A Spot Of Gardening. 20th August

Thrupp Canal Cruising Club to not quite Muddy Slipper

With the news of the Aire and Calder opening this morning I kind of wished we were up in Yorkshire to go through the breach site, reclaiming it for boats from the pile drivers and diggers. But we are miles away and will leave the reclaiming to others in Goole at Rawcliffe. Enjoy your cruise Lisa and Al and anyone else heading out this weekend. Will it be a mass exodus?

There she is again

It was time for us to get moving again, thank you Thrupp CCC for giving us a base for the last week whilst we’ve been busy with other things. Today it was back to boating!

There used to be a bridge there!

The bridge landings either side of Shipton Lift Bridge were filled with moored boats, this didn’t really matter as the bridge has been removed so no need to stop. We wondered how busy the canal was going to be after hearing stories of queues at locks further north.

I liked Thrupp outside!! Please don’t move it!

Shipton Weir Lock had a Black Prince hire boat just leaving and another boat was about to pull in and come down. We had chance to have a little chat with the crew who were heading out onto the Thames to Lechlade. Then it was our turn into the diamond shaped lock, designed this way to allow enough water to be sent down into the canal for the next lock whilst only a small drop in level was required to get off the river onto the canal.

Shipton Weir Lock

Last weekend we’d considered taking the London Leckenbys for a little pootle for a barbecue, here just out on the river had been a possible location. Reversing down towards the weir and mooring up would have given us a good amount of space to spread out. Today a small tent sat where our bbq would have been.

Having spent most of October and November on the Oxford for a couple of years everywhere is obviously so much greener than we’re used to, views are different, some gone with the amount of foliage. There are quite a lot of reeds that we don’t remember.

We rounded the bend to Barkers Lock and pulled in behind the Black Prince boat. Above the lock sat several other boats waiting to come down. In the lock was a C&RT work boat doing some gardening. Gardening isn’t really quite the right description for it. Two people were scrapping the chamber walls clearing it of growth, weeding on a big scale. I zoomed in with my camera and realised I knew one of the people in blue, Frankie an Instagram friend.

Frankie at the helm

They soon finished, pulling out of the lock leaving it free for the hire boat to go up. Frankie and I had chance to say a quick hello, maybe we’ll get more chance to chat if we come across each other further north. It was good to she her working on her much loved Oxford Canal, helping to maintain it.

Waiting our turn

There was chance to chat to hire boaters heading back to Oxford at the lock whilst we waited our turn, we were soon up and on our way again. The pub at Gibraltar looked pretty much as it did a couple of years back, building work seems to have halted during the pandemic.

Next came Pigeon’s Lock, no queue but a full lock. Whenever I talk to the Director for Panto he goes on and on about meeting his sister and her boat at Pigeons Lock, I think he really enjoyed those days. The big house at the end of the lane here was having a lot of building work done, this now is completed. The new roof looks very fine with it’s stone flags.

Jane’s Enchanted Tea Garden was set up to receive visitors this weekend, menus and sugar jars out on the tables. One day we’ll manage to time this part of the canal with it being open. Review here Apparently you need to book quite a long way in advance or follow their facebook page hoping that someone cancels as you are about to arrive.

Have gazebo, will cruise

The quarry moorings were pretty full, someone’s brought their own gazebo. Space for one at the end if you could get a mooring spike in.

Pulling out twigs

Northbrook Lock had another queue. Two C&RT chaps were fishing around by the bottom gate with a keb. Up to Banbury the locks on the Oxford Canal have a single bottom gate which means that should anything get stuck behind it it may not open sufficiently to get your boat through.

The first boat above had been waiting for over a couple of hours and seemed keen to get going again, I know we would have been. Their boat was brought into the lock all six fenders hanging down the side of their boat. One vague attempt was made to lift one of them, but it just fell back down waiting for a lock to grab it.

At last on the move

The chap went to lower the paddle on the offside. It looked like he’d tripped and knocked it as it dropped on the relatively new gate. Yet he wasn’t bothered by this in the slightest, he was more interested in a very wet mouse that was sitting on the lock side. He pointed this out to his wife, who couldn’t hear him. Eventually he crossed back over the bottom gate, I started to open it when I realised he’d stopped on the wrong side of the gate to lower the paddle, not the safest of places to be! He tried time and time to tell his wife about the mouse, convinced it was a water vole, then finally walked down below the lock to get on his boat, still pointing out to his wife about the mouse! With no power engaged they drifted out of the lock, still trying to see the mouse. Mick and I by now were both saying ‘GET ON WITH IT and get OUT OF THE WAY!’ under our breath, I have no idea what those who’d been waiting for at least an hour behind him were saying under theirs!

There were two possible moorings we’d be aiming for today as where we needed to get to was right alongside the railway. A few extra hours would have us mooring at Somerton Meadow, but arriving late in the day would almost certainly mean there’d be no space left. Then at Muddy Slipper mooring someone was already tied to the armco, we reversed back a touch and pulled up a short distance behind, just enough depth for us.

They’re on Muddy Slipper!

A late lunch was followed by an hour or so working out how to deal with the cinema screen during the run of panto. I came up with a solution which I hope won’t be too much extra work and emailed it through to everyone. Fingers crossed they all think it’s a good idea, or come up with a better solution.

A slot

Then as this weekends stag do hire boats came past, ten on each boat, sailors hats and some fancy dress with sea shanties being sung at the top of their voices, clinking bottles of beer I turned my attention to #unit21 and the samples of black canvas I’d received. This was far far tamer than the outfit a groom was wearing as the last boat passed by.

4 locks, 2 with queues, 5.52 miles, 1 Frankie, 1 trimmed and scraped lock, 6 fenders down, 1 mouse not vole, 1 twonk head, 5 hours shore leave, 1 (maybe more) friend, 3 stag dos, 1 solution, 1 email lost, 4 green shades of felt, 2 slots, 1.83 wide black canvas, 5 weeks digs, 1 cauliflower cheese with extras.


2 thoughts on “A Spot Of Gardening. 20th August

  1. jetpackwaterwayroutescouk

    Have you considered modifying the screen to fit the scenery instead of modifying the scenery to fit the screen?

    1. Pip Post author

      Nice idea Paul. But the screen is the theatre’s cinema screen which is used just about every week of the year (when the pandemic allows). It is an automated screen that rolls in and out of it’s box which is fixed above the stage, tensioned to perfection, an expensive bit of kit.

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