London Cable Car across the Thames at Night

Last weekend, on our way to an event in the East End of London, we crossed the Thames with Lucy and Chris on the new Tfl cable car (also known as the Emirates Air Line) that was installed just in time for the Olympics.

Below us the river was swirling. The views in the dark were spectacular, particlarly of The O2 (formerly The Millenium Dome) and the Excel Arena. In the distance was the Thames Barrier and we could see Canary Wharf clearly.

I hope you enjoy the video and the chit-chat going on; Maggie has a vivid sense of imagination.

Click here for technical details of the project.

Here is another video, this time going both ways in dailylight, and 4X speed, from the Emirates Air Line web site.

Christmas Lights Stony Stratford

The Christmas season has well and truly arrived. Yesterday the was the "Switch On" day for the Stony Stratford Christmas lights. This is the 50th anniversary of the event.  The big feature of the switch on event is the parade of lanterns - this year with a strong nautical theme.

The Rose & Castle Morris, based at Stoke Bruerne, performed in the afternoon and joined the parade. Their bass drum was used to set the marching rhythm. It looked magnificent.

The lights in Stony Stratford High Street

Kiddies Roundabout

Lantern Parade
Shark and Octopus
Starfish, seahorses and octopus
Wonderful Bass Drum from the Rose & Castle Morris
Next weekend it will be the parade of illuminated boats at Stoke Breurne. 

Red Lion at Cropredy – a canal inn with a literary history

The Red Lion at Cropredy lies close to, but not on, the Oxford Canal. Although this village inn predates the canal, it is so close to it that it must be regarded as a “canal inn”. There are signs for it all along the canal through the village and you will find it right next to the church, just above Cropredy Lock. We have enjoyed some good food there over the years and invariably tasted good beer. However, recently a number of different landlords have looked after the place and our experiences have been a bit variable.

My reason for posting about the Red Lion is to highlight its particular position within canal literature, because, to put it simply, it may look a modest and almost unassuming pub but some famous literary figures have “popped in for a pint” over the last hundred years.

The first I would like to mention is E Temple Thurston. I am fortunate enough to own a first edition of his famous “Flower of Gloster” book, published in 1911, which relates his journey by horse-drawn narrowboat along the Oxford Canal, the River Avon and the Thames and Severn Canal. The books opens with the author’s attempts to hire a boat in Oxford and very soon he and his boatman Eynsham Harry are on their way north along the Oxford Canal. Chapters relate their adventures further south at Shipton-on Cherwell and Somerton, but it is not long before they reach Cropredy. There are no less than four (admittedly short) chapters that relate to their visit to Cropredy and there are several charming drawings (see above). In fact one of the few colour illustrations in the book is of Cropredy and the view up the street past the Red Lion (see below). Then there is the chapter titled “The Red Lion –  Cropredy” 
Cropredy, c 1911 from "Flower of Gloster"
Temple Thurston was obviously charmed by it. As he points out, “To the gentlest breeze, a red sign-board swing outside, adding another instrument to the orchestra of sounds which are inseparable from a country village” There was sawdust on the floor and pints of ale on a trestle table and Temple Thurston received a warm welcome from the regulars. He played darts (for ale) with the locals but he was obviously unfamiliar with the game judging by his remarks. He enthusiastically states “is there any club in Britain where upon your first entrance, old members would treat you with such good comradeship as this?”

My second literary visit to the Red Lion concerns a voyage by canoe, again from Oxford, by that pioneer of canoeing William Bliss. I recently obtained a first edition of Bliss’s “The Heart of England by Waterway” which is subtitled “A Canoeing Chronicle by River and Canal”. It was published in 1933 and reports on a series of journeys Bliss took, mostly by canoe but also by rowing boat, over the period from the late 1890s to the 1930s. He records arriving in Cropredy (probably in the late 1920s) and going into the Red Lion for a drink. The description of the episode in the inn starts with him and his companion climbing up two stone steps and lifting the latch to the front door. The same two steps are still the main way into the inn so visiting the pub today you will literally follow in the footsteps of Bliss. He then goes on to record an amusing conversation that he overheard and joined in whilst in the bar.  The conversation is written in the vernacular which makes it difficult to follow at first attempt. Maggie suggested that I try reading it as Pam Ayres might to get my head around some of the phrases and it actually helped. 

The gist of the conversation was that the two local drinkers had a dislike of a local parson. The locals, George Lacey and Oakley, didn’t like paying the church tithe but their biggest gripe was about bell-ringing. It appears that about 15 years earlier a new parson arrived and refused to supply beer to the bell ringers during their practice sessions. The bell ringers considered that after two hours thirsty work they deserved it. The parson wouldn’t consider supplying alcohol in a House of God so they decided to go on strike (although Bliss doesn’t use those words). The bells remained silent and the parson eventually “wore hisself out” and died. Bliss proffered the thought to the two drinkers that he was an inconsiderate person.  Lacey retorted that he was inconsiderate to the end because he died on the hottest day of the year and Lacey, being sexton, had to dig his grave in heavy Oxford clay. Inconsiderate in life and inconsiderate in death was George Lacey’s epitaph to the man.

It appeared that the parson at the time of Bliss’ visit was more reasonable but Lacey had had to promise not to let the ringers get drunk. He is quoted as saying to the new parson “if any one takes a drop too much, I’ll knock him arse-over-tip down them belfry steps with my own fist.” I gather he said that in some jest.

The third of my literary visits to the inn was made in 1939 by Tom and Angela Rolt. It was on the first day of their epic voyage of discovery through the canals of the English Midlands which was recorded in Tom’s seminal book, Narrow Boat. In part one Rolt covers their preparation for the voyage and Cressy being refitted at Tooley’s Yard in Banbury.  Rolt speaks highly of Flower of Gloster when describing their planning and had a copy of the book on his shelf; maybe that is what encouraged him to visit the Red Lion. Part two opens with Cressy leaving Banbury on the 27th July 1939 and heading up the Oxford Canal towards Cropredy. George Tooley accompanied them to Cropredy, where they moored up just above the lock, and then caught the bus back to Banbury. Tom & Angela walked up to the Red Lion and “found a village inn of the best type which has escaped both stuffy Victorianism and the olde-worlde reconstruction”.  They drank beer drawn straight from the wood and tried to decipher a puzzle card which was on the wall. In Narrow Boat the card is recorded as being yellowed by tobacco smoke and reading:

Here’s to Pa!nds Pen Da S
O CI alh OUR in  ha?
Les Smi rT Ha!
ND Fu nle T fr;
i E nds HIPRE ign B eju, St. an
d Kin, dan Devil sPE,Ak of N One.

Underneath was NB. NO TEACHING ONE ANOTHER TO READ THE ABOVE UNDER FORFEITURE OF A QUART OF THE LANDLORD’S BEST ALE. I will follow Rolt’s example and not give away the meaning of the puzzle.

That evening the Rolts had their first meal afloat. Ian Mackersey in Tom Rolt and the Cressy Years states that it was roast leg of lamb. In Narrow Boat it is referred to as “a veritable banquet in such circumstances and surroundings”.

Looking to the future, let us hope the Red Lion flourishes. Under its current management there is no apparent evidence of the inn’s canal heritage but readers of this post will, at least, be aware of its unique place in waterways literature.





After the fireworks of Saturday night we woke on Sunday in the marina to a hard frost and clear skies. We just had to go boating so we took Albert down to Cosgrove. A lovely short cruise. We moored up, had lunch and then explored parts of Cosgrove we hadn't visited for some years.

Maggie going through the Horse Tunnel at Cosgrove
The journey back with fading light was equally enjoyable, particularly since our daughter Emily, son-in-law Andy and grandson Hugh all joined us for a trip. Great day!
Sun going down near Cosgrove

Fireworks at Yardley Gobion

On Saturday night, November 10th - not the customary 5th, Kingfisher Marina held its annual bonfire night event. It is a great event for "getting to know the neighbours". The neighbours in this case being our fellow moorers.

This year followed the usual successful format. Wholesome food was provided in the pole barn by a team of marina personnel and the fireworks were supplied by all those attending - a bit like a bring-a-bottle party but with fireworks (and bottles). The emphasis for many years has been on buying single impressive fireworks rather than lots because, with many people attending, setting off the fireworks can take some time. Over recent years fireworks have got better and better. The "biscuit box" variety are very suitable.

As usual the team of Jon and Ian from Baxters let off the fireworks and did a great job of mixing and matching them. Below is a short video of the display, The great thing about the marina display is that although it is an amateur display the fireworks are large enough to make an impression because you are relatively close.

Fireworks, November 2012

The bonfire, fuelled by tree prunings, old material from a boat refit and some broken pallets, lasted well into the evening. Unlike one year, when there was high wind and smoke enveloped the marina, the cold still night and plenty of fuel meant there was a hot roaring fire.

During the evening we got to know two families who moor close by who we had not met before. Unlike us, who have moored at Kingfisher for over 10 years, both were newcomers. One couple had started mooring at Yardley a year ago but the others had arrived just last week. That night, like quite a few other boaters, we slept on board.

Spent Fireworks

Water Gipsies by AP Herbert (1930)

I recently purchased a copy of AP Herbert's novel The Water Gipsies. This should not be confused with Annie Murray's much more modern book with a very similar title that covers the "Idle Women" period during WW II and is spelt more conventionally as Water Gypsies.

The Water Gipsies was a very popular novel in its day. It was first published in 1930 and although my copy is also from 1930 it is a second edition. It is the story of Jane Bell who, ever since their mother died, has lived on an old barge moored in the Thames along with her feckless father and her sister. She would like her life to be more like the movies she loves but reality is far from that. She is courted by an illiterate canal boatman, Fred Green, and whilst cleaning the studio of a local artist, Bryan, she develops a hopeless crush that leads her to refuse Fred's offer of marriage. When her father loses his job and takes to gambling on the horses and dogs, her sister Lily takes up with a rich young gambler. Jane becomes married to Ernest a worker on the Underground, whose socialist beliefs represent the only fixed set of ideals in her life. She also acts as Bryan's sometime model and muse. I won't describe the rest of the story but there is tragedy involved and plenty of pathos and social commentary. To my mind the plot is somewhat similar to Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd, but not as dark.

For canal enthusiasts there are some well described sections particularly when Jane joins in a trip along the Grand Union Canal with Fred Green and his parents working pair. There are also some atmospheric descriptions of life aboard the Bell family barge and sailing small boats on the Thames. Herbert, was of course a lover of the waterways. He was the MP for Oxford University for many years, when the universities had parliamentary seats, was a member of the Thames Conservancy and was also a president of the Inland Waterways Association. The book was so successful when it came out it spawned a musical play, the music from which is still available, and, in 1932, a film starring Anne Todd.

Although The Water Gipsies is definitely a  novel "of its time" since it is steeped in the class system of life between the two world wars, I enjoyed reading it. Many copies of The Water Gipsies are still around and are easily available through Amazon and ABE books. There are some very cheap paperback copies available and also some copies that date from around its first publication. Details of the bibliography of The Water Gipsies, and some great images of the first and US editions' dustcovers, are given on the excellent Old Waterways Books web site. 

Cratch Cover Repairs

Our cratch cover zip suffered some problems and the stitching came away. We have had it about eight years. The cover also suffered a small tear when our boat was left at Preston Brook a few years ago.

Over the weekend I looked around on the web and discovered that local cover/hood maker Tim Garland had repaired a few cratch covers for boaters. I left a message. This morning Tim got in touch, this afternoon we took the cover to his base ion Milton Keynes where he renovated the cover and tonight its back in place; all for a modest fee. What a great service! The cover should last a few more years now. We shall certainly get him to quote when we look for a replacement.

Canal & River Trust at Milton Keynes and Superman

Most boaters will know that the Canal and River Trust have upped sticks from Watford and moved to Milton Keynes.

The office is in the railway station building so anyone catching a train in Milton Keynes would be hard pressed not to notice it. Since most boaters won't catch trains in MK I thought I would post a picture of the front door. The visuals around the door are interesting but don''t expect to gain access. The door is firmly locked most of the day and I didn't see any sign of a receptionist. I think they don't expect or want to get any casual visitors.

CRT Headquarters Milton Keynes
Being a long time resident of the area I remember the station being constructed and it being used for filming Superman IV in the late 1980s. If you want to see the CRT offices featuring as the Daily Planet offices go to here. It was the last Superman film that starred Chistopher Reeves.
File:Superman iv.jpg
(Poster taken from Wikipedia)

Long Buckby, Stoke Bruerne and Yardley Gobion

On Saturday we returned to Albert at Braunston. Joining us for the day was daughter Emily and our grandson Hugh - his first boating trip at seven weeks old.  We wanted to take on water so we moved across to the water point by Midland Chandlers. The tap was very slow so when fellow bloggers NB Valerie joined us and used the other tap the flow became a dribble.

NB Hadar

NB Hadar passed us and then moored up around the corner. Jo & Keith came over to chat and then share a lunch with their friends on board Valerie. We left the water point with our tank only half full because we didn't want to spend all our time waiting and there are other taps.

Hugh and Emily enjoying a boat trip

Hugh sleeping on board
Whilst waiting for the bottom lock at at Braunston I noticed NB Mouse. It is so short that its swim is longer than the rest of the hull. Surely the shortest narrow boat? According to Jim Shead's listing she is just 13ft 6in long.
Is this the shortest narrowboat?
We went up the Braunston flight alone, but there was a constant stream of boats coming down making our job easy. At the second lock we met friends George & Ann Davis who were coming down from Crick in their boat Daisy May. The trip through Braunston Tunnel was amazingly easy with no boats coming through in the other direction.
We took on water at Long Buckby. The water pressure was so fierce that the hose shot out of the water filler and soaked Maggie's legs - still it filled up the tank quickly. NB Midnight Rambler were waiting for friends at the Top Lock so we were able to go down the top lock together and moor up just below the road bridge. Unfortunately, The New Inn was closed and bordered up - no chance of a pint of Frog Island and a half of Old Rosie.

Sunday saw us travelling down to Stoke Bruerne. Half way down the Buckby flight we met NB Tempus Fugit who was travelling single handed. We went down the rest of the flight together. Tempus Fugit is normally moored in Wolverton so we see it regularly. It turns out to be a Black Country Narrowboats Tug with a Kingfisher engine that makes a nice sound. My recollection is that Black Country Narrowboats built the famous Ragdoll of Rosie & Jim fame. There was a inconclusive Canal World Dicussion Forum debate on the topic a few  years ago but she still appears to be registered with BW (CRT) according to Jim Shead.

NB Tempus Fugit

Kingfisher KD26
Passing through Weedon, just after lunch, we got into a bit of a queue with two Stowe Hill boats idling back to their base and another boat who appeared to have some engine problems - clouds of black smoke billowed out behind it at random intervals. As we got further south the weather got colder and more cloudy. By the time we got to Blisworth it was quite miserable. The trip through Blisworth tunnel was quick - 30 minutes. There was only one boat going north and that was close to the southern portal. Emerging from the southern portal, we found ourselves in a damp and misty Stoke Bruerne.
We revived ourselves with drinks in The Boat Inn and then retired back to Albert. After seven o'clock the gas cylinder ran out and whilst I was in the process of changing it using my head torch, what handy devices they are, a boat arrived and moored up in front of us. It was a hire boat that had obviously got behind schedule since it had been pitch dark for over an hour.

Autumn leaves at Stoke Bruerne!

This morning, Monday, we woke to wet misty weather. We had moored up under the trees to avoid a pinch spot in the canal just ahead. That was a mistake because by the morning Albert's roof was just covered in leaves, from an ash tree Maggie informs me. It took ages to remove them from the roof and they left a lot of dirt behind which needed pleanty of mopping. The weather improved a little during the morning and after a slow start (it's allowed occasionally) we went down the Stoke Bruerne flight. It was very quiet. We met only one boat coming up and only a pair of gongoozlers, who turned out to be Spanish. We got back to Kingfisher Marina in the early afternoon and set about unpacking the boat.
All in all we have had a good three weeks crusing, not getting to Henley and "grandparenting". 


Last Tuesday the weather started bright and we descended the locks to Napton. It was quiet on the flight which meant that all the locks, except the last, were set against us. However, the narrow Oxford Canals locks are easy to operate and progress was good.  The last lock was set for us by the CRT volunteer.

Napton Flight with the windmill on the hill
Lock side WWII pill box on the Napton flight
Although we have passed this way many times before we particularly noted the World War II pill box close to one of the locks. We have noticed a similar one on the Oxford summit near Priors Hardwick.  Apparently the it's a Stent Pre-Fabricated Pill Box. We once walked up the hill at Napton to view the windmill and noted the plaque on the summit that reports that during WWII there once was an observation post on top of the hill  The sign chillingly reads 'This seat and tree is close to the site of the Observer Post that witnessed the many nights of the Coventry blitz. As a mark of remembrance the rowan tree was planted on the 50th anniversary of the blitz. While sitting on this seat made from Shukburgh grown timber please take time to reflect on the freedom we have today. The support of this country in its desperate hours by such people as the Royal Observer Corps, the Home Guard, the Women's Land Army and all those in agriculture and horticulture who protected and fed the Nation is not always so easily remembered'.
The weather deteriorated as we approached Braunston with threatening clouds appearing from the south-west. As we got to the junction at Braunston we were greeted by a loud clap of thunder! Fortunately only a light shower actually fell on us although to the south we could see lots of rain. We reversed Albert down the North Oxford to make use of the 14 day moorings as we were again called on for grandparent duties and would be away from the boat.
That night we ate at The Boathouse. As always the food was good value and enjoyable but we couldn't help notice how our waitress lacked any form of charm. Quite different from the last time we visited when the young waiter who served us was being trained by a supervisor and was very pleasant and attentive. It turned out his supervisor was also his mother!

Cropredy and Marston Doles

Monday was a dull showery day. We started by filling up the water tank at Aynho Wharf. Whilst we waited for it to fill (slowly) we also had a pump out. Having left my usual pair of water proof trousers at home, with an eye on the weather, I purchased another pair at a very reasonable price.

Aynho Weir Lock
We crossed the River Cherwell at Aynho Weir Lock with the indicator board showing a friendly yellow, and even the green was just showing below the surface. What a difference a week has made.

More Clearance under Nell Bridge this time

The trip through Kings Sutton was enjoyable although the weather was dull. As we passed under the M40 I took notice again of the memorial plaque under the bridge. It is a reminder that even in recent times, with the modern emphasis on health and safety, construction projects can carry risks.

A poignant sign under the M40 King Sutton

The spire at Kings Sutton

As we left King Sutton Lock we collected a "blade-full" of weeds. It is actually rare that a trip down the weed hatch produces only vegetation, but it did this time. However there was a lot of it.

A blade-full of weeds

Banbury was quiet compared to when we passed through on Canal Day. The showers started again and we locked up through the town lock into the basin by Castle Quay and Maggie prepared the lift bridge. A boat was coming south so we waited for them to go under the bridge and also left the lock gates open. The crew were both wearing bright yellow fluorescent jackets so spotting them was easy. As they passed us I realised two things, firstly they were a Willow Wren hire boat and secondly that they were still accelerating sharply! Now the basin is not long and the lock is set at a sharp angle. I indicated to Maggie (by putting my fingers in my my ears) , that there was going to be bang and there was! The steerer made no attempt to steer into the lock and struck the wharf with load clunk. It was only in the last two yards that reverse was selected and at that moment the steerer also let go of the tiller! As I passed under the bridge I noticed the boat make a second unsuccessful attempt to get into the lock - again hitting the quay. I wonder what shoppers in the H&M store made of it all - they had a good view! It was the most inept piece of navigation I have seen for some time.

We then trudged up to Cropredy, squelching through the locks,  and moored up just above the lock in the village. We stayed put for the evening.

Tuesday was a brighter day but it was blowing a gale. The trees were being shaken to their roots; we tried to avoid stopping under them! We went up the three locks to the bottom of Claydon flight. With a number of boats coming down, progress was good. The wind was still blowing strongly up the flight and some locks required extra care.

Cast Iron Gates - Claydon

The crew of a boat coming down announced that the wind would drop after 1 o'clock . It did drop a little as we left Claydon Top Lock, about 1 o'clock, but it was still strong enough to cause me to take an interesting line into a lift bridge (141). I had the boat all lined up until a gust moved us across the canal and I had to line up again. Still we made it without a bump.
Autumn colours

After Fenny Compton the wind did indeed drop. The trip through the Wormleighton "wiggles" was, as usual, interesting. We had to come to a rapid full stop at a blind bridge when we met another boat. A crew coming the other way on a tight bend got it all wrong and we had to select full reverse to stop in time. This section is always a challenge and you need to be wary because anybody can get it wrong.

We moored up for the night in the shelter of a hedge just above Marston Doles.


On Sunday morning, before dawn broke, we go up and drove down to Henley on Thames to support our family who were running the Henley Half Marathon. It was still, misty and frosty as dawn broke and there were some fog patches along the M40. However, it was clear that it was going to be a crisp dry autumn day. The sun began to burn off the mist as we arrived in Henley and we found that the designated car park, part of the rugby club, was alongside the Thames. A pair of cruisers was moored overnight yards from the car park. If our plan to boat to Henley had come off we could have moored there, for £8 a night, and waited for our runners - ah well maybe next time.

Although the river was not in flood, and all warning boards had been lifted, the river had burst its banks last week because part of the car park was still under water. It made for an interesting photo. The Thames is beyond the cruisers.

Cruisers moored at Henley next to a flooded field
Misty town reach
Sculling in the mist at Henley

While we waited for the race to start we watched numerous crews training along the regatta course. With a 10k road race, a half marathon and numerous cyclists the town was busy with sport.

The run went well and we watched and applauded the 1600 runners with our grandchildren.

Andy, Chris & Lucy - half marathoners

Our "team" did well and completed the course in times they were proud of. We then returned back to Aynho.

Registered Where?

There has been some discussion on the modern tradition of decorating narrowboats with “Registered in A Town” with the town mostly being Watford which was the registration home and headquarters of British Waterways. The original reason for working boat registration was not for craft licensing but for health under the Public Health Registers: Canal Boats Acts of 1877-84. But owners of traditional styled modern narrowboats started picking up on the “Registered in” style and soon adopted Watford as their base. It is now ubiquitous.

The question now is, the Canal River Trust headquarters are in Milton Keynes but licensing is run from Leeds. Will “Registered in Watford” soon be replaced by “Registered in Milton Keynes” or possibly “Registered in Leeds”? I doubt it, but who knows.

We are not planning to changes Albert’s signwriting soon so we have some time to contemplate what we will do. However, one boater has no such problem. I spotted this very individual registration near Somerton on the Oxford Canal. I first wondered where the town of Sane was!

Aynho Wharf (Again)

As part of our pootling around the Oxford Canal we are back at Aynho Wharf. This is because we are off to Henley tomorrow, by car, to support our family in the half marathon. Today was another bright day but it was cloudy and there were some showers around.
A packed Heyford Wharf

At Heyford Wharf all the Oxfordshire Narrowboats hire fleet were at home making navigating interesting.  A day-boat was leaving the wharf ahead of us but they pulled over and let us pass after an adventure with some trees! Another day-boat was also moored up near Allen's lock. Unfortunately they had managed to moor up on a corner with ropes set at an acute angle so their stern swung out and nearly collided with us as we passed (on tickover). They latter moved up to the lock and were preparing to empty the lock with the boat only tied on with a stern rope! Maggie walked back to warn them of the possible consequences and also instructed them about how to operate the lock - heigh ho.

Clouds - above Heyford Common Lock

Somerton Deep Lock
The bottom gate at Somerton, which is large (obviously) was very difficult to move. It took both of us to operate it.
As we approached Aynho I was looking behind the boat at our wake and saw a grass snake in the canal. It had wriggled across from the opposite bank but as I continued to watch it it turned around and headed back from whence it came. The last time I saw a grass snake swimming was about 30 years ago. It was in the Grand Union Canal near Cosgrove. Maggie was reading Narrow Dog to Wigan Pier this afternoon  and found on p118 that Terry Darlington has also seen grass snakes canal swimming. He writes very lyrical prose describing their wonderful swmming action.  
Tonight we are going to the Great Western Arms again and looking forward to it.

Somerton and Tackley

On Friday afternoon we returned to Albert from Teddington and took on water at the wharf. It wasn't easy with a hire boat occupying the refuelling point so we stuck out into the canal a bit. Being less than half full it also took some time. A boat arrived to take on fuel and asked about Albert's engine. It turned out that the other boat, Wat Tyler, had a Ruston 2YD; also manufactured in India but installed by Lawrence Hogg in the early nineties, that is just before Albert was built.

Ruston & Hornsby 2YD c1990

We moved on under cloudy skies and moored up below Somerton village where there is good mooring that looks out over the valley. As it got dark it started raining and continued for most of the night.

In the morning Albert's roof had a good covering of willow leaves, but the sun was shining and it was the beginning of a delightful day's boating.

Autumn colours near Heyford
At Heyford Common Lock
The weather, or more accurately, the light was great all day today making for some good autumn boating photography. Our aim was to make for Tackley, wind and then find a suitable mooring. We need to be back at Aynho Wharf on Saturday evening. 

Manor, church and tithe barn at Upper Heyford
Opening the lift bridge at Lower Heyford
Our winding point was by the old quarries just above Pigeon's Lock. It would be easy to miss the winding hole because of the vegetation, but the pipe bridge provides a good marker. Turning was tight. I wouldn't like to carry it out with low water levels.
On the way south we had noticed a number of suitable mooring spots and eventually settled for one that must rank as one of the best around the Southern Oxford. We moored where the Cherwell and the canal run close to each other. As we moored up a kingfisher, one of many we have seen this trip, flew past flashing its blue back and orange belly. We spent a delightful late afternoon just "watching the river flow" and admiring the autumn colours highlighted in the sunshine.
Idyllic mooring - River Cherwell (left) and Oxford Canal (right)

Mooring near Tackley
Tomorrow we continue going north - homeward bound.  

Aynho Village

Earlier in the week we took a walk around the village of Aynho. It lies about a mile away from the wharf up the hill. It is a picturesque stone village and is renowned for the apricot trees that grow on the walls of cottages.

Apricot trees at Aynho

The stately home in the village, Aynhoe Park that was once owned by the Cartwright family was having a sale of unusual items organised by Christies. As a result a film-set spaceship was on display in the garden.

The Martians have landed in Aynho!

Next door to Aynhoe Park is the village church - St Michael. On Sunday they were having their harvest festival and selling cream teas. We could hardly resist! The church is unusual. Evidently it used to be a "conventional" Northamptonshire village church with a Norman tower and nave. However in 1723 it was modernised by the Cartwrights and has a Georgian main building attached to the original Norman tower. It is a bit like having a London church attached to a village church tower.

St Michael, Aynho
Aynho Station - shame it isn't open
An immaculate Bentley was parked by the wharf.  It had some interesting modifications to make it more suitable for modern traffic including telescopic rear shock absorbers and front disc brakes built into the original drums - what a fine machine! I bet it's fun to drive around the Cotswolds.

Vintage Bentley at Aynho Wharf