Fridge Fusion 26th July

Thrupp visitor Mooring to Somerton Meadows

Bye bye Thrupp until next time

Boats were already on the move, mostly hire boats. We pushed out, waving to Graeme. I walked up to the bridge to do the honours with the key of power. All clear I lifted the decking and Mick brought Oleanna through, a short distance behind was another boat, so I waited to let them through too, this took quite a while, the chap offering to close the bridge so that I could get back on Oleanna. I declined as it would be quicker for him to just get out of the way, there was waiting traffic!

The services were filled with hire boats topping up with water and selecting books from the book exchange. The boat that had just come through the bridge had got himself stuck between Oleanna and the corner, I gave their bow a big push and they were off again, very slowly in front of us. We don’t have a problem with tick over past moored boats but when their speed didn’t increase when we’d passed everyone today suddenly felt like it would be a very very long day!

One bridge, too many boats

We trundled along behind, maybe the lift bridge would be down and they’d let us pass. No. This is another lift bridge that looks like a hydraulic mechanism is on the cards. They passed through the bridge but didn’t warn a boat that we were directly behind them, the bridge obscuring us from the chaps view until the last minute. We made sure he knew the way ahead was now clear. Then the boat aheads dog took a dive into the canal, it had tried to follow it’s owner down the gunnel then couldn’t turn round.

At Shipton Weir Lock I walked up to help as the couple sorted their dog out. The lady and dog were first timers, the chap used to have a boat twenty years ago. Mick asked if it was possible for us to leapfrog them as we’d quite a distance to travel today, thankfully they were fine about it. As we rose in the lock a queue formed below. The chap from the boat we’d been following insisted on crossing the bottom gate, which doesn’t have a walkway for the simple reason that there is a very good bridge over it! I was glad to be ahead of them as today I was likely to get annoyed with such things and shout at the man.

Bakers Lock was occupied with a hire boat, a family of four. I asked the usual question, ‘Is it your first narrowboat holiday?’ The answer was polite but honest, ‘Yes and it will be our last’. The kids weren’t sleeping, at the locks there were things to do, but they were hard work etc. Boating simply wasn’t for them, it doesn’t suit everyone.

Lesser spotted strimmer

Above the lock the towpath was being strimmed. The moored boats getting a spraying of cut grass. One of the chaps did walk back with a leaf blower to give them a clean.

The hire boat was returning to base a couple of days early. At each lock we’d catch them up, have a chat and help them. By their last lock, Dashwoods, we were on first name terms and I knew that the youngest had started to learn French, yesterday.

At Pigeon’s Lock there was a queue, we had to tread water as the lock landing was occupied, a boat was coming down. Soon there was space and we moved up. The next boat into the lock took their time. From below I could see that there was a problem with the bottom gate, water gushing around it. I walked up and suggested that a couple of people might be needed on the top gate to open it before the pound above lost all it’s water that was flowing straight through the lock.

I so love Rosie

Next up was the hire boat and there was chance to see what the problem was at the bottom gate. Where the bottom gate meets the stone stop ( not sure of the technical terms) there is usually a large timber which helps to create a reasonable seal. The top couple of feet of this timber had rotted away, leaving a big bolt holding only air and allowing the water in the lock to rush around the end of the gate. Was there a notice about this a little while ago?

Hope you found something more appealing to do for the rest of your holiday.

Lunch was had on the move after Dashwoods Lock. The hire boat had pulled in at the water point just before the bridge at Heyford, no-one was to be seen. We waved anyway as I’d promised the girls. Hope they found a nice hotel for their last couple of nights and that they got to go swimming.

A long pause before I could raise Mill Lift Bridge, so many walkers! Just as we were through another boat approached, Mick waved them on, so I waited before lowering the bridge, confusing a dog walker who wondered why I was just by the buttons and wasn’t closing it.

ALAN!‘s Lock gave me the chance to take a photo of the paddle gear and the break that I’d mentioned a few weeks ago, similar to that at Hillmorton.

At Heyford Common Lock there was a hire boat full of cousins and teddy bears. Mums and Aunties shouting to the young crew to keep their arms in as they descended the lock. They’d had a great few days and the weather had been good too. They were heading back towards base and not worried about the rain this evening as they’d be tucked up. I however jinxed this by mentioning that rain was forecast for 4pm. By the time we’d risen up the lock it was 3:50pm and drops of rain hit the cut. Waterproofs time.

Would we be lucky, would Somerton Meadows have space for us. Rounding the last bend we could see our usual spot was available, in fact there was only one boat along the first stretch. We pulled in as another boat pulled in from the opposite direction. Tilly was given todays time frame and off she went into the sideways trees, she likes it here.

See you Joan

Too late to start some work I looked into what I could make with the spring roll wrappers and left over roast chicken. There were various other things that needed eating up, beetroot and some Jersey Royals, these were set steaming whilst I chopped up a carrot that had seen better days and some white cabbage. Garlic and fresh ginger. Roast chicken was soaked in soy sauce, maple syrup and a bit of lemon juice. This was all cooked up a touch then it was time to see what to do with the spring roll wrappers.

Each wrapper required soaking in hot water for about 20 seconds to soften it up, then blotted dry. I soon discovered that I needed to work quickly as they stuck to things if I took my time. Filling in and wrapped up, the ricey wrapper sticking itself together nicely. I now had a choice, steam them or fry them. I don’t deep fry anything, but decided to shallow fry them to see how crispy they got and hoping they’d stop looking like condoms!

Well the outcome was some very nice chicken rolls, golden brown and hot. The accompanying potato salad and beetroot strange bedfellows, well that’s what you get with a fridge fusion tea.

7 locks, 11 miles, 2 lift bridges, 2 boats, 2 cars, 5 humans, 2 dogs, 1 holiday cut short, 20 years and no sense, 4pm rain, 1 big teddy crew, 1 red moggy, 2 hours of cat shore leave, 1 interesting meal.