Creeping slowly out of Oxford on a Monday morning, all was quiet if a little overcast and miserable, until we got a bit closer to Kidlington. Then, as well as distant heavies in and out at Brize Norton, there seemed to be a solitary Red Arrow (or at least a red painted Hawk) doing circuits at London Oxford Airport (sic), which brought back memories of a stretch along the Kennet & Avon where some large helicopters were frightening all the boaters practicing “nap of the earth” or more accurately “nap of the canal” operations at no more than 100 feet. Rather them than me.
Mooring in Inspector Morse territory at Thrupp (a very popular and busy boaty canal side village) found us having a splendid meal in The Boat Inn, albeit a quiet one on a Monday night. Always a favourite pub.
The canal had been relatively busy with boats (more so than on the K&A and Thames) – even had to queue for a lock, something that was rare even in the height of summer. Maybe they’re all trying to get back to their winter homes before the winter maintenance programme kicks in and closes large chunks of the network. Certainly there were still plenty of chancers about on the Tuesday braving the strong gusty wind and rain caused by the remains of Hurricane Gonzalo. We chickened out, and spent the day dodging the showers washing and waxing the shore-side of the boat to protect the paintwork in preparation for winter. (Should really have done it ages ago).
Then despite the forecast, Wednesday dawned bright and sunny, and in the garden right next to us munching on yesterday’s crop of fallen apples was a bunch of llamas. Ho hum.
And the weather stayed pretty fine for a pleasant day’s cruising over territory familiar from the run down in the summer: watching the trainee commercial pilots going round and round struggling in the gusty conditions with single-engined approaches in twin-engined aircraft (BTDTGTTS); mooring up at Pigeon’s Lock for another trek across the fields to the community shop at Tackley so we could get some food for lunch; and calling in at Heyford Wharf mooring four abreast with the hire boats for a pump out. Even Biggles seemed to know we were getting near the home straight (or home wiggle, more like).