Giraffe Legs. 13th October

Kirtlington Quarry to Somerton Meadows

An hour or so was spent going through fonts and seeing what happened to them when saved as a pdf. A font was chosen, alterations done then it was whizzed off to Promptside to see if it was good enough to be printed 25 times bigger for the panto song sheet. Emails about cloths, confirmation of sizes before the big print button could be pressed. Emails about flats being primed, was the paint too thin? Would these emails continue all day? That might be a problem as we’d be going through the big black hole of everythingness at Allen’s Lock!

Last nights quarry mooring

Today’s mission was to get as far as we felt we could manage. With one bag of coal on the roof and no NB Dusty until next week we’re needing another bag to keep us warm, so we need to reach Aynho in the next couple of days. We pushed off around 11am, still the emails kept coming about panto. I did my best to answer them as quickly as I could not knowing quite when the signal would vanish.

At Northbrook Lock a boat had just arrived above, but the chap waved us on, the lock more in our favour than his. It must have seemed odd us stopping quite a distance away for me to get off as the chap opened the bottom gate for us. Today I needed the boat to be stationary and close to the bank for me to step off, my legs having developed the wobblyness of one of those giraffe toys you used to get in your Christmas stocking. Even though I was well aware of how big a step there was my brain could not communicate this to my feet which reacted in the opposite way they needed to. Step/no step!

I walked up to the lock and explained to the chap who was very understanding and left me to close the bottom gate, he’d do the honours at the top end for us. I waited for Oleanna to rise before stepping back onboard, I don’t normally do ladders and today was most certainly not the day to start.

Dashwoods Lock, I think

Dashwoods Lock came into view, Muddy Slipper mooring below it was available. Did we want to stop? We needed to carry on, but I wasn’t sure for how much longer. Mick today was starting to suffer from the waterfall effects covid gives to your nose and I just really wanted to sit down in front of the TV and stove for a snooze, but that wouldn’t get us coal or me to work next week. There was however a possibility that we’d end up stopping deep within the big black hole of everythingness. I warned those who were still emailing me that my responses may not return for a day.

Hire boats agogo

After a short while the railway hugs the canal, not somewhere we’d choose to stop. Just about all the Oxfordshire Hire Boats were at home leaving a narrow channel to aim for through the base. There was a familiar named boat NB Perseus, Forged in Sheffield, another Finesse boat. No-one was at home.

Gradually as we approached Allen’s Lock we watched our phone signal drop away along with the internet, things hadn’t improved along this stretch. A boat had just come down the lock but closed the gate behind them, luckily for us a walker stopped and pushed the gate open for us, saving some energy.

New paddle gears

New lock gates here have a geared paddle on the bottom gates with brakes similar to those you find at Hillmorton Locks. I wonder how many of the rotten gates will be replaced this winter? We’ve only looked at stoppages on the Oxford that will affect us and not for one’s in the new year.


Thankfully we couldn’t stop even if we wanted to above Allen’s Lock as it was full. Then not a lot further on there was a skip boat and some dredging happening. One man sat on top of his digger scouping out large chunks of reeds which he then span round to deposit in the skip boat. After a couple more scoups he helped a tug move the skip away, giving us just enough room to pass them.

Stuck across the cut

Up ahead was where the dredgings were being off loaded. A bigger digger/crane was gouging out the sludge from a skip, a third skip and tug stretched right across the canal blocking it completely. The tug driver was doing his best to get the skip out of the way, pushing and pulling, adjusting the connections, pushing and pulling. In the end he had to disconnect from the skip completely and give it a damn good biff to get it of the bottom, if ever anywhere needed dredging!

Heyford Common Lock the last for the day

Heyford Common Lock sat filling itself up, leaks round the gate and from the cill. The bottom gate beam is still how it was last year, at least today I knew it would flex before I got any movement from it. This would however have to be our last lock of the day, energy levels were getting low even though we’d topped up with paracetamol an hour or so earlier.

It’s still here! Everything’s in order

We wound our way to Somerton Meadows hoping there’d be space for us and thankfully there was. We pulled in and kept ourselves to the end nearest where Tilly likes to climb the fencing and furthest away from other boats. Tilly headed off to do what she does whilst we had some lunch and a much needed sit down.

Around about 5pm there was a loud beeping. What was that shattering the peace? A boat was heading towards us, were we moored on a bend and someone felt they might hit us? We’ve moored here before and not had any problem! Then some shouting followed.

Two Finesse boats together

Hang on, this wasn’t someone with a problem, it was someone trying to get our attention. It was NB Perseus with Julie and Simon. Mick feeling rougher than me stayed inside by the stove whilst I headed out the back with Tilly to say hello. Standing on the bank I could keep my distance easier. A couple of months ago when we met up with NB Barbarella on the River Nene, Noni signed me up to a Whatsap group for ladies on Finesse boats. I believe Julie was the instigator of the group. We’ve had text message communication and a few comments on the group, but today we finally got to meet.

See you again

Have to say it pepped me up somewhat. A very jolly couple who moor at Cropredy, I’m sure our paths will cross again hopefully when we are feeling better. Very good chatting to you both.

As the evening progressed Mick’s waterfall nose increased in flow, mine subsiding. My head also started to feel a little bit clearer as if the clouds were starting to part over head. Here’s hoping so and that Mick follows the same track.

4 locks, 6.6 miles, 2 many emails, 7 fonts down 2 1, 1 black hole of nothingness passed through, 3 skips, 1 stuck, 2nd lady with Finesse, 2 giraffe legs, 3.5 hours shore leave, what will day 5 have in store for us.

Thank you to the crew of NB Hafren for your help today.

3 thoughts on “Giraffe Legs. 13th October

  1. Anonymous

    Good post Pip for someone feeling yuk! Best wishes Mick seems you were/are worse off.
    All caught up now!

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