It Might As Well Rain Until September

We feel the air cooling, but the weather was to be fair in the morning. We had been chatting about how little I did of the larger manoeuvres or setting off first thing, or alone – things Shane was happy to do. The day was to start with a lock and I picked up the windlass automatically, plus my hair was wet and I thought that working the lock would keep me warmer than driving. Shane reminded me that I wanted practice starting off on my own. Also he was still in shorts and thought walking to the lock would be warmer than driving. So he took the windlass and it was a chance for me to just warm the engine, prepare the boat and cast off while Shane walked to the lock, and see if I remembered the sequence myself. There were no other boats approaching and no wind, so all went smoothly. There was a bridge in front obscuring him from view but I could see from the water movement that Shane was opening paddles and I saw his feet walk round the gate arm so I knew he was crossing to the other side so I had plenty time to get there. He came out into full view and I thought he might be about to signal that the lock was about ready or that there was a boat coming, but no signal, just “here I am!” I waved to show I had seen him. Like some others along here the gates do not always open fully. It feels a tight squeeze, but it works.

There were a few locks and we have done them before. Last time we met people at most of the locks, but today we met no-one else. I hadn’t seen the poster for the lost cat before, but mostly we were passing moored boats we had seen before. When we reached the boatyard it had a lot more moored boat than we had remembered. We had met a lot of boats from two different hiring companies, and the day boats in previous days and last time we visited the lady in the office was meeting and greeting various customers who were about to take their boats out.  Today they were lined up at the base with little sign of activity.

Oxfordshire Narrowboats for hire
Back to Back Oxfordshire Narrowboats and a line of Black Prince boats

Is it the end of the hiring season? We did pass a Black Prince boat moored up with people enjoying themselves in it. But all morning we saw no moving boats. I worked a lift bridge, one Shane had done before easy to operate as long as you can find the small black post standing beside a black bit of bridge. I was sure it was on the other side and only spotted it once I had crossed and was looking back. No cars, or anyone, came while I worked it.

We did see a lot of kites though, sometimes singly and other times in pairs. A moorhen high-stepped along the tow path, reminding me of the tweeted video of Shane walking along the gunwale in Banbury. It wasn’t sunny and no kingfishers appeared today but a heron was lurking in a bush. I went forward to the bow to see it properly and was given a good stare, then a haughty turn of the head, like Shane doing his neck exercises before stalking off and taking light (the heron, not Shane)

We found a mooring spot near some reeds. We went back a little to make it easier for any boats to pass should they come, with a bit of faffing about got secured. Shane walked ahead and saw a better place round the corner so we cast off again and I walked forward. We passed a boat that had a dog blanket spread out in its bow. I noticed a few piles right on the path in the next few yards. Their dog or someone else’s but I wish they would clean up whoever it is. We moored successfully but I saw Shane had managed to come a cropper and so the bucket and scrubbing brush were out again. Both of us have trod foul this week, (and had some near misses) most annoying and unpleasant.

Shane was cheered by the sight of a deer in the field opposite though and we enjoyed lunch and Shane put the back cover up. We were passed by one boat shortly before the rain started. The forecast rain became heavier. It is well worth reading the forecast. Shane used the covered space to investigate the feasibility of connecting a battery charger to keep the starter battery charged up when we are away from the boat, without getting rain on the batteries, and tightened the stern gland.

I edited a poem I had done last month and composed a new poem. I had been planning one in my head and wanted to try out a technique I hadn’t used before and a quiet rainy afternoon was perfect. It might as well rain until September ends.

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