Then There Were Two. 11th October

East Street to Kidlington Lock, Oxford Canal

Delivery to the hatch

Shopping arrived bang on 10am. Mick informed the driver that I was isolating. The crates were put by the side hatch and emptied into bags everyone managing to keep their distance. After a bad nights sleep the last thing I wanted to do was stow things away so that was left to Mick.

Extra vitamin C required

Last night the East Street moorings had filled up and this morning they emptied again, apart from those who we suspect know that the Lock Keeper has covid so won’t be coming round for mooring fees. The workmen started dismantling more of the power station opposite at 8.30am. This was not helping my headache so as soon as we’d got ourselves sorted we moved on.

Blue blue blue

In the past we’ve taken the route north up the canal from Isis Lock, today we’d be heading for Duke’s Cut instead, hoping that this route would bring with it fewer people to avoid. With the sun out, blue skies surrounded us as we cruised along Port Meadow. Model planes flew round in circles, cows and horses grazed, what a lovely day, chilly but lovely.

Hotel boat on it’s way

A group of people stood round the control panel at Godstow Lock, I willed them to walk away before I got anywhere near. A Hotel boat was just entering from above, they watched as the gates closed behind it and the crew member walked down to the panel. I kept my distance, at least 6 meters. Thankfully she was far more interested in reading her phone than me.

By the time we got into the lock, ropes sorted and the sluices button pressed we were joined by a Lock Keeper. I stayed very much by the bow rope adjusting it as needed whilst she opened and closed the gates for us.

Godstow Bridge

Traffic lights gave us a green to head under Godstow Bridge where a floating pontoon with skips loitered, diggers either side of the river.

King’s Lock the first of the match stick locks, I made sure I had some hand sanitiser with me so I wouldn’t be leaving anything for the next person. Thankfully no-one was around, apart from the dragon who watched our every move.

Right onto Duke’s Cut. We think we’ve only done this route once on Lillian the first time we did the Thames, so today it was new water to Oleanna. It seems to have grown somewhat from how I remembered it, much longer. Here boats sit on a stretch of water avoiding Navigation Authorities and licences. One end C&RT water the other EA.

Approaching the lock

Faces peeked out from the dark of the boats, I may have covid but I can still say hello to people, even if they didn’t reply. The last stretch of the cut is narrow, boats lined up on both sides, we of course met a boat coming the other way up the lock. Just enough room for us to squeeze past each other.

Only good boats go through my lock!

Someone was waiting for us on the lock beam. Oleanna needed a good checking out!

The full length of roof was checked, then as I was about to lift the paddle I spotted the stow away in the well deck, having a good sniff of a bagged up Tilly deposit. The full length of cat walk was tried out, pauses at each window, especially the bathroom where Tilly quite often begs strangers to set her free!

Cheeky! That’s my Cat Walk!!!!!

Then the black cat was off to do some hunting, leaving us to turn north onto the Oxford Canal and meet a boat just pulling out from the lock.

The last lock of the day, or so we’d planned. I then walked up to the lift bridge which is now windlass operated. Doing this route meant we avoided at least two other lift bridges, are they now windlass operated?

Lifting that took more effort than normal

Our aim today was to reach Kidlington Lock, our normal stop after Oxford. A few boats were already moored up, but thankfully there was space for us before the lock landing. We pulled in, moored up and let Tilly out. She was gone for quite a while, does she recognise these moorings that we’ve stayed at in the past?

Time for a kip for me. Mick had been starting to cough during the day, a test showed as negative. By the end of the day we were both sat on the sofa with a box of tissues between us. The likely hood of Mick not getting covid was minimal, he’d most probably caught it off me before I suspected anything. He’s about a day behind.

The tree stole it!

Tilly came in all very silent during the afternoon. Where had she left her collar? She was quite pleased with herself showing off her white chest and strutting about. It didn’t last long as I pulled out a box with another three collars and cat tags. A blue collar with a boat cat tag was soon back around her neck, the boat doors open again, shore leave could resume.

4 locks, 5.5 miles, 1 lift bridge, 4 boxes wine, 1 box tissues finished, 2 boxes of tissues in the order, 1 straight, 1 right, 1 left, 6 meters minimum, 1 new collar, 1 cat tag, 2 snotty coughing boaters.