Sunday, 30 May 2010

Now in Windsor

It is amazing travelling by historic names and places. Bella glided into Windsor and took a peek at the Castle. Clearly Her Majesty had a double booking, as she was not on the bridge when we passed by. Sad. We travelled beside her Great Park where we noted that we could neither moor nor land and lemented that we could not pop in. Ah well.

When moored up to travel down the next lock, we did catch sight of Eton, the early school of our present Prime Minister.

We meandered through beautiful country then moored up in Old Windsor, where we had booked another mooring on electric. We celebrated the royal route by doing the laundry, blogging and hearing James' news on Skype.

From Henly to Maidenhead

Well, today Bella considered racing and sailing, whilst travelling through our first realy wet day of this latest journey. We woke under our trees to dark skies, but decided to have a go anyway. How different it is to travel in wet on the river than on the canal! We know that wet is wet, but on the river, Elizabeth has to gunnel walk with the centre line to each layby for locks. This means collecting all the water from Bella's side. Mmm. We mean wet.

That said, we had the amazing experience of cruising right down the middle of the raceway of Henley Regatta, right past the grandstand. We had no onlookers, but had we, they would have been mightily impressed at Bella's stature while drenched and pressing ahead.

Then, we hit the outskirts of Maidenhead, where there is a sailing school. Bella thought about sailing, but then didn't like the look of nearly falling sideways whilst tacking. For us, it was an odd experience to share the waters with such sprightly nymphs.

On the way, we saw Sparrowhawks, Nurseries for Geese (hoards of littlies seemingly left off by their parents), a Grebe with Grebelings on her back and a Kingfisher. Wonderful, even though wet. We moored at what we reckon was the best spot in Maidenhead, just above Butlers lock in a secluded spot. Lovely. And then, of course, it stopped raining.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Resident in Henly

Well, here we are, our Stately Home amongst some of the most awesome dwellings in the land. Like our friend, Helen, we prefer our watery version. A fraction of the cleaning and maintenance - and we can move our home whenever we like. The pic shows our over the river neighbours.

Yesterday, Elizabeth took the train from Goring to a meeting in Cambridge and Pete did a little desk work. In the evening we went to the Swan at Streatley, just over the other side of the river and lock, to have our coffee and a wee dram. Elizabeth used to take new Au Pairs there when they arrived each September, to have tea on the terrace and to show them a little quintessential England. It was so much fun to be there by our own boat!

Today's lovely journey took us from South Oxfordshire through Berkshire. We moored in Reading, far prettier from the water than by car or train, and did a little shopping. Had to tie to trees rather than rings, but it worked! The pic is the view up to the trees from inside Bella. As we travelled on, Elizabeth did a work call, we missed an island or two, then moored up in leafy Henley.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Goring and Streatley on Wednesday

Having stayed put for a day, we were ready to move!! We set out at 0900 and sailed through the meandering south Oxfordshire countryside. We saw all signs of new life again, and to add to the Cygnets, we saw Grebes and grebelings, Coots and cootlings and all manner of weensy cows and lambs. One lamb even made it lockside to eat the lock-keepers shrubs!

So - river cruising. Differences:
1) We don't work locks unless the lock-keeper is on a break. The locks are large and Bella usually sits alongside other boats as well as in front or behind other boats. This is a change! The deal is that Elizabeth stays on the bow with a rope around a bollard at the front and that Pete stays in the stern with rope around an aft bollard. This is the rule - one rope each end. Then the water goes down/up at increments and we have to keep the boat as still as we can. Of course, its all down at this stage. Elizabeth hasn't taken the tiller much on the river yet - she's sussing out the terrain.

2) We can travel faster! We can go 5 miles an hour and usually achieve it most of the time, as compared to 4 miles an hour on the canal where we rarely achieve it.

3) We don't have to slow down by moored boats. With so much water sloshing about we hardly notice Bella move when another boat whizzes past and we notice that we don't move moored boats very much at all.

4) We can run aground. And this we did, just north of Shillingford. We moved to the right to allow an oncoming boat to pass and found ourselves on the sandy bed. Elizabeth used the pole and Pete swished about with the engine and tiller and we were away again. What a hoot!

All in all, this is a wonderful experience.

Abingdon on Thames

Elizabeth used to go to Abingdon loads - to take the boys to the paddling pool by the river in summer and to take herself to the Upper Reaches hotel for coffee and a bit of planning time when she was in minstry in Oxford. Pete had joined the Abingdon crowd when we did some work for a few organisations there and when his work colleague hosted dinner in their house backing the river. Well by Monday, we were there in Bella, moored just opposite the park with the paddling pool. How life moves on!

It was a wonderful mooring, full of young people's laughter in the day with much river swimming and falling, and peaceful village sounds and lights sharing our night with us. We stayed put on Tuesday with both of us having errands either in Oxford or Abingdon and some desk work and calls. But what a lovely place to stay put.

From Osney to Sandford

We moved from Osney to Sandford on Sunday afternoon to a bright and busy day of people messing about on boats. We'd had a fabulous Pentecost service at our home church of St Columbas, then untied and moved. What a hoot moving through a busy Sunday afternoon on the water in Oxford. Punts, rowing eights, tiny row boats, large plassy cruisers, Salter's day boat to Abingdon, hirers of craft large and small and owners of holiday palaces - the river had them all. And there were we, gliding smoothly in Bella in the midst of the mayhem. What fun! We had booked ahead for Sandford in order to moor at an elecric point to get a few loads of laundry done. Pete had bought a rotary clothes line which we fit to a pole on Bella's stern and we took advantage of the warm sunshine to dry the clothes. Also - fun! In the one pic, you can just see the laundry line beside the parasol and Elizabeth peeking over the top of boats.

By Sunday evening, were ready for our boating friends, Dom and Helen, whe decided after more than a year of renting a house after having sold their boat, to live again on a boat. They collected their gorgous tug (70 feet and traditional engine) from Staines and anticipated meeting us at Sandford. Pete stood ready at the lock with his camera and lo, they came into view. A fabulous night was had by all, with Cava and caviar to celebrate their move back to water.

Friday, 21 May 2010

Bella's first time on the Thames

Bella is now on the Thames, moored up at Osney Island, Oxford. We met the Thames at Dukes Cut, the cut between the Oxford Canal and the Thames, just north of the City. Named after the Duke of Blenheim, who in the 18C decided that he needed a better way of getting his goods to trade than through the narrow Oxford canal below the cut, it is a very sharp left turn south on the Thames. We stopped at Kings Lock (picture) bought a 3o day license and are now travelling the river. Seeing Oxford from this point is stuning. We plan (plan??!!) to go south a bit more, then meet up with our friends who are moving their boat north. We'll all see what happens!

Beside Morning Mist in Kidlington

Today we travelled the shortest distance ever!! One mile, no locks. We moored next to our friend, Kate, on Morning Mist. We watered up, watered the plants, rinsed the roof, then met up with Kate. A lovely night.

Bus to Oxford

Shockingly enough, we stayed put a day, waiting to see our friend who wanted Elizabeth to do a little sorting/desiging on her boat. We took the bus from Thrupp to Oxford, collected post, did a little shopping, then bussed back. During our stay, we decided that the next bit would be the Thames, but we didn't have an anchor. So, an hour or so after we were back on deck in Thrupp, David from Oxfordshire Narrowboats dropped off an anchor, chain, rope and shackles.

We're ready!!!

By Tuesday we got to Thrupp

Another fabulous day. We travelled the 14 miles, 8 locks and 3 lift bridges with great fun. We had good conversations with other boaters at locks and two bystanders did two of the lift bridges. It was another sunny day and the Cherwell river flowed clear where the Oxford and Cherwell share a course. We moored up in Thrupp, just near the Boat pub, around 5:30pm. Here are lots of pictures of the scenes. Do look closely at the swan - a tiny signet is on her back and the head just peeks out between her wings. We have seen ducklings, goslings, moorhen-lings... calves, lambs... It is certainly spring!

Aynho on Monday night

We left Cropredy, having exchanged addresses with our new Melbourne friends, and had a glorious travelling day to Aynho. It is wonderful to see places which are now familiar and to be travelling again! We passed Nell's Bridge Acre where we moored a bit last year and Sarah came down to the wharfside to say hello as we passed. She tells us that Clarissa is due to have piglets in a matter of days. All in all, we did 8 locks and 11 miles and the weather was a heavenly sunshine with the occasional bit of cloud. We wandered into the Railway Arms, as the pub is sandwiched between the canal and the rail line. Brilliant day.

Monday, 17 May 2010

In Cropredy for Spring

Well, we're out! We set out on Saturday just before noon and moored up in a gorgeous spot two locks below the top of Napton Flight on the Oxford Canal. Wonderful. says Pete's phone, Chester, about where we were. We had a stunning day travelling and so enjoyed the sunshine and our colleague travellers! We even had to do a boat rescue. A boat had gone adrift, as another boat had travelled by so fast and caused such a wave that this boat's pins and lines had pulled out of the tow path. Elizabeth hopped off Bella's bows, climbed over a bridge to get to the opposite side of the canal, another boater travelling north handed the pin with rope attached over the roof to her, and she tied the boat to the bridge. At the same time, Pete had moved Bella alongside and then Elizabeth hopped across the stern to go back home. International Rescue, eat your hearts out! The fun thing is that the boaters ended up being behind us up the Napton flight of locks and we had much fun chatting!

The next morning we were away before 9 and travelled the rest of the Napton flight, stopped in Fenny Compton at the new shop at the Wharf Inn where we virtually lived frozen in a few years ago, then descended the Claydon flight and worked our way to Cropredy. Chester says it's here:

Last night we met at the Brasenose with wonderful friends who have just bought a boat to live on the canals again and then met new friends, visiting from Melbourne. They're just about to arrive for coffee, so logging off arrives!

Thursday, 13 May 2010

May has run away!

Well, we got Bella out of sheds and she looks beautiful. We have taken pictures, but we haven't had time to get them ready for web yet, but we will. We came back from our various travels (Oxford, Cambridge, Oxford, Salisbury, Newcastle under Lyme, Manchester) on the 18th of April to discover Bella had been taken out of sheds and lovingly moored up next to our usual quayside. It was SO good to be home after having managed 6 different beds while she was in the beauty parlour!

We had various bits of work to do, including a few days in London, so we finally able to untie and cruise on the 23rd (James' 29th birthday) and went south a little bit. We moored just north of Braunston. If you put "willoughby northamptonshire uk" in to Google maps, you'll see the little curl of canal just south of the Willoughby bridge where we found the most heavenly quiet spot. You could look at:,%20-1.2282371520996027&z=14. If anyone call tell us how to get the satellite data, then we will and put it here regularly. Back to us, it was warm enough for a G&T on the bench on the towpath, a fabulous break from all the cities and all the driving and for Bella, it was OUT.

The next day, we trekked (!) just over two hours to the Bridge pub at Napton to see our friends. We had an odd moment when Bella's engine stopped after having run over something in a section where there were lots of moored boats and not a few wrecks, but she recovered well and we moored up in a lovely walking distance (,%20-1.321878433227538&z=15) from the pub. Wonderful. The Sunday morning, we turned around and headed back - not to Blue Haven, but Willoughby corner again. Just opposite the mooring, the farm is full of bullocks, all languidly wandering around and variously looking at us. We called Pete's photo on flickr, Brothers in Farms: It was such a lovely place to be.

We returned to Blue Haven on the 26th and have been firmly moored ever since. Pete's had two weeks in a row working out of offices in Cambridge and Elizabeth has been back and forth to London, Oxford and Cambridge. Our plans are, despite the weather, to head south to Thrupp starting on Saturday. We would like to do a huge circuit again this summer, taking in hundreds of miles, but we have a range of commitments in different places so may just take long weeks or long weekends. But then again, we may change our mind!! We have joined a virtual boating club called cutweb - - which means we have visiting rights at other boating clubs. If this is the case in reality, then we may stay out a bit more if we can leave Bella in secure locations to pop up to, say, Scotland.

We'll let you know!