|This Month's Totals and Average
Another bright but cloudy morning, a little cooler than yesterday. On the move slightly later today, heading round to Allen's Lock and on to Heyford Common Lock. There then followed the longer space to Somerton Deep Lock. The slight breeze had eased and the temperature had come up a bit. Arriving at Aynho, we again moored at the same spot as we had on the way south, just south of Bridge 190.
Walked round to the wharf for lunch from the Brew Box Coffee Shop - fantastic bacon rolls (food so good they had run out of stock by just after lunch) - keep it up girls, we WILL be stopping next time we are in the vicinity .
Back on "Paws", we had a lazy afternoon. Sun came out.
A brighter morning greeted us today. Walked round to Ann's for morning cuppie and to collect mail.
On return to "Paws", let go and continued northwards. Initially came the short run to Shipton Weir Lock, then the section on the River Cherwell, leaving at Baker's Lock. Both these locks have poorly maintained paddle-gear and heavy gates due leakage. Onwards, with lunch on the move, through Pigeon and Northbrook Locks, arriving mid-afternoon at Dashwood Lock (see photo page for more info) . After ascending, we continued round to Lower Heyford and moored (again) exactly where we were on the run south.
It remained mostly bright for the whole day, with the sun actually getting through for a short period late afternoon. A very quiet day by way of traffic.
Last day on the Thames! After more heavy rain overnight, today started dull and damp. Took our time getting up, and dealt with services before departure mid-morning. Said goodbye to Nik as we descended Eynsham Lock, then headed round to the Duke's Cut and descended the lock onto the Oxford Canal. Turning left, we started to retrace our steps back up the hill for Napton and Braunston. Duke's Lock first, then Kidlington Green and Roundham Locks brought us back to Thrupp where we moored in exactly the same place as on our journey south. The forecast rain never materialised.
Latest update from CRT on Dashwood Lock is that they are still working on it, but they are providing restricted (assisted) operating hours 10:00-12:00 & 14:00-16:00. Our passage 'should' be tomorrow.
After heavy rain just before breakfast, we rose to a windy and damp start to the day. Had a word with the lockie and confirmed we were OK to stay on the mooring a second night. Usual e-visit to All Saints in Doncaster, and 'coffee' afterwards which included John & Jane in Fazeley. Checked email after lunch to find a closure notice for Dashwood Lock (just north of Thrupp. This was the lock which had been closed when we were travelling south, and now had a broken balance-beam. We will have a delay there over the next few days.
News from Italy covered the First Holy Communion of our grand-niece(?), Giulia (Nick's sister's daughter). Best wishes to her and her family.
Another bright morning, with the suggestion of improvement later. Pat walked round to the baker's and greengrocer's for fresh produce, before we got on the move. Let go mid=morning and headed north again, through the narrow section north of Sheepwash Channel, then out into Port Meadow. A large number of sculls and their attendant "sheepdogs", eyes required in all directions. Ascended Godstow and King's Locks, and passed the entrance to the Duke's Cut, leaving the sculls behind. We did see the lockie's unusual 'pet' hiding in the bushes at King's Lock. Continued round to Eynsham Lock where we found that there was a boat on the upper mooring. The relief lockie (Nik was on weekend off) believed they hadn't paid for a second night, so asked them to move on. We waited till they cleared the berth, then did a boat-shuffle through the lock with one who was wanting the berth we had waited on. Everyone happy in the long term. The day remained bright and sunny.
A "call of nature" had us up earlier than intended but, after the overnight rain, it was a cloudy but bright morning. Let go and continued northwards, up through Sandford, Iffley and Osney Locks to the moorings at East Street. An uneventful morning.
Moored up at East Street for lunch then walked into town for shopping and to collect a parcel. Mostly bright, with sunny spells, but occasional periods where it looked/felt like rain (but it never did).
An overcast but bright morning greeted us today. On the move promptly for what we expected to be a long day. Let go and ascended Goring Lock then continued the return journey northwards. Cleeve Lock rapidly followed and we made good time onwards through Wallingford (just as busy as when we came south). Next came Benson and Day's Locks. Clifton and Culham Locks saw us to the outskirts of Abingdon.
A good day for wildlife, with 3 kingfishers over the day, several red kites (including 6 at the same time, with what we suspect were fledglings), kestrel, terns, grey wagtails, and cormorants.
Finally ascending Abingdon Lock (and saying goodbye to Frank), we moored at the services point for the usual items, then moved forward for the night.
Whilst staying mostly cloudy, the weather was changable between near-rain and sun just about getting through. The sun finally won and the day closed with higher cloud and sunny spells.
Lovely sunny morning. On the move promptly to start the return trip to Oxford. Started by taking the scenic tour round the back of Fry's Island before joining the main channel. Made good time against the current, the increased depth and width over a canal allowing better speed for the same revs to balance the current. Saw a kingfisher as we passed Poplar Island, and noted that the letter-box at Tilehurst Station had been repainted (we first saw it in 2017). We continued and ascended Mapledurham Lock, self-service today. We continued on past Pangbourne Meadows. Ascended Whitchurch Lock and continued again, past Beale Park, having lunch on the move. Arriving at Goring Lock, we moored up for the day, to the news that there was a hydraulic fault and the lock was actually closed (we hope they have it fixed by tomorrow).
Very peaceful night. Rain had cleared overnight and day dawned dull but fair. Spent the morning in town having a walk round the shops. Returned to "Paws" for lunch. Pat decided that we would stay for another night - she would catch up on the "ironing" (still not worked out what that is ). Cloudy patches and sunny spells all day, no rain.
Dull morning with light drizzle. Let go, heading for the Caversham/Reading area. Descended Whitchurch Lock and passed Pangbourne Meadows, then descended Mapledurham Lock into the Reading area. Sighted a lot of red kites, one gliding over us at only about 20 feet. Also sighted a few great crested grebes. Descended Caversham Lock and moored adjacent to Tesco for a bite of lunch, then Pat went shopping (Tesco are only permitting shopping by individuals unless a carer is required or that individual has children present).
When ready, we let go again (mostly due to the £10 charge for mooring here, despite poor provisions). Returned up Caversham Lock and moored on Christchurch Meadows.
The morning drizzle alternated between almost fair and moderate rain for the whole day.
A damp, drizzly day. Decided to stay put. Usual e-visit to All Saints, Doncaster. We expect to move to Caversham/Reading tomorrow, then start our journey back to Oxford. A jay landed on the path by us, then flew into the trees.
Up slightly early, to a dull, cool, damp-feeling morning. Once ready, we moved forward to the services berth, and topped up the water and cleared the loo again, before moving off.
Let go with the intention of going to Wallingford. Descended Abingdon Lock and continued past the old junction with the Wilts & Berks Canal, then the intended new junction under the restoration project. The river widens out again after the suburbs of Abingdon, and we descended Culham Lock, then Clifton Lock. There is then a longer stretch until Day's then Benson Locks. The cuts at all these locks tend to be narrower and more like tree-lined canal. Saw a kingfihr as we cleared Day's Lock. There is then a short stretch to Wallingford, where we hoped to moor. Unfortunately, it was very busy, with no spaces long enough for "Paws", so a hurried consultation with our maps suggested Goring. A 1¼ hour trip brought us to Cleeve Lock, then a further 15 mins to Goring Lock. We moored for the night just below the lock.
We took a short walk (to stretch legs) up to the convenience store in town for fresh supplies, then tucked up for the night.
Very wet overnight, temperatures came down to reasonable levels. Quite cool getting up in the morning, and still raining. Elected to stay here for the day (the lockie had said it was OK when we spoke yesterday). Generally pottered with a few odd chores. Yesteray's problem with Google Maps had cleared so all up to date again.
The rain eased to almost nothing after lunch, but came on again for a short time at dinnertime, then cleared for the remainder of the night.
The forecast rain arrived on time, just after midnight, but didn't last long. It was dry again by breakfast time, although cooler and cloudy. We moved off and headed round to Osney Lock to find a different lockie on duty. We descended and headed south along the narrower corridor towards Christchurch Meadow. The river then opens out as it passes the meadows, college recreation grounds and rowing clubs. Iffley Lock marks the end of Oxford proper, while the river continues through the green-belt of nature parks and common land. Descended Sandford Lock and continued to Abingdon Lock where we stopped for services. We decided that we would moor at the lock moorings rather than going down to the meadows, so reversed back the 100 yards and moored up.
After lunch, we went for a walk into Abingdon, Pat getting the buttons she needed and a present of wool for using for charity (Mason's take donations of wool and pass to knitters who knit for children's charities). Showers of light drizzle came through during the late afternoon, but the mugginess didn't clear. By evening, the rain had increased.
Had problems with Google MyMaps today so some maps not updated fully. Hopefully it will clear quickly.
A reasonably cool night after yesterday evening's heat. Once ready, we walked up to the centre of town for a look round the shops. A cool start, but it got hot quickly. Finished our shopping at Sainsbury for provisions, then returned to "Paws" for lunch.
After lunch, with still no sign of my parcel, we committed to another night. At 13:30 I got the text but we agreed it was still too late to move on. I headed off to collect the parcel, but it was during the lockie's lunchbreak so nobody there. On the way back, at 14:40, there was still nobody there so I couldn't pay for our second night. Back at "Paws", I checked and fitted the parts to the loo, so all fully servicable again.
After a much cooler, cloudy night, we rose to another sunny morning. We contacted the lockie (Nik - the same gentleman who had been on last time we were through this way), paid up our licence fee for our 2-week cruise, then ascended the lock for water.
After watering, we winded "Paws" and descended the lock again. Nik had news that there was an emergency "stoppage" at Osney Bridge to repair an overhead waterpipe, and that we might not get to East Street today. We returned to the Duke's Cut Junction, bearing right into King's Lock. As we descended, the lockie advised that the work had been put on a short temporary hold and that we would be allowed through. There then follows a short winding section round Pixie Mead - very picturesque - before arriving at Godstow Lock beside the ruined abbey . Leaving Godstow, we passed through the Port Meadows - a large area of common ground which is popular for picnics, bathing etc with the locals. There was also a large number of people on the west bank, and sculls out training. At the southern end of the meadows, the river narrows into a cut, trees lining both sides providing a sheltered avenue down to the junction with the Sheepwash Channel (the other connection, through Isis Lock, with the Oxford Canal). We continued towards Osney.
Approaching the bridge, we saw that the workboat was still in place so we slowed up to await instructions. They waved us through the tight squeeze between them and the bridge side so we inched through. We immediately pulled over to what appeared to be the only mooring. Within a couple of minutes, the workboat had moved over and work had stopped!
After lunch, Pat went for a walk for emergency provisions (rather than go up to town). My parcel had not yet arrived so that may have to be collected tomorrow morning before moving on. When Pat returned, I walked to the lock to record our mooring.
As planned (for a change) we were up early and on the move for 08:00 on the last leg of the Oxford canal. After passing through the industrial back-yards of Kidlington, we came to Roundham Lock then more affluent housing and Kidlington Green Lock, before returning to rural scenery. Further down, we came to Duke's Lock. This is where the Duke's Cut turns off for connection to the River Thames (and our direction of travel). Unfortunately, there was towpath work being carried out and Pat could not get round to the next lock. I had to reverse back to pick her up for the corner, but got something wrapped round the prop. With her aboard, we limped round into the stop-lock and ascended, mooring on the lock-landing to clear the prop (a woven-plastic bag from the towpath works). On the move again through the overgrown narrow tree-tunneled section of the Duke's Cut, we emerged into the open countryside bordering the Thames. Heard a cuckoo singing in a tree. After the Cut, we turned right, heading upstream on the Thames till we reached Eynsham Lock.
We pulled over, moored on the lower moorings, and checked in with the lock-keeper. He gave us the local information and said he was happy for us to stay where we were and he would do the paperwork tomorrow. Dealt with a full loo cassette, then had lunch and settled in for a quiet afternoon under a tree. There were a number of young people over by the weir, swimming and sunbathing. By evening, the sky had clouded over and it had become cooler.
Not a cloud in the sky as we got up this morning - prospects for a very hot day. Usual Sunday morning e-visit to All Saints for the service, but the link for coffee after the service wasn't working for us today.
After lunch, we pulled the anchor (required for "real" river work) out of the forward hatch and laid it out for instant deployment. Pat then decided that, due to the heat today, we would stay an extra night in the shade and get an early start in the morning. Quiet remainder to the afternoon. Met Office warning received for thunderstorms in our general area.
Up and on the move promptly today, once again continuing the descent into Oxford. Within 5 minutes, we had come to the second lift-bridge we have had to work (the first being in Banbury). Whilst the Banbury one is manual, this one is electric - push a button and it goes up. About an hour later comes Dashwood Lock - this is the one which had been closed due to a failure. CRT have apparently made a "running repair" to (hopefully) keep it operational for the summer, and will place a full closure on during the winter maintenance season to do a proper job. The trees are a bit closer to the canalside today, giving a bit more shade. Spotted a red kite circling over the fields. Northbrook and Pigeon Locks come next, then Baker's Lock onto a second river section. Unfortunately, a large ball of vegetation had become jammed in the bottom gate and a queue had formed uphill while the local CRT team cleared it. We were held up by about 10 minutes. The river section (a proper one this time, where the canal utilises the course of the river) is very scenic. Shipton Weir Lock took us back off the river, and we were joined by a group of canoeists.
Taking shifts on the tiller for lunch, we eventually arrived in Thrupp and decided to stop for the day. We found a mooring just before the "Jolly Boatman" pub, in the shade.
After a call from daughter from Italy, we rang Ann, a BCF member who lives locally, and asked if she would like to join us for afternoon tea. Lovely afternoon chatting.
All our best wishes to the BCF/Canal Ministies team at Water Eaton (near Milton Keynes) as they have their outreach week.
Slept poorly due to train noise. Wind had risen quite a bit by morning. Slow start, attempting to locate spares for a loo cassette - part available through Amazon to a "real" street address (we wait at Aynho 5 days), or through e-Bay to an Argos (long walk in Oxford or Abingdon), or wait until we return to Braunston and spend 3-times the money on a replacement full cassette - oh the joys of boating. More research needed.
Gave up (temporarily) at 09:30 and reversed back to the Wharf for fuel, gas and loo. On the move properly, we continued the descent towards Oxford. Cooler today with the cloud cover, but very pleasant. Descended Somerton Deep Lock and headed on towards Heyford Common Lock, as the sun finally crept through. Continued down through Heyford Common and Allen's Locks as the heat grew. Scenery similar to recent days - passing along a leafy corridor, although the trees gave little shelter. Just before Mill Lift Bridge at Lower Heyford we decided it was lunch time and pulled over under a tree for a bite to eat.
After lunch, we succumbed to the cool shade under the tree and decided to stay put for the day. Pat did some ironing (whatever that is ) while I set to more research into the spare part (although hampered by poor internet connection). A lot less traffic today.
We had hoped to get away early, but ended up sleeping in. On the move just before 09:00 and moved through the lift-bridge to the water point. After watering, we descended Banbury Lock and continued round to Samuelson Bridge 168 (Tramway Road) - this is the best mooring for access to Morrisons. Had a problem with their new e-card system in that, once inside the shop, there is no phone connection to the outside world therefore it is impossible to activate one's offers in-shop. The till we went to had no scanner for their new e-card - good job we still have our old plastic one! The Customer Service desk didn't appear interested when I complained.
Finally on the move for the day, we continued our decent towards Oxford. Here, the canal is mostly bounded by trees and bushes, making a leafy avenue. Through any gaps, the sight is of the undulating farmlands. Grant's and Kings Sutton Locks are the next two, then Nell Bridge and Aynho Locks on/off one of the river sections (the canal actually only crosses the river here, with level maintaind by a weir). All these four locks have very stiff paddles. We moored just south of Aynho Bridge 190.
I walked back to the wharf to check on fuel/gas availability ready for tomorrow.
After a cooler start to the day, with a slightly stronger breeze, the day turned muggy and uncomfortable.
With the stoppage at Dashwood Lock now becoming a problem, we decided that this would be the better holding-place for an extra 24 hours. CRT say they will update later today so further decisions on continuing, further holding, or aborting the Thames completely will be made later, or tomorrow.
Spent the day on routine chores and e-paperwork. Two boats went past so fast they managed to shear the welded mooring ring fixed to the pilings. Apart from that bit of excitement, a quiet day.
Notice update from CRT - job at Dashwood Lock complete, removing equipment and clearing up tomorrow, lock open Friday. We will move off tomorrow, reverting to plan.
On the move promptly, and descended Cropredy Lock. Pulled in on the right at the services berth. We ended up sticking out half a boat-length as the quay is so short - without turning the boat round to put the bow nearest the tap, the stern was moored, and a line run from the cabin-top, with the hose run out through the side doors! The water at the elsan point was very slow.
Once all the 'necessaries' were complete, we moved off again. Clearing Cropredy, we descended Slat Mill, Little Bourton and Hardwick Locks. Paddles were very stiff (some broken) on these locks and some of the gates a bit heavy - a bit of maintenance wouldn't go amiss. Entering Banbury from the north, we headed for Castle Quay but it looked busy so pulled up short and moored opposite Sovereign Wharf just before Cherwell Drive bridge.
After a lazy lunch, we went out for a walk through the Castle Quay retail area and out into the nearest part of the town, before returning for afternoon cuppie. Late evening "ghetto-blasters" in the park next door were a little obtrusive but not drastic - shame locals don't reciprocate the courtesy of peace in "residential" areas.
Up around normal time, and on the move by 09:30. Headed round the corner to Claydon Top Lock, and descended the flight (of 5). Had a chat with the duty CRT Volunteer, again running water down. There was a steady stream of boats following us. Continued on down through the next 3 locks, slightly more spaced out than the flight (Elkington, Varney's, and Broadmoor). Approaching Cropredy Lock, on the northern side of the town, we found a queue so made a quick decision to moor up for the afternoon and use the services tomorrow. Lunch aboard.
Took a walk along to the Bridge Stores for provisions in the afternoon.
Currently keeping an eye on a closure further south - Dashwood Lock has damage to the cill and top gate. We will keep going for the moment but, if repairs are going to be protracted, it may mean we have to rethink our itinerary.
Forecast for today is drizzle for the morning, then fair for the afternoon, turning to rain later. We decided to stay put for the day. Dropped in on our friends at All Saints Church, Doncaster for church and coffee as usual. Couple of heavy showers in the morning.
Had lunch, then, as the weather looked reasonable, I walked down the flight, taking my windlass in case any boats were on the move. Had a chat with the CRT Volunteer, out running water down as the lower pounds were low. Assisted two boats down and one boat up before returning to "Paws" for afternoon coffee. It had turned into a lovely afternoon, with no rain at all for the remainder of the day.
As arranged by text last night, we had a Hangouts Meeting with Fhi in Italy first thing. She & Nick had been up in Rome on business and had free time so visited the old port of Ostia. This meeting was to tell us about the day and show piccies - they obviously had a great time .
After we had parted company, we got ready to move off and continued along the summit pound, weaving our way back and forth. Lunch on the move. Unfortunately, shortly after we had started, we came up behind a very slow hireboat, and were back to tickover for most of the time (sometimes actually coasting!). This continued for nearly 2 hours, so we were well behind our expected arrival time (not that there was a rush).
Spotted our first kingfisher of the year just before mooring. Moored up just before Bridge 144 above Claydon Locks (about an hour late).
A duller day as forecast. We had planned with this in mind, and were up earlier than usual to get on the move to work locks before any possible heat got into the day. On the move by 08:30 and headed round to the bottom of the Napton flight (9 locks). Started the ascent, but it was slow due to a single-handing first-timer who had only had her boat for 5 days. Quite a bit of traffic in both directions. The first six locks are close together, with longer spaces between the last three. There was a brief shower of very light drizzle as we ascended the top lock. We continued along the twisting summit pound through Marston Doles for about 45 mins looking for a place to stop, eventually mooring up near Priors Hardwick, at a spot we have used in the past.
Lunch once we were all secure, during which we had another brief shower. Sun eventually came out late afternoon.
The rain cleared overnight, and the day dawned with a light cloud-cover. Fitted the replacement horn - went in easier than I thought it would. Had another chat with Derek & Ann. Early lunch then we both let go.
After winding, we returned towards the junction, us with the intention of stopping at the service point half-way through the village. Unfortunately, a fault had developed and it was no longer operational. We continued to the junction and headed back up the Oxford Canal arm to the other service point. Derek & Ann had also stopped at this service point and then continued northwards. We reversed back to the junction and took the left fork for Napton and Oxford.
This section of the Oxford Canal was widened as a result of pressure from the Grand Union company to form part of their wide-beam route from London to Birmingham. It never actually came under Grand Union control, however. After skirting the villages of Wolfhamcote, Flecknoe and Lower Shuckborough, we veered left at Napton Junction (Wigram's Turn) onto the southern section of the Oxford Canal. Once more it runs through a pastoral farming landscape, circumnavigating the village of Napton-on-the-Hill. It is very twisted (some of the twists had been taken out in the straightening exercise, but it still wanders!). We moored just before the bottom lock, with the intention of attacking it tomorrow.
Once moored, we found that we had no television and no phone signal. Stats and diary will be delayed until we stop tomorrow.
Baking hot again today, glad we're moored under a tree. Pat took a walk up to the village for supplies at the butcher, then I went to the chandlery at botoom lock, only to find it is now an art studio. Helped a hireboat up their first-ever lock, then returned to "Paws".
Collected a takeaway from the café-boat "Gongoozler's Rest" and ate aboard in the shade.
After lunch, I took a walk to Midland Chandlers for a replacement horn. Waved to John & Gill as they passed on their way to the locks. Mid-afternoon, "Ursinity" pulled in ahead of us, and Derek & Ann came aboard for tea/coffee.
After another hot day, we got light rain around dinnertime.
During a "call of nature" overnight, Pat saw a fox on the grass area opposite our mooring. Once breakfast over, Pat took a walk to the local Tesco for fresh produce, while I got the boat ready. After a chat with other boaters, we let go around 10:30 on another sunny morning.
Continued generally southeast, initially round to Hillmorton and ascended the three locks. These locks are actually set in parallel pairs to help speed passage (twice the number of boats in the same time) - one picks whichever in a pair is first available. There seemed to be a number of boats in a hurry today, rapidly catching us up then disappearing after we had let them pass.
The canal then continues through the pastoral farmland south to Braunston village. It looked very busy when we arrived, but we were directed to a space on the Grand Union fork where a boater had recently vacated. Moored up just after 15:00. Walked back to visit John & Gill aboard "Faithful", whom we'd seen as we passed. They are Waterways Chaplains and BCF members , headed for the mission/retreat at Water Eaton (Milton Keynes) later in the month. Great to catch up with them over tea/coffee.
Returned to "Paws" for dinner and a quiet evening.