Total Pageviews

Thursday, 30 June 2016

No bun throwing today.

We are obviously late raiser in the blogging fraternity as 'Festina Lente' were ready to go well before us. Just then 'Ewn ha Cul' passed by for the lock and then 'Ferndale'. Both had come from Oxford so must have been up even earlier.

By the time we were ready so were another two boats 'Celtic Princess' and 'Baccus', and we were soon down Sandford Lock,

It is a little disconcerting to have four other boats insight that are moving but I suppose that it will be good preparations for lower down the river as I remember.

I'm not sure what the flag on top of Nuneham House is but it looks like the 'Japs' have taken it over. Nuneham House was built in 1756 for the 1st Earl Harcourt. It is of the Palladian style and was built by the great named Stiff Leadbetter! The village was completely demolished and rebuilt out of sight to allow Capability Brown to landscape the  grounds.

During WWII Nuneham House was taken over by the Ministry of Defence and it became a centre for reconnaissance photo recognition and identification until the 1950's when it was handed back to the Harcourt family. They sold it to Oxford University and currently they rent it out to the Braham Kumaris World Spiritual University where it is used as a retreat.

The river down here is not the narrow, windy one of the near Lechlade but broad and deep and room to fling the tiller about.

Rather than mess about we stopped at the top of Abingdon Lock and had a pleasant walk through the Abbey Grounds to the town. you can just see 'Holderness' through the piles guarding the weit. The lock is the other side of the closer boats.

This is the town entrance to the Abbey Grounds. There is nothing left of the abbey now but it was started in 675 and was lost again in 1536 when it was signed over to Henry VIII. There are a few of the 'out buildings' left including this the entrance arch. On the right is the Guild Hall and on the left is St. Nicholas Church

Just below the castlations of the entrance arch were several bosses. I loved this one looked as though it had just seen the butcher!

We went for lunch at the Mousehole Cafe in the basement of the Abingdon County Hall Museum and it was very nice too. The coffee wasn't the best though. The museum is free but to get on the roof is a couple of quid but well worth it on a lovely day like today. It was built by a local stonemason that had trained under Christopher Wren and it was started in 1678 and finished in 1683. The must see things would be the last MG to come off the production line at the factory in the town and the Monks Map of the Thames from the 16th Century. 

The roof is the site of the local event of Bun Throwing. This is carried out to celebrate national event. The last was the Queen's 90th Birthday. The Mayor and dignitaries stand on the roof and throw about 5000 current buns to the crowd below. This is the best preserved street in Abingford and is East Saint Helen Street. That was the point at which my camera battery ran out!!!
St Helen's Church was closed but it is well known as it has five aisles that make it wider than it is long! At the back of the church yard there are almshouses on three sides. Theses are the Long Alley Alms Houses. They were built for Christ's Hospital in 1446. You can see the cloister walk and the porch was built in 1605 and the lantern tower in 1707. There are biblical sayings all along the cloister walk to really keep the occupants on the straight and narrow.
The third side is the Twitty Alms Houses named after the initial benefactor. The seven houses were erected in 1707.
Alongside the river are the Brick Alley Alms Houses built in 1718 again for the Christ's Hospital. This is the side that fronts onto the church yard. Unusually they are an two floors, the upper floor being accessed from the central hall. They are very smart and look great from the river and St. Helen's Wharf. I'll post a photo of that tomorrow.

We wandered round the town some more and found The Narrow, a Weatherspoon's. It was great to get a pint of Maggs Mild from West Berkshire Brewery and a glass of white for £4-25! I expected to see the crew's of 'Ferndale' and 'Festina Lente' in there, but no luck. Back to the boat and missed the showers and the washing is largely dry too.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Through Oxford.

We set of a an hour earlier than normal to see if we could do at least some of the trip today before the rain.

Bablock Hythe was a very quiet mooring and we slept very well when we came up a boat club was having a meet here and the moorings were jammed but not today. We left quietly at 0900.

This is the Ferryman pub and there had been a ferry here from 904AD. Recently it seems that it has run erratically and this is likely to be due to the fact that health and safety and certification has added such costs to the activity that it is not very worth while. There has been talk of a pedestrian bridge here though.

I'm wondering if this is the old ferry from Bablock Hythe washed up by the Farmoor Reservoir?

The rain was holding off but it was not very warm and Helen was togged up. Mind you she had shorts on below.

The cormorants on a dead tree gave a suitably gloomy picture as we sailed on expecting the rain at anytime.

We stopped at Eynsham Lock for a quick top up with water before getting on our way. The rain found us at Kings Lock, but we found the Blogging boat Festina Lente with Andy and Sue just closing the gates on the way down. After a toot on the horn they kindly opened up for us to share.

The rain kept the camera in the pocket but this was snatched as we passed under Godstow Bridge.

Just by Godstow Lock are the remains of Godstow Abbey. This was a Benedictine Abby that was consecrated in 1139. It was closed in the Reformation of 1539 and converted to a house that was occupied until it was badly damaged in 1645 in the Civil War. Today there were some students, some  without waterproofs surveying the site.

The floods recorded here at Godstow Lock are hardly above the normal level.

There were a large gaggle of geese on Port Meadow as we passed. They didn't look like they were enjoying the weather either.

The plan was to moor up above Osney Lock and below the bridge but the weather had meant that nobody had moved so there were no vacancies so we continued onward with 'Festina Lente'. At Folly Bridge there is an island in the middle of the Thames and you can pass either side. Salter's passenger boats operate from the island. The present bridge was opened in 1827 and was a toll bridge until 1850. The main passage is through the wooden piles to the right. We went to the right. There was a flash lock followed by a pound lock built with the new bridge. It was taken away in 1850.

This is South Bridge on the other side of the island. The first white wall to the left indicates No.5 Fooly Bridge that was built for Joshua Cardwell, a Mathematician in 1849. It was later bought by Robert Gunther in 1911,who you will all remember wrote about the history of Science. The house is castellated and has cast iron figures and balconies and lions with bones in their jaws.

Past Folly Bridge are all the University College boat houses along Christ Church Meadow. There were no rowers out today!

However there was a solitary punt out. Rather them than me. We continued following Andy and Sue through Iffley Lock. I had every intention of continuing to Abingdon but thinking that nobody may have moved off from there too, and Helen getting colder by the minute, along with my feet we stooped above Sandford Lock when 'Festina Lente' did. It stopped raining soon after we tied up.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

The day starts with a moo.

We met friends Richard and Ann in the Riverside as the easiest to locate and as they had their big dog, Baxter, with them. It was great to catch up and here about their news. They will be soon setting off on their boat and the first locks they will do are the Caen Hill Locks. That is in at the deep end, but lets hope they stay out of the water!

The sun was shining on the st'bd side this morning and it got me up a little earlier than usual. I was just filling the kettle to make the tea when I had to rub my eyes as a bullock was swimming past! It pulled in ahead of us and still couldn't get up the bank. He was fed up of walking so tried to walk by the side of the bank in the water. This led him between the boat ahead of us. This was a dead end as the stern was tight in, but not the bow. This is him just setting off to get wedged between the boat and bank.

I had to push him back out by my shoe on his head otherwise he would have been wedged. Once clear of this he tried swimming upstream again but saw better of it and head back from where he had come from and found a spot to get out a bit further down. A funny start to the day.

The chimes from St Lawrence's Church struck the hours from 0600 and the view from our bedroom was just great. Lechlade seems a nice place but with a road thundering through it. We visited the church yesterday and were told that church had been burgled. We heard in the Library that the school had also been done over. We were in the Crown pub, Halfpenny Brewery Gaoler very acceptable, where we were hearing rogue landlords. Later a boater moored astern or us was telling us he had just left the mariner as three boats had been broken into and they were putting up the rent. There had been barns burned down, and malicious acts to animals too. It seems we have stumbled on the new site for filming Midsummer Murders where there is everything but murders!

We left our field mooring and head to the end of navigation passing under Halfpenny Bridge.

The winding at the junction of the Thames, River Col and the old Thames and Severn Canal was not that easy as there was this sand bank with swans and bullocks watching our antics.

This is one of Helen's best pictures for a while and has the look of a Constable painting. The Thames runs to the left and the Coln from the right and the Canal to the right of the Round House. The Round House's are characteristic lock buildings for the Thames and Severn Canal.

After winding we retraced our steps and just as we arrived at St John's Lock there was a boat just going in to share with. We wondered where they had come from? It seems 'Cygnet' had stayed down by the lock as they had heard bad stories of the bullocks eating ropes and window rubbers etc. They did chem the plastic bags on our bins and licked our paintwork but nothing worse than that for our visit. Other than a swimming cow that is. It was a different technique going round the bends with the current behind you and we were lucky that there was hardly any up bound traffic at all.

Waiting for Radcot Lock and it is still a bit sunny I was expecting the rain to arrive around 1500.

I think that this plaques marking the flood levels are at Rushey Lock. Our buddies moored up before the lock so we were now on our own.

It doesn't look like the river get above 9'6" very often from the mud on the gauge at the foot of the lock.

Last lock of the day was Northmoor and they must have been worried in 1894 as the flood level must have been lapping at the front door! It had started raining bang on 1500 as we passed through Shifford Lock so by the time of Northmoor we were looking for a mooring. We therefore stopped at the moorings at Bablock Hythe. After a long day we are playing a little catch up with time as we have 'done' this section so are speeding through.

Monday, 27 June 2016

Almost the end of Isis. (Not the terrorists one).

We heard a brass band at Kelmscott Manor but as it was raining we didn't venture out once we had moored up. It turns out it was the Village Fete.

The nights mooring was pretty good in the end and the view out of the port side was of water meadows and the other side a mud bank.

Kelmscott Manor has a high wall round it but it looked so inviting. It was an old farmhouse built in around 1600 for the Turner Family. In 1871 William Morris came across it and it became his country retreat. It was in a state of near collapse in 1962 when the Society of Antiquaries of London bought it and saved it as a museum for William Morris.

Unfortunately the Plough wasn't open at 1030 in the morning but it looked lovely with the base of the old village cross in front.

The church of St. George originates from the 12th century and these red ochre paintings are dated to around 1280. The church has been left as simple but homely.

This poster should be posted in every church by Canon Law of 1946 but I'm sure it is the first time I have seen it.

The church is simple of design but most has been added over the years. One of the bells is perhaps one of the oldest in England been dated to early 13th Century.

Willaim Morris and his wife and two daughters are buried in the church yard in a simple tomb hidden behind a bay tree. The village church hall was given as a memorial to William Morris by his daughter Mary and it was opened by George Bernard Shaw.

we set off at 1100 and the river ran circles round itself with many sharp bends and shallows. We were fortunate to not meet any boats at spots that may have caused problems.

 Buscot Lock was first and it was manned. The next, and last lock, was St John's Lock and this was unmanned. I was able to snap Helen steering a lock gate. These are actually the paddles for the sluices to fill/empty the lock so no windlass in needed. She looks to be taking it seriously.

The statue of Father Thames was made for the Crystal Palace in 1854 and then spent time at the source of the Thames at Thames head before it was brought here to St. John's Lock after 1974.

It wasn't long before we came to the field moorings before Halfpenny Bridge. The building on the bridge is not a chapel but the toll house where the toll was a ha'penny for pedestrians.

We are the third boat in from the right. The bank is just the right height for a mooring but the young bullocks are very inquisitive.

Who ordered the duck? After a visit to the town and a troll through the junk/antique places and church we bought a bit of shopping before wending our way back to the boat to await our friends Ann and Richard arriving. We met up at the Riverside just the other side of Halfpenny Bridge and Mr and Mrs Duck were very cheeky in coming in and seeing what they could blag from us. However duck was not on the menu.