About Me

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After thirty years of hiring, I finally bought my own 50ft boat in 2005, which was built in 2001 by Andicraft at Debdale Wharf. I mostly cruise single handed and have no problem with that, although it does take a little longer than with a crew. My mooring is on the Wey Navigation, so I have a choice of routes on the Wey or the Thames.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Stronghold on Tour 40.



Saturday 8th October.

I let go later than intended to get as far as Aynho, stopping on the way at The Pig Place, just above Nell Bridge Lock. I had been here many times before and knew that I could get good home cured bacon from their own pigs. I had a long chat with the lady owner about boating and the Wey Navigation, which she knew quite well from having lived in Surrey at one time. I thought their pork chops might be worth a try too, rather than the usual supermarket lack of variety.

I had had a slight problem with the reverse gear on the boat, so thinking that a connection may have slipped a little, but on checking it all seemed OK. I did make a slight adjustment to the gear box end of the cable, so that the lever moved a little further and was more positive. That seemed to work fine, but returned to the previous condition a little later and I could not reason why.

I took the short walk to the Great Western Arms, which is on my list of the best canal pubs.
However, it appears to be much more of a restaurant nowadays, than a drinkers’ pub. Thinking about it later, it was a Saturday, so would naturally be popular as a place to eat. As I entered, an attractive young lady asked if I had booked a table, assuming that I was going to eat there. When I replied that I just wanted a drink, she pointed out the one and only small table not set with cutlery. The young farmers arriving a little later, had to stand at the bar, as did other drinkers after that.  A good choice of Hooky Ales on tap to chose from and I managed to update this blog, despite the restaurant atmosphere.

I phoned my mate Peter Darch in Kidlington to see if he fancied a boat trip the following day, to which he agreed with enthusiasm. Not only would it be good to see him after a year, but I was hoping he was fit enough to do some locking for me.

Sunday 9th October.

I had to be up early for a change, as Peter was to arrive at 09.00 and we set off immediately, with him steering. He sold his boat last year, so is like prisoner, so the saying goes. He is still having thoughts about buying another one though. It was good to catch up on things between us and he did a total of seven locks and two lift bridges between Aynho and Thrupp, stopping at The Rock of Gibraltar for a pint on the way, which turned out to be a very good move. Mooring outside close to nb Columbia, Peter guessed that Kevin and Ingrid would be inside and sure enough they were, so a grand reunion took place at the bar, although we had met briefly at the Braunston show in June. Ingrid explained that she had her car there and was only to pleased to give us a lift anywhere. Peter explained that we were stopping at Thrupp and would appreciate a lift back to his house then. In the meantime he had invited me for a Sunday roast, which was an offer I could not refuse. Sure enough, Ingrid arrived at Thrupp and returned us both to Kidlington.


Peter steers Stronghold.


Making the exit from Sommerton Deep Lock.


Peter’s son, Matthew took his dad to collect the car from Aynho, after which he returned me to Stronghold, after a delightful roast beef dinner cooked by Anne, his lovely wife.

Monday 10th October.

Today was deemed a day of rest after the ten hours cruising yesterday, despite not having to get off the boat. I was up late after another sleepless night and just relaxed watching some day-time TV. A very late breakfast of scrambled eggs done in the micro-wave, which proved just how much of an improvement the new sine wave inverter was over the old one. The engine does not even miss a beat when the load comes on, whereas the old inverter really slowed it down.

I had some washing to rinse out and dry and hoped to complete a long overdue engine oil change, but after writing this, I could only get one item done and as the engine had been run for an hour or two and was hot, that took preference.

I hobbled down to The Boat Inn for a pint later, but it was almost dark when I returned at 7pm – the nights are drawing in.

Tuesday 11th October.

I did get the washing rinsed out at the service point this morning. Ken Haynes was there watching Dusty take delivery of a load of solid fuel that had been delivered to the wharf side and be loaded onto his boat. Ken now has his boat moored close by and is assistant warden for Thrupp Canal Cruising Club. We had a chat about various things boating, before I spotted Peter Darch back for another session of lock wheeling to Oxford.

We let go immediately and all went well through the four locks and the four lift bridges, except for Kidlington Green Lock where the boat had to thumbline the bottom gate, putting Peter on the ground with his back to the beam. Why is was so stiff, neither of us could work out.

The reverse gear was now engaging fully every time, so there remains another mystery.

After three hours we arrived at Jericho and moored close to the footbridge, being the nearest mooring to The Olde Bookbinders on the offside. After tying up, we walked to the pub, which was unfortunately closed until 4pm. Not to be outdone, as it was my turn to buy Peter a pint, we walked further to the Jericho Inn, which was open. Afterwards we said our goodbyes and Peter walked off to catch the bus back home.

I have to say that his presence eased things considerably down all those single locks and would have taken a lot longer without him. Having sold his boat last year, he considered it a rare opportunity to go boating for two days, but to me he was invaluable.


Early evening I walked to The Bookies as the pub is known locally, and had a dish of Coquilles de fruit de mer au gratin, served red hot on the traditional scallop shell. I was hoping for moules frites, but that is only served on Fridays. I should explain that the proprietor and his son are French chefs and the food is always excellent here.


"The Bookies" in Canal Street.


An unusual feature of the pub, 
which would be more appropriate in Brighton.






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