Thursday 6th August to Sunday 9th August 2015
A bit of boat shuffling was required and undertaken in the morning - our overnight mooring was close to The Jolly Boatman pub but quite in the shade - not too good for the solar panels.
We were keeping an early eye for boats moving back away from us - obviously coming off moorings onto which we would favour moving - and when it happened we pounced.
As it turned out the space in front of Linda and Richard was the one which opened and we were there in an instant (well a narrowboat instant, which is considerably longer than a land-based one).
It also happened that there was sufficient space to accommodate Festina Lente (if they desired) - there had been constant contact that morning and they were not that far away once we were settled in.
What would be the chances of three boats, essentially travelling together, being able to secure consecutive mooring spots in a prime location - but there you have it - done.
But, unfortunately, nb Mary H would be leaving us - Richard's step-daughter and her daughter were arriving for a couple of days on board and cruising, so early afternoon they were off - we would catch up in a few days time.
One of the things about cruising together is that you really don't need to - sometimes there is a need to have to be apart for a short time but meet up again later on.
With such brilliant sunshine, Diane had her cleaning gear out and the cratch cover and pramhood covers were both off and cleaned thoroughly - mainly a spider-eradication program - followed by a plasticiser-treatment of the vinyl - it was sparkling again.
We found time to visit Annie's Tearooms for a quiet lunch - and it was Thursday which meant seniors discount day, so we were perhaps slightly lucky to manage to get a table, but not as lucky as Diane who, without asking for it, was offered the seniors discount by the lady behind the counter serving - even though Diane was, obviously (to me), not old enough to qualify for such a benefit.
At least one woman seated inside the tearooms got a bit of a chuckle out of Diane's protestations - she was still in stitches 30 minutes later when she was leaving and saw Diane again.
Even though she still was given the discount it was a source of comical anger with her for some time during the afternoon - the food still tasted very nice at the lower price.
Friday came and with it the arrival of Paul and Elaine in their motorhome - we had spoken about them
up parking at the rear of the tearooms, which was OK for 1 night, which
seemed fine until an over-efficious lady tried to move them along.
Earlier in the day there had been another boat shuffle to move up to the 7-day moorings - we had already been in the area for 2 nights and therefore couldn't stay on the 48-hour moorings any longer
|Enjoying more of Sue's culinary delights - her flat-breads are devoured|
quickly - of course, you need to notice the "adonis-like"body of Paul in the
background - it's OK, I don't feel well either
Dinner was a lively affair in The Boat that night - especially when we were joined by Maffi later at the bar.
Once again the food here was very good.
Saturday morning was time to say goodbye to Thrupp and to mh Manly Ferry - and it was early as well, so imagine the collective surprise at seeing them awake, dressed and walking around at 8am.
Both boats needed water, so there was plenty of time for goodbyes, but we also knew that it would only be a few days and we would be back together again.
|some like their cartoon characters|
The weather this last few days has been truly magnificent - if anything, slightly warmer than we would like, but knowing the harshness of winter it was appreciated in true British style.
We met up with Sue and Andy who had left a half hour before us and at the same time with Linda and Richard when both boats were moored at Kirtlington Quarry (at least on the canal moorings next to that site).
|The info about the Quarry - now a nature reserve|
A lovely cuppa altogether again; the guys left the girls so that we could explore the quarry and they could plan what they would do to us next.
Soon enough we were heading off and after a longish day - over 7 hours we settled for a relaxed spot just short of Somerton - adjacent to a field in which there were tell tale signs of bovines but fortunately the cows weren't there.
We sat out and enjoyed the last of the sun; some wine and beer; and Sue very kindly prepared a lamb concoction - I am reliably told that it was simply superb.
One of the reasons for such a long day was a general desire to make sure that we had some decent internet signal - there being a complete dearth of anything at all either side of the Heyfords - Upper and Lower.
It appeared that this might be the last of such warm weather for a little while to come - if we could go by Richard's reading of the sunset was correct.
The predictions looked to be well based when we woke on Sunday morning as there was a sky filled with clouds and a coolish feel to the breeze that was about.
Our aim for today was Aynho as we looked eagerly towards a Sunday roast and the Great Western Arms at Aynho was a nominated candidate.
We did however have some special packages to pick up along the way and there at the very first bridge waiting for us were Sammie and Bombo (oh and of course Elaine and Paul) - they had walked down from Aynho where they were parked right alongside the canal and the nominated hotel.
|Elaine and Bombo aboard Ferndale - Bombo assumed|
his normal position -almost as if he had never left
All we then had to do was negotiate the Somerton Deep Lock and at 12' deep it would take a bit of time to get a boat through it and arriving as we did already behind 2 other boats - the first a single-hander and then followed by a hire boat, it was clear that help would need to be sent ahead to help the situation.
|Sue and "Mad-Eye" with boats waiting in line|
|Bringing Ferndale into Somerton Deep Lock|
|Inside the lock - notice Andy enjoying doing the lock - doesn't get enough|
opportunities to swinging the windlass
|leaving the lock - Andy would have to do battle with the two women at|
the other end for more locking
Of course this is what everyone should be doing to help others through the locks - sometime during the process we ended with a queue of 7 boats waiting to ascend - for a change everyone pitched in to help - Well done to all!
Once again we managed to find mooring spots for all boats one after the other - albeit with a bridge between two of the boats.
Some initial consultation was made with the hotel to find a table for eight and allow three dogs - when the initial answer came back which was not acceptable, we quickly allowed Sue and Diane to do their thing - not surprisingly they returned, after a TKO over the manager was acclaimed as the result - but we had our table.
|Andy - imparting his wisdom to us - when he speaks we listen|
|Elaine and Diane|
|Linda and Sue|
|"Mad-eye" transport boy - we found an ideal book for him - had lots of pictures;|
shame that he walked out of the pub with it in his hands
|simply delicious - dark chocolate torte, cream,ice-cream and a raspberry jus|
There were no complaints with the food whatsoever - everything was proclaimed as simply delicious - the price reflecting the quality of the kitchen output - but no quibbles about the bill.
Somewhat fuller of belly we waddled back to the motorhome for a drink - some alcoholic and some had tea/coffee.
A further surprise was the appearance of Richard (and dog Sadie) from nb Pendle Warter wandering down the tow path - they joined us and Richard related his woe after the boat took a belting at the "hands"of a lift bridge - a slightly destroyed cratch being the result.
Diane and I had been messaging to Richard and knew he was close.
Not long after Richard left to complete giving Sadie a decent long walk we all broke up and returned to our boats - we all felt a little tired and in need of finding a familiar place to just flop down.
Thus endeth another weekend.
13 Miles, 8 Locks, 4
YTD: 683 Miles (1099 km) , 381 Locks, 12 Tunnels, 11
13 Swing Bridges
Totals: 3577 Miles (5756 km) , 2502 Locks, 110 Tunnels, 45
164 Swing Bridges