Cropredy Lock to Castle Quays, Banbury
Boats had started to come down from Claydon by the time we got moving this morning and a large gap had been created behind us, enough for three maybe four boats to moor. We paused and had egg and mushrooms on toast. A boat just appeared as we were about to push off, so we held back for them to approach the lock first, they had to wait anyway for their turn. I walked up to lend a hand with two boats going down and two Oxford Hire boats coming up. The hire company must drum into them about going slowly which is a good thing, but neither of them seemed to know about reverse! They both came very slowly into the lock, one not having enough umph to steer and both only stopped by crashing into the top gate.
By the time we were on our way down another boat was behind us, a long term hire from Stone, they had five weeks left before they had to return the boat.
We met boats at most locks. One left their two dogs to walk themselves along the towpath. Except one of them was adamant that I would throw a stick for her. I did my best to ignore the pleading eyes knowing full well that should I pick up a stick then I would have a dog for life, Tilly would not be happy. She tried and tried, her boat getting further and further away, she tried some more, at last bringing me a stick. Eventually the lady on the back of the boat started to shout “Daisy!” it took a little while but in the end it was decided that I was a lost cause. She turned and started to run only to return to claim her stick and charge along the towpath with it.
We only caught up with the boat ahead at the last lock before passing under the M40. They pulled in soon afterwards for lunch, we carried on to make use of one of the moorings shown on Waterway Routes nearer the next lock. Certainly not a place you’d want to moor overnight unless you could take your hearing aids out, but suitable enough for lunch. Down the last lock to Banbury. We pulled in by bridge 163 with the plan to top up with shopping from Tescos.
Earlier in the day I’d noticed we were missing our boat pole. Nowhere on the roof. Where had it gone? I spent some time this evening going through photos to see if I could identify when it went missing, we’d both heard a noise yesterday evening which we hadn’t thought much of. The last photo it appeared in was on the 9th September heading down the last few locks to Radford Semele, the first it didn’t appear in was on the 17th. So someone relieved us of the weight of it either in Leamington Spa or out at Radford Semele. B**rds!
By Bridge 163 there is a B&Q, Homebase, Dunelm Mill. When our boat hook broke on Lillian we replaced it with a pine pole, not perfect as it’s not a strong as Ash, but it did us and possibly still is for her new owners. So we had a look round for some banister rail or chunky dowel. 35mm diam pine 8ft long was on offer, but we decided to think about it. We were also on the hunt for some matting to go on the roof before we stock up on coal. Dunelm came the closest with rubber door mats, but there was no where for water to run out from underneath, so we’re thinking on that as well. Our distraction meant we were now right by the new Waitrose, we couldn’t be bothered to walk back to Tescos so did a top up shop and headed back to the boat.
We decided to move on up a short distance into Banbury, it was too late in the day for Tilly to go out so mooring somewhere she’d not like wouldn’t matter too much. Pulling under bridge 164 a hire boat was just about to push off, the only other spaces were under bridges. So we held back for them to vacate the space and tied up facing a Black Prince boat. Bridge 164 is quite a busy bridge and car parks border both sides of the canal attracting skate boarders until 8pm when the car parks closed, so not the quietest of moorings.
Around 11:30pm, lying in bed reading before lights out we suddenly noticed the boat dip and rise. This was far too much to have just been an effect of someone working the lock a couple of hundred yards away. Someone was on Oleanna!
Extra lights turned on Mick popped his dressing gown on and opened up the hatch as I peered out of the bedroom window. There was a man on the towpath, Mick could see that our bow line had been untied along with that of the Black Prince boat. “What’s going on?” Mick says. “I’ve just untied your boat” says the man. “Why?” “ For a laugh!” The chap then walked up to the stern of the Oleanna. Mick closed the hatch and quickly put some more clothes on. The boat moved again, he’d untied the stern!
This was very quickly flowed by a large SPLASH! Once clothed Mick went out the back, no sign of the chap and Oleanna was right across the cut, both ropes undone. The stern had reached the far side so Mick gave us a big push to try to get us back to where we’d been moored. This got us part way back but not far enough, only one thing for it turn the engine on. Sorry neighbours, no choice, and it wasn’t as if we were moored! Once we got back to the towpath it became obvious what had happened. There was a very big puddle where our stern had been and very wet foot prints heading away under the bridge. He’d fallen in!
Our concern for Oleanna and ourselves turned into laughter. The chap had been right, it was a laugh! Instant Karma.
Mick retied us and managed to get the hire boat pulled back to the towpath. No body seemed to have stirred on board or maybe they were lying in their beds worried about what was going on outside. Our ropes got an extra turn around the bollards (we normally do this as it’s harder to pull a rope off a bollard, but I’d forgotten to) and we returned to bed. No damage done. Well unless the chap had an expensive phone in his pocket!
4 locks, 4.43 miles, 2 gods in the post, 1 big queue, 2 slow to steer, 1 missing pole, 0 pole to buy, 0 mats, 1 chicken, 24 meatballs, 500 grams mince, 2 pizzas, 1 free newspaper, 0.5 of a sock, 1 extra person on board, 3 ropes untied, 2 boats floating about, 1 very soggy man, 2 boaters laughing, 1 John Lennon song going round in our heads.