Roller Coasters, Dodgems, and A Load of Old Pollards

Friday, and we’d planned on a quick shopping trip into Oxford to stock up on some provisions… but a late start and the discovery of a lovely deli / coffee shop / bistro in Jericho meant that we didn’t even get properly started on the shopping until nearly lunchtime. And standing in St. Giles we bumped into an (84 year) old friend / morris groupie who lives in Laleham, but for some inexplicable reason seems to be trying out all the pubs in Oxford. Someone has to do it I suppose.

A long natter took us up to lunchtime, then after that the chief cook went mad in Oxford’s splendid Covered Market, so by the time we got back to the boat it was past three o’clock (on a warm and muggy…). You have to go quite a way from central Oxford up the canal to find some more decent moorings as the council seem to have solved their housing crisis by allowing permanent residential boats on the towpath all the way out past Wolvercote. It was too late to leave, so we just had to stay, and try out that nice Bistro for dinner. Ah well.

Leaving early on the Saturday, rather than just head up the heavily scruffily populated canal, we decided to take the scenic route: DOWN Isis Lock onto Sheepwash Channel and The Thames, along through Port Meadow, UP Godstow and King’s Locks and onto Duke’s Cut, then DOWN Duke’s Cut Lock into Wolvercote Junction and immediately back UP Duke’s Lock onto the Oxford Canal proper for a well earned lunch. A boat equivalent of a Roller Coaster.

Anyway, it was cold, and on the open plains of Port Meadow, it was jolly windy. We didn’t see any other boaters moving on the river, apart from dozens of rowers and their attendant coaches going every which way, making that stretch more like Dodgems than a Roller Coaster. Why any self-respecting student want to get up early on a Satrurday, then freeze to death rowing around  a cold windy river in shorts and a T-shirt is beyond us.

The only thing of note was a fine row of riverside willows… well they were rather fine when we were last here in April, but they seem to have been pollarded with extreme prejudice.

Pollarded Willows

Back on the canal it was more sheltered, and we finally made camp at Thrupp in time for tea and a cake at Annie’s Tea Room, a local institution. With too much fresh food on board, and having dined out the previous two nights, dinner at The Barge Inn was vetoed by the chief cook. Shame.

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