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

Lancashire living

Lancashire comes into its own along this stretch of the canal. We’re surrounded by rich open farmland full of crops, no uninspiring supermarket, but farm shops in barns selling potatoes that still smell of earth and taste so good you don’t need anything else on your plate, except perhaps a bit of butter.

You dont get this in a supermarket

Of course good crops don’t grow with out that essential element and whilst we are still grinning from ear to ear about being back in the countryside, I was reminded of another reason I’d enjoyed a long winter in Liverpool.

Muddy towpaths


But being surrounded by wild flowers makes up for it.


We’re sometimes asked if not having a permenant base makes canal life lonely, but not at all. It’s amazing what a small world it is, during our few days at Downholland we discovered our neighbour and I had attended the same secondary school, albeit just a few years before me, but never the less we traded names of friends and acquaintances we had in common, and it turned out he had also owned a Braidbar boat for some year.

Mooring at Downholland

So it was a lovely surprise to find our next mooring spot would also become a social occasion-OK, we did know John and Martina on Burnt Oak was cruising in this area so not a total surprise.

Halsall

It didnt take long for Martina and I to grab our fold up chairs, find our fibre and start spinning together

Towpath Twizzlers

Martina is setting up a small business and has a roving traders licence to sell hand dyed yarn and fibre. The first week of a pandemic isn’t the ideal time to launch a new venture, but Jubilee Fibres will be making an appearance at events along the Towpath in the future, but I was lucky to restock my own stash with some lovely kingfisher blue. Martina explained to me why she chose the name and logo Jubilee Fibres. The word Jubilee comes from the Hebrew, to celebrate. And Hebrew celebrations often included the blowing of a rams horn, which looks very similar to a canal bridge. Some great combination of symbolism.

Britspin

This time last week I was in Suffolk taking part in the first ever Britspin Marathon. I’m not sure if I’ve really recovered yet. But I thought you’d like to share a little of my madness. Britspin was organised by a group of enthusiasts who wanted to have some fun and raise money for the air ambulance service.  I got involved when Martina from NB Burnt Oak asked if I could be in her team, and coming from Bedfordshire we would be known, along with 8 others as “team spinning in Beds.” We had both hoped to travel to Beds to spin together but as circumstances worked against us social media came to our rescue and we all kept in touch throughout the 4 day event. As the event kicked off at midnight we thought we’d go to bed well prepared.Martina took her wheel to bed and I out teddy in charge of my drop spindle And I woke up at 6 to get a few metres spun on my drop spindle, (no wonder Eric chose to stay on board Firecrest) But I’d got a box full of fluff and my wheel and more spindles were ready and waiting for me once daylight arrived. To keep us busy during the 4 days we were challenged to make our own drop spindle able to spin a minimum of 5 m I dutifully improvised a rose from the garden and one of Heather’s hand made glass beads I was quite impressed with the result, so were the judges, I got a joint third place badge for my efforts. I was a lot more productive using my wheel and proper drop spindles though and over the 4 days I managed to spin approx 800m of finished yarn. As each skein is made up of 2 yarns plied together that actually means I spun about 2363m in total, that’s about a mile and a half. My personal challenge was to pass the mile mark so I’m happy. I might have managed a bit more but Tim and Veve decided to visit, so it was a full house. They had visited a pumpkin patch and brought me a tiny pumpkin (or more officially a gourd) which was just crying out to feel the fibre fun,and I managed another 5m. I reckon I’d be ok if I got stranded on a desert island.

It took a few days for all the results to come through, but our team captain’s did a fantastic job collating all the totals. And here are the results….Everyone had fun, over £3000 was raised for the air ambulance service, with more still coming in, team spinning in Beds came 7th out of 24 teams, our team spun 22141m, and 506220m were spun in total. There were lots of crazy things done in the name of creativity that weekend and we’re all counting down to next year’s marathon I was a little bereft on Monday morning so I got the crochet hook out and made a pumpkin to add to the collection Tim and Veve gave us.