Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Starting young!

Lockie Paul supervises his new assistant
Apologies for the week of blogging silence but don't blame me, blame 3 Mobile. it's entirely due to the pitiful lack of 3G signal from 3 all around the Oxford area. It's curious really that in a town brimming with students, tourists and townspeople a few steps from the town centre will take you into the internot space. Even in desperately trendy Jericho where we moored the signal was as flimsy as cheap quality toilet paper.
Well more wandering around Oxford – including into the bizarre and brilliant Pitt-Rivers Museum where everything from shrunken heads to Inuit clothing can be stumbled upon in a serendipity of dimly lit exhibition cases. A wonderful place: I could spend days there.
But chiefly we've entertaining family visitors: daughter Nancy and grand-daughter Martha. And the highlight of the trip for little Martha was being apprentice lock-keeper to the super helpful and patient lockie Paul who we met first at Eynsham and the next day at Pinkhill locks. "Thank goodness you're here to help," he said to her as we arrived at Pinkhill on Sunday night, "I'm exhausted after a busy day".
With one eye on the weather forecast "sunshine and thundery showers" I had worked out a 'mini-ring' of canal and river and kept fingers crossed for the sun to shine.
And it did...except on me. We headed out of Isis Lock then back up-river to Swinford Bridge in gorgeous sun – which turned to heavy rain just as I was banging the pins in to moor up. And I got soaked.
The wet shorts and T-shirt were hung over the engine to dry and next morning we headed further, again in perfect sunshine, to Vicky's swimming spot for paddling and lunch before turning (carried out with much anxious sweating between rows of moored plastics) and heading back downstream. But a bit too much dithering about where to moor meant that, once again, the sun vanished, the skies turned black and the rain poured down just as I was mooring. So shorts and T-shirt were soaked again.
On the final day we completed the 'ring' with a run into that delightfully secretive little link between river and canal, Duke's Cut. And on the way I got soaked once more in a sudden torrential downpour! Down the canal we went and back to moor opposite the old Jericho boatyard – still derelict and in planning limbo five years after the first protests into its re-development.

The magnificent Pitt-Rivers museum
With family back off to Suffolk on the coach we sat on the boat watching rain pour down for the rest of the day and the next morning too. At which point Vicky decided that a trip to visit more grandchildren in London would be more entertaining than counting raindrops so off she went.
And within minutes the rain stopped and the sun came out. And I got to thinking "what's the point in sitting here in the sunshine running the engine to charge the batteries when I could cruise down the river instead?"
Moored just above Abingdon Bridge
So I set off on my first single-handing river trip – and here we are in Abingdon.


  1. Have you got a dongle or a MiFi ? We were around Oxford a few weeks ago & had no problems at all with 3 coverage on our MiFi, so if its a dongle may be time to upgrade ? !

  2. Just upgraded from a dongle in fact - maybe the network is getting crowded with all the tourists and summer school students who've arrived and seem to spend all day looking at their phones and tablets!

  3. Surprised about Oxford coverage. I am a great fan of 3 as it has given us coverage where other fail from the tip of Scotland to Cornwall. The first and only problems have been this summer on the North Norfolk coast...zilch.

    But is has been good catching up with your blog, some good progress made and Harry doing well.

  4. We had a lovely time, thanks for getting soaked several times over for our boating benefit :)