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Thursday, 18 September 2008

Away from Oxford

Thursday, 18th September.

Two weeks after we tied up in Oxford we decided to give it best and turn up the Oxford, leaving cruising down the Thames & doing London another time.

The Thames went onto red boards the day after we tied up and with these showing the lock keepers can't stop you cruising but insurance is invalid, needless to say we don't do this. We used the time to visit our daughter's family and to spend a day in Butlins, using a prize we had won at Emily's school fete last Xmas. It was surprisingly good.

When we returned, having travelled by train, I walked down to Osney lock to see what was going on. I spoke to a chap with a hotel boat who was shipping his guests off to another boat on the Midlands canals. He was moored in the cut leading to the lock and the flow was rushing past at around 5 mph. This was on Monday 8th & he had been told it was possible that there would be a window for them to pass through the lock, wind & return and get into the Oxford canal. Unfortunately for him it was only on the 18th that he managed to get of the river, he had spent nearly two weeks tied up, collecting water in a 10 gallon drum, and with a full toilet waste tank too! At least we were able to reverse back along the canal to a sanitary station.

So we were stuck so it was time for work. We had been concerned about some of our internal decorations. Lily has a fully painted interior, not a varnish finish, and has white framing around magnolia panels, all painted in an oil based eggshell paint. I set to cleaning hard and then did some touching up of the paint, and was horrified to see how un-white the white was, the magnola still being OK. So I had to set off and repaint. It was easy when we decorated at first, there was no finished floor, no furniture or soft furnishings, and we weren't living aboard! Anyhow I got on with shuffling things from A to B and so on and got the Lounge/dinette area finished. Carol stayed out of the way. Unfortunately her back was crying hell so she spent 2 or 3 days in bed. I intend to take this colour change up with Dulux as the white paint was nearly the same colour as the magnolia, and it is only about 5 years since we painted her, and we keep things clean. I still have the galley, bedroom, loo & rear cabin to finish. It will keep me quiet. Also we needed to do a few repairs to the curtains, but all s fine there now.

If you go to Oxford by boat, just behind College Cruiser's there is a Raymond Blanc Bistro. They offer an early dinner menue that gives you a chance to sample food designed and presented by a top chef, and at £17 for three courses including a glass of wine, a delicious meal. Opposite to it was a very good Greek place too where they offered a main course and a dessert plus a glass of wine for £10.50, very tasty. These places are close to St Baranabas Church ( which is an incredible place, incredible decoration inside. The guide above shows you something of it, but try to view it personally.

Just in front of us was a couple who were stuck, anxious to get up the Wey, him suffering from severe health problems. They had a couple of dogs, one had a great outlook on life.

We set off and passed through Isis Lock, winded, and returned whence we had come, though earlier in the week the flow past the tail of this lock had been very fast, had it stayed that way we might have tried reversing the mile and a half to Dukes Cut, bow thrusters are great for this!

So our first day cruising saw us travel from Oxford throgh to Shipton on Cherwell. It was a pleasant day, with some sun, no wind and a reasonably warm day, we had our shorts on again! We collected some blackberries, plus the attendant scratches and stings from the nettles, but the fruit was all fairly small, still it will taste great.

We passed this enormous boat on our way, I hope they don't try to carry as much clutter as we do!

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