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Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Cruising with the family

Sunday 2nd August

We set off to walk into Oxford, but noticed there was a space free above Osney Lock & dashed back to move Lily there. We moored outside a pair of EA signs, one telling us 24 hour mooring, the other, newer one, saying 24 hours free, the next 2 days £5 a day and £50 a day after more than 72 hours. Carol had to get back to Leicester to see the doc and would be leaving this evening, returning with Sally by road on Tuesday, so it was ideal. We then took the kids into the city and did a bit of sightseeing plus had rather good Thorntons ice creams. After despatching Carol off by rail the three of us had a good evening on Lily.

I had a row with the ticket office when trying to get Carol’s train tickets on Saturday for her journey the next day. I’d done an online search & got a good price for the next day. I got to the station well before 5.45 with 2 windows open, one for Todays Tickets…..with no-one going to it, the other for All Tickets. A couple were at this window for a good 5 minutes, they left & then a woman went up to buy a railcard, and then arrange a journey. It took over 15 minutes!!! Be Warned. I got to the window at 6.03 told the woman what I wanted, only to be told that the Apex tickets have to be bought before 6. I pointed out that I was only late because of the queue, but she said the system would not allow her to issue a ticket after 6. The price she wanted was around double the price I had!! She did help me a bit though by recommending I get 3 tickets for the journey, one Oxford to Banbury, then Banbury to Birmingham, and then Birmingham to Leicester. It saved over £6, but I was still cross!

I had to extend our Thames licence. 15 days cost £141, to make it up to 31 days only cost another £30!

Monday 3rd

Started off fine, but clouded over & wind got up. We did a bus tour of Oxford to let the kids see some of the sights, and the tickets included tickets to Oxford Castle/jail. We booked this tour for 2pm, and after our bus tour we went to a Thorntons Café where they had a very calorific hot chocolate whilst I enjoyed my coffee. The jail tour was interesting, with it being very obvious why jail population was reduced by deaths through typhus, cholera and other diseases. We were also able to go into what had been a cell until 1999(? Or thereabouts?). It had been built for one prisoner and was adequate for that, but by the closure 3 men were in it, including their slop bucket, in their cell for much of the day and with only a few inches width between the beds. No wonder there were riots!

Alongside the old jail is a new hotel, and they have utilised the old cell block as part of the hotel, a very interesting development.

Tuesday 4th

We did domestic duties plus a hot chocolate trip to Thorntons before Carol, Sally & John arrived. A lock keeper arrived and pointed out we had overstayed the 24 hour maximum, and I pointed out the second sign, which surprised him. He must have been a decent bloke because he was called Ian McDonald, anyway he accepted that we would be away in the morning and would not take any money, though I was happy to pay.

We had a lovely meal Carol had prepared before she left, before playing Uno & Rummikub. John & I went off in the car to see if there was any parking near where we had moored last year (there wasn’t) so we could sort out where we would meet up on Friday. Before we drove off I started the engine to top up the charge & warm some water. When I returned there were alarms buzzing, but the others had been laughing so much they hadn’t heard them. The alternator warning lights were on & when I looked below the back deck steam was rising and drive belts to both alternators were off. I reckon the engine alternator/water pump belt went & it got tangled with the other one & threw it off too. The engine belt was the original one and had lasted 6 years so I couldn’t complain. I had spares & soon had them running again and was glad of the lights that are installed below the deck.

Wednesday 5th

Went on-line to see where there was a motor factor & found one just along towpath below Osney Lock. They had a spare for the big alternator, & I ordered one for the other one. The spares place was on an industrial estate and the building opposite had changed to a happy, clappy church, but I noticed a blue plaque on the outside so went to investigate. In that building the first ever super conducting magnet for MRI scanners was invented and made.

We set off at 10.30 in lovely weather, stopping for lunch above Kings Lock before cruising on and mooring for the day above Eynsham Lock, which has 2 x 24 hour moorings. It also has a lovely picnic area and we made the most of the tables for our meal, but wondered how many people have a picnic there eating shepherds pie and cabbage!!! Pre-planning of meals sometimes doesn’t work perfectly.

I walked into the village for some essentials. What a pretty place, do go and visit it. It has a wonderful bus service to Oxford too with frequent busses running almost right through the night. On the way there were wild plum trees & damson trees laden with fruit, we’ll gather plunder another time.

Thursday 6th

Lovely weather at start but wet day forecast. Off at 10.15 (amazing we got beds put away and breakfasts eaten by then) Started cruising with shirt off but it started sprinkling shortly afterwards and it was raining by the time we stopped for lunch. Then it poured and during afternoon we had intermittent deluges. Carol got worried about flooding and it looked as if getting to Lechlade was off again this year. Last year when we ran away from the rising river we turned above Newbridge, with difficulty, a lock keeper said normally people turned just below the next lock, Shifford, in these conditions.

When we got to Shifford Lock the landing stage was under water, the lock keepers said they had had 3” of rain in 2 days. We went into the lock & spoke to the keeper about where we might wind, but he wasn’t too sure of anywhere. We came out of the lock & tied up and went down to look at the possibility of winding below the lock but there was a tree down in the water and we did not think we could do so there, especially with the flow coming from the weir.

Unhappy, we cruised to the end of the lock cut and made fast for the night in quite a nice spot, if only it would stop raining.

Friday 7th

Wet overnight but fine and sunny when we got up and the river level had dropped about 3”. I had a recurrence of the electrical problem with no 12v system. I called the boatyard & followed their suggestions without success, last time it seemed to clear when I stopped the engine & re-started, but it failed this time. Then I remembered a part I had replaced last year, a relay in the instrument panel where I had to make as good a connection as I could with the kit I had. I took the insulation tape off it, tightened things up & bingo!!.

At 10.30 in bright sun we used the bow thruster to push the bows into the flow whilst keeping the stern in with a rope round a fence post. It was a doddle!! It was a hot day and menu planning scored again as Carol had made a hot soup the day before! We arrived at Eynsham in good time and moored up, waiting for John to join us bringing with him a curry from our favourite curry house on Catherine Street. He eventually arrived at 9.10!! Curry was good, but it was a good job we had scone and jam for tea beforehand.

Saturday 8th

A fabulous day. We all got up late and cruised down through Oxford and part way back. We had stopped in a pretty spot for lunch and then managed to squeeze in above Osney to let me get train tickets for Carol for Monday. Carol needs to get to the hospital for a simple test and would be going back with the others on Sunday & returning by train and that superb bus service to Eynsham (bus stop by the river) on Monday afternoon. After this we showed Sally & John the Oxford college rowing clubhouses before turning back upstream. We then cruised on steadily before stopping for the night above Kings Lock in a beautiful spot on a lovely evening.

Sunday 9th

Another late start on a lovely morning. They say there is a worrying shortage of butterflies, but looking out of the boat windows the air above the meadow was alive with them. Sam got out his fishing net, he’s a bit big for it now but he’d caught a perch in it the other day. Suddenly pandemonium, he’d got 3 crayfish in one go. Hannah got 2, I caught one and in the end we had 9 in a few minutes. They were all the dreaded American red claw variety that we are not allowed to put back, so we boiled then for 5 minutes and enjoyed them! We intend to go at it big time in future, but they are a bit of a pain to shell.

Anyway, we returned to Eynsham for lunch at The Talbot. Carol strangely had a desire for a roast dinner & they offered it, and very good it was too. The Arkels beer was good too, dispensed from barrels racked above the bar. Back to the boat we moved to a different mooring point (£5 per night) a few yards upstream and played games and the kids caught grass hoppers and fishes before they all left me in peace just before 8. I then spent the evening and following day putting things away, tidying up and doing loads of washing.

Monday 10th

See above, plus some bits on the internet and reading Sunday’s paper before Carol returned safe & well at 7. Naturally it rained just after I had put washing out to dry!

Tuesday 11th

Bright at start, and cleared to sun by 1. We walked into Eynsham to look around more before returning with bags and pickers and collected some lovely blackberries and incredible Victoria plums. They are delicious and just being allowed to fall off the trees onto a car park. After lunch we said our goodbyes to Eynsham, struggling to get off the mud that had grabbed Lily’s hull. By 4 we had come off the river and got a mooring just above Isis Lock on the Oxford Canal. The general state of repair and maintenance of the Thames locks is very good with a special mention to the display of begonias at Godstow Lock. Apart from the flooding risk problem upstream it is a lovely river to cruise, and very lazy with no locks to work!

1 comment:

chi-cheemaun said...

Hi fellow bloggers welcome back to Debdale we are also at Debdale on our Narrowboat CHICHEEMAUN .We are looking foeward to 2010 cruising season and some good weather but for now we will stoke up the fire and relax.regards Bob and Barbara.