Short Canoe Camping Trip Along Thames

Here are the notes for my first overnight canoeing trip down the Thames. I thought it might be useful for someone else doing a similar trip.

Day 1: Bablock Hythe To Pinkhill Campsite – 3.7km

We launched on the east side of the river opposite the Ferryman Inn at Bablock Hythe (51.735252, -1.371328).  It took an hour to prepare the boats and we set off at 3:30pm. There is a carpark where we could leave a car overnight. It was about 4km from the launch site to Pinkhill lock. This is about an hours paddling at a comfortable speed.

It’s a beautiful stretch of the Thames with very little traffic and noise.  It feels really peaceful.

Pinkhill lock has a totally beautiful campsite. It is situated on an island with a lock on one side and a wier on the other. It is really quite and relaxed. There is plenty of space but it has a really intimate feel because the campsite is limited to five tents only (although frankly you fit 10 tents on the site). You can have open fires and the trees provide plenty of kindling. There is a toilet with a shower around the back of the lockmasters’ house. Our kids (5 and 8 years old) loved it. It felt very safe and was a perfect enviroment for them. You can get your boats out of the water to the left of the moorings and carry them to the campsite.

Day 2 – Pinkhill Lock To Wolvercote

The journey from Pinkhill Lock to Wolvercote is around 9km depending on the route that you take.  For example, you can go via Kings Lock or further north.   The river is straighter than day 1. This is the view from the Pinkhill lock down the Thames towards Oxford.

We left the Pinkhill campsite around 11am and arrived at Wolvercote around 2pm.  We stopped for lunch along the way by mooring up by the side of the river a short way from the Kings Lock.

We greatly enjoyed the trip and can highly recommend it as an easy overnight route for canoeing on the Thames.

Campsites on the Thames river

I’ve started to research campsites which I can visit with a canoe or kayak along the Thames. I haven’t found a good website with a map and list. I thought it might interest other people and so I’m putting it on this blog. I’ve started a new category called microadventures. I’m based in Oxford and so have only research the campsites around this area.

Going from upstream to downstream.

Rushey Lock Campsite

01367 870218

Shifford Lock Campsite

01367 870247

Barefoot Campsite

Badswell Ln, Appleton, Abingdon OX13 5JN

Pinkhill Lock

01865 881 452

Eynsham Lock Campsite

01865 881324

Kings Lock

https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path/accommodation/kings-lock
It’s basically wild camping and has no facilities. No toilets etc.
01865 553403

Bridge House Caravan Park

01865 407725

Days Lock

01865 407768

Bridge House Campsite

bridge-house.org.uk
01865 858540

Riverside Campsite

better.org.uk
01491 835232

Hurley

01628 824334

Cookham

01628 520752

Places to kayak / canoe In Oxford

I have an inflatable canoe which I love to take the kids out on. There doesn’t seem to be very much information on locations to canoe in Oxford. Most of the places to kayak around Oxford are commercial -i.e. kayaks for hire etc.,. If you want to use your own boat is hard to find locations that are easy to get in and out of the water. So, here is my list of places that I kayak.

The Cherwell – North Summertown

You can canoe/kayak down the Cherwell river from North Summertown / Cutterslow. You drive to the park just off Water Eaton Rd, Oxford. You can park for free. The river is just 100m away. If I have another adult with me then I inflate the boat and carry to the river. There are two entrance points at the river. The right hand one is easiest. You can paddle down to the Victoria arms or left upstream (although this is sometimes blocked). There aren’t many spots to easily climb out for the picnic.


Paddling down with gourgeous tree either side.

The Thames – Wolvercote

You can kayak and canoe on the Thames on Port Meadow. You drive and park at Port Meadow Godstow Car Park. It is very easy to enter the water in the corner of the carpark next to the bridge. You can paddle down towards port meadow. The water is calm and you can stay out of the wind by keeping close to the bank. You can make a circular route by paddling down to the lock and then around back to the start. You may need to carry your boat around the lock. The water is generally quite shallow and it is very easy to quickly land and have a picnic.

This photo is taken down passed the lock towards the perch. There are lots of blackberry bushes and the girls loved having a picnic canoeing down the Thames.

If you go through the lock then you can do a circular route like this.

Thrupp Canal

This is an excellent spot for some gentle canoeing. There is actually a place to hire canoes from here. If you are bringing you own canoe then park at the back of Annie’s Tea Room. You can then carry all your gear up to next to the canal.

Here is where you enter the water. The carpark is at the back on the right. There is plenty of space by the benches to sort out gear and inflate your boat etc. The cafe is really close.

If you head north then you will have some lovely stretches of the canal lined with boats. The kids love finding out their names. You can also paddle south and you will go passed the pub.

Bablockhythe

The best place to enter the water at Bablockhythe is on the opersite side to the Ferryman Inn and caravan park. You basically can’t park on this site because it is private land. However, you can park on the other side of the river.

You can then enter than water on either the bank or the slipway.

Downloadable Racking Inspection Checkout

We have just brought some secondhand warehouse racking. I wanted to inspect it for faults. This company provide a free racking inspection checklist.  They make you jump through lots of hoops to get access to it. Here are the direct links to the download:

Downloadable Racking Inspection Checklist – 1
Downloadable Racking Inspection Checklist – 2

I hope your enjoy these free downloadable racking inspection checklists.

Extracting data from Brother P-Touch Label Printer .lbx Files.

We recently had to extract barcode data from a large directory of .lbx files, which is the file format used by Brother P-Touch Label Printer software. We could have found the software, opened each file in turn and cut and pasted the data into a spreadsheet, but this didn’t seem very efficient.

Opening the files in a text editor revealed that .lbx files are actually standard zip files – if you change the extension from .lbx to .zip you can open them up to reveal two files inside – label.xml and prop.xml, both standard XML files. The contents of the label can then be found by opening the label.xml file and looking for a node called ‘pt:data’.

We wrote a quick and dirty PHP 5.2 script that extracts all the label data and displays it in a basic html table:

// Eg my_web_server_dir/data_dir/labels
$labelsDirectory = 'labels';

echo '<table>';

foreach (new DirectoryIterator($labelsDirectory) as $fileInfo) {

if ($fileInfo->isDot() || (!stripos($fileInfo->getFilename(),'lbx'))) {
continue;
}

$zip = zip_open($labelsDirectory . '/' . $fileInfo->getFilename());

do {

$entry = zip_read($zip);

if (!is_resource($entry)){
continue;
}

$entryName = zip_entry_name($entry);

if (trim((string)$entryName) != 'label.xml') {
continue;
}

$entryContent = zip_entry_read($entry, zip_entry_filesize($entry));

$xml = simplexml_load_string($entryContent);

$matches = $xml->xpath('//pt:data');

$barcode = '????';

if (isset($matches[0])) {
$barcode = $matches[0]->__toString();
}

echo '<tr><td>' . str_replace('_', ' ', str_replace('.lbx', '', $fileInfo->getFilename())) . '</td><td>' . $barcode . '</td></tr>';

} while ($entry);

}

echo '</table>';

Zortrax M300 3D Printer Problems

We have brought a Zortrax M300 3D Printer.  It was recommended to me by several people.  They told me that it was really reliable and made good quality prints.  I have spent just over 92 days using this printer and printed a wide variety of things.

Image result for zortrax m300

When the printer works, it is a dream and can makes good quality prints.  However, when it doesn’t work (which is around 50%) of the time, it’s a complete nightmare.  It has had a catalogue of problems.  Here is a little diary of my Zortrax M300 printer problems.

18th April 2017
Straight out of the box the printer was non-functional.   Zortrax sent out replacement parts including a new extruder cable, extruder PCB, heater and a thermocouple.  We contacted Zortrax on the 18th April; new parts arrived on the 27th April   The printer was unusable for 10 days

30th April 2017
Amazingly, a large print burnt mid print.  The fan shroud was ripped off and the hot end damaged.   We had to print a new fan shroud using our far more reliable Makerbots.  The odd thing about this is that the Zortrax software sets the route of the printer.  I have no idea why we would have this sort of problem.

Camera
DMC-FS16
Focal Length
5mm
Aperture
f/3.1
Exposure
1/8s
ISO
400

Erm

 

Camera
DMC-FS16
Focal Length
5mm
Aperture
f/3.1
Exposure
1/60s
ISO
200

What a mess!

The damaged hot end

10th May 2017
The second strange to happen was that the printer nozzle drove into printer bed and caused significant damage.  Again, there is nothing that we could have done wrong because their computer program does the programming on the machine.

31st May 2017
After a few weeks of successful printer suddenly the printer stopped extruding any material or would print just one layer of raft then stop extruding but carry out the remaining printer movements.  We contacted Zortrax, and they sent replacement parts including a new heater and a thermocouple and perforated print bed   We contacted Zortrax on the 31st May, new parts arrived on the 7th June.  The printer was unusable for 8 days.

23rd June 2017
Again, after a few weeks of printing… you have guessed it…. the printer stopped.  It will not extrude any material or print one layer of raft then stop extruding but carry out the remaining printer movements.   The printer was sent back to Zortrax, looked at by their engineers, given the all clear, then suddenly they found a problem (apparently some material was stuck in the extuder head) and it was sent back to us.  We contacted Zortrax on the 23rd June, and the printer arrived back on the 18th July.  The printer was unusable for 25 days

18th July 2017
So… finally got the printer back and you have guessed it….  straight out of the box….. it didn’t work!.  The printer will read the extruder temperature at 4% even though the hotend is visibly very hot, smoke can be seen and a burning smell is noticeable.

I currently don’t have a working printer.

In summary:

Total length of ownership of the printer – 92 Days
Total time the printer has been completely unusable – 43 Days

So, I’m afraid that I can’t recommend the Zortrax M300.  It’s an unreliable, temperamental and generally frustrating machine.  The customer service isn’t very good either given the length of time it takes to get spares and repairs.  You can’t speak to them on the phone; they are unapologetic and slow to react.  We have had to wait for ages to get the printer shipped back and forth between Zortrax UK office.   In comparison, Makerbots have proved far far more reliable.  We are looking to purchase two new 3D printers.  At this rate, there certainly won’t be from Zortrax!

How To Stop Firefox Adding An Extra Line In Google Sheets

I use Firefox with Google Sheets.   When filling in the cell and pressing enter Google sheets automatically adds a new line.  It only seems to happen then you press enter.  It doesn’t happen when you press tab or click out of the call.   It also only happens in Firefox and not Google Chrome.   Being cynical, I wonder if Google know about this bug and aren’t fixing it so that people migrate from Firefox to Chrome.  Anyhow, it is quite simple to fix it.

Just go to Tools.  You will find that autocomplete is enabled.

Disable autocomplete and the problem will disappear,

Hope this helps someone.