Thursday, 10 November 2016

Winter is upon us.
Yesterday it was Autumn.
Today it is bloody cold. Outside.
Inside, thank God, it is warm, very warm.
The diesel central heating is keeping a level of tickover heat throughout the boat but the solid fuel stove is banging out sufficient heat to warm two boats. So I have a door open to stop me falling asleep. Something I seem to manage post-lunch with consummate ease these days.
To add to the ambience as dark closes in about 4 30 I shall light my oil lamps and a couple of candles and probably fall asleep during University Challenge-something I seem to manage with consummate ease these days.
The Autumn was beautiful but I fear the current gustier, wetter weather will finish the trees' display-but it was great whilst it lasted.
We have had a couple of Autumnal walks (along with our regular daily hike) and we were very lucky with the weather; glorious sunlight burnishing the gold. The first was in the part of the Ashridge Estate known as Golden Valley inspired by Capability Brown. We enjoyed it in spite of a lady dog walker (that's a dog walker who was-and presumably still is-a lady as opposed to a dog walker who walks lady dogs) who advised us to stay in the open and not enter the wooded parts because it was the rutting season and the males were full of testosterone and looking for a fight. We assumed she was referring to Stags rather than the two ageing golfers we saw and heeded her advice. She'd given her impression of the noise a stag makes just before it attacks-a sort of phhhltttt! sound- followed by the warning (from her rather than the stag),  "you hear of such terrible incidents" from which I guessed that neither she nor her dog or lady dog had actually been the targets of any sort of attack. 

Suffice it to say that whilst we were fearless in our adventure every time an Autumnal conker crashed to the ground we speeded our pace in case it was followed by "phhhlttt!". 
Silly really. Even in my fittest youthness I doubt I could have outrun a stag whose rutting I had disturbed. My only hope now would be that Pam would be the preferred target probably wrestling the stag to the ground with one of the many street -fighting manoeuvres learnt in downtown Harrogate. And so ends the deer, departed, whilst I lie simpering in a nearby pig trough.
Something I seem to manage  with consummate ease these days.

Now there's a thought. "Stuck in a rut"? That would be embarrassing.

Another Autumnal walk through Wendover Woods especially memorable for the carpet of leaves which Pam enjoyed kicking about like a five year old. Not that she's in the habit of kicking five year olds you understand.

Enough of Autumn other than to say we had a lovely Halloween dining with Joseph, Caz and Florence at Carluccios. Joseph is too adult now to dress up but Florence looked scary and we all had fun with the wig.

Back to canals and those that could be arsed will have read of our adventures on the Leeds and Liverpool canal including this picture of the Bingley 5 Rise locks with Peter B in charge. Pam's sister Tricia kindly sent me some newspaper cuttings of the subsequent celebrations to mark that we'd gone home again..........not really; it was to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the canal. The Bingley 5 look a little busier.

To think the above was built 200 years ago without power tools, JCBs, and hard hats.

A little different at Cow Roast this week where repairs are underway and the site has all kinds of machinery and is caged off like Guantanamo Bay

Fortunately the coal boats with Jules and Richard were through before the lock closed

Whilst we are at Cow Roast Lock some may recall that I recently issued a special posting to mark the 100th anniversary of Lance Corporal Albert Ernest PICKTHORN, ‘B’ Company, 28th Battalion, Australian Infantry, who died  on 3rd November 1916. He was originally from Cow Roast and was the son of the lock keeper.

I put the notice of his death on the workmens' hut by the lock and will remove it on the 11th. 

Last night's result would suggest we haven't learnt much in those hundred years.....

Anyway subsequently friend Peter H, originally from Watford and now serving time in the Antipodes for pimping plumbers round Oxhey kindly sent the following from an Australian publication on the 90th anniversary of hostilities. These young men had no luck in that having survived the carnage at Gallipolli they were then sent to the Western front but the story post war is heart warming.

The French town of Villers-Bretonneux lies just south of the River Somme, set in wide, green fields, its church steeple clearly visible far and wide.
Like many towns and villages on the Somme, it was beautiful, but of little significance to Australia, until the savage events of the Great War. Like many villages in the area, the war reduced Villers-Bretonneux to little more than rubble and marked a moment in history when a special link was forged between that corner of France and the land down under.
Thousands of Australians fought on the Western Front. Villers-Bretonneux is where those diggers had one their greatest World War I victories.
After the disaster of Gallipoli, tens of thousands of soldiers from the Australian Imperial Force were sent to fight the Germans in the muddy and bloody trenches of France and Belgium. It was not in the trenches, though, where they had their greatest glory, but in one small village.
In March 1918, the Germans launched a major offensive to take the strategic town of Amiens. As the Germans moved westwards towards their goal, they captured Villers-Bretonneux on 23 April. The British high command feared that if the Germans moved on to take Amiens, the war would be lost. The job of retaking Villers-Bretonneux was assigned to two Australian brigades.
The plan was to encircle and trap the Germans. There would be no preliminary bombardment. Instead the Australians would launch a surprise attack at night. Two battalions would begin the assault from the south towards the east of Villers-Bretonneux while three battalions would attack from the north at the same time.
The assault began at 10pm on 24 April. It was a do-or-die attack. The diggers took out the German machine guns then fought the enemy in a ferocious house-to-house confrontation. One German officer later wrote that the Australians 'were magnificent, nothing seemed to stop them. When our fire was heaviest, they just disappeared in shell holes and came up as soon as it slackened.'
By dawn on 25 April, exactly three years after the Anzacs stormed ashore at Gallipoli, the Australians had broken through the German positions and the French and Australian flags were raised over Villers-Bretonneux. It took the rest of the day and into the next to secure the town. But secure it they did and the Anzacs established a new front line, marking the end of the German offensive on the Somme. A British General called the Anzac attack 'perhaps the greatest individual feat of the war'.
But it came at a huge cost for Australia. 1200 died saving the village.
The French, though, have never forgotten the sacrifice. The Australian flag still flies over Villers-Bretonneux. A plaque outside the Town Hall tells the story of events in the town in 1918. Kangaroos feature over the entrance to the Town Hall. The main street is named Rue de Melbourne.
The children of Villers-Bretonneux are especially indebted to Australia. After the war, it was money donated from schoolchildren in Victoria that paid for the rebuilding of the village school. It was named Victoria School and a plaque recalls the diggers' sacrifice:
'Twelve hundred Australian soldiers, the fathers and brothers of these children, gave their lives in the heroic recapture of this town from the invader on 24th April 1918 and are buried near this spot. May the memory of great sacrifices in a common cause keep France and Australia together forever in bonds of friendship and mutual esteem.'
Emblazoned across a building in the main playground of Victoria School and above the schools blackboards are the words 'DO NOT FORGET AUSTRALIA'. Carvings of kangaroos, koalas and platypuses decorate the school hall. Ninety years after the historic battle, the children of Villers-Bretonneux continue to learn about the soldiers from half a world away who liberated their town from the German enemy.
More officially, recognition of the significance of the battle in Villers-Bretonneux is found at the Australian National Memorial, which was built just outside the town. It commemorates all Australians who fought in France and Belgium and includes the names of 10,772 who died in France and have no known grave.
Each year, a small Anzac Day ceremony is held at the memorial to mark the sacrifice made by the diggers. This year though, is special. Those who have campaigned for many years for a dawn service at Villers-Bretonneux will have their dream realised on this 90th anniversary of the battle.
Five thousand people are expected to attend, including many from the town itself. For them, the long distance to Australia will always be bridged by the blood of Australia's sons given to secure French freedom

The recent hoo hah about three judges doing their job depressed me greatly. This is a composite photo of a German newspaper in 1933 and a British Newspaper, last week, in 2016.
'Volksverräter' means 'Enemies of the People' and it goes on these men have been 'expelled from the German national community'. Chilling. Be aware and beware.


Moving on; my sense of mortality was given a prod this week when I received a cunningly worded invitation from the DVLA to renew my Driving Licence as I hit 70 in January. Therefore as the clock strikes 12 midnight on the 12/13th  my driving skills will cease to exist and henceforth I shall drive about unaware of other drivers, giving no signals and generally being a pain in the arse to everybody else. No, the Government is not giving me a BMW it's just the law.......and me getting older....I'm right about BMW drivers though aren't I.

I had to trawl through a list of ailments  and assure the powers that be that, at the time of trawling, I didn't have any of the nasties on the list. Or rather I might  have but they haven't been found yet. There seem to be so many things that never existed when I was younger that can afflict a body these days. Best not to ask the quack if you might have any of them...for instance when did gluten intolerance arrive? I don't fancy that at all but I don't really know what's involved. 
I did hear of someone who was Gluten intolerant. He moved to GDunstable. Heh heh.
-------------------------------------------------------------------- Anyway I realise today that I'm 6 months younger than Donald Trump which gives me no pleasure at all. I certainly wouldn't trust me with the Red Button waiting to blow the world apart but at least  I'm not like some character out of Dr Strangelove. For me the most dispiriting thing about his election is the joy with which it has been greeted by the far right wing parties across Europe plus the Dictator Putin and no doubt his brother, Ras.

My view is that as apparently the results across the pond and on the European Referendum were protest votes emanating from Mr Average being frustrated by the System and its Operators.  Perhaps if more of these protesters had got off their arses years ago and voted we might not have the system or politicians they dislike. Rest assured if the Farages, Le Pens,Wilders and Trumps' backers get their way  the chance to vote wont be something you have to worry about.

I don't agree with Farage on much-nothing in fact-but he doesn't want the Poles and I don't want the Polls! What a con that lot are-three in a row Last General election, the Brexit vote and now the USA-even the bookies had Hilary at evens and Trump at 3 to 1. They know nothing and should all be sent down the toffee mines.
In the wee small hours of Wednesday morning I tuned in to listen to the first day of the first cricket match between India and England. Of course it coincided with the less important USA elections and as I was tuning the radio into the more important matter I heard the R4 announcer intone that Ohio had gone for Trump. (No shame in that- I often go for one myself) . What I already knew was that the pundits had frequently said over the previous few days was that  since the Kennedy Election in the 60s whoever Ohio voted for got the job. I had a Black Box moment (whilst coming to terms with the fact that the England Captain was already back in the pavilion). 
What is a Black Box moment? Well it's an old joke but as the black box is always found intact after a plane crash why dont they build the whole plane out of the same material as the box. My point is -and I've already emailed President Trump ( with this tax saving idea-why not just have an election in Ohio and get the winning  man or bimbo that way and save the cost of an election in all the other states. Genius.


Sister, Moira and Brother in law, Tom, had some bad luck this Autumn in that whilst on a trip down south to visit various relations, (some living some not) their car threw a wobbly in the water pump dept and they were stranded in an hotel in Edgware as the repair was to be a long and expensive job.  I decided on a flying visit to Lancashire and drove them home on a Wednesday and returned on the Thursday. I mention this only as background to this picture which I took in a lovely pub near the end of our journey back to Oldham. As is so often the case when you have the wheels outside you discover a pub with no music, good beer and food and welcoming to the point where you never want to leave.
As my sister loves ducks-who doesn't?- here's a picture of Donald the Banana. Obviously named after Donald Duck rather than any other Donald.
Donald the Banana

Apropos of nothing I was doing some research on the history of Cow Roast and I came across a term that made sense of something I'd heard about for over 50 years. My friend , Adrian, (seen here running a half Marathon back in his prime) originated from Devon and in his youth had helped on a local farm. He has a unique way with words at the best of times and over the years has referred to children as "ankle-biters"; a term I assumed indicating their short stature and nothing else.
However whilst reading about the Cow Roast role as Cow Roost or Rest for cattle on their way from Aylesbury to London mention is made of drovers and "ankle beaters", youngsters who would tap the legs of the cows with sticks to keep them moving. ( I don't know about the cows who didn't have sticks hee hee)
I could be wrong but that sort of thing pleases my puerile mind.
To Wigginton on Guy Fawkes night for a free and wonderful display.There was a retiring collection towards the cost to which I enthusiastically donated. Great effort

Afterwards a pint in the excellent Greyhound and home with fish and chips out of the paper. Wonderful. -----------------------------------------------------------------------

And finally a few pictures of the view from the front of my boat at Cow Roast. I love Cow Roast
Off now to cook mushroom soup. I'm such a fun guy!

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

I hadn't planned on publishing a post this week but the following info which crossed my path tempted me so to do. It has both relevance to the canal and the time of year and I've suggested to the Landlord of the Cowroast Inn that a copy be posted next to the Poppy Box in the pub. I've also put one by the lock so that on this Thursday, 3rd November, the anniversary of Albert Pickthorn's death, passers-by can ponder thereon.

Remembering Lance Corporal Albert Ernest PICKTHORN, ‘B’ Company, 28th Battalion, Australian Infantry, Died 3rd November 1916
On 2nd March 1915 Albert Pickthorn enlisted in the Australian Army in Western Australia. Albert was born 27 years earlier at Cow Roast Lock, where his father was the lockkeeper. In 1911, looking for new challenges and sense of adventure, Albert decided to leave Cow Roast and start a new life abroad. That April he left Liverpool bound for Western Australia..
After completed his army training in Australia, Albert was sent first to Egypt and then to Gallipoli, as part of the ANZAC troops to fight the Turks. Here he experienced the full horrors of the warfare on the peninsula. After the Gallipoli evacuation at the end of 1915, Albert’s battalion was transferred to the Western Front, fighting for the first time in July 1916 during the initial stages of the Battle of the Somme.
After a short period resting near Ypres, Albert’s battalion returned to the Somme in the early autumn taking part in a major attack on the German lines south of Bapaume at the beginning of November. Initially posted as ‘missing in action’ following the attack, it was not until June 1917 that Albert was finally declared ‘killed in action’.
Albert’s name now appears on the Australian Memorial at Villers-Bretonneux.

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Saturday, 15 October 2016


It's cartoon time.....

-----------------------------------------------------------------------Following on from the mass debate regarding the correct way to eat two boiled eggs-that matter remains unresolved as far as I'm concerned-I have been giving some serious thought to the following:-

Now I am vehemently opposed to option A for practical as well as aesthetic reasons although I hasten to point out, for fear some consider me a homosexual or Guardian reader that neither do I approve of the practice of folding the first sheet into an arrow or similar so favoured by hotels and guesthouses with aspirations above their station.  I raise the matter now because in three separate conveniences in three separate places in the recent past have I been faced with option  A. Actually on one occasion I wasn't faced with it as the roll was placed in such a position behind me that one required the flexibility of a Tai Chi Master to reach the necessary-a result made harder by the use of option A. The three places were an hotel in Yorkshire, excellent in all other respects, a boat we'd hired on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal of which more later and a Motorway services at Leicester Forest which was the non-facing one referred to above.
Is there anybody out there who prefers option A? I doubt it but should you prefer this strange satanic practice please get in touch and let the rest of us know why. It's a free country.

September brings the change in season as shown below on a recent walk round College Lake in Tring.I've also included a picture of one of the many black sheep they have. They seem tame enough but they do like to fix eye contact and penetrate your soul. I can see they know my innermost thoughts.

The Chiltern Branch of the MS Society organised a series of Walk the MS Mile  in various towns in the area including Berkhamsted. Pam enrolled and organised some sponsorship. I decide to go as well but apart from taking a fiver off Ady I just gave them a cheque. Pam raised over 200 quid which was brilliant. We were both impressed with the organisation; the walk started outside Marks and Spencers and went down to Gatsby's and returning to M and S.  Many people with MS  took part, people of real spirit, and the total raised so far is over 17k and they think they might hit £20000! A wonderful effort.

A few pictures below

Pam mugs Karl who who'd only popped out to buy some dinner

The half way point with the Deputy Mayor


A rather fine Harvest Moon at Cowroast

Some SOB having nicked my chimney sometime last year and replaced it with a piece of rubbish I've spent some of my Male Modelling income on a smart new chimney which is chained down with 40,0000 volts running through it-if only........
A rather fine new chimney!

The Motley Crew reconvened at the end of September to take the boat, Sophie's Drum on a part of canal none had done before; it being the 200th anniversary of the Leeds and Liverpool canal and some of the crew having been present at the inauguration it seemed fitting to do the World Famous Bingley 5 Rise, one of the Wonders of the Waterways.

We started from Silsden having hoteled (is that a word?) the previous night in Keighley in the excellent value Dalesgate hotel -a room each and a tip- top breakfast.
A Keighley Rainbow to welcome us to Yorkshire
We were away by 1p.m. after a briefing of the crew by me in the nearby Robin Hood pub. As always it gives me such a warm feeling to be amongst true friends and masterboaters as they listened, rapt and attentive to my every word. There was a higher than usual degree of apprehension on this trip as the charts indicated and my detailed reconnaissance  confirmed that there was a shortage of half decent pubs  and fears were expressed that discipline might break down and the thinner crew members might be eaten by the others for their not inconsiderable alcoholic content alone.

Most of the pictures will be only of interest to the crew but as they say-you should have been there.

We set off towards Leeds arriving at Riddlesden west of Bingley in time for gammon sandwiches (in case we could find nowhere to eat) and  set off for the pub down the hill (in case there was a sudden drought)-The Royal Hotel, which although they did not do food, was a comfy place with friendly staff and customers and a fish and chip shop opposite. Job done-oh and it was raining. After slaking our thirst we returned on board and ate sparingly of the fish and chips.
Whether it was the drink or the fish I know not but that night I slept fitfully and Kevin with whom I was sharing ( a cabin I hasten to add, not a bunk-we're not that sort you know) slept hardly at all. My fellow crewmates were so concerned that I, their spiritual leader, should rest properly that they suggested I swap with Ady  and move in with Geoff. This was a good suggestion as I slept well the rest of the voyage as, apparently, did Kevin. Perhaps he sleeps better knowing his brother is the least likely to eat him for his alcoholic content. We shall never know.

Kevin looks tired this morning
The next day we headed for Bingley and the Bingley 5-which is in fact the Bingley 11 being three staircases of 5, 3, 2 locks and then a single to finish.

But first we needed to take on water as some of the more effeminate members of the crew had been washing.
Ady seems to be struggling
to get his leg over
but Roy helps out-such close chums.

Waiting at the top of the "5"
Still waiting
The historic boat, Kennet will play a leading role in the Bicentenary celebrations
The Bingley 5 is impressive. Ady helmed coming down the staircases and the rest of us either assisted the CRT blokes who undoubtedly knew what they were doing or took photos of the rest of us who didn't.
60 feet in drop doesn't sound a lot but when you're in the lock chamber it feels daunting especially with the top gates letting by a lot of water and you can't help but wonder what would happen if the gate gave way. No more blogs for a start ........

The last single lock of Bingley was a bugger. Kevin and I were on the stern and as the boat lowered in the lock the gates behind us were letting great gushes of water shoot over the back, us and into the back cabin. Water everywhere. I managed to shut the cabin doors, cursing myself for lack of forethought and after a change of crew Kevin and I went below for a change of clothes soaked from the waist down whilst Peter and Roy took us down to Saltaire
 It is named after Sir Titus Salt who built a textile mill, known as Salts Mill and this village on the River Aire. Designed by architects, Lockwood and Mawson, Salts Mill was opened on Sir Titus Salt's 50th birthday, 20 September 1853. In December 2001, Saltaire was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Don't you just love it when some silly arse pokes his fat head into your picture. Peter and Roy look Captain Blyish
This bloke's a bloody nuisance
We turned at Saltaire and whilst Roy organised the winding I jumped boat and went looking for the Aldi shown in the guide book. OK the book is ten years old and Aldi is now a Sushi shop. No shops meant no groceries which meant we'd have to eat in a pub that night. Oh dear, what a shame.
A definite minus against Saltaire is that because  Salts Mill has been turned into posh flats Canal and River Trust have agreed no overnight mooring: a dangerous precedent across the system. So we shook the dust from Saltaire from our saturated plimsoles and headed east again towards Bingley where we knew of a pub,en route, The Fisherman's Inn where solace might be sought.

.....and a prize crossword finished!! Yo Kevin!!

and the grown-up grandads could relax

my soaking purple socks make good spike markers whilst drying
We had a fine evening with a good range of ales and two steaks and a bottle of wine for 25 quid.

The paparazzi is never far away

The following morning we set off to climb the Bingley locks and keep going till we reached Skipton passing our base at Silsden.

Taken expertly into the first lock having made sure front and back doors were closed.

They're waiting for us-with Peter supervising

Past the Damart factory chimney

Expertly done

some paddle gear on the "5" 

 We reached the top of Bingley about 10 30 having left the Fisherman's Inn at 8 a.m. Time for brunch at the excellent cafe at the top of the Bingley 5.

To Skipton by 6p.m. and a very fine though expensive meal in the Woolly Sheep

Skipton is a fine town and our timetable allowed us to stay till after lunch the following day. We all did our own thing in the morning -Kevin got his haircut;I knew he was gay- and I walked up to Skipton Castle along the Spring Branch of the canal. Very nice.
 Pam's sister, Tricia and Bro- in-law, Tony, joined us for lunch at the Narrowboat Inn-another great range of ales and a good menu. This was my Corned Beef Hash which meant I couldn't move till about 5 o'clock. All for 7 quid. We had a jolly time and Tricia and Tony joined us for a short trip on Sophie's Drum.

We left Skipton in lousy weather-the winding of the boat in the aforesaid Spring branch at Skipton was achieved in spite of a very strong wind but with Roy alongside me in a consultative role. Much foul language but we got her turned and after dropping Tricia and Tony off we headed off to Kildwick and the White Lion Inn where we were booked for dinner.

It wasn't the best dinner we've ever had and the staff seemed pretty disinterested to the extent that they'd all buggered off after the main course so anybody fancying a pudding went without. Funny way to run a business. We made the best of it as it was our last night and we had a farewell drink back on board to end the week. I've ranked the pubs we visited in my order of preference. What do you chaps think.

The Anglers Inn Saltaire

The  Narrowboat Inn Skipton


The Wooly Inn Skipton

The Cock and Bottle, Skipton

The Royal Hotel Riddlesden**

The Yorkshire Rose, Skipton

The Robin Hood Silsden**
The White Lion Kidwick

An earlyish start the following morning to head back to base.
Geoff gets the honour of the last bridge

and a farewell breakfast. I don't know who the mob above are but they won't be picking sprouts this year. Bloody foreigners.

Cheers chaps-a lovely break.


This lovely scene on the right greets you on entering the Toad Hall Garden Centre at Henley which we visited last week, en route to Abingdon and Greys Court of which more anon. Pam had been before and said it was impressive and it is. We wandered round looking at flowers and stuff and espied a Physalis, a plant I've oft admired so I bought one. One must remember when telling ones' friends that the emphasis falls on the first syllable or it sounds like something unpleasant

Apart from Physalis and many thousands of other plants they have a Christmas shop and I worked out it was 77 days till Christmas. Unfortunately matey below wasn't for sale or he'd be taking up a lot of cabin space by now. They offered to sell me a pair but I said it was two deer.

On to Greys Court, a National Trust property also near Henley.
This 16th-century mansion and gardens were home to the Brunner family until 2003. The house remains essentially a family home  with a well-stocked kitchen and homely living rooms.  The series of walled gardens is a colourful patchwork of interest set amid medieval ruins.
Other buildings from earlier eras include the Great Tower from the 12th century and a rare Tudor donkey wheel, in use until the early 20th century. The house has been owned by seven families since the De Greys in the 13th century up to Lady Brunner the last inhabitant. Lady B was married to Lord Brunner who was one of the founders of ICI so no need for Bob Geldhof to put a concert on for them then. However one of the most interesting snippets for me was that from 1934 to 37 it was owned by Mrs Evelyn Fleming who had two sons, one of whom,Peter, she encouraged to be a writer as she thought he had real talent but when he married the actress Celia Johnson in December '35 this plan was abandoned as was the house. It was subsequently sold by her other son. Ian, who certainly did make it as a writer. I just love the idea that reading between the lines Celia Johnson wasn't posh enough for Mrs Fleming; anyone who has seen Brief Encounter (and who hasn't?) with Celia's terribly terribly clipped tones would have thought her too posh to be Queen!

Waiting for the drop

After Greys Court we headed into Abingdon where we had booked to stay in the Premier Inn where my sister and bro in law were staying en route from ooooop north to darn sarth. We stopped for a short walk along the Thames across the river from the well calendared (is there such a word?) Anchor shown below then we returned to the Nags Head on the bridge which was very pleasant

I was aware that the Abingdon Fair was on but had seen no sign of it in any of the open spaces around Abingdon where I had expected to see it.
No. It was in Abingdon. All of Abingdon. Every street between us and our hotel. Undaunted we set off and the first street was easy with sufficient room to squeeze by various sideshows. After that it got more like a fairground ride having to mount the pavement a couple of times including an exchange of views on the state of the nation with some Abingdonian pillock who seemed to think I should be on the road. Evenyually we reached the other side of town and were confronted with a barrier. Which was closed. With us on one side and our hotel somewhere on the other.
Pam took executive powers and got out as another trapped driver raised the barrier. I pretended she was nowt to do with me and drove out. Unable to get the barrier down again she legged it across the road to where I was hiding. We were soon booked in and heading for dinner with Tom and Moira where we enjoyed the culinary delights of the Harvester Inn, The Ock Mill.

The following day having bade farewell to Tom and Moira, we walked along the river towards Oxford; a glorious, cloudless October morning.

I think it's dangerous that this old blind man should be allowed to operate Abingdon lock........

Ah, that's better

Pam's found a bear

and a crocodile!!

Navigation Aid

We shall return.

It was my pleasure last week to take friends Roy and Annie to Stansted for a short break in Venice and collect them again on return. During their stay they met Francesco Di Mosto famous for his books and documentaries on Italy in general and Venice in particular.

He agreed to a photo which reminded me of the occasion when Ady, Peter and I met Rick Stein; I took photos of the other two with Rick but for some reason nobody bothered to take one of me. I hardly ever mention it, of course, but perhaps that's why I keep popping up in the photos above.

To close, a tale of interest to those who think I'm losing the plot-if I ever had it. A couple of weeks back I visited the launderette-always a treat for a recluse like myself-and having loaded the machine I went to the counter to get some pound coins. I stuck 5 in the machine pressed the "medium wash" button (though why a spiritualist would want laundering in the first place I don't know) and stepped back to watch the fun. Unfortunately my washing was in the machine next to the fivered one and lay there motionless, unfunded, whilst the empty machine rattled away. Hey ho. No problem as long as I don't tell anybody.