Smiles Everywhere. 25th July

Aristotle Bridge to Thrupp visitor mooring.

A cuppa in bed was allowed before we walked up to the deli. The cabinet by the front door is filled with wonderful looking pastries and Persian dishes. Sadly none of the yummy looking things would agree with me, so I just dreamt of filo pastry filled with cheese spinach and spices. We looked around the rest of the shop which does sell gluten free produce, however the mark up is really quite something, £6 for a box of cereal! Yesterday Mick had come for a look and spotted some spring roll wraps which were made from tapioca and rice flour. He considered buying me a pack but wasn’t sure about them. I decided I’d see what they were like, knowing they’d not be like tortilla wraps. The dishes in the freezer also looked appealing, but we’ve enough food on board right now without adding to it. We made our polite purchase and headed back to Oleanna.

I’ve missed seeing this boat

A pootle got us to the services, we trod water and waited to pull in then emptied the yellow water and topped up on fresh water. Tilly got a clean pooh box which she was desperate for! Then we carried on past the line of interesting boats on the Agenda 21 moorings to Wolvercote Lock. Here a single hander was just finishing going up, I closed up after him and set the lock ready for us.

I unlocked Perry’s Lift Bridge remembering that it so wants to lift itself, so I quickly walked across it letting it do it’s thing behind me. I then sat on the beam. There was a chap a short distance along the track mixing something on the floor. He walked up and sat on the other beam opposite me. He made some remark about Huel drinks, that was what he’d just been mixing. He then waved to Mick saying he was just helping. With Oleanna safely through the bridge I stood up, the chap didn’t. I asked him to stand so that I could cross the bridge, he stayed seated. His comment was something to do with the bridge being dangerous and he was waiting for me to walk back over it before he stood up!? Well it took some persuasion, but eventually he stood up. The bridge stayed put. ‘Isn’t your husband coming to help you?’ I replied that he wasn’t needed as I bent down to encourage the beam to lift and close the bridge sufficiently for me to add my weight to it for it to then be locked closed again. It was all a touch odd, the chap continued talking to me as I walked away, but I needed to catch up with the boat so politely made my way.

Picnic anyone

Wolvercote Lift Bridge is still not there. Pipes coming up from a newish concrete base suggest it may end up having a hydraulic mechanism fitted. But for now the bridge deck sits under the A34 with a picnic bench sat on top of it.

I walked on to Wolvercote Junction. Here the single hander was waiting his turn, a boat was trying to get itself off the bottom and another boat sat in Duke’s Cut Lock waiting for the water to empty. Mick pulled in behind the single hander and I helped him up. There was time for chats about where we were both heading. He’s gradually aiming for the Macclesfield to spend the winter up there. We’d really enjoyed our 2016 winter on the summit pound.

Wanting to stop for lunch we were out of luck for a mooring below Kidlington Green Lock so carried on up it. I did a double take as I walked up. The yellow bag that had been over the off side bottom paddle had been removed, now back in working order. But the beam had been sawn off and replaced with one of C&RT’s improvised beams, big chunks of timber bolted together. This hadn’t been like this three weeks ago. Had there been notices about it whilst we’d been on the Thames? I had a vague memory of one.

Frankie and Ghost, Shadow was elsewhere

Up we rose and looked for a mooring. There was a gap ahead in front of three boats, one of which had it’s back doors open. As we approached slowly I called out ‘Hello!’ Out of the side hatch came the slightly puzzled face of Frankie, the puzzlement soon turned into a big Italian smile. There was time for us to have a good chat and catch up, Ghost came out to check on us, you could tell she was doing calculations to hop across to join us. I’m so glad we got to meet up this time.

Lunch was had and just as we were about to push off again a blue boat was pulling alongside us. Our turn to pop our heads out to see who it was. Graeme on NB Misty Blue. He pulled alongside and we had a bit of a chat, but boats appeared from both directions cutting our time short. We’d planned on heading through Thrupp today, but now if there was space we’d stop and meet Graeme for a pint.

There was also a rendez vous planned with NB Dusty the South Oxford coal boat. Recently Jock and Katy have sold up and the new chap onboard is Bob working Dusty for Juels Fuels. It was guaranteed that we’d meet him mid channel. The boats were tied together and drifted a touch as we filled up with diesel. Bob used to have a boat on the South Oxford about ten years ago, this was his first run down to Oxford since he’d taken over Dusty, he was surprised that he still knew quite a few people. 87 litres at £1.03. Thank you Bob.

We were surprised when we arrived at the two day moorings that there was still a space for us at 4:30pm. The three boats that had been ahead of us were all lined up one after the other in order of arrival. I needed to do some work before heading to the pub, so knuckled down.

Mick, Pip and Graeme after a few drinks

We had a very pleasant evening with Graeme at The Boat. Exchanging our cruising tales from the last couple of years and where we planned on heading next. He’d recently been on the St Pancras Cruising Club cruise to the Thames Barrier and then back upstream to Teddington. So very glad we bumped into him again and had chance for a proper catch up. The man just doesn’t stop smiling!

Food envy!

4 locks, 5.7 miles, 4 lift bridges, 1 left open, 1 a picnic bench, 1 with a weirdo, 87 litres, 1 full water tank, 1 empty wee tank, 1 clean litter box, 2 smiling boaters met, 1 coloured storyboard, 3 glasses wine, 1 mediocre burger, 1 mediocre gammon, 1 very yummy looking liver and bacon.