The Boater's Garden: Part 473b. Probably.

Well, I said a fond farewell to my beloved garden or what was left of it after the floods. I came home from work one day and discovered that the kind boating folk of my neighbourhood had collected all the organic detrius that the waters left behind and piled it all in my garden for burning. So I pulled up all the rotten vegetation that had once held the promise of fecundity and added it to the giant mound.

I did harbour thoughts of abandoning gardening on the flood plain but the inch of lovely silt deposited in the vegetable beds whispered words of encouragement. And so did every boater in the vicinity. I never knew that people cared so much about it but it has spurred me on. So, the burning process has begun and the ashes will be scattered and forked back into the beds.

By the way, if anyone up river from Abingdon reads this and just so happened to lose a newly sown lawn to the floods I'd like you to know that I found it. The seeds deposited themselves in one of my vegetable beds and are doing rather well. You are more than welcome to reclaim your lawn before Rob follows though with his threat of turfing the roof of the boat.

Good thinking.

Lolly has the right idea. After spending 72 hours at work excuse me whilst I curl up in a corner and sleep awhile. Can someone wake me up tomorrow, please?

Lolly Pretending To Be A Sponge...

After falling into the cut.

Fairport's Cropredy Convention 2007.

We walked to Cropredy Mill Bridge and onto the festival site. Laden with chairs and umbrellas (just in case it rained) and other completely unnecessary things we made our way up to the ledge on the main field where we met the rest of the gang. (Meet On The Ledge - get it??)

The show kicked off with Anthony John Clarke our compere for the day. He was followed by Kerfuffle, a vibrant young folk band.

The accordionist also provided foot percussion which was rather fun to watch. Every time Rob ran down to the front to take a photo she stopped!

Wishbone Ash provided us all with some cheesy 1970s classic rock that we all drunkenly appreciated (it was only 5.30pm).

Just after 7pm Seth Lakeman took to the stage and all the teenage girls swarmed to the front to call out their adoration. Thankfully this didn’t detract from his musical genius and he performed an amazing set, including a brilliant Kitty Jay.

The last to perform tonight was Jools Holland & his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra. I was too drunk to fully appreciate it, Rob fell asleep, and everyone else danced around us. Finally, roused by the very loud voice of their very small guest, Lulu, we packed up, staggered home and agreed that we’d had a very grand night.

Somerton to Cropredy.

Wednesday 8th August 2007

We set off from Deep Cutting under a perfect blue sky. My favourite lock was approaching - Somerton Deep, or, as I lovingly call it, LOCK OF DEATH:

It is a bit deep, as the name suggests and feels a bit like entering a coffin in a claustrophobic kind of way.

From here after our trip to Banbury was peaceful and rather pleasant. We idly passed farmers busy with their harvests.

And reached Banbury by mid afternoon.

The cut was a lot busier today and Banbury was a traffic jam of narrow boats, mainly coming downstream.

By early evening we reached Cropredy and boats were moored as far back as Slat Mill Bridge. We took the opportunity to go to Cropredy Wharf Bridge where there is a winding point so we’d be facing the right way come departure time on Sunday. Unfortunately, there was a boat moored opposite the winding point (which they shouldn’t have been) and this made turning quite difficult. All the children out in their canoes, risking death by squashing between boats, didn’t help either. So, aside from breaking part of Cropredy Wharf, we turned and made our way back down to Slat Mill Bridge where we will be moored until Sunday.

Oxford to Somerton

Tuesday 7th August 2007

We awoke to another bright and sunny day. The flow of the river seemed to have dropped a little over night though the current was still quite strong. Whilst I sat and had a lazy breakfast Rob walked upstream to have a look at his navigation conditions to take us on to the Oxford Canal.

On his return he met Steve from Oxford Cruisers who had moored his tug in front of us. He was on a rescue mission to salvage the sunken narrow boat at Folly Bridge. (Gypsy Rover has some good photos of the lifting of the boat) We chatted to him for a while as we were moored with him a couple of years ago when we were fitting out The Green Man. He confirmed Rob’s opinion that the stream was navigational this morning - as a Tupperware flew passed us downstream and bounced off the weir guard. (much to Steve’s amusement)

Cowardly as I am, I took to the bike and cycled the tow path down to Isis Lock on the canal whilst Rob carefully steered the boat passed the other vessels moored just above us. He took it slow so as not to create too much wash. He opened up the engine once passed and made it easily under Botley Bridge and onto the canal. He even got a mention on Gypsy Rover’s web log but I think they thought him a fool for attempting to move the boat.

Passed Botley Bridge.

Once on the canal the water was as calm as a mill pond and we could finally have a stress free journey to Cropredy. Well, stress free whilst Rob was at the tiller. I have a ditzy habit of getting my left and right muddled up and after a near miss with a narrow boat aptly named Patience we decided that I should just stick to my job of navigating into and out of locks.

Rob doing all the hard work.

Twelve locks later we came to rest for the evening just beyond bridge 198 Deep Cutting and settled down to a late supper under a blood red moon.

From Oxford to... er, Oxford.

We made an early start this morning not knowing how far we'd be able travel due to the stream conditions. The nice lock keeper at Iffley was a man of few words:

Me: Good morning.
Lock keeper: It's red boarded.
Me: Yes, is it still bad upstream?
Lock keeper: It's red boarded.
Me: What time is it, please?
Lock keeper: It's red boarded.

So, we proceeded carefully since, you know, it was red boarded. "Extreme" narrowboaters are we.

To be honest, Rob is an able seaman having spent many, many years sailing in worse conditions. He knows his own limitations and the capabilty of our boat (which, has a very large engine).

We made our way into Oxford. South side of Folly Bridge was calm and pretty in the morning sunlight. Passing under the bridge we came across the sinking boat from Oxford Cruisers, which seems to be the talk of the tow path at the moment. It does seemed to have been moored in a silly place.

It was here and around Grandpont that the current quickened and we reached Osney Lock with some trepidation.

The lock keeper promptly gave us another red board card for our collection and we passed through without any problems. We are now moored outside The Watermans Arms waiting for the water to subside. The weir streams at Osney have been shut in a little, but the water is still going at a pace.

We are also stopping here to annoy the gentleman in the tuppaware moored behind us as he felt he was within his rights to shout abuse at us for going through a lock on red boards. I shake my fists at him! Pah.

Smiles is scared of having his photo taken.

He is hidden by the darkness. Lucky him.

Foolhardy boaters are we.

We are finally on the move. The river is on yellow at the moment and we've made it to Sandford safely. There were a few dicey moments coming under Abingdon bridge where the current was particularly strong. Nearing Abingdon Lock we found ourselves moving sideways as opposed to forward. The trip would have normally taken us one and a half hours. We managed it in two.

Smiles has done a grand job crewing and fetching beer and we met my parents at Sandford Lock. We were planning to have a meal in The King's Arms but it is currently closed due to flood damage. A take away filled the gaps in our stomachs and we sat around lazily until we felt able to move again.

Lolly is coping well with the move. She spent the first half hour crying followed by two hours hiding under the bed. She has finally found the courage to sit on the aft deck.

Everything else may have died...

But this sunflower has six - yes, SIX,- flower heads. I'm a proud gardener once more.

Have I told the world yet?

I got a promotion at work. Gullible fools that they are thought I might just be capable of the job.

Thank you to mum and dad for the card. They know how much I love receiving mail.


I have taken the rare opportunity to link my phone to my laptop to make a new addition to my blog. On this page, somewhere, is a link to my newly established guestbook. Please take the time to pop over and write me a message as it would be nice to know the demographics of those that actually read this nonsense.

I have already managed to intimidate Whitewater aka Smiles into christening it. He might now be too scared to crew for us on the weekend when The Green Man is finally on the move.