After reading of the health benefits of porridge we tucked into a steaming bowl each, and then caught up on emails, exercised Max and chatted with our boat neighbour before heading off as planned.
Wallingford is a lovely Thames-side town that is well worth a visit and indeed we agreed we would revisit soon. Amongst the many interesting and exciting shops was a specialist quilting shop with an extensive choice of fabrics and ready made quilts which has fuelled my desire to have a go at making one.
We were dropped off back at the boat after another fun afternoon and enjoyed the stew that had been cooking on the solid fuel stove while we’d been out, after which we took Max for a walk and a further explore of new areas of Abingdon before sitting down to enjoy a film before bed.
We woke earlier than usual because we weren’t snug in bed. The cause being thick fog over the water which lifted quickly resulting in a sunny morning.
We welcomed our friends from Abingdon on board for coffee before all going off for a stroll around the town. Abingdon is alleged to be the oldest town in England and was once the county town of Berkshire before a change of boundary means it was demoted to being an Oxfordshire town. It still has a number of interesting historical buildings and the old county hall was offering tours of the roof so we took advantage of this and enjoyed a panoramic view taking in Radley College, Didcot Power Station, the Chilterns and the Thames Valley and also a collection of Vesper and Lambretta Scooters enjoying a bank holiday gathering in the market square below.
We visited the parish church and admired the unusual alms houses that frame the churchyard, stopping en-route to admire a beautiful riverside garden that invites visitors to sit and meditate in its tranquil surroundings.
We returned to the boat for an alfresco lunch before a clap of thunder warned of the approaching storm and our friends left to catch the bus home as they were keen to avoid a soaking. After sitting out the storm, and dinner we went out to The Anchor pub beside the Thames to meet up with our friends again for a drink.
After a very pleasant evening, we made arrangement to meet again for lunch at theirs and then to join them on a short car journey to Wallingford in the afternoon.
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.
James and Ali really enjoyed moving the boat from Napton into Oxford (50 miles and 38 locks) before mooring up near Aristotle Bridge, beside the Anchor Pub, ready for us meet up with them again today. James had asked us for details of how to update the blog as he’d planned to record their adventures – his excuse for not doing so was that they’d been far too busy having fun.
We too had had a fun week of working and socialising with friends and had finished all the jobs we’d intended. We left Beverley at 7.30am expecting the journey to take 3.5 hours as per the satnav. We made excellent time though and cut half an hour off the journey and arrived in time to witness James & Ali tidying the boat ready for our return.
After a catch up and exchange of news, they reluctantly handed the boat back to us at lunch time. After they’d left we kept ourselves busy unpacking our things and then walked into Jericho for an ice-cream and a mooch around.
Ali had prepared a delicious spaghetti bolognese for us and we enjoyed this after we’d sampled the beer at The Anchor. Here we were befriended by an alleged keep fit fanatic of a similar age to us, who’d abandoned his run when the smell of the alcohol had lured him into the pub. He wished to tell us all about life and his latest internet dating success (0r lack of it). When we’d finished our drinks, we wished him well and returned to the boat to tackle the Saturday DT general knowledge and cryptic crosswords.
Boat maintenance is never ending and whilst moored in open countryside, with lots of sunshine and no wind, we’ve been doing some painting. Next is a good polish of the cabin sides before a final gloss coat of enamel paint to the gunnel. Home made fenders help protect the wet paintwork from the metal sheet piling that lines the canal!
Our hyacinths have flowered and smell beautiful – thank you Sue.
Just got back from a two day jaunt up the North Oxford Canal to Hilmorton and back, via Braunston Junction, to visit The Canal Shop at Hilmorton Wharf. Saw our first hatched ducklings of the year. (20 miles and 6 locks)
Two days of taking it very easy – 19 locks and 7 miles in total. We’re moored up tonight just east of Napton Junction and we’ve seen more boats moving today than we’ve seen in the last five months put together! We’re not going to be going far this week though as we’re meeting James and Ali on the South Oxford Canal next Saturday when we’ll swap transport and return home for a week.
We’ve watched the four canal trips made by Timothy West and Prunella Scales, on 4 On Demand. We’ve done all those journeys except the French one and perhaps one day we might do that as well. Like Pru though, we would miss being able to open our own locks. I think Timothy should take responsibility for recognising when his boat is still tied up though and while it is a ‘contact’ sport, I’m glad he wasn’t steering ours with all those knocks. We’ve never broken crockery! Pru did a fantastic job.