Back on The Thames.
Wednesday 3rd October
I started the day with a shopping trip to M&S at the rail station and I was going to buy some vino, but their prices are far above anything that I am used to. I walked back and unloaded what little I had, before paying a visit to The Jericho Tavern so that could also be added to the database. Having been in The Rickety Press last year, that was also included.
All in all, it was not a very inspiring day.
Thursday 4th October
Decending Isis Lock - always a sad moment.
Although I set off just after 9am and went through Osney Lock, where I paid for a week’s licence, I did not get very far. The reason being that Sandford Lock was having repairs done to one of the top gate paddles by a couple of divers. I had been forewarned at Iffley Lock, but they reckoned it could be all over by the time I got there – no way! The lockie reckoned I would be held up for no more than 20mins, which turned into 2 hours eventually. In the meantime another narrow boat pulled in behind me and I got talking to the owner. We could see that the job was going to take longer than predicted, so Greg and I walked over to the King’s Arms for a pint, where we could see the action at the lock gates.
The diver is down there somewhere.
There he is! Just look at all those attachments.
Eventually at 13.30, we got the all clear from the lock keeper and we were in our way towards Abingdon, where Greg wanted to fill with water, before returning to Oxford. Not only did he fill his water tank, but a 40 gall drum as well, so that was another hours delay.
Abingdon lock keeper's sense of humour.
I did finally moor up the other side of Abingdon Bridge, where there were empty spaces galore – most unusual here, but it is so much later in the year than normal for me.
Friday 5th October
After a walk around Abingdon to top up a few supplies, I decided that it was time to move on, but could not decide where I was going to moor. Passing some moored boats on Culham Reach, just south of Abingdon, I heard someone shout my name and much to my surprise it was Keith Norfolk on his Dutch barge.
When I reached Culham Lock, there was another narrow boat waiting for me in the lock, so one of his crew locked us through. Eventually we got talking and he was due to meet up with friends at Goring, which was almost 17 miles further downstream, which seemed like an impossible task in daylight, as I calculated that it would take until 7 or 7.30pm, when it would be dark.
In Culham Lock there was a lock keeper on duty, as there had been at most locks so far and in times of EA cut backs, I thought this was most unusual. Anyway, I requested using the centre line only as I normally do when descending in the lock, even though there were two boats side by side. He approved of that, provided that I put it round two bollards, which gave two points of contact. Why had I not thought of this before? It makes such logical sense and was so much more controllable than using one bollard to hold the boat in to the side of the lock. After 14 years of boating on the Thames, I am still learning!
At the next lock, I made the decision to accompany the other boat as far as I thought reasonable, as they had a crew of four and I did not have to work any locks. We were doing 4mph and they were always in front to be able to get to the lock first and do the work. I got colder as the sun set, but I continued on until we did arrive at Gorham Lock when it was dark at 7pm. We finally moored up at 7.30 and as with the other boat, I turned upstream onto the mooring, which was difficult without the headlight, because the stern light did not reach the bank. With the aid of a torch I tied up, but it was not easy, despite knowing Goring moorings very well and I was pleased to get inside and light up the fire. There were again plenty of spaces at this time of year, as at Abingdon. I was too cold and hungry to venture off to the pub, so cooked a meal and had an early night.