Bones, Breaks & Blessings


When Bones told us she was planning to boat up to Banbury I offered to crew for her, Joy was undecided whether to come as she couldn’t offer much practical help but decided to come for the ride and we travelled down to Heyford by train on a snowy Saturday morning along with Maffi who had also offered his help. We were welcomed with open arms and bacon butties and soon were underway.

The first obstacle was Mill Lift Bridge, which is aluminium and so easy to operate our grandchildren can do it, but with snow on the deck I couldn’t move it, so we kicked the snow off and two of us attempted it, one on each balance beam, we lifted it but couldn’t hold it up and as Bones let go, I was left dangling from the chain until rescued. A local resident was soon co-opted however and we were through, and very pretty it was boating through the snowy landscape.

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We had reached Somerton Deep Lock when disaster struck, just as Joy stood up to take a photo the boat bumped the lock gate and she fell heavily against the front step, she was in a lot of pain, but after much reassurance, and lots of blankets from Bones and the crew of nb Quodlibet, who were following us, we headed for civilisation, well Aynho Wharf at any rate, where at least there was a road. See Bones’ account here.


We had just sighted the next lift bridge when we saw two people holding it open for us, who just happened to be the crew of Kate Saffin’s boat who was ahead of us. By some miracle both of these folk were trained nurses and they improvised a sling, and one was also a vicar, it was so good to meet you Nina and Rev Hev.

At Aynho Dr Saffin came on board (not that kind of doctor, but also a trained nurse!) and not only added her expertise to the sling-making but called a local friend, Martin,  to whisk us off to A & E at Banbury in his car.

DSCF4062The Horton A & E couldn’t have been better and soon confirmed a fracture across the ball of the humerus (not a bit funny!) where it fits into the shoulder and there was some question of an operation being necessary. A more conventional (but clearly inferior) sling was fitted, pain killers dispensed, and an appointment made to return to the fracture clinic in the morning. We then called a taxi to take us back to the boat, the driver drove very smoothly. Thank You.

Not to bore you with the details but we discovered Joy doesn’t react well to Codeine as she passed out several times and became acquainted with two paramedic crews before morning.

At the Fracture Clinic it was declared no operation was needed, a more substantial sling fitted and we were told to come back in two weeks.

So many thanks are due to all our Ministering Angels who appeared to help us, watch this space for updates.


A New Home Mooring

It’s Official! Wrens-Nest has a new home mooring at Banbury Tramway. We made a bid on the CRT mooring auction site, it was the winning bid and yesterday our licence arrived so it’s ours for the next three years, if we so wish.

2013-02-19 10.33.44The agreement actually started last Monday, but the local CRT office invited us to move onto it immediately after the auction, which I thought was very nice, so we did. My first job was to clear the unofficial ‘garden’ area across the towpath of stuff which had accumulated over the past few years. Under that green tarpaulin was a shelter containing all manner of junk which went into an old gravel bag and was taken atop the boat to the rubbish bins.

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Amazingly when I removed the tarpaulin I found this ‘edifice’ was constructed of enough pieces of scaffold board [I’ve since been told that the adjacent land was once a scaffolder’s yard] to make a decked area that we can use in the warmer weather and so the work progresses on a recycle and reuse basis.


IMG_0780We have already had a warm welcome and received help from the neighbours, many of whom have moored here for a number of years. Catty can enjoy a fair degree of freedom here, although there’s no pub for her to visit like at Fenny Compton, we have a friendly Staffy next to us and they tolerate each other well, although the Staffy can’t understand why Catty doesn’t want to play with her. At the far end of the moorings are friends from Oxfordshire Narrowboat days who became boaters at the same time as us.

All in all there’s a nice community feel here, to which we hope we can contribute in days to come, we have Morrisons just across the road and maybe I will even be able to commute to work by bike when the weather improves and my enthusiasm increases!

Away to Weymouth

We have spent a few weekends away from the boat recently, which is my excuse for a lack of updates on here.

You know how it is, you patronise a business and give  them your contact details, and before you know it they’re deluging you with mailshots. Well, the Martyn Leisure Group are not like that but they do send occasional offers and 3 nights half board for two at their Russell Hotel on Weymouth Esplanade at £138 was too good to pass up so we booked to celebrate my birthday. OK, it’s only 2 Star, but provides decent food and a comfortable bed, the luxury of a full length bath to wallow in (just a shower on Wrens-Nest) not to mention the half price bar on Saturday night! Not that I over-indulged not least because they only have fizzy beer on tap so I resorted to Mann’s brown ale which I haven’t tasted for years.

Manns Brown Ale

Manns Brown Ale has been brewed in Britain since 1902, originally by Thomas Wells Thorpe who was the head brewer of Manns in London. He envisaged the opportunity to move away from IPA and brown stout and create a new beer, claimed to be “the sweetest beer in London”. Brewed to the original Manns recipe, this 2.8% ABV ale is now brewed by Thomas Hardy at Burtonwood, it remains the most widely distributed brand of the original style of sweet, low gravity brown ale.

On Saturday, we took the opportunity to catch up with my brother, Jim,  who lives nearby in Dorchester and he took us out for a cream tea at The Lobster Pot at Portland Bill and a drive around the locality including Holwell where our mum was born.




2013-02-18 09.32.36The weather was glorious for February and Sunday was spent with more exploring of the local area including visits to a couple of car boot sales and a drive along the coast to Bridport, meeting this fellow on the way at Portesham. The scenery along that coast is really spectacular and there are thoughtfully placed laybys where one can stop and drink in the view.

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Monday came all too soon and fortified with a cooked breakfast we set off home, again taking the pretty route to Bridport, before striking off towards Salisbury (where I went to school) taking lunch just a few miles further, at The Silver Plough at Pitton where we’d not been since we were ‘courting’! We had got as far as Wantage when Joy realised that her handbag was missing so it was back to Pitton to retrieve it making our return somewhat later than intended.  Catty was pleased to see us when we got back having been looked after by friends for the weekend and so the next morning it was back to work on my current project, more of which next time.