Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Vegetation / financial cut back ?

We are moving north on the Oxford Canal. Sunshine and showers are encouraging the rapid growth of vegetation. Trying to moor up is difficult and can be dangerous where the firm edge cannot be seen. Trees have fallen down and some are in the canal but not blocking our path yet. This tree behind us between bridge 207 and 208 will close the navigation when it does fall. Sadly it is one of many trying to stay up with the weight of ivy crawling all over it.

There has been some attempt by BW to cut back the vegetation along the towpath. But we fear that the financial cut backs will reduce the amount of vegetation cut backs.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Two day Thames

Day one. Left Reading at 9 to go through Blakes Lock which has no lock keeper. So we let ourselves down on to the river with Jan & Roy on 'Slicer'. A lovely hot sunshine day to enjoy the wonderful Thames. Much calmer now compared to our trip down in October. Already seeing river birds like grebe and cormorants. We plan to make for Days Lock which is about half way to Oxford.
On the way to Goring at lunchtime a cruiser passed us by to get into the lock first. We both entered behind. The lock keeper was away for his lunch and the crew of the cruiser was about to have theirs! "Not in the lock" we said and proceeded to operate the lock. Thankfully Cleve Lock was not far away so we all stopped on the river bank for lunch.

Sad to see that this particular lock is now un manned and some boaters are struggling to operate the locks correctly. Then we travelled 10 more miles passing Wallingford, through Benson Lock and on to Days. It seemed ages in the afternoon sun hoping to find somewhere to stop before the lock. But we knew there was a place just after the lock. During the day we observed that 12 narrowboats and 20 cruisers were on the move.
Day two. Another hot sunny day. Didcot power station was busy creating clouds. The boat is covered in little dead white fly's. Set off at 9 again, 4 miles to the next lock seems like for ever. Once again being passed by that same cruiser wanting to get in front. As we approached one lock it looked like one boat was moored well back so we went in front. "Wot do you think I'm 'ere for, me health you know?'', said Mr. Angry. He went to open the lock as the keeper was having his lunch. Then moved in and stopped half way, so we went in on the other side one behind the other as the keeper arrived.
Later we all entered Iffley Lock and were told about the Oxford Regatta. "Wait here till the race is over then you can proceed slowly down the centre". As we went through several 'eights' were passing us on both sides and in both directions, practicing for the next race. As we passed the rowing club houses they were crossing in front.

A seemly chaotic scene on the Thames in Oxford.
Osney Lock let us in but there was no room for our friends on 'Slicer'. We left first with Mr. Angry following and he turned off on to the Oxford canal at Isis Lock. Then we slowed down to let 'Slicer' catch up. By the time we had reached the next lock it was not long before they joined us. Two more locks on the Thames was far better than going up the dead end bit of the canal. Turned off along Dukes Cut to join the canal then on passed all those 'rubbish' boats moored for about a mile or so. Eventually finding somewhere pleasant to stop for the night. During our second day on the Thames we observed that 14 narrowboats and 11 cruisers were on the move. We had been moving for over 7 hours on each of those days.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

On a Mission

We arrived at Devizes Marina to find 'Moore 2 Life' out of the water, blacked and about to be re launched. Brod saw it all happen. Once on board all the boat systems were re activated so we could make a cup of tea after loading all our stuff. The boiler switched on to warm up the boat as it had just started to rain.

So back on our boat and moving east on the Kennet & Avon canal. A desire to catch up with our friends Sue n Vic on 'No Problem'. But later that evening found that the diesel fire failed to light up due to lack of fuel flow. It is fed via a long pipe from the back and a combination of being bow high when out of the water for three days and half a tank of diesel was the cause. All was well after a few days level in the water and a full tank.
A week away from Reading if we move every day. Ten to twenty lock miles a day is our intention. Travelling with another boat, 'Slicer', to Great Bedwyn. I have a strange fascination seeing the trains arriving at Great Bedwyn station. They stop here, move over to the other track and return to Reading. Used to look like green caterpillars, but now they are blue. Somehow getting off the main line to let the First Great Western express through. After three days we arrived at Hungerford to stock up. Passing this pirate ship on the way.

Some days seem harder than others. More locks per mile ? Or was it waiting for two boats at Coblers Lock ? It was empty like all the others on the way down and we had to fill them all. But here a boat was waiting to go up. We had to tell them it was their lock. They both got on the boat and drove in. A long pause waiting for another boat. Eventually they arrived and also drove in. Ann shut the gate and I opened the paddle. I said "If you open the other paddle on your side it will rise quicker". We walked away and left them to get off their boats.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Old memories reawakened

Back at our 'landlubber' bungalow not occupied by us since 2000. A gap in the tenancy allowing us to revisit and redecorate. Our agent suggested that it is easier to re let unfurnished. Packed most of our furniture in our hired White Van and took it all to the local council recycling tip.

Very busy even mid week with cars and vans driving in and out all the time. Some help offered to lift it all into the huge bins. "Household over there, wood there and metal in that one" the man told us. Some of our furniture was taken for sale while most was just 'wood'.
We have set ourselves a target to strip wall paper, clean and paint the entire bungalow in about 4 weeks. Weary after only two days having already removed more furniture outside under the carport. The shed and attic providing even more stuff for disposal. Our neighbour paid us for a settee and the side board with glazed top but a 'yard sale' notice did not attract many callers. So another trip in the van with even more stuff to clear the yard. We got the van at Winchester and are able to return it to 'Enterprise' in Southampton. Then they took us home. All we have left now is a bed, a small settee and a rocking chair! We also want to tidy up the garden if we have time.
It does seem strange living in our old home that we lived in for about two years before moving on to our boat. Our friends Terry & Myra happened to be off their boat and paid us a visit. They helped with the painting and took us to the shops where we ordered carpets and got some food. Been a bit hasty clearing out the place because we had thrown all the baking trays and a measuring jug. Next day our cupboards were restocked from Tesco.Com which delivered to our door.
After the first week we have managed to finish two rooms with work in progress in the other four. The carpet man came to see us and remarked that he thought he would never see another foam back carpet! 'Mind you most of the foam had turned to dust'. 'Feels like we have been on holiday while on the boat'. Took some time out to walk round the local woods which we discovered all those years ago.
Latest update: Only the hall to do now. Two new carpets laid and we have mowed the lawn!