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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Here ends The Long Journey Home – Part 15
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