Going around in circles
We left you in Thrupp as we sought to replenish our much depleted jam stocks.
An early morning trip to Kidlington market yielded 8kg of jamming strawberries, which were mixed with locally picked Elderflower to make our popular Strawberry and Elderflower Jam.
After a visit by our friends Dave and Pat it was back to Birmingham for a hospital appointment, but with the weather looking grim and our kitchen at home being so much more efficient we decided to return on Sunday and give ourselves a whole day for making. More strawberries were bought from a local farm and the surplus rhubarb from friends gardens collected. In the end we made nearly 150 jars including Summer Pudding Jam, Raspberry and Strawberry with Raspberry Gin and Raspberry and Rhubarb. At times it felt like tag preserving as Helen and I took turns actually making the goods.
All the time we were home the heavens opened and the wind howled round the house, but somehow it didnt feel quite like home - maybe we have been afloat too long! That said, we caught up on our washing, raided the store room for more jam and said hello to friends and neighbours.
One negative was the trip back. We had very kindly been lent a van for the journey and all went well till we got to Kidlington and suddenly I struggled to find first gear, and then all the rest seemed to have gone on holiday and the clutch plated made a very ominous sound. By some fluke I found second gear and managed to get back to Thrupp without stopping or causing too much congestion on the main road. By the time I parked up the clutch was non existent and I had to make a grovelling call to the owner to explain the predicament. It was something of a miracle that it got us back at all and the owner was graciousness itself and in no small measure relieved that it hadn't failed when she was driving.
Come Wednesday and the worst of the gale has blown over so from 6.00 am we heard a steady procession of boats heading south. We dawdled, filling the water tank and didnt leave till 11.30 - but much to our surprise we caught them all up just before Dukes Lock where a fallen tree blocked the canal. Another wait which we spent preparing a batch of Blow Your Head Off Chilli Jam, and selling more preserves to the boat in front!
We joined the Thames about three hours later than planned and moved south through Godstow Lock where the lock keeper examined the butty license and observed that we have got a b****y good deal. It seems that the butty isnt a canoe after all and in fact is a houseboat - which should attract a 50% charge. I offered to pay the difference but it was not needed.
We ended up on a wild mooring overlooking the meadows to the west of Oxford with the distinctive tower of Jericho church peeping through the trees. Its so shallow that the boat is 3ft off the bank but with rain threatening beggars cant be choosers.