Against my better judgment we walked round to the Kings Arms pub to eat and I must say it was first class, The service was good, the food was good, the menu choice good, even the Rosa wine which was the cheapest on the wine list was good.
This morning we didn’t leave until quarter to ten, the reason for leaving earlier on previous days was to moor up earlier as the best mooring spots soon disappear in the afternoon. We had only just left the mooring and crossed the river when this Salter’s Brothers trip boat “Goring” came round the bend. As we cleared the Kennington Railway Bridge I could see an EA Patrol Boat coming out of the Iffley Lock weir stream, as he rounded up the driver called out “hello Brian” which had me guessing for a bit as I couldn’t see him clearly. When we caught up with him at Iffley Lock it turned out to be Richard a fellow Narrowboat owner who I see about once a year as our paths cross, we both worked offshore for Shell many years ago.
The lock was quite full with three Narrowboats and the Launch so we had time for bit of a chat. At Folly Bridge we carried straight on under the main bridge but the patrol boat to the left hand longer route but still got to the other end before me. As you can see its another corking day on the river. As well as Richard, a volunteer driver and the EA Patrol Officer there was also a police constable. They are trying to join the EA on regular patrols of the river now, this is something that has been happening on the Broads for some time called Broads Beat.
At the moment the skyline of Oxford is dominated by cranes, not the flying type but the lifting ones. We were to share all the locks on the Thames with the Narrowboat in the photograph. There wasn’t room for us all at Osney Lock so us two had to wait for the next locking, chatting to the other boater he planned to go further up the Thames where as we planned to turn off at Dukes Cut.
We carried straight on, for a short way the willow trees on our left had been pollarded but where they hadn’t been done the river was very closed in with the trees, two wide beam boats meeting would have problems. Once we reached the meadows it all opened out again, there were horses, foal and cows all grazing together. There was just us two Narrowboats at Godstow Lock, the other one and the Patrol Boat had gone into Isis, The patrol boat had been disappearing off down lots of the side channels. At Godstow Lock there were divers working on the weir, I couldn’t see what they were doing there. I don’t know if the tubular bit on this boat was made specifically for the boat or if its something off the shelf intended for another use. They didn’t seem to marry up very well. We struck lucky with Kings Lock, this is the first manually operated lock and although the sign said “Self Service” the lock keeper had just returned as we bold up, so we didn’t have to do it after all. All the locks below here are powered so even on “Self Service” you only have to press buttons, all the ones above are manual and require muscle power to work them. As we left the lock much to my surprise our locking partners turned right down Dukes Cut to the South Oxford Canal, I thought he was spending another couple of days on the river. Not wanting to chase him up all the single locks we changed plan and went upstream a bit. We couldn’t go far as out Thames Visitor Licence runs out at Midnight tonight so no point in doing any more locks.
By the mouth of the River Evenlode we passed this encampment behind the moored boats of tents and marquees, the whole lot surrounded by a double security fence. If anyone knows what’s happening I would love to know. I don’t think its anything to do with the boats but I have seen events held here before.
We turned shortly after this and headed back down to Ducks Cut, I had forgotten how long it is. We arrived at Dukes Cut Lock just as a boat was coming out towards us which was handy then as we turned left up the Oxford Canal a boat entered the other Dukes Cut Lock so that was right for us as well. We stopped a short way up the canal to fill with water, not the fastest tap on the system my a long way, but not the worst I have come across. Once full we set off just as a hire boat was lifting Drinkwater lift bridge, Diana was walking and I cleared the old railway bridge just as the boat cleared the lift bridge and his wife started to pull the bridge down again. Luckily Diana explained that we were coming through and it would only take a few seconds before she could lower the bridge and get her key back.
We moored for the night just before Kidlington Green Lock, ever since we have been here there has been a stream of hire boats going down heading back to their base in Oxford.