Tuesday, March 22, 2011

News, news, news .....

Our Narrowboat Epiphany website is now "live" again. I shall be blogging our travels, cruises and adventures on it from today so you will need to go it to keep an eye on us! click here

John will be gradually copying our January to March blogs from blogspot to narrowboat epiphany and the RSSS feed to your email inbox will also be updated in the next few days. It is not all singing and dancing yet and the usual popular features will be added gradually. Look out for some new ones too!

So please bear with us - bookmark narrowboat epiphany and we will let you know progress there!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Up and down and then up again

Today I tested the public transport from Sandford on Thames to Banbury! All for the sake of picking up my glasses and our post! So I caught the 106 bus (it was on time) which goes to Oxford Station. Then a train to Banbury (one stop). All went very smoothly!

Christchurch Meadow - the bus goes along St Aldates on the far side of the meadow

Glasses picked up - I can now see marginally better - I went to Hilliers Garden Centre for lunch. Sorry Wrens Nest, I didn't have time to call in - but I did see you! Our post lady met me at Hilliers - with a few envelopes and some home made raspberry jam!

Normally when we are cruising, our friends send our post to the nearest post office, post restante, for us to pick up when we get there. However being on the South Oxford for so long it has become a habit for us to meet up to exchange post! Soon we will have to go back to our "old ways". The same will apply to prescriptions - a request sent to my GP with a stamped addressed envelope to a pharmacy near where we plan to be in about a week or so. Once our website is up again you will be able to access my collection of pharmacies around the country!

A Salters trip boat - another way of getting in and around Oxford on the River Thames!

Shopping done, browsing done, I caught the train back to Oxford. It was slightly worrying that I recognised where I was on the train from spotting the canal - Banbury Tram moorings, Somerton Deep Lock, the old warehouses on the River section, Shipton Weir Lock, Thrupp (a mental wave to our friends moored there!), Kidlington, Enslow, moorings all the way into Oxford, and then Jericho.

Back on the bus - I kept an eye out for the end of the Hythe Arm, the River Cherwell and a glimpse of the Thames! Home again at last - the lock here at Sandford was full of water when I left but on my return it was empty again and some of the jacks removed. So it looks as if the new bottom gates work!

Three jars of lemon curd later (made by my fair hand on my return) and a meal, it is now time for a relax in front of the box! Tomorrow is the "up again" as we cruise upstream to Oxford!

"A good place for drowning"

We find it is always worth exploring a new area to find hidden gems - country churches, old buildings, bus stops, post boxes etc. Sandford on Thames sprawls up the hill from Sandford Lock and the old centre of the village is nearer the river.

Near the lock is a development on the old mill site of up-market newish properties, many with a river view of the reach below the lock. The Kings Arms was once "The Ferry" - as a ferry took passengers and horses and carts to Abingdon. Jerome K Jerome once described Sandford as a "good place for drowning", indeed the adopted son of J. M Barrie drowned in 1921 near the lasher weir (site of the old lock).

Built in 1826 for mill workers these cottages around the village green had flat roofs made of tarred paper. They were occupied by workers until 1982 when the mill closed. The mill race continues to flow beside the lock.

St Andrews Church

The post office closed in 1987 but was in the white cottage opposite the church. Today there is a post box at the top end of Church Lane.

Inscription over south door - written by Rev Charles Forebench in 1646

The graveyard of the church is very well kept and peaceful - we spent a while just absorbing the sun and calm atmosphere

I loved the bench and garden that has been created alongside, behind what was once the church hall and "plant". This is now a private residence walled off from the church grounds.

Lewis Carroll was a famous visitor, in the guise of Rev. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson - he preached on several occasions at the invitation of his friend Rev W H Rankin. His first visit on Whit Sunday 1862 is commemorated by the "Alice Sermon" on the theology of his two famous works!

Sadly, St Andrews was locked - God was away for the day! There is a comprehensive guide of the church here - clickety click

Old pub on main road
On the main road through the rest of the village stands an old pub building - possible once The Fox. A bus stops nearby that terminate at Oxford Station - number 106, hourly.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Sandford Lock on the Thames under repair

We chatted to the Lock Keeper at Sandford Lock today as we wandered over to The Kings Arms for Sunday lunch.

The Kings Arms, over from Sandford Lock
He explained that he had "handed over" to the engineers and it was in their hands as to when the lock opens. It is scheduled for opening on Saturday 26th March.

Floating pontoons above Sandford Lock

The floating pontoons above the lock were were for equipment, materials etc to be delivered to the lock. We assume the crane opposite our mooring was in use for this too.

The "jacks" are to prevent the walls of the lock being compromised because the water is not in the lock. The bottom gates are now in place, but the dam has to be removed, the jacks too, before it opens!

Sandford Lock from downstream
From about 1294, the original flash lock at Sandford was in the Western Stream, now a backwater. Its position can still be seen alongside the present lock and also where the upper gates were. There was also a mill by the lock.

Sandford was probably the first to have a modern pound lock, in 1936, to overcome the real difficulties of these flash locks. The present lock was built in 1972-3 in the same location. There are some very interesting photos and more information on this website - clickety click

Upstream from Sandford Lock

After a good roast lunch we returned home to Epiphany and a quiet afternoon, with the occasional gongoozler with camera in hand! We could have earned a fair bit here if we had charged for taking a photo!