Pairs. 21st August

Muddy Slipper to Somerton Meadows

Rain, that’s what was forecast and what we woke up to. In no rush to get wet and it being a Saturday we logged into the Geraghty Zoom. Subjects today, the Scottish Tooth Fairy and the Sylvanian Family. By the time we’d caught up on each others news the rain was waining, Tilly had come home and a pair had come past us, the motor boat and butty had been moored in Oxford when we’d left. This meant we didn’t rush to push off as there was likely to be a wait for us at most locks today.

Shoe evolution

Yesterday at one of the locks my feet had had difficulty gripping onto the brickwork whilst pushing a gate open. I wear slip resistant shoes but my current pair have been worn for more than a year. A check of the sole confirmed that the grippy soles had been worn down, time for a new pair. Handily we’d ordered new shoes last winter so they just needed digging out from under the dinette.

The three stages of boat trainers

Time to move shoes up the evolutionary scale. New bright shoes, boat shoes, need to be quickly broken down so as not to upstage everything around you. Next pair up the scale, comfy stretched to fit where it matters most, toned down through use, these now move on to become painty shoes. The old painty shoes, I believe they moved up the scale maybe on the last panto I painted, or during lockdown 1. The toes have been re-stuck to the soles a couple of times, they have served me well, but now the next step up the scale is into the next C&RT bin.

Both of us had been fooled into thinking it was autumn again, the winter waterproof trousers came out, but at the first lock these were found to have been a big mistake, I replaced mine with shorts!

Dashwood’s Lock some months ago had a gate beam failure. A temporary beam has been constructed and a notice tagged to the gate says to exert minimum force in moving it. Coming down the lock was a day boat, it was their first time on a boat and one of them was suggesting that they use the boat to push the bottom gate open! Well this of course would not work as they would be pushing the gate very much closed. We chatted and I told them to wait for the water to settle below the gate before pushing the beam, then things would be easy.

Butt joints and threaded bar

I pushed the bottom gate open, blimey that beam flexes, so much so you think it will break even with the smallest amount of force! I can understand the construction of the temporary beam, but if they’d turned it through 90 degrees there would have been considerably less flex in the wood and adding a few diagonals into the mix would also help. It worked even though it felt like I might be catapulted across the adjoining field!

Blue cabin paint

Coming out of the lock the top gate pushed back into its recess it’s beam overhung the water. With only half an inch between Oleanna’s cabin side and the big foot square metal end, I pulled it away from possible scraping distance. The end of the beam has obviously come very close to quite a few blue boats before.

Round a few over grown bends a boat we thought we recognised came into view. A large grey cratch cover over the welldeck, plum red cabin sides that have seen far better days and the name still on the side, NB Sola Gratia. This used to be Tim, Tracey and Guide Dog Oakley’s boat. Tim and Tracey along with Ozzie and Guide Dog Loki have now moved onto the new NB Sola Gratia and trade as The Doggie Boat.

Stick um up!

Next Lower Heyford where a couple had just finished filling from the reeeeaaallly slow tap still at gun point from the rabbit on the off side.

Mill Lift Bridge

Another boat was just coming through Mill Lift Bridge, the chap with the key of power tried several times to remove his key, but it doesn’t get released until the bridge is down, he kindly stayed and let us through.

Could this be Allen?

Allen’s Lock, here we caught up with the pair, their motor just finishing rising, the butty pulled in to the lock landing as there were boats above waiting to come down.

With the next boat coming down the motor was reversed up to the top gates. When the lock was empty the chap then bow hauled the butty in, his wife stood at the stern helping to steer into the lock. All done very efficiently.

A lady from a boat behind wandered around her phone held high above her head to try to find signal, no chance, Allen’s Lock is a black spot for phone, internet and TV, we once made the mistake of mooring here.

See you at the next one

Just over half a mile on and we caught the pair up again at Heyford Common Lock. The usual exchange of how far you going today, another lock for them, we might go further. Well that was until the heavens opened! We quickly decided that if there was space at Somerton Meadow then we’d pull in and call it a day, thankfully there was plenty of space. A late lunch with a disappointed cat as the rain hammered down outside.

Noisy fun

During the afternoon not many boats came by. A group on paddle boards and canoes had dogs with them, they loitered just behind us being really rather noisy screaming in the rain with their dogs barking. I’m glad someone was having fun! Maybe we’re just turning into grumpy gits. They moved away after a while of both Tilly and Mick staring at them from under the pram cover.

Then the sound of an old working engine could be heard getting closer. A Russell Newbery, then the diamonds on the bow flash gave her away, it was Tyseley the Mikron boat.

Tyseley got stuck behind Southcote Lock on the Kennet and Avon on 29th July and had been waiting patiently for the lock to be mended. The shows have continued, set and cast moving from venue to venue by van without their accommodation on Tyseley close by.

Somerton Meadows

I think it was Thursday when they managed to get going again, Marianne at the tiller and crew joining as and when needed along the network. They have quite a distance to cover to catch up with the shows, so Tyseley is a flyboat for the next few days. No time to stop and chat, just a passing hello and good luck on their mission. It’s a real shame we’ve not managed to coincide with the shows this year, we’ve either been a bit too far ahead or just a day or so behind them, even then because of reduced capacity they have been sold out.

That’s a funny looking plane

I sent Marianne a message giving her a heads up regarding the pair in front, hopefully she would pass them today and be far enough ahead on her mission to not get delayed.

As the evening continued the sun came out briefly, Tilly headed off to explore, she knows here well and I cooked us a roast chicken. Potatoes, beetroot, onion, garlic from our veg box, the last of Frank’s beans and two miserly carrots that Sainsburys sent us. Sainsburys did however manage to give us a box of Lynda McCartney burgers and a box of Soleros that we didn’t order, not noticed until the driver was long gone. Think I’d have rather had bigger carrots though.

The mist kept rolling in leaving only shadows of trees

Mist rolled in across the fields and the evening became one of trying to plan October and November around stoppages, panto and another lodger in the house. It’s all getting a touch awkward.

3 locks, 4.82 miles, 1 bridge lufted, 1 new pair, 1 floating pair, 0 signal,1 very wet afternoon, 1 dripping Marianne on a mission, 2 blogging boats,1 roast chicken, 12 roasties, 1 mist creeping across the meadows.

One thought on “Pairs. 21st August

  1. Mike Todd

    Remember basic structural engineering: deflection is not the same as stress and it is the latter that makes a structure fail. Of course, the two are related but still not the same. That said, I would have expected as you suggest – a 90 deg turn in the design would be better all round.

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