Alternatives. 21st August

East Street to Swinford Meadow

Breakfasted and ready to go we waited for our Tesco delivery, he arrived a little after 9am and found us really easily. I’ve grown accustomed to waking in the morning of a delivery and receiving a message from Sainsburys or Ocado as to what in our order was unavailable and if any substitutions had been made. But Tescos hasn’t got there yet, so we waited to see if everything had been available.

I could hear the conversation by the van, one thing not available and three things we’d been sent alternatives, Mick headed over to check if these were okay. So the three boxes of white wine we’d ordered (I tend to drink white rather than red) ((Mick had ordered three boxes of red also!)) weren’t available. But alternatives had been sent, 9 bottles of the same wine for the same price. This was fine by me! Only thing was storage, but I’d find somewhere.


With everything stowed apart from the two bags of cat biscuits (they’d been on special offer and were going to be in the wine cellar which was now full of bottles) we could push off.

Sheepwash through that bridge on the right

The end of Sheepwash Channel looked very different from when we’d last seen it in November, purple flowers everywhere.

Port Meadow

Considering we were so close to Oxford Station the river feels so rural here with calves in the fields. Then the river opens up, the wide expanse of Port Meadow with the sunny sky above, wonderful.

Godstow Lock was opened up for us and we were waved in, but Mick held back. There was a canoeist loitering, was he coming up in the lock with us? All nineteen tonnes of us? Mick waved him in, but got no response so brought Oleanna in, the canoeist followed. Up at the front I couldn’t see the chap in the small inflatable, he’d decided to hold onto our gunnel, still not a word to Mick, not even eye contact. He was first out and away in front of us.

King’s Lock the first match stick lock

A little before 11am we reached King’s Lock the first of what I call the match stick locks. These are no longer operated by pushing buttons, the gates have to be pushed and pulled open by hand and then the paddles raised by turning a wheel. The indicators on the paddle gear rise and fall as the wheel is turned. White high and the paddle is closed, red high the paddle open.

Match sticks
Pushing the gates open

The lady lockie got us and another boat into the lock, we were followed by the canoeist again, who ignored us but still cling onto our gunnel, he was first out again. Boats were wanting to come down the lock having come off the Oxford Canal they also needed licences so the Lockie here is kept busy.

A working pair heading for the Oxford Canal

Once out the lock, following in the canoeists wake and the other boat, we kept to the left at Dukes Cut Junction to carry on up the Thames onto new water. Following the other boat was a bit of a mistake, they like to take their time cruising at tick over, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells. Our cruising speed is a touch faster and it became a touch frustrating sitting behind them. A cruiser caught up with us, we let them past and then followed them overtaking a short distance before Eynsham Lock.

RAF planes

Overhead a large plane circled, where was it going too? Mick checked his plane app, at first glance the plane wasn’t there. Then it appeared RAF from Calgary. It must have been heading for Brize Norton. Subsequent planes today have passed over with no identification, all RAF.

Swinford Bridge

Eynsham Lock the chaps were jolly. They wanted us in first followed by the cruiser. I managed to get my rope around a bollard to help pull us into the side, but it wouldn’t be ideal as it was a huge innie. With the canoeist still clinging to us this wouldn’t have been safe, the Lockie agreed and moved my rope up. We felt better about it, even if the canoeist had no idea. As the lock gates opened the canoeist thanked the lockie, he wasn’t mute after all! and he sped away first out again.

Not a bad view

A mooring was next thing to do. If we carried on a short distance we’d get to the free moorings on the meadow. A straightish length showed itself and we both managed to get off, but as pins were being hammered in Mick didn’t like that we were on a bend, a little hard along here not to be. So he pointed ahead to another stretch that looked good, round a few more bends.

Here the bank was higher and full of holes. I certainly wasn’t going to try jumping up as I was more likely to end up in the river. Mick managed and wrapped my rope round a handy post, but then couldn’t get back on for pins and hammer at the stern. Tilly would be alright here, but I wouldn’t, I’d be stuck on the boat for the rest of the afternoon. Mick was doing his best to make it work, but I suggested reversing to a spot in between here and where we’d first tried. A clippy ‘Okay’ came back.


We reversed, the bank was more solid and lower. Oleanna settled into a space and we moored up, everyone was happy. Tilly soon found some friends, well they were having lunch, I didn’t see why I shouldn’t have some too!

The heart of Oleanna

I got on with some work making model mud banks whilst Mick took the engine board up and gave Oleanna her 250 hr service. The electrics had to be turned off for a while as there was a loose connection on a battery that needed sorting, this put paid to me singing along with Kate Bush whilst whittling away my mud banks

Was that something?

Tilly took to checking out the river bank for friends, the cat Health and Safety committee didn’t approve, thank goodness she didn’t feel the need to pounce!

Ben Hyde Memorial Trust walk, 184 miles to lay a poppy wreath in London

Later on we watched the next episode of Keeping Faith, I think I may have to remake my mud banks, they don’t look Welsh enough!

This was quite a while ago and has since sold. Still within the M25, 5/6 bedrooms, a lot more than two dinning chairs. How much?

3 locks, 1 button operated, 2 match stick operated, 6.67 miles, 1 left, 3 boxes of red, 9 bottles of white, 1 annoying canoeist, 3rd mooring attempt lucky, 2 tasty friends, 4 hours mud making, 4 walkers, 1 casualty on a stretcher, 9 litres oil, 1 new bolt required, still 3 stitches too many, 1 bye bye Blackbird.


Joa £1.45 million is better than Jennie’s £999,000. That balcony and private mooring in Maidenhead bumps up the price.

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