April Showers

Yesterday we’d stopped because the forecast had been for rain for much of the day.  It was raining again at breakfast this morning, but the forecast was for a showery day.  Once the rain went off, we set off.  It wasn’t very long before we were back at Napton Junction again.  This time we continued straight on to the South Oxford Canal.

In the last few days I have been trying to make arrangements for the boat to be “blacked”.  I’d enquired at several of the numerous marinas in this area about getting it done.  They offered me dates in June or July – who knows where we’ll be by then? A search on the web found me a marina who could offer us dates to coincide with our April trip to Edinburgh, so that is why we are heading towards Oxford again.

Last time we came this way we approached the bottom of the Napton Locks in the evening and found the towpath badly eroded. Then where it was fit to moor, it was already full of moored boats.  This time we found that work was in progress to improve the balance.

Once we had gone beyond the work, it was obvious that we were not going to have any trouble getting moored. It was still early for lunch, but pressing on in to a flight of locks without seemed like a bad plan. There were also some heavy looking clouds, so we opted to moor up.

While we were eating, it stayed sunny. Several boats appeared, but they were all going the opposite way from us – we were bound to get the locks in our favour. We did better than that – most of the locks also had a boat coming out of them as we approached, which halves the number of gates we need to open and close. There was a short heavy shower in the middle. Last month, we might have sat in a lock and waited for it to pass; today, we would have caused a traffic jam. We were both in coats and the sun soon came out at full brightness – we were both dry long before we reached the top lock.

Viewed from inside a lock a figure in a red coat is closing the second gate.  The canal water visible through the gates is stippled with raindrops.
Rain on the Canal and the Locking Crew

At the top of the flight we drove on a short distance until we found a bit of bank we could moor against. The sky was looking ominous again. Our mooring is opposite an open field in which a swan has been grazing all afternoon. We can just see a farmhouse which has a helicopter parked outside. The windsock on the barn suggests that this is a regular spot.

Between showers, I decided to deal with something that had been bugging me since we got back to the boat. The section of the roof under gangplank, pole and hook had developed a distinctly green growth. Clearly even the heaviest rain wasn’t cleaning under there. I took a bucket and cloth and soon had the roof all one colour again.

A narrowboat roof in the middle of being cleaned.  There is a build up of green weed in lines on the grey paint.  A cloth is dumped in the middle of the cleaned section.
Roof Cleaning, Before and After

In the late afternoon we went for a walk along the towpath. For the last few weeks, the towpath has been muddy or eroded or both. This section is somewhat better, though still required care in places. I did a double-take when I noticed a boat on the other side of a field across the canal. Then I remembered – this is the South Oxford Canal, it meanders! Sure enough the boat went round the end of the field and then towards us. A corner to watch out for tomorrow.

View of a field across a canal.  A line of trees beyond the field marks the line of the canal. Just visible is the top of a narrowboat in front of the trees.
Look Closely for Approaching Narrowboat
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