To date : 528 miles, 295 locks
Today's destination was Pigeon Lock. There was a purpose. Two years ago I stumbled across an article in an English country magazine about a lady on the Oxford Canal who had won "small holder of the year". She sold tea and scones to passersby on the Oxford Way walking path. The other day I thought of the article and said to Mick that I recalled her being on the Oxford Canal so I looked it up. By co-incidence the website said they were open on Sundays and the timing worked for us. http://ellyandmick.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/feel-good-story.html
We wanted to make a stop at Thrupp as we'd heard good things. Then, last night we looked up where nb Festina Lente was as we knew Andy and Sue would be working their way down the Oxford Canal towards us. They were moored at Thrupp.
It was another very warm day and it was lovely whenever we passed beneath the shade of a tree. We even got the umbrella out a couple of times for shade. Who would have thought that we'd be so hot in England. The steel of the boat gets so incredibly hot in the beating sun and then the heat reflects back on you as you cruise. It's a relief that it cools down overnight.
We had been warned that Thrupp was popular and it mightn't be so easy to get a mooring there. As we rounded the corner past the last of the long term moorings we saw there was a space vacant. We brought the boat into the space and Mick waited while I walked along to look for nb Festina Lente. They were just a couple of boats along and there was another empty mooring in front of them... in the shade of a willow. We moved along, leaving the space behind for nb Winton's Folly... sun lovers.
We had a chat and a cup of tea/coffee with Andy and Sue. Mick was very enthusiastic to discover Andy had a rechargeable Dyson vac. I didn't think there'd be another fellow as obsessed with "hoovering" as Mick, but apparently Andy's the same. We decided to walk back to The Jolly boatman and have lunch. A very enjoyable lunch and great company. Nice pub!
We did like Thrupp. It's one of those places that people would never have heard of unless they're into narrowboats. It was buzzing with activity. At the end of the visitor moorings, which are alongside a pretty row of cottages, there's a lift bridge and then a bit of a basin with services. As we prepared to head off Mick suddenly decided that my photo of Andy and Sue wasn't enough and he ran off to ask a lady to come and take a photo of the four of us. We'd already untied the boat so Sue and I were holding the bow rope! We don't know if we'll see them again... except now there's talk of them visiting a friend or family member in Perth so you just never know, we might see them on the other side of the world. You'd be welcome.
I walked ahead with Carol to check out the water point. While I stood at the lift bridge waiting for Mick to bring the boat down a fellow walked up and introduced himself. It was Maffi from nb Milly M. Well... if he isn't the busiest fellow! He was rushing around helping everyone with everything. He helped us over the other side of the canal as the water point was in use... and set us up to fill from a tap over there. Next thing he was helping wind a boat, then tie up another, then helping a canoeist.
After Thrupp we encountered an interesting lock. It was wide in the middle.... not for two boats though. Apparently it's to do with making it use enough water. The canal shares its course with a river for a short way from that lock. Then it was through some lovely countryside. Every day we see interesting things, interesting plants or flowers, interesting views, interesting places, interesting structures, interesting buildings. I don't want to forget a thing!
Moorings were scarce in the lead up to Pigeon Lock. In fact there was only one space. We'd noticed a boat at the beginning of the visitor moorings that was taking up two spaces and thought we might move it along a little so we could use the space. I had a look up beyond the lock and luckily there was a nice shady spot up there so we went through the lock and left the space below in the sun for Barry and Carol.
We were much later reaching our destination due to the lunchtime stopover but had time to wander across to visit "Jane's Tea Garden". What an amazing, interesting, eccentric place! It's grown into a bit more than just cream teas. There were little paths meandering and lined with tables and chairs and all manner of curios. We encountered a punk rocker chicken and a dovecote with cooing white doves. We also encountered Jane and had a brief chat. What an interesting place. I don't know why, but being there reminded me of my friend Tammy. When I said so to Mick he agreed.