Sunday 2nd August – Day 55
After waiting for a suitable moment, we cast off this morning following a passing hire-boat, we were travelling backwards through the lift bridge which the hire-boat crew were happy to keep open for us; they were less happy when two more boats came through, but this is the nature of canal boating, anyway, you can’t remove your key from the mechanism until the bridge has been lowered.
The reason for our bizarre behaviour was to save a 4-hour journey to Dukes Cut and back just to turn around. We had intended to call and see bank-dwelling friends, Phil & Bryony, at Kidlington but they were away on holiday! So after negotiating the bridge, we turned at the winding hole (turning point) and pulled onto the wharf where we replenished our water tank.
By 10 am we were off, retracing our route, there was a queue at Shipton Weir Lock and we were helped by the crew of the following boat who we met at every lock. Up the River Cherwell through Bakers Lock, past the Rock of Gibraltar Pub, Kidlington Quarry (where the moorings were as full as they had been empty on the way down) Northbrook & Dashwood’s Locks and we were at Heyford.
A mooring with clear views across the fields was free, TV reception good and we just about had phone & internet on O2 but not EE network.
A quick message to our friend Nicky, who lives opposite and she came around bearing cake made by her daughter, she had spotted our arrival already.
It was good to see her although Mike was ‘busy’ watching F1 (for professional reasons as he works for an F1 team!).
We heard with amazement how old her kids are now and her experience as a GP in this Coronavirus pandemic.
We saw Bones again briefly in passing and spent a good night here despite the railway line next to us as there were fewer trains running, being Sunday.
Monday 3rd August – Day 56
This morning we were making ready to leave when along came Alex for a chat, we bade our farewells and as we were passing the Heyford Wharf we saw nb Nutwood and stopped to see Andy, who I used to work with here. He used his influence to get us a pump out despite being a ‘turnaround day’ for the hire-boats, unfortunately, the machine failed halfway through so we will have to make other arrangements.
There were queues at all the locks today, Heyford Common Lock was still in a bad state with leaking gates and now a paddle out of action but all the boat crews helped each other and we managed okay.
Shortly after we had a problem where passing a moored boat a couple in a canoe approached going hell for leather with no intention of leaving their course.
Being the gentleman that I am I moved over to let them through and got firmly stuck on the mud! Fortunately one of the boaters I’d met at the lock soon came along with his Lister HR3 powered boat (that’s quite a big engine) and after a couple of attempts pulled us off. The Latin motto on the side of the boat “Lister hanc navim impellit ubique” translates to something like “The Lister [engine] propels this boat everywhere”
We stopped for lunch at Sommerton Meadows before tackling Somerton Lock (our last today) again there was a queue but that meant, plenty of people to help us through.
I love the railway viaduct at Aynho (see the ‘featured’ photo at the top of this post) apparently it’s part of a flying junction, info from Wiki2 if it makes you any-the-wiser!
… with the down line from Bicester North grade separated from the up and down lines from Oxford. The junction is the point where the Great Western Railway’s New North Main Line (via Northolt, High Wycombe and Bicester North) of 1910 joins the original Didcot and Chester Line via Oxford. The former line is also known as the Bicester cut-off line.
We arrived at Aynho Wharf just after 4 pm, finding plenty of space to tie up and settled ourselves in feeling a bit weary after nearly six hours boating including our lunch stop.