Tag Archives: The Thames

The Long Journey Home – Part 15

The Long Journey Home – Part 15

Tuesday 19 June 2018

Next Stop, The Thames

We awoke early. The sound of trains was close and loud. Railways were often sighted near the canals they were looking to usurp. Porridge set us up for the day and we were soon onto the pre-checks for narrowboating. Our mooring had been very stable due to the shallow nature of the bank so a little rocking was called for to free us up to move off. We eased off and down the canal, under bridges we had walked under, past boats we had commented upon yesterday and pulled up at Jericho.

The Long Journey Home - Part 15 - Next Stop, The Thames - Jericho

Mooring up, we went to watch and discuss the intricacies of Isis Lock with a boater who was going through it. We obtained a better understanding of how we would take the sharp turn and which channel to take. Forewarned and thus forearmed, we decided to walk on into Oxford and have a Vegetarian breakfast at Cafe from Crisis – excellent food and all the money goes to funding homelessness and in training people who want to go into the food industry.

We walked back to MIRRLESS, cast off and set to entering The Thames. I’d nipped in front of another narrowboat coming down the canal (as much as you can ‘nip’ in front of anyone at 1-2 miles per hour) and mu jumped off and started the lock. The guy who had provided the information earlier was moored at the pontoon (there’s an intricate manoeuvre that involves turning the boat on lines but we agreed that was for when the river was in full flood, with a strong current). The boat following helped with the lock so mu could get straight back on board. So, with a couple of reverses, we swung straight onto The Thames.

Under the railway bridge, ‘umming’ and ‘aarhing’ about which way to turn (there were no signs) but to port had us heading South on The Thames.

Osney Lock

The Thames was calm and fairly soon we came to Osney Lock. A little too soon! We weren’t expecting it. It was around a slight bend, out of plain sight and flanked by two weirs! Luckily the weir flow was minimal but it was a hair-raising experience to pull over and get moored up temporarily, on pontoons, just before the lock. The lock was ‘our way’ and the lock keeper (most Thames locks under the Environment Agency’s control have lock keepers) told us what to do and how to do it – one person on the front and rear ropes, wrap around a bollard in the lock and feed the rope as you lower, turn your engine off. He also relieved us of over £41 for a two day river licence. We were expecting this to be £12 and for three days. The heat was on.

The Long Journey Home - Part 15 - Next Stop, The Thames - Big Lock!

We were aiming for Abingdon, we were on the river Thames or Isis and the width after the narrowness of the Oxford canal was vast! We could drive at full speed (ha ha) and manoeuvre with ease.

Iffley lock was next.

Sanford lock followed afterwards.

By the time we had reached Abingdon Lock we were confident and professional. Abingdon Lock protects boaters from a giant weir. We moved just after the lock against a steep bank with other boaters. The weir was to our starboard and it sounded like The Falls of Rauros. More Tokienesque literary references.

The Long Journey Home - Part 15 - Next Stop, The Thames - MIRRLESS Moored at Abingdon

Abingdon

We walked into Abingdon which has some lovely old buildings. The Throwing Buns Coffee House created a fantastic latte, great guy running it who had created a great style and atmosphere. After sitting in the main centre enjoying a coffee and then visiting a garden, we walked back to MIRRLESS. We ate sausage and mash (Vegetarian of course) before walking back along side of The Thames to Abingdon, to The Nag’s Head.

The Long Journey Home - Part 15 - Next Stop, The Thames - The Water's Edge

This was a beautiful pub in an idyllic location. A pint of Mosaic Pale Ale and Symond’s Founder’s Reserve Cider outside, in the Summer’s evening, watching the river.

The Long Journey Home - Part 15 - Next Stop, The Thames - An End to the Day

Back at MIRRLESS we watched a flotilla of 27 Geese as counted by mu (a veritable gaggle). 28 upon recount. Followed by 7 Canadian Geese plus 2 stragglers, making 37 in total. The noise of the weir (or ‘Falls…’) was continuous but was pleasantly comforting. Everything faded into night, leaving only the weir.

The Long Journey Home - Part 15 - Next Stop, The Thames - Looking Across

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 15

The long Journey Home - Part 14
The long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 12
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10 
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1 

The Long Journey Home – Part 14

The Long Journey Home – Part 14

Monday 18 June 2018

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Narrowboat Artwork image
Narrowboat Artwork

Onto The Thames – Nearly

We awoke to the day we would enter onto The Thames. The sun was out, a boat had been past and we weren’t adrift – a good start to the day.

Tea, Best Drink of the Day

Tea clarified the task we had to undertake and as we thought more about it, we decided we needed more information (and probably tea). Rather than just setting off and hoping, we decided we would spend the day in Oxford. We wanted to walk to Isis Lock and see the entrance to The Thames before attempting it in a boat. The Thames river is under the auspices of the Environment Agency, not the Canal and River Trust and as such, required a separate licence to travel on. Luckily, a short pass can be purchased from the first (or subsequent) lock on The Thames proper (not Isis), for a small fee.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Artwork

The walk from our mooring, along the towpath took us from Wolvercote (The Wolvercote Tongue), through Woodcock (The Last Bus to Woodcock) and onto Jericho (The Walls of Jericho) and then on to the Bodleian Libray and Brasenose Lane where further episodes of Inspector Morse were represented. We were walking through the history of Colin Dexter’s creations, as represented by the TV Series.

Isis oh Isis

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Isis Lock Sign image

The Isis Lock was a less daunting prospect than we had thought it to be, the water levels were Green and as no rain was forecast, all looked well for the next day. The turn at Isis Lock is a sharp one with two options to travel on The Thames and one blocked off with buoys as non-navigable. There are complex instructions on mooring to a pontoon, pushing the back of the boat out, ‘walking’ it along the pontoon to turn it, then off. As the water looked today, I would have been tempted to power straight around but would check before we went.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Bridge 243 Isis Lock image

Walking over the lock bridge: a black and white iron one similar to the one at Braunston, we made friends with a beautiful little cat that would have made a great boat cat. It tip toed along the bridge hand rail, deftly jumping off and back up, craving affection. It lost interest after a while.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - River Thames Sign image

With the journey recce’d, we decided to walk into the centre of Oxford. I knew there was a newly opened exhibition of Tolkien’s work as a world builder and as we were here, was hoping to see it.

Worldbuilder

After coffee to kickstart the morning (the walk had been a sizeable one), we went in search of the Bodleian Library. Across the road from it, at The Weston Library we found the exhibition and the excellent thing was, it was free admission! We had to obtain tickets but admission was immediate.

It was an excellent exhibition! It put Tolkien’s work in perspective, in the place where he had created the masterpieces: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion and many others. There was a full body of his original artwork and manuscripts for each of the key books. Other works were represented, along with books in different languages and jacket covers but also; two interactive maps. There was so much more and it was a haven for anyone remotely interested in Fantasy (or even if you hate it! Which is blasphemy, of course) to see. I’m so glad I got to see it and mu found it really interesting and inspiring to see what Tolkien did and how he did it. I bought the mug!

The walk back was long, slow and hot. It seemed a lot longer than the walk into Oxford. Several stretches of the Oxford Canal here are designated Conservation areas, with no mooring. This meant that the urban aspect of the canal was very much muted back into the countryside.

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - Undergrowth image

All Hands to The Plough

Back at MIRRLESS we frosted the bathroom window and mu made a curry. Afterwards, although it would have been nice to find another pub, The Plough was so near and the beer and cider so nice that we decided to visit there again. After sitting outside for a while in the garden, we decided to retire inside so I could recharge my phone. No engine running means no inverter so no 240 Volt converted down to 5 volt access (or something like that). Thank heavens for pubs!

The Long Journey Home - Part 14 - Onto The Thames - Nearly - MIRRLESS Moored

Boat name of the day: Calcifer – from Howl’s Moving Castle I believe.

Footnote

Once we get MIRRLESS back, we want to get MiFi: a WiFi hotspot set up, a 12-volt fridge to replace the current 240-volt one. We have to keep running it whilst MIRRLESS’ engine is running, via the inverter, then turn it off when we stop. A marina hook-up would provide power but at a cost.

Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 14

The Long Journey Home - Part 13
The Long Journey Home - Part 12
The Long Journey Home - Part 11
The Long Journey Home - Part 10 
The Long Journey Home - Part 9
The Long Journey Home - Part 8
The Long Journey Home - Part 7
The Long Journey Home - Part 6
The Long Journey Home - Part 5
The Long Journey Home - Part 4
The Long Journey Home - Part 3
The Long Journey Home - Part 2
The Long Journey Home - Part 1