Thursday, 29 November 2007

Lost and found

If you have ever lost a credit or debit card you will know how I felt on Tuesday when I went to the bank in Kidlington, to top up on readies, and couldnt find my debit card.

Fortunately I remembered where I had last used it, just that morning in Oxford, and found a telephone number on the reciept. Following a hurried call I was somewhat relieved that it was found there at W H Smiths. The supervisor said I could collect it the next day ......... providing I had identification. Fair enough it shows the company are concious of the need to check such things.

So why did I feel uncomfortable having to prove to a perfect stranger who I was to get back something that belonged to me. Maybe it was the god awful picture on my passport which I will not show here

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

A jolly good chap

I left my laptop on Morts boat last night. Doh! I went off to fetch it after I returned from Oxford. On my return I could see someone standing on the stern deck of my boat. GRRRRRRR!

As I got closer I saw three guys, two on the bank, and Dusty on the deck. I had ordered coal and fuel from to be delivered last weekend. Though he did show, because of the level of the River Cherwell he only came down with half a load and so did not have enough cargo to sort me out.

But nonetheless there he was this morning, having come down in his car, with jerry cans and three bags of coal to tide me over till he could get down again. Service like this you don't get every day. Dusty is truly a jolly good chap.

Many thanks Dusty

Oh surprise!

Have you noticed that Mort has not mentioned her position in the Hitsunlimited site since I overtook her? Surprising that init?
However, its her birthday today so best not upset her.


Monday, 26 November 2007

Towpath Safety (rewrite)

You could be forgiven for thinking that I was going to post the same as Mortimer Bones, but you would be wrong. In fact when I say Towpath safety I am talking Health and Safety.

I am currently moored on a 14 day between Gunpowder Wharf and Langford Lane Bridge. The towpath here is absolutely abysmal. Near the wharf the concrete curbing is falling into the water and the towpath, such as it is, is collapsing with it. Further down the towpath is almost non existent and here, where I am, the path is very narrow. The other side of the wharf the edge is so shallow that a plank is mandatory to get on and off your boat.

Unsuspecting travellers along this path risk not only twisted ankles, scrapes etc but also the possibility of ending up in the canal.

One thing that surprises me is that BW recently, Monday last week, asked one non paying boater to move off one of the permanent moorings because they want to put it up for tender. If they should be successful in shifting him, and he is very reluctant to go, they will then rent the mooring, to some sad sap, knowing that the towpath is unsafe. Given their promise to ensure that towpaths are safe I wonder how much of our hard earned cash they will spend fighting a court action should the new tenant have an accident and sue.

This mooring is, if you have followed the Gunpowder Wharf story elsewhere, one that should have been given to the next on the list before they closed it. And the boater on it at the mo is the man that was at the top of the list.

Note:-This mooring was up for tender while ago, but taken off the list until this situation is resolved. Well that's easy to fix. Give the man a mooring which he was promised some time ago and which he waited for not knowing that there would be underhanded dealings from BW.

The silent footfall

I don't have a dog, as much as I would like one, simply because I recognise that I would not be a good dog owner. They need commitment and that, as far as dogs are concerned, I don't have. It still nevertheless amazes me that dogs are allowed to crap on tow paths and around locks where you need to be.

Today, however, I met a new piece of discusting detritus just under the bridge, HUMAN EXCREMENT.

OK people get caught short, but please get rid of it. There were plenty of places to do that within yards.

Blooming Liberty

This morning I set of to the water point just past the bridge. 150 yards max. I spent about an hour getting water and had a cuppa with Wendy (Moggyjo-on CWF). Only going that short distance I left the mooring pin in the ground, well nobody's going to take it are they?

Oh yes they did!

The bloody nerve of some people.

Sunday, 25 November 2007


I found myself in London last night visiting my mother who I haven't seen for some months. Mort was going to dinner in Surrey and offered me a lift so I took the opportunity while it was on offer.

As we sat in the living room drinking a cuppa I explained to Mort that I was born in that very room those so many years ago. It is quite sureal going back these days.

Mort left about 5 and will pick me up at lunchtime today and head off back to the boat.

Mum was well for an octogenarian.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Naughty Boys

To secure the rear hatch I have an ABUS combination lock. I know from the time one failed that they are hard to break and need cutting with an angle grinder to remove.

Being a combination lock not only means it will secure the boat, but it allows you to lock the boat and set a number so you know if it has been tampered with.

This morning I returned to the boat and the number I set before I left was changed. So some naughty boys had tried to get in to the boat while I was away.

Today I will have to report this to the police, not that they will be able do anything, but I think they should be told.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

The Wise Alderman

A 300 year old pub that predates the canals by 100 years. Although canalside it is the garden that lays along the canal the pub is on the main Banbury Road between Langford Lane Bridge and the rail bridge.

The pub name commemorates the local councillor who attempted to get Kidlington (largest village in Britain) converted into a town, and failed. I find this surprising because Mirfeild in West Yorkshire claim to be the largest village in Europe.

The long bar is has oak beams on the ceiling though not the lowest I have seen. Often pubs of this age retain their 'olde worlde' bar tops and shelving but not here which tends to detract from the feel of the place. The furniture is quaint but not old.

There is food available in the bar and in the dinning room. It is not a 'gastro pub' which is good. The menu is simple and is served at lunchtime and evening.

A large flat screen TV adorns the wall opposite the bar but it would be better placed at the end of the bar room so more customers could see it in comfort. Landlady Anne Croft says it is a rugby pub but being there is no rugby on today punters were watching England get done over by the Croatians.

Ann has held the licence for 21/2 years. Being a local lass she has known the pub a long time and can remember 5 of the previous incumbents.

There are various nik-naks around the bar including a large brass bell with TITANIC on the name plate, obviously not original. Strange choice for a canal pub.

Unusually the staff here are all locals not an Aussie or Eastern European accent among them although Ann claims to have dual nationality, Brit/Aus. Tonight's staff were Liane (cute) and her cousin Kirsty.

Quite a large Alsatian pokes his nose over the bar top from time to time. I'm not quite sure that is legal but I wasn't going to argue with him, would you?

I came here lunch time one day last week and increased the clientele by 50%, this evening it is quite full and bubbly.

For smokers there is a purpose built two sided shed out the front large enough to take the two picnic tables which give us 'social lepers' some comfort in the rain.

They serve a variety of beers including Ruddles County, Tetleys and GK IPA. This is the first place I have found a sub £3 pint of the black stuff, which is cool.

There are moorings available along the garden and some past the bridge. If you should come here tell them Maffi said Hello that might just rack up a few free pints for the next time I come this way.

I have heard various stories about this pub but I can only speak as I find, but there are mixed comments here.

Did I mention they do B&B, No? Well they do.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007


I am confused! Mort tells me that the Hitsunlimited site has re-opened and that I am at 48th (she omitted to tell me her position). Try as I might I am still getting the screen that tells me that the site is still awaiting renewal.

Is she seeing things?

Is it maybe that she is looking at information stored on her computer?

Boat Blogs

Given that there are so many boat blogs I will just be adding them to my NEW list as I find them then move them to the main list after a few weeks.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

BW who's that then?

Recently, yesterday in fact, I signed up to AdSense. With 30,000 visits I could have been making a few bob. Not to worry.

One of the ads that has appeared is this one about BW.

I think we all need to look at this.

Things you see in a pint

I was quite amused with this pint of Fosters I had some months ago. Wether it was intentional or not I don't know, but there is a reasonable image of the map of Australia.

Monday, 19 November 2007

State of the system

What ever way you look at it the new practice of tendering mooring to the highest bidder in sealed bids can only be bad for the waterways and boaters. Personally I think BW managers are abrogating their responsibility, but then the government have given them the lead in that, remember the Bank of England?

People who can afford to bid a few hundred pounds more that the guide price are less likely to get the mooring than people with a few thousand to offer up. The upshot is that more people will be pushed into bridge hopping than at present. Many will decide that enough is enough and leave the water altogether. Losing these people will reduce the number of 'eyes' on the system. A lot of these 'eyes' see stuff that BW, due to cut backs, can no longer see and they report what they see.

Along the towpath from me are two guys who are occupying a mooring that is up for tender. When that mooring goes to the new 'owners' the moorings either side will, though already occupied be due for a price increase next year. If the first mooring goes for 3 grand then there is the possibility that BW will call that the 'market' value and hitch up the price of the others to match. Result more people unable to afford the cost of boating, more pairs of 'eyes' leaving the waterway.

Boating has a finite cost above which people will not carry on. The higher the cost the more people leave. The knock on effect is the number of second hand boats on the market will increase and the value of the boats will decrease. So getting out becomes a problem. Kind of a 'Catch 22' situation that BW Management have forced on the punters.

Rising cost of Red diesel, licences, moorings and the seemingly excessive cost of spares can, together, take the canal system back to the muddy ditches they were becoming 30/40 years ago. If builders cant sell new boats at a reasonable cost because they are competing with the used boat sales then they will go to the wall, which will add to the unemployment stats.

The cost to the nation will not only be financial, but we will lose a valuable national asset and that would be such a shame.

From Dru, my friend in Saudi

A young Mexican, now an American citizen was visiting his parents in Mexico City on vacation when he lost his wallet and all identification.

Cutting his trip short, he attempts to make his way home but is stopped by the U.S. Customs Agent at the border.

"May I see your identification please?'' asks the agent.

'' I'm sorry, but I lost my wallet,'' replies the guy.

''Sure buddy, I hear that every day. No ID, no entry,'' says the agent.

''But I can prove I'm an American!'' he exclaims. ''I have a picture of Bill Clinton tattooed on one butt cheek and Jimmy Carter on the other.''

''This I gotta see,'' replies the agent.

With that, the guy drops his pants and shows the agent.

''By golly, you're right!'' exclaims the agent. ''Have a safe trip back to Crawford.''

''Thanks!'' he says. ''But how did you know I was from Crawford?''

The agent replies, ''I recognized George W. Bush in the middle.''

Well I moved

Not the most salubrious mooring I have ever had but it will do for a couple of days. The concrete edge is falling into the canal and the mooring rings are too far apart to tie up securely. So for the sake of mooring where I was where there is no movement of boats that I might be blocking from using the 14 day mooring I have now relocated to a somewhat dangerous place. Cest la vie!

Oh dear.... Mooring warden!

I had a visit from the mooring warden this morning. " Are you moving today?" What a stupid question. Of course I am moving now he has asked, but the canal is dewatered below Kidlington Green Lock untill the December 21st, so going down the canal is not really an option. Hardwick Lock, going north, is closed till November 30th and further along Cropredy Lock 25 is closed till December 7th and Napton till the 14th Where am I to go? No one is travelling this stretch because of the closures so who am I stopping from mooring?

I have to be in this area for the hospital and have told BW that! The doctor is still not happy that I need to move the boat with my eye in its present condition.

I am quite happy to move short distances, as I have been doing, to comply with the rules, but I am not happy about moving for the sake of moving when I can't really go anywhere. Seems to me that BW are not really very compassionate about sick people, unless they can make money out of them.

Well I will move down to Gunpowder Wharf today. This is not ideal because the towpath there is in bad condition and could result in my trippping either on the path or worse into the canal I will then have to sue BW under the H&S Act.
The good thing is I can search for the chimney I lost last week as I pass the spot.

Saturday, 17 November 2007


Today I went with Bones to the AGM of NABO, which is surprising because I am a member of RBOA.

Many people think, wrongly, that this organisation is about Narrow Boats. NABO (National Association of Boat Owners) is for all boaters and I think we really all should join. With 1500 or so members they have some clout, but with double that number they would have more clout.

Eugene Baston was there as was Sue B nb Nackered Navvy, Wendy nb Harry every one else I didn't know.

Apart from the usual boring stuff at the beginning the topics included Memebrship, Red Diesel and the condition of the system. When we broke for lunch I left. Those village hall chairs made my bum numb.

I got a paper headed BRITISH WATERWAYS 2008/09 Customer Service Standards. It is supposed to be a 'draft' but nowhere on the page does it say so. Many of the items on the list are what BW should be doing as a matter of course, in that they are charged with management and maintenance in their remit from the government. Many of the items have not been complied with this year, veg pledge etc how they expect to do it next year given that there will be a back log from this year.

Some interesting points:- Locks are to have ladders, two in wide locks place at thirds on opposite sides and one in narrow locks placed in the middle. Personally I can't see the point of placing the ladder in the middle of a narrow lock, if you fall in you are hardy likely to fall down the side of the boat.

Next point:- There are to be three mooring points on the same side as the ladder in a narrow lock and three mooring points on each side of a double lock. Well at least this will stop people from tying up to the ladder and bending the top rails, but the cost of this will be a bit on the large side.

Next:- Commercial and leisure boats are to have separate mooring places on multi-use waterways. I wonder if that means that BW will not be able to moor their maintenance boats for weeks at a time on visitor moorings?

The list contains 79 different standards which as far as I know do not meet standards that everybody else in the UK has to meet and according to NABO is not to the level they would wish.

I will copy it all here at a later date.

About time

Well well well Mortimer Bones is now at 40 in the top 100. Alleluia! Maybe now, if I pick up the teddy's she threw out of her pram, I can get some peace while I languish at 49. What the heck she's happy.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Oer Missus

This morning there was a strange dribbling sound coming from the wrong side of the boat. A quick inspection outside told me it was time to empty the .... hmmm tank. Oh bugger that wasn't supposed to be full for another week.

I would need a trip to Enslow for their services. Bones said she would come along and work in the office and do the bridges and locks for me. She went off back to her boat and I set about reversing the half mile or so to the lift bridge at the top of Thrupp. By the time I had got to the bridge Bones was there hanging on the chain opening the said bridge.

I had put the washing machine on before I started and noticed that my water level was down and wouldn't supply a complete cycle so I stopped for water past the bridge. This was a good thing to do not just to fill the tank but because Bones was facing out of the window working. She noticed a sign that the Thrupp pumpout was now working. So clever these academics! And people wonder why I love her.

After filling up with water I was able to turn the boat around and do the pumpout without having the trouble of going all the way to Enslow. The only drawback is that there is no rinse water pipe so I had to use my drinking water hose and aim it down the filler from a distance. I don't like getting the two operations mixed up.

So we returned to my mooring far earlier than had been expected and Bones continued working in the office. Though we are not 'together' we have a good life, very peaceful and friendly it will be a very sad day when I leave. I predict a few tears.......... from me not her!

Pickles No 2

It would seem that boating bloggers are all coming out of the woodwork at this time of the year. Just found this from my site meter. Pete is going to fit out a sailaway in 30 days! I wish him luck, good deliveries and fair weather.

I entered this one on the blogroll because he has class and taste. His Blogroll includes Bones GB NP Cosmos and of course Moi so he cant be a bad guy, can he? I will look forwward to his progress.

Oh didnt I include the link? Click post title.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Sob Sob Sob

I am bemused that Dr Bones is so miffed by something so trivial as the Top 100 listing. It would seem that my being ahead of her is causing her some grief. It pains me to think that my position on the list is a problem to one for whom I care so much.

I could disable the link in my blog to allow her a moment or glory, that would be the gentlemanly thing to do. What do you think?

Monday, 12 November 2007


Zipping through the blogs this afternnon I came across a mention of Blackbird on Granny Buttons blog. I have met Carrie when we were moored down at Wolvercote and again at Lower Heyford. I know she reads my blog but never knew she was a blogger. I have added a link on my 'BOATY PEOPLE' list.

It would appear Carrie is a very good artist as you will see if you visit her site.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Smoke in the water

Well that was a busy weekend. Bones god-daughter Elspeth came for a visit with her mum Claire. They arrived Friday afternoon and left Sunday post lunch. Bones took them sightseeing in Oxford on Saturday while clever me stayed home and took Milly for water. I lost my smoke stack reversing back. Doh!

Adam and Lucy came over for a visit and though they repeatedly knocked on the roof could not raise me, well they wouldn't I was down past the bridge with a sea seacher magnet trying to find my smoke stack. Bones sent a text to say they were in the Jolly B but. by the time I got there they had given it up as a bad job and tried Bones again back up at the Boat Inn. I wandered down a bit later to find Lucy making Animal Spoons with Elspeth and Adam being Adam.

Dinner Saturday night in the JollyB. Sunday we, Bones and I along with Elspeth, went to church at Upper Heyford where we were over an hour late and only just arrived intime for the minutes silence before coffee and cakes at the village hall. Elspeth ate lots of cakes. Claire stayed at nb Bones to do Elspeth's homework, well she is only four, Elspeth that is not Claire.

Children are a joy but hard work. I had forgotten how much hard work! Poor old Bones was worn out by the time they left.

Bones came to me in the evening for a shower, her water tank was empty.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

I am miffed and bleeding

Nice as Thrupp is, it is hazardous. It's good that the Thrupp Cruising Club take care of the tow path and improve it, BUT all those posts and planters are dangerous. Last night I fell over a planter, which in the dark are invisible. I fell headlong on to the grass bruising my hip and scraping down my leg. At my age that could have been serious not to mention the damage that could have been done to my eye.

I have to write to the TCC and suggest they paint the tops of the planters and posts white to ensure they stand out and help prevent others falling foul of the 'camouflaged' trips. I can't help wondering why this hasn't been done before, H&S and all that.

Posts at Thrupp invisible in the dark

Thursday, 8 November 2007


When we had our problem with the Kidlington Sheriff, one of his complaints was that we run our engines to charge our batteries. His complaint did mention 'in the summer' and as we were by then in the autumn it seemed a somewhat empty complaint.

Yes we do run engines to charge batteries otherwise we have no electric. I cant help thinking if the sheriff ever stopped to think where his electric comes from and what if the residents of Didcot complained about the power station running all hours of the day and night to supply him with his power.

Seems to me that he doesn't give a fig about the residents of Didcot as long as he doesn't have to suffer others at the bottom of his garden. Live and let live Mr Xxxxxx. I wonder if you have stopped to think what the effect will be on your neighbours if you get planning permission to put up two extensions on your house at Planning Committee Meeting. Can't see they will be best pleased.

It reminds me of a chap in Wendover who applied for permission to build a second house on his property. It was something of a folly because the the road was tiny and really couldn't handle another house let alone the disruption while the work was being carried out. Anyway he posted the planning notice on his front fence for all to see then parked his car right up against it so no one could see what he was planning to do. Some people!

Canalside residence

I see from Andrew Denny nb Granny Buttons that there are moves afoot by local residents and local councillors to curtail moorings at Battlebridge Basin, Kings Cross. Having had a run in with a 'land pirate' recently at Kidlington I cant help wondering why it is that these people think their 'rights' extend past their property line.

The canal is a feature of many residential areas and I assume a selling point for any future house sales. Why is it that they will kick up a stink about boats while they live in their houses but as soon as they want to sell they will advertise it as Sought after canalside residence and add several thousand pounds to the asking price. Either they want to live near a canal or they don't, if they do then they have to accept that canals have boats on them or they could do the decent thing and hand over any cash gained from the sale, specifically because the house is near a canal, to BW who I am sure would put it to good use. . . . . . maybe.

I don't seek out conflict but if I see any homemade signs against mooring in a particular area I make a point of mooring. If we allow these 'little Hitlers' to have their way there will soon be no where to moor except out in the sticks and then the English Heritage will get on their hobby horse. We are in a no win situation.

Maybe if the councils would put up proposals for draining the canals and using them for land fill sites then the locals would be only too glad to fight to keep the canals, boats and all.

Still in Thrupp

So here I am outside the Jolly Boatman having moved from the Boat Inn just a few hundred yards up the canal. You just have to love Thrupp the place is a nice village location and like all villages filled with intrigue and stealth. I have met a few of the locals that I met last time I was here in June, I think it was, and things have changed a bit. Who is doing what with who? I am beginning to learn, but really don't want to. Mort says I am to sensitive and should not let it get to me.

My eye is progressing well. The bubble is dissolving and I can see quite well out of the eye though the image I see is somewhat smaller than the good eye. Tomorrow I will see the doctor for the first time since the last op.

My good eye which adjusted from long vision to closer vision after I had the 'accident' is now reverting to its norm which is a good sign that the op eye is doing good.

Time to put the washing machine on. Ciao

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

The man himself

Eugene Baston came sauntering down the towpath this morning with a cheery "Hello". There was me wondering how I was going to move Milly to the 14 day mooring having just had my eye done yesterday and Big G provided the solution. Not exactly a cruise, just 400 yards but much needed because I had out stayed my welcome on the 48 at the Boat Inn. I am now moored outside the Jolly Boatman.

Coffee and Hob Nobs were served and a long chat transpired. More coffee was drunk at nb Bones and more chat.

Don't believe all you hear about EB he really is a nice chap.

Many thanks EB, nice to see you again.

Monday, 5 November 2007

A Poke in the Eye!

Once again I trekked to the John Radcliffe hospital for an eye inspection this morning. Well the good news is it was OK but the other problem was causing some inflammation so had to be fixed, today.

There I was expecting a peaceful day and I find myself on the operating table for the second time in 5 weeks. An Aussie doctor poking me in the eye with a sharp stick. This time I was wide awake so was able to come home same day, which was nice. My lens is now back in its correct position and I am doing impressions of Pirate Pete. The good Dr Bones is doing her bit, she picked me up from the hospital even though she was not feeling too good herself.

So yet again I am in a fixed position and unable to move. Next appointment Friday. Ho hum!

Sunday, 4 November 2007


Last night after our 'epic' journey to Thrupp we sauntered over to Eynsham for dinner with Adam and Lucy. They had taken delivery of a large painting of Lucy done by local artist Lorna.

Adam is a very good chef and always comes up with the goods. Smoked Salmon to start, Partridge for main and Blueberry pie to finish. Absolutely superb! Thank you Adam.

We stayed overnight so Mort didn't have to worry about how much wine she consumed.

Saturday, 3 November 2007

To Thrupp

Well we have been here at Lower Heyford two weeks, time to move on. We are heading for Thrupp where Mort will moor for the winter and I will stay for a few days. Graham and Matilda came for some much needed tiller time. Graham will be getting his boat later this month and needs to bring it to Oxford from Tring. Having last been on a boat when he was eight this was a good opportunity to get familiar with steering a boat. Mort went to pick them up from Thrupp and I made my way down to the water point to fill prior to the trip. This was also Mort's plan but another boat with a very large tank beat her to it.

Graham came on board with me and Matilda went with Mort. We travelled the first two locks together, then let G&M take nb Bones alone down to the old quarry while Mort and I led the way. At the quarry we stoppped for lunch (we should have come here in the summer as originally planned it's a nice spot).

It was hard work for them but, I think they enjoyed themselves. At Thrupp I watered nb Bones while Mort took Milly M to moor up down by the Boat Inn then G&M drove her back to LH to collect her car. While she was away nb Bones now watered needed to be moved down to it winter mooring. With no head light (it's not wired in) I propped open the lift bridge and took the boat through in the dark. The mooring was just three boat spaces down.

Friday, 2 November 2007


A fruitful day. At long last I have managed to sort out my oil change. Over and out!

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Hello hello hello

Looking around my site meter I see that the BBC has been visiting the blog. I wonder what they are looking for? They can come and talk if they wish I am very open, probably too much so.

Page Views
Referring URL -
Visit Entry Page-
Visit Exit Page -
Out Click - GO HERE CLICK MILLY M http://www.waterexpl...owBoatLocations.aspx

I am a bit miffed that they came to me via MortBones but then they would have to start somewhere to get to the good stuff. ;-)