We managed to get the last two spaces on the 11.30 tour of the Oxford University Bodleian Library. Only 12 people per tour which includes the Divinity School (built 1427 – 88), the Duke Humfrey Library (built 1444 – 88), the Convocation House (built 1613 -19) and the Chancellors Court (built 1613-19). Our guide, Mrs Gonzales, ensured our visit was entertaining as she explained how the various spaces had been used over the years and how they are used by students today. The Bodleian book depository has every book ever published and currently holds 12 million books with 5,000 new ones arriving each week and we know that we shall never be allowed to touch any book stored there unless we become students again. We can highly recommend this tour.
We left Oxford after lunch and headed north up the Oxford Canal, stopping for the night at Thrupp. (5 miles, 4 locks, 3 lift bridges)
The plan today was to visit the Pitt Rivers Museum that houses both the Museum of Natural Science and the Pitt Rivers Collection of anthropological artefacts from around the World (or bits of stuff from everybody from everywhere!) This museum is fascinating and really demands several visits to do it justice. The design of the building also got the thumbs up.
Afterwards we enjoyed a leisurely stroll along the High Street and Magdalen Bridge, which today were both fairly quiet, although we understand these will be packed solid with people from 3am to 10 am on Thursday morning celebrating May Day. We’ve decided to give this a miss as we wouldn’t cope with the crowds.
After our usual Sunday treat of a cooked breakfast, we set off eastwards towards the River Cherwell and the University Parks to explore parts of Oxford we’d not visited before.
In the late afternoon we took Max to cross Port Meadow that was still partially flooded after Friday’s downpour. Max spotted ducks in the distance and he set off through the water to give chase, leaving us on dry land having a ‘Fenton’ moment as we tried to distract him by shouting at him to come back.
First thing on the agenda today was to go in search of Maplins for some 12 volt electrical items so we could better manage our leisure batteries when charging all our mobile devices. It was very exciting for me to find Hobbycraft and an army surplus shop on the same site as these are always worth a browse.
Storm’s latest Ebay purchase was delivered to us at lunchtime … “A project” , and allegedly a “design Classic” – a Moulton mini bicycle. It looks a bit small for an adult cyclist but that is a plus with very little storage on board. If anyone has the bigger version, please let Storm know!
A visit to the Indoor Market was a real treat in the late afternoon but when the weather turned showery we went off to explore some of the local hostelries, such as The Bear which displays cases and cases of old club ties, and The Turf which had been visited by many other great and good folk before we got there, and after a break for supper we went off to explore more in Jericho. All the pubs we visited had very individual characteristics, although most seemed familiar, thanks mainly to “Morse”.
Well how different can two consecutive days be? We’d made plans to travel back up to Oxford with our friend Pete on board. By the time we’d done the first lock and filled up with water in the torrential rain, we already looked like drowned rats. However, it was quite warm and as we couldn’t get any wetter, we continued on our way. The lock keepers all greeted us with a cheery smile and chatted with us today despite the fact we’d brought them out into the rain from their cosy lockside shelter. My rope throwing skills are improving as I managed to throw my rope up and over the bollard at least once which isn’t easy when the bollards are above my head on the quayside.
We left Abingdon at 10am and arrived back into Oxford at 1pm, just in time for lunch and moored up just at the start of the Oxford Canal opposite St Barnabas Church. Hanging our dripping coats in the shower, we all huddled round the fire to steam dry.
A road trip with our friends to Newbury to call in at an ‘unusual plant sale’ was great fun. The stall holders did their best to tempt us to part with our money and I did succumb to buying some flip-flops. Sadly we don’t have much use for plants at the moment although there were some very interesting specimens available.
We returned to Abingdon via Kintbury where we stopped off for lunch at a canal side pub on the Kennet & Avon Canal. This was a trip down memory lane as we’d passed by this pub in 2010 and been unable to get a drink as it had been a Sunday when the pub was closed.
The countryside of the Berkshire Downs was glorious in the sunshine. After the recent rain the rapeseed yellow fields were so bright.
We returned to the boat to take Max for a walk and enjoyed a lovely stroll along the Thames in the early evening sunshine and watched a hot air balloon drift across the sky and watched a duck with eighteen tiny chicks. At first she let them play along the rivers edge where they spread out from each other over quite a distance and then she suddenly rounded them up into quite a tight huddle and escorted them easily from one bank to the other despite the strong flow of the river. It was a lovely sight.
Today was spent on and around the boat, Storm in the engine bay doing essential maintenance while I shopped and then baked and then after lunch we turned the boat round and headed off back through Abingdon lock to fill up with water before returning to our original mooring.
Lunch was salad with a quiche bought from the Patisserie in East Helen Street in Abingdon. I’d been told the pies were to die for and the information was spot on! So too were the danish pastries and the bread.
We got our timings all wrong today as it was sunny in the morning, but showery in the afternoon.