Liveaboards head south towards Oxford and the River Thames

swan in the rainSunday. The rain dripped with tedious monotony outside. The melting ice from the defrosting fridge dripped irritatingly inside. This is a task one defers until necessity pressgangs you into tackling it even when you are on a boat. But when accomplished – how smug the feeling. And of course, there is the added benefit of being able to shove more food into the now relatively Tardis like space.

Between an old cement works which now has a new career as a nature reserve and Pigeon’s Lock north of Enslow, we came across an embankment hosting a quirky arrangement of tables and chairs Beduin camp beside the oxford canalunder canvases: a cross between wedding marquees and a wholefood cafe in an outdoors setting. A mystery eatery or a private gathering of Bedouin? Who knows…We didn’t stop as I’d just made sandwiches to scoff on-the-go (a true sign that we have gained experience and confidence: multitasking in the form of steering and eating. Amazing). The Oxford canal runs so close to the River Cherwell here that the towpath is sometimes just a fillet of track between the two, the trees heavy with green and the reed beds encroaching upon the chocolate canal waters.

Thrupp has a jolly nice feel. Mooring space was thin on the ‘ground’ so presumably everyone else thought Thrupp had a jolly nice feel too. We crept by the moored craft and saw atop of one boat this chalkboard sign sporting the quote of the day.

Boaters thought for the dayOur day’s traveling after Thrupp however wasn’t that nice at all in comparison to the meandering and picturesque previous cruising. When we finally arrived at Oxford we had two abortive attempts at mooring where the canal edges were so silted up  that freeing Silber from the sucking silt with evening fast approaching consumed all our niceness. It would seem that Oxford isn’t as welcoming as it could be, although we ourselves were very welcoming to a couple and their toddler from Russia who were inquisitive as to our lifestyle and the interior of Silber and who requested to peek inside saying it was their ‘dream to enter a narrowboat here in England’. Inside they ventured where Mr Russian was startled at the head room and the fact that he could stand his 6’ frame upright in his boots and ooh, look, a microwave. Outside again, he requested a photograph of us beside the boat. We posed, hoping to emit a quintessentially English aura despite our lack of Oxford stripy shirts and loafers.

I have a huge gnat bite on my left achilles. As those who know me will vouch, I have never had dainty ankles but now I resemble a Beryl Cook painting. I have had to make chocolate brownies to make me feel better. I dipped into the Jericho area of Oxford for general provisions and chocolate cake ingredients and was delighted to discover they stocked tofu! Obtaining one’s favourite things is not always easy when traveling and really makes you appreciate things you would normally take for granted.

The next stage of our journey is on the River Thames which is an intimidating prospect. We are aware that we must buy a license for the privilege and assume that the loose change in our wallet won’t suffice…

Next, Mark and Donna brave those big electric River Thames locks!

Thanks to new Liveaboards Donna, Mark (and Inky) for writing and their permission to publish this.

All materials and images © Canal Junction Ltd. Dalton House, 35 Chester St, Wrexham LL13 8AH. No unauthorised reproduction.

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