Oxford to Cornwall to Oxford
There were only 3 trains that we noticed last night, but it was more the generator going all night that disturbed our sleep. We couldn’t go and knock on the roof of a boat to get it turned off as it was on the railway line across the mill stream. Anyway the alarm went off early as I was due to be on the 7:21 train.
Gemma and I had planned our journey with the aim that I would already be on the train that she would catch to Plymouth. I had to do a route that missed Reading and split my journey in Bristol to save almost £200 on my return ticket.
First change was at Didcot Parkway where the sun was just trying to peak through the very dark clouds. A quick count of those heading into London on the opposite platform came up with three newspaper readers out of getting on for a hundred people. Most stood looking at their phones, at least this takes up less space on the platform compared to the days of everyone reading broadsheets. Next change Swindon. Here I got on the train Gemma should be getting. There were no reserved seats, just as well as mine was meant to be in coach J which didn’t exist! I found a table and staked my claim.
As the train neared Bristol I got a message from Gemma asking if I’d like a cuppa if she had time to get one. Marvellous it now felt like an age since I’d had one back at Oleanna, however it did feel like she’d but cutting it fine. At Bristol Temple Meads the train pulled in and most people got off, I kept an eye open to see if the only other table in the carriage became free. It didn’t. I waited and waited. The train pulled out of the station, no sign of Gemma. Maybe she’d got on at one end of the train two teas in hand and was working her way along the carriages to D. She’d let me know if she’d missed the train surely. I waited and waited.
Ten minutes later I sent her a text, ‘Did you miss the train?’ nothing came back. Another ten minutes and I was so puzzled I gave her a call. ‘Just wondering where you are, and where I am?’ She was puzzled. Yesterday I thought we’d agreed to be on the train leaving Bristol at 9:12, I was on that train, but it was going to arrive 35 minutes earlier than I thought. Gemma was going to be on the train that arrived at the right time, how had that happened? No idea, but at least we’d both end up in Plymouth.
I made the most of the very grey rainy journey and moved over to the left side of the train. As we pulled out of Exeter I put down my knitting and armed myself with my camera for the journey along the coast at Dawlish.
As far as I’m aware I’ve never been along this line before, but sadly today the view wasn’t at it’s best. However the tide was in and waves were crashing against the seawall casting spray up towards the train. I didn’t manage to time my photos too well despite trying to guess which would be the seventh big wave. It was still quite dramatic.
At Plymouth I had chance to get something to eat and chat to a second carpenter who is building bits for panto. When Gemma appeared we were off and into a taxi dashing to meet the Cremyll Ferry. Down little back streets we were dropped off at Admirals Hard where a concrete jetty heads out into the bay.
Our next form of transport arrived, the Edgcombe Belle. The crew needed to get some steps so that people could get on and off at the bow as the tide was in, it looked calmer here than it had at Dawlish. A touch damp outside we opted for shelter as the boat made it’s 8 minute crossing, the later part getting really quite lumpy. I may live on a boat, but I don’t do waves if I can possibly help it!
At the Cremyll landing we were met by Lou one half of Snell scenery builders who drove us up to the workshop whilst one of her dogs in the boot kept dropping a rather soggy ball on me. Theatre life is so glamourous!
A couple of hours followed with us going through all the drawings of my set, looking at what was built so far, chatting to the scenic artist and hunting for references of Lotus flowers. There are still a few bits to build including the Dames Gin Palace. They have managed to put together enough time and materials to make my 2.5 D Gods, which is marvellous. All is going well and the next time we’ll see it is a week on Monday when it all arrives in Chipping Norton.
Once we’d finished work Adrian and Lou brought out photos for me to look at. A couple of weeks ago in an email Adrian had asked me if we’d ever been past the lock cottage at Kings Lock on the Soar near Leicester. At the age of 19, Adrian had been on the hunt for a house in need of some TLC. He’d spotted the lock cottage, which had recently been broken into by vandals who had set light to it on Bonfire night. He contacted British Waterways to see if he could buy it. Only available as a leasehold he was told if he was interested he’d need to do something about it in the next six weeks as after that it was due for demolition.
For a peppercorn rent of £1 for the first year Adrian took on the project. Once restoration work was completed the insurance company would pay out several thousand pounds. He arranged for a group of friends from the pub to help him one weekend to clear the site. Only one person turned up and that was Lou, this is when they got together. They worked on the cottage for many months scarfing in new roof joists etc, camping outside in all weathers until it was weather proof. The water froze and they could only flush the toilet by collecting water leaking through the lock gates in a bucket. They stayed for another nine months once the work was completed, but as the cottage would never be theirs they decided to move elsewhere. For those who don’t know the canal and cottage it is now a well known tea rooms. Kings Lock marks where the canal starts and river section ends, so is a safe haven for boaters should the river go into flood. We’ve moored there but never been inside. Three years ago when Adrian and Lou last visited very little had changed from when they lived there, just minor adjustments for the tea rooms. It’s a small world.
A lift back to the ferry now in sunshine, a shame we couldn’t take our time as I only got glimpses of the Cornish bays. The tide was now out and we had a much longer walk back up the Hard to reach our waiting taxi, we didn’t need the steps either. The journey back was much brighter outside, but Gemma and I had things to discuss and work on before we reached Bristol. Two more trains and I was back in Oxford just after the sun had gone to bed.
Mick during the day had climbed a tower to look at views of Oxford. Discovered that his phone microphone no longer worked and nudged Oleanna up by about three boat lengths hopefully enough to move us away from the generator on the railway. Unfortunately he tried a factory reset on his phone and lost any photos he’d taken.