Two of our friends David and Sheila, who helped with the fit out of Harnser had hired canal boats in the distant past but are now into deep blue water sailing said they would be pleased to come for a week with us on Harnser.
We arranged to meet for lunch at the Wharf, Welford for lunch and they would then follow us to the moorings. We arrived at the Wharf on Tuesday lunchtime and by the time we had taken Magic for a walk they were in the car park.
The Wharf is now under new management and was quite quiet. We had Pie, chips and vegetables which all tasted freshly cooked with chips made from real potatoes. We will definitely eat there again in the future. As soon as we had eaten lunch and had a half of beer we headed to the mooring and loaded all our belongings on to Harnser, within an hour or so we were on our way.
We stopped at Fenny Compton wharf to fill the water tank and noted the BW sign stating that the winding hole is now 50 foot maximum, this is due to a boat being moored at the end of it. We did not expect to get this far on the first night so Di had precooked the evening meal at home. So we moved off the water point and moored a little further south but still before the marina.
Wednesday morning Dave was up about 7-30 and put the kettle on for early morning tea, this turned out not to be as early as he planned as he was not a competent Dickinson operator and all we could hear from the back cabin was ”I think it’s nearly boiling, it’s almost there, it will be boiling in a minute” for a good half hour. Finally two hot cups of tea came through to the back cabin and we took it in turns using the bathroom. Following breakfast we were on our way. The next stop was a lunchtime pint at The Red Lion, Cropredy. The weather was so nice that we had lunch on the fore deck of Harnser. Soon we were away again, this time to Banbury, me fill the water tank at the water point and Dave to fill his wallet at the cash point. As we arrived at Nell Bridge Lock a boat full of schoolboys was just leaving, but there were two girls standing by the bottom gates. We entered the lock and dropped down, when we opened the gates there sat the schoolgirls boat under the bridge waiting to come in. As the girls hadn’t come back they assumed that they had emptied the lock ready for them so they had come under the road to nestle against the gates. After this was sorted out we carried on to Aynho for the night.
Thursday morning Dave not only made the tea successfully but he also made a large pan of porridge for breakfast that was quite superb. We headed off a little after 10 and stopped at The Boat Inn, Thrupp for the night. We had a very nice meal in the pub and a few pint of beer before heading back to the boat for the night.
Friday morning David brought the 8 o’clock cup of tea in at 6-45 am. The Dickinson is even faster than he thought. I did point out to him that just because the kettle had come to the boil he didn’t have to make the tea. Once we were away Dave set to polishing the brass. We turned right into Dukes Cut and on to the Thames, sharp right and into Kings Lock to buy a Thames licence. I only wanted 24 hours but they run from midnight to midnight but the first day comes free. Sheila wanted to know if we could just have the first day and get back on the canal that night. I was quite surprised, as the lock keeper didn’t want to see any paper work, just £21. I expected to have to produce insurance and BS certificate. We stopped for a picnic lunch in the grounds of Godstow Abbey in the mid day sun before continuing down stream to Abingdon where we moored on the very good free town moorings. We had already decided to eat out, as it was David and Sheila’s wedding anniversary. After walking the dog we went into town to choose somewhere to eat, we settled on the Crown and Thistle hotel near the bridge, which turned out to be quite a good choice. They were busier than they expected and some of the specials on the menu had already gone, which I think is a good sign.
Saturday morning and after a little shopping we were off back to the canals in the rain. There were a few more boats about today. The rowers were about as well. We made a short stop for lunch outside the pub just above Ifley Lock but resisted the beer. We left the Thames at Isis lock and carried on up the Oxford canal to just above Kiddlington Green lock. We ate onboard and then tried to watch a couple of videos but the warm cabin, good food and wine got the better of us and I think we all fell asleep at sometime during the evening.
Sunday morning was bright and sunny and I set off before breakfast while Dave was still in the shower. Just before Roundham lock we stopped for David’s porridge before going on to have a good Sunday lunch at the Bell Inn at Lower Heyford. In the afternoon the wind picked up dramatically and several boats had problems, one managed to get against the lea shore on the off side just below Somerton Deep lock and I had to throw a rope across the canal so we could pull them off. Once we had cleared Somerton Deep we moored for the night in a fairly sheltered spot.
Monday was again windy and showery, we moored just below Banbury lock and after eating lunch onboard we visited the new museum, which is free to enter. Around 4 we were on our way again when the skies opened with rain and heavy hail, I stopped under the road bridge until things improved. We managed to squeeze into a mooring just below the lock in Cropredy thanks to a hire boat drawing forward about a foot. We had only been tied up about 10 minuets when Jonathan and Chris knocked on the door and stopped for a chat. They were taking their new boat “Lockstock” down to the Thames for a few days. That night we had a good home cooked meal in the Red Lion, cooked by the landlord’s wife.
Tuesday and this was to be David and Sheila’s last day’s cruise with us. There were several boats about today, as we were getting closer to Easter and the area of more hire bases. Once we were down the Napton flight David and Diana walked back up the flight to pick up Dave’s car from the moorings and move it down to the Bridge Inn, Napton while Sheila and I took Harnser down. We arrived at he pub moorings just a few minuets before Diana and David and David arranged to leave the car there overnight to leave us first thing Wednesday. We ate in the Bridge Inn that night, this has greatly improved since Carole and Tim with good food and a friendly atmosphere.
Wednesday morning and we waved goodbye to David and Sheila at 11 o’clock. We now started the second part of or trip to Guy’s 60th birthday party at the Blue Lias Pub