Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Onto the Thames.

Maintaining our somewhat slow pace and covering enough to get the battery bank fully charged, we have finally made it onto the river. Not without a little drama though!

Leaving our beautiful overnight moorings, all trace of the millions of Mayflies from the previous evening had gone. Their hatch certainly provided easy pickings for the birds and fish. Such is the transience of the adult forms short life.

The next hop was to the ever popular stop at Thrupp. As usual and even though we arrived early, it was rammed. We managed to get in off the main straight, just before the Jolly Boatman. There was certainly an increase in traffic at this end of the canal. After settling in, we eventually decided to give The Boat a revisit and once again were not disappointed in the food or the beer, if not the price! But we are in the opulent south now, so the prices reflect this.

Travelling into Oxford, we had decided, unfortunately as it turned out, to give Duke's Cut a miss. The route in now has far fewer permanently moored boats than previously and is rather pleasant. It also has services, which we wanted to use before descending onto the river.  The moorings before Isis lock were not too busy, but past experience told us they were noisy, due to the railway nearby. As we intended to stop for a few days the river moorings seemed a better option.

this looks like good news, although it doesn't look like there are any plans 
for any moorings within the development

Approaching the lock, there appeared to be two boats waiting to descend, which reverted to one when it became apparent that one was moored virtually onto the winding hole. The boat ahead of us was an Anglo Welsh and as usual, Ali went ahead to assist.

If you know Oxford, you will be aware of the arm extending beyond the lock with mostly permanent moorings. This also has an Elsan point and taps. It would appear that a river dweller decided to use these facilities by mooring on the lock landing! As this is opposite the lock mouth, and as the made no effort to obviate the nuisance they were causing by pulling as far back away from the lock as they could, chaos reigned!

A single handed attempting to land and wait to come up the lock, because of the obstruction, was caught by the flow and became pinned to the boom.  The Anglo Welsh upon leaving the lock tried to help him and managed to assist him, before they themselves became victim to the quite vicious flow.

Ali intervened and eventually persuaded said nuisance boat to move back at least on the pontoon. (Whilst we were present, no effort seemed to be made to get water!) We exited and eventually managed to assist the hire boater off the boom and on their way.

Under Osney bridge, we spied a single space on the visitor moorings. The rivets flow was not inconsiderable and as the space was only slightly longer than us, a slow reverse in was required, but we were soon safely in. The first day is free here, then £5 per day for the following two allowed. Good value really as you are in the heart of the city. We were also very near what turned out to be a rather excellent pub, The Punter. Over the next few days, we enjoyed the good weather, the city and of course what became our pub! Quirky but excellent menu. We walked our socks off visiting the city and walking the river paths. As there was university boating competitions on, we tarried until these finished, departing on the Sunday.

 Bikes outside the train station

Morning!  Think this is the reason our cover needs cleaning!

Only a short hop down to Abingdon.

Our first lock this year on the Thames

Past Caudwell's Castle 

through the narrow

onto the wide

the aftermath of the end of the rowing parties, lots of champagne bottles around!

definitely in red kite country now, they are everywhere

first 'creche' of the year

Another popular stop especially for the yogurt pots, who seem to moor up leaving large spaces between them! After a fuel stop and turning the boat to face the flow, we eventually squeezed in opposite the Nags Head. (But we ate a rather good pizza in the Crown and Thistle!)

Abingdon is a rather pleasant town and we lingered a while.

The forecast was ominous for Tuesday, but we thought if we got a move on, we could moor up before the deluge. We were wrong. We made it most of the way, but just before reaching Wallingford, the rain arrived in torrents! As luck would have it, as we turned to moor against the flow, a large cruiser pulled off and we slotted in. The narrow boat we shared the last lock with, then breasted up to us, as the inn was full! So here we sit, the not so soft patter of rain our accompaniment.

I really could get very used to these locks. All are manned and very gentle. The keepers are a friendly bunch and one said to us recently, that it's narrow boats moving that retains their role as they are now more than 50% of the traffic on the river.

the houses are getting bigger

as are the boat houses!

loved this one

Miles 35
Locks 17.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Schhhhh. Where have all the boats gone?

When we untied on Friday and pulled away from the moorings near Wormleighton, nothing indicated then a lack of boat movement. We had moored along with several others at this popular spot. (One of whom ran his engine 2045-2130!) But setting off, initially we did pass a few boats, then virtually none!

Through Fenny Compton tunnel

Our destination was the ever popular Banbury. This really is a lovely canal and I would guess second only to the Llangollen in popularity. Meandering south and passing Fenny Compton it became noticeable how few boats were on the move. The only boat we actually met moving on the Claydon flight, was at the very first lock. So we dropped down to Cropredy without another boat in sight.

Cropredy empty!

Reaching Cropredy itself, the popular visitor moorings above the lock contained...not a single boat!!! By this time we thought that there must be a stoppage. And reaching Banbury itself, empty.
We moored up in our favoured spot, just before Tom Rolt bridge and next to the park. The forecast was not good for Saturday, so we sat tight and did some shopping .

On Sunday, we met Jane & Paul and went to the excellent Coach and Horses for a late afternoon meal. As usual, it was superb and the service was second to none. Well worth a visit. Thank you both for coming and bringing our mail.

After a final M&S shop, we moved on in fine but at times chilly weather. I really don't know how this happened, but we ended up at Aynho, mooring right outside the Great Western Arms. Another Hook Norton pub. It would be a shame to give it a miss, so after a nanosecond debate, that's where we went! Another excellent meal.

A queue at the lock (well nearly one was turning, so only one!)

We have cruised today through beautiful Oxfordshire countryside at a slow pace, with a few more boats around.  We have moored up for the day in rural isolation, with the River Cherwell beside us. It is a spot we have used and enjoyed before, marking it in the Nicholson's as you do.

A few more boats moving today, but still nowhere near the expected traffic. All the better for us! The mayflower is in full bloom now, joined by the Mayflies, rising in the sun, from the Cherwell.  Perfick.

Never seen so many Mayflies

 Close up

Our neighbours this evening
 (and not a Hook Norton pub in sight!)

Miles 30
Locks 22

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Any Dendrologists reading? - Answer

Thanks to everyone who contacted us

The tree is a Prunus padus, known as bird cherry, hackberry, hagberry or Mayday tree, a species of cherry native to northern Europe.  Its a decidupus small tree or large shrub 8 - 16 m tall.

Image result for bird cherry tree

Thanks again