Thrupp to Soggy Slipper (below Dashwood Lock)
Another morning waiting for the rain to stop. Forecasts suggested this would be midday but it felt like things were clearing up earlier. We were ready to push off, in waterproofs, by 11.30. Key of power in my hand and I opened up the lift bridge, Mick came through just as a hire boat arrived at speed from the north. The chap at the helm luckily for the concrete edge managed to slow his boat down so there wasn’t an almighty crash.
At the service block two chaps from Lee Sanitation were hard at work taking the pooh sucky machine to bits. Not a nice job, but hopefully they’ll get it working again. Luckily we don’t need pump outs anymore, the only thing I miss about them is referring to them as “Pooh Sucky Machines” which doesn’t happen often now we have a composting toilet.
Once both boats were jiggled I closed the bridge after them, Mick picked me up and we were on our way again. A short distance on we passed the hire boat that had been following us out from Oxford. Antipodeans who are due back tomorrow, they’d decided on a short hire in case they didn’t enjoy it, but they had.
This morning Mick had checked on the river levels in case we’d be stuck at Shipton Weir Lock, but the Cherwell was showing little evidence of the rain we’d had yesterday, in fact it looked like it had only just reached normal navigational levels. To one side a large hole has been dug, presumably by C&RT. It looked like they were clearing a culvert. Piles of earth and bricks were mounded up and the hole covered in boards. Alongside there was quite a lot of roots that had been cut away. Maybe the sideways trees had been working their way through the brickwork and needed taming before anything untoward happened. We saw a similar thing at Pigeon Lock later.
The rain had washed away most of the dust from the leaves near the cement works, only small amounts left on those that were sheltered. Passage upstream along the river section was easy despite us getting soggy from the constant drizzle in the air.
Along the next pound we came across two boats heading southwards. The second was The Hippie Boat, from the outside you’d not guess other than the small signs as the boat is of fairly standard blue livery. Just as the penny dropped who it was (I follow them on Instagram) there was a questioning shout from the bow ‘Pip?’ They had weathered out the weekend trading in Banbury. Jules had mentioned they’d be leaving this morning so I hadn’t expected to see them quite so soon, they must have left yesterday or very early this morning, they are due to trade in Marlow next weekend so no wonder they were going for it . Waves came from the cratch as they passed.
At the next lock an American couple were pulling up in a hire boat just as we entered the lock to come up. The lady struggled to cling on as the chap revved the engine. It looked like he kept saying sorry and as we passed them they apologised for holding us up! They’d done nothing of the sort, but it was most probably still their first hour or so of narrowboating and only their second lock. Mick reassured them that narrowboats don’t always do what you want them to, especially when people are watching.
A short distance further on and we could see the branch Mick had planted in the muddy hole where his slipper had a plunge just over a week ago. We pulled in, taking care as to where we put our feet. Tilly was straight out and headed up the nearby tree before setting off to worry the cows.
Measurements had come through of one of the Stage Managers on Panto so I had some work to do, mostly trying to persuade them that maybe Gavin was just a touch too big for a certain scene and somebody smaller would be a much better option.
4 locks, 5.87 miles, 2nd soggy day, 1 lift bridge holding up 2, 2 let through, 1 luft broken bridge, 1 hippie boat, 3 hire boats, 2 hours, 5 cows riden, 1 big hole too big for my arms, 2 dry slippers.