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Northward Bound

The wind prevented us testing the validity of the 52’ winding hole in our 52’ boat so we dropped down through Isis lock, winded and came back up through it on to the canal. The church clock at Jericho chimed out eight times as we passed the place where we had been moored for the last two days. With boats breasted up outside College Cruisers wharf it made for a careful exit from the area but despite the wind we made it unscathed. We caught up with an inexperienced crew who had picked up a hire boat from Jericho the previous day and had moored on the lock landing above Wolvercote lock. We followed them to Dukes lock after opening a swing bridge for them along the way. They kindly let us go before them into the lock after Sue pointed out that they were filling the chamber instead of emptying it.

We thought about stopping at Thrupp for the day but there were no available mooring spaces so we carried on and soon reached Shipton weir lock where we caught up with nb Beaujolais. We shared the lock and followed them out of it and on to the river Cherwell. We caught up with them again at the next lock where they were waiting behind a day hire boat but it all worked out and we were soon up and through back on to the canal again above Bakers lock.

We thought about stopping at Enslow wharf near the Rock of Gibraltar pub but we had no luck there either. Shortly after, the heavens opened and the rain hammered down. A short piece of piling in front of bridge 214 by the golf course near Kirtlington looked too inviting to pass. It had obviously been too inviting for nb Beaujolais too as they were already tied up and doing what we were about to do – have lunch. An hour later we were fed and watered so with the rain almost finished we set off again hoping that the worst of the day’s showers were over.

We reached Lower Heyford where there were plenty of mooring spaces but most of them just a bit too close to the railway line. When we reached Allens lock we met another boat on its way down. This wasn’t really unusual today as we had met enough boats on the way to make our passage through the locks less strenuous than it might otherwise have been. The crew of nb Dove consisted of a couple in their sixties, the lady at the tiller and the gent on lock duty. When he tried to push the lock gate the wrong way he explained to Sue that he was just testing it because some gates got locked by the water —hmmmm! He then tried to climb back on his boat at the foot of the lock but somehow managed to dip his foot in the canal, no doubt testing the water too!

Time was getting on by now and we still had no place to moor but with the prospect of a short hop into Banbury on Sunday a real possibility, we were happy enough. It was still windy but it wasn’t cold and the sun was shining. I set myself a target, an ambitious one I admit, well actually a bloody reckless one but it seemed funny at the time. Most boaters would say that the best time to land at a prime mooring is mid morning and we have found that to be right. My target was to moor at Ayno wharf and have a drink in the Great Western Arms, Sue laughed and I can’t say that I blame her since we were about eight hours after prime mooring time. Needless to say there were no spaces on the visitor moorings so I’m afraid that I had to cheat and moor on the shop mooring space. If we’re still here when the shop opens in the morning we’ll buy the diesel that we need, otherwise it’ll be so long and thanks for your hospitality. So I got the mooring but did I get my pint? Well, no I didn’t. I did go to the pub to see how busy it was but it was full and it wasn’t full of boaters and especially not scruffy ones who had been boating all day. So I guess that I technically succeeded in reaching my target but with a cheated mooring and with no more than a foot on the pub doorstep I probably fell short of it.