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Friday 31 July 2015

Heading North.

When I woke up it was a little cool once the feet left the bunk. Our thermometer said it was 7c. It soon warmed up and then it was lovely.

At Roundham Lock we met a boat coming down and that was the way for the rest of the day.

We stopped for water on the outskirts of Thrupp, by the Wise Alderman pub. We were soon off though and passing through Thrupp. I had heard a lot about the place, but have never been before. There were moorings available but we needed to get on a bit further so continued. From the canal it wasn't exactly another Stoke Bruerne so there must be more to it ashore. As we approached the lift bridge we spied the services and skips so dropped off our rubbish as we waited. I hire boat hurtled in to the basin and sharp right hand turn but didn't make it. In the end it seems that they weren't coming through the bridge so I opened it for Helen and ended up walking through the moorings to the next bridge hole to get back aboard.

The only view of Thrupp I have.

At Shipton Weir Lock the lock is lozenge shaped. I expect that this is because with only a usual rise of 1ft would not supply enough water to the pound below so the large size lock makes up for the rise. Beyond the lock the canal drops down into the River Cherwell for half a mile or so.

There was noticeable flow on the Cherwell today but it was wider and deeper and the willows made it feel like a river. The old chimney of the disused cement works sticks up on all sides as you navigate.

At Baker's Lock we head up back into the canal. This sign seems a little superfluous to me.

Some narrow boats do go a little over the top with the satellite dish. It must give them a bit of a list.

An old canal warehouse near Enslow.

Either side of the locks round here are these stubby posts with DIS on. It seems there is a little argument as to what they are for, One school of thought is that it wasn't allowed to overtake a boat that had passed this marker and claim the lock ahead of them. Another school of thought is that it maybe that if a boat had passed this marker and was closer to the lock a boat coming in the opposite direction couldn't turn the lock against them. DIS is supposed to mean 'Distance'. I wonder what it really was for, Maybe it was for more than one purpose.

Just before Dashwoods Lock we found a nice mooring in the sun. Helen sat out and did some writing and some crocheting whilst I stowed the anchor and chain and the lifebuoy under the table so it is out of the way. I then put a short splice the the bow line as it had started fraying. It is still lovely here so I will get to sit out with a book for a while.

Thursday 30 July 2015

Busy with batteries again.

Through the night I had been thinking about our batteries. Everything seems to be fine but as the domestic batteries were now three wet acid and one was maintenance free it meant that the Smartguage was not really registering correctly. I thought this may be that you have to enter what type of batteries are connected to the Smartguage. I had an idea to move the new maintenance free one to the starter one and then I would have four wet cell ones for the Smartguage.

Helen was okay to go to the shops without me and so I had a couple of hours to crack on with it. Once I started I found more work to do. I had to remove all the rotten linings after taking all the batteries out. I then had to de-rust the deck of the locker where we have the batteries. That involved scrapping the deck of all loose rust and paint and then washing the deck with water to dilute the acid that had leaked when the wet cell had leaked. I had to do this a few times to ensure that it was as clear as possible. I then painted rust converter on all the exposed metal. As that dried I felt I may as well paint it with anti rust undercoat. Now I was under time pressure as I didn't have enough time to let it dry properly before I had to start boxing everything up. I put a some tanalised timber battens down on the deck and started putting the batteries back. I cleaned up all the terminals and then bolted everything back together. I moved the order of the batteries to ensure that they were getting evened out wear.

I was a little bit latter than I had said but we had lunch and were still away by 1400. It wasn't as if we had a racing exit from Oxford as there were lines of  moored boats on the way out of the town. We passed by one water point but stopped to top up at the one near Wolvercote Lock. As we were taking on water a boat came towards the lift bridge just near the water point but Helen or I couldn't work out how to open it. I read the instructions and could un-lock it but I was scared that the attached chain wouldn't be long enough to pull it down again. But it was, but Helen couldn't pull it down so I was now on lift bridge duty.

The good thing is that you open the bridge all from one side unlike most others where it is much more difficult for single handers.

A very simple and old bridge with the A34 above in the trees.

We were soon at Duke's Lock where the Duke's Cut goes down to the Thames. The cottage looks as though it had been derelict but there seems to be plenty of work going on in it at the moment. As we approached a bloke had run down the Duke's Cut and as the bottom gate was open I assumed that he was going in. I headed to the bank to moor up to get out of his way but he must have thought that I was going to pinch his lock as he was tooting his horn for all he was worth, until he realised.

As the first boat was leaving another boat approached and I moved up into the mouth of the lock to make room for him. It turned out to be the Hotel Boat Takara who we had met on the Kennet and Avon. The guys running it are from Hull. We could tell from the accents and it turns out that they live close to my Mother in Law. They have a busy job to do with four guests and so little room.

We didn't fancy our chances of finding a mooring at Thrupp so when we found a spot just by Kidlington Green Lock we tied up. This gave me time to finish off the battery locker so that the deck above the batteries was installed and I could again stow the gear in there. I must confess I am tired out with all the work. It does feel good to be back on the canals and going at canal speed again.

Wednesday 29 July 2015

An Oxford Education.

We were up and off as we had a lot to cram in the day today. First we were going to visit the 'Giant' open market. They wouldn't be using language like that if they had ever been to a market like Dewsbury or Doncaster! We didn't buy anything. We then repaired to the covered market to see what we could find. There was a good collection of shops, but once again not the sort of premises that you would find in a good northern indoor market. We did purchase a pork pie and a few slices of haslet for later. By then it was time to go for our guided walk. There are many different walks advertised, and many different guides so we hoped we had picked right. Mind you there was no charge for the tour, just a tip for what you thought it was worth at the end.

Right on Broad Street is Balliol College that is one of three that claim to be the oldest College. The current buildings are Victorian. We were told that the reason that you are not allowed to walk on the grass in colleges quads is that past fellows of the college could have their ashes scattered on them so it would be disrepectful.

Detail of one of the heads in the above photograph.

We went in the Balliol College dining hall. All of the 28 Colleges have a dining halls and chapels. The colleges are really just where the Under Graduates sleep and eat. For lectures etc they go out to faculty buildings. One to one turorials are held in the colleges though. Some colleges are known for various subjects but as they don't teach at the colleges there is no real reason for this.

Part of the Brodleian Library is the Old Schools Quad which date from 1600's the heads by the door must be newer surely as they are in such good condition and life like.

This is one of the Old Schools, the School of Divinity. This part of the quad was built between 1427 and 1483 as they kept running out of money.

Once you step inside you can see why they never had enough money. With the quality of the work it must have eaten up money. Donors of the time had their initials carved on the roof just like these days. Above the School of Divinity was Duke Humfrey's library. There was no librarian at the time and the books kept disappearing. Thomas Bodley decided to help out and paid for an up grade and donated some of his own books. It re-opened as the Bodleian Library in 1602.

The rest of the quad was built not too long after Bodley died, between 1613 and 1619. The main entrance to the quad is under the tower above. It is known as the Tower of Five Orders. You can see the columns on each level are different and they represent the classical architectural columns. Unfortunately you can only see four in the picture as there was an obstruction to taking the lowest tier. The orders are Tuscan, Doric, Ionic, Corinthian and Composite. The scene of a seated figure is James I. We had been asked for a big donation to help the college. He didn't give any money at all but heavily promoted a new bible and you may be able to see he holds the two books in his hands. The Brodleian has an agreement with the Stationers Company that they receive a copy of every book published. They have more than 11 million volumes at the moment on more than 17  miles of sheleves and have had a big new library built that looks like a 60's C&A shop to me.

The towers of All Souls College.

The 15th Century dining Hall of Lincoln College.

Several of the Quads have chalk graffiti on them that announce victories in rowing regattas. Apparently this is not allowed at Cambridge University. 

 Lincoln College Quad. Apparently the colleges have wall round them and are built round a courtyard like a castle and have porters lodges as in the early years when it was only monks etc that were enrolled in the University there was a lot of trouble with the locals as the reverends enjoyed their freedom. There were many riots and deaths and the college courts sided with the students mostly. They built the colleges to keep the students in and the locals out!

Christ Church College is one of the largest colleges and they were queuing to get in. Hence the external pictures.

The chapel of  Christs College with the rose window.

Merton Field was the scene of the first hot air balloon flight in the UK in 1783. The buildings are on the left Corpus Christi College and on the right Merton College.

Broad Street from near the Bridge of Sighs. The building on the left is the Clarendon Building and was the site of the University Press. The rounded building is the Sheldonian Theatre where the students graduation ceremonies are held. and next to that is the 'old' Ashmolian Museum but is now the Museum of the History of Science.The wall around the Sheldonian marked the limit of the University's precincts and where the road is was the city moat or ditch. The buildings further down the road marks the site of the old city walls.

Oxford is very compact and very full of visitors. I don't know what it would be like with the Under Grads in town too. Mind you a lot of the colleges host summer schools so there are a lot of kids here at the moment. We visited the Museum of Oxford under the Town Hall and the Museum of the History of Science which has some amazing scientific Instruments.

Last night we popped over the footbridge to the Bookbinders pun in Jericho. The pub was very pleasant and it was their quiz night. We were worried about taking part as after all this is Oxford. Our fears were well founded, but we didn't come last!

There is so much to see in Oxford but I think that we have seen a lot of it in our two days so we will have to be off in the morning to pastures new.

Tuesday 28 July 2015

The Thames tamed and back on the straight and narrow.

We were away by just after 0800 and were soon at Day's Lock. It wasn't in power operation so we had to wind the handle many, many times to open the sluices, open the bottom gates, close the sluices, close the bottom gates. open the top sluices, and gate then close the top sluices and gates. This took a little time, and no little effort. So all in all we felt better for doing it, if tired!

Just above Day's Lock I saw this pill box. It is the first I had seen that was constructed for any heavy armament than a machine gun. The land was very open around so the defenders would have a very good range of view and fire.

The locks came spaced out and by the time we got to the next one it was after 0900 and the Lock keeper was on duty. We had no waiting at the locks so we sped along very nicely. We were soon at Abingdon which looked very nice indeed and we will definitely stop next time. As we cleared the lock we saw the water point was free we pulled over and filled up. The water points are fitted with hoses on the Thames it seems so makes it nice and quick. We dropped off the rubbish too and there was recycling too.

At Abingdon Lock a Salter's Passenger steamer came down the lock ahead of us. By the time we got to Sandford Lock they had picked up their passengers at Abingdon and back up the lock to meet us at the lock. They do look very big when they are in the lock with you. The company was founded in 1858 and do trips all over the upper Thames.

The King's Arms at Sandford Lock.

Just after the River Cherwell meets the Thames there is a row of Oxford University's boat houses. It must be chaos on sports afternoon!

Soon you come to Folly Bridge where the channel goes either side of an island. One side is quite narrow but the other is congested with the Salter's boats waiting for passengers. After Folly Bridge you get the feeling that you have gone the wrong way as the great River Thames, Isis, is reduced to a ditch canal like that entering Birmingham. You pass the back gardens of terraced houses and you think that there will be little room to pass another boat.

The turn off the Thames in to the Sheepwash Channel leading to the Oxford Canal comes unannounced and is looking like just another by water of the river. Once dived down under the tow path bridge it gets worse as you go under a low railway bridge and the shrubs and trees close in on both sides. It seem that you are the first to pass this way for years. Next you come to an old swing railway bridge that to the track to a station further to the south east. The remains can be seen above.

We were soon up the first narrow lock for quite some time and found a mooring in front of 'Perfect Harmony' right in front of the Jericho yard and St Barnabus's Church. We had a quick look through the window and despite being Church of England it was highly ornate and reminded us of the Catholic Church at Droitwich Spa. There was a 'bit of a do' when they had to evict long term stayers at the land behind the church. They had formed a community and resented being moved on. It seems sometime they are to build 20 odd houses, some flats, a garden, a boat yard and a bridge across the canal plus other bits and pieces. It has taken some time to get it off the ground. Hopefully it will look better when completed.

After lunch we popped into the town, which is very close by and popped into the Information place to get a map etc. I found my self getting a little anxious when we surfaced in to the real world. It is a little culture shock after nobody to half the United Nations on the streets. I soon settled down though. We walked around the the place getting the lie of the land. Above is the Radcliffe Camera. There is nothing about it that is a camera as camera is room in Latin. It is a library. It was built between 1737 and 1749. The build and maintenance was paid for by John Radcliffe, a Doctor who left £40,000 in 1714. It houses a scientific library. 

The Bridge of Sighs is actually called Hertford bridge as it joins two parts of Hertford College on either side of New College Lane. It was built in 1914 and looks nothing like the Bridge of Sighs in Venice.

By Magdalen Bridge you can rent a punt for £20, £25 if you hire a bloke to propel you about. I'm not sure whether this trio were practicing synchronised punting or was seeing a collision.

As we walked round the back streets and were passing Merton College we saw there was a filming team in action. It is obviously a 50's/60's piece. It think that they got the rain hood wrong on the lady as she would be wearing a scarf rather than a clear rain hood with no coat! No idea what they were filming. There was an aweful lot of hanging around though.

There were some fantastic gargoyles on Corpus Christi College. I could fill many blogs with pictures of the stone carvings on buildings, rather than the buildings themselves as they really show how much work and expense goes into the buildings.

Tomorrow there will be more sightseeing and walks etc so be prepared for more picture like above. The market is on too and Helen is after wool. 

Monday 27 July 2015

Taking to the Thames.

We weren't off very early and after a cruise through the Blake's Wharf Loop we came to Blake's Lock.

No keeper at the lock so Helen had to do a little heaving on the gates, but the last time for a while. A boat was coming up when we arrived and was worried about the strength of the current through the Oracle development. We were able to put her mind at rest.

This is the start, or the end, of the Kennet and Avon and really doesn't make you really want to dive down and check it out does it.

There was a Lock Keeper at Caversham Lock and we had to buy our licence, £39 for two days. She was having a whinge about the keepers getting laid off and not being replaced. In actual fact of the six locks we had a keeper do three of them for us. The river wasn't too busy at all and it was pleasant to watch the houses go by. The wind was a bit gusty and there was occasional drizzle too but we didn't get wet at all.

I really liked the look of this house with tower and boathouse below.

We didn't get a glimpse of the mill or the house at Mapledurham House but the location of the lock was lovely. The sign above makes you realise just how long the River Thames is.

After Whitchurch Lock the scenery leaves the towns behind and I love a nice steep hill next to the river. The trees cut out a lot of the views to the other side of the flood plain though.

We got in a bit of a queue at Whitchurch Lock so I had time to take a picture of the weir by the lock.

The Thames Conservency was responsible for the management of the Thames  from being founded in 1857 until 1974 when it was taken into Thames Water. It had lost the management of the tidal river to the Port of London Authority in 1909.

We were held up even longer at Goring Lock and Helen went up to help speed the flow of traffic by operating the lock for boats. We finally went through and just above the lock we tied up to fill up with water. Helen continued to help boats through the lock. One lady spoke to Helen as she passed through saying that perhaps she should alter her sign board as it still indicated that the lock was self service! Helen spluttered a little but explained that she wasn't being paid for her assistance. The Lock Keepers do where dark blue tops so I can understand the ladies mistake really.

This one is for Ann. It is Shillingford Court and a very sharp bend in the river so will have views down to reaches.

Time was drawing on and we were about half way between Reading and Oxford so started to look for a mooring. This hard bank appeared so we decided to take advantage.

It was made to measure and we fitted between the bushes. Macy liked to hope ashore for a 'look see'. I think we will have to be off earlier in the morning tomorrow to give us a good chance of finding a spot in Oxford.