Adagio’s New Home

It was wash & polish boat day on Friday … all the marks left by dirty ropes etc. Steve used a special “boat wash” and then the magic polish – Bullet polish with Carnauba wax – gives a long-lasting protection and a showroom shine. All the scratches and scrapes along the waterline will have to wait for another day.


Here’s quite a nice, arty photo – taken from the marina entrance, looking over to our mooring – here’s a zoomed in piccie:


our boat in the middle, between Jasmine & Swift.

We had a drive around the area on Friday lunchtime – lots of thatched cottages and Stanford Hall (  Ended up in Crick and the recommended Red Lion! Real ale and superb, value-for-money lunches. We walked from the boat into Yelvertoft in the afternoon – hmm, nearly a 2 hour walk.  Found the wee post office & stores plus the award winning Squisito butchers/deli, see – lots of odd but nice cheese and local sausages! Early night and then pack & clean before driving home – via Devizes to collect the car. A long day and a very long holiday. It seemed like we’d been away for months! Pretty much every day, all day out in the open air. Fantastic. Can’t wait to go back … .

Thursday 25th September – Yelvers!

The final day of the holiday/adventure which comes to a close as we head for Yelvertoft marina. According to their flyer it’s “the place to be”. First we leave at 0815 from Braunston and head up thru the Braunston locks and the tunnel (over a mile long!!) Firstly the charming village, with an odd church tower . .

the “high street” – decent butchers and more beer & wine from the supermarket

Charming canal shop, chandlers and bottom lock

We were lucky to share these broad locks with another boat – crewed by some senior citizens (80’s and 70’s!). Wonderful cheery folk. Simon introduced me to going into locks side by side … interesting!

Here’s “Si” and his boat – designed by himself!

Just beyond the flight of locks is a LONG tunnel – over a mile!

Hmm, feels really creepy being underground but in a boat and then another boat comes towards you … !

Another junction – Norton Junction – here we leave the main Grand Union and the broad canal and locks and head off towards on the Leicester branch. A tight turn and one of the smallest welcome signs…

A flight of 7 locks with the middle 4 being in a staircase – where one lock leads into the next, the top gates of one lock form the bottom of the next, oh, look at the photos …so one boat at a time! We had an hour’s wait here as they do 6 down then 6 up . . it was a nice spot and helped by lock keepers and volunteers.

I got 9/10 for my drive into the lock above! They also said they weren’t impressed by my lunch (Viv had left some dried slices of bread on the roof for the ducks!).

You see … staircase locks . . a bit dark and gloooomy for the driver.

And another tunnel! A wet one with drips …  reminds me of the old ghost train rides. Viv had a go at driving this one – it is very odd – feels like you’ve got sunglasses on  – there’s a lack of perspective and then another boat comes towards you . .  panic!!!

And out into the sunny, middle-of-nowhere, which is the pleasure of most British canals! And one big reason we’re planning to move up here.

Hey, hey and here we are – Yelvertoft Marina:

Time to moor at the service station and have a pump out, re-fuel (hmm, 180 litres of diesel) and then try to drive over to our slot – B2 and reverse in … in the cross-wind …

And here we are. Lots of heads popped up and folk came out to help us moor – thanks guys – especially Nick – our new neighbour. A long day:11 miles and 13 locks. We left at 0815 and tied up around 1815. So a few beers and a chorizo & chickpea stew is on the stove … journey’s end and an early night. Thanks Jenny in the marina office for a great welcome!

Thank You for following us. We’re staying here a few days (work on Monday Viv!) A great little adventure … and only just the beginning.


Wednesday – 24th September – to Braunston

Right, 9 locks and 9 miles today. A very leaky gate meant there was little water after the first lock so we had to let some water down …

Viv does all 9 locks!

some very leaky locks

you meet some lovely people over the locks – always chatty and full of helpful info about your route . . coming down to Napton – windmill on the hill.

A page from the Pearson’s guide – showing what we use to navigate the canals and to work out where to get water, dispose of rubbish, pubs and moorings!

wonderful CRT volunteer at the bottom lock – thanks!

The Folly pub (sorry, 1100 a bit early even for me!) – went here with AM & P. and then it snowed! No more locks – off to Braunston.

the famous windmill in Napton hill

Viv getting her second gold star for driving past moored boats, and an oncoming boat and taking lungfuls of smoke from Steve’s fire!

A happy Viv! Getting into her stride now. Notice the VHF radio – we use these for 2-way comms – very useful.

Welcome to Braunston turn. Here it’s left turn to ? and right turn to our route to Yelvertoft. We had a smashing surprise here as our friends Chris & Chris had made the effort to come and see us & the boat before heading off for the weekend. They had a meal at the Boathouse and suggested we moor outside … us and a pub, really?  Did we need asking twice?  Thanks for coming guys – it made our day!

What a nice mooring! We even came back in the evening – the excuse was – free Wi-Fi and the ability to update this blog and of course some more beer – I had Old Thumper at lunchtime and now it’s Marston’s EPA. A great pub & cool bar staff.

Tuesday – Cropredy to Marston Doles

We’re just amazed at the weather. We came prepared – waterproofs, boots etc. Wood & coal for the stove … but I had to go out and buy sunscreen! We’ve had marvellous sunrises, sunsets and such warm weather. 14 miles and 8 locks today. 0800 to 1445 finish – lightweights, eh? But we’re beginning to get into the cruising groove & the let’s finish early.

lots of locks up to the summit

a liveaboard with a cunning leather, um, bum bag (lit.) to hold his lock key

Viv earns her gold star badge for tricky steering!

The Fenny Tunnel – well, it was but the roof crumbled, so no roof but very narrow.

a “turn-over” bridge – helped the ‘Orse cross over without unhitching the tow rope.

That’s enough for one day. No phone signal. No satellite reception (trees!). A wonderful M&S meatballs, Lloyd Grossman red wine sauce and pasta meal. Tasty.  This is Marston Doles – top of the Napton flight.

Monday – Aynho to Cropredy

A misty start to our day

strange hexagonal locks

and our boat just fits in

Viv steers under the M40 and an ancient lift bridge . .  just thinking of all those folk hurtling off to work … we’re not!

arriving at Banbury – time for a wander & lunch

they seem to welcome boaters and make the canal central

we encounter some ancient working boats

another odd boat (called Hythe) and a chap looking just like Buster Merryfield popped out of the hatch and well, did a weird hello remark.

oh no, another Adagio!

a scenic sunset entrance to Cropredy

Sunday – off up the Oxford . . . just a crew of 2

Just the two of us now! Said goodbye to Chris and moved the boat up to Kidlington Green – much quieter!  Sunday  … it’s off to Aynho . . a long day (0840 to 1820), 16 miles and 9 locks.  Still it was worth it to get to the Great Western Arms pub for a meal out  …

On the river Cherwell – scenic

Viv steering some of the bendiest bits of canal!

Lots of scenic locks  – some with adjacent houses for sale

Viv tries some locks too …

You do get some pretty boats…

Some other waterway users

We finished up at the Great Western Arms (Pierre & Anne-Marie – remember this pub? Great Food – 3 meat roast!!)

A Day’s Rest in Oxford

Quite a shock – hordes of people! Bustle, noise, foreign tourists . .  we sought out a real ale pub called Far from the Madding Crowd … apt!

Great pub – and they had a beer festival on with about 12 beers! Apt.

Quite a busy spot (next to the Jericho bridge) and very very noisy

Ashmolean museum (free entry!)

bit of an in-joke (see Victoria Wood’s sketch to Alicante . .  it’s not a Henry Moore, except this one is!)

more sightseeing!

off to re-position the boat now … somewhere Far From the Madding Crowd indeed … we’re missing Chris already! Thanks for all your help mate.

Ripping Riparian Ride!

Definitely some money around – lots of simply super riverside properties, complete with boats.  We even saw one where they were all playing croquet. More warm weather and some high speed runs along Father Thames … Goring, Abingdon … superb and so different from the hard work of the K&A.

Nearly all the locks here are huge and keeper operated. So nice to hand your lines to the chappie (or chappete!) and let him control the boat.

Sometimes they see you coming and the gates magically open as you arrive. Cushty.

Oxford Uni boat house!

Every skipper needs a mate! And I’ve got my Viv – really enjoying the river cruise.  The high(er) speeds caused some leakage from our water stern gland but not much (Steve does fret about everything) . . back on the canal system this will probably stop, since the skipper won’t be calling for warp factor 9 any more.

One of those magical locks. Each has a keeper and each keeper has their own cottage – nice!  This is Days lock … we sought an overnight mooring just up from here . . not ideal as our boat didn’t quite fit. .

We’re very close to Dorchester and Chris popped off for an evening stroll (Oer, I just checked – despite it’s size it does have 3 pubs) whilst Viv prepared her River Cobbler, mash, cabbage & corn on the cob!

A relaxed brother with his never-ending G&Ts (we did get through 2.5 litres of gin!!)

Head of the River and nearly in Oxford . .

Squeezing down the Sheepwash channel and into the first narrow lock of the trip (Isis Lock)

This proved to be close to the station (for Chris’s departure on Saturday)  but a bit tooooo close for a good night’s sleep as the marshalling yard is nearby and they rev up at 3 in the morning – avoid!!!

Father Thames!

 Heyho shipmates!

Cheers to Iris & Cliff, Jenny & Penny plus Anne-Marie & Pierre and all our followers . .

Well, a bit of a fraught day… a few cock ups, a few pompous gits asking us “if we know anything about boating” but also some jolly decent folk, especially the Red Boat going up to Northampton who shared a few locks and had a Dad who cycled off to prepare locks & swing bridges – thanks! Hope we meet you again. We also met the folk on Eliza Jane – who were keen to visit Tesco’s with us but when they heard it was a Tesco Extra, declined! It turned out to be a HUGE Tesco and 24 hr too … more on that story later …

So, we left the outskirts of Aldermaston and had about 10 miles and 10 locks to do … but first . . 0730 and Roger, the Cabin Boy (aka Chris) delivers “tea in bed”! Trained at last.


not too many photos as we were too busy catching up with the Red Boat and getting stuck on weirs . . bumping into lock gates etc

Here’s the M4 rolling overhead


Fobney Lock with the treacherous weir flow entering from the right


and on into Reading . .  the infamous County Lock with a nasty weir but in these hasn’t-rained-for-5-weeks days, it’s all very calm . .


Adagio and the Red Boat (sorry, never found out their name)


Nice photo of Chris at the helm and also Viv operating the double paddled locks


and on into the Oracle shopping edifice much to the bemusement of shoppers


and then out onto the Thames (Reading was a hole – the book said “it doesn’t exactly roll out the red carpet for boaters” and they were right. Shame, because they could make it so much more). Still, we pushed on and out onto the Thames:


Delightful mooring (using a stake and 2 trees) and oddly only100 yds from that Tesco! But being the Thames – it was shielded by trees.


you do get somewhat different types of craft here . .


here’s one for J&P – black swans with red eyes and beaks


and if we drink any more gin – so will we!! Thanks to Viv for a delightful Spaghetti Bolognese and oh look a bottle of Rioja …


Nigella at her best (note Tanqueray in foreground)

Off up the Thames towards Oxford tomorrow


Tuesday . . . must be Aldermaston

We left Newbury around 9 and chugged along the very passive K&A – sometime river sometimes canal.

Managed to see even more Kingfishers!

Newbury bridge

Two brothers “in control”

Middle bottom of next photo – the often seen but camera-shy Kingfisher!

Monkey Marsh lock – authentic, reproduction of the ancient type of locks .

Some very serene pieces of canal – this one at Woolhampton

Had fun stopping the traffic (quite a few times) with electrically operated lift & swing bridges – nice photo here, with Adagio sailing thru

tomorrow … Reading!