Monday, 7 September 2015

Don't ya love it when a plan comes together!

Well I certainly do. Having mild OCD(!) when a loose plan works out, I am one happy bunny.

Banbury turned out to be an olfactory challenge! First it was baking bread, then coffee aromas that wafted across. The breeze introduced us to both of these industry's located near our mooring. I can think of other locations were the smell was a tad more pungent. Noticed the baking bread smell before, but the coffee was a new one.

It is a pleasant town, compact, but with all the major shops present. A bit of a trek from our mooring to Tesco, but easily done with the super doopa shopping trolley we have. Does not do much for my street cred though!  We had arranged to meet Jane & Paul for a meal that evening, a sort of pre birthday bash for Jane. Not knowing the town that well, Ali did a search and the Coach and Horses had good reviews, as well as being a Hook Norton pub...

The restaurant was fully booked, but they reserved us a table in the bar. So we arrived not knowing just what to expect. Well our expectations were exceeded. We had a great meal and service second to none. The staff were always on hand, but not pushy and this enhanced the experience. Good choice Ali.

As we were anticipating only a short hop on Saturday, we dropped into good old M&S for a few goodies before setting off. Luckily, the water point just before the lock and after the lift bridge was free, so topped up here and walked the rubbish down to the services below the lock.  There was a steady flow of boats both ways so the lift bridge was up and down quite frequently, which did not amuse some of the more elderly locals, who seem to resent this intrusion. Gawd help them when they have the canal day here early next month!

We then bimbled on out of town and under many a lift bridge, thankfully all left open for us. A few rather genteel locks and a crossing of the Cherwell saw us reaching our destination, Anyho Wharf. Two very good reasons to stop here. We needed fuel and the Great Western Arms is a cracking pub.

As we approached the Wharf, a boat pulled off from the moorings opposite, just to good an opportunity to miss, so we dodged in. Refuelling could wait, a prime mooring would not be vacant for long! Settled in and relaxed watching the world go by.

On Sunday after a walk it was into the pub for lunch. We both opted for a roast, Ali pork, me beef. We really did wish that we had given the starters a miss. The food was brilliant as usual, but we were so full that I had to force down my last pint of Hooky!! Somehow, I think we may well revisit on our return trip. The rest of the day took on a somewhat somnambulistic aura.

a buzzard (bottom left) being mobbed by jackdaws

Somerton Deep from deep

This morning, we really did need fuel. Then the gas bottle expired, so one of them as well! A quick shove and we were on the Wharf. Filled with diesel, water and a new gas bottle, emptied the bog and binned the rubbish. Result! For a boater,this is a blissful situation. Since we last topped up with fuel at Normanton upon Soar, we have covered 110 miles and had the heating on many a morning plus some evenings, so 107 litres of fuel is not bad.

We had a somewhat steady cruise today, in bright sunshine and for once, warm. Approaching Sommerton deep lock, we got behind a boat that seemed to be taking the slow life to a new level. I had to knock into neutral in order not to get right behind them. At the lock, we realised they were first time hirers, so they were somewhat hesitant. Ali explained the lock workings and assisted them down, then we had another coming up the lock, so it really did seem to take an age to negotiate. But hey, the sun shone, with no wind for once, so all was good.

The bridges along the Oxford canal are lovely

Our first red kites of the year

We have moored in rural isolation near the village of Tackley. The river Cherwell runs beside the canal here, a beautiful spot and without much background noise. Tomorrow we head for Thrupp, our final destination on this canal. We are hoping to pop into Oxford by public transport as the moorings there are not that good and we are not paying a river licence just for a decent mooring. After that, we start heading back on what will be our valedictory cruise for this year.

So a good few days. The boat and us are well sated. Suppose it's time to start planning a diet!

16 miles
10 locks
1 lift bridge.

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