Easter Sunday, 20 April

After eating a cooked breakfast and listening to the Archers omnibus edition, we moved the boat on through Isis Lock and out onto the Thames.  The current in Sheepwash Channel slowed our progress but once we turned left towards Abingdon, the flow carried us forward quite swiftly.

The skies were grey but it was dry as we left Oxford.

The Thames locks are all managed by resident lock-keepers who prepare the locks ready during normal working hours and so we entered Osney Lock without needing to moor up or put a man ashore.  Crew on the boat just need to lasso a bollard and hold the boat near to the side.  We were the only boat around and so we passed through this lock alone.  The lock-keeper didn’t wish to engage in conversation and had scurried back t0 his lock-side shelter before we had time to thank him.

We motored beside Christ Church Meadow and past the university boat sheds where all was quiet probably due to it being the university holidays.

At Iffley Lock the lock-keeper greeted us with a cheery wave and again we passed through alone.   We arrived at Sandford Lock at 1.15pm  to find the lock-keeper had gone off for his lunch and had put out the ‘self-service’ sign.   Full instructions of how to operate these mechanised locks can be found on the lock side.   There was a boat coming up in the lock and so we waited for our turn and we shared this lock with a plastic ‘tupperware’ boat.   It is protocol for us ‘girders’ to enter the lock first to make the boat secure and to then let the plastic boats leave first as they tend to move faster over the water.   We exchanged words and as the weather looked as though it was going to deteriorate, that became the main topic of conversation.

We also shared Abingdon Lock with the tupperware boat and we moored up just before passing under Abingdon Bridge before the heavens opened.  We battened down the hatches and lit the stove and observed the rain running down the windows for the rest of the afternoon.