Monday, August 30, 2010


We went to the Ashmolean musem today. It's the Oxford University Art and Archaelogy museum, the oldest public museum in the country. It contains a lot of archaelogical exhibits - we went to the Egyptian gallery first to see a mummy. A nice young lady warned Ewan that the museum doesn't approve of five year old boys touching the 3000 year old sculptures as the heiroglyphs wear off.

There is a wide range of exhibits, including curiosities like Guy Fawkes' lantern, said to the the one he was holding when he was caught under the Houses of Parliament with a quantity of gunpowder that proved fatally impossible to explain away. I was also intrigued by Powhatan's mantle (Powhatan was Pocohontas' father) and an outfit that belonged to T.E. Lawrence that he wore between 1916 and 1919.

Powhattan's Mantle

Friday, August 27, 2010

The DUKW Has Landed

Amphibious tour company Meridian Ducks have arrived at the Dome. The company has just started operating an amphibious tour bus from the North Greenwich bus station next to the Milleniumm Dome in London.

A few weeks ago I saw a brand new DUKW, failing to leave the river at the slipway next to the Dome during my lunch time stroll. I had left my 'phone behind so couldn't take a picture at the time. The vehicle (actually a Seahorse amphibian) was digging itself into the silt on the slope despite the efforts of four policemen and two crew members. After lunch I could see efforts continuing to bring it up the beach eventually bore fruit after a couple of hours. A week or so later the slope had been tidied up to make the process of leaving the water feasible.

Today, I saw this at the bus station next to the new ticket booth, at the taxi rank.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Heron's Rest - Blue Plaque

Ron and Mary Heritage have returned to Banbury after a three month cruise, following the course of Tom Rolt's honeymoon cruise of 1939.

There was a presentation ceremony with the deputy mayor (wonder where the mayor was?). The heritages have collected a medallion at strategic stopping points along the way and Banbury contributed the final one. They have all been added to a stand that will be displayed

at the IWA national rally at Beale Park. Before all this though, the event was announced by a crier.

I thought he looked a little odd for a town crier:

Tricorne hat - check
Bell - check
Red and gold coat - check

But the ensemble looks more nautical than the traditional 18th century look:

Turns out he was not the official town crier.

After the presentation we all made our way down the canal side to Tooley's. I must confess to being slightly distracted by Victoria, passing south through Banbury:

After a short wait for the Oxford Mail photographer (delayed in traffic) Tony Baldry MP for North Oxfordshire unveiled the blue plaque.

Apparently it's on the fence of Tooley's yard because the Castle Quay shopping centre, owners of the nearest bit of brick wall wanted somebody to take out a tenancy for the plaque (and presumably pay rent). As it is it's clearly visible from the canal.
And finally, I went to the Mill Arts centre on an errand for Cathy and found this outside their front door:

Friday, August 06, 2010

Village Drugs Raid

When we arrived home we learned we had missed a police raid in the road opposite. It made the front page of the local paper (but not the web site, looks like they post their stories about a week later on line). It would appear a couple of local lads have converted their house into a cannabis farm. Police urged people to be "vigilant around houses which have had all their windows blocked up, where there has been little movement or where there has been movement at strange times." Hmm describes a lot of houses I know of. Still, we have not yet seen a hydroponics shop open locally yet as there is near my mother in law. Detection would be fairly simple in this case. Simply follow the customers home.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Home Again

The pound I moored in overnight was drained somewhat overnight and we were aground this morning. I had to push Syncopation back into the water as she was showing about three inches below the waterline.
I thought I was going to pick up a partner for the rest of the Buckby flight but it wasn't to be as the next people following down the flight from our start position were travelling as a pair, so the morning was quite hard work. I had lunch opposite Whilton marina and didn't go in and buy stuff. I have a weakness for chandlery stores, I fear. It's like nautical DIY shopping. After an uneventful cruise back to Blisworth we tied up about 4PM and made our way home. Blisworth is filling up with boats here for the Blisworth Canal Festival. I saw a few working boats and the Cheese Boat, among others.

Edit: I nearly forgot. I passed Tuesday Night Club's boat Earnest, launched in 1999. Earnest was heading north towards Buckby.

Moored at Blisworth.

Total distance is 13 miles, 2¾ flg and 6 locks.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Anchored at Anchor Cottage

We were woken by a boat wishing to pass us as we were across the cut because one of our mooring pins had come out of the bank. Luckily the pin was not lost as they are the type with a loop at the end that I always pass the mooring rope through the loop for just such a contingency.

We bought some diesel at Napton Narrowboats. Only about 30 litres as it seemed expensive at the advertised rate of £1.02 a litre. However as it turned out this was closely comparable to the advertised rate of £0.71 a litre we paid at Sovereign in Banbury. I'll digress a little here. Experienced boaters can skip to the next paragraph. Once upon a time red diesel for pleasure boat use was free of the government duty you all pay when you fill up your car. The EU decided to harmonise the duty situation and now we must pay duty on fuel used to move our boats. However, as a concession we don't have to pay duty on fuel used for heating and generating electricity for domestic use in our boats. But we all move our boats and heat and generate using different proportions of the fuel we buy. Most narrowboats use their engine for all three, in different proportions according to whether their owners are continuous cruisers, holidaymakers, residential or even gas free holiday boats like Syncopaion. As a rough guide somebody dreamed up the proportion of 60% propulsion, 40% heat and electric. When a boater buys diesel they must declare the proportion of their purchase that will be used for propulsion and thus attract 48.5 pence per litre duty payment. This is a legal requirement. I reckon we probably use about 50% for propulsion as we cook with electricity generated by the engine and this is what I declared at Sovereign wharf a couple of days ago, which brought the cost of diesel at 71p per litre to an average cost of £1 per litre for the 20 litres I bought from them. Napton narrowboats assume all boaters will declare 60% propulsion and this comes to £1.02 per litre. I'm not sure it is legal for a seller to compel all buyers to declare 60%. But they are probably within their rights to simply refuse to sell at a different rate.

After a collision with the day boat from the Mill House pub in Braunston (not our fault) we passed back through Braunston where half the crew jumped ship and headed home for a doctor's appointment tomorrow. The rest of us continued with me single-handing up Braunston locks. Luckily for me we met up with nb Hyperion whose ample and expert crew took us with them through the flight.

Braunston is a great place to see working boats as they often congregate here. Ilford and Ibex arrived just as we were passing through.

We stopped just below Buckby top Lock, near Anchor cottage, site of the shop that sold the original Buckby can, still selling them today although I think today more of their turnover is due to ice cream sales.

Moored at Buckby Lock No 8

Total distance is 11 miles, ½ flg and 7 locks

Tuesday, August 03, 2010


We made good time today, passing a great number of boats going in the other direction. Most of the locks we went through were already set up for us. In some places we counted queues of up o ten boats waiting to go through. Every other boat we passed seemed to be on its way to Cropredy for the Festival. When we passed through cropredy all the moorings were already taken so the later arrivals will have a long walk.

We also encountered nb Heron, Ron and Mary Heritage's boat nearly at the end of their Tom Rolt centenary cruise. They are due in Banbury on Saturday for the ceremony to dedicate a blue plaque at Tooley's boatyard at noon.

Napton Brickyard Bridge No 112

Total distance is 15 miles, 2¾ flg and 14 locks

Monday, August 02, 2010

Blogger Spotted

We stopped at Morrison's on the edge of Banbury for supplies in the morning and again near Castle Quay in the centre of Banbury for lunch. I tried in vain for a new boat hook at Tooley's chandlery as some light fingered individual lifted ours sometime around Friday last week. I was asked to leave Wilkinson's as well as I had a dog in tow (sorry Arrow) and had missed the sign on (or rather near) the door. Banbury also yielded some more fishing tackle as the children had lost the hooks from their poles in the bushes a couple of nights ago.
The day before yesterday Cathy asked me what Mortimer Bones looked like. She had spotted somebody matching the picture in Canal Boat magazine with a brown dog at Nell Bridge. I recognised the description and recalled Mortimer Bones blogging about the arrival of her Cropredy Festival tickets. As a result, I was on the lookout for narrowboat Bones as we made our way towards Banbury and spotted her this afternoon:

I was aiming to top up Syncopation's fuel tank at Sovereign Wharf but as they only accept cash or cheque I was only able to buy about 20 litres because I wasn't prepared to traipse into Babury again to a cash point. I'll see if we can use plastic at a boatyard further north.

Moored Below Elkington's Lock.

Total distance is 8 miles, 6½ flg and 7 locks

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Back to Banbury

We started late, went down through Somerton deep lock, turned at the winding point at Somerton Wharf (Cathy received 10 out of 10 for her turn from the audience). We moored just past the M40 bridge near the edge of Banbury.

M40 Bridge (Northern Crossing)

Total distance is 5 miles, 5½ flg and 4 locks.