We set off at 7 15 this morning, no queues for us today, but we did meet a steady stream of boats coming the other way. Approaching Pigeon lock the farm shop boat looks to have closed down, I do hope they didn't have stock or money stolen, the last time we visited there was no sign of life, just help yourself and leave money in the honesty box which contained a number of £20 notes. They are still running the Tea shop on a Sunday but you have to walk there from the lock. Just on from here the reed growth is almost as bad as down the Aylesbury Arm with a channel about 14 foot wide down the middle.
At Bakers lock there was an Ownerships boat waiting to come up as we left, but as he pushed the leaver forward all that happened was the engine revved up and no drive, however he sorted it as we rounded the bend on the junction. BW have replaced the bridge at Shipton Wear lock, there were two boats in the lock coming up onto the river and they had problems getting out of the lock. Mr. boater was telling Mrs. boater what to do, in the end she told him to come and do it himself. Diana walked from the lock and lifter the next bridge for me, at the next bridge by the stop lock we met a BW short flat just through the bridge which caused a detoured into the bushes, I am sure that never use to happen before the repaint and then we met a hire boat right on the bend between all the moored boats.
As we approached the lift bridge at Thrupp two people sitting on the seat nearby kindly opened it for us and also the boat coming there other so that saved letting Diana off and then picking her up again on the other side.We continued on through all the moorings, just pausing to give Bones a knock as we passed her boat. From here we continued meeting boats all the way to Dukes cut, even meeting one as we were about to leave Dukes Cut lock.
Dukes cut is very overgrown and the trees rub both sides of the cabin at times as the channel is so narrow, I expect this is the responsibility of EA and not BW, what is BW's problem is the state of the landing stage on the canal side of Dukes Lock where if you do need to get off the boat to work the lock you would be mad pressed to find safe ground to stand on in all the undergrowth. I feel a couple of e-mails coming on.
We entered Kings Lock on the Thames at 2 pm and bought a 14 day licence for £106 that is £54 cheaper that a 6 day licence. After paying our dues the lock keeper locked us down, by now we were sharing the lock with a couple and their dog, the dog didn't look at all impressed in an inflatable canoe. I suggested they leave the lock first as I would have to go below to start the engine. At this point the lady said" Will you keep a look out for our son. He is swimming down the river". When the gates opened they paddled out, I spoke to the lock keeper as I couldn't see anyone in the water ahead and he told me he had already rounded the next bend. I took it very steady as this stretch is very bendy, eventually we spotted the canoe and then the chaps head, he didn't even have the sense to wear an orange swimming hat going down the middle of the river, once they were all safely on the side I passed them and ward the boats leaving the next lock that he was ahead of them.
We carried on down the Thames planning to moor for the night just above Iffley lock, I took the long way through Oxford and came through the bridge just as a Salters Cruiser was setting off, so we followed him down the river, for some reason he pulled in under the road bridge and we passed him, as he tried to leave it was obvious he was hard aground on something, he tried pushing with a broom, jumping ashore from the bows with a rope, all to no avail. feeling sorry for him I turned round and offered him a tow, First I tried towing him backwards, to pull him off the same way as he went on, with no luck. I was a bit worried that I may pull his cleat off. Then I tried from the bow, slewing him out as well as pulling forward, eventually he started to move. saying he was very grateful was an understatement, I think he may have had mud on his face if one of their boats had been called to pull him off. We moored for the night at 4 45 pm outside what use to be the Isis pub. I am not sure what it is now but they serve wine, beer, buns and things during the day and just two choices in the evening and its all "whole food" I shall report on it tomorrow.