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  • clivenmel

March 16th

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;} Saturday 14th March � we spent a leisurely morning having breakfast, watching the lambs gambolling in the field opposite and finally after lunch we decided to set off and mosie on down the cut.  It was a very pleasant afternoon and after an uneventful cruise including three isolated locks we arrived on the outskirts of Banbury.  We decided to moor up before the town centre as we didn�t know if there would be any moorings available.  Whilst we were getting sorted out there was the most wonderful aroma of freshly baked bread in the air, making us both feel hungry.  We had moored up opposite a bakery!!!  The place at the side of the moorings is known as Spiceball Park!  Whilst we were getting the boat tied up a couple wandered along the towpath with their dogs.  Their names were Peter and Pat (not to be confused with the couple on Molly May II!).  There were three dogs on leads and one in a special doggy pushchair!  We had a lovely chat with them and told them all about our adventures aboard Lady Arwen (they asked!) and then we said goodbye to them � and the dogs of course.  We do meet some lovely people on the towpath.    We secured the boat, pulled the curtains on and set off along the towpath to see what Banbury had to offer.   Looking at this photo you would think we were out in the countryside somewhere, but we were literally just around the corner from the town centre!  As you can see from this next photo. The sight that greeted us next was amazing, the canal really does go right through the middle of town with a huge shopping centre on one side and the car parks on the other!  We went into the shopping centre and had a good look around � we haven�t been in a busy shopping centre since we were in Cambridge at Christmas � it was quite exciting!    Apart from a couple of bits and bobs we didn�t buy much in there.  We found a pub (hee hee!) and had a drink and a some lunch then we walked over to the retail park as we were on a mission � to buy a new laptop!  Before we set off on our journey Clive had wanted to buy a new laptop, but I talked him out of it at the time because the one we had worked fine, if a little slow!  However we have been very conscious of the fact that it could die on us at any time, it is 5 years old after all, and as it is the only computer we have on board we would be snookered if it crashed.  So we made the decision to get another one, not to replace the old one but to augment it.  It also meant that we can both be doing things on the computer at the same time.  There is many an evening when one of us is typing the blog, which can take up to 2 hours sometimes if the signal is poor, and the other would like to be doing something else.  Anyway, we tried Currys, then Comet and finally we ended up in Tesco�s and bought one there!  We got a very good deal, plus of course Clubcard points and great wad of Computers for Schools vouchers!   Then it was back to the boat with our purchases (well I had to do a bit of shopping whilst we were in Tesco�s, didn�t I!).  Unfortunately we still didn�t have a TV signal so we watched a movie instead.  Later on when we went to bed there was a bird singing its heart out in a tree somewhere near the boat.  He continued to sing well after midnight.  No idea what it was, it�s a bit early for Nightingales!   Sunday 15th March � After breakfast and having done a few chores, we cruised into the centre of Banbury and moored up.  We had spotted a caf� right next to the canal so we wandered in there for a Latte and bun!  After we had finished our refreshments we went for a bit of a reccy as there was a lift bridge to negotiate and a lock immediately after it, with a water point in between  � all this right in the middle of town!  So we figured out the best way to do things then went back for the boat.   I managed to get the bridge open without any trouble, it was just a normal wind up mechanism using the windlass that I use to open lock paddles.  Once it was fully up Clive cruised through and then pulled up next to the water point whilst I lowered the bridge again.  We filled up with water and just as we had finished we saw another boat just coming up in the lock.  I went over to give him a hand when we realised he was on his own.  It turned out his wife was a work that day � bless, well somebody has to work don�t they!  (Not us though!!!).  I asked him if he would like me to go and lift the bridge for him and he was delighted.  Whilst I was opening it he cruised past our boat and called out to Clive, �you�ve got this one well trained haven�t you!�.    We went through the lock and cruised through the rest of Banbury (which wasn�t very nice). It didn�t take us long to get into the peace and quiet of the countryside.   We found a nice bit of barrier just before one of the lift bridges and got settled in for the night.  The spot we had chosen was brilliant, we actually had a great TV signal, full mobile signal and best of all 3G dongle signal!  The signal was so good I managed to chat to my sister, who is at her son�s in New Zealand, on the webcam.  Then I had another chat with my dear friend Lindsey, who also lives in New Zealand and also Clive�s parents � they live in Huddersfield!  I am afraid that with all this activity I never got round to doing the blog � sorry!   Monday 16th March � What a beautiful morning greeted us when we woke up today.  It was absolutely glorious and lovely and warm!  We had decided that we didn�t need to rush off today so the plan was to set off after lunch.  Clive wanted to do some research on the internet and I ended up watching the shopping channels on the TV! (sad git aren�t I!).  The next thing I heard Clive talking to somebody, at first I thought he was on the phone then I realised he was talking to somebody through the window.  All I caught was �don�t worry I�ll be right up� and he dashed off to put his shoes on.  As he was leaping off the boat I asked him where he was going � �somebody�s hurt� he said and off he went!  I peered out of the window and watched him sprinting up the towpath and sure enough there was a man lying on the ground.  Oh dear!   I decided to go and see what was going on and thought it might be a good idea to take a blanket along, just in case the �casualty� was a bit shocked and chilled etc.  When I got there Clive introduced me to John who had unfortunately gone over on his ankle whilst enjoying a very pleasant walk � it was pretty obvious it was either very badly sprained or more likely broken!  Clive immediately phoned 999 and explained the situation to them.  They said they would send an ambulance.  He pointed out that there was no way to get an ambulance to us as there was no road or bridge nearby.  There was a farm track coming down the field opposite but the swing bridge was in the up position and was padlocked!  They told him not to worry, they would get there somehow.   So we waited!   John was in very good spirits, he wasn�t cold so he didn�t need the blanket round him, but Clive put it under his leg to keep it off the ground.   We chatted and even had a bit of a laugh at his predicament � he said he had only come out for a bit of peace and quiet, hence he hadn�t brought his mobile phone with him!  A little while later we could here sirens in the distance, but saw no sign of an ambulance.  Where could they be? About ten minutes later Clive noticed there was another boat coming down the canal and when we looked closer we noticed two guys dressed in green on the back of the boat!  I went up the towpath a little way to meet them and show them the best place to pull in.  I also asked why there wasn�t a blue flashing light on the boat!  There were two paramedics on board and one of their colleagues � they had obviously commandeered the boat as they couldn�t get the ambulance any closer. They examined John and confirmed that it was very likely that his ankle was fractured � by now it was quite swollen. At this point they realised that there was no way they could get him back to their ambulance along the towpath and the boat they had arrived on was facing the wrong way and the nearest turning circle was at least a couple of miles away, so that was out.  So the only thing for it was to call in the Air Ambulance!   Sure enough a short while later we heard the thwok of rotors in the distance and then the helicopter came into view.  The pilot neatly landed in the field right next to the canal � no mean feat as there was a large tree and overhead cables very close by. The crew were soon walking along the towpath to get John sorted out.  They got his leg splinted in one of those modern inflatable splints and made him comfortable.  Then they had to decide between them all what to do next.  John lives in Banbury and there is a hospital quite close by but it doesn�t have a heli pad nor is there anywhere nearby for the helicopter to land, the only other alternative was the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, but that would be a long way for John�s wife to have to travel to see him.  However, there was an ambulance parked not far away so the decision was made to transfer John by helicopter to a field next to the ambulance then he could be transported to Banbury Hospital in that.    John managed to stand up with a bit of assistance and then he was carried to the helicopter and settled inside with a headset on all ready for the journey.  The paramedics had set off back to their ambulance along the towpath, the only problem was that with John on board there wasn�t room for one member of the crew, so Mark stayed behind with us whilst they flew off to the ambulance with John.   Amazingly, when the crew were reassuring John just prior to take-off he announced that this wasn�t his first flight in an Air Ambulance.  Evidently he was on holiday in the USA last year and unfortunately suffered a heart attack whilst in Orlando and had to be airlifted to a hospital then!    Mark was telling us all about the Air Ambulance Service and how it is totally financed by charity with no government funding whatsoever.  It is a wonderful service and today is a classic example of just how much it is needed.  Clive and I have discussed this very scenario since we set off on our adventure and wondered just what we would do if one of us was injured or needed urgent medical attention whilst on the boat.  Well at least we know that there is a solution.  Though I must say, the paramedics arriving on the narrowboat, travelling at 4mph really takes the biscuit!  I thought it was brilliant!   Clive and I certainly hope that John makes a speedy recovery from his injury and I have promised to let him have copies of all the photographs to keep for posterity!  We are also sending them to the Berkshire, Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Air Ambulance Service as well.      We feel that the whole rescue was handled extremely well and professionally, both by the paramedics from the ambulance service (sorry we didn�t get their names) who so ingeniously arrived by narrowboat and also the Air Ambulance crew; Pilot � Gez, Paramedics: Mark and Gilly and Dr Candida.   We felt that as this was such a momentous occasion and also as I had taken so many photographs it warranted an album all of its own called �Canalside Rescue� in the Gallery, so do have a look at all the pictures!   Well � so much for the peace and tranquillity of navigating the British Waterways!  We decided it merited a cup of tea and a sandwich after all the excitement, then we cast off and headed off for a quiet afternoon�s cruise.  Needless to say the rest of the day was pretty uneventful.  We had a few locks to negotiate one of which was rather different!  It was the last lock of four isolated locks.  It is called the Aynho Weir Lock and is called such because immediately before the lock the River Cherwell crosses the canal, but not on an aqueduct, it just runs through it and out the other side!  In this photograph you can see the canal on the left, down which we had just come and the River Cherwell on the right.  The lock itself is a strange shape, it�s called a �diamond� lock.  Once we were through there it was plain sailing down to Aynho Wharf, where we are now moored.  When we arrived we decided to pop over to the pub for a well-earned drink � but it was shut!  So we came back to the boat and had an early tea.  Chicken curry � one I had prepared earlier in true Blue Peter fashion!   I think today will take some beating for excitement, don�t you?

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