Tag Archives: The Hobbit

In Honour of JRR Tolkien

Wednesday 22 July 2020

In Honour of JRR Tolkien

We got up and drove to Oxford today, the spiritual home of JRR Tolkien author of The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and a host of other important 20th Century books.

I have loved Tolkien’s work ever since I was first encouraged to read The Hobbit by a teacher at school (a long time ago). It was in a Library session at Secondary school and I had been limiting my reading at Library sessions to non-Fiction books.

“You really should read some fiction – try The Hobbit”.

From that moment on, there was no turning back. I read the hobbit, then went on to purchase the George Allen & Unwin Seventeenth impression 1977. I still have that copy. It’s falling apart after multiple readings as a teenager

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I more recently purchased a second had copy, in much better condition than mine and started re-reading it. I find it still as enthralling and pertinent today as ever. This book has inspired generations of fantasy from novels & series of novels, through pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons roleplaying through to computer games – last gen, this gen and next gen!

The next series I went on to read was The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever. This trilogy (followed by a second trilogy) was incredibly influenced by the template Tolkien had laid down. I later read The Silmarillion.

And So To Oxford

So, making the journey to Oxford was a pilgrimage in honour of JRR Tolkien. I wanted to see where Tolkien spent his time in Oxford, writing these great works – as far as was possible in the midst of a global pandemic.

Oxford is a one hour destination from Silverdale. It is therefore eminently doable in a day, with plenty of time for sightseeing. It was a beautiful day and we arrived in the centre of Oxford to park in an underground car park. We had parked here when we visited before, with MIRRLESS (another Tolkien pilgrimage). The car park opened out into a square with a market and attendant Cafe Nero. It would have been rude to not socially distance and partake of a coffee and morning croissant confectionary, so we did.


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Fortified, we set off in search of Blackwell’s Book Store. It was rumoured to have a well-stocked Tolkien section. We were not disappointed. There are still Tolkien books I do not possess (it’s true! My collection barely scratches the surface) and Blackwell’s had them. I did succumb to a particularly erudite hardback that deals, in detail with the flora of Tolkien’s world. I hadn’t seen this book before. It was a real find however another book I have to find space for aboard Silverdale.

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Downstairs, Blackwell’s has a small exhibition of rare, mostly first edition books. In a glass case at the bottom of the stairs was a copy of The Road Goes Ever On. There were also Other Science Fiction books by Ballard and Michael Moorcock among others.

The Eagle and Child

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Next stop after a short walk was The Eagle and Child – a pub where Tolkien sat with C S Lewis and discussed The Lord of the Rings among other things. The pub sign shows a child being carried away by an eagle. This has been noted as and surely is the inspiration for the eagles in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Gwaihir the Windlord – The lord of eagles rescues Gandalf and participates further in the ‘Rings’ story. The pub was closed due to the pandemic but looking through the window, we got a feel for those meetings.

murpworks - The Tales of Silverdale - In Honour of JRR Tolkien - The Eagle and Child pub interior image


We had a break for brunch (I liked to think of it a second breakfast) at the Handlebar café & kitchen whose Vegetarian and Vegan food was excellent. Can’t recommend it highly enough. Afterwards, we wandered through a deserted Oxford with a ‘one way’ system in place to socially distance any visitors that hand braved the City. This was presumably very different to when Tolkien was living and writing there.

Tolkien’s Resting Place

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We decided to drive out of Oxford to find Tolkien’s final resting place. JRR Tolkien is buried in an unassuming spot in an unassuming grave in a graveyard just on the outskirts of the town centre. He is buried with his wife and it seemed a fitting place for a great writer – no pomp or glory that, though justly deserved, would have taken away from the kind of person I believe he was. Rest in peace.

This is the Way We Rollright

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Finally, we set off to find the Rollright Stones just outside Chipping Norton, a short(ish) drive from Oxford. The Rollright Stones are an ancient site consisting of three separate areas. It was a long, dusty drive. However, once there, the views afforded are spectacular and the site (or sites) are a fascinating reason for visiting. Our main reason for visiting was the fact that this area may have been the inspiration for The Barrow-downs in The Lord of the Rings.

The Rollright Stones consist of three parts: The Kings Men stone circle, the King Stone, and the Whispering Knights

The Whispering Knights has an area set aside to an outdoor art trail. We Wandered around the mazes made from willow cane and cut grass paths. Later, sitting peacefully, in amongst the trees and grass it brought the area to life.

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In our journey in honour of JRR Tolkien, we felt we had scratched the surface of finding Tolkien’s Oxford. We hopefully honoured his contribution to British literature in some small way. There is plenty more to find and see that relates to JRR Tolkien in this beautiful City and we will return in the future to explore a little more.

rp – peace and narrowboats

A Short Walk to the Nearest Bit of Woodland

Tuesday 21 July 2020

A Short Walk

Today we got up and walked a short way to the nearest bit of woodland we could find. It wasn’t very far, just up from the marina, across the A5 and on the road towards Norton. The woods were minimal but views of the adjacent fields proved stunning, early in the morning.

I took some photographs

Shire! Baggins!

Back aboard Silverdale, after a walk in the Shire the post brought more Tolkeinary in the form of The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey soundtrack CD and The Hobbit – The Battle of the Five Armies Blu-Ray 🙂

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rp – peace and narrowboats

Tolkien-inspired and Pirate-inspired

17 – 18 July 2020


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It was another Friday so another non-working day. I do like them. I have got so used to them in such short a time, I don’t know how I could live without them now 😉

Once again it was sunny and hot. It had been sunny and hot yesterday and so, there was nothing else for it, I had ordered a book. I ordered Tolkien – The Maker of Middle Earth by Catherine McIlwaine from the Bodleian shop. It was a book produced in support of the exhibition of the same name, the Bodleian Libraries’ summer 2018 exhibition, at

The Weston Library, Oxford
1 June 28 October 2018.

Mu and I both went to the exhibition when moored in Oxford with our previous narrowboat – MIRRLESS. It was inspirational. I never bought the book at the exhibition but decided to rectify this now. The one thing you have to know is that it is a big book, especially as I ordered the hardback. I also ordered a print of the the jacket cover of The Hobbit. The print is going to take pride of place, on the wall, just to the left of my desk. I’m not sure about the book…

Adrian had returned and tidied up the woodwork that had been disturbed in the fix of the overflow pipe (see We Found a Leak). It was as if nothing had ever been disturbed.

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Following on with the Tolkien-esque theme (I am also currently re-reading The Lord of the Rings) we also started watching The Hobbit – An Unexpected Journey such a great film.


Saturday saw us travel to Kings Lynn. Kings Lynn is the nearest piece of coast to where we now live. We weren’t planning to visit a beach, just hopefully ‘go to the sea’. It had been a very long while since we had. It didn’t quite turn out to be the ‘Oh, I do love to be beside the seaside’ experience we had expected. This will become apparent.

We had set off a little later than we had liked but it was the weekend and a little lay-in was in order (or more like, “Oh, what? Is that the time? I thought we were setting off early?”). It was a long way, well it seemed a long way when actually plying the highways. Also, there were also a lot of roundabouts. I am no stranger to roundabouts having worked in Swindon for many years – they have the ‘magic roundabout’. It seemed that no sooner had you crossed a roundabout, another reared up on the horizon.

Pleasantly Surprised

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We were pleasantly surprised with the town, it was very nice. The estuary of the River Great Ouse had places to explore, with Ferry Lane and Purfleet Road giving a distinctly ‘pirate’ feel to the area. Sculptures of anchors and chains and a figure in a tricorn hat was inspiring. This was especially as I’m writing The Tales of Silverdale – A Pirate Ship In Dark Waters , on Ko-fi as we speak.

We sat out in Tuesday Market Square at a socially distanced Prezzo for coffee, which was handled really well. We bought a vegan pasty each and a vegan chocolate muffin from a local, independent bakers (one door in, one door out) for our return to Silverdale.

As we had arrived later than we had liked, we never got to walk down to the sea. So, there was no harbour to wander around and no sea to look out to but we were pleasantly surprised with Kings Lynn and will return to explore further, another day.

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rp – peace and narrowboats

I Am Officially…

Thursday 4 June 2020

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I am Officially…

Elevenses – I am officially a Hobbit!

Twoses – doesn’t have the same ring about it but I’m going to make it a thing!

Mu spent most of the day looking for a ring (not the one ring), to connect the water filler cap key, so I don’t drop it in the canal. It’s innthe lock-up somewhere…

We insured Silverdale today. It’s a lot easier than insuring a car (cheaper), we have belongings cover included. We used Collidge & Partners as we used them before to insure our previous narrowboat: MIRRLESS. We feel better now.

I discussed yesterday’s incident with the lost nozzle with the Marina Office and they said they would get someone onto it. A little later, true to their word, Tim knocked on the roof. I explained the novice boater mistake . He went off to get a torch (a long thin one). He came back (phew!). He looked in the tube then went off to get a tool or implement or something. He came back (double phew!). I left him struggling to retrieve the nozzle from the pipe. There was little help I could provide. After some time, a hand pushed open the door, holding the offending item. It meant success! I just can’t thank Whilton Marina enough – thank you Tim.

I continued filling the water tank (without the nozzle this time). It filled much quicker with the obstruction removed. The nozzle was consigned to the spares box. Everything was back up and running and working as it should. Oh, I fixed the horn! A bit of sandpaper on the terminals, re-connect and the horn tooted! We can go in tunnels and warn oncoming boats they are about to ram us or vice versa. Does this qualify me as a Marine Engineer now?

For evening repast (we skipped fourses) we had barbecued pasty- unintentionally. The oven is an Indesit gas oven. It’s full size, fully functional and really pretty good. All except for there being no oven shelves or a grill pan. It makes using it tricky. Toast is effected by holding slices of bread in a frying pan, under the grill by hand. The frying pan we have, while not cast iron certainly feels like it in weight when you hold it at arms length for any length of time! I have no hairs left on my right arm due to singing. The aforementioned pasty had to sit in the trusty baking tin (it’s a multi-functional marvel). The trouble with this was that the tin was in direct contact with the base of the oven. This is also the source of the heat i.e. gas flame. The pasty cooked quickly but with a black base. Charcoal would be a good descriptor.

We have now ordered oven shelves and a grill pan.

Nineses – a cup of tea and a chocolate from the box in my hamper. Then off to bed to officially read Lord of the Rings (I’m inching my way through it).

rp – peace and narrowboats