Friday, 15 July 2016

To the end of the navigation.

We made our way to Lechlade. The actual end of the navigation is at Inglesham but the last 1/2 mile is too shallow for Oakapple to risk so we made do with walking as far as the roundhouse which marks the point where the Thames and Severn canal used to join the river.
Quite fortuitously, the weekend we arrived was the date of the airshow at nearby Fairford airbase. We had a grandstand view of the aircraft doing thier stuff, with fighter jets howling overhead and the red arrows doing what only the red arrows do. Actually there was another team which were as impressive. We think from the colours of the smoke trails that they were Italian. The whole weekend was perfect, just about worth the trials of the last bit of the river. Extremely bendy, with extravagant loops which tried the captains helmsmanship skills to the limmit.
On tuesday we had a welcome visit from our daughter. One thing which Lechlade boasts is a permanent Christmas shop and Emma is a serious Xmas babe. A visit was a must.
The cows on the field we moored at are renowned for their relationship with the boats. They lick the paintwork, chew the ropes and generaly cause mayhem. They even nicked the mop and lifebelt off the boat in front of us. We were not sorry to leave them behind, taking with us teeth marks in our paintwork as a  souvineer..

Wednesday, 6 July 2016

A trip to Oxford.

For the weekend we cruised to Abingdon where yet another bridge of medieval origins spans the Thames. On Sunday we had another birthday on board, mine this time. For once the sun shone and we sat out on the bank and celebrated in the usual style with a cake, a glass or two and a jazz band playing in the pub garden across the river.
We wanted to see Oxford, but, being unsure of the moorings there, decided to bus in on Tuesday. After popping in somewhere for a coffee we set to, exploring some of the sights and admiring the historic architecture of the University buildings.
In Broad St. there is a cross set in the cobbles of the roadway. This marks the spot where Archbishop Cranmer along with Latimer and Ridley were executed on the orders of Queen Mary, daughter of Henry VIII. Cranmer had been one of the chief architects of the churches break with Rome and all three were burnt at the stake for heresy. They are now considered martyrs and a gothic style memorial to them stands just round the corner.
In the same road is an old pub, the Eagle and Child, dating from 1650 in which a celebrated literary group used to meet. Thier members included JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis who always refered to the pub as the 'bird and baby'. The Captain is a great Tolkien fan so we just had to go in for a pint. As he said, "it's the nearest I can get to rubbing shoulders with the great man"

Friday, 1 July 2016

Wallingford to Wittenham.

Moored in front of us at Wallingford was a large motor cruiser, 'Cream Cracker' owned by John & Sharon, which had come up the Thames from Rochester. We had a great evening on board Oakapple and compared our very different cruising patterns. Although we share the river, they are used to going to sea. After another day moored up in the rain we both departed yesterday morning. We watched the cruiser starting its twin 8ltr. engines. One started in a cloud of smoke and as it settled down the other burst into life, producing a throaty roar. The captain said it reminded him of those old films you see of a Lancaster bomber getting fired up. At a rather more sedate pace we started our Gardner and followed in thier wake upstream as far as Days Lock.
We moored on a field full of young bullocks, overlooked by the two beech crowned hills called Whittenham clumps, sometimes known as 'mother Dunch's buttocks, after a 17th century lady of the manor.. It is a good walk to the top with fine views of the Oxfordshire landscape and red kites soaring  in the skies above. (The birds, not the ones on strings)
One of the hills is the site of an iron age hill fort, with its defensive ditch earthworks and dating from around 600bc. The site was ocupied up until the time the Romans arrived in the area.
Making our way back towards the river we visited the little church behind the lock. As with all old churches, the minute you shut the door, the world outside receeds, the building seems so peacefull. There is a very ornate tomb there with efigies of a Knight and his lady. Carved into the base are representations of thier 9 children. The lady, who may have been the one to inspire the nickname for the clumps, was the aunt of Oliver Cromwell, lord protector of England in the time our country was without a monarch after the civil war.