Category Archives: River Cherwell

Overtaking Just In Time. 5th July

Dashwood Lock to Thrupp Visitor Moorings

Still chilly, but not wet this morning. We needed to be moored up with good internet signal before 2pm today. As we descended Dashwood Lock I could see a Black Prince boat just setting off from below the lock. We caught them up at Northbrook Lock, it was obvious that they were very new to boating. The lady followed the chap around and she preferred to step into the welldeck and out again than cross the bottom gates. I helped (after asking!) and chatted to the lady. A boat approached from below so the gates could be left open, which was a touch confusing for the novice crew.

Just love their red moggy

Jane’s Enchanted Garden looks to have had a bit of a spruce up, the tea rooms now run by someone else elsewhere. By Pigeons Lock the sun was out, the world starting to warm up, we dropped down and swapped with an uphill boat.

Brickwork always makes for a good photo

By the time we were nearing Enslow the sky had split itself, one side blue the other very very dark. Coats and waterproof trousers were needed again, but thankfully not for long.

Bakers Lock had a downhill boat in it, but not the Black Prince boat. A single hander who offered to come back once she’d pulled in below to help with the lock. We were fine, she could enjoy a cuppa instead.

The flow on the river section wasn’t really noticeable today, the bends still required some navigating though. We pulled at Shepton Weir Lock in just as the hire boat was about to leave the lock. The lady had been asking how far to the pubs earlier. I’d told her about the choice in Thrupp, but I wasn’t too sure about winding holes. I’d consulted my map by now. They could turn just before the lift bridge in Thrupp, after that it would be another two hours cruise to Dukes Cut for safe winding. Armed with the information they headed on their way. Would they carry on, maybe grabbing the last mooring in Thrupp or wind and moor a little out of the village?

Scooby Doo!

We followed them in, trying to work out which space we’d had on the Cruising Club moorings a couple of years ago. Was our luck in, they seemed to have moored up at the services for water along with another hire boat. A lady from the cruising club walked up to the bridge to open it for everyone, all three boats, we were waved through first!

Open sesame

The line of boats on the moorings at first looked like they were nose to tail, would there be space for us never mind the two following boats? The 7 day moorings were full, but the 2 days empty! Brilliant, just where we wanted to be. We pulled in and tucked ourselves right up to the next boat, soon followed by the two hire boats, both taking up way too much space. They soon moved up when others arrived. Phew we’d made it and in time for some lunch before my meeting.

Sorry to leapfrog you both

Time to go through the model and drawings with Gemma the production manager. Each item of set was talked about, construction wise and finish wise. Gemma should now have enough information to get quotes from builders and for the printing of cloths.

I then set about drawing out leaves to paint in a new version of the rainforest. I’m hoping doing it as a painted collage that then gets printed will give it a different feel from other years. Blimey there’s a LOT of leaves to trace out and paint before cutting them out and sticking them in position. All this whilst Tilly complained at the back doors, shore leave not allowed in Thrupp after a near collision with car tyres a few years!

Look into my eyes! You must buy salmon!

5 locks, 6.7 miles, 2 lift bridges, 1 lufted holding some up, 2 hire boats overtaken, 1:15pm moored, 2 model zooms, 3 quotes required, 2 sheets of leaves, so far, 2 days TDF caught up with, 1 telepathic Tilly, 4 salmon steaks, 5000 hours!

A Kind Of Update, Update. 29th June

Cropredy Marina to below Slat Mill Lock

Our three days in the marina were up today. Being plugged in is all very nice, but there’s only so much washing you can do, well the curtains could have come down but the idea hadn’t crossed Mick’s mind. Tests on our electrics suggested the remaining two batteries would be fine now they’d had a full charge and also because of this Mick can now monitor them again. We’d only know for sure if we went back off grid.

Push back

Marina’s are not our natural habitat so we did chores making sure that the water was full, yellow water was disposed of and then went to say our goodbyes to Theresa in the office. Who knows we may be back.

This morning an updated notice came through from C&RT in regards to Banbury Lock.

Planned repairs to the damaged lock gate are progressing on site. Updates of this notice will be provided.

Well that wasn’t really an update, that’s an ‘Oh we didn’t give them an update when we said we would update them’ kind of update. Nothing to even guess at there, no stop planks went in yesterday and work continues on the damaged gate. When we fully know what we’re dealing with we will update the notice. We tend not to knock C&RT, they have an ever increasingly hard job to do, but their communication skills at times are next to none existent.

We reversed out of our pontoon and turned right out of the marina towards Banbury. A mooring was in mind for the day, but would someone have already snaffled it?

Cropredy Lock Cottage

A single hander was just finishing at Cropredy Lock, so the local gongoozlers got to see two boats in quick succession going downhill. The lock cottage looked like they’d had a leak or flood, mats and rugs hung on the fence drying. No toy dog on the fence by the bottom gates, one day I will replace the one I saw there years ago, it made me smile.

This fence so needs a little woofer in amongst the roses

All the canoes were at home, no bobbing about on their wake would have to be endured, well for a while. NB Serendipity was passed at the services, they’d been into Banbury for shopping, winded and now were heading elsewhere for the rest of their weeks on board.

Eclectic café The Saucy Hound

We’ve not noticed The Saucy Hound before, a cafe/junk shop just downstream of the services. It looks like hey do all day breakfasts and hot dogs. Who knows if we get stuck along this stretch we may have a visit.

I counted the number of boats on visitor moorings facing Banbury, 17. They won’t all be headed south of Banbury, but I suspect a good proportion are. We passed one boat with a sign in it’s cratch ‘Make compost not war’. Their array of black buckets on their roof suggested they have a system for their waterless toilet.

At Slat Mill Lock I noticed some old brickwork just behind the bollards on the offside. The boundary wall between the lock and field has a stretch of modernish brick. The earth also looks lower than that surrounding it at either end of the lock. Are these all signs that there used to be a lock cottage here?

What a nice lock!

Quite a few locks along this stretch of the Oxford have a lock cottage standing alongside. Cropredy, Bourton, Grants and Somerton all have a cottage. I spent some of this evening looking at old maps back to 1880’s and there was no mention of a cottage, just the lock, which was quite often referred to as Slatemill Lock, Slate Mill being a short distance away on the banks of the River Cherwell. I also couldn’t find any information elsewhere on the internet. If anyone knows more I’d be interested.

C&RT hogging the best place

The award winning mooring, at the end of a length of piling was occupied by a C&RT tug and skip boat. How inconsiderate of them, don’t they know that they’d moored their boat on the best bit with wide towpath and clear to the sky for solar. We need solar more than we did now we’re down to 100AH of battery. We pulled back towards the lock, ants nest after ants nest meaning we got closer and closer to the lock.

The afternoon was spent sketching out a new clock for Cinderella, emailing it to John and then making a white card version of it for the model. I put together a white card model story board so that everyone can see what happens and when with regards to the set. Have to admit to running out of steam before taking photos of all the model pieces to assist the builders, but that can happen tomorrow.

Happy cat again

Just before 7pm a new update came through.

Planned repairs to the damaged lock gate have progressed very positively today. We will be able to give an update on likely timescales for reopening navigation in tomorrows update

Well, that’s slightly better. ‘Timescales’ may just have been written without thought, to me it suggests there may be several openings. Maybe assisted passages, a temporary repair with a later closure, closed for a month, a week, a day? Who knows. Another update not really updating us, just trying to be positive. I’d show you an update from the Wigan flight or Huddersfield Narrow where you are given almost too much information, but that would be a whole blog post in itself.


However, facebook has interesting photos.

2 locks, 1.9 miles, 1 reverse, 1 right, 1 full water tank, 1 more wash load, 1 empty wee tank, 1 skip in the wrong place, 6 buckets to our 1, 1 cat’s tail held high again, oh that boat Tilly explored the well deck of in the marina, turned out to be NB Perseus another Finesse boat, Tilly has good taste, 1 bad internet connection, 1 boat on the move again tomorrow.

10 Out Of 10 For Effort. 22nd August

Somerton Meadows to above Kings Sutton Lock 31

Meadows, no cows

A few boats came past us this morning, in both directions, but we knew the first lock of the day would be against us. Not a problem really as a boat was waiting above Somerton Deep Lock. The boat in front of us had knocked on the roof of the waiting boat, but had been ignored by the chap inside, but as the levels equalised a head appeared from below. I think he’d been waiting for someone to come along and work the lock for him, cutting out the need to climb the ladder, he was very happy for Mick and myself to close gates and lift paddles for him.

Next it was our turn. Somerton Deep Lock is just that, deep! 12ft 1″ deep and narrow which makes it seem even deeper. Waiting for Oleanna to stop moving about in the lock below means the bottom gate closes easier. After a thumbs up from Mick at the helm I then lift the paddles. The lady from the boat ahead of us had said the paddles were really really hard to work. With a long reach windlass and adjusting where you start to turn the mechanism you can increase your advantage. Starting your turn at the bottom (pulling the windlass toward you) isn’t as good as starting at the top where your weight gives the windlass more umph! as you push down. This does mean checking to see where the paddle gear bites and then adjusting your windlass accordingly before giving yourself a hernia. One slightly stiff turn and both paddles came up.

The cottage

The lock cottage here has no road access, it looks as if the current owner is doing some building work as a cement mixer sat near the front door. Two years ago there had been a small porch in front of the door, today only the flashing was left.


Also two years ago the landscape that surrounded the cottage was more lake like than meadows. Plenty of rain at the beginning of November had brought the rivers up, the Cherwell spilling over the fields and in places into the canal. There are areas where sandbags have been added to the banks of the canal, reinforcing them from water erosion.

That’ll need lifting

Chisnell Lift Bridge 193 was down, we think it’s been down more than up for us. It is quite finely balanced and would most probably just require a push up then pull back down with the chain from the towpath, but I don’t trust these bridges so would rather sit on the beam to keep them open.

One for the telephone engineers

Lots was happening to telephone poles, we spotted at least three Openreach vans in fields. One lucky chap was stood at the top of a cherry picker, in a another field a ladder leant against another pole. It’s a long long time since Mick had to climb one of these.

Aynho Wharf

Aynho Wharf provided us with a top up of diesel at 82p a litre, it was worth filling up.

Aynho Weir Lock took forever to empty and then refill. I checked the river level board before we exited, well in the green today, we’d be fine passing under Nell’s Bridge. A couple of knowledgeable gongoozlers stood and admired our ‘back garden’ in the well deck of Oleanna at the bow! They continued with their dodgy knowledge leaving me smiling.

Nell’s Bridge Lock was waiting for us with open gates, a boat waiting to come down and plenty of people around to help. No limboing under the bridge today and up we rose.

Sofas, fires, bacon and beer

A brief stop for lunch, before passing The Pig Place. Maybe this would have been a better campsite for the London Leckenbys last weekend as they have a bar on site and bacon frying in the morning is just standard.

M40 and a bridge for cows

The canal meanders round the contour and crawls under the M40 where old and new bridges sit side by side.

Bovine Gongoozlers

Cole’s Lift Bridge was down. Where could I be dropped off? The bridge landings overgrown and vegetation along the edge making it hard to actually see the edge. We tried backing up but I wasn’t too sure my footing would be good, my knees don’t like a leap of faith. So we nudged the bow up to the off side and I managed to get off there.

watching every move

The chain was too high to pull on, so it was time to hang off the beam, hoping my weight would bring it down sufficiently for me to get above it. All the time I could see beady eyes following my every move from behind a gate onto the towpath, the reason the bridge exists. My second attempt worked, thank goodness I have quite a bit of inbuilt ballast!

Mooed scores

I couldn’t find anywhere to fix the bridge open so once Oleanna was through it just wanted to close itself. As it dropped back reconnecting the towpath with the offside the cows gave me their marks. 10 out of 10 for effort, 7 for style!

Kings Sutton Lock, after all the building work is settling in nicely. The grass is neat, flower beds established and if the sun had been a touch lower the honey coloured Cotswold stone of the cottage would have glowed at us. A very nice lock.

Kings Sutton Lock

We pulled up for the day, our aim had been Banbury, but the Post Office and shops could wait for tomorrow. After we pulled in several others joined us, here the canal sits half way between the M40 and the railway. Also, thankfully, you only occasionally get the wiff from Kenco in Banbury. I’m not too keen on the slightly burnt treacly smell it produces.

4 locks, 6.21 miles, 2 lift bridges, 1 garden at the wrong end, 1 river in the green, 70.52 litres, 3 bovine judges, 10, 7, 456 sandbags, 1 length of new piling, 4 savoury pancakes, 3 sweet.

Calm Returns. 15th August

Thrupp Canal Cruising Club

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

Floating on by

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

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

I miss working with people like Graham.


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

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

The Commodore from St Pancras

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

Cats don’t need special gates

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

Keep Out!

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

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

The ruins

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

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


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

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

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

Starting to ripen

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

St Mary’s Hampton Poyle

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

The other St Mary’s spire

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

Serving it’s purpose

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


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


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

The lane leading to Annies

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

Today’s route

Stupid Stupid Stupid. 4th October

Pigeon Bridge to Thrupp

1st coat going on

After breakfast my dungarees went on and out came the woodskin. A coat carefully applied to all parts of the cratch without getting too much on myself and I managed to have a way to get off the bow too.

C&RT wood cuttersTidying up the off sideIn the distance I could hear what sounded like a wood chipper, I wondered if it was on the golf course. But after a while a C&RT boat came round the bend in front of us. One chap pruned branches from the trees , another fed these into the chipper which sprayed the chips into the hedgerow. They then moved on to the next tree that needed parts removing. As they got closer they refrained from chopping anything down and photos were taken presumably to show their boss as to where they couldn’t trim back due to boats being in the way. As they waited their turn for the lock they did a bit of pruning on the off side. Sadly they were only interested in some trees others were left to overhang the narrow towpath.

GibraltarDishesWith the cratch board drying there was nothing to stop us from pushing off and carrying on our way. Some extra care was needed when tying ropes so as not to touch the drying stickyness, but I managed. After a mile we rounded a bend that skirts around Gibraltar. If you click on this link you will find that this Gibraltar is very similar to most of England, most people speak English and use pounds sterling!

Just like on the Severn

At Bakers Lock we dropped down onto the River Cherwell again. Here a new river level board with lights has been added at the side of the lock, similar to those on the River Severn. The old coloured board below the lock has been removed presumably no longer required. But what happens when light bulbs blow or the power fails and the river is in the red?

Atmospheric dust in the air

On the river you could tell Oleanna liked the extra bit of depth, I however didn’t like the amount of dust in the air. All the trees and bushes were covered in a dusting of whiteness that was drifting across the river. Was it all going to stick to the sticky cratch board? Nothing I could do about it if it did.

Shipton Weir LockWideAfter a pootle on the river section Shipton Weir Lock takes you back onto the canal. Another lozenge shaped lock bigger than at Aynho. An accumulation of autumn branches and leaves stopped the bottom gate from closing properly. From the other end you’d most probably not notice, it would just take a long time to fill. Mick came back with the boat hook to give it a good clear out and then we were on our way again.

NoddyPolar Bear figureheadThe service mooring was empty as we pulled into Thrupp. The washing machine had been put on shortly before we arrived, but it had soon stopped due to lack of water! Good job the water pressure was reasonable so it didn’t take too long for us to fill the tank, dispose of rubbish and watch a hire boat negotiate the lift bridge. They certainly did a good job of preparing the gunnels for the next coat of paint! Not sure the canal bank enjoyed it too much though.


Mick did a much better job when it was our turn to swing the ninety degrees and go through the narrow bridge hole. Plenty of moorings available today, two years ago there wasn’t a gap anywhere.

All ready for the morning

As soon as we were settled Tilly was allowed out. Off she went straight over a garden wall to check out the apple trees. I got my dungarees out again and started to rub down the starboard side gunnel. The weather report suggests that tomorrow will still be fine, so we’ll stay put for me to get the black paint out. We also just so happened to have pulled in alongside a handy Passing Place on the road, just perfect for a supermarket delivery. Whilst I got back ache, sore knees and seriously bored of sanding Mick got on with the job of securing a delivery slot for tomorrow and ordering supplies to replenish the wine cellar.

Yarn bombing

The trees here aren’t too tall, but very interesting. Big round balls hang off them, some red, but most green. Not too good for batting around the place, I did try with the ones on the floor, but they weren’t rolly enough.

I headed back to the boat to check in, they like to see me once in a while and I like the Dreamies they give me. Then I had a good look at the balls on the wall. These looked quite interesting and I was just wondering what would happen if I knocked them all off when a lovely afternoon got spoilt! A big noisy car came along the road. I didn’t like it, I didn’t understand it, I didn’t trust it, it scared me. Only one place to go … back to the boat. I jumped and ran as fast as I could. All I got when I got there wasYou STUPID STUPID STUPID cat!” I wasn’t allowed back out, grounded she said for being STUPID. But I’m not, I’m quite good at maths!

2 locks, 3.45 miles, 1st coat woodskin, 1 sticky cratch, 3 men and a boat, 1 river pootle, 1 dusty cratch, 1 empty water tank, 1 full water tank, 1 empty yellow water tank, 1 perfect mooring for gunnels, 1.5 hours sanding, 1 coat fertan, 1 yarn bombed wheelbarrow, 37 apples, 1 stupid stupid stupid cat, 0 flat cat thank goodness, 1 grounded Tilly.

That Autumn Feeling. 2nd, 3rd October

Dashwood Lock to Pigeon Bridge 213

Oleanna was due her next service and I wanted to do a bit of work for panto, so we decided to stay put for the day.

Normally when Mick is in the engine bay Tilly is confined to quarters, the thought of oil on her white paws not appealing, also she might just get in the way rather than help. But today we decided to risk it so with the front doors open for her to come and go Mick set to with the oil and filters. He also had a go at adjusting the thermostats on the hot water as he’s felt the water was a touch too hot. This though is a bit of trial and error until he gets it right. Tilly came and went at the bow instead of the stern, luckily showing no interest in the engine bay.

Leaf kicking time of year

Meanwhile inside I at last had the peace and quiet with no distractions to write a reference for an old work colleague who is applying for a post as a Senior Lecturer in an American University. Then I settled down to do some panto work, sourcing bunting and fabrics and trying to make contact with the props maker.

The first boat to go past us in the morning was the chap who had been so pleased at his ‘win win situation’ at the lock the day before. Strange how he’d been made to wait due to someone travelling through a lock with their fenders down, yet as he passed us his were down. They may of course have fallen off his gunnels as he left the lock, but I doubt it! His newly won fender will soon be someone else’s, around their prop!

During the day the wind had got up, we were quite glad we’d decided not to move. But it did mean that boats were passing us a little bit faster than tick over for them to stay in control. One boat didn’t bother slowing at all and one of our nappy pins managed to pull along, not having been put behind a bolt, so we clattered along and needed retying.


Mick went out to sort us out before the next boat went past. I’d omitted to tell him that by the bow the towpath looked a touch unsolid (my excuse for not having put the nappy pin in properly!). Unfortunately he found out for himself, stepping near to the armco and plunging deep into a very wet muddy hole. No harm done to him thank goodness, but a very muddy mess made of his sheepskin slippers.

The parcels of socks all arrived with their new owners who all seemed happy. I got notification that my digs in Chipping Norton had been booked, tea and coffee making facilities in my room, free wifi and a bathroom of my own. Here’s hoping it has a bath!

Ivy cut off in its prime

Today we decided to move that bit closer to Oxford. Mick had identified another possible mooring for our boat builders to come out to so we pushed off shortly after 10am. Much of our journey today has been surrounded by high trees which were once covered with ivy. The trunks of the ivy have been cut away on many trees leaving a gap so that the ivy dies, giving the poor tree chance to live.

I've caught a fishIt doesn't want to play muchThe River Cherwell clings to the side of the canal creating a narrow slice of land between the two. When we came through here last time we stopped along this stretch, Tilly had hours of fun after being cooped up for a week on the Thames. She even returned to show off a fish she’d somehow caught!

Quarry mooring with little to tie up to

A short distance on there was an offside mooring in the old quarry. Here would give us the closest mooring to the village of Kirtlington for a bread and milk shop. We pulled in, beer cans and half burnt scaff planks strewn around the place. We spotted one ring in the concrete and evidence that there used to be more, which have been angle ground off. A pole and the ring might have been okay for a longer boat, but we didn’t fancy it so carried on to check out the moorings at Pigeon Lock.


The big house by the lock was having work done to it, a bath having just been delivered and a new Cotswold stone roof showing itself off. There was space above the lock, but it was dark and noisy so we decided to see what it was like below.

Idea!Footpath to the stationThe lock was empty so a quick check below and I could see a boat heading towards us, there was space to moor too. I pushed the gate open for the on coming boat and waited. Mick joined me and asked how far the boat had been, they had just come round the bend. Well they were still there, I could hear people saying that we were at the lock. It took forever for them to arrive! A lady wearing a jaunty angled beret appeared first, chatting away. They hadn’t realised that we were waiting for them with the lock gate wide open. Message was sent back to the boat to come in, which they did after trying to readjust the bridge profile. Four Americans on holiday who were learning the ropes. It all took quite a bit of time before the lock was in our favour.

The village shop

Our new mooring had sun, tv, occasional phone signal and internet so we were happy. A walk up into the village along the dusty track brought us into a pleasant village, a mix of modern housing and chocolate box thatched Cotswold cottages. At the far side of the village is the Post Office which has a shop. Fresh fruit and veg sat outside, newspapers, fresh pies, cheeses, all sorts. They even have a small selection of gluten free products, I was tempted by the frozen pastry, but the freezer is just about at capacity at the moment. Mick spotted the last loaf of real bread as the man serving chatted away to us. I think he could have gone on all day. A good find.

Jane's Enchanted Tea GardenMy favouritePart way along the track is the entrance to Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden. On the gate are next years opening dates, she only opens twice a month through the summer and has taken this year off. Maybe one day we’ll pass by just on the right day as the site is full of interesting things, especially Morris Minors.


Back at Oleanna, Tilly was given free reign and I got my painting dungarees out. The towpath was a little bit too high to work on the gunnels, but with the weather being fine for the next few days I decided to sand back the cratch board and get it ready for a couple of coats of woodskin. The original coats were wearing thin and the wood starting to grey, a second winter and it would all go dull. The cover was fully removed, the glass masked out and I set at it with sand paper, knocking back the old woodskin and trying to rub away the grey wood. Not sure I’ve quite managed on the second front but it will do. Lots of dust to get ride of, after a wash down it was obvious that it wouldn’t be dry enough for me to get a coat on today so instead the well deck had a good sort and clean.

All sanded and washed down

2 locks, 2.5 miles, 4 fenders down, 9 litres oil, 1 filter, 2 thermostats adjusted, 1 hot tank of water, 1 reference written, 1st props maker contact, 2 cosy feet in Aberdeen, 2 cosy feet in Reading, 1 muddy foot on the Oxford Canal, 1 big hole, 1 Fazil needing more thought, 1 door big enough, 0 tea today, 1 very slow boat, 1 new bath, 1 handy shop, 1 cratch rubbed back, 1 clean well deck, 2 many people to get together, 0 boat builders this week, 0.2 of a snake.

Neither Up Nor Down. 30th September

The Pig Place to Allen’s Lock
With all the pork we’d bought yesterday it would have been rude not to have had a cooked breakfast. So we took our time this morning, no rush. Once we’d mopped up the last bit of egg yolk from our plates a cheery voice came through the hatch, “Morning again, enjoy your blog”. Thank you to lady from NB Simply Messing, you helped to brighten up a bit of a grey morning.
Several boats had come past and we hoped we’d catch a lull as Mick decided that reversing to the winding hole would be better than heading back up to Twyford cruising about 2.5 miles and a lock to get there. We waited for a boat to come from the direction of the winding hole, they had winded and were looking for somewhere to moor. Where we were was about to become vacant but by the time we’d straightened up in the middle of the cut they were already hammering in spikes.
PiggiesReversing to Oxford
Todays reverse wouldn’t go as well as the one at Cropredy did for the simple reason that there were far too many people about. Up on the hill at The Pig Place there were two tables of people waiting for their bacon and eggs, a hire boat had just got themselves bacon butties, people were on their boats. Far too many eyes. The bow thruster came in handy as it’s not a straight route back to the winding hole and it includes going under a lift bridge where it gets very narrow. By the time Mick was ready to swing the bow across to turn there was a boat just about to leave Nell’s Lock and one behind us who both patiently waited for us to wind and then get out of the way.
Aynho Weir Lock
At last we were facing the right way and could progress southwards. Below Nell Bridge Lock the towpath changes sides and it’s just a short distance to Aynho Weir lock. Along this stretch the canal is joined by the River Cherwell, river level boards below Nell’s Lock showed it was below green. I remembered that the lock landing was before the weir which made it easier to hop off, although if I’d been stood in the bow I could have got off near the gate.
Lozenge shapedJust where do you put yourself?As this is a weir lock it is only very shallow, the drop being around a foot, but below here the next lock is Somerton Deep Lock, which as it’s name suggests is deep at 12 foot. Therefore Aynho Lock is a strange shape, so that enough water passes down the canal to be able to fill the next lock.
Not high enoughToo high now
Approaching Chisnell Lift Bridge we could see that it was neither up nor down. It wasn’t high enough for us to get through underneath and anyone walking would have had to pull it down to cross. The chain that hangs from the bridge was wrapped around an arm and then hooked to the base on the towpath side. Had a farmer come over it and left it like this to make it easier to get back? I lent on the arm and undid the hook, at which point the counter weight pulled the bridge to the full open position, the chain too high for me to reach. Oleanna in the mean time had managed to get herself blown over to the offside and it took a bit of doing to get her back in the middle to come through the bridge. Mick insisted on leaving the bridge how we’d found it so once through we tied Oleanna to a bollard and he went back to reattach the chain to the hook.
Somerton Deep LockThe view aheadSomerton Deep Lock was where all the day boats from Heyford seemed to be turning, needing to lock up to reach the winding hole above. We made use of a full lock to drop the 12 foot and hoped that the next dayboat would pull over to wait for us to exit rather than carry straight on into the entrance. It’s a bit hard to see from the side of the lock, but luckily they did pull over. For most of the day Oleanna had had rudder judder and now something had to be done about it. As soon as we got alongside the pasture and a suitable space showed itself we pulled in. Whilst Mick opened up the weed hatch I went below and put the kettle on. A large amount of plastic bags had been attracted to the prop and once released and in a bin the judder disappeared.
I'd been wondering where we were
Allen’s Lock came into view and space for us to moor above. Brilliant, we are hoping to meet with Finesse this week to sort a couple of things on Oleanna and here has somewhere to park close to the moorings. However we soon found out that there is very little internet coverage here. Our phones work and occasionally they get a sniff of internet. So once we know when they plan to visit we’ll return.
Better view from up here

Four woofers in five minutes! You must be joking!! So much friendly cover here as well. I had to spend quite a bit of time on the roof to avoid them all. then they were on both sides! Once the woofer traffic had died down I crept into the cover and through the other side. Big neighing things with swishy tails lived there, we soon got used to each other and got on with being busy in our own ways.
Daddy, mummy and baby socks
This afternoon I sewed in all the ends on the socks I’ve been knitting. They looked like a little family. I just need to find a post office now to be able to send them on to their new owners. Failing that, some internet to be able to buy postage online. My needles didn’t rest for long though I still have half an order to knit for Australia and three snakes for Panto. The snakes won out as the pattern needs to be worked out.
4 locks, 6.19 miles approx, 0.16 in reverse, 2 lufted bridges, 1 neither up nor down bridge, 1 grey day, 3 showers, 1ft deep to 12ft deep, 3 colours of plastic, 1 Kingfisher, 6 horses crossing, 3 pairs completed, 4 hours, 2 many woofers, 0.5 hours on the roof, 2 sausages, 1 rasher bacon, 1 roast chicken, that’s enough meat for one day!