Monday 18th May 2015
As I write this the weather has changed and it is raining hard though yesterday was a glorious day.
Oxford Canal, just south of Banbury
Having arrived on the previous afternoon bathed in bright Sunshine we decided that the mooring was adjacent to countryside far too stunning to continue our journey after only an overnight stay and we resolved to remain here a further day so that we could explore the area in more depth, planning to move off today towards the next villages south, the Heyfords.
But like many of our previous well laid plans, as we were awakened this morning by the clatter of heavy rain on the roof beneath a dark and heavily overcast sky and with it forecast for the rest of the day, we decided to postpone our departure till tomorrow.
Cattle enjoying the Sun
So we’re here for another day and night and while the elements do their worst outside it does give me time to write something down.
Summer Flowers at Somerton Deep Lock
‘Futurest’ at Somerton Meadow
After a month’s happy stay in Banbury I am now the proud possessor of an NHS hearing aid and though the device was a little strange when I first tried it, I am now quickly getting used to it.
Though it has been specifically designed to suit my hearing pattern, it does amplify every little noise, which was a little disconcerting at first and the plastic plug, moulded exclusively for my left ear, has up until now made me well aware that it is there. But I’ve discovered that it feels better every day as the technician told me it would, so I must persevere and keep it in. I have heard of so many people that have had aids fitted but now don’t wear them through a lack of patience while becoming accustomed to them. I must stick with it.
My little travelling companion, who up until now has patiently borne the brunt of me saying ‘Pardon’ continuously, has been thrilled at the improvement in my hearing, so we are both looking forward to having the second aid fitted in my right ear when we return to the area in early October.
So we sailed on Saturday from Banbury in the glorious weather aforementioned and had a great cruise down past Kings’ Sutton and Aynho and through the unusual octagonal shaped lock at the Weir, which enabled our two fifty seven footers to lock down together, thus saving a lock full of water, albeit however small.
The length of the canal at Somerton Meadow is a favourite for anglers too and as we passed beneath Somerton Bridge we noticed that many of their cars were parked nearby. It seemed everybody was making good use of the weather and the quiet early Summer solitude. A dense carpet of bright golden buttercups spread across the large meadow between the canal and the meandering stream that is the River Cherwell, as it wends its willow fronded way slowly to join the Thames just south of Oxford. On either side of us, about half a mile apart on the flood plain, the gently lifting slopes of the valley sides climb upwards for about another hundred feet or so to their respective villages of North Aston to the west and Upper Heyford to the east. The Buttercups and Dandelions, now displaying their grey seeded gossamer heads, were wafted in the gentle breeze and in the distance large crows ‘cawed’ loudly as they chased off a pair of larger Buzzards and an unusual inhabitant of this area, a single Red Kite; normally it is found further south, nearer to the Chiltern Hills. It was a marvellous afternoon.
Buttercups at Somerton Meadow
The River Cherwell close to the canal
As we moored against the towpath we were met by Pip, a friend of Janis’s, who was passing through and consequently was invited to stay the night. A memorable time was had by all in the usual reminiscing way.
Yesterday we three set off at around eleven in the morning and walked the two miles along the towpath enjoying the continuing Sunshine, towards the ‘Barley Mow’ pub at Upper Heyford and after suitable refreshment which revived us, we walked back and later Pip left Janis and I to continue his journey.
It is surprising the number of different people one meets along the waterways. On our way north last year at Claydon Locks I met the actors Timothy West and his wife Prunella Scales on their narrow boat travelling south. I met the lady at the paddles and I found her easily recognisable even though she wore a wide brimmed straw hat. I wished her a jaunty ‘Howdya do’ and she replied with a pleasant smile and we continued our winding.
This time, again at one of the locks on the way south to Somerton, a lady approached me at the paddles and said that she had read ‘Futurest’s blog and enjoyed it so much that she and her husband decided to travel all the way from Australia to try the boating for themselves. Many thanks Maggie for ‘reading all abaht it’. I wish you both luck and happiness on the Oxford Canal and I hope I haven’t misled you.
It is now afternoon and the rain has eased off. It allows me to walk back to Somerton Bridge without getting wet to meet my good friend Paul, his wife Tracy and their daughter Millie who are coming aboard for tea.
Then tomorrow morning, weather permitting of course, the two little ships will continue on their way towards Lower Heyford.