sun sets on one side and sun rises on the other. A new hedge seems to have been planted recently and then the occasional tree. No signs about mooring, two years ago there were signs informing you of a website to log onto to pay. There were also no NO MOORING signs, so when we saw a length of clearish bank we winded and pulled in, facing upstream to moor.

The wind was quite strong, Tilly not too keen. Well the trees were a long way off! We checked on the river level on Gaugemap 0.07m, a look around outside to try to find a reference point (hard to do when there are no bricks to count), we’d have to keep an eye on the internet. As the evening progressed the wind grew, whistling around us, this was soon followed by torrential rain. By the time we went to bed the river had risen 2 inches, how much further will it rise by morning? A quick check to make sure our ropes had some slack before shut eye.

7 locks, 17.2 miles, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 0 rubbish, 1 soggy day, 1 lock keeper, £79 licence, 1 right, 1 left, 1 laboured attempt at mooring, 1 expert execution of mooring, 0 signs, 15 minutes to fill! 10 minutes shore leave, 4 wheelbarrows, 0 stoats.

Contraband Chips. 27th May


Hair cutting, Tilly exploring, breakfast and baking, what a busy morning, good job the sun was out. However we had reports of rain to the north of us, would umbrellas be required?

Presents time

A little later than originally planned Andrew and Jac arrived, the Oxford traffic having held them up on their journey from London. Time for birthday presents a coffee and freshly baked biscuits. Jac got a new table cloth with embroidered bees on it and Mick got a new expanding hose for Oleanna and a weed burner for use in the garden at the house.

Jac fashioning Mick’s new hose

Originally we’d planned on doing the next part of our journey by boat, but getting a mooring where we were heading could have been a risk, limited space and only 24hrs. So we headed to Sandford Lock on the Thames by car, having to sit in Oxford traffic for some of the way.

Sat outside the Kings Arms with her dog Baxter was Jenny Leckenby, she’d spent some time watching the second round of the World Championship Pooh Sticks that was taking place at the weir stream. Inside we found the rest of our party, Ian, Sally and Sam Leckenby, first cousins and those once removed. A few people missing from the table, Josh who is mid A level revision, Jo and his family who live in the States.

With eight of us it was quite a noisy affair, sorry to those other diners. Mick and I had seen everyone last summer at the Royal International Air Tattoo, but Andrew and Jac had been away on holiday so it was the first time they’d seen Ian and Sally since their wedding, way longer since seeing Sam and Jenny.


Sam and I chose our gluten free dishes from the separate menu, but were disappointed that we couldn’t have chips. This is because other things are fried in the same deep fat frier causing cross contamination which can be serious for those who are coeliac. Both of us are intolerant to gluten and were willing to risk a portion of chips between us. Solution was to get Jenny to order a side portion of chips to accompany her burger and chips. These were then passed over to Sam and myself to share away from panicking staff, our choice, our chips.

A long lunch, five hours. The service was slow, but that actually didn’t matter as there was tons to talk about. Ian’s plane that he’s building in France, the dogs cats horses goats, their granddaughter, news of Tim our other cousin out in Ukraine, all sorts.

All too soon it was time for us to leave the pub and restore the quiet. A shame we’d not brought Oleanna and Tilly as there would have been space to moor her. Hopefully we’ll get chance to catch up with Sam as we head downstream on the Thames in the next few days and it won’t be too long before we can all get together again.

Sally, Andrew, Ian, Mick, Jenny, Pip, Sam, Jac

An easier trip back to Jericho in the car and hopefully an easier drive back to London for the London Leckenbys.

River levels were checked again, it all looks pretty good for the next few days. With this in mind we looked at moorings in London. There are now more pre-bookable, payable moorings in London. For the dates we were looking at on the cheaper moorings we didn’t have much choice. Adjusting our dates a touch gave us a better window of opportunity. All booked, we just have to get there now.

0 locks, 0 miles, 3 presents, 8 biscuits, 22nd pair cast on, 1 bored cat, 8 cousins, 1 dog, 1 portion of contraband chips, 5 hours of noisy family catch up, 2 car rides, 1 plan came together, 1 lovely day.

Feline Approved. 26th May

Aristotle Bridge to St Barnabas, Jericho

Empty quiet mooring this morning

It may be Sunday, but there were things to do. We had a cuppa in bed and then rolled back the covers and pushed off before breakfast. Today our 2 days at Aristotle would be up so we decided to move on early. We were moored up opposite St Barnabas Church, the hoardings boasting about the redevelopment still, bacon butties just about consumed in time for the Geraghty zoom. Keeling over shrubs, planning permission, and no sign of that £26.4 million from last week, I think someone has spent it!


Before it got too late it was time to head out to do some shopping. Mick wheeled the Brompton his mission different to mine. Thank you Dave for warning us that the towpath along Sheepwash Channel is currently shut, and there being serious work going on at the train station. The rail bridge that crosses Botley Road is going to be expanded for more tracks. The road underneath is currently closed to traffic, buses turning at the station, but there is a footpath connecting both sides.

Rather serious works going on down there

At Osney Bridge, still single file traffic Mick and I parted ways. He was headed to Halfords for some engine oil and Currys to look to see if they had a rugid tablet, this had him heading straight on. I on the other hand crossed over the little bridge and walked down East Street towards Osney Lock.


The Thames here was on yellow stream decreasing boards, quite a bit of space to moor. One boat was familiar NB Mobius from St Pancras Cruising Club, it didn’t look like anyone was home and I needed to be somewhere before they closed. A cruiser pushed away from the moorings, winded and headed to the lock where two Lock Keepers worked them through, a pretty wooden boat waiting patiently for their turn below. The flow round to the weir was pretty strong, but we’ve seen it a LOT stronger here before, boats clinging on with their mooring lines straining to stay attached.

Yellow decreasing

I followed the footpath to Osney Mead, a Mum with her two kids walking at speed past me, ‘When we get to Meat Master you can cool down there Johnny’ if he stopped running and jumping all the time that might have also helped. My destination was the Fish Market, see what was on offer today. I had a little look around, some of the fillets being packed away already. 1 chose 2 giltheaded bream, these will either be barbequed of baked in the oven depending on weather in the next few days.


Then I headed to Meat Master to cool down myself. I didn’t need any of their humongous joints of meat or a ham, but had a good look round. Some gf sausages and smoked back bacon were purchased, far less than other people were piling up into their baskets.

Just a small amount of Prosciutto

Various things were needed to go with the fish so I called in at Waitrose, a slight detour, to get the necessary. A sign suggested a pedestrian and cycle route to Jericho was possible. I checked my map but couldn’t see where this route might cross the railway so played safe and continued back on the main route.

Back at Oleanna Mick had been successful with the oil, but not a new tablet. It’s looking like one will have to be ordered a delivery address to be thought about along with where to get our postal votes sent to.

Tasty smelling, very tasty!

Tilly checked out my purchases. Now that smells nice! Is that MY dingding? She approved and was disappointed that the brown paper package went straight into the freezer. Maybe She is saving it for a special occasion!?

The remainder of the afternoon was spent preparing things to bake, tidying up, answering messages on Whatsapp and Instagram, checking that Frank was still alive in Scarborough, sweeping through and washing the floors. Mick headed out to check on the parking situation locally, managing to avoid a serious downpour.

A roast chicken was enjoyed with all the usual accompaniments and pair 21 of my sockathon was cast off. I think it’s time to get out the red yarn next, I’m looking forward to seeing how this yarn knits up.

0 locks, 0.6 miles, 1 route through Oxford more blocked than it’s been blocked before, 2 bream, 10 litres oil, 16 sausages, 0.5kg bacon, 1 isthmus mooring, 1 roast chicken, 1 cleaner and tidier boat, 2 hour spaces found.

No Fanfare. 25th May

Aristotle Bridge

As we were enjoying our cuppa in bed a couple of boats went passed, the first one we didn’t recall having been moored on the quiet moorings yesterday. However the second one we did, a few boat lengths up which would mean Tilly would be allowed shore leave if we moved there. We got up and dressed, pushed off and pulled back into the gap two boat lengths on. The doors were opened and Tilly was given an hour of exploration. We knew she wouldn’t like it, but she had to make her own mind up otherwise we’d never hear the end of it!

The trees and sideways trees had serious potential, just a shame about the mini Shes and Toms playing on the squeaky swings!

A few more boats came past, were they heading away from the Thames having come up stream? Or had they been waiting for the river to go down and given up?

Across the way from us was a Willow tree, signs of branches having been pruned in times gone by suggests it gets in the way. We certainly felt like we were on a narrow bit of the canal as boats squeezed past us. Not ideal but as there were limited moorings we had little choice.

The bough in the water on the left used to be upright

The next boat to come along was maybe going a touch too fast passing moored boats, but that didn’t end up being the main concern. It was more that the boat hit the tree, we could see a couple of the bows rear up, the tree possibly being moved and certainly one bough broken off. Mick opened up the hatch to check if everyone was okay, the chap at the helm saying ‘I didn’t see that tree!’ Crew at the bow seemed to think they were alright as they continued onwards. Mick and I looked at the tree when we could see it all. One bough in the cut, to the side so not a hinderance to navigation, but several cracks could be seen on the remaining boughs. As soon as there was space elsewhere we’d be moving!

Cracks and rottenness waiting to give way more

We only had to wait a short while before another boat moved off the moorings. We pushed off and pulled in again two more boat lengths along. Mick got the what3words of the tree and called it into C&RT. It being on the offside we’re not sure what they could do about it, but we felt they should know there was an unstable tree. When Mick got through to the area he thought we were in, he checked with the chap on the phone. This chap was covering everywhere today not just London and Oxford. He’d pass our report onto the relevant team, no more we could do.

Click photo for details

A walk into Oxford took us along Kingston Road. A variety of houses to admire. Buying a house in this part of Oxford you’ll require around £1 million for a two bedroomed terraced house with a garden. One house has it’s front door on the side of the house, a very narrow set of steps lead up to it. Any kitchen white goods would require lifting over the railings to get in and occupiers would need to be of a certain shape and size to gain entry.

I hope that plant has blue flowers

A walk around Gloucester Green Market, lots of vintage stalls today plus many food outlets. We considered having an early lunch, but it was way too early, so we just looked and then carried on across town. A click and collect order from M&S then a look around John Lewis to see if they had a suitable tablet for use out on the stern of Oleanna. Mick is wanting a rugid one that will withstand being rained on, but the selection was quite poor, birthday money would stay unspent.

Another one

We headed to the lower floor of Westgate where several street food outlets offered Mexican, Chicken, Burgers and Noodles. We chose the noodles as it was easy to identify their gluten free options. Very nice, lacking a touch on my chosen protein, but still tasty and a nice sit down.


A top up shop at Sainsburys, then Mick requested we got the bus back to Oleanna. As he stepped onto the bus he produced his brand new shiny bus pass for the first time. No fanfare, no recognition from the driver that this was a landmark moment in someone’s life. We however smiled and the S1 will mark the start of Mick’s free bus travel. I still had to pay £2!

A fountain pen

A quiet afternoon back on board. Tilly came and went not liking this outside. The tree still stood. By the end of the day we were one of two boats left on the quiet moorings. A chap opposite looked like he was setting up for drinks at the end of his garden, but despite clearing leaves and rearranging his sun shade sails the garden remained empty all evening.

0 locks, 0 miles, 4.5 miles walked, S1 bus home, 2 out of 3 bows still vaguely upright, 1 very much in the water, 1 bumped and scraped boat, 3 moorings in one day, 2 outsides, 2 pots of noodles, 1 sister in law present, 1 cinnabar moth, pair 21 nearly finished.

The Last Pull Down. 24th May

Shipton Bridge to Aristotle Bridge

Byebye Fin

Chores to start the day, yellow water tank to empty whilst it was on the towpath side, then we moved onto the services. A boat was already filling with water, so we pulled along side one of the boat club boats to be able to use the second tap. This of course meant that the water pressure dropped so both hoses trickled into tanks, at least we were filling whilst the washing machine did it’s thing. Tilly’s pooh box got a refresh and the bathroom a bit of a clean, rubbish disposed of, all sorted.

Aubrey’s Lift Bridge

There was an offer from someone to work the bridge, but I’d already got the key of power in my hand, I wasn’t going to be deprived of a possibility of stopping cars. Up the bridge went, one car stopped from exiting Annies Tea Rooms. There are lots of signs about regarding paying for parking now, Annies has a few free spaces, but the rest are now pay as you park.

Plenty of room in Thrupp to moor this morning, had everyone moved on towards Oxford and would we be able to find a mooring there, the river Thames still rising and some reaches on red boards.

Pair 21 coming along nicely

We soon caught up with the boat we’d been following yesterday, chatting at the locks, somehow I was always left to close the bottom gate for them, hmmm!

Still temporary

The bottom gate was closed at Roundham Lock, the temporary beam that had appeared last summer is still doing it’s best to hold on, wonder if it will get an upgrade this coming winter? A dad sat for a rest from cycling, a little lad in a trailer and little girl had been perched on his cross bar. As I went to open the top gate she walked up, I asked if she’d like to help, a quite ‘Yes Please’ was her answer. She did the same at the bottom gate and as I thanked her she said something like ‘my pleasure’. The family climbed back onto their bike and peddled off.

Normally this is where we would stop for the day, a good outside for Tilly before entering Oxford. Not a jot of armco to be had, it was chocka block. We would have to wait for lunch.

Drinkwaters Lift Bridge 231, was one of the first to be converted to hydraulic windlass operation, saving the boater on the offside constantly coming out to assist in lifting the bridge. We caught the boat ahead up again at Dukes Lock, one of the bottom paddles playing up, a little bit of tinkering and it rose, a joint in the gear possibly wearing away.

Thames on red boards at Dukes Cut

I closed the bottom gate and Mick filled the lock for us. Once down we aimed for a possible mooring at the junction, red boards towards the Thames and a boat just about to come out of the lock there, the Sea Otter we’d been following earlier in the week returning from Oxford giving up on a cruise on the river. The mooring was not really suitable, a wade through long grass to struggle to pull the boat in not worth the effort.

Wolvercote Bridge, THAT bridge! The one everyone hated before it was dismantled and left under the A34 bridge. Today after several years there is a new oak bridge. No need for a chain to pull it down, no chain to be stollen, no need to jump up and shimmy along the beam to try to use your body weight to pull it down, no need to enlist passing cyclists to push or pull it, no sitting on the beam to keep it open then hope you’d be able to close it again. All that is required, a windlass and several turns of the hydraulic pump to lift it and then lower it. All the fun and games gone!

The Last sit down

Perrys Lift Bridge however is still manual, the last one I think. This bridge always seems to be weighted in favour of being open to the canal. You unlock it with the key of power and quickly run across to the offside to aid it to open. I then assumed the seated position on the beam making sure it didn’t move whilst Mick brought Oleanna through. Someone has added a piece of wood to the beam, which gives a handy hand hold to be able to lift the beam back up. An umph then a dash to stand on the bridge to keep it closed whilst you turn your key of power to lock it again. I’m slightly sad that this may well be the last time I sit on a lift bridge beam on the Oxford.

At Elizabeth Jennings Bridge a boat was moored on the water point, has been three days apparently! How wonderful city boating can be, glad we filled up in Thrupp. No point in stopping now, well there wasn’t anywhere to moor up anyway!

Wolvercote Lock

At Aristotle Bridge the boat ahead was just pulling in, they nudged up a space to give us room on the end. At last we could moor up, however the proximity to the bridge, not a busy one, meant no shore leave for Tilly. Constant traffic tends to be a deterrent, but the occasional car can set Tilly into panic and send her high tailing it back to the boat, possibly in front of those threatening tyres! Sorry Tilly.

Time to watch the last episodes of Narrow Escapes. A good mix of all types of boaters and everyone came across really well, just some continuity was out for those who know. The voice over saying ‘a day trip to see how NB Barbarella handles on tidal waters‘ the edit suggesting this was from Alrewas onto the tidal Trent, Cromwell lock some 25 hours cruise away! We’ve really enjoyed the series and I believe they are looking at making a second one.

A lufted bridge

4 locks, 6 miles, 3 gates to close, 5 moveable bridges, 1 left open, 1 to sit upon, 1 straight on, 3 boats at the junction, 0 shore leave, 3pm lunch, 1 boat hoping for levels to drop, 1 boat happy to sit it out, along with everyone else.

Hand Over Toes. 23rd May

Dashwoods Lock to Shipton Bridge 220

Levels on the Thames were shown to be rising this morning. The same with stretches of the Oxford Canal that cross the River Cherwell. Behind us Nell Bridge is closed, ahead Dukes Cut and Isis Lock are closed too. Just one section shown as amber levels rising, between Bakers Lock and Shipton Weir Lock. Would it still be open for us when we got there or would we be spending some time on the lock landing?

Dashwood Lock

A College Cruiser hire boat was on the move before us and headed down Dashwood Lock. As we rolled the covers up another boat appeared from behind, we let them go first as we weren’t quite ready, but ready enough to lend them a hand.

The River Cherwell meanders close to the canal for much of the way. We could see it was quite high and that the flow was quite fast, was all this water going to scupper our plans!

Northbrook Lock was busy, boats waiting to come up and soon there was another boat arriving behind us. A German crewed boat followed by old friends both on hire boats, all having a good time.

Pigeons Lock

Pigeons Lock was a different matter, no other boats in sight. It needed filling which meant I got to take a photo from the bridge below it looking back. Now on past Kings Ground with their Design Studio/Office perched up high on the bank looking like a green double decker bus. A goods train ran across the bridge then we squeezed past a C&RT work boat and wondered what will become of the old pub that has been boarded up for years.

No queue at Bakers Lock, everyone ahead of us had carried on. A look at the levels board, flashing amber lights still saying level rising, but slightly more positive than the email notice had been ‘proceed with caution’ we were happy with that. A hire boat crew were at the lock looking back to see where their boat was, still pushing it’s way upstream, the lock was in their favour so we stood and chatted.

Right please

Then it was our turn, down onto the last river section before Oxford. The current stronger than normal, but nothing like the Tidal Trent. Mick kept the revs low, just enough so that he could steer. Next thing would be arriving at the lock landing and being able to stop and not continue along with the flow of water. A discussion as to who should get off first, me to get the lock ready? Or Mick with the centre line to tie up. I hopped off first, the lock sadly not full. Thankfully the pull of the current wasn’t too great so Oleanna was pulled in and tied to a post whilst the lock filled.

Shipton Weir Lock

Another lozenge shaped lock, the level difference between river and canal was about two foot today and it took quite a while for the lock to empty and level out. Now we wanted a place to moor for lunch. We tried several times to pull in, but the bottom was too close to the top. Just before the lift bridge things looked to be a touch better, we tried and got into the side just off the new bridge landing.

This looked like a very good outside, plenty to keep me busy. But the meanies didn’t open the doors, as much as I tried to be really nice and insist She stroke my head, it didn’t work!

Shipton Lift Bridge 219 now hydraulic

Not far now. I walked up to the lift bridge to wind it open. This bridge through the last five or six years had been gradually falling to bits and always seemed to be left open to boat traffic, it however is a right of way so needed reinstating and now comes windlass operated from the towpath. It also comes with another hand written sign from C&RT reminding boaters to leave it wound down. I wonder how long before a more official sign is added to these new bridges.

Through the flood gate

Just through the flood gate at Shipton we could see where we needed to pull in, on the off side, a vacant mooring right in front of the boat we were to visit. At last I was going to hand over a pair of my sockathon socks to a Boat Woman, Fin. She gave us a hand to pull in and tie up and then popped the kettle on. We were invited onboard for a cuppa and some sweet treats and a chat, a late lunch break for Fin who was working from home today. I handed over her Autumn socks, the pair I’d knitted for her last year being worn with some sheepskin lined sandals today. So lovely to get to meet one of the Boat Women who have sponsored a pair of socks.

We then pushed over to the towpath side of the cut, leaving Tallulah, Fin’s cat, and the expensive Bengal cats from the manor to enjoy their side of the cut and give Tilly some shore leave in the friendly cover opposite.

Not bad!

An email from the Company Manager at the SJT in Scarborough took over the next hour. We’d recently had a new lodger move into the house, but unfortunately due to an accident she has had to step away from the show for a few weeks. Could the new actress possibly move into the now vacant room? This actress turned out to be someone we already know and stayed with us last year. All perfectly fine, but no way we’d be able to check over things in Scarborough at such short notice. Messages went back and forth, Annie who was already staying with us had already washed sheets, what a star. Everyone was wanting to make sure we knew what was going on and were happy with things in case no one else had told us. Finally things calmed down and we could eat and I could get on with knitting again.

Latest four pairs of socks now with their sponsors

5 locks, 5.7 miles, 1 last river section crossed, 2 flashing amber lights, 1 lift bridge, £3000 for a cat! 1 wonderfully fluffy black cat, 1.5 hours of shore leave, 2 much footfall for a stamp, 1 Henry! 1 house playing musical chairs with lodgers, 1 actress who has a lot to catch up on, 1 pair handed over, 2 much Rocky Road, 1 sugar high. 1 river to watch now.

A Drip On The Inside. 22nd May

Chisnell Lift Bridge to above Dashwoods Lock 37


Rain was forecast and rain is what we got. Only one Stream Increasing on the Thames this morning, but would it stay that way? We could have headed onwards like the hire boat in front of us, but that would certainly end with dripping waterproofs all about the boat, we opted to stay put and hope that a window of opportunity would arise in the afternoon.


The engine was run, Archie and Cary still working on equalising each other out, suspect they’ll do this for a while. We pottered away the morning, Tilly didn’t even bother requesting shore leave It really is a disappointing outside this one. One chap was actually having a very good singsong about the day, Micks app suggesting it was a Great Whitethroat.

Where’s that come from?

The rain changed it’s intensity but didn’t stop all morning. We pottered, watched more Narrow Escapes, knitted. By early lunchtime things seemed to be easing. We ate then popped our waterproofs on ready to see how far we could get. As I opened up the front door I noticed a little puddle of water on the inside. Had something been brought in this way this morning that had been wet? I looked upwards at the door frame. Between the oak and the darker wood of the doors I could see glistening wetness. We have a leak up there. Rolling up the covers I looked around the cratch board. My suspicion is that water is getting under the wooden support for the cratch and finding it’s way in to where the electrics come out from the steel shell and enter the wood. Drier conditions are required to investigate fully, hopefully a bead of silicone and some more varnish will do the job.

An easy lift bridge

This stretch of the Oxford has a really dodgy patch for phone, internet and TV signal. We could either stop before it or we’d need to carry on through to the other side. The rain would determine which we would do.

Close the bridge!

When we came through Chisnell Lift Bridge in June last year there was a group of C&RT chaps debating it, today we got to see why. This bridge was quite often left open to boat traffic, but also could be closed, pulling it open and closed by use of body weight and chains. It now is windlass operated from the towpath, under 20 turns lifts the bridge to pass below. It obviously still has people leave it open as several signs ask for it to be closed including one with a couple of replies .

A touch tufty round the edges

Next Sommerton Deep Lock. It of course was empty. Positioning my windlass to aid extra umph to lift the paddles worked and the chamber was soon filling. For Sale signs were still on the fence by the lock cottage, a glance at the estate agents website suggests it has sold. We were a touch concerned that there were upstairs windows open allowing the elements in.

Some tlc required

Around the lock it looked as though nobody gave a monkies about the length of grass, it’s the shaggiest we’ve ever seen it. Have to say if we owned the lock cottage we’d almost certainly cut the grass around the lock. We’ve seen the towpath being trimmed elsewhere, the GU has had a trim and north of Banbury the cow parsley and iris’s were being mown down as we came along. A shame in some respects, necessary in others.

Just as I got back on Oleanna a boat showed itself up ahead, too late for me to leave the big single gate for them, it was already shut.

Now we had to make our minds up, moor on the meadows or carry on for at least another two hours. The precipitation wasn’t too bad, just constantly light, we carried on.

Heyford Common Lock has for sometime had a temporary lock beam on it’s bottom gate, a frame made from pine that flexed as you pushed it. This last winter the lock was given two new gates, it’s nice to lean against a beam and know all your effort is going towards opening it rather than bending it.

He he!

At Allens Lock someone has been creative with a marker pen. Below a boat was heading towards the lock, the chamber being just about empty I walked up to open it for them. They pulled in behind a moored boat. I lifted a paddle to fill the chamber, they pulled out again, I closed the paddle. They moored up closer to the lock, I lifted the paddle again and filled the lock for us. The paddle gear on the bottom gate didn’t want to close with the gate open, so I waited to close it and it was still reluctant to close, but with some persuasion it went down.

Key of Power bridge

I thought I’d stopped a car at the lift bridge, but it had turned into a drive. Now past the moored boats, we couldn’t be bothered to stop for the bins or water, the tap here incredibly slow. Onwards now to find signal away from the railway if we could.

‘Oses and baby ‘oses

Dashwoods Lock. I walked down to see if I could see if the Muddy Slipper mooring was available. I climbed onto the bridge below the lock. I really needed my camera to zoom in, but that was inside due to the rain, the cow parsley too high to be certain. I waded my way back to Oleanna through the grass and flowers. Above the lock we’d be able to see better what we were doing to moor up, we pulled back as far as we could, got the nappy pins out and moored. Damp around the edges, especially at foot level. Another drip on the inside of the bow doors too!

Oh drip!!

Despite it being quite wet outside Tilly made the most of it. The picnic area a little too overgrown so I decided to retire inside. OUT!!!! We’ve become too complacent with the doors!

Hmm, that way or that?

A look at river levels again and C&RT notices. Nells Bridge was now closed behind us, Bakers Lock and Shipton Lock Amber rising, boats advised to moor up. The Thames also on it’s way up, Dukes Cut and Isis Locks closed. The pair of socks I’d packaged up for hand delivery tomorrow may be with us for a little while longer.

3 locks, 4.5 miles, 1 very wet morning, 1 drip on the inside, 1 damp afternoon, 1 lift bridge, 1 pair packed, size 9 ready to turn the heel, 1 stove lit, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval, 1 very overgrown South Oxford Canal.

Archie Innie And Cary Outie. 21st May

Bridge 178 to Chisnell Lift Bridge 193

Blimey last night I had real difficulty in staying awake after we’d eaten and as soon as I got into bed my eyes closed and I was out for the count, very unusual for me. I’d had my first glass of wine since being on antibiotics, Colin my dentist had suggested I would be alright to drink again on Mick’s birthday, maybe waiting another day would have been better. This morning I woke up a good 90 minutes later than I usually do.

Kings Sutton Lock

Kings Sutton Lock sat full waiting for us, the second of the deep single bottom gated locks. Someone has been very busy chopping logs, maybe they are the only source of heat at the lock cottage here. We pootled our way along the next pound, some familiar boats spotted, but no-one to say hello to. No aroma of bacon cooking today as we passed the Pig Place, just a chap adding nails to the landing.

New bolts to hold the bridge together

As we came under the M40 we could see vans and work boats by Sydenham Lift Bridge 183. A couple of weeks ago there was a stoppage here as apparently a boat had run into the bridge, we don’t know how as the bridge is normally left open. As we passed through a carpenter was busy making handrails for the bridge and we could see that most of the bolts holding the platform together had been moved.

Lots of piling

At the C&RT work yard there was lots of new shiny armco piling, I wonder where this will be used. We’ve noticed sections where piling has been used quite low in the water and then the big sausage rolls used to keep the edge green, not too useful for mooring but certainly helping to keep the towpath in tact and wider than it has been.

We’ve limboed under here before

Nell Bridge Lock was also full, I checked the level below. The red green yellow board long gone, but plenty of head room today to get through the low bridge under the road. As I opened the bottom gate Mick told me of an oncoming boat, great I could leave the gate for them, I just had to cross over the busy road.

Random find on a wall

Yesterday had been sunny, today it was decidedly cold, we’d also made sure our waterproofs were close to hand. Someone must have thought so too as a hot water bottle lay on the wall over the top of Aynho Weir, random object found alongside the canal.

Aynho Weir Lock from the weir another possible painting

The lock was just about ready for us, just a little top up before I could open the gate. I know from experience along here to be patient, very patient when filling and emptying the locks especially the lozenge ones, they may look level but the gate will only give when it will give.

The lozenge shape ensures enough water heads down onto the canal to feed the next lock

We pulled in to Aynho Wharf, time to introduce ourselves. There under a few other boxes was one large Bully Boy box filled with our replacement battery. When we’d been thinking of somewhere we could get it sent to, various friends and acquaintances had been thought of, but here came to mind as Oleanna would be close to road access, the heavy box not needing to be moved very far. Sarah was very kind and was quite happy for us to have our new battery sent to them so that we could easily collect it.

Thank you!

A sack barrow was found and the big box brought out to Oleanna, the two of us lifted it onto the stern, it could stay there for a little while. 61 litres of fuel £1.24 a litre the most we’ve paid this year, but we wanted a top up and Aynho had been good to us. Sarah asked if we’d given the batteries names, maybe they would like to be named and that was what had gone wrong with the faulty one.

Name on the box

As we pulled away I looked down at the box, there was this batteries name, Archibald. Archibald would be going inside in The Shed, so Archie Innie. But what about the other one? What would be a suitable name to go along with Archibald? The first thing that came up on Google was about Archibald Alec Leach who was more commonly known as Cary Grant, I always have had a thing for Cary Grant. That was it, the second battery named, Cary Outie.


A little late for lunch we decided to pull in where we’d met with Paul and Christine on NB Waterway Routes last year just before Chisnell Lift Bridge. Tilly would have all the fields of long grass to play in, or so we thought! Well that’s just a rubbish outside, NO trees! She stayed up on the roof for quite a lot of the 4 hours she’d been given, meowing at us whilst leaning over the side above the hatch over the canal which always makes me really nervous.

Coo, I’ve not made one of these for ages!

I set about preparing tonight’s meal, a smoked salmon and camembert quinoa crust quiche, the oven being on went some way to warming us up. Mick got on with installing Archie Innie. The faulty battery had been sent back with the terminal bolts, the new one had come without any! He rootled through his tool box and boxes of bits and bobs and thankfully found two suitable for the job. The Shed was emptied, stern steps removed and Archie installed into his cubby hole. Cables attached, hello Archie!


Mick talked to him from his phone. Cary started to share his power, starting to get themselves levelled out. The engine was started up to assist, this will need a few more hours for them to get themselves sorted, hopefully tomorrows cruise will help.

The stove was lit, time to warm up. It then started to rain. Hopefully the weather won’t be too bad, we really don’t want the Thames to go back onto red boards, it’s only just come off! Time to start watching the EA levels and C&RT for Shipton on Cherwell, hopefully I’ll get to hand deliver a pair of socks this week if the river stays down.

This weeks yarn selection

This evening we watched the first of this weeks episodes of Narrow Escapes. Good to see Tim and Tracy again, we passed NB Sola Gratia last year on our way to the Thames, but we’ve not actually seen them since the day both boats climbed up to Titford Pump House back in early 2020, this I believe was the day they were picking up Ozzie, hearing assistance dog in training.

3 locks, 4.5 miles, 0 Frankie, 0 bacon, 61 litres, 1 new bully boy, 2 names, 1 disappointed cat, 1 really rubbish outside, 1 lodger heading home, 1 wet evening, 1 big quiche.

Pensioner Boy. 20th May

Slatt Mill Lock to Lift Bridge 178 (no longer exists)

Present time with our cuppa in bed. An electric shaver and some new pants, lots of them Well we can’t have Tom dingly dangling outside like that chap the other day can we! We certainly can’t Tilly, well done. Next up birthday breakfast. With a banana mountain ripening all the time I made us a batch of banana and blueberry pancakes, they were very nice, but maybe we should have had a third person to help us eat them!

Birthday pancakes

Time to move onwards and downwards. We just needed to find a gap in the down hill boats. With the familiar Sea Otter from yesterday having passed us we quickly untied and pushed off before the next boat could come down the lock. There was chance at the next lock to check if they were relieved to have had a pump out at Cropredy before they headed off ahead of us.

Uphill boats arrived and there was time to chat. At Bourton Lock there was a chap who remembered the old lady who used to live in the cottage, back then the gardens on both sides of the lock were wonderfully kept, now it’s just trees and sideways trees.

At Hardwick Lock a single hander helped open gates and wind paddles, he had offered to help someone the other day and been pushed over by them, a scab on his arm to show for his friendliness! I thanked him and then got out of his way.

If I ever had my hair cut again in Banbury, I’d give Izzy a try.

Two ladies waved from Dink and Malc’s house, we waved back, we always do. Then round past the permanent moorings, an opportunity for a hair cut on the cut. Past Sovereign Wharf and Spice Ball Park pulling up in front of the restaurants at Castle Quays, the closest mooring to Lidl available for us.

A reasonably big shop, 4 bags were brought back and stowed away. We’d checked the middle of Lidl today as we always do, finding several items that may be useful. A 12volt oil pump, a trolley with reasonably big wheels to deal with the towpath, Tcut to try to brighten up the cabin sides that have oxidised, a chunky kneeling mat and a rest for barbequing kebabs. Mick spent some of his Birthday money on these useful items, however he was reluctant to purchase a hoola hoop!

Bridge up

Lunch then I walked ahead to wind the lift bridge up before the lock. As ever people stood and sat to watch us operate the lock, the last with double bottom gates. Last year there had been a stoppage here whilst they did a temporary repair on the top gate. Today that repair is still there, the walkway over the gate still not replaced, the locals used to use this all the time but now they have to walk round as I did.

No walkway still

A family of four were soon enlisted to help push and pull gates much to their delight. Then it was time to top up at the water point and dispose of fishy smelling rubbish. Whilst Mick stayed to do the chores I headed off with a bag to Morrisons. Lidl is fine for most things, but not so good if you are gluten free. The only gf items on offer today all contained coconut, which unless it’s fresh or just milk I avoid!

Walking through Banbury I looked for a 488, the bus to Chippy and kept my eyes peeled should I know anyone. It would have been lovely to say hello to Tim, Alyce or Suzette who I know live in Banbury, but not one familiar face. If there had been something on at Chippy we fancied seeing we’d have jumped on the next bus so that Mick could use his bus pass for the first time. They are currently working up to two big community productions, Lark Rise and Barn Dance which take place next month. The other day Clare asked me if I was missing working on panto, the answer has to be yes. But I’m also really enjoying waking up every morning without a mental list going through my head of design jobs I need to achieve once we’re moored up at the end of each day.

A very arty cabin side

By the time I’d finished at the Morrisons check out, so had Mick at the water point. I walked back towards him from Tramway as he cruised towards me, perfect. Onwards now for one more lock, Grants Lock. Nothing has happened to the lock cottage since August last year, access to the property is owned by a college in Oxford who have refused to sell it, so access is very restrictive to be able to carry out any works on it.

We passed the hire boat who’d had their nice picnic at the services in Napton, they’d turned round today. Should we stop here? There? Round the next bend? Would the towpath get any wider so we could have a birthday barbeque this evening? A cut out area in the long grass showed itself, we pulled in, someone’s effort would assist in our quest for a wide towpath for the evening.

It was later than we’d hoped for, Tilly was given an extension, then brought a friend home! Betg a megfw meittn ton doew! She said with a mouth full as she and her friend were bundled out of the front door.

Possibly good for a slow roast

Mick set up the barbeque and got everything sorted on the towpath, I put together the kebabs and threaded asparagus onto skewers, the new one’s a touch too thick for this job, mental note taken for next time. The plan was to have asparagus for starters followed by burgers, kebabs and sweetcorn. Well the Lidl briquettes took forever to get going, then some more! I popped the asparagus on to cook, expecting to be turning it frequently. Not enough heat to do this! The spears gradually cooked, no charring a good thing. Sweetcorn was added, this normally needs turning frequently too as it colours up and cooks. No such luck.

Sadly all cooked in the oven!

In the end we decided that we needed a lot more coals as the rack was too far away from the heat for things to cook efficiently. But as the coals had taken over an hour to get hot in the first place and we were now starting to run out of day light we decided to turn the oven and grill on inside. Asparagus was eaten outdoors with our first glasses of wine in a week, but it was now getting chilly.

Birthday Boy and his cake

Food cooked and eaten indoors, it was now time to reveal the secret baking and blow out the candles. Happy Birthday Mick!

How on earth am I going out with a pensioner!

4 locks, 6.5 miles, 2 supermarkets, 2 hours shore leave, 1 friend, 14 spears, 4 kebabs, 2 burgers, 1 big chocolate and banana cake, 0 buses taken, 1 full water tank, 66 years old! 1 valid bus pass, 1 Mrs Tilly’s stamp of approval.

Disposing Of The Evidence. 19th May

Claydon Top Lock to below Slatt Mill Lock

Two Sea Otters

Everyone was moving before us, well it was Sunday. There was breakfast to eat and the Geraghty zoom to join. More attendees this week, subjects included; final is a bit terminal, volvo coaches, Piaff and how to spend £26.4 million, we requested some to go towards new casters for the pull out cupboard onboard Oleanna.

Gorgeous poppies

At the locks we pulled in behind a down hill boat, helped them down, then another up before it was our turn. This gave me time to admire the huge red poppys in the garden alongside the lock, the roses over the arch a little past their best.

Two volunteers were at the hut by the third lock, one siting down for his lunch the other helping us but looking forward to his prawn salad. Todays tally board made it look like it had been a busy morning, there were still more boats to come.


Time for a little chat with the boat ahead at most locks, then the crew of uphill boats too. One lady had owned their boat for a month, they’d done holidays before but now they had their own, I felt very excited for them. Another boat was crewed by a local volunteer and his wife, they were having alternator problems so were heading to wind and then return to the marina to sort it.

A lovely sunny day, no need for us to stop as we’d fuelled ourselves with breakfast. Time to spot NB Herbie at Cropredy Marina, shame not to have coincided with them, one day we’ll manage it, maybe.

Last time we came through Cropredy Lock there seemed to have been a flood as lots of rugs and mats were hung over the picket fence drying. Today it looked immaculate, everything neat and tidy. Someone has left a deep message on a lock gate for those who stand and wait for levels to equalise.

There was a boat woman to say hello to moored below Cropredy Lock, but they were having a leisurely lunch at the pub, we waved anyway and left Anne a message on Facebook.

A field of golden buttercups with Curlews calling

We’d already passed where we needed to be today, but decided we’d continue that bit further and down Slatt Mill Lock, spikes required but a slightly wider towpath to be able to sit out, less footfall for Tilly and safer surroundings. The pound above is often quite shallow, but today the bywash seemed to be blocked, so the depth was the best we’ve known it. We dropped down and pulled in at the end of the lock landing. Spikes were hammered in and we settled down for the remainder of the day.

Keeping an eye on the towpath whilst I got on with important things inside

Time to do a touch of secret baking. I’d had my eyes on a recipe for a chocolate cake, but over the last couple of days I’ve been wondering if this was the cake I’d made myself last Christmas? This took a lot of eating for the two of us. Hmmm. With a EU banana mountain in our fruit bowl I changed tack, it’s been a long time since I made a chocolate banana loaf alla Christine Gemson. The bananas were perfect for it and needed using up.

Quick before anyone sees!

The advantage of secret baking is that you have to dispose of all the evidence, Mick kindly sat out on the towpath whilst the oven was on. Alongside the birthday baking a chicken tray bake did it’s thing for our evening meal.

Another message from another Boat Woman had come through, Kate Saffin was heading up from Banbury. I mentioned there was space in front of us if she wanted to stop, but as she’s headed to perform at Crick Boat Show next weekend she’s on a bit of a mission. As soon as I got a message that she was on her way from the next lock we kept an eye out for her arrival. The two of us headed to the lock to assist with her ascent and to be able to have a chat about all things Thames, Cavalcade, Alarum Theatre and Tooleys in Banbury. Single handing she’s quite a way to go along with having to be at meetings here there and everywhere. If you are going to Crick and fancy watching a performance Kate will be there telling tales of women boaters from the past, well worth watching. Hopefully we’ll get chance to catch one of her shows sometime this summer as we’ve not been for sometime.

Bye Kate have a good time at the show

Kate had timed her arrival and departure very well, when we got back on board there was 1 minute left on the timer for the secret contents in the oven. It was brought out and left to cool surrounded by an invisibility cloak.

10 locks, 4.1 miles, 2 boat women, 1 hour baking, 1 Mrs Tilly stamp of approval.