22°C 13th October

Almost Isis Lock to Isis Lock to Kidlington Green Lock

The Thames

There is still plenty more we could see and do in Oxford but time is ticking on. We’ll come back, possibly next year and visit some of the places people have suggested.

This way

First today we needed to stock up on some provisions. Sainsburys is in Westgate but there is also a Waitrose across the Thames a similar distance away. We’d not seen the Thames as yet so decided to walk over the mill stream down the side of the old rail swing bridge and then along the Thames Pathway crossing the river at Osney Bridge to find Waitrose. With 5% back on our shopping and a free newspaper for our trouble it would have been daft not to.

Isis Lock

After a bite to eat we were ready for the off. I walked ahead to set Isis Lock in our favour. At the lock, along with river level lights there are instructions of how to turn your boat to head out onto the Thames. This involves using the lock landing and doing a manoeuvre a bit like what we call an Andy (named after our helmsman course instructor). Tying your bow line to one of the cleats on the landing you can force the stern round, you then pull the bow up along the lock landing as the stream from the river helps to carry on pushing the stern round, you then will be facing the lock and ready to push out towards the Thames. This method can also be used obviously to wind to get back into the lock.

Except today there was a boat moored on the lock landing. The lady was filling with water from one of the taps on the residential moorings. Luckily for us there was next to no flow below the lock so hopefully she wouldn’t be in the way. There was still the matter of the strong wind gusting around the place.

P1420529smP1420531smP1420534smP1420535smP1420538smP1420541smMick brought Oleanna out of the lock giving himself enough room to be able to swing the stern round away from the landing. Then straightened up, a touch of sideways (helped by a short blast of the bowthruster) and then he swung the stern around again. No need to fend off anywhere, the lady come out to congratulate him as he brought Oleanna back into the lock.

The man with his catsMost of the gang

It was incredibly warm considering the wind and that it is mid October. As we cruised back northwards we wore t-shirts, no need for jumpers today. We paused to fill with water and dispose of rubbish at the first water point just before the start of the Agenda 21 moorings. Along the towpath there was an old chap pottering about being followed by a few cats. As he walked away we could count them, a bouncy kitten joining the other eight. Passing his boat it was only 30ft long if that, there wouldn’t be that much space in there, they’d all have to sleep on top of him. At least it would save him money on coal!

We worked our way slowly back up Wolvercote Lock showing a hire boat that was following us what to do. From here I decided to walk, no point trying to pull in to drop me off with the wind as it was and I would beat Oleanna to the next obstacle that needed opening anyway. The first lift bridge was fine, as long as you step onto it before it gets too high. Walking up to Wolvercote Lift Bridge it was open, brilliant I wouldn’t have to struggle. Maybe C&RT had chained it open for boats. Then a hire boat came through and the bridge dropped. I was fortunate enough to be able to catch the chap who gave me a hand to get the bridge going.

Lift bridge

With the beam lowered I quickly sat on it. Mick was taking his time. The wind gusts were so great I could feel myself being slightly lifted from the ground. I managed to nudge myself right to the end to make as much use of my weight as I could and still I was being lifted. I’d considered waiting for the hire boat behind us to save their boat getting even more scrapes along the cabin side from the high overhanging bridge landing, but the wind was such that I wanted to go ahead to open the next lock. I stood up and the bridge immediately wanted to close. A C&RT sign suggests they are looking at better ways of operating this bridge as the lock has been vandalised.

Too many pirates

After Dukes Lock and Drinkwater’s Lift Bridge we were confronted by two pirate boats. Young women sat on the roof of the first accompanied by a chap with a parrot on his shoulder. The following boat also seemed to have a lot of people on board. Courses were altered to avoid collision. There was a lot of drinking going on, but it seemed that the chaps at the helm were capable and not (as yet) intoxicated. One chap asked where they could turn which meant we’d be seeing them again.

Back on the prowl

Below Kidlington Green Lock we moored up and gave Tilly some freedom. It was rather nice being able to sit there with all the doors open which we did until the sun bobbed down behind the horizon. It was around about this time that the pirate boats returned. Travelling in convoy, from two different hire companies, they were very noisy! Laura was being egged on to do something, not sure what but thankfully we didn’t hear any splashes.

4 locks, 4.28 miles, 1 wind, 1 straight on, 3 bridges lifted, 1 luft, 0 held up, 1 riverside walk, 4 bags shopping, 1 free newspaper, 1 full tank of water, 1 empty pooh box, 1 empty pooh bucket, 9 cats in 30ft, 1 bouncing bridge beam, 2 pirate boats, 8 stowaways at least, 22°C!