Wednesday, 6 July 2016

North of Braunston at last!

David joined us for one day and we went from Fenny Compton Wharf to Napton. David steered the boat so that I was able to help with the locks. This is a rare treat for me. After Napton we went on through Braunston and on towards Rugby.
Taking the left hand bridge at Braunston Turn

Down the locks at Hilmorton

One of the old canal stubs now used for moooring

Through Hillmorton Bottom Lock and on to Rugby

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Why is it...

...there are more and more things to do at home?
Try as I may, I just cannot get away on Constance. There is too much to do at home. Gardening for one. Then we did go to Bideford for a few days so that we could have a day trip to Lundy.

Anyway, managed to catch a couple of days this week.
I was out of water, had loads to get rid of etc. I stopped at Cropredy wharf and dealt with all the 'necessary'. It was nice to be back on board if only for a short while.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Beautifully Black!

It was an early start from home to get to Banbury for 8a.m. to take Constance out of Tooley's but I made it in time.

Then it was time to let the water in...

Slowly at first

Then the flood as they lift the top board out

Beautiful Iris on the bank

Mother duck with three

Friday, 27 May 2016

And into Tooley's at long last

It seems like ages ago that I booked Constance into Tooley's for a bottom blacking. All the stalling for time, a couple of miles a day, anyway the time has come.

Sign on the road bridge at Twyford Wharf
Made my way from Twyford Wharf up to Tramway, then up through Banbury to the turning point, then down to the Castle Quay shopping centre.
New board to stand on, the old one rotted away!
At the appointed hour, well maybe a little bit earlier, it was time to enter the dry dock facility.

Into Tooley's
 The depth of water over the cill is not great. It was 'full-ahead' and scrape the barnacles off the flat bottom! Even had to take on human ballast in the bow to tip the boat up to get the stern over the bar.
Being secured

Dropping the boards in

Tide going down

Stern view with pressure-washing in progress

Bow view

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Lovely week

Judy & I spent a lovely week on Constance. We did not move far. We haven't got far to go. We did 'car & boat leapfrog' each time we moved. I don't know how many times I have now walked the length of the south Oxford Canal, however it is beautiful walking country.
Somerton Deep lock from above

The 'Aah! factor. Mother duck with 12 ducklings

Aynho Wharf

Is this a Banksy? Banbury.

Friday, 8 April 2016

Oxford to Lower Heyford

The weather was set fair for the day. Alison had not been on this canal before so we decided to motor northwards for a bit. We left our lovely mooring adjacent to Hythe Bridge Street.

About as close to Oxford city centre as you can get!
Out of Oxford along past all of the 'Agenda 21' moorings, up through Duke's Lock and on to Kidlington.
Bridge 228 - Yarnton Road Bridge

Yarnton Road Bridge (228) is notoriously low. I always untie the wheelbarrow just in case it hits the underside of the bridge. This time we were OK because we had just filled with water and the bow was low in the water. We passed through Thrupp and Shipton-on-Cherwell.
Shipton Weir Lock

Shipton Weir Lock
Alison had not seen one of these before.

Kidlington to Oxford

Alison joined us at Kidlington for the trip down into Oxford. We went right down to the end of the canal at Hythe Bridge Street. Didn't bargain on picking up a great big fleece lined tartan jacket on the prop but fairly easily removed via the weed hatch.
Whilst in Oxford we went around the castle.
Stood on top of the old keep mound

Took selfies
Saw the inside of the old prison
Saw the old Saxon Church.
The inside of the church

Went up the old Saxon Church Tower and looked at the 'Dreaming Spires'

Oxford rooftops

and 'dreaming spires'

The tower
The old house opposite the tower.
 Then we went back to the boat for a cup of tea.

Friday, 1 April 2016

Heyford to Kidlington

Judy & I came up to Upper Heyford to take Constance down towards Oxford. As you can see we enjoyed some lovely weather. We also had to contend with storm Katie, but by then we were hove-to at Kidlington.
Allen's Lock - Upper Heyford

The cattle had come into the canal to take a drink
 We stopped at Pigeons Lock for lunch and there was a 'tap-tap' on the door. David had cycled up from his home in Oxford to join us. Together we moved south.
Now with two lock operators, down on to the Cherwell
The Cherwell was very well behaved considering the amount of rain we have had through March. Then through Thrupp. With crew the electric lift bridge is easy. We moored up at Kidlington where we could catch buses into and out of Oxford. We had a lovely weekend with David.

Friday, 18 March 2016

Banbury to Upper Heyford - with a stop for BERU

I needed somewhere quiet to stop for the weekend. Somewhere away from all the electrical noise that domesticity provides and also somewhere where I could be and it did not matter if I ran my generator after 8p.m.
I found that place about 3 miles south of Banbury and as luck would have it, not far from the M40 so I had Internet access which was a bonus.

Warning - 'Techy stuff' coming!

I have entered the BERU contest many times, sometimes from the home QTH and sometimes from my narrow-boat ‘Constance’ somewhere on the canal system. This year I decided to operate from the boat at a quiet location about 3 miles south of Banbury on the South Oxford Canal.
The rig used was my Yaesu FT-897 running 100w into a trapped dipole/inverted ‘V’. Power to be supplied from my pure-sine 1kVA generator. The trapped dipole is a 100w version of the QRP model which I made for my Australia trip. The laptop was running N1MM+ with a G4ZLP keyer.
The operating position

Yes, the mast was leaning at that angle deliberately, it follows the angle of the boat's 'tumble-home' and was securely fixed.

The trapped dipole was 22 feet above the canal

The ends of the 80m section were 6 feet above the canal. The cranked TV mast supports the 3G dongle

Food on the go. Can't stop...
Promlems? Yes I had one or two problems. All the kit was tested from my back garden at home. The system as tested included the generator and the power supply. When I started up on the boat I had two different types of QRM. One was fairly quickly tracked down to the Solar Panel controller, so the solar panel was disconnected. The second source (S9++) hash was a bit more difficult to track down. Eventually found to be the on-board battery charger which automatically starts up whenever it sees 240v mains. Once the QRM was sorted the background noise was not measurable on the S-meter on any band. I had chosen a quiet location, no power lines, no houses, no trains but close enough to the M40 to get excellent 3G Internet. All was set for a good BERU session except that HF radio conditions were not that good in the higher bands. Throughout the whole contest I never heard any resolvable station on 10m and only a few on 15m.
The results were a total of 59 QSOs spread: 80m - 8, 40m - 8’
20m - 39, 15m - 4 with none on 10m
After working on 40m for about an hour in the evening the 40m leg of the antenna suddenly went VHSWR. No explanation, can’t see anything wrong with it but reckon I lost a lot of points because that would have been the best band for evening working.
Bagged 31 Canadians, 12 VKs and 2 ZLs along with 9H, 9J, 9M, C4, ZS, ZB2, J34, VP9 and really fed-up as I heard AT1 calling/being worked several times but did not recognise the prefix as Commonwealth!
Overall, the kit worked well (with the exception of the loss of 40m) and the location was quiet. I found the band conditions to be unexciting and many stations were a struggle to complete. Oh well! There’s always next year…
End of 'Techy stuff'...
Once the contest had finished it was on towards Upper Heyford.
A tight squeeze under Nell Bridge

With an inch to spare on the 'water level' board

Loadsa floods

Through Somerton Deep Lock
Then a short cruise to Lower Heyford.