Friday, 30 July 2010

Good-bye Mister Chips

Here is Ron on nb MISTER CHIPS well into his seventies he puts most of us to shame. The boat is named after a now deceased dog.DSCF5440This is Wendy she is 80 and can still haul a boat in to the side.DSCF5441This is both of them with their dog Teddy Edward who does a remarkable impression of James Robertson Justice. Teddy’s trick, if indeed it is a trick, is drinking from the bottle that Ron is holding. DSCF5446A very lovely couple whom it was a pleasure to meet.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

STOP PRESS !!!!!!!

Guide Price £160,000 sold for £176,000. Bargain if you need an impromptu swimming pool.DSCF5157

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Some folk are strange

This boat came through the bridge today reversed up to the wall and the chap who operated the bridge then made his way around the safety fence and climbed down on to the boat from the ivy covered wall. The odd thing being that they then went to the water point which is probably 15 paces behind him. Pointless!

DSCF5451 DSCF5452 DSCF5453

By the river


Tuesday, 27 July 2010

The Cottages

The centre cottage sold last week circa £320,000. The mind boggles. The end cottage is up for £350,000. Who would want to buy a house for that price with the possibility of flooding and a railway at the back.DSCF5156 The last property to be auctioned in this block of three is on sale with a guide price of £160,000. As far as we can work out there were a few modifications to this building for which PP was not given.DSCF5157

A staircase inside had to be taken out and the flat roof on the extension had to be taken off and pitched.  DSCF5158

According to one prospective buyer it has only flooded twice in the last fifty years. He is one of those that knows everything. Locals say it floods every three or four years. I have been here 3 winters and it had flooded twice. The said prospective buyer is one of those you really don’t want as a neighbour. Despite being told where he can and cant park he insists on parking where he knows he is not supposed to. The house parking has been written into the deeds and it isn’t at the front anywhere! We have our fingers crossed hoping he fails in the auction. The last thing needed here is someone who complains about the price of a cup of tea.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

End of an era

Gipsy Rover, the home of antipodean retirees Derek and Dot Canvin, has been sold and D&D have made their last journey. Blogging will not be the same again. They were onboard 3 years 9 months (as long as me) and covered 2233 locks, 4335.88 miles, 96 tunnels, 131 swing bridges, 58 lift bridges and 6314.5 engine hours. This is no mean feat.Brownsover 019_thumb[4] Derek and Dot are really nice folks and if you didn’t meet them them you missed out. I met up with them three times and those meetings brightened my day.Brownsover 014_thumb[4]From "I suppose you must be Maffi," at Apsley Marina to “Hello you old Duffer,”  at Braunston, then “Fancy seeing you here,” on my way to Foxton, I looked forward to see the two D’s. It’s  been a while and I thought we may meet up again sometime soon. Maybe, maybe not.

Beat wishes to D&D on their new adventure.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Long term mooring


Captain Ahab

Capt Ahab came to visit last night from Bunigum. Andy and Helen stopped by for a short visit on their 22 wedding anniversary. They brought along son Dan.  Dan is interesting though he doesn’t know what he is listening to on his I-pod.

I was surprised to hear them because my mums a brummie and they don’t sound even remotely like her!

Good times.


Friday, 23 July 2010

More waste!

For 18 years the small dedicated group of TCCC resident boaters (5) at Thrupp have, as a condition of their mooring agreement, been responsible for mowing the grass between Shipton Bridge and Sparrow Gap Bridge BW are aware of this.

The club has all the equipment including safety gear. There is a rota and the job is done without fail. Being boaters they are sympathetic to the woes of boaters and don’t splatter the sides of boats with grass cuttings.

Well that’s nice I hear you say so what’s his point?

Well cash strapped British Waterways insist on sending in contractors to cut the grass. Some times they arrive only days after TCCC have done it.

The man on the right in the picture is strimming (badly) along side a boat I have just spent all morning cleaning.DSCF5173 (2) 

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

BW success story

The passage through Thrupp is now clear. BW have seriously cut back the overhanging willow tree opposite the cottages, which used to rob boaters of their roof adornments, to above head height.DSCF5154

There are about another 20 trees between here and Oxford that need the same treatment. Will they continue?


Tuesday, 20 July 2010

The BWB key

I noticed on my site meter that readers are asking Google where they can get a BW Oxford Canal key?

There is no ‘Oxford’ BW key. All BWB keys are the same and will fit the bridge.

I can’t imagine that any boater does not own a key, after all, water points,elsan points, shower blocks and some lock mechanisms are secured with these keys.

If you should come to Thrupp and need a key you can purchase one at Annie’s Tea Rooms during opening hours.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Oh dear the bridge again!

The Bridge has had many trials and tribulations in the two weeks since it has been installed, but now seems to be working without too much of a problem. It is important the the operator follows the instructions to the letter, no short cuts.

British Waterways would have you believe that the main reason for mechanising the bridge was for the benefit of the ‘thousands’ of single handed boaters who requested it. This may or may not have been true. Now however it is not true.

Let me explain. This bridge is seemingly a ‘one off’ in several ways:-

It is the only lift bridge on the Oxford Canal  that is a change over bridge. For those not into this stuff that means the towpath changes sides across this bridge.

It is a steel reinforced bridge to enable it to cope with trucks delivering Armco Piling and other building materials to the BW yard.

It has a max AUW of 7 tons. Most of the canals lift bridges are for farmers access allowing livestock and tractors across.

It is purely an access bridge into the yard, the road stops here.

Because it is a change over bridge the problem used to be getting from the towpath on one side of the bridge to the towpath on the other side after you had chained it down. This was addressed with the mechanisation in that the bridge could be operated from either side. You could operate the bridge from the control panel on one side, take your boat through then close the bridge using the panel on the other side then retrieve your key from the first panel then be on your way. All seems very plausible!

Since the jiggery pokery of the last two weeks the software has been amended many times. Sunday whilst watching the operation of the bridge I noticed that when the key is turned in one panel the other panel is locked out so it cannot be used. The single hander can raise the bridge and move his boat through and moor up on the opposite bank, however his key and the operative panel is now on the other side side of the canal. He could climb up the now raised deck and jump down on to the road to lower the bridge and retrieve his key but as was proved before the mechanisation this has a propensity to break legs

So British Waterways have spent nearly £30,000 curing a problem that they have now engineered back in. The problem still exists! I wish I was making this up.

Edit: It would seem this little anomaly no longer is the case. I took my boat up today (Tuesday) and the bridge worked fine

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Northern Pride

We got visited this weekend by a couple of Kiwi’s. Barry and Sandra are doing the system aboard the boat Northern Pride. They certainly chose a good weekend as not long after this picture was taken the pub was invaded by pirates.


One pirate took a liking to me, Barry and Bones. DSCF5113



Friday, 16 July 2010


I like Kidlington apart from a lot of pubs and eateries it has friendly policemen and culture. This sculpture (which must have cost a packet) can only be seen from either side.

DSCF5095 To view it from the front you can only see this below. How come the cultural attaché of Kidlington thought this was good idea I am yet to fathom but then I am yet to work out what it is.


Thursday, 15 July 2010

Is it me . . . .

. . . . or does College Cruisers have a better class of stupid!!!DSCF5099 What were they thinking?

My conversation with this ‘moorer’  on Balliol went like this:-

“Excuse me sir this is not a good idea. A cyclist wont see this.”

“I thought that, we are going to move them,” he said.

In my head I am thinking to myself, “you are sitting down to lunch when the bloody hell did you propose to move them,” but I just couldn’t get it out of my mouth so I left. Yes they are new to this but they have been out all week and are 3 hours away from base. I have a dog that knows this isn’t right. It is not for me to say if anyone should or should not be allowed to be on a boat but these people will do the waterways a favour if they don’t come back.

Nearly half an hour later, when I am returning from my dog walk, they are just getting ready to move off. So when he said, “We are going to move them”, what he meant was, “when we have finished lunch”.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Oh dear!

The chain has been removed from the end of the balance beam, not only that but the staple as well. I thought this was the barmiest thing BW has done. There is now no way to manually operate the bridge in the event of a failure, but then that is a fatalistic point of view! Making the assumption that the bridge will fail. We must go forward with this modernisation and believe it will work. Believe it will work continuously without fail for some time to come. I can hear some old boater complaining about the last technology update. I can hear the weather beaten voice of an aging Arthur Hone asking, “What was wrong wi’ yon rope?” “I bet that  thar’ chain cost a pretty penny?” “Whose gonna pay fer that then?”DSCF5073 Like it or not we will get used to this. We will pass the days of dangling on the chain into the far recesses of of our minds and trawl them out on the days we reminisce in the bar about how it used to be when we were boaters if we can find anyone to listen, and like as not our grand children will will rue the day they started having to call BW who would then operate the bridge remotely from their Leeds office after it has been decided that boaters are possibly too stupid delicate  to operate a couple of buttons.

Progress, we all appreciate that which we like and denigrate that which we dislike. We have to put up with it all we can’t cherry pick. The buttons are here to stay, if you don’t like it there are other canals, take your pick.

Boots, of course, is taking it all in his stride. Well he never had to  dangle did he? He is currently composing an Aria for the lament of the bridge.DSCF5063Molly has a stick which seems to make her queen of the May and the Queen never dangles so no opinion is given.DSCF4840

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Taking a look

The old boaters used to call falling in ‘Taking a look’. Whether they meant taking a look at the bottom of the canal or the bottom of the boat is not clear.

It is however, vitally important to remember that when you push a boat off the side you remember how tall you are or you may end up at the end of your reach an have to do an inspection.


Sunday, 11 July 2010

Midsummer Milly

The latest offering from Windlass Publishing is Midsummer Millymilly

Not as exciting as Ol’ One Eye but  endearing nonetheless.

Click the link in the right side bar to order your copy.

Saturday, 10 July 2010


I have now lost interest in the newly mechanised bridge. It is Saturday afternoon. The engineers have been here all morning fixing the locks they broke yesterday. The bridge locked out last afternoon, but had miraculously reset itself this morning and worked faultlessly all morning until the engineers left, then some twat pulled on the chain and broke the bridge. It will not reset. Buggerit! BW can come on Monday.


nb BARNABY stopped by this week for a few days. I was intrigued by this on his roof.DSCF4966 At first glance it looks like a stand for his solar panels, which it is. His sliding hatch does slide neatly under it, but  Barnaby tells me he never make something for the boat unless it has two functions. Pulling on the ‘stand’ reveals a folding something or other.DSCF4965Pulling more reveals the genius.DSCF4962

Not everyone’s cup of tea, but in the event of a sudden downpour it takes just a few seconds to stave off the worst of it. Best of all it doesn’t look as ugly as a pram hood when folded.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Once more with feeling

Today at around 1 pm the bridge broke. It was different than previous days. It broke in the up position. Needless to say the Tea Rooms were not happy. The people who wanted to go to the Tea Rooms were not happy. The people who were at the Tea Rooms were not happy. And Tim who owns the Tea Rooms was livid.

The whole thing began when nb HERBERT came to the bridge. He inserted the key pushed the up button and up went the bridge. After the statutory 45 seconds he pressed the down button and nothing happened, zip zero, nada. He couldn’t even retrieve his key. Herbert stopped by to say hello and tell me the story.DSCF4991  DSCF4992 

By the time I got to the bridge there were a lot of stern faces. Here is Nigel from BW helping to close the bridge. Notice how close his toes are to the now closing bridge. This whole exercise is supposed to be about Health & Safety. My personal opinion is that BW wouldn’t know H&S if it kicked them in the B*ll*x. As much as I now believe in this project I still think that BW’s high spot in engineering ended with the Gumball Machine.DSCF4997

While the engineers did manage to bring a BWB key they couldn’t manage to open their kiosk without forcing it.


The bridge was finally lowered by reversing a Cherwell Council truck (which had been trapped on the wrong side of the failed bridge) on to it and the grunting of several people lifting the beams. I don’t think the grunting did much other than having a profound effect on the bridges resolve to stay open.DSCF4994

If there was an Olympic event for shooting oneself in the foot BW would have all the medals.


The bridge broke down again yesterday. I called BW at 11.15. The engineers that came to sort it got the call at 13.30 at which time they were on the M5 near Bath (so much for the 2 hour call out time). They arrived about 3 ish.

Now the problem is two fold.

1. People still keep raising the bridge on the chain. If the bridge is broke you have to do that but if the bridge ain’t broke then pulling on the chain will break it oops! sorry, ‘cause it to fail’.

2. there is nothing to tell them not to. Add to that when people arrive at the bridge for the first time there is no sign to say it is electric, I believe BW is addressing that. Tying the chain up seems to work.

However the control panel (CP) is bleedin’ Huge so really on that point there is no excuse. Yesterday evening not long after the engineers had left a guy was starting to raise the bridge with the chain, I asked him to stop because the bridge was now electric. He said “Well it didn’t work yesterday. I cant argue with that, but he should have checked. The CP tells you when the bridge is not working.

Like it or not the automatic bridge is here to stay. We will get used to it and in years to come some will tell their grandchildren of the time when the bridge had to be raised by hand and they wont believe them or maybe kids will learn about the time it was hydraulic, who knows?

The abutments at Aynho lift bridge have recently been rebuilt. This was required because repeated dropping of the bridge by inconsiderate boaters caused the brickwork to fail. The cost £200,000. All I can say is if spending nearly £30,000 at Aubrey’s can save £200,000 then it was worth it.

PS the engineers that came yesterday didn’t have a key, would you believe it? So they borrowed mine.DSCF4908 There will no longer be pretty pictures of “AUBREY’S”. You can see from this picture that the control panel is very noticeable (I am miffed that I didn’t get a picture like this before the CP arrived). This is just one of the panels, a second one resides just out of the picture to the left. They are supposed to have ‘low visual impact’. The colour options were Black, Green, Grey, Stainless. Black may not have been the best choice. Maybe polished Stainless steel would have been better, at least it would have reflected the surrounding greenery. BW wanted Black, Why?

Shed or vestry

This boat turned up at Thrupp this week


What a good idea for a cratch!


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Update on breaking news

This afternoon the company that built the bridge operating mechanism, Bridges, arrived to fix the problem. Minus one very important bit of kit. No one had thought to supply them with a key . . . . Doh!

They had to buy one from Annie’s Tea Rooms. How cool is that?


Edit: the bridge is now operative!

Breaking news

This just in from my contact in Thrupp the bridge has failed and is currently in manual mode.

Bull’s eyes

The BSS has taken leave of it’s senses and come up with a scheme to ‘prevent’ fires due to the use of deck lights (bull’s eyes) in boats examiners will simply fail a boat that has scorching on the inside under the deck light’

QUOTE “Fixtures around bull’s eyes will now be checked as part of the BSS examination. Any signs of overheating, scorching, or charring to the material around a bull’s eye will result in the boat being failed.”

Well that will work wont it? So now there are likely to be more unlicensed boats because they can’t get a BSS.

Graham Watts BSS Manager said,

"If you have a bull’s eye deck light fitted, please check any surfaces below it for signs of scorching.

Does he think people are likely not to notice if their boat is or has been burning?

He went on to say,

"Even if there is no sign of damage make sure that anything that can be affected including any loose objects, are kept at least 300 mm away from bull’s eyes."

Does he not know that bull’s eyes are fitted to the roof.

It seems to me that if the bull’s eye is placed curved side up the effect would be to take light from the outside and concentrate it on the inside the ship/boat. There may be others out there that can explain why I am wrong but surely if the dome is placed on the inside the light inside will be spread out so not concentrating in one area causing a fire. Is this logical or have I got it wrong.

Jim Hutchieson an eminent man is many fields of science says,

Convex side of glass should be inside!!  This is how they have been fitted for hundreds of years.  Ask a physicist .

So if Jim is right, and I have no reason to believe he is not, should owners of boats simply be told to turn the lens over.

Canoe and Kayak hire in Oxford

Have you ever thought you might like to take out a canoe or kayak on to Oxfords waterways for the afternoon now the hot weather is here?

Where would you go to languish on the calm waters of the Oxford Canal or paddle along the more challenging river?

Where would you go in Oxford to hire a canoe or kayak?

Canoe & Kayak Hire

Thrupp Oxford

Canoe Clip Art

In Thrupp, 8 miles north of Oxford, at the old BW yard on the OXFORD CANAL you can hire a canoe or kayak by the hour or by the day/half day. You can set off in tree lined shade along the canal and then on to the river for an enjoyable paddle ‘up the creek’ so to speak.

If you can’t be bothered to make lunch we can provide a picnic lunch for £8 pp. You can have lunch in Annie’s Tea Rooms or finish your day with a fabulous dinner at the near by Boat Inn

North from Thrupp will take you by way of Shipton Weir Lock onto the River Cherwell where you can go north again to Bakers lock and The Rock of Gibraltar or south down towards the old paper mill at Hampton Gaye.

South from Thrupp to the Jolly Boatman then onward you will pass the outskirts of Kidlington and if you are fit down to the River Thames.

Phone 01865842708

The phone will be answered by a garden landscaping company but it is all the same people so leave a message. If you want to turn up on spec ask in the tea rooms for me, Maffi, and we will get your boat out onto the water.

Set your Tom Tom to OX5 1JZ Look forward to seeing you soon.


Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Red Kite

Sometimes you manage to get a picture that ain’t perfect but none too shabby considering the distance, in this case about 250 yds.


Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle

You might want to see this especially if you are a fan.


This is the emergency number for British Waterways. It appears to be a freephone number, but I wonder how many boaters that use it have a land line in their boat. When calling this number or any other 0800 number for that matter, which on the canal would be from a mobile, a voice comes on the phone and says you will be charged for this call. I always thought emergency calls were free, obviously wrong!

Monday, 5 July 2010

First boat through

First boat through the newly mechanised bridge SOMERVILLE from College Cruisers. I am glad there were 9 yes you read it right 9 technical staff on hand to help them through.


Lash up

So nearly six months after the project began Aubrey’s Lift bridge is now mechanised. Despite British Waterways continuing to tell lies about the why and wherefores. Operation of the bridge is now only available to those with a BWB Key. BWB Keys are £7 from Annie's tea rooms during opening hours.DSCF4894 I watched as the supervisor started to place a safety barrier around the hole where one of the team was already working. He dropped the barrier on the head of the chap down the hole, who I might add wasn't wearing a hard hat. Then he realised that people were still crossing the bridge and decided to put up a safety barrier across the road but people still crossed then another barrier arrived which seemed to cure the problem. There are proper tools to lift the lid on hydraulic box but these guys use screwdrivers and spanners.DSCF4900 One of the team was having trouble reading the LCD display in the sunshine and said, “ Oh it alright its usually raining” There was no indication at the top of the road of the bridge closure so a traffic jam ensued.DSCF4898 From a boating point of view it really could have been done better and cheaper. Considering there are only two operating switches on each panel there are an awful lot of wires. DSCF4880The Banbury style bridge could have been used merely adding an extra hand pump (windlass operated) on the opposite side of the bridge. On a good day boats will be queuing up to get through the bridge due to the timing of the operation. It takes 38 seconds to lift the now dry bridge. Before the bridge can be dropped there is a wait of  80 secs (it is supposed to be 45) and the bridge takes 15 seconds to drop. That’s not long you might think,but unlike before when someone lifted the bridge two three or even four boats came through now only one boat can come through because the person who  operated the bridge cant get their key out until the bridge is closed so they wont stay and let others through or they will lose their place in the queue at the next lock.

British Waterways have failed so far to address H&S issues that have arisen out of this installation.

1. There is nothing to stop car drivers from driving on to the bridge before it is fully down. I have seen this happen with somebody still lowering the bridge with the chain. How long before this becomes the place to try a new trick on your BMX.

2. There is nothing to stop people standing under the beams and getting crushed. They used to stand behind the chain and pull the beam on to their heads.

3. There is nothing to stop people sitting on the beam when the bridge is in the raised position and ‘riding up’ on the beam when the bridge is dropped.

British Waterways may well ask why would people do these things? to which the answer is, why should a drunk climb up the raised deck and jump off? 

Those are the major hazards. You could add to the list:-

4.  the trip hazard caused by the ill fitting lid on the /hydraulic jack box which is in the centre of the ramp leading down to the  yard and

5. the trip hazard that because of the stupid positioning of the control box requires the operator to step over a wall.DSCF4884

This bridge should never have been mechanised under H&S law. There is a term in H&S law which ends by saying . . . . “as far as is reasonably practicable”

I don’t think anyone can call  in excess of £30,000 reasonably practicable because one drunk stupidly broke his legs. One recorded accident in 220 years. This project was about saving someone’s ass at BW. Someone who didn't want to risk his nice cushy job

So on the risk assessment  where it asks the likelihood of an accident occurring it should have been entered as low ( I don’t think there is a option for negligible). Under H&S law 1 accident in 220 years doesn't even register on the scale. Whoever did this risk assessment should be fired for gross incompetence.

When I mentioned to a team member that this was one of the easiest bridges for the single hander, having done it about 100 times myself he said, and I quote “1000s of single handers had asked for it to be mechanised. I would seriously doubt that there are 1000’s of single handers, (the drunk wasn’t a single hander) so yet another lie. A bit like the lie told to a local meeting where BW said that the IWA were in favour of mechanising the bridge. Someone at the meeting phoned the IWA and asked “about this bridge?”. To which the reply  was “Which bridge?”

One of the installation engineers said they would be on call 24/7 but that his nearest repair engineer was 2 hours away.

The heart of the project

The workings of one of the two control panels. This one contains the hydraulic pump. This morning BW will be connecting all the gubbins up and the bridge will be operative. Well we live in hope!

DSCF4821 DSCF4820DSCF4819

The hydraulic jack installed but not connected.