Chimney to Swinford Meadow
Cats are supposedly meant to sleep for 70% of the day. Yesterday our little thug managed to turn that figure on it’s head being wide awake for 70%, so today there has been a lot of sleeping to catch up on. Heading out of the back doors whilst cruising normally requires Tilly to say hello to Tom, whilst I have a controlling hand around her chest, then the door is closed and a toy is thrown down the cabin for Tilly to chase, giving me enough time to pop out through the doors and close them behind me before she returns. 70% of the time this works. Today no such tactics were required she barely opened her eyes all morning.
A quick top up of water at Shifford Lock and we were on our way down, winding our way around the Oxfordshire countryside. Lock keepers were on duty at all three locks today, the sun keeping everyone warmer than expected. The fields have been harvested, the straw all bundled up ready for storage. Our washing machine was set to work with a load of bed linen which would be ready to hang out when we arrived at a mooring.
At one bend we came across two narrowboats heading upstream. Mick pulled us over to let the first one past, the existence of the second one only noticeable due to the looks over the first ones shoulders. Giving way whilst heading downstream isn’t always possible due to the flow on a river which keeps you moving, but nobody was slowing for us, so our stern ended up sliding along some screechy scratchy bush. Luckily only a thin surface scratch to the cabin side.
On the moorings above Pinkhill Lock were two familiar boats. NB Freedom, who we’d last shared Molesey Lock with after our time at Hampton Court and WB No Problem, her pram cover just visible.
We paused to say hello to Sue, our paths may cross again this year, it depends on their progress downstream, but I suspect we’ll be popping out from the K&A long after they have passed Reading.
Down Pinkhill Lock and we soon pulled in at the boat yard. First we pulled in where the Anglo Welsh boats come out from, but then moved down to the diesel pump by the entrance of the marina. We filled up the tank, the first time in a month taking on what we used to take on every couple of weeks, batteries and solar make a big difference.
Now to find a mooring, we headed straight to where we’d moored a week ago, not bothering to try any other stretch of bank and pulled in with ease. Tilly was stood on top of the toilet as I walked back through the boat, her earlier lack of enthusiasm had vanished, she’d recharged her batteries.
Time to sort a new passport, a new photo was needed. Handily our cabin walls were the perfect background, just a shame the photo checker kept thinking I had my mouth open in the photo! I think this automatically happens when you select a photo that you don’t mind of yourself, meaning you end up with a convict in your passport for the next ten years!
Before my passport can be processed my old one has to be returned to be cancelled, even though it is five years out of date. Better to do it straight away, so I set out to head to Eynsham Post Office. Tilly decided that she’d come too. I was a good two thirds across the fields when I decided that maybe she’d just keep following me all the way and that would not be a good idea.
The walk along the river to the bridge was a pleasant one, but as soon as I got onto the road!
Swinford Bridge is a toll bridge a small booth with two chaps sat at the northern end of the bridge collecting 5ps. Constant traffic passed me as I walked along the narrow footpath, I made sure I kept my arms in. As soon as I got passed the roundabout calm returned.
A pretty village with far more to it than I was expecting. A nice looking cafe, several pubs, hair dressers, the Post Office where I sent my passport off. Across the way was The Market Garden, a wholefood shop and deli. Here you can buy refills for eco cleaning products, and they have a whole wall dispensing dry food stuffs without packaging along with a very good selection of veg.
There is also a Co-op and a DIY store with rainbow buckets lining the shelves outside. I needed some more model making glue so had a good look round. They might just have the right bolt for Oleanna.
Back at the boat our bedding was almost dry in the blustery wind. Tilly popped out from some friendly cover, she’d obviously been doing ‘Nothing!’!! Mick had the tool box out, he thought he’d sorted the bolt problem, but had discovered another, far more serious.
The pipe leading from the calorifier to where it meets the engine was leaking coolant into the bilges. He’d tried tightening the join, but the connection still wobbled. This is part of the engines cooling system and about 70% of the coolant was now below the engine, not able to do it’s job. Mick might have spotted it sooner if the engine temperature gauge wasn’t inside the rear hatch! How long had we had the engine running for?
Mick used the RCR (AA for boats) app to inform them that we had a problem, this lets them know where you are. Then he spotted that the app had put in an incorrect phone number, so he made a phone call, the old fashioned way. It was out of normal hours and the lady who answered the phone had little idea that the Thames stretches way outside of London, we were also told to get off the boat and stand where an engineer could see us. This wasn’t necessary in our case, we think she had a script to follow. Our breakdown we didn’t class as an emergency, tomorrow morning would be fine. It was logged.
A while later we had a call back which had originated from the app. This lady knew far more, she took more details said someone would call us in the morning. We won’t be going anywhere until this is fixed, not unless we can do it in five minute bursts.
3 locks, 10.23 miles, 1 wave goodbye, 1 extreamly tired cat, 109.4 litres diesel, 1 load washing, 6 hours taken but not exceeded, 23 head shots, 2 rejected, 1 convict, 3 miles walk, 1 pretty village, 5p, 10p per axle, 1 bolt sorted, 500ml PVA, 1 leak, 1 boat going nowhere.