Tuesday 20 September 2011

Oxford Canal. Upper Heyford to Pigeon Lock.

As we continue our journey south towards Thrupp, where we’ll be turning round, we can fully understand why so many people count the South Oxford Canal as one of their favourites. Although it is fairly busy with several hire bases nearby, and boats from the Thames, Kennet & Avon and other southern waterways going north and back home again, it still manages to be quiet, peaceful and far, far from the madding crowds. It feels like a well-kept secret; we’re in the middle of commuter-belt Cotswolds country where you can’t move for barn conversion architects, jig-saw photographers and artisan thatchers and you never get much change from a small fortune, and here we are with our little house, picking blackberries. It’s idyllic, if a bit surreal.
We did the bit from Upper Heyford to Lower Heyford twice; the first time with Wiltz, Annie, Kim & Luke, when we turned round and came back, and the second time on our own when we kept going to Pigeon Lock which is where we are now.

We’ve finally got some gloss on the bow. We went to see John & Jaq’s boat in dry dock at Braunston; they're re-painting it, blacking it and having new sign-writing. All in 11 days!
We came home inspired. The next day Dave set to with masking tape
and by the afternoon he had two coats of super shiny black paint on the front end.
Next on the painting front are the hand-rails. Ann-Marie has started stripping them back to bare metal
after which they’ll get some Red Oxide, 2 undercoats and 2 coats of red gloss. At the same time we’re going to paint the 1” red border round the sides.

There’ve been quite a few trees blown down recently. When that happens the B.W. contractors turn up with chain-saws, clear the canal and the towpath and leave all the wood in a heap for boaters to take away. It’s mostly willow, which burns quick, but it’s free, splits easy, dries out fast and there’s plenty of it. We’ve emptied out one of the front lockers and filled it with the seasoned logs that we’ve been collecting on our travels
all the new stuff is going on the rack on the roof.

We began this blog without any idea if the journey we hoped were setting out on was even going to start. "Dave & Ann-Marie’s Transition from Bricks and Mortar to Life on a Narrowboat" not only started, but has been a fantastic, round the world roller-coaster adventure. So is it over? Well we’ve “Transitioned” (or whatever the past tense is) from house to boat, but the roller coaster is still trundling along the track with no end in sight. True, it’s going a lot slower these days and there is time to smell the roses, stuff a mushroom, or make a mortise & tenon joint. Or, more to the point, get out and have a proper look at the country we call home. And that's one of the main reasons we did this. Before we bought the boat, this beautiful part of England that we’ve been slowly meandering through was just a blur of scenery between Northampton and the M25. If the last 5 months are anything to go by, our boating life is going to be just as much a voyage of discovery as all our travels before-hand.

So no, it’s not over. We’ll re-write the profile and change the sub-title to reflect what we’re doing now, but one thing we’ve learnt from all this is that we’ll never, ever be listless.


Pete said...

Hi There

Both Mrs Knowley and I wish to do the same and become continuous travellers of the canals (just waiting for the kids to go. So it's wonderful to find your brilliant blog - keep it up and keep smelling the roses.

All the best

(at a desk behind a computer)

Dave and Ann-Marie. said...

Thanks Pete, it's always nice to find out that someone actually reads it! Hope your wishes come true, it's a wonderful life!

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