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  • clivenmel

March 13th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} Tuesday  10th March - in the morning finally we cast off and cruised down to the marina to get a pump-out as the office was open at last.  We had to turn around in the marina entrance so that we were facing back the way we had come as the pump-out point is on the port side (left) of the boat.  When we had finished we then cruised back up the canal to just beyond the pub where there was a winding hole (turning circle), turned around again then pulled in by the pub to fill up with water.  That done we were at last able to set off!   Now I have mentioned before that the Oxford Canal is quite winding and narrow, well you aint seen nothing yet � it got even narrower!  As you can see from this photo there was very little room on either side of the boat and it was also quite shallow.  Goodness knows what you are supposed to do if you meet craft coming the other way, fortunately we didn�t!  When we finally got through the narrows I looked back and got another shot just to show how ridiculously narrow it was! After the skinny bits we finally entered a more reasonably sized stretch of canal which meandered through the countryside and it was lovely.   Our canal map book mentions that there are some characteristic draw bridges which are synonymous with this canal and we came across the first one of these not long after.  Quite a strange sight actually.  I didn�t need to get off the boat to open it as it was already open, but as you can see there is a chain dangling from it, evidently you pull this to close it but I haven�t a clue how you actually open them- lets hope the rest are all open too!   Soon after the bridge we arrived at the lock flight.  There are five locks in the flight.  None of them are particularly deep and they don�t take long to fill and empty, however the rear gates are quite heavy and tough to open and shut and the front paddles are really stiff and got progressively stiffer the further down the flight we went.  In fact the last one was so bad Clive had to jump of the boat and come and help me to open it!  After this flight we cruised for about a mile before we came to the first of three individual locks.  As Clive was leaving the second of these locks he suddenly realised that the bridge, which was immediately after the lock, was very low and it was quite obvious that our chimney was not going to go under it!  He had to quickly sidle his way down the boat on the gunwhales and get the chimney off - no mean feat as it hasn't been off since the stove was installed!  He finally managed it and then had to work his way back up to the stern to take the boat through the bridge - phew that was a close one!  Once we were through the third lock we could see Cropredy up ahead.    There are several visitor moorings in and around Cropredy where we could leave the boat.  The trouble is you never know till you get there if there is going to be room to for the boat so we decided it would be safer to moor at the first available space and then have a walk along the towpath to see if there was anywhere more suitable further down.  The spot we moored at had obviously just been renovated by BW with new barrier, which was good, however the bank was all churned up where they had been working and it was really gloopy, yeuch!  We locked up and set off down to the village with our shopping bags and managed to stock up on essentials in the little village store, which is right next to the canal.  We also noted that there was plenty of room to moor up with a good firm towpath and no mud.    Clive suggested I wait by the lock with the shopping bags whilst he went and fetched the boat.  He said it was a shame I didn�t have my windlass with me as I could have set the lock ready for him.  I sat on a bench at the side of the lock and looked over at the pretty little lock-keepers cottage across the other side and what should I spy hanging on a hook in the porch � a windlass!!!  I abandoned the shopping, crossed over the lock and knocked on the cottage door, but there was nobody in � so I borrowed it!  I quickly got the paddles up and returned the windlass to it's hook, got the gates open and was sitting pretty when Clive arrived on the boat a few minutes later � you should have seen the look on his face!   We moored up right by the bridge where the shop was and got settled in � unfortunately there was no TV signal, no mobile signal (unless you hung out of the window) and a very poor dongle signal � it was so weak it kept fluctuating and cutting us off, so we abandoned that as well.  That is why there hasn�t been a blog for a few days.   Wednesday 11th � the hire car firm, Enterprise, phoned mid morning � Clive had to rush up on deck to speak to them as the signal was so bad!  He arranged for them to come and pick us up from Cropredy at about 1.00pm and take us back to their office in Banbury to go through the paperwork etc.  So we spent the rest of the morning getting ready to go.  Carol had very kindly said I could use her washing machine so I packed a bag with laundry as well.  We got the boat all battened down, pulled on the curtains on, checked the ropes were secure then off we went.   Thursday 12th � we arrived back at the boat and unloaded the car � we brought more back than we went with as we had two bags of shopping, having been to the supermarket in Huddersfield, plus Clive has brought his 12 string guitar back with him � goodness knows where we are going to keep that!   Also, when we arrived at Clive�s parents� on Wednesday there was a gift waiting for us from one of their neighbours, Mrs Dawson, who lives across the road.  It was a kettle for our boat, a really pretty one.  The kettle we have been using up to press was actually our old camping kettle and we reckon it must be at least 40 years old!  Not only is it very old but it is also very small, it is fine for the two of us but if we have visitors we have to boil it twice in order to get enough water for four cups!  So we are thrilled to bits with our new kettle, its lovely  � thank you very much Mrs Dawson.   We said goodbye to James, the young man from Enterprise who had collected us on Wednesday and returned us to the boat and helped carry our stuff on Thursday!  We were very impressed with the service we had received from Enterprise altogether and would definitely use them again.   We had a cup of coffee and a biscuit then decided to cruise a little further down the canal so that we weren�t in a built up area, we were also hoping that we might get better signals out in the countryside.  We only travelled a short distance, maybe half a mile or so, then we moored up opposite a field.  Here we had a good mobile signal, reasonable dongle signal but alas no TV signal!  Once we had got settled in I decided to have a marathon cook-in again.  So I made a Bolognese sauce, a chicken curry and big pot of stew.  When ready it all gets divided up into plastic boxes and goes in the freezer, well apart from some of the bolognese sauce which would have for tea.  Whilst I was cooking Clive was watching the lambs in the field opposite � they were so funny!  Doing what lambs do I suppose, chasing each other around the field, leaping up in the air like gazelles and butting each other, they were really fun to watch.   Later on in the evening I was chatting to our daughter, Vicki, via Windows Live Messenger � when I say chatting, we were typing to each other � the dongle signal wasn�t strong enough for us to actually talk on line, however I was able to see her via the webcam and check out her new hair colour � our normally reserved daughter, who tends to wear subdued colours and who used to disown me when she was a teenager because I had a tendency to wear very bright, vibrant colours, has died her hair RED for Comic Relief!!!   She has already raised �50 in sponsor money and the company that she works for has matched it, so she will be donating at least �100 to the cause.  If anybody out there would like to add to that do let me know.  Watch this space, there will be photos, I promise!!!  Strangely enough, from what I could see on the webcam, the colour actually suits her, it wasn't quite as red as I was expecting, however it is very different for her.   Friday 13th � eeek!  We have decided to stay put today.  Apart from not having a TV signal we have everything we need and it is a bit drizzly and miserable so we are better off not going anywhere.  Therefore a lazy day today and then tomorrow we will head off to Banbury for a few days.  Evidently the canal goes right through the middle of a shopping centre in Banbury so we might go and check that out as well � ooh civilization!   Remember what day it is today and take care!!!

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