East Street to Day’s Lock
Cuppa in bed, breakfasted and ready to cruise we waited for our shopping to arrive. The van pulled up at about 10:45, one smaller pack of something and tins instead of easily stored cartons of chopped tomatoes, but we did get our Saturday newspaper which in the past hasn’t been possible.
Once everything was stowed we were on our way, we’ve only a few days left of our Thames licence so no dawdling. At Osney Lock a rowing four considered joining us to go down, some of the crew were keen, others wanted to wait, so they left it up to the Lockie. They didn’t join us.
With a load of washing on we approached Folly Bridge. In the past heading upstream we’ve taken the northern channel, so today Mick went round the southern one instead.
One house on the island has a galvanised or zinc deck with tall plants to match. Then an ornate brick building with niches and what once were white statues, a priest had quite a mound of guano at his feet.
Passing along Christ Church Meadow there was an art class, easels out and paint brushes in hand. One chap was being quite free with his interpretation of the river, with mountainous peaks filling his paper. Passing the rowing clubs we waved farewell to Oxford, we’ll be back mid October.
The sun vanished and big clouds loomed, I used work as an excuse to duck inside between locks. Iffley Lock was surrounded by noisy geese. No space to stop in the next reach for lunch, so at Sandford we waited for the lock to fill up with boats and then rise before we dropped down, no space there either. Lunch on the move it was.
It had started to rain as we approached Abingdon services, we pulled in behind NB Wishbone. Alistair used to follow our Lillyanne blog and then Oleannas whilst he waited for his own boat to be built by Aintree and very nice she looks too. They were having difficulty with the pooh sucky machine so we dealt with everything else before backing up fill with water.
A clean bucket for Mick and myself, a clean box for Tilly and an empty of the yellow water. All rubbish disposed of and a full tank of diesel from a couple of days ago, happy boaters.
As we waited for the water to finish filling a small yogurt pot day boat headed towards the lock, the roof drawn over to keep the occupants dry. One chap outside called instructions to the person at the wheel. ‘Left’ ‘Reverse’ ‘Slow Down’ Biff!! ‘Right’ ‘Stop’ ‘No not that way’ Biff!!! Blimey, it was like watching a dodgem car !! BIFF!!
From inside the voice of a young girl started shouting.
‘SORRY WE HIT YOUR BOAT!’
‘SORRY WE BIFFED YOUR BOAT!’
They hadn’t, they’d just hit theirs!
‘SORRY WE DAMAGED YOUR BOAT!’
‘SORRY WE KILLED YOUR BOAT!’
‘SORRY WE SANK YOUR BOAT!’
They were wanting to go down the lock too, they let us go first.
‘SORRY WE KILLED YOU!’
‘SORRY WE KILLED YOU!’
By now I was in hysterics at the bow, unable to chat to the volunteer who was kindly positioning my rope for me. Looking behind the boat was now facing back towards Oxford, then London, then Oxford again. Eventually they made it into the lock, the Lockies held onto their ropes for them, we both descended.
We were out first leaving them to spin round in the lock. So hope they made it back to Oxford in one piece.
Onwards, plenty more miles to cover today. Four lads in a couple of canoes asked where Culham Lock Cut was, Mick pointed it to them hopping they’d seen it instead of heading straight on towards the weir. A boat was coming up the lock and paused to buy a licence from the Lock Keeper so we waited. A young girl on her bike cycled down to watch what was happening, we got chatting. lots of interesting questions from her. Her 4 year old brother arrived and said they’d been on a huge cruise ship, much bigger than our boat. By the time the lock was ready for us the lads in their canoes had arrived and shared the lock down. It’s the first time we’ve shared a lock with a crocodile!
All these interruptions weren’t helping with my model making, only one more lock, Clifton Lock which we shared with more canoes. All along this stretch the view has changed. Two weeks ago three of Didcot Power Station chimneys stood holding their ground, now they are no more, just rubble.
We pulled in at a suitable spot above Day’s Lock, lots for Tilly to explore in what was left of the day. She did her best to sort her own Ding Ding out, but that friend was rescued before it was too late.
6 locks, 16.47 miles, 4 boxes wine, 1 newspaper, 3 flavours of houmous, 2 cheese twists, 1 right, 1 wave goodbye, 1 empty wee tank, 1 empty box, 1 empty bucket, 1 full water tank, 1 apologetic young lady, 1 very embarrassed dad or uncle, 360 degrees in a lock, 1 chatty gongoozler, 3 canoes, 1 crocodile, 0 cooling towers, 1 favourite mooring.