A few days at Thrupp

We don’t really know Oxfordshire but we do know its a canal we would like to cruise again. Its very pretty, there’s plenty of variety, and apart from a couple of rogue booze cruise hirers very peaceful. We managed to set off from the quarry without Eric falling in.

That could have ended badly

And enjoyed the bluebells along the way

And some of last years tall reeds

Through some more woods

And some open fields, this one had sheep goats and alpaca grazing, but Eric was more excited to see Whitehill satellite earth station at Enslow. It’s one he may have visited during his early engineering days.

Whitehill Satellite earth station

The next lock took us onto the River Cherwell and we instantly felt the boat speed up without us touching the throttle, (or bottle for that matter) It’s amazing how much the width of the river increases the efficiency of our transit.

The Cherwell at Shipton

But it wasn’t to last as we were squeezed into one of those odd shaped locks, known as coffin locks,

Shipton weir lock

to take us the last few twists around to Thrupp. We were lucky to get moored in, and while everyone else was looking at the beautifully kept village, we were both looking at the mooring edge and thinking the same thing. Its clean, its low and its a perfect edge to paint the gunwale from.

The popular Thrupp Visitor Moorings

We hadn’t intended to stay more than one night at Thrupp, but it was too good an opportunity to miss.

A good place to relax

So whilst Eric exercised his artistic talent with the paintbrush, I got my spinning wheel out and enjoyed a few hours in the sunshine.

Spinning in the sun

We weren’t the only ones taking advantage of this lovely spot,

Brian the blacksmith on Bronte

Brian the Blacksmith had set up shop and I was very tempted with his dragon But it was beyond my pocket money budget and I if I’m honest I knew I’d have trouble finding a place for it to live and be admired.

And out of the fire came a dragon

Thrupp really is a lovely place, whilst Eric was painting I enjoyed walking into Kidlington and along river and I’m sure we want to moor here again, if only so Eric can paint the other side to match,

I wonder how long it will look so smart

And because there was a function going on we decided not to go for a pint of bitter at the Boat, which is where Lewis and Morse used go to unwind at the end of a hard case.

The Boat Inn at Thrupp

The Boat

Tim Time

“Where are you this weekend Mum?” ….“Banbury” ….. “I’ll be arriving on the 14:56” …..and so we set off cruising late and only made it as far as Haynes lift bridge on Friday, but at least we had a crew.

Hello Tim, nice to have company aboard

It’s a pleasant mooring just beyond Banbury. It gave our city boy son enough fresh air that he slept like a log and we had a lazy start to the weekend. So whilst I waited for the men to wake up, I stuck my head outside to say hello to fellow bloggers on NB Freespirit, who are making the same journey as we are but with a tighter timescale. And I have to say, it has made me smile that we’ve unwittingly snapped very similar photos but we managed to snap Firecrest and Freespirit moored together.

Yes thats NB Freespirit moored ahead of us

We saw many things that made us smile over the weekend. And whilst seeing a smartly dressed paddle gear made me groan, it was Tim who took the time to read its message….Kings Norton lock

I like the odd spot of clever graffiti, and as these paddle gears have been out of action for a while.

We made sure Tim earnt his keep working the locks for us

Helpful visitors are always welcome

But most of the lift bridges on the South Oxford are usually kept open these days

Haddens Lift Bridge near Nell Bridge House farm

Word had filtered through from boats travelling north that the Chisnell lift bridge was misbehaving in the strong winds so we called it a day and moored up for the night. What could be better than mooring opposite a field of fluffy sheep

Until they realise what’s for tea

As always when Tim comes to visit, (or any other visitors for that matter) I do feel a compulsive need to feed him well and our weekend was punctuated with cooked breakfasts, sumptuous teas and picnics on the go.

On the whole, quite healthy

But we made sure we walked off our calories when we moored up at the quarry near above Pigeons lock and discovered the woods were full of bluebells.

The Quarry woodlands above Pigeons lock

And we all celebrated when we were able to tick off a significant bridge number. Weve seen plenty of 100’s but its nice to see a 200.

Bridge 200

It really has been a lovely weekend, despite some horrible windy moments, its remained dry and the sun has shone most of the time. And the scenery has been lovely

Dashwood lock

But this was were we had to say goodbye for this visit. There is a good footpath from Pigeons lock up to Tackley train station for Tim to return to his own home.

come again soon


We’ve spent more than a few weeks on the periphery of Banbury this year.

Just north of the Southam Road Footbridge

Its an ideal place for a continual cruiser, with access to facilities and a good train line but we get the impression that the holiday boaters just pass straight through without realising what they might be missing. Ok the canal itself isn’t going to grace many chocolate boxes, but never the less canal users owe a huge debt of gratitude to Tooley’s boat yard slap bang in the centre.

The busy Castle Quay and Tooley’s boatyard

Tooley’s is one of the oldest canal dry docks still in use on our waterways. Built when this section of Oxford Canal was completed at Banbury in 1778 (it finally made it to Oxford in 1790) it has operated continually ever since. There was a bit of uncertainty in the 1980s when the Castle Quay shopping centre was being built but thankfully Banbury is known for its canal campaigners and the little boat yard with its 200 year old forge and dry dock was incorporated into the structure of the centre and the Banbury Museum

Tooley’s before the development (photo from Tooley’s website)

Tooley’s has helped preserve many heritage boats and Hardy, the last wooden boat built by Nursers of Braunston is moored here now.

Afloat but not quite habitable

However the boat most have heard of is Cressy, a wooden hulled boat that Tom Rolt one of the leading campaigners used to preserve our beautiful waterways.

Photo Taken from the Tom Rolt website

She started life as a horse drawn fly boat in 1915 and after her trading days came to an end she was bought by Tom’s uncle Kyrle Williams. He had her converted to run on steam, but they quickly realised that it was impractical to cruise through tunnels so the steam engine was replaced by a motor from an old model T Ford. Cressy went on to have several other owners until Tom bought her in 1939 and had Tooleys do a complete refit so that he and his first wife Angela could live aboard. They then began a campaign maintain and reinvent the waterways for the benefit of all. If Tom and Angela hadn’t led the way, who knows if anyone else would have fought for what we love so dearly. In 1944 they set up the Inland Waterways Association. There is much much more to this tale, and Tom has ties to many places on the canals, but Banbury is where he set off from on his first campaign. And he is comemorated with a blue plaque and a bridge named after him

Tom Rolt Bridge looking north

Of course Banbury isn’t only famous for its waterways connection, the towns traditions were recorded in a nursery rhyme.

Ride a cock horse to Banbury Cross, to see a fine lady upon a white horse….. I tried to find out more about its origins, but as with most traditional storytelling words and their meanings have changed over the centuries so I think “you pays your money and takes your pick”

The rhyme we know today was published in 1784 after the canal arrived in Banbury, although I think that is coincidence rather than relevant, as it probably dates back to an early medieval period. The main Banbury cross was demolished by the puritans around 1600 and the current one was built in 1859 to commemorate the marriage of queen Victoria’s eldest daughter.

We’re now heading south on our adventures, but I know there’s more to Banbury still to explore.

Looking down from Tramway bridge, next to Morrisons.


Happy Easter

Easter and spring, a time for new beginnings and fresh starts, a time for moving on.

Fenny Compton

The past few weeks have thrown up some emotional turmoil for us to deal with and as usual when my mind is confused I struggle to put pen to paper. But now I hope I can start sharing some of the joy we have to be thankful for again.

At Napton Junction we turned right onto the Oxford canal

Napton Junction

Our goal was to get to Banbury so that I could travel back to Suffolk by train. I was going to help Heather trade at the East Anglian Yarn Festival. She’s a talented lampworker making glass beads and glass knitting accessories but its still a big jump from selling through a small online hobby site to making enough stock for a two day event, but what do you know, she smashed it, perhaps not the right phrase for someone who works with glass but not only was the whole event great fun, but FlameKnits was awarded visitors award for best stand in the show.

Not bad for a first time at a show

I’d like to say she gets her talent from me, but I think it would be fairer to say I get my inspiration from Heather. Sadly after we had said our goodbyes, I got a call from one of our family. Cancer was about to get the better of us and we had to say our final goodbyes to David.


It hasn’t been an easy time but we have picked ourselves up and started to cruise purposefully again. It has been an absolute joy to be cruising with happy holiday makers and content cruisers leaving mariners at the start of the season. And we have spent the bank holiday around the lovely village of Cropredy


And with that, we are on our way, heading south, looking forward to a new adventure on waters new to us.

Claydon lock 18