Saturday, 25 July 2009


Just sitting in the shade waiting for the fourteenth man to come and fix stuff on Tyseley since we started the tour. Another impeller has shredded itself and we are grounded again. The cooling system failed in the first week of the tour and Darren from Cowroast Marina came and replaced the impeller and cleared out debris. He recommended a new water pump so Ralph from Denham Marine came and fitted one at Brentford. In London the boiler started producing a pretty ball of flame and a big bang when lit, so Dave came and cleaned her out at Henley and advised us to get a new one but she should last to the end of the tour. At Woolhampton the shower started leaking and Mark the plumber came and advised us we needed a new thermostatic mixer unit and he and his brother Dave fitted it two days later. The boiler gave up the ghost finally in a great jet of steam and a big bang and a window shattered suddenly so David from Oxfordshire Narrow boats fitted a new boiler at Aynho and the new glass at Fenny Compton. Ian fixed the rudder and fitted it back with the help of two assistants from Calcutt Boats. In between we had Mike from River Canal Rescue for the rudder and another River Canal Rescue guy who put us in touch with Tony from Pinders Boat Builders who cleaned out the cooling system and put in the latest impeller. I am now waiting for Mr Pinder senior who will be the fourteenth man.
On the bright side, Bredon Hill looks as lovely as ever with the beautiful River Avon winding around it on a perfect English summer's day. I went for a swim in the river in the early morning and got grumbled at by an ancient angler for disturding the fish - he commented loudly to his companions that had he had his gun it would be a different matter.

Friday, 17 July 2009


The rudder on Tyseley is very big. I know this now because I have seen it in it's full glory - lying on the towpath like a beached whale.
That crunching sound that every boater dreads assailed our ears in the bottom lock of the Napton flight having made excellent time from Fenny Compton with a 6am leave and much fighting our way through the shallows of the Oxford canal. We had managed to sit the rudder neatly on the cill coming down and she popped out of the skeg and bent round like a hairpin with the full weight of the venerable lady Tyseley sitting on top of her.
Now members of River Canal Rescue we got a prompt visitation from Mike who managed after three hours and much impact engineering to get the swan neck off and the rudder dangling by a rope in the canal. Admitting defeat he contacted Calcutt boats who sent Ian out to us, again very promptly and he managed to pull the rudder out as we pulled Tyseley forward on ropes. Getting the rudder onto the towpath we could see firstly the impressive size and secondly the serious damage - the stock was bent at an angle of 45 degrees. Despairing of ever being able to continue the tour by boat we got the van from Aynho and went by road to the Boat Inn at Stockton for our next show.
There in the bar was Ian. 'I fixed the rudder' he said calmly. He had shredded the shaft with oxyacetylene, heated it to red and used the weight of a JCB to put it straight again and then welded it all back together. And he was coming to fit it at 8am the next morning!
The next morning we backed into the lock to give us space below and with two extra helpers from Calcutt boats Ian pulled the rudder back up, fixed on the swan neck and incredibly we were on our way less than 24 hours since the accident. We stopped in at Calcutt boats for Ian to make a final adjustment and for us to express our sincere thanks for the great service. Thanks once again Ian and Calcutt Boats.

Monday, 13 July 2009


Not much of a signal at Cropredy so just a brief post to let you know we are all back from our hols and wandering happily up the beautiful Oxford canal. Here is a picture of our home for two days as guests of Sarah and David at the Wharf house mooring in Cropredy (and looked after as always by lovely Auntie Shirl). The weather still good, fluffy clouds, the odd shower but plenty of sunshine too. The good weather gave us a better than expected house for Fair Trade last night and advance bookings for tonight are pretty good too. George and Gemma put loads of new photos on Facebook which I think you can see if you join the Mikron group. If not I will upload some to the blog when I get a better signal. Just off to the local shop now to see if I can interest them in 170 quids worth of loose change! Or shall I have a nap?

Thursday, 2 July 2009


Much discussion on our third passage along the Oxford between Thrupp and Heyford about how to pronounce Aynho. But we arrived there in good order and kept dead in the middle as much as possible, much to the dismay of various trip boaters who scurry to the sides as we hold an unwavering course right until the last minute, swinging back behind them with a cherry 'Morning!' and plenty of wash. Had our last water based show last night at the Great Western Arms. It's been a long time since Mikron was at this lovely location and although it was a perfect hot summer's evening the house was small but perfectly formed although I think slighty bewildered at finding a dramatic rendition of everything you ever wanted to know about the Co-op (and some you probably didn't) with music and mob caps in the courtyard of a charming rural pub restaurant. The new landlords Rene and Ali were very welcoming, despite being given no clue about our arrival by the previous owner when they took over only a month ago. The wharf owners and mooring warden, Pat did all they could to publicise the event and Rene and Ali have asked us back next year so let's hope this can develop again into a great Mikron venue. Back on the van today and off to the Wey and Arun, the Basingstoke and the Chichester canals. They do drive at 3 mph on the right hand side on the M40 don't they?