That Autumn Feeling. 2nd, 3rd October

Dashwood Lock to Pigeon Bridge 213

Oleanna was due her next service and I wanted to do a bit of work for panto, so we decided to stay put for the day.

Normally when Mick is in the engine bay Tilly is confined to quarters, the thought of oil on her white paws not appealing, also she might just get in the way rather than help. But today we decided to risk it so with the front doors open for her to come and go Mick set to with the oil and filters. He also had a go at adjusting the thermostats on the hot water as he’s felt the water was a touch too hot. This though is a bit of trial and error until he gets it right. Tilly came and went at the bow instead of the stern, luckily showing no interest in the engine bay.

Leaf kicking time of year

Meanwhile inside I at last had the peace and quiet with no distractions to write a reference for an old work colleague who is applying for a post as a Senior Lecturer in an American University. Then I settled down to do some panto work, sourcing bunting and fabrics and trying to make contact with the props maker.

The first boat to go past us in the morning was the chap who had been so pleased at his ‘win win situation’ at the lock the day before. Strange how he’d been made to wait due to someone travelling through a lock with their fenders down, yet as he passed us his were down. They may of course have fallen off his gunnels as he left the lock, but I doubt it! His newly won fender will soon be someone else’s, around their prop!

During the day the wind had got up, we were quite glad we’d decided not to move. But it did mean that boats were passing us a little bit faster than tick over for them to stay in control. One boat didn’t bother slowing at all and one of our nappy pins managed to pull along, not having been put behind a bolt, so we clattered along and needed retying.


Mick went out to sort us out before the next boat went past. I’d omitted to tell him that by the bow the towpath looked a touch unsolid (my excuse for not having put the nappy pin in properly!). Unfortunately he found out for himself, stepping near to the armco and plunging deep into a very wet muddy hole. No harm done to him thank goodness, but a very muddy mess made of his sheepskin slippers.

The parcels of socks all arrived with their new owners who all seemed happy. I got notification that my digs in Chipping Norton had been booked, tea and coffee making facilities in my room, free wifi and a bathroom of my own. Here’s hoping it has a bath!

Ivy cut off in its prime

Today we decided to move that bit closer to Oxford. Mick had identified another possible mooring for our boat builders to come out to so we pushed off shortly after 10am. Much of our journey today has been surrounded by high trees which were once covered with ivy. The trunks of the ivy have been cut away on many trees leaving a gap so that the ivy dies, giving the poor tree chance to live.

I've caught a fishIt doesn't want to play muchThe River Cherwell clings to the side of the canal creating a narrow slice of land between the two. When we came through here last time we stopped along this stretch, Tilly had hours of fun after being cooped up for a week on the Thames. She even returned to show off a fish she’d somehow caught!

Quarry mooring with little to tie up to

A short distance on there was an offside mooring in the old quarry. Here would give us the closest mooring to the village of Kirtlington for a bread and milk shop. We pulled in, beer cans and half burnt scaff planks strewn around the place. We spotted one ring in the concrete and evidence that there used to be more, which have been angle ground off. A pole and the ring might have been okay for a longer boat, but we didn’t fancy it so carried on to check out the moorings at Pigeon Lock.


The big house by the lock was having work done to it, a bath having just been delivered and a new Cotswold stone roof showing itself off. There was space above the lock, but it was dark and noisy so we decided to see what it was like below.

Idea!Footpath to the stationThe lock was empty so a quick check below and I could see a boat heading towards us, there was space to moor too. I pushed the gate open for the on coming boat and waited. Mick joined me and asked how far the boat had been, they had just come round the bend. Well they were still there, I could hear people saying that we were at the lock. It took forever for them to arrive! A lady wearing a jaunty angled beret appeared first, chatting away. They hadn’t realised that we were waiting for them with the lock gate wide open. Message was sent back to the boat to come in, which they did after trying to readjust the bridge profile. Four Americans on holiday who were learning the ropes. It all took quite a bit of time before the lock was in our favour.

The village shop

Our new mooring had sun, tv, occasional phone signal and internet so we were happy. A walk up into the village along the dusty track brought us into a pleasant village, a mix of modern housing and chocolate box thatched Cotswold cottages. At the far side of the village is the Post Office which has a shop. Fresh fruit and veg sat outside, newspapers, fresh pies, cheeses, all sorts. They even have a small selection of gluten free products, I was tempted by the frozen pastry, but the freezer is just about at capacity at the moment. Mick spotted the last loaf of real bread as the man serving chatted away to us. I think he could have gone on all day. A good find.

Jane's Enchanted Tea GardenMy favouritePart way along the track is the entrance to Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden. On the gate are next years opening dates, she only opens twice a month through the summer and has taken this year off. Maybe one day we’ll pass by just on the right day as the site is full of interesting things, especially Morris Minors.


Back at Oleanna, Tilly was given free reign and I got my painting dungarees out. The towpath was a little bit too high to work on the gunnels, but with the weather being fine for the next few days I decided to sand back the cratch board and get it ready for a couple of coats of woodskin. The original coats were wearing thin and the wood starting to grey, a second winter and it would all go dull. The cover was fully removed, the glass masked out and I set at it with sand paper, knocking back the old woodskin and trying to rub away the grey wood. Not sure I’ve quite managed on the second front but it will do. Lots of dust to get ride of, after a wash down it was obvious that it wouldn’t be dry enough for me to get a coat on today so instead the well deck had a good sort and clean.

All sanded and washed down

2 locks, 2.5 miles, 4 fenders down, 9 litres oil, 1 filter, 2 thermostats adjusted, 1 hot tank of water, 1 reference written, 1st props maker contact, 2 cosy feet in Aberdeen, 2 cosy feet in Reading, 1 muddy foot on the Oxford Canal, 1 big hole, 1 Fazil needing more thought, 1 door big enough, 0 tea today, 1 very slow boat, 1 new bath, 1 handy shop, 1 cratch rubbed back, 1 clean well deck, 2 many people to get together, 0 boat builders this week, 0.2 of a snake.