Five Minutes Early. 25th September

Claydon Bottom Lock to Cropredy Lock

P1410316smOur aim has been to reach Oxford this week so that I can visit the set builders for Panto more easily with more direct rail routes. However shortly after breakfast this morning my phone rang and it was my Production Manager. She’s been very busy looking after Ade Edmonson and Nigel Planer last week in Guildford so hadn’t been in touch for a while. Today she rang to give me possible dates to visit the builders, not next week but a couple of weeks away. They are quite a distance, so keeping visits to a minimum is needed so we don’t spend our lives travelling, a lot of things can be done over the internet too. So after we’d chatted Mick and I decided to take our time reaching Oxford. Moorings are not in abundance so we need to time our arrival well.

P1410322smWe took our time in getting going. Boats came past heading for Claydon Locks and then boats started to come the other way. If we’d been a few minutes earlier setting off the locks may just have been in our favour, it didn’t matter as we met a boat coming up at each lock anyway. A Black Prince Hire boat was following us, a lady stepped off and headed towards the first lock that we were just exiting. I called to her that a boat was waiting to come up several times and when eventually Mick had told her the same she let go of the handle on the bottom gate that she was about to close and walked back to her boat to wait their turn. A single hander greeted us at one lock with a jolly face, not too many people offer to give him a helping hand.

P1410323smAt the third lock a lady wearing lovely white trousers helped the boat in front of us. Her clothing and too big leather gloves suggested she was on her first hire boat holiday. They had stayed in Cropredy overnight and had been for an explore this morning enjoying a scone and tea in the lovely cafe. They had found their own way of working the locks, which we all do, but she was making her life a bit hard so I suggested a couple of things that would make it easier. As their boat s l o w l e y came out from the lock her husband said how exhausted he was with all the hard work he was having to do and how many more locks were there. Passing Mick I could hear exactly the same remarks. If I was his wife I’d have pushed him in by now!

P1410328smBroadmoor Lock has a little stall by it, when we last came through we paused and bought a new centre line for Lillian. Today the same sign was up advertising fenders etc along with a box of freshly picked apples. We bought some, I think a couple of Russets and some Orange Pippins. As Oleanna lowered in the lock the Black Prince boat arrived behind us, the lady offered to wind a paddle that was all taped up, out of order. As soon as someone appeared from below with a windlass she asked them if they were coming up, yes, so she turned and walked away back to her boat. It takes all sorts.

P1410330smA pause at Cropredy Marina for a top up of diesel and a couple of bags of coal was needed, so we pulled in and got sorted. Mick made reversing out from the service mooring look like a breeze despite the one that was coming across the water at us. Oleanna arced her way out and back down the marina to then just be able to swing round to the entrance. No body but me watching as ever.

We pulled up onto the 24hr moorings and let Tilly out. This would do for today, no need to reach Banbury and beyond quite so quickly. Tilly came back in after an hour so she was left in charge whilst we went for a nosy around the village.

P1410339smThe Red Lion pub looked cosy in it’s line of thatched cottages. A sign on the door suggested that it had been closed for a while, but announced it would reopen on 29th August. This still being on the door a month later suggests otherwise. A door or two up from the pub one of the cottages is for sale, a touch bigger than expected on the inside.

P1410347smAcross the way is St Mary’s Church. The earliest parts dating back to 1050, the church has undergone many alterations through it’s history.

P1410358smP1410363smIn 1831 the present clock was installed with it’s 14ft long wooden pendulum that ticks away over head. Sadly the clock is five minutes early, maybe to help locals arrive on time. There are eight bells, six that originate from the 17th Century and the latter two Fairport and Villager were added in 2007. Last year they had a lot of work done to the roof, scarfing in new timber where joists had rotted and had beetle damage, lead from the roof was taken away, melted and then refitted. Above the chancel arch is a ‘Doom’ Painting, worse for wear after it had been white washed over, then cleaned, then given a coat of varnish in Victorian times, which did more damage sadly.

P1410370smP1410374smThe village it self is a mixture of thatched properties, some Victorian and then a mix up to the 80’s. Many of the thatched cottages have sculptures on their roofs, a fox and peacock were the ones we could recognise.

Back at the moorings a boat had pulled in behind us leaving a classic ‘git gap’. Boaters coming past made comments about the ‘boat moving up’ to us in loud voices, which sadly fell on deaf ears. Deaf due to their four stupid yappy shit-in-your-shoe woofers! They showed no respect to me and my section of towpath. They were so stupid that Tom suggested they should go home even though I was more than capable of dealing with such stupidity. My means would have been noisy for a while but then at least we wouldn’t have had to listen to them all evening!

P1410335smI made use of a low section of towpath and scraped off bubbles of rust that have had chance to take hold on the bow end of the gunnels. They were sanded back and a coat of fertan applied. Hopefully I’ll get chance in the next few days to finish prepping the port side and give it a coat or two. My intention was to do them Spring and Autumn but where we’ve ended up being moored hasn’t been suitable. I’d like to get them done before I go to Chipping Norton so that I’m not finishing them in November in the snow as I did last year.

DSCF7121sm3 locks, 1.67 miles approx, 1 trip computer not charging, 2 rights, 79.6 litres diesel, 2 bags excell, 2 weeks to get to Oxford, 4 rowdy woofers, 2 deaf owners, 1 bushy tail, 45 ft gap, 15 ft gap, 2 boats luckily going in opposite directions, 3 pairs gloves complete, 2nd pair socks started, 1 stove keeping us warm.

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