Changes, 23rd August

Kings Sutton to Slat Mill Lock

A little damp to start the day required coats to be worn, but by the end of the afternoon we were back down to one layer as the sun showed its face. Maybe autumn is arriving. The other day I crunched my way over some cobnuts that had fallen from a tree, most mornings we have blackberries added to our cereal bowls picked whilst Mick waits for a lock to be set. Crab apples fill the hedgerows, there must be something other than jelly you can make from them? Dark Elderberries droop from high up and sloes are plumpening up. Then today I spotted a plum tree alongside a lock, sadly the fruit still too hard to pick, maybe in a weeks time it will be just perfect. Oh the bounties of autumn. When will we be lighting the stove again?

Grant’s Lock cottage

At Grant’s Lock some first time hirers were just about to make their way down, they’d been having a taster holiday with their two kids. The first day it had rained and they’d wondered what they’d let themselves in for, then the sun had come out and the damp day became a distant memory.

No roof

Waiting for the lock to fill I had chance to have a look round the lock cottage, staying outside for safety. Over the last few years it has gradually been vandalised and at some time in the last year it has been gutted by fire. The windows frames now just frame the destruction a fire can do.

The staircase was burnt away, not much left of the ceilings, the floor beams charred into nothing. The heat of the fire easily melted the gutters, the fridge door relaxed into a new shape and the door into the lean is just charcoal. Such a sad sad sight. It will either be pulled down, fall down (as there is little holding it up anymore) or someone may come along with a large wodge of cash to try to rescue it.

21 miles a day

As we pulled away three canoeists came towards us at speed. Little flags on their boats showed that they are raising funds for the Elysium Memorial in remembrance of service men and women who have taken their own lives. They are canoeing from Preston Brook Marina to Putney Bridge on the Thames 280 miles at about 21 miles a day.

Little boxes

The new estate on the outskirts of Banbury is still being built, little of any architectural merit going up.

The foundry that once used to add to the aroma of Banbury looks to have gone. No piles of clinker and moulds alongside the canal anymore. We wondered if the site will be turned into more canalside residential properties.

Boats were here there and everywhere. We paused to let others go through narrow stretches and then pulled in behind a boat on the water point below Banbury Lock to wait our turn. A quick check above the lock, the water point up there was also in use, so we stayed put. A request from Paul at Waterway Routes to do a few checks whilst we were in Banbury, the toilets here have been closed for ages, but are now reopened and he also wanted to know the position of the new footbridge, which is slightly different to the old one that was demolished a couple of years ago.

We filled up with water then ascended the lock, plenty of people around to watch us work and plenty of people wanting to cross over the top gates as always. The lift bridge with it’s hydraulic mechanism was a breeze. Then we were into the building site.

We’d arrived at the builders lunch break so there was no noise from what I think will be a cinema on the north east bank. Far more noise was being made with saws, hammers, drills just by Tooleys were volunteers were working on Fellows Morton and Clayton boat Kilsby, once the work is completed the boat will offer educational trips, story telling and theatre to the community. Historic Narrowboat Hardy sits a short distance away still waiting to be restored, at least she’s afloat.

New bridge

We pulled in right underneath the new footbridge, not yet open as it currently leads into a building site. Time for a bit of top up shopping. Mick headed over the canal to get foody things whilst I headed into Castle Quays to the post office. I sent off samples of black canvas for #unit21 and the art work for the cloths in Rapunzel so that they can be printed.

Lock 29 lots of yummy things

Lock 29 at first looks like it is a new bar facing onto the canal, maybe where you’d eat whilst staying at the new Premier Inn next door. But inside there is lots of space, lots of tables and lots of stalls selling food and drink of all kinds. Fudge, Greek food, fresh bread, smoothies, all sorts.

In the shade of Banbury

After lunch on board and a quick return visit to Holland and Barrett we pushed onwards. Looking back, at what might become a wind tunnel. The new buildings are not as encroaching as we thought they’d be. I wonder how noisy the moorings will be at night once the building works are completed. The lack of afternoon sunshine for solar will put many off mooring here, but the proximity to the new Lidl is a bonus.

The overgrown hippo by Malc and Dinks

Malc Weblin passed away in June this year at the age of 85. As you passed his and Dink’s cottage there would always be a smile and a big wave from him. Today two people sat in the conservatory, I’m assuming one was Dink, her companion gave us a wave. As nice as it was it wasn’t quite the same.

Waiting our turn, a long way back

At Hardwick Lock we were second in line, we helped with the boats ahead and then rose up ourselves.

The two cats painted into the little windows at Bourton Lock are still keeping guard, although someone has added a touch of green writing to the front wall!

Bends on the Oxford Canal tend to bring surprises. Todays surprise was going to be possibly the most surprising we’ve ever had!

Sure enough round the bend came a narrowboat, just as it came into the view so did something over head!

Blimey that was low

Very low over our heads swooped the grey undercarriage of an RAF Hercules. It was huge!! No warning, it just appeared over the top of the trees and carried on almost skimming the hillside. Thankfully both boats managed to keep on course.

Now should we catch up to where we should be? Or should we stop at the award winning mooring below Slat Mill Lock. We decided on the latter, by now the afternoon was fading, if we carried on it would be way past Tilly’s dingding so there would be no shore leave for her. Several boats were already moored up but we managed to slot in.

That’s a lot of people on a narrowboat

Tilly had a couple of hours whilst I cooked us a quinoa crust chicken, bacon and leek quiche. Mick tried to get the TV onto the SJT website so that we could watch the production of Home, I’m Darling that Vicky our ledger had been in. But sadly the internet signal wasn’t good enough or something wasn’t quite right for us to watch the play. Hopefully tomorrow things will be better.

4 locks, 6.47 miles, 1 lift bridge, 1 new bridge, 1 missing bridge, 1 burnt out cottage, 1 bath tub, 1 range, 16 yellow tiles, 240 glucosamine and chondroitin complex, 1 new Lidl, 1 low flyer, 1 award winning mooring, 0 night at the theatre.

One thought on “Changes, 23rd August

  1. Dave (Scouts)

    It does seem that Swan Foundry has closed. If the developers put some mooring on that side or a footbridge would give you access to Morrisons but given its location will probably stay as light industrial.
    That plane was probably an Airbus A400M out of Brize on a training run.
    Get them over here all the time as they use Seacourt Tower in Botley as a turning point ready to line up on approach into Brize and its also outside the Oxford no-fly zone so they turn almost over our heads.

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