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  • clivenmel

March 19th

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;} It was a little misty when we awoke this morning but it didn't take long for it all to burn away to reveal yet another beautiful sunny day.  After breakfast we left our lovely moorings in Thrupp and headed off on the final leg to Oxford.  We couldn't get up to speed for a while because there were a lot of residential boats moored on the run into Kidlington, however as we were cruising past them Clive recognised one of them and called me up on deck to have a look - it was Verity!  This was the boat that we had gone all the way up to Diggle with when we were heading for the Standedge Tunnel in Yorkshire, then they accompanied us all the way down to Aspley Marina in Huddersfield!  The couple who were aboard Verity at that time were Alan and Jayne who hail from Suffolk.  The boat is owned by a syndicate and Alan and Jayne own a share of her.  We know that when they left us in Huddersfield they were travelling on for another few days then leaving the boat for the next people in the syndicate to pick up.  Well now we know that she cruised her way down to Kidlington in Oxfordshire - I wonder if we will see her again somewhere?   We cruised on a little further and arrived at the first lock of the day, Roundham Lock, then soon after that Kidlington Green Lock.  Whilst I was opening the paddles I was reminiscing about visits to Kidlington as a child when my parents and I used to visit some very good friends of theirs; Frank and Doris Ayres.  My parents had met this lovely couple in the summer of 1939, just before war broke out.   They all met on the beach at Blankenberge in  Belgium and remained friends for the rest of their days.  Sadly they are all gone now and Frank and Doris didn't have any children so there is nobody left in Kidlington who would remember my family now.  What a shame.   We were approaching the Dukes Lock and we knew that there was a water point around here somewhere.  We finally found it in the middle of a long line of residential moorers - there was just enough room for us to squeeze Lady Arwen in next to the tap!  We got all prepared - opened the water cap; put the purifying tablet it; got the hose out - then we couldn't find the hose adaptor that fits on to the water tap!  No idea where that is, I suspect it is safely screwed onto the tap of the last water point we used!!!  Clive was all for packing up again and continuing our journey but I decided to see if I could find anybody at home on one of the residential boats - I did find somebody but when I asked if he could lend me an adaptor he didn't know where his was as he has a hose permanently fixed to a water point next to his boat!  So off I trotted back to the boat and jumped aboard as Clive was pushing the bows out when a couple of cyclists came along the towpath and one of them reached out his hand with something in it for me - a tap adaptor!  "That guy down there asked me to give you this, he found it!".  So we managed to fill up the water tank after all, though I have to say it took forever, the water pressure was very low indeed!  Never mind, we had time for a cup of coffee and a biscuit whilst we were waiting.  Once full I ran off down the towpath to return the adaptor to our benefactor whilst Clive was stowing the hose etc, then we were off again.                                                                        Just as we reached the end of the line of moored boats I noticed this rather strange craft. To use a metaphor, if you  imagine that our boat is a Stretch Limo then this one is a Smart car!   It was the tiniest narrowboat we have ever seen - it must have been all of 15 feet long!  Bless!   Not much further and we arrived at the Dukes Lock.  Immediately after this lock the canal divides, the Oxford Canal continues the way it was going and on the left Dukes Cut heads off under the bridge towards the River Thames.    Soon after this junction we saw yet another lift bridge ahead of us and it was down so we had to pull in to let me jump off.  Up ahead, just beyond this bridge there was a huge, modern viaduct carrying the A43 but there was all sorts of activity going on around it; the towpath was shut on the right, there was scaffolding everywhere; men in hard hats and a lot loud machinery spoiling the peace and tranquillity of the countryside.  I managed to raise the bridge but it was a very heavy one and I had a job holding it down whilst the boat passed underneath.  However just as Clive was approaching the bridge I noticed that beyond it was a very large, metal bridge straddling the canal with a red STOP sign on it and it was perfectly obvious that Lady Arwen would not fit underneath it!  I sprinted across the lift bridge and  jumped back on board and pointed out this next obstacle to him - he hadn't noticed it!  Fortunately there was a man on the bridge, with a hard hat on, who looked official and he had seen us, then we realised the bridge was lifting.  A short while later he sauntered across to the middle of the bridge, turned the STOP sign round to a green GO sign and gave us the thumbs up.   Just imagine that though, being held up on the canal by roadworks!!!   Once we had put all the clamour of the construction work behind us we soon arrived at yet another lock, a very shallow one at 3' 8" - it didn't take long to fill and empty and I had an assistant in the form of a young Chinese gentleman who was fascinated with the workings of the lock and asked me lots of questions about how it worked.  After the lock it was a straight run into Oxford, albeit slowly as there were lots of moored boats.  Amongst all this lot we noticed this particular boat, which I just had to take a photo of! I have mentioned before that in the olden days boats used to often tow another boat behind them called a butty.  Well this boat had a butty too but it was basically a garden shed!  Well I suppose its not such a bad idea really.   We soon found ourselves cruising past St Edwards School playing fields which are huge - there was all sorts of activity going on in at the time in the form of rugger practice and a hockey match.  This school was of special interest to us as our old friend Tom James is the Sub-Warden here.  We were hoping to meet up with Tom and his wife Mary, who used to be our housemates when we lived in London 35 years ago, whilst Clive was at University there but unfortunately the school term ends tomorrow for Easter and they are going straight on holiday!  What a shame - hopefully, one of these days, we will get together again.   We finally moored up a little way further on as we knew from our canal book that there was a shop very close to the canal.  We secured the boat and went shopping.  Unfortunately there wasn't a post office nearby but we got some directions to one.  We dropped the shopping off at the boat and set off in search of the post office and also to see if we could suss out any decent moorings a bit nearer to the centre of Oxford.  Unfortunately this was not to be the case, in fact I would go so far as to say that Oxford is not very narrowboat friendly at all!  The moorings they offer are only 24 hours max and they are not very nice at all.  The bank is very uneven and stony (would scratch the hull to bits!) and the surroundings aren't very nice either.  The problem we have is that our daughter Vicki is joining us tomorrow and of course she will be arriving by car so we need somewhere reasonably safe to park it as near to the boat as possible but there just doesn't seem to be anywhere at all!  We have therefore decided to stay put tonight, meet Vicki here tomorrow (there is a pub with a small car park nearby) and then leave the boat and go for a drive in the car to see if we can find some moorings on the Thames at the other side of the city.   So, watch this space...............

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