Friday, 30 July 2010


A lovely day’s boating over the summit of the Oxford on leaving Cropredy in misty rain followed by bright sunshine and then soft rain again. Keith at the Wharf Inn has acquired two large Vietnamese pot bellied pigs who are on a diet as they are overweight. This doesn’t stop them drinking the slops though and apparently pigs have a complete tolerance of alcohol and never become drunk. A bit of drizzle in the early evening but still warm and overcast clearing to a beautiful sunset over the rolling Oxfordshire fields. The apple tree in the pub garden laden with fruit as summer moves steadily on. Off again at seven tomorrow but Gemma has promised porridge.
A long day’s boating along the Oxford starting in bright sunshine at 7am and then driving rain and then sunshine again. Sad to leave the Oxford which is very windy, very bendy, very shallow in places but uniquely beautiful and so English and crashed round the corner at Napton Junction and onto the M1 of canals, the Grand Union and up the big locks at Calcutt and on to the Boat Inn at Birdingbury. New landlord but very much keeping up the Mikron tradition with a good house, lovely food and now a marquee as well! We didn’t need it as the evening was fine and clear but bodes well for the future. Thanks Paul and Matthew for making us so welcome.
Off again the next morning and a moving day, plenty of locks and plenty of interesting things to see. Ended up at the Cape of Good Hope but never made it into the pub but sat and drank wine and played Uno in the Boat at the foot of the stairway to heaven. Ploughed up the stairway in good time, teamed up with a nice boat and did the whole flight in two and a half hours. It seems to get easier and quicker every year.
On leaving Hatton, getting round in the pound not as easy as it should have been, lots of mud and plenty of incompetence from me. Emptied the elsan – glad to see everyone seems to be chewing their food properly and up a very low canal to Rowington. Gemma made porridge with hand picked blackberries which seem to be very good this year – made into a lovely compote. Weather still grotty and steady rain as we set up in the village hall in Rowington as sadly the Tom O’ the Wood is closed. Thanks to Mike and Jude for organising the venue and for show sponsorship and wine and cheese...and cheese and wine.
Forecast says rain for next few days...

Monday, 26 July 2010


Rain got the better of us again at Lower Heyford and we packed into Kizzie,s Restaurant to avoid the heavy showers and high winds that had continued throughout the day. As we finished setting up the wind dropped, the clouds lifted and the sun came out. It was too late to move by then so we stayed where we were. Then home for a week’s break. Got back to Hebden Bridge and on to my own little boat in the early hours of the morning. Ready for bed and a week off. Looking forward to the second half soon. Please let it stop raining now, the grass has gone a shade greener and the canals are full again. Time for some more sun...
Well the rain has been continuing but both shows at Cropredy were fine and warm and we played to large audiences. Thanks to Auntie Shirl for all her hard work especially in publicising the shows. Plenty of water in the Oxford Canal and plenty of hire boats but we had a good trip up to Fenny Compton and now anxiously watching the grey skies. More soon.

Thursday, 15 July 2010


Woke on Tuesday to find water falling from the sky in vertical strips and had to spend the day dozing, eating and doing crosswords out of pure shock. Fortunately the drizzle only continued during the get in and sporadically during the show so no major disruption. Great to see a large party of Oxford cyclists charging in at the last moment, everyone sporting at least one item of luminous yellow apparel, the sure sign of a cyclist and LED lights hanging off every rucksack. Thanks to Zoltan and Sam for making us so welcome – we really appreciate it.
Aynho is turning into a nice venue. Renee and Ali are settling in and have removed the largest of the concrete planters in the middle of the courtyard and so now there is a nice playing space. Rain bucketed down for about 15 mins and then settled into a calm dry evening.
Moving onto Banbury the Oxford canal is as lovely as ever. Fluffy clouds, sudden rain storms, poplar plantations thrased by wind and then sudden sun on the ripening corn fields backed by huge blue skies and high streaky clouds. And then rain again...

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Got up early and got the bus into Oxford for company day of fun. Put our wages in the bank and then met up for coffee and cake in a pavement cafe. Bought food and wine in Sainsbury’s and went to see Rob Matthew (remember him? ex Mikron actor and co author of ‘If you go down to the woods’) in an excellent production of The Tempest in the gardens of Wadham college. A perfect day for it, we sat in the shade and drank wine and enjoyed other people running about shouting. A great production, very inventive but not tricksy with excellent performances, clear storytelling and a lot of fun. Rob was superb as the drunken steward, Stephano. Then punting of course, Gemma was the star and we glided round the little circuit from Magdelen bridge, feeding the ducks who were so tame (or so hungry) that they chewed your fingers if you left them unattended for a moment and leapt into the boat after crisps. By the time we had downed a pitcher of Pimms and stuffed ourselves with Korean food I had reached the shores of Lethe and had to be walked to a taxi and so to bed. As Rick pointed out it was a bit of a busman’s holiday going to the theatre and boating but fun all the same.

Saturday, 10 July 2010


The good weather this summer so far makes a massive difference to our enjoyment and success. We’ve had four great shows on the trot – Caversham Court in Reading where we played to about 200 people, the next day Goring Lock – guest of long time Mikron Friend, lock keeper Mike Eagles - where again about 200 and then Benson Marina, organised by long time Friend, John Dalton where about 130 people. When it’s cold and wet we often play to a very small crowd – this year it’s been great. Just hope the continuing dry spell doesn’t mean low water levels – all is well on the great Thames although there are rumours of possible closures of locks because of low water and at Day’s Lock today not much more than a trickle coming over the weir. But what will it be like on the summit of the Oxford? Another warm balmy evening at Long Wittenham – despite a home Aunt Sally competition, football on the telly, a folk night and a scout meeting at the pub (Sandra and Mel’s place is a real community centre!) we played to over 70 people half way down the garden and had a great night with many friends from the TUC, cyclists, walkers and boaters who all seemed to enjoy the show and hissed, booed, cheered and clapped in all the right places – and were extremely generous in the collection.
Wolvercote - another lovely show on the village green – people sitting on the grass with picnics, kids playing football and climbing trees, dogs invading the stage trying to get the actors to throw a ball for them. This is the summer we have longed for. It tried to rain but as soon as we brought the gazebo out of course it stopped. Walking back from the pub the glow worms are shining in the grass a luminous green more garish than high vis jackets and a toad scuttles across the path and back into the safety of the greenery. At supper on the bows Rick and I watched a couple of Kites swooping down to the canal to catch the many fish rising to the surface after the myriad of flies hovering over the water.
Gemma back to hospital world for check up on her finger and then on to Bablock Hythe. A truly wonderful summer’s day, blue sky and high clouds; boating very slowly behind a hire boat through the bends past Eynsham ; the Thames at it’s most beautiful. Hard to believe that this is the same river that surges past Tower Bridge. We all swam in the river at Bablock, it’s the only place to be when it’s so hot and then another warm still evening and a good show followed by beer and then tomorrow...a day off.

Sunday, 4 July 2010


Great weather for the whole of our stay in Woolhampton and consequently excellent houses for the two shows there. Thanks to Margaret again for doing all our washing and taking all our recycling. On Wednesday we went by van to Lechlade and performed there for the second time. Thanks to Bob and Penny - not least for the lovely meal after the show. Got the water pump fixed - it needed a new one again which is the third in three years - being driven by actors is obviously hard work for an old narrow boat. Fought our way back along the Kennet and Avon through all the swing bridges and deep locks. Going through one lock with another boat we were pushed very close to the cill. The couple on the other boat said in their guide it says Maximum length of boat 70 foot if paired up. At 72 foot I let them go on and we went through most of the rest of the locks on our own and siting across the lock! If it's in the Nicholson guide I didn't see it. Moored up at back of Tesco in Reading now enjoying a jacket potato and baked beans in the cafe.