We had climbed up the hill so now it is time to go back down again. In fact all the way down the Oxford and Thames is down locks now. I hated the single up locks and didn’t know what to expect with going down. We also had a surprising little splash happen at lunch time.
If up in a single lock was like a violent game of bumper cars with your mortal enemy what was down going to feel like. To my relief it was a gentle glide with me only needing to use the engine for minor directional corrections. For the most part I was able to relax on the back while Alan did the heavy work. I am now a massive fan of single down locks.
We started off our day at Fenny Compton and accidentally had a bit of a sleep in….only to 8am but that is a great improvement over 5-6 am as is typical. We faffed about with a few bits in the morning and did manage to get off and running until after 9 am but that did us no harm.
Did our first down lock and was so happily relieved that it was not a thrashing affair I had feared. The second lock was an even better surprise as it had two volunteer lock keepers manning the lock for us. They did all the heavy work for Alan so he could get off to the next lock and have it ready for me. As I was pulling out of the lock we realised the bikes were sticking up a bit high for the immediate bridge and the lock keepers even adjusted the bikes for me while in motion so e didn’t lose them. Three cheers for the lock keepers.
After that we were back to working our own locks but they were going smoothly enough. We had a hire boat behind us that caught up at each lock. They were four people (two couples I think) from Oregon just having their own adventure. The lady from their group that would come chat with me in the lock sounded just like my stepmom, Helen. If I had closed my eyes I would have thought it was Helen even though these ladies are from opposite ends of the country. Crazy!
After ten locks we stopped off at Cropredy for lunch. I made some food and we discussed where we wanted to stop for the night. Alan walked the rubbish to the nearby services. It was just a typical lunchtime until it wasn’t.
We didn’t hear the splash. We were just sitting at the table and Alan looked over at a very tired and wet cat then said…..”Where is Peanut?” I asked why and he said there was a wet cat on the other side of the canal and I knew it was him without even looking.
There was no way across by foot. There was a bridge in sight but that wouldn’t get us into the garden across from us. Alan immediately thought he would have to swim across. Anyone that has seen Alan swim knows that is a bad idea. Luckily, I did have a better plan.
So the Oxford isn’t that wide and no one was coming in either direction so we made our own bridge. I got in the well deck at the front with the barge pole. Alan got onto the towpath and untied the front end only and pushed it off. I then used the pole to push the bow to the garden across the canal and called Peanut. In all his glorious wetness the little shit thought that jumping from the garden to the middle of the side of the boat would be a good idea rather than running directly to me. As I am sure you understand the middle of the side of the boat was in the middle of the canal and he likely would have gone splash again. I then had to get off the boat in a strangers garden to collect my wet cat. I would just like to say that Peanut is ….absorbent.
I punted the boat back across and Alan retied it. We attempted to dry the cat against his will but as we value our eyes we gave in to the master’s will. It took all the rest of the day for him to dry out.
After the incident we set off again. Through the lock just in front of us with the plan to go for 2-3 more hours. The rain had other plans. Alan hadn’t managed to get back on the boat as it was very busy in Cropredy so was walking down the towpath until I could collect him. So of course this is when the heavens opened and it just pissed down on us. I was just in a hoody not a raincoat so I felt like Peanut looked by the time we found a place to pull-up for Alan. We decided we had had enough as the weather report said at lunchtime that this would be an issue for the rest of the day.
We decided to moor up for the night less than a mile south of Cropredy. The rain was heavy and it was chilly at that point. We were all three wet through. We finished tying up and went inside. Alan prepared to go by bike back for the car and I just sat back done for the day to watch the rain. No sooner had Alan left but the sun shone again and the rains never returned that day. We could have gone off again when he got back but we still felt done.