Solar Power

Installed a small solar panel system on a narrowboat to keep the batteries topped-up through the summer when not cruising.


I suppose it must be as there has been a marked increase of boats passing our mooring this last couple of weeks and after work this afternoon we joined that happy band and headed off South.

The reason for the journey is that I have an appointment to fit a solar panel system for someone at Heyford and it’s so much easier if I have my back-cabin workshop alongside. Not only that, but we are meeting up with number one son plus grandchildren tomorrow.

DSCF5037We were approaching Nell Bridge Lock when we spied a familiar boat moored up, The Good Ship Bones! We tooted as we passed but no one seemed to be at home, however as we came through the adjacent lift bridge we were hallooed by two approaching figures, Bones and her neighbour Alex. These kind folk helped us through Nell Bridge Lock and then walked down with Boots the dog to see us through Aynho Weir Lock as well.

DSCF5038We made them stay for a cuppa & toasted tea cakes before saying thanks and good bye, they set off back to their boats, Boots however had other ideas and followed us, ignoring all commands to the contrary. Being of the greyhound persuasion he has a good turn of speed and it was only by stopping Wrens-Nest that he stopped too and was put on his lead by his mistress and taken back to his own boat in disgrace. He must like our boat as this isn’t the first time he has pulled this trick! (See here)

IMG_20140404_175756After getting out of the shallows where we had landed up, we went on down to Aynho Wharf, spotting our first ducklings of the year, and moored up for our tea.

We shall stay here tonight and complete our journey tomorrow.

Throughout 2014, the Canal & River Trust’s Chief Executive, Richard Parry, will be hosting a series of open meetings for boaters and other waterway users across the country. The meetings will offer a chance for people to informally air views on any local or national issues and open up channels of communication for any future consultations.

Source: Canal & River Trust


We attended the Open Meeting at Banbury this week in the function room at The Old Auctioneer, Parson Street, in fact the response was so good that they actually ran two meetings, afternoon & evening. Due to my work we opted for the evening event.

The topics covered included:

  • Vegetation Management
  • Cycling
  • Mooring And Cruising
  • Development and Marinas
  • Operational Issues
  • Communications
  • Hire Boating, Angling
  • Miscellaneous

You can see more details of the discussion here although you may have difficultly knowing who said what as they weren’t that good at getting the questioners names right!

Although the meeting was advertised as being from 6:30 to 8:30 pm by 7:50 pm we felt  they had had enough and wanted to go home!

There were no refreshments offered (as there seemed to have been at the  Birmingham event) and we did not feel encouraged to stay for one-to-one questions so a group of us decamped to Ye Olde Reindeer in search of better beer and a less clinical atmosphere and the opportunity to put the world to rights!

I did offer to help with communications with local boaters but received an email containing a job specification (unpaid, of course!)  Boating Community Communication Volunteer – South East, errm, not quite what I meant!

All in all it was really an opportunity to put faces to names and hopefully it will open up some interaction between boaters and C&RT.

Buried Treasure?

DSCF4854On several occasions since we have had our mooring here at Banbury Tramway the water level has dropped and we have found that Wrens-Nest had gone hard aground at the stern and was listing to the extent that things were rolling off of work surfaces with drawers and cupboard doors coming open!


At the end of October, the third time it happened, I took an early morning walk down to Grant’s Lock to check for open paddles I found that the flood sluice by bridge 173a was open and after making phone calls to CRT I learnt  that this had been done to reduce the levels in Banbury town centre. Fair enough, but it would be good if they monitored the situation or even warned us it was going to happen.

I did some ‘fishing’ and removed various metal objects but one substantial metal object remained standing about 200mm proud of the canal bed.

After a repeat performance at the beginning of this month I emailed C&RT again and received a reply the next day saying:

The water levels dropped due to someone closing the paddles at Banbury lock. We have been running the excess water through the lock and out through Grants flood paddle. . .

We do put signs out at the lock saying that we are running off flood water, and to leave the lock how they found it. But that doesn’t unfortunately stop people from not returning the paddles to the open position when they have gone through the lock.

As for the obstruction – the dredger is planned to visit and remove the obstruction (if possible ) in the coming weeks.

Yesterday the dredger arrived, we moved our boat off the mooring, and the guys set to delving about where I thought the obstruction was. The first trophy was a squashed supermarket trolley, not the treasure chest Joy was hoping for) then up came bricks and bits of old pipe and scaffolding, the canal bed seemed to be much stonier here suggesting that there has been dumping from  the adjacent property at sometime.

IMG_20140224_134910Then finally after probing around with my keb (or drag as the C&RT guys called it, a long handled rake with prongs like a garden fork) they located the culprit, a piece of RSJ almost a metre long. So here’s hoping that it’s an end to our problems and thanks to the dredger crew for their cheerful assistance.


I guess the moral of the story is “If there’s a problem, tell the people concerned so they can do something about it and if nothing happens.. keep on politely reminding them until it does!”

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Spike’s Funeral

Yesterday we attended Spike’s funeral at Banbury Crematorium. It was a simple but meaningful civil ceremony where along with his family and, I guess, approaching a hundred of his boating friends we paid tribute to one man (and his dog) who had touched many people’s hearts.

It was a measure of the affection that he was held in that so many folk came or sent messages of condolence. Bones writes about her encounters (so much better than I could) in her blog.

The ceremony opened with Fatboy Slim’s Praise You -

We’ve come a long long way together,
Through the hard times and the good,
I have to celebrate you baby,
I have to praise you like I should

Shaun spoke movingly about his older brother looking out for him as a child and how much Spike had enjoyed the last five years since he had been a boater.
He said Spike had never been one to conform to conventions and the best word he had heard to describe him was a rapscallionone who is playfully mischievous, which conjures up just the right picture of the man that he was. The card on the wreath from the Canal & River Trust (with whom he occasionally had his disagreements) echoed the sentiment by saying  “We shall miss Spike’s cheeky smile and Millie’s waggy tail”

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Floral Tributes

After the ceremony family and friends adjourned to the Castle House in Banbury to drink to his memory and share the buffet which had kindly been provided.

The family plan to scatter Spike’s & Millie’s ashes together later which is just what he would have wanted.

RIP Spike & Millie


Photo © Banbury Guardian

Just an update to the tragedy which unfolded over the New Year, for the   benefit of boaters who have asked to be kept informed.

Spike’s funeral will take place at Banbury Crematorium at 12 noon on Friday 17th January.

I understand that floral tributes may be sent via Humphris funeral directors of Banbury.

We celebrated the new year quietly on board Wrens-Nest, but the start to the year was marred by finding our neighbour Spike and his Staffy Millie dead aboard their boat on Thursday. I haven’t posted details before until I was sure his next of kin had been informed but have seen his brother Shaun today who has asked that we should let people know.

The emergency services attended (in force, along with a SOCO team, coroner et al.) and their initial thoughts were that it was Carbon Monoxide poisoning, although the results of  a toxicology report are awaited and as a ‘Sudden Death’ the case will have to go to a Coroner’s Court.

Those who knew Spike and Millie regarded them with great affection, Spike was always ready with a cheery wave, smile and chat as people passed by and willing to give help when needed. Millie would would always greet you too, ever hopeful that someone would play with her, a vain hope in Catty’s case but they were, however friends and I have seen Millie move in to ‘protect’ her from other less friendly dogs.

Our thoughts and prayers go out his family in their grief and we will post details of funeral arrangements when known so those who knew Spike & Millie can pay their last respects.

The Banbury Guardian reported yesterday:

The cause of death is still being investigated but Watch Manager John Calloway of Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue issued a statement saying:

“Although the cause of this tragic incident has yet to be determined and is an on-going investigation by the police, there are a number of appliances common to both boats and caravans (as well as houses) that have the ability to produce toxic fumes.

“It is our advice that all such equipment is professionally installed by a qualified technician and serviced regularly in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

“We also recommend that both smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are fitted and tested weekly.”

Sound advice to us all whether boaters or not.


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