Monday 26th August; Northbrook lock to past Somerton Deep lock
It was delightfully cool when we set off soon after 8, with a short delay while I trotted back to retrieve a forgottenmooring pin!
The horses were enjoying the early coolness, but by 9 it was hot and it just got hotter. And hotter!
We were behind a boat at Dashwood, the first lock, but then enjoyed a pleasant cruise on the long run to Heyford, especially the shady bits! There is a garden alongside the canal in Heyford, with a thriving veg patch which I eyed enviously. Why doesn’t mine look so wonderful? Could be something to do with going boating instead of gardening, I suppose ….
It was changeover day at Oxford Narrowboats, with families hauling luggage back to their cars. All the ones we have spoken to have had a great time, even on the day it rained! There were a few boats on the move, but there was enough time to pause at Allen’s lock for a bowl of blackberries.
The cattle on Somerton Meadows were drifting across to seek the shade before it vanished as the sun moved round.
At Somerton Deep lock we were delighted to see no queue for once, and even better, a boat just emerging from the bottom. And with a boat waiting at the top there was extra crew for the work. It didn’t make the top paddles any easier though – I did one with my longer windlass but the other lady couldn’t shift hers. On we went, wilting in the heat, through the open Chisnell lift bridge, then past our normal mooring along here to find somewhere with some shade so we could have lunch without melting. With the window hoppers out since first thing, and the curtains drawn, it wasn’t too hot inside.
Then it was time to haul the fridge out, clean the back and try and improve the ventilation at the back. Dave had routed out 3 holes in the floor, to get air from the bilge, a few years ago.
But we don’t know if it’s the batteries beginning to show their age, or just that the fridge can’t cope with the intense heat and is using much more power than usual. As the router bits and pieces were at home, Dave had to use the drill. This time the holes went through to the locker under the dinette. You can see that Dave encountered the ballast when he made the holes into the bilge. He also had to be careful that the holes weren't where the fridge feet go.
Once that was done, I made some gingerbread – we have run out of cake and gingerbread takes less time to cook than a fruit cake – and a quiche for tea tonight, so we can have something cool to eat this evening. We had an assortment of towels keeping the direct sun off the cratch and side hatch, and gradually the sun went round and we were in cool shade once more. We had already decided we were staying put, so out came the chairs, cool drinks and newspapers.
The swallows were twittering and zooming around, making us realise autumn is on the way in spite of the heat wave. If you ignored the distant sound of the M40, the trains, small planes and farm machinery, it’s a very quiet spot! Gradually the planes went home and the farm work stopped, but the M40 kept on till late.
6 ½ miles, 4 locks, 1 lift bridge plus one left open.