Sunday 2 September 2018

No No David, those shopping bags aren't mine.

 The forecast was rain starting at 11am today, well of course it was, it's a Bank Holiday Weekend.

David had been up early and whipped the car along to the next stop, Cropedy, leaving Leon's car here at Somerton.

After a bit of a lively discussion, it was decided to risk all and move WaL onwards, after all we had two odd hours to make a run for it.  So after I had hurriedly dressed and unknown to me Fliss and Leon had shot off for a run, we set off.

Frequent Flyers to this blog will remember that we had spent a chunk of time here in this area earlier on in the summer around Somerton and I had developed a love for this view below, it is of the lock ahead or perhaps I should say the Lock cottage at Somerton Deep Lock, with the bridge and the fields surrounding.

The approach to the lock.

See the two wee boats on the right, these belong to the home owner as there is no road access the scoot down to the meadows by boat.

A small argument ensued here, my confidence isn't up to helming through the tight bridge, and bringing WaL into the lock, my upper arm strength isn't up to the gates and the paddles...  So after raised voices and no plan I jumped ship, emptied the lock (After checking all around for coming traffic) and did manage to open the huge gates, whereupon I shot down the steps, jumped back on, David jumped off and he worked the lock.....
As I opened the gates I looked over the bridge to see WaL not quite where I expected her to be.  He'd gone below to make a coffee I think it was.

He reversed WaL back to straighten up.

So now with us in swapped places, this is the zonking great gate that I have trouble with.

Much photographed Lock cottage.

Well the rain scheduled for 11am arrived at 9:15am, so as we approached Aynho  two drenched runners came into view...  They jumped onboard and both headed for hot showers, David and I were kitted up in wet weather coats and by wonderful good fortune found a visitor mooring empty just before the bridge and got on it quick, David watched the few empty spaces the other side of the bridge fill up quickly with approaching traffic.  

We had foresaw this rain coming and had made plans, Fliss and I had made plans that is... the boys had made slightly different plans.

So all dressed up in coats and credit cards  on pockets, we set off for our car just at the bridge, as we reached a large deep puddle David fatally hesitated realising he'd left the car keys in his shorts pocket, as he stood roadside a passing car drove through said deep puddle and soaked him, as he stood there a little in shock but swearing loudly another car repeated it.  Tactfully Fliss and Leon walked away lest he see them guffawing into their cuffs.  I stood by him heroically sympathising.  It was hard. 

We drove to Bicester, where most women will be aware of Bicester Outlet Village, sadly as we approached, the car park signs said ALL CAR PARKS FULL, David was incredulous, 3000 spaces full, what sort of morons want to go there...?
Fliss and I sniggered quietly.  I was driving, so I of course followed the signs to the Full Car Parks and as we entered it and got into the queue Leon was heard to mutter 
"You cannot be serious"
I gave the signal and both Fliss and I jumped out in a synchronised delft movement and ran abandoning the car and husbands in the queues, "Call you when we're done I yelled over my shoulder" running.

A hour later we tracked the men down in a nearby pub, their faces were pure delight as we negotiated  the doors with our shopping bags but still  beautifully in time to go to the cinema 7 minutes away to see Mama Mia Again.  The opening scene included the cast dancing on the roof of a narrowboat moored at Godstow Abbey to "When I kissed the teacher" there we had been just a few days ago.  A great film to watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon and I am still singing the music. 

The next morning was an early start to get to Cropedy, there it would be out with this lot of visitors and in with the next... 

Leaving Aynho early the next morning.

Pretty close to the chimney.

At the lozenge shaped lock here, Leon had appeared dressed, Fliss had not.

The last glimpse of the tidal section of the river Cherwell, a mere whimper today.

Leon is a keen paddle-boarder, except he mostly does it on the sea, these two were a bit wobbly, they were in the middle of the canal and in the end we gave a quick friendly beep on the hooter to tell them we were here...  I asked the woman if her bare feet were cold but she said no. 

Fliss jumped off here to do her 5 K's, she runs 2 or 3 times a week, he daddy worked out how far she should go forwards then return to the boat, all the time wanting to do the exact milage..... rather him not me.

Autumn very much in the air now.

Leon noe helped this single hander through Kings Sutton Lock, but I was really looking at how much work is being done here new owners and Improvements.

This boat caught my eye, the colours I mean, very striking and attractive I felt, I do so like a change form the ordinary. Appallingly low water levels, a permanant moored had erected a site saying they had been aground now for over six weeks and he felt CART was doing little to help, but that bit was in colourful language. 

The dearest Darlings packed up and departed at the end of the trip.  We had washed up here in Cropedy.  As we approached the service point a nb pulled out in front of us bold as brass without a backward glance.  As it happened he was leaving a visitor mooring which suited us down to the ground, but he wasn't to know that, amazing to pull out right in front of another boat right in front of a lock.

The next morning I set about changing the bed, packing the washing, packing all the clean clothes and polishing all the light switches as Joe and Lesley were arriving.  David drove off to meet them at Debdale Marina, our home base then drive them back to Cropedy to WaL where they are doing us an extremely BIG favour, thank you both again.  They are taking Wal home and putting her to bed for us.

We have been called away to our real home to host a wedding.  Another wedding, this will be out third and last daughter to marry in three years,  shortly after that we both are heading to southern Italy.  Yes madness I know but after last summer which was cool and unfriendly, we decided to take a trip to have some warm sunshine to finish off the summer, now having had a scorcher I'm not so sure but the food, wine and scenery will be worth it.

Should you follow Lesley on Facebook you will be able to see how they got on with WaL.  I did follow it from home and saw how they met up with good friends of ours....

This summer has been a very very lovely one, thank you for sharing it with me and I might tell you about Italy in the future.

Farewell for now.

Saturday 1 September 2018

We finally leave the Thames

We were leaving the fabulous Godstow Abbey behind today.   We were short of Dukes Cut (A quick way through to the Oxford Canal avoiding the lower section of the canal with several locks and a lift bridge or two)  short of Dukes Cut by a lock on the Thames, but we decided to go past Dukes Cut to Eynsham Lock where there are services we wanted. 

On the lock landing was a boat we had passed several times both on the Oxford canal and again on the Thames, striking colours of tangerine and pea green I had remembered it particularly as we had asked to come alongside at Days lock one time so I could dispose of our rubbish, the Captain had come across nervous, he asked us to be careful as it was a new paint job.  Obviously we intended to careful no matter what state the other boat was, but suddenly the wife appeared and offered to take our bag to save the mooring thing.....  Well that same boat was on the extended lock landing here today, but with a board across the cratch doorway.....

I enquired of the lock keeper had it been broken into....?  No he said,  Oh it's a sad tale, the owners had it repainted in the spring with the intention of selling it at the end of this year and they were out for their last trip when their friend was helming it and he crashed into another boat! 
Well, you would cry wouldn't you?  Very sad.

On the short hop up to Eynsham were some shallow areas close to the banks marked by buoys "So" says David, which side am I supposed to go of these buoys?  I was pretty sure so I quoted him the old adage that "There is never any port left" which is fine but I do agree with him.... which side do you go when you are returning down stream?  

The locks are hand propelled up this end.

Lock beams too, it felt a bit odd seeing them.

The countryside is flatter and quite open, some husbands might go so far as to say a bit boring.

Over exposed but I captured him as he was taking flight.

We winded below the lock, as all the services were below and headed back towards Dukes Cut.  Our licence on the Thames expired today, one calendar month.  I have loved it.

The next shots are of the eclectic collection of craft moored on the cut.  I would hazard a guess that they occupy a "No-Mans Land" of waterway here, between CART  who operate the canals and the Enviroment Agency who do the rivers, possibly without any proof I say avoiding some aspect of the required licences.... 

Nice paint job.

Then from a wide section it bends and suddenly narrows.

Then bends again.

This one was semi submerged, I can't imagine either agency volunteering to remove it.

I couldn't remember for a moment how to secure your windlass here, then the penny dropped.

I felt rather sad to be back on the canals here.  You come past some moorings, a sunken boat, arriving at the first lock with part of the working held together with gaffer tape, the trees are overgrown, the towpaths in places are falling away and the water levels low......

Is there any real prospect of improvement of the maintenance  situation?  
How long can these canals truly last with the increased boat numbers to the pleasure of all?  

This is the lock below we well and truly grounded in a month ago, as you can see the water levels have risen a bit in this section.

Favourite photo of the day, possibly the week.

I quite like the old style passing the new style here.

I haven't noticed Hops growing in the hedgerow before, I think they are very attractive.

 On the Friday before the Bank Holiday our daughter Fliss and SIL Leon arrived for the weekend, they came to Thrupp, we drove to Somerton to hide a car there, then drove back to Kirklington to have supper in the Oxford Arms, our third time this summer.  These two are a pair of Foodies, so we try to find a venue they'll appreciate and this one certainly came up trumps again.
I managed the potted shrimps, the pork loin and the chocolate hazelnut torte with HEAVENLY pistachio ice-cream.  
No breakfast was partaken the next morning.....

Nice and early we were off leaving Thrupp behind, topping up with water which took ages then doing the pretty river section of the Cherwell.  
The summer has been glorious, but on each occasion we've had guests its been horrid.  Tomorrows forecast was dodgy....
They both wanted to run, but after they looked at the perilous towpath they decided to give it a miss and try tomorrow.  We also wanted to make as much headway as possible as other friends were arriving in a few days time.
This is the lock at Heyford either big, great or upper Heyford, David swung WaL in and I jumped but Fliss was a bit slow, instead stepping off like a Lady at the entrance to the lock.  This one is a tricky one to line up, Leon declined to do it and I don't blame him...

Fliss missed the boat... (sorry)

There's a small by-wash here too, small.

In beautifully I have to write.

Natures palate, red black and pale green.  Good year for Elderberry wine I should think.

Sky started to blacken, but no problem as David said there's no rain forecast.

 But indeed it did rain, gently at first, drizzle then good old fashioned heavy rain.  The two guest went below and we hurriedly arrived at Somerton Meadows.  David wanted to moor as close to the gates as possible but the only problem is you can't see our favourite mooring until you've past all the bushes, if someone should be on your intended place then you have no choice but to continue.  

The rain lessoned, and I said as we passed the last of the armco, its almost stopped keep going, so we did and the rain hammered down harder than ever.  We moored put the heating on in August! We got up to our favourite place and no cows grazing to bother us.

Later the sun came out.