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A week in Thrupp

We left our mooring below pigeon lock on Wednesday morning with Thrupp in mind as a place to carry out our services. In an ideal world we would have liked to find a mooring in Thrupp but since it is a popular place, not only did we hold out little hope, we just didn’t factor in a stop there at all. On reaching Bakers lock where the canal joins the river Cherwell, we noticed that there is a new electronic indicator board showing the state of the water level on the river below. This is an improvement on the simple red/amber/green marker system because it is lock-side rather than out of sight, below the lock. Unsurprisingly, the level was in the green and we were good to go. It’s a twisty section of waterway with some tight bends but it is not for long and soon we reached Shipton weir lock where we parted company with the Cherwell. A few minutes later and we reached the approach to Thrupp and the long line of moored boats. We were pleased to see that the service wharf was free although no sooner had we tied up on it than a boat came through the lift bridge and pulled up behind us. They too had wanted water but seeing that we would be a while, decided to visit Annie’s tearoom for breakfast. While the water poured into Caxton’s cavernous tank, I took a walk around the corner on the off chance that there might be a space to moor for a day or so. I was amazed to discover that there was one last space, big enough for us, at the end of the seven day moorings. The tank seemed to take an age to fill but ‘our’ space was still there when we finally moved around the corner and under the lift bridge. We were secured to the bank a few minutes later, utilising the rings provided with a couple of our pins added as springs fore and aft.

We decided to stay in Thrupp for as long as we could, with our water supply probably being the limiting factor. The nearby village / town of Kidlington, which is probably classed as a suburb of Oxford, is only around 1.5 miles away and provided us with a good walk most days. The high street in Kidlington has a Tesco, Co-op and Iceland as well as a number of smaller shops which have provided the rest of our everyday needs.

Thrupp itself is tiny but around the canal there are a number of businesses; Annie’s tearoom, The Boat inn and the Jolly Boatman pub. We visited all of them in the week that we were there and they were all good in their own way.

The Jam Butty boat.

Another business which was there temporarily was the Jam Butty boat so not wishing to let the opportunity pass, we bought some chutneys from them and very good they are too. I had a chat with Andy or Captain Ahab as he is sometimes known. Coincidentally, he has also just taken early retirement and like me isn’t missing work at all!

In addition to our almost daily walks to Kidlington, we also found time to walk to Shipton on Cherwell and to the abandoned village at Hampton Gay where all that remains now is a ruined manor house and a Church which still has around six services a year. This area was the scene of a terrible train crash in 1874, the details of which are here.

We spent a fair bit of our time in Thrupp cleaning and restoring Caxton to its former glory and by the time we left, the starboard side looked magnificent. The paintwork had been polished and the gunwhales, side hatches and tunnel bands had all been painted.

Caxton looking resplendent after a bit of a makeover.


Cream tunnel band repainted.


Side hatch now matches the other side after a repaint.


Mirror finish!


Staying a week in one place was a bit of a novelty for us and felt a bit like we were holidaying on a campsite but with spectators. The weekend was blessed with good weather and as a result there was a steady stream of visitors to Thrupp. We found it funny to hear passers-by commenting on our boat, seemingly unaware that we could hear every word. We even heard one parent pointing out to their child, “look, there’s a lady doing some knitting”. Well, eventually the notion of being an “extra” in an unofficial living museum wore a bit thin and we were glad when it started to rain on Sunday afternoon as that seemed to disperse the gongoozlers.

The weather turned a bit sour for our last couple of days at Thrupp but we still managed to get out now and again between showers for the odd trip to the tearoom, pub or shop. Had we been on holiday, we would have had to brave the elements and get on with our journey but in our new found existence, that is now a thing of the past. We managed to survive on one tank of water and our solar panels kept the batteries topped up for the first five days. When the thick cloud arrived with the rain on day six, we ran the engine for a while just to make sure that we had enough power to see us through the day.

All good things must come to an end and for us that meant leaving Thrupp on Wednesday morning, our first priority being to refill the almost empty water tank.