Saturday, 3 September 2016

and back to the Muddy Ditches and DIY locks ........

On the Thursday we made a good start, going once again down river. This is now becoming familiar territory, but none the worse for that. The plan was to arrive at Abingdon before the forthcoming bank holiday rush.

Once watered up above Abingdon lock, we were set for the weekend. Down the lock and moored up on the town side by the Lido. The plan was for Jane & Paul to visit on Friday. The weather looked good for it, a lot better than the day after was forecast. So we pottered, sat in the sunshine and enjoyed watching the passing boat traffic, even allowing a hotel boat to breast up to us for a few hours. Arriving before lunch gave us the choice of moorings, all occupied by mid afternoon.

On Friday, we welcomed our visitors. Had a wander and a wee drink, then back to the boat for nibbles and a sit in the sun. Jane reckoned she burnt her knees. That's her story anyway! Then off to the Nags Head, situated on an island in the river for a late afternoon meal before we waved them farewell.  Lovely to see them and have a good catch up.

Saturday was as predicted, dire. Chilly, wet and windy, with thunder rumbling around. So we sat tight and weathered it. By Sunday morning, whilst still not warm and with a low cloud base and mizzy rain showers, it was time to go. The journey back up river was not too bad though and the showers petered out by the time we reached Osney lock. Unfortunately, no room at the inn above the lock and so it was time to bid Father Thames farewell.

 Up Isis lock and back on the cut. We managed to moor up at Jericho, handy for the town centre. The weather had looked up, with the sun shining, so we did the tourist thing and wandered around admiring the magnificent architecture. In the evening, we wandered down to The Punter for a farewell meal. Sad to be leaving the Thames, it and the weather has been very kind to us during our visit.

The Blavatnik School of Government

Catching the fish in the weir stream and sheltering from the heat

Is it me? 

On Monday, with the fine weather holding, we decided to begin the move up the South Oxford canal. Since we travelled down in May, the offside trees and bushes have certainly shown a growth spurt, somewhat restricting the channel width. This is exacerbated by the lines of moored boats in places, the remnants of the once many that used to inhabit most of the bank into Oxford. Many now appear to have migrated to side channels of the Thames and Duke's Cut and a somewhat sad and depressing sight they make.

The Elizabeth Jennings bridge has been transformed by the Oxford Canal Mural Project since we came this way in May, the mural is great, although I didn't get a picture from the boat so walked back so one side is in a few photos!

We moved on, out of the conurbation and through the ever popular Thrupp. It was rammed and a good job our intent was not to stop. Then onto the river Cherwell for a while, before ascending back onto the canal at Enslow. The going was however, a tad slow though. A lady single handing was ahead of us and unfortunately, her method of travel was for others to assist her at every lock. But hey ho. Our destination for the day was near Tackley, where the canal and river Cherwell almost kiss. A lovely rural spot. We moored up overlooking the river and a meadow backing onto a wooded hillside. As the light dimmed during the evening, we were chuffed to see several Roe deer enter the meadow to graze. Some pictures, but the light was fading. A brilliant sight though, repeated the following morning, until the dog walkers appeared.

On Tuesday, we excelled in dawdling. We only travelled about four miles, before mooring up just outside of Lower Heyford. The weather was glorious and it seemed a good idea to sit out in the sun and enjoy it.

Not much fruit on the trees but lots of hops in the hedgerows

Getting to that time of year, misty mornings 

We have been on a schedule of sorts. Jane & Paul are celebrating 40 years of marriage and a surprise party was arranged for Friday evening. With this in mind, our intent was to arrive in Banbury by Thursday, in order to use the services of Enterprise vehicle hire, situated conveniently next to the canal and virtually in the town centre. So Wednesday saw us virtually completing the journey, but not quite. We had planned to stop a lot further short of the town, but ended up near bridge 172, a delightful spot if you ignored the rumble of the motorway. This meant that we had but a short hop on Thursday morning.  We made use of the services, ascended the lock and found Banbury virtually empty of boats!  So we picked a mooring, slotted in and had a wander.

Somerton Deep, which was causing problems as the gate wasn't opening fully, 
the boat infront of us got well and truly stuck

for sale with 60' mooring 

Then we got Twizzled! Sue & Quentin were in Leamington and had a sixth sense moment, feeling that we must be in the Banbury area, and we were! So they hopped on a train and were with us by mid afternoon. Needless to say, we ended up in a pub for the rest of the day, almost. So as usual, Quentin and I ended up supporting our respective partners home... Great to meet up once again and as usual, a good time was had.

On Friday we collected the car from Enterprise. It was a rather underpowered Clio, but it did the job fine. We travelled to Wellingborough that evening and met up with the family in a rather nice Italian restaurant. Much to the surprise of Jane and Paul. So thank you to Helen and Graham for arranging it and once more, congratulations to J & P for your special anniversary.  Three couples around the table have all celebrated their Ruby wedding this year, must have been a good year for it, as well as the sun in 1976!

Some of the gathering last night

I have no recollection of the journey back, it's an age thing. Ok, a drink or two might have helped...

The forecast for Saturday was not good. Ok in the morning, horrid afternoon. So after completing a shop utilising the car and then returning it, we decided to sit tight. By midday, the rain arrived, so it was provident that we had not planned to move on.

We are now sadly, on the home straight. I suppose I will have to start contemplating replacing the stolen car!

45 miles, 26 locks, 21 moveable bridges of which 15 are left open, made up of 27 miles of narrow canal, 17 miles of river, 8 large locks and 18 narrow locks.

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