Sunday, October 07, 2012

On to Banbury

We left Thrupp the next morning in mild weather with clear skies, the mists having just lifted from the canal and the fields.
I opened the electric lift bridge, and watched Grace take Kantara through it at a rate of some knots in order to take the 90 degree left turn against the cross wind which had been a problem when we came here from the other direction.
(courtesy of Google Maps)
(courtesy of Google Maps)

It was the correct approach, and Kantara swung gracefully around the bend and on, back up the snaking route of the Oxford Canal. We enjoyed again the wide and deep half mile of the River Cherwell,
passed Kirtlington and Lower Heyford, mooring finally at Allen's Bridge at Upper Heyford.
A phone call to Tooley's led us to expect our fuel pump would be replaced the next morning, and they would ring us within the next hour or so to confirm the time John would arrive, so we settled down for the night. We got no confirmation phone call.

Friday morning was mild, with broken cloud, not a bad day for cruising. Having heard nothing from Tooley's I phoned several times, but no-one answered. Getting through finally at around midday, they told me that they had emailed me yesterday to say that they would not be able to fit the pump after all, since they were far too busy preparing for Banbury Canal Day on Sunday. They would make us their priority on Monday morning, wherever we happened to be. Unfortunately, we had had no Internet connection for some days, and I hadn't seen the email.

So we continued on our way, up though Allen's Lock and on to Aynho Wharf, taking on water there, and buying some milk.
Very shortly after leaving the wharf, we came across another drifting narrowboat, “Little Tinker”, both of whose moorings had pulled out of the ground, leaving her drifting, crewless, right in the middle of the canal. There was nothing we could do about this apart from phone the CRT emergency line and report it, and carry on, on our way.

We were amused to come upon this boat, which bears the name of Eddie, Naomi's husband!

We moored at the spot below Belcher's Bridge (189) which we had used on our way out. The rain started shortly after that, and carried on hard throughout the evening and on into the night. At least we had decent phone and broadband connection, after several days with little or none.

After the torrential rain throughout the night, we found the towing path flooded in places, and the canal levels very high on Saturday. The weather was glorious – very sunny, clear skies, and really warm – as we made our way towards Banbury. I met an unusually large number of people at the locks on this journey, and had some interesting chats. One lady told me a lovely story of her meeting a boat carrying ten men. But these gentlemen were not the young men one becomes accustomed to seeing in groups together on hired boats. They were all quite elderly, and enjoying themselves immensely. The lady asked them if this was a stag party. “Not at our age!” came the reply. “No, this is a wake – we just don't know whose it is yet!” Brilliant!

Arriving just south of Banbury, at the spot where we had moored between bridges 170 and 171 on our outward journey, we moored again and walked the mile into Banbury. Here we shopped at M & S for food, and had a look at the programme for Sunday's Banbury Canal Day. The plan now is to stay here overnight, go to the Canal Day and then proceed to Tooley's Boat Yard to get our pump fitted at last on Monday.

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