Banbury to Thrupp
We finished our stay in Banbury with a trip to the town's Odeon Cinema, which offers two screen entertainment. I have heard that the new development at Spiceball Park will include a multiplex, so I guess that will be the death knell for the old style cinema near the Cross.
Anyway, we went to see Rocketman, a biopic of Elton John, who's music featured quite prominently in my youth. In terms of production and insight it stands above Bohemian Rhapsody, and his ability to write music is nothing short of staggering. That said, I marginally preferred Bohemian Rhapsody, but that is because Queen really did represent the soundtrack to me teenage years.
Our departure from Banbury was a staggered affair, with trips to the bank and the mobile phone shop plus a visit to Tooleys to pick up some flyers, all fitted in before we set off. No sooner had we left Banbury Lock than the heavens opened and soaked me as I moved on to the moorings near Morrisons.
This was never going to be a long day with just seven miles to cover on our way to Aynho, zig zagging back and forth under the M40. Its on this stretch that you pick up the rail track which carries a massive volume of container traffic and these rumbling convoys are never really out of earshot all the way to Oxford. In the end so we moored just above Aynho Wharf where the freight and passenger trains cross on box girder bridge, but luckily the noise was tolerable.
The reason we needed to moor above Aynho was because we needed to refill with diesel. We last filled at Hawne in Halesowen about two cruising weeks ago, and the tank will have been down to two thirds full (I don't often bother to check with the dipstick because you get a feel for consumption rates). That may sound like a lot left in the tank, but we have a long trip down the Thames ahead of us and you never want to pay Thames prices for fuel if you don't have to. As it was the price per litre was 95p - about 30p more than Hawne. The price rises as you go south.
For some reason we have made fewer towpath sales as we travel this year, but as we worked through Somerton Deep Lock a Dutch party decided to buy some preserves to take home. Of course, boats were approaching from both directions so the transaction had to be swift and concluded before the butty sank too far in the chamber!
We had been slowing our progress because we had agreed to meet Bones for the evening at Lower Hayford. Rather stupidly I had forgotten to find out exactly where her boat was and decided to cruise on and stop after I found it. Bad Mistake. No sooner had I passed the vacant visitor moorings (in a downpour) than I passed her boat after which there were no viable mooring spots. I tried one rather close to a bridge, but after the first boat to pass bumped us I moved on and ended up half a mile away. Getting back involved a long and squelchy walk.
Another easy day of about seven miles covering attractive ground with the Cherwell running close to the canal. After the rush to the Wormleighton summit all these half days feel like a holiday.
Our destination is Thrupp, a sleepy village just north of Oxford with two pubs and a tea room. It's a popular spot for boaters with its own rather complex set of mooring restrictions. These moorings are monitored daily by a warden from Thrupp Cruising Club, so it's important to get the right spot. As it turned out, both Maffii and Ken were about as we approached the lift bridge and opened it for us, laughing at my failure to correctly anticipate the amount of butty assistance I would get as I turned the 90 degree angle.
The aim was to moor on the 7 day section and much to our delight there were a couple of full length spots available, mid way between the bridge and The Boat pub.
The evening was spent nursing a pint or two in the Boat and catching up on boating gossip from far and wide.
A non moving day and we decided to take the S4 bus into Oxford, fitting in a visit to the Ashmolean and the department stores. Helen was successful in Debenhams but frustratingly they had none of the trousers I liked in my size. We spent a few pleasant hours pottering around and visited the Green Cafe, perusing their impressive poster wall. I was particularly amused by the way the Old Time Revival Tent rally organised by Oxford Baptist Church rubbed shoulders with an advert for a Cannabis Cake making course!
The day finished with yours truly doing a spot of paint repair work on Wand'ring Bark. The problem seems to be that paint just does not want to stick to the welds attaching the cabin to the gunwhale. The original paint sticks ok, but the "new" paint comes off after about four years and then water starts to creep under the non stick surface and lift it up. So my task was to address the towpath side, sanding off the flaky bits and applying both undercoat and top coat with a small flat artists brush. The sight of me paining a huge boat with a tiny brush raised more than a few eyebrows (and comments) from dog walkers passing by.
Looking more closely at he paint I can see that the cabin will need attention before next season, particularly the roof where the paint is starting to flake. I will put that in the diary for early April.