In previous months I tried to maximise the output from the solar panels, but our panels are performing so poorly at the moment that I have stopped bothering. Mooring spots on the Oxford Canal can be quite hard to find, so when we found one surrounded by trees yesterday we took the opportunity. This morning there was a heavy dew on the roof of the boat, and the bright sunshine we could see through the trees wasn’t warming the boat. Perhaps we should still aim to be in sunshine in the mornings, especially as the calendar says autumn has started.
It was after noon before we set off on the half mile trip to the water point. We had let the tank get close to empty so that was first stop. I had spotted the lift bridge just around the corner from our mooring, so as Clare set off I walked along the bank to open it. Once I’d got my key in it was just a matter of keeping my finger on the Open button. I told Clare I’d see her at the water point, so she didn’t have to wait while I rested my finger on the Close button.
While the water was filling, Clare went to see if there was milk in the shop. I’d been making bread rolls, so they went in the oven. Clare came back (empty handed) just as the tank was full. Another boat arrived looking for water, so we moved a few boat lengths to have lunch. The rolls were ready just as we’d finished tying up again. As I was finishing lunch I spotted an unusual bird on the mooring rope of a boat opposite.
We went outside to get a better look and were rewarded with the blue flash of the kingfisher flying to the tiller of the next boat. As we walked closer it flew again, this time under the bridge. The best sun of the day was over before we moved off – there were even a few spots of rain. We must be in kingfisher country again because the next few miles were brightened with further kingfisher sightings. They were mostly the familiar pattern: a shout of “kingfisher”; a flash of blue; guess which tree is hiding it; repeat.
One sighting didn’t follow the pattern. It was just before a bridge while I was already avoiding a collision with a day-trip boat skippered by a man in a pirate hat – we didn’t see the kingfisher after that.
At the lock we caught up with a crew who had picked their holiday boat up that afternoon, so this was their first lock. They were taking their time but finding it all a bit tricky. Clare joined them and helped them along. When we caught them at the next lock, one of their crew was concerned that they should have offered to help us since we had helped them. Clare assured her that it is enlightened self-interest to help people in front of you – but helping people behind slows everyone down.
We moored up just above Pigeon Lock and set off to Bletchingdon in search of provisions at the supermarket (no other supermarkets are available in Bletchingdon). Our route was along a bridleway next to a golf course, a short section of main road verge, a field of sheep, and two ploughed fields. We got a rucksack full of shopping and came back by a slightly different route, including a different path through the same field of sheep.