Friends, Furniture, Canoes And A Camel. 28th 29th October

Albion Bridge 166 to Hennef Way to Sovereign Wharf to Tramway Road 168

Big breakfast. Back on form

Since getting back to Oleanna Mick has been looking after me, especially on the food front. I’d not had chance to do a food shop when I got to Chipping Norton last week and ended up doing quick dashes to get enough food to keep me going and on some days I didn’t make good choices. So on Sunday morning Mick cooked up a full breakfast. Being near to a Morrisons meant that he was able to do a full gluten free breakfast too, including hash browns and black pudding. Morrisons seem to be outdoing all the other supermarkets on the GF front at the moment, a whole aisle including a freezer section. The poached egg was up to scratch too.

I spent some of the day having a look around the charity shops that were open for various pieces of furniture for panto. One shop seemed to have just about everything I was after, but there were still more shops that were closed to check out. Mick made use of being near to a Gap Outlet to buy some new jeans as one of his trusty pairs has suddenly sprung a large hole on the leg.

Banbury Lock

Decisions of where to be over the next few weeks, then into December and possible plans for Christmas had to be discussed this weekend. I know it’s still quite a way away, but with C&RT starting their winter maintenance in a week and closing locks we have to plan ahead somewhat. Did we want a city or countryside? For the next three weeks transport links are important so that played a big part in our decision. We made our minds up and decided to move today, mainly so that Tilly could get a bit of freedom, although I think she seems to be getting away with a lot whilst I’m not on board!

We pushed off and headed up to Banbury Lock. A boat coming down asked how far we were planning on going as they’d just sat for an hour and a half waiting for canoes to go past before they could push off from their mooring. Not far we answered, but we soon realised not far was too far!

Canoe race

Through the lift bridge I climbed back on board and up ahead by Tom Rolt Bridge we could see several canoes. At first it didn’t seem to be anything special, but then as we got closer it became obvious that the bridge was being used as a finishing line for a race. More and more and more canoes came along at speed, our bow rose and fell with the swell they were all creating. As we got to the bridge there seemed to be no marshals on hand, nobody said we should wait. Mick made contact with a chap who had to stand to read a number of a canoe as we passed. He suggested that there was maybe around another fifty boats heading our way, but carry on and they would avoid us! So we did.

We should have counted them, then we’d have had some idea how many more were coming. Just when we thought there had been a long gap a few more appeared around a bend ahead. We crept along having to tread water on approaching a narrow bridge hole to let canoes through. All we wanted to do was wind, but they just kept coming, so we carried on to the second winding hole. One chap said that he was the final one, but a minute later another paddled into view. Do canoe races have the equivalent of a broom wagon from a cycling race?

Just as Mick had tucked Oleanna’s bow into the winding hole another canoeist came into view, he also thought that he was the last. So Mick battled with the silted up winding hole and managed to turn Oleanna. At last we were heading southwards again. Cruising back into town we decided to pull in opposite Sovereign Wharf. A park and trees alongside would be a good place for Tilly for a few hours before it got dark. Ground rules and time stated, she went out, returning frequently for a few Dreamies.

Its there! It IS!

Shortly before 5pm she returned through the chink in the back doors and proceeded to stare at the bottom of the dishwasher. Hang on, that’s not normal. She went from one side to the other staring. Well it was chilly outside today, so I thought I’d bring my friend home to play with. Only downside was my friend could get into gaps only my paw could reach so far. Bloomin cat!

At least it meant that we got to see where all our plumbing goes under the sink and to the dishwasher! Mick laid a friendly trap, with a treat of peanut butter, under the galley floor whilst Tilly was out of the way. We then waited, so did Tilly. My friend moved from one side of the boat to the other, under the floor. I kept a beady eye on it, even though it was out of view. Eventually the mouse plucked up courage to make a run for it, heading straight through a gap under our pull out corner cupboard. From here it could only go one of two ways and we waited for it to appear, tupperware at the ready. It didn’t take long and soon the mouse was being repatriated to the outside world whilst Tilly kept our bed warm.

A rather striking building in the centre of Banbury

This morning I went to check out the charity shops that were closed yesterday and found a few better options. It was also a good job I’d waited an extra day as the best chars I’d seen yesterday had been reduced by £10 each overnight, result! Everything just needs collecting now. Later on in the day I found out that the Producer has a van tomorrow so will pick me and the furniture up on his way back from Oxford. Perfect as I want to take my sewing machine back with me.

Mick was keen to get back down below Banbury Lock so that I could help him through the lift bridge. Just as we approached we spotted a face we recognised, Kate Saffin from Alarum Theatre Company and a doyen of composting toilets, her boat was getting a service at Tooleys.

We won't be back till December

Working our way down through the lock a hire boat appeared below and the crew came up to have a look. This would be their second lock ever and they were nervous, wondering if when they’d finished going up that they should leave the lock empty. We pulled onto the water point and started to fill our tank when the chap asked if I’d lend a hand with the lock. Windlass in hand I helped them up and showed them how to lift the bridge as a local gongoozler asked them questions they had no idea about.

We pootled on to Tramway where there was space for us and then popped into Morrisons for some shopping. Tilly wasn’t too impressed as here she wasn’t allowed out. I’m sure tomorrow she’ll have Mick wrapped around her paw again and be out till all hours!

This week Mick will move Oleanna southwards, aiming to be through Shipton Weir Lock before it closes next Monday. It will reopen after I’ve finished work so as long as we are through Dukes Lock before the 26th November we should be able to slowly but gradually make our way northwards again as the winter stoppages reopen in front of us. Hopefully arriving at Napton as they reopen the lock that is being rebuilt in time for us to find somewhere good to be for Christmas.

What I'd missed out on today

2 locks, 1 twice, 2.14 miles, 1 wind, 255673 canoes, 1 furry friend brought in from the cold, 2 days not quite off, 2 days at home, 4 chairs, 3 tables, 1 sewing machine needed, 1 lift tomorrow, 6 portions of bolognaise, 0 freezer space, 1 missed camel.

PS for Joa, sorry I’ve not got round to replying to your email. My brothers would be fine, or Chipping Norton Theatre before the 14th November.