Leap Frogging For Coal. 14th October

Somerton Meadows to Belchers Lift Bridge 189

With budget cuts will we get away with this substitution?

The giraffe legs were back this morning, a touch of vertigo maybe. Time to be careful rolling up the covers, stepping on and off the boat a thing I do daily but right now foot and ground coordination can be a little bit patchy.

They are black and white big really rather big!

The cows that go this way and then that way arrived after a tractor had taken them some breakfast. They aren’t shy, the grass must have been extra tasty up by the boat, but they left the ropes and paintwork alone which is all you can ask for whilst mooring alongside their field.

Two ahead

Two Anglo Welsh boats came past in convoy, very slowly, we pulled out behind them an orderly queue already formed for Somerton Deep Lock. It turns out that the boats were being moved to Tardebigge, one with an oil leak the other we’d seen yesterday with the engine boards up. There had been a problem with the propellor, it had fallen off! The chaps now have five days to get to their destination.

Somerton Deep

We waited in line. By now drizzle had been falling for sometime. Mick had changed his trousers for waterproof ones, a wise move. A boat came down between the hire boats and another boat winded above the lock, so it was our turn to empty the big deep lock. I was glad this would be the only lock today as it tends to be heavy and hard work.

Pretty practical brickwork

The bottom paddles wound easily, it was just the walk over the bottom gate with giraffe legs that got me. The gate opened, Mick brought Oleanna in, then it was time to close the gate. This big single bottom gate is heavy, but once you get in going, don’t let it stop, it’s not too bad. Handy places to put your feet on little walls by the herringbone path help greatly and waiting for Oleanna to be taken out of gear saves an awful lot of huffing and puffing.

The top paddles are stiff to get going. Adjusting where you start with your windlass to give more leverage helps a lot, then they wind up dead easy. I may have covid but Somerton Deep didn’t beat me today.


Chisnell Lift Bridge was open and a short distance beyond was NB Perseus on a mooring commanding the views. We bipped our horn and two heads popped out from the hatch. As Mick hadn’t met Julie and Simon yesterday there was plenty to chat about. It was time to move on when a boat appeared from ahead, we’d no doubt see them later as they were heading a bit further than us today.

Coal and water sorted

Aynho Wharf was our next port of call. Fill with water and to buy some coal. We set the tap running then Mick popped a mask on to find the lady in the shop. 40kg of Excel now on the roof we can keep warm without worrying. We’ve placed an order with NB Dusty next week that will bring our coal reserves up to normal winter cruising levels.

I don’t know how Tilly Too got there! Maybe she jumped!!

We pootled on a short distance to get away from the road and moored up. Tilly was given nearly four hours and a warning to not come back too wet. Last time we moored here she returned far too soggy for it to have just been from damp grass!

NB Perseus bipped their horn as they arrived to leap frog us, another chat at the stern of the boats was had before they pushed off again, cruising in sunshine! We’d obviously followed the wrong weather forecast!

Lists of things needed next week were emailed through to Chippy. A possible extra pair of painting hands has responded, I don’t know if the producer thought they would be coming on work experience, but they have a daily rate which is bigger than mine, mine being a discounted mates rate!

I like these Oxford fences

A pork stew and jackets was put on to cook, the potatoes wrapped in two layers of foil and popped alongside the coals in the fire box of the stove. Mick said the stew was tasty, but I wasn’t so sure, it seemed bland. Maybe he was just being nice, or maybe my taste buds are being affected. Mick did offer me a taste from his plate of stew, but I knew that wouldn’t make a difference! He was just trying to be funny.

This evening the second box of tissues was emptied, Mick has less of a waterfall nose and mine has just about dried up, it’s just a shame about the vertigo!

1 lock, 3.15 miles, 40kg coal, 1 full water tank, 1 load washing, 2 wobbly legs, 2 leapfrogs, 1 damp morning, 1 sunny afternoon, 1 happy cat, 1 Tilly Too back in the window.

Thank you to the lady a Aynho Wharf today for her help.

Thank you for all the messages of concern and to Dave for offering to deliver us some coal.