Somerton Meadows to Samuelson Bridge 168
Stopping at the meadows was lovely, having cows as neighbours would have been great for a couple of days. But we had to press on, we needed to reach Banbury today for me to pick up a paint chart and get some paint on order. After half an hour of Tilly demanding to be let out and with breakfast out of the way we pushed off. Today the sun was out and we had some visible sky above us.
First lock was Somerton Deep, at 12ft the bottom gate took quite some shifting to get going. Paul last week had warned us about the width of the locks at this end of the canal. They are at least a foot wider which means that if you have to take care as you rise. The metal sheet that is intended for your bow fender to slide up is narrow and you can end up catching the structure of the gate instead. So Mick hung back and due to the depth of the lock I took my time in raising the paddles to full height.
We rounded a couple of bends and at Chisnell Lift Bridge we could see NB Muddy Waters was just coming through and a lady was ready to close the bridge behind them, when they saw us she hopped back on board to leave us to close it. Mick hopped off once we were through and closed it hooking the chain around the hook so that the farmer could get back across with ease. From now on the bridges are normally left open to boat traffic.
At Aynho Weir Lock I walked up to check the river level before we proceeded, well in the green still. A C&RT chap was wondering around, checking the weir, then the lock and making notes on a tablet. He had a windlass attached to his belt, so it looked like he was inspecting for any problems at the locks. The lock takes quite some time to level out, far more than you’d expect then the gates are stiff to move. A lady came to assist from an oncoming boat the first of two hotel boats we’d see during the day.
We swapped with a boat at Nell Bridge Lock meeting another above at the winding hole. Our stomachs were in need of supplies so we pulled in opposite the Pig Place for some lunch before carrying on. No bacon for us today just the usual.
Approaching Kings Sutton Lock there was a hire boat moored up at the very end of the lock landing. It looked like they had stopped for lunch, yet the bottom gate of the lock was wide open. Had someone left the gate? No it was the hirers who had gone ahead to set the lock, an older couple and the lady just didn’t have enough weight behind her to move the heavy bottom gates so her husband was helping. We let them go first and helped with the gates and paddles, these were also a bit too stiff for the lady.
One last lock to get us as close to Banbury as we wanted to get. Just before it the hire boat had pulled in, undecided as whether to do the lock or not they let us past. We ascended and then waited to see if we could help again, but after much discussion between themselves they let us know that they’d be mooring up for the night. Hope that’s what they did as we’d have been very happy to help.
One of the lift bridges was down on our way into Banbury and a helpful chap who was tinkering with his boat walked up to open it for us. The farmer was over in a field possibly sowing crops. The bridge looked very heavy indeed and I was glad this chap had some good ballast to hold it open for us, the hire boat behind would definitely need some assistance when they come through. There was space before Samuelson Bridge on the 14 day moorings so we pulled in and as soon as we were all tied up I headed off into town to pick up my paint chart.
Post Restante had worked a treat and it was sitting there awaiting my arrival. It was straight back to the boat to check colours and photos of the panto model and send an order to Gemma. During the day the amount of work emails had grown, props questions, answers to questions about the cloth we are having printed, good job the internet worked.
5 locks, 9 miles, 11 lift bridges, 1 un-lufted, 1 lifted, 9 luft, ! very smiley boat, 5 pencil lines to rub out, 1 english fish and chips, 1 crockery set, 1 shiny cup and saucer, 1 envelope filled with pretty colours, 1 paint order, 7 stone not enough, 0 collar, 2 horrible b**strad boaters, 3 spots of horribleness, 3 months of flee-proofing achieved.