Sunday, 13 October 2019

Carl's Thoughts on Ducks and Newts

Tatenhill Mooring
Dear All

The perfect place to find proper puddles is on a canal tow path. The best time to experience them is four in the morning. You will need one torch, one small dog that is desperate for a pee, one half-asleep dog owner, and a pair of old slippers. Method: switch on torch. Put on old slippers. Let dog out. Stumble out yourself armed with shovel (just in case) and follow dog half a mile down the tow path. After an eternity of aimlessly milling about step into a large muddy puddle. Lift out foot and retrieve slipper. 
Toadstools or Mushrooms?
All this talk of puddles reminds me that it's been raining cats and dogs for the last few weeks. Of course, dear reader, it hasn't really been raining. It's actually England crying, and frankly I don't blame her. As the river has been in flood recently we weren't sure whether we could travel from Alrewas to Wychnor. As luck would have it the level had dropped from red to amber yesterday and the locks were open to river traffic. The current was swift, however, and swept us down to Wychnor lock in double quick time. It's been a bit of a windy old week as well, truth be told. I put the blame firmly at the door of the new dog food.
Signpost on the Trent and Mersey - almost home

We have observed a variety of waterfowl this year, including the flightless steamer duck, the wandering whistle-duck, the freckled duck, the masked duck, a flock of bean geese and some common pygmy geese. We've also seen eighty seven moorhens and three ordinary hens. Actually, to be honest with you, dear reader, I'm not a duck expert, so they might just have been ordinary village pond ducks.
Lesser spotted Window Newt!
Now, I can't talk about ducks without mentioning newts. They're amphibians, you know. They don't accept this classification though, and at job interviews always describe themselves as team players who work well under pressure. Sadly, employers are reluctant to employ them, due to the demands for time off for hibernation. Only this morning, a newt climbed one of our windows looking for a job. Before we could take his particulars a boss man came over and wanted "Tiny" back. I said to him that's a funny name, isn't it? "Not really", he replied. "It's my newt". Think about it; minute (as in very small), my newt. The old ones are the best. Or perhaps not.
An Unexpected Plate Mountain
Something else we saw yesterday, which was unexpected to say the least, was a mountain of broken white plates and bowls. Probably donated by Jugglers-Are-Us. They must be destined for recycling into something else; supermarkets, probably, to make up the shortfall in out-of-town shopping centres.
Street Sign in Atherstone - Holyhead 180 miles away!
Earlier this week we passed under a canal bridge. Nothing unusual about this, it is the traditional way of dealing with them. I mention this particular overpass because it instantly transported me back to 1997, and brought back memories of "Education, Education, Education!". Remember that disappointing non-event? I'll get to the point. The graffiti defacing this centuries old structure read "keep carm smoke jonits'. Give me strength. While I'm ranting, I'll mention that other lie they told us. "Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime". What a joke that was. They didn't say anything about only being tough on the victims of crime. Why oh why can't a government just punish criminals properly, instead of endlessly hand-wringing, making excuses, removing deterrents and being mortally afraid of anything approaching appropriate sentencing?
Are you warm enough Tricky?

I'm afraid I'm going to have to whinge a bit more. While cruising along this week, I have mostly been wondering about local authorities, and local road resurfacing, or "dressing", as we call it. They favour the "throw lots of loose gravel around in the hope that some might stick to the recently spread tar" technique. The worrying thing about this is that it confirms there are deranged cretins in positions of authority. What sane person would approve of a way of resurfacing a road that makes it worse and more dangerous than it was before? Linked to this is the placing of strategic road signs on the highway, warning of newly resurfaced roads. The secondary purpose of these omens is to indicate a speed limit which almost makes walking quicker, albeit more dangerous. The main reason of course is that the signs act as a disclaimer to protect them, the council, from possible litigation.
Autumn on the River at Wychnor (2018)
There is a load of rubbish advertised on television and radio these days. Shampoo that contains, amongst other things, caffeine. Great, if you want your hair to be wide awake and alert. Cars that can do two hundred and four miles to the gallon; except they can't, because in the tiny, tiny grey print at the bottom of the screen is the admission that "real world figures may differ...". More annoying still are the inane adverts with people shouting and whooping all over the place and the ones with horrible, horrible rap type music blaring out. Why do advertisers think this will make us buy their products? Bring back the PG tips advert: "Dad, do you know the piano is on my foot?". "You hum it son, and I'll play it", or words to that effect. And the Cadburys Smash advert: "They peel them with their metal knives ha ha ha". The commercials were so entertaining back then. At least they were to a grumpy old git like me. I sometimes think we living through some sort of reverse progress strategy.
Tatenhill Mooring
Hardly any of this week's splurge has been about boating I'm afraid, dear reader. Briefly, then, we have been cruising along the Coventry canal from Nuneaton to Fradley junction, observing lakes where fields used to be, hunkering down during heavy rain and occasionally doing battle with strong winds (from the Atlantic, not from Tricky). At Fradley we rejoined the Trent and Mersey canal and travelled down through Alrewas to today's mooring, just above Tatenhill lock. And that is the end, almost, of this year's wandering. The last leg is to travel to Willington, turn, and then moor at our home moorings for the winter. So Adios Amigos.

Love from

The Floating Chandlers

P.S. On Wednesday we had a phone call from a neighbour. Apparently, someone has dumped a ton of soil on our front garden. We have no idea who could have done this. The plot thickens. Come on, think about it!
And it's goodbye from Tricky too

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Where Did all Those Boats Come From?

Misty Morning

Morning Jotters

Everyone got their heating on? We've had some very chilly mornings this week, including a proper frost on the morning we set off down the three locks at Hillmorton. The previous afternoon had been sunny and warm, in fact it was so nice that we wandered off down the lane, enjoying the sunshine, as we looked for wood to replenish the stick box. A huge swathe of countryside between Rugby and the M1 is being infilled with houses, and this quiet road, and the hedgerow beside it, will soon be surrounded by a huge estate. It's a very old hedge, thick with hawthorn, elder, brambles and ivy and, even this late in the season, alive with insects and butterflies. I hope it survives but I very much fear it will be ripped up as soon as the nesting season is over.
Late Butterflies
The locks at Hillmorton were covered in warning tape down one side of the paired locks, meaning 3 of the 6 locks were closed. I didn't expect it to be much of a problem, the boating season is nearly over and normally, the amount of boats moving about reduces to a trickle. I opened the top lock gates for a 'Ginger' hire boat and waved them off towards Braunston as Carl came chugging along and popped straight into the waiting lock. I let out the water and opened the gates thinking that we'd soon be down the locks and chugging along in the sun. Unfortunately, that's when things ground to a halt! There was a boat and butty coming up the next lock and we had to wait for them to empty and fill the lock twice in order to bring both boats up then hook up the butty and chug up to the next lock to repeat the process. By the time they got through, there was a queue of boats waiting behind them and some not very happy boaters looking glum. Luckily for us, they were keen to get us out of their way, and so we had lots of help getting down the next two locks. We chugged off towards Rugby, still meeting boat after boat and we wondered where they had all come from. I found out via Facebook that it was taking boats 2 hours to get through the locks that day and I was glad we were going the other way except that we met a boat at every bridge, squeezed through the jam packed moorings at Rugby and met two boats in the very narrowest part, had to do an emergency landing to get Tricky off for some urgent business and then the bright day disappeared under a blanket of grey clouds and a biting wind so we moored up in a lonely spot and lit the fire and felt better.
Frosty Morning
I think we have been very lucky with the weather this week, we mostly move in the mornings and have seen some beautiful, crisp autumnal days. Any rain has mostly fallen overnight or in the evening when we are moored up and we've been tucked up nice and cosy with the stove lit. Since we turned the corner at Hawksbury, we've seen very few boats moving and have moored in solitary splendour, with just the hum of the M6 in the distance to remind us that civilisation is only 3 fields away.
I'm happy to report that we had an uneventful journey through Braunston tunnel on Monday – we didn't meet a single boat. Hurray! As we left the tunnel and approached the top lock down to Braunston, the lock gates were open for us to join up with another boat which was just setting off - another Hurray! The couple we were sharing with were old hands and the morning sped by as we descended the six locks in record time. We stopped for water by the Gongoozlers Rest and feeling peckish, we ordered bacon and sausage cobs and ate them as we chugged through the village and slipped into our favourite mooring by the sheep field. We stayed an extra night there so we could make one last trip into Daventry for supplies and to request a new phone line and broadband package for our winter quarters. I cancelled everything when we left home in the spring - it seemed like a good idea at the time but I forgot that our phone number would be lost. Doh! If you have the old one ending in 683 or 796, can you delete it and I'll send out the new one when I get it.
Braunston Locks
The weather forecast for today was for heavy rain and we woke early to the sound of rain tapping on the roof. Being lazy boaters, we turned over and went back to sleep and I was resigned to having a housekeeping day and watching the 'Gavin and Stacy' box set which has just surfaced from the DVD cupboard. It makes a change from 'Dinner Ladies' and 'Early Doors' - anyone got any recommendations for something a bit more modern? What's your favourite Box Set on a rainy day? When we finally surfaced, the rain had cleared off and the sun was shining. Well, I wasn't expecting that! We set off quickly, before the weather changed its mind and I walked along the tow path still Face-timing with my daughter 'Nanny Claire' and blowing kisses at our Oakley (Great Grandson and just starting to walk - Smiley Face Emoji) Isn't technology marvellous!! We moored in Nuneaton and walked to Sainsbugs to get Tricky her favourite dog food. We ran out of her tinned stuff weeks ago and have been trying all sorts of different brands in an effort to find her a suitable replacement. Every day it's the same, Carl puts some delicious looking chunks of chicken in gravy/jelly/sauce into her dish, mixes in a few biscuits and Tricky strolls up, sniffs it, stares at it and then looks at Carl with disdain. It stays in her dish until she is ravenous enough to eat it, then she spits out the bits that offend her the most and then makes the most disgusting smells all evening to punish us. Today, I came home carrying Sainsburys entire stock of her favourite Chicken Pate- only 5 tins but if we eke it out it might last until we get to Burton Upon Trent. She wolfed it down, licked the bowl and is now snoring contentedly in her bed. Thank goodness for that, I can't bear it when she sits looking at me, with those soulful eyes, begging to be fed.
That's a Big One Carl!

The weather stayed fine today so, while I was tapping away, writing to you, Carl disappeared into the engine 'ole, to service our Beta Marine. It's a horrid job which involves balancing awkwardly over the engine and performing more contortions than a game of Twister to get the old oil out. Once that's done, then he refills it with the expensive liquid gold that is, apparently, a must for keeping our engine in tip top condition. I tore myself away from the keyboard and made him a cup of tea and, as a treat, I broke into the emergency chocolate hobnobs to cheer him up - that seemed to do the trick.
Late Visitor
This week we'll be chugging down the Coventry Canal towards Fradley and slowly, slowly our boating year is winding down. We hope to be back afloat again next year and, if you really think I should, then I might continue writing the Jottings (Winking face emoji)

Lots of Love
The Floating Chandlers
Braunston Bridge

Ps I expect Carl will want to round off our boating year with one of his rantings next week – he has been saving some of his best jokes for you!
No comment required

Braunston Marina

Late Butterfly

Baldrick's Moustache

Sunday, 29 September 2019

Breasted Pair and Buttys

LA Looking Good

Morning All

It's a very wet Sunday here on the Grand Union and we are moored by the Buckby Lock shop in company with a working coal delivery boat called Southern Star. We came up the locks together and it was a pleasure to meet Ryan, boatman extraordinaire, who delivers coal under the flag of Jules Fuels. We met the southern team last week, working a pair of boats delivering coal, gas and fuel to boats between Stoke Bruerne and the outskirts of London. We followed them over The Iron Trunk at Cosgrove and I walked ahead to take photos of them squeezing their breasted-up pair over the aqueduct. It has a dizzying drop over one side, it's not as high or as long as the Pontcysyllte but still takes your breath away as you look over the side. We overtook them as they stopped to serve customers, heaving bags of coal and bottles of gas across from one rocking boat to another. We waved and smiled to the hard working couple who make their living working these beautiful old boats. They passed us again the next morning, clad in waterproofs and sou'westers, the motor boat towing the butty through the pouring rain. Carl and I returned to our late breakfast in front of a nice warm stove and we didn't set out till hours later, when the rain had cleared. No timetables or schedule for us, except to be sure to get to the services before the water tank runs out. We thought we might make it to Leighton Buzzard this week but an unexpected invitation arrived for a get together in Weedon and so we turned at Great Linford and started back the way we had come.
Ryan on Southern Star

On Monday morning, I was leaning out of the hatch, looking at the sky to see if the predicted heavy rain was on its way. The sky was blue with fluffy white clouds - no sign of rain. I was just going to ask Carl what time he wanted to set out when a boat came by and I called out to ask the steerer if he wanted company down the locks. I'm not sure that Carl was ready for me to come thundering down the boat with the news that we were setting off RIGHT NOW. He might still have been eating his breakfast, but I'm afraid I had the bit between my teeth and I jumped straight into my boots, grabbed my windlass and headed off in hot pursuit of our new partners. Oh joy! Two couples sharing a boat which meant 2 experienced, muscly men with windlasses, while their lady wives (wo)manned the tiller. I was expecting to fly down the Stoke Bruerne flight and be moored up by dinner time. I should have know better than to plan so far ahead. At the third lock we came up behind another pair, going down the locks ahead of us and that is when the day ground to a halt. One couple were new hirers and were taking advice from the other pair, who had just picked up their first boat and were taking it back to their marina. I did my best to help them by shutting my mouth firmly and not giving them unwanted advice - I've found that most people would rather get their rope wrapped round their prop than be warned about the possibility by someone who forgot to comb their hair that morning! In order to be helpful, I raced ahead and set the locks for them so they could go straight in without having to moor up between locks. Leaving them to descend the locks at their own speed, I puffed back up the hill, closed the gates and started refilling the lock for our pair. Once they're in the lock then I'm off back down the tow-path to start the process all over again. I well remember how terrified I was the first time we did a lock on our hire boat and how everyone we met was so helpful and kind to us, so it was nice to see them smiling a bit more as they got the hang of things. Meanwhile, I felt like I had run a marathon and my arms ached from winding so many paddles. Carl had to make the cheese sandwiches while I dived under a hot shower to recover. I'm starting to think I might have to surrender the windlass to Carl more often. He would like to swap jobs sometimes but I think that once I give up the windlass then there will be no hope for my waistline!
Black Betty or Rama Lama Ding Dong?
The change in weather has made a nice change, we have spent cosy evenings listening to the rain drumming on the roof and although the days have been showery, we have mostly been lucky and had sunshine as we chugged along through the outskirts of Milton Keynes and back. Our overnight moorings have been rural and quiet and our trip back up the locks to Stoke Bruerne was a doddle as we shared with a hire boat who had lots of enthusiastic helpers keen to get us up the flight in time for lunch. Blisworth tunnel was all ours and we moored up on the horse field at Gayton just as the clouds rolled in and we shut up shop against the wind and rain that came bowling over the hill.
Raindrops on New Paint
Next morning was overcast and the wind was gusting hard as we set off for Weedon - not our favourite boating conditions. Tricky and I walked ahead, stopping every now and then to pick my breakfast from the luscious crop of blackberries along here. I waited under Banbury Lane bridge, with Tricky under one arm and two nice bits of wood under the other, while Carl battled to get the boat in close enough to pick us up. There was an ominous rattling noise just at the crucial moment and Carl had to knock the engine out of gear. We'd got something on the prop! That's not the best way to start the day, up to your armpit in murky canal water, cutting bailing twine off the prop. We swapped places and I took the tiller while Carl went below for a wash and a warm and came back with two mugs of coffee and a penguin each. We beat the rain to get to Weedon in plenty of time to meet our friends at the Narrow Boat and a very merry evening was had by all.(Chinking glasses Emoji)
Lots of Laughter

I've rambled on too long as usual and I do hope you're not yawning into your coffee. Next week it will be October and the organised folk will start feeding their Christmas Cake! Sorry - did I scare you with the Christmas Word?

Love from

The Floating Chandlers

PS Called in at the Royal Ordnance Depot in Weedon yesterday. What a gem. The history of the place is fascinating and we found a great second hand book shop, art gallery and curio shop in addition to a small visitors centre. Worth a visit if you're passing that way.
Weedon Royal Ordnance Depot

PPS We saw Kingfishers almost every day this week, very reassuring after a year with hardly a sighting.
Loved this little chap on look out

Crossing the Iron Trunk
The Depot at Weedon
Graffiti or Art? 

Sunshine and Showers at Stoke Bruerne

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Trouble N Strife

Stoke Bruerne at Night

 Morning Jotters

We have been truly blessed with the most splendid autumn sunshine this week - every morning we've woken to clear blue skies and the pale shadow of the moon, shining on defiantly against the rising sun. The canals are wreathed in early morning mist and the first hint of a frosty rime touches the shady hedgerows, glittering and sparkling as I peek through the curtains. This is the very best combination of autumnal weather - hot sunny days, cool nights and, for the boater, just a hint of a breeze so that the boat needs only the lightest touch on the tiller to keep a straight course.
Gayton Mooring
 This week we hung around Bugbrooke for a few days, mooring by the Wharf pub for one night then pushing over onto the tow-path side for a second night. We visited the 'Battery Boys' at Boating Leisure Services to get our Eberspacher (heating system) fixed and had a guided tour of their latest fit out - a beautiful boat that will, I'm sure, win them more medals at the Crick show. We do love our boat but I was very envious of the granite work tops and dishwasher in the spacious galley and the full size shower with a thermostatic mixer control. It's hard to get the settings just right with our old fashioned tap system, I'm often caught out with a cold blast when I'm expecting hot and vice versa. The price tag made our eyes water but the amount of technology installed in the 'electrics' cupboard made us envious.
Just Cruisin'
We'd arranged to meet our friends Richard and Mel for a farewell supper at the Wharf on Wednesday and we arrived early to make sure we got a place on the pub moorings. The sun was shining hotly when we arrived so up when the panels and out came the rubber brush to clean up the hairy mats, ready for inspection. I had promised our guests that I would make scones for afternoon tea but during the clean up operation, I ripped the nail off my thumb and it had to be plastered up. Not to be beaten, I press-ganged Carl into being my hands, while I gave him instructions about kneading, rubbing and rolling out. Carl didn't understand the term 'gather your mixture' but eventually the ball of scone mixture was ready to be shaped and cut out. After a bit of a slapping about from Carl, they were eventually popped into a hot oven where we promptly forgot about them until the guests arrived. I looked up from my Sudoku puzzle just in time to save them from cremation and Carl got 10 out of 10 for his first attempt at baking. They were delicious, hot from the oven with butter and jam.
Blue Skies, Chilly Mornings
 Next morning, we pushed across to the public moorings and, leaving Tricky on guard duty, we caught a bus into town. Carl went to Northampton on his bus, to see his Dad and have a wander around his home town. I went into Daventry and spent a lovely sunny hour browsing the charity shops, before diving into Waitrose for smoked haddock and salad stuff to match the weather. Later that afternoon, when we were both back aboard, we thought about chugging off to a more remote spot but Carl said he ought to make the most of the nice weather and got out his black paint to touch up the gunwhales. Big Mistake as they say in Pretty Woman. The guy on the boat in front struck up a generator, which he positioned on his back deck, right next to our front doors. After an hour, fed up of the noise and smoke, I went off with the dog to collect wood for the morning. As I came back, clutching a good sized log in my hand, I could see Carl and the big chap with the generator 'having words'. I hurried up towards them and the chap turned, saw me coming in my 'clown' trousers (baggy, black and white and sooooo comfy)clutching a 'cudgel' and he scurried off back inside his own boat. I'm not sure what it was that made him change his mind, I don't think I looked that scary really, but maybe he thought I was a bit potty.
Sunset Evening
We were up and off early the next morning, back to the horse field at Gayton where there is only the occasional train whizzing by to disturb the peace and the distant honking of hooters from cars going over the tiny humpbacked canal bridge nearby. Tricky and I wandered along the dewy tow-path, eating the blackberries (me, not Tricky) and scooted aboard quickly to avoid the man walking 5 Border Collies towards us. They were joyous dogs, bounding along and nosing into the bows as they went by. He must have walked miles with them as it was hours later before they returned.The last nice day was yesterday, we thought that we would make the most of it and pop through the Blisworth Tunnel to Stoke Bruerne. We were lucky to get on the sunny moorings nearest the lock, the ones by the tunnel are under trees and in shade for most of the day. The tow-path was busy and a whole herd of greyhounds came by, some with three legs, some with muzzles but all with those soulful eyes that make your heart melt. I chatted to one group who said they often met up to walk their rescued dogs together through Stoke Bruerne - it was very nice to see these old racing greyhounds having such a wonderful life with their new owners. There were a couple of trading boats further up - Nancy May selling crocheted hats, gloves and scarves and and another selling ice-cream, coffee and cold drinks. Nearly everyone who walked by us that afternoon had a cone or a coffee, and the trip boat was full every time he passed us on his way to the tunnel and back. In spite of having all the doors and hatches open, the temperature inside the boat rose steadily until by late afternoon it was 30 degrees. Phew! It was almost dark by the time it cooled off enough for us to walk Tricky and we sat outside the Boat Inn in our tee shirts drinking cider.
Stoke Bruerne
 Tonight we are moored at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne Locks - it rained this afternoon, the first time for ages. I think it's all over - yes, it is now.

Love from

The Floating Chandlers

ps Remember the poor old chap we met at Atherstone? The one who was walking back to Wales? We saw him again this week, marching along the towpath towards Gayton which is in the general direction of London, not at all the way to Wales. As soon as he saw us, he stopped walking and bent over clutching his chest, just like last time. We would always stop and help someone in real trouble but we didn't fall for this trick twice.
Blisworth Tunnel
Pps The trip boat moored by us on the pub moorings at the Wharf and my eye was caught by the passengers, splendid in the scarlet uniforms of the Royal Hospital – Chelsea Pensioners. It was a privilege to spend a little time chatting to them and they were all smiling as they went off to tuck into their pub grub lunch.
Chelsea Pensioner
Misty Morning
Tee Shirts in September?
Morning Cruise
Tunnel Positions - under the hatch
Walking the Dogs

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Boat Brain Again!

Christchurch Cathedral
 Dear All

I'm glad to be back on the keyboard, it's been such glorious weather this week and I'm brimming with the lushness of autumn warmth and the inner peace that comes with the gentle pace of life on the canals. Well, that sounds almost too good to be true doesn't it? Of course it is! Life afloat can be just as sarcastic as anywhere else. There is a condition called 'Boat Brain' - it's the kind of dreaminess that makes you push the lock gates the wrong way, leave paddles up and close the gates when your boat isn't even in the lock yet. Seasoned boaters will be nodding and the rest of you will be able to apply the 'Boat Brain' scenario to the same one that leaves you standing in the middle of the kitchen wondering why you left the comfort of the sofa in the middle of 'Overpaid Celebrity on a Train Trip to Timbuktu.' I shall blame Boat Brain for my unscheduled trip into Leamington on Friday. I had planned to catch a bus into Southam, to get some provisions from Tescos which is a mere 10 minute trip by bus from our mooring in Napton. Carl and Tricky waved me off on the 11.08 and I was due to catch the 12.50 bus back. I wasn't sure where to get off the bus, but a young lady in a Tesco's uniform got on the bus with me and so I thought I would get off when she did. We made a couple of stops and then we were dashing along a main road toward Leamington. Gradually, it dawned on me that I had missed the Southam stop and was now committed to the hour long bus trip into Leamington Spa. The lady in the Tescos uniform sat contentedly on the back seat and hopped off when we reached the Parade. Right shop, wrong town! Still, it was a nice day, no harm done and the boat was in a nice sunny mooring spot, so Carl could touch up some paint while he waited for me to come home and the sun would charge the batteries It was half past four when the bus dropped me back in Napton and Carl and Tricky were there to meet me just in case I'd forgotten the way home!
Cathedral Garden
This week we have travelled from Banbury to Buckby Locks on the Grand Union canal. We are making our way to Bugbrooke to get the Eberspacher fixed. It gave up the ghost when we were in Nantwich, earlier in the year and we haven't missed it until now. When the inside temperature is in single figures then it's officially 'too cold' for me and Tricky to get up until Carl has put a match to the kindling in the stove, so I have resumed my 'Pocahontas' duties by collecting dead wood as I wander along the tow-path with Tricky. If I find a whole branch, then I drag it along behind me until Carl can get the boat in to pick it up. I am grateful that there aren't many people about to see me - sometimes I forget to do my hair and the other morning, I got my clothes on inside out - not just my tee shirt but my jeans too. I didn't notice till I went to get a doggie bag and couldn't find my pocket. Boat Brain again you see!
Folly Inn, Napton
We discovered that the trains from Banbury to Oxford were plentiful and cheap, so we left Tricky on guard with Scala Radio to keep her amused and caught the early train. We were hoping to fit in a trip to the Cathedral as well as a flying visit to the Ashmolean Museum for the Egyptian display. The train was packed and neither of us knew about the 'reserved seat' arrangements so we were ousted from 'Reserved' seats twice before we gave up and stood in the lobby. Railway stations are full of stairs - up and down, up and down, queue to get off the platform. I had to avert my eyes as one poor woman collapsed and after all those stairs, I was grateful it wasn't me. She was quickly surrounded by discreet curtains until the ambulance arrives. 'That's reassuring' I mutter to Carl - I like to think my modesty would be preserved if I should pass out in Oxford station. Quick march down the road, past the sleeping quarters of the homeless by the Thatcher Business School - so sad to see such poverty in this city of dreaming spires. We went straight to the museum and down more stairs (to stow my rucksack in a locker) and then into the cafe for sustenance before we dived into the relics of Ancient Egypt. I ordered our coffee and asked for toast to go with it, with marmalade if possible. A blank look attached itself to the face of the young woman serving me. Do you do Toast? I asked again more firmly, in that very British way we have when faced with a foreign person. I felt like Basil Fawlty and the infamous Manuel. Que? Apparently, toast is no longer available in Oxford - you can have any amount of Olives and Humus, Tapas and Croissants but Toast is persona non grata. I grumped off with my coffee and ate a mint humbug that I found festering in the rucksack - it's just not the same.

Ashmolean Museum
The Cathedral restored my equilibrium, it was stunningly beautiful and I sat for a while and found my inner peace again and we didn't even mind that when we came out, it was raining. The Dining Hall, of Harry Potter fame, was closed for lunch (of course!) so we missed out on that spectacle which is a good excuse to return someday soon to see more of this very beautiful city. I'll be sure to eat my breakfast before I set out next time! (Winking Face Emoji)
Christchurch Cathedral
 This morning, we left the South Oxford and returned to the deeper waters of the Grand Union Canal. We paired up with a party of senior citizens for the 6 broad locks of the Braunston flight. They were 1/12th share owners of their lovely boat, which allows them 4 weeks of boating a year. How lucky were they to have chosen this gorgeous September week. The ladies were a bit nervous of the tunnel so Carl agreed to go in front, I've no idea why they thought that made a difference but we were happy to take the lead. I really hate Braunston tunnel - we never get through unscathed and today was no different. We met 7 boats and the first one banged into us and then moaned that our lights were dazzling them. Our tunnel lamp is a polished brass affair, which looks very smart but throws out about as much light as a 10 watt bulb, It was pointing at the roof, the correct position for a tunnel lamp, so I don't know why they thought we were too bright. I'm tempted to get a 2 million candle power torch and floodlight the whole bally tunnel – then we can all see what we're doing! Sorry about that, I went into rant mode (Carl's a bad influence) so I'd better say goodbye and I'll write again next week.

Love from

The Chandlers Afloat

PS Carl stepped off the boat at the Braunston Toll House with a bag of rubbish to deposit in the skip. 'Pick me up at the bridge' he said as he pushed the stern out so I could continue on towards the locks. What happened next defies belief - Carl stepped backwards, bumped into a bollard, fell over and dropped the bright yellow bag of rubbish which exploded and covered Carl with teabags and other kitchen refuse. Carl is fully trained in the art of falling over without hurting himself and bounced up from the ground looking like Stig of the Dump picking bacon rinds off his jumper and hoping that no-one had seen the incident. Don't worry folks, he wasn't at all hurt, which he says is due to his Ninja training.
Sky at Night
PPS We stopped for water at the top lock of the Buckby flight and met a little lad with a home made model canal boat that he had built himself. I was very impressed with how quickly it nipped up and down and envious of his reversing skills. You do meet the nicest people on the waterways.
The Bee buzzing along the water
Christchurch Cathedral

Christchurch Cathedral 
Christchurch Cathedral

Christchurch Cathedral

Christchurch Cathedral
Grand Unicorn Canal Monster

Outdoor Bathing at this Glamping Site

Autumn is here

Sunset at Braunston

Yummy Food at the Folly