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  • clivenmel

March 18th

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 17th March -We left Aynho Wharf on a bright sunny morning, not too early, we weren�t in a rush!  It wasn�t quite as warm as it looked because there was a sneaky breeze so although we started out in shirtsleeves we ended up with our fleeces on!  However, it was just lovely to have sunshine and it was very pleasant cruising through the pretty Oxfordshire countryside on its winding, twisty canal.     About half an hour after we set off we came across one of the characteristic lift bridges however this time it was shut!  Clive pulled the boat into the bank and I jumped off to figure out what to do with the bridge, the only closed one I had experienced prior to this was the one in Banbury itself and that required a windlass, but this one didn�t � there was just a chain dangling from it, so I pulled it!                                                                                         Sure enough with a bit of heaving the bridge started to lift as the big arms came down, however I was extremely nervous as the boat was going under it as there was nothing keeping the bridge from crashing down onto the boat but little old me!  I decided the safest thing was to lie on the arm � there�s no way it could lift with all my weight on it!  Once the boat was through I gently lowered the bridge again then hopped back on board.   We knew we had three locks to negotiated today and soon came across the first one, aptly named Somerton Deep Lock � why?  It is VERY deep!  It is arguably one of the deepest locks on the canal system at 12ft.   It is overlooked by an exceptionally pretty cottage, where evidently ice creams are sold in the summer.  Not today though � shame!   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;} Once through we continued along to the next lock, Heyford Common Lock, then finally to Allen�s Lock, which is just before the bridge to Upper Heyford.  Once we were through the lock we moored up and went for a walk up to Upper Heyford � up being the operative word, it was a really steep hill!  The main reason for going up to the village was that we had some cards to post and needed to find a post box.  We finally got up to the village itself and found the pub � it was shut!  This is getting beyond a joke!  However it said on the door that it opened at 5pm, it was only 4.45pm and we still had to find the post box.  We sauntered along the road admiring all the gorgeous little cottages � it is the sweetest village, you feel as if you have stepped back in time.  We saw no sign of a post box but there was a lady tidying up her front garden so we stopped and asked her where it was � she had only moved in a week ago and hadn�t a clue!  We walked on a little further and there was a couple walking towards us so we asked them � they had only been here a month and didn�t know where it was either!  However they suggested we walked on a little further as the next turning on the right was the High Street � sounded promising.  Sure enough we arrived at the top of the High Street and there was a large, red pillar box!  The couple had just walked right past it and not even noticed it was there!  We posted our cards and then sauntered back to the pub, slowly, by which time it was open so it seemed silly not to pop in for a drink really!   After our well earned drink (well I had been doing locks and bridges all day!) we wandered back to the boat, down hill all the way this time!  I must say we had picked a lovely mooring, directly opposite was a really lovely house with a very big garden flanking the canal and it was absolutely full of daffodils.  The owner of the house was actually working in his garden and I complemented him on it and asked him how long it had taken him to plant all the daffs.  Only three years, he said, we haven�t been here that long.  I just love daffodils, he said, but I wish they lasted a bit longer.  So do I, they�re gorgeous!   After a very peaceful night � it was soooooo quiet, apart from the rumble of a distant train occasionally!   However we woke to a morning full of birdsong, it was lovely.  Just lying in bed listening to them all a twitter.  We had breakfast then set off in good time, around 10.00am.  Clive wanted to spend the morning cruising and then get moored up in reasonable time as he had a few chores to do, seeing as how it was warm and sunny.   The last couple of days have been lovely and sunny but today it was really warm as well, in fact I have actually got sunburned!  Clive had taken his bobble hat off soon after leaving but had to put his Ozzie hat on after a while because his pate was turning quite pink!  We hadn�t been travelling very long when we spotted lots of dry branches in a stretch of woodland along the towpath, so we pulled in and tied up and I jogged back and collected as much of it as I could carry.  It was absolutely bone dry and brilliant for burning, all it needed was sawing up into bite-sized pieces.  Off we went again and soon came to the first of 5 locks, Northbrook Lock.   For most of the morning the River Cherwell had been keeping us company, sometimes very close and sometimes about a field away, but most of the time it followed the course of the canal, or really I suppose it�s the other way around!  But in places there was nothing to separate them but the towpath!    We soon arrived at Pigeon's Lock and it was so pretty there.  Just at the side of the lock are three properties, one is called Flight Mill and it is the most spectacular property.  It was built in 1204 and actually straddles the River Cherwell, which would of course have supplied the power for grinding the corn at the mill once upon a time.  Next to that was another rather imposing but modern half-timbered building and then the third property was called The Three Pigeons, this gave the lock its name and evidently used to be the local hostelry many, many years ago.   I had noticed some radio telescopes dotting the landscape as we were cruising along and just as we arrived at the next lock, Baker�s Lock, there they were, quite close just beyond a field full of big round hay bales � I thought it looked quite surreal � all unnatural curves so to speak!   As we went through the Baker�s Lock the River Cherwell suddenly got extremely intimate with the canal, it actually joined it!  The river just flowed into the canal from under a bridge and the two flowed together for about a mile, twisting and turning and very pretty, until we arrived at Shipton Weir Lock where it said goodbye and went off on its own again.  The lock was another diamond lock and boy was the front gate stiff, I had a right job getting it shut!   We cruised on for a little while longer and came across another lift bridge and unfortunately it was down!  Clive started to pull into the bank so I could get off but we noticed there appeared to be a couple of people on the bridge.  They came up trumps and started lifting the bridge for us � I have to say I was a little nervous when I saw they were two young lads and one of them was wearing a hoody!  What if they think it would be a great laugh to let go of the bridge just as we were passing under it!!!!  However they didn�t do anything of the sort, so it just goes to show one shouldn�t judge a book by its cover � mind you we did wonder why they weren�t at school, it was only about 1.00pm!  There names were Cameron and Aaron � when they saw me taking their photo they asked if they were going to be famous � yes I said, I shall put you in our blog tonight!    We finally arrived in Thrupp where Clive wanted to moor up for the rest of the day.  What a pretty place, full of delightful little cottages.  We moored up just beyond a whole terrace of them, they are so sweet.  We also moored up right outside � I�ll give you three guesses ��������. The Boat � a pub!  Well it seemed a shame to let a good pub go to waste, especially as it was open and we were so close, so we went in and Clive had a pint of bitter, I had a glass of wine and we sampled the fare as well � very nice indeed.  Best of all, we sat outside in the garden to have our lunch, it was just like summer, incredibly warm.  The waiter told us it was supposed to be 15� today � I think he was right!   Back to the boat and on with the chores.  Clive has been waiting for some considerable time to touch up the paintwork that got damaged all those months ago when we came through the Standedge Tunnel up in Huddersfield.  He had managed to rub down one side and get it primed a while ago and fortunately that was the side next to the bank.  Whilst we were in Banbury the other day he purchased a little paint roller and tray but we have had the new paint for some time, just waiting for the right weather conditions.  So he was soon happily painting.   Meanwhile I set to with the saw, cutting up the wood we had gathered this morning into small enough pieces for the stove.  After that I went and had a lovely hot shower.  Clive finished the painting and decided to clear out the cratch, which was in desperate need of a fettle.  He got everything out onto the bank and then gave it a good sweep.  It looks lovely now and is much tidier too.   Evidently the weather forecast is good for the rest of the week, I do hope so.  Although we are thoroughly enjoying living and travelling on the boat on days like these it is just wonderful.  Maybe all the ice and snow we experienced over the winter has just made us more appreciative of the sunshine.  However long may it last � but I must remember to wear some sunblock on my face tomorrow!   Well that�s it for today. 

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