Dreaming Spires? Anchors? Not!

A gentle pootle down through Kidlington and arrival in Oxford, with the intention of sorting out an anchor for river emergencies on the Thames, and the possibility (unfulfilled in the end) of the first human overnight visitor.

Silly me! A decent chandler in Oxford? No chance. In the end, after much discussion, an anchor and chain ordered from a place halfway to Lechlade, that will be there on Thursday. The old Air Operator / Quality Manager habits kick in and a full Risk Assessment was carried out: river at summer levels, flow almost non-existent, and no heavy rain forecast for several days. The decision was made: leave Oxford for Lechlade, and pick up the anchor on the way back down.

And as for Oxford… the moorings were pleasant enough if scruffy, right down in Jericho and very close to the town centre (10 minutes walk to M&S), but right by St. Barnabas Church, whose rather odd sounding bells ringing unpredictably all day are rather offset by the noise from the railway station and marshaling yard about 100 yards away beyond the trees. Jericho is delightful, there are some lovely looking non-chain restaurants and shops, and it’s relatively quiet.

The town centre and colleges might have some splendid architecture but is absolutely mobbed with huge crowds of mainly foreign tourists milling around or following flags held aloft on walking tours. Couldn’t get near anything, and I’m not normally claustrophobic, but all in all felt no urge to try and find a position to take any pictures! Made Windsor feel like a deserted village.

Biggles was not over impressed: there’s loads of boats moving around, the towpath is very busy with cyclists, dogs, people with rolling suitcases rushing to catch trains, and we reckon we heard more people talking various flavours of foreign than we did talking English. Even in the Oxford Visitor Information Centre, it was clear that the majority of staff had English as their second language rather than their first: perhaps that’s where the graduates from all the English schools/colleges go!

So apart from several shopping expeditions for herself, we’ve not really seen much of the town: would like to come back when it’s quieter, but we’re told it’s like this year in year out nowadays. So it’s off to the quieter environs of the Upper Thames for a few days, although we get dangerously close to Bampton, so there may be mutterings about Morris Dancing.

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