Tue 12th Sep Abingdon to Rose Isle
After a great weekend in Abingdon, and a wet Monday, we decided to head for Oxford.
As we set off upstream, we started to come across the red and green cones which mark the channel if there are shallow areas. We therefore went nowhere near Abingdon Weir, but went straight for the lock, which we had to ourselves.
Above the lock there was a queue for the water, as there always is. The next water point upstream is at Eynsham, 6 locks and 14 miles away, or 5 hours. Downstream it is Cleeve Lock, 5 locks and 18 miles away, even further. Hakuna Matata was using the hose, and Tui was waiting. Meanwhile we emptied the rubbish and 3 cassettes, before taking our turn with the hose.
Some moorings we like near the Swift Ditch were all full. We noticed Salaga moored there. He seems to like to moor in out of the way places.
Then there was the long reach up past Nuneham House. Some boats were coming the other way, and it turned out to be Ian and Betty on Yum Sing, followed by Terry and Chris on Barley Twist, from Byfleet Boat Club. They had been to Ripon. A few minutes later another one came down the river – Zavala, with Brian and Margaret.
When we arrived at Sandford Lock, there were two boats already inside and the gates were closing. The lock keeper beckoned us on and opened the gates again, so we joined the others, one of which was Hakuna Matata.
With Hakuna Matata in Sandford Lock
St Johns College Barge
We decided to moor before Oxford, at a place called Rose Isle, where the river does a small zig zag, and the dog walking path goes through a meadow instead of past the moored boats.
Moored at Rose Isle
Hugo caught a mouse, and we had heavy rain later
2 locks, 5 miles, 1 mouse
Wed 13th Sep Rose Isle to Osney Bridge
Morning sun at Rose Isle
James had arranged a telephone appointment with our doctors surgery in Aylesbury as he was getting headaches, and thought he could pop in there when we hired a car for our church weekend in a few weeks time. The call came precisely at 1110 as promised.
When the doctor heard the symptoms he suggested seeing a doctor today.
James phoned some medical practices and made an appointment for 3.30pm in Oxford later that day..
We waited for a rain shower to pass, and then, as we were preparing to set off, a hired cruiser went past. We were a minute or two putting down the hood and pulling up our mooring pins.
Hinksey Stream, one of the many small side channels of the Thames in Oxford.
We arrived at Iffley Lock to find it was on self service and they were closing the gates on us. Plenty of room in the lock. Perhaps they didn’t see us. The lock keeper appeared and saw us, but it was too late by then. He took over, and locked them through quickly and reversed the lock for us.
Another Oxford College barge
We cruised up past all the college boathouses, and were hoping to find a mooring below Folly Bridge. There was one space, so we pulled in and moored up. We then discovered that the towpath was closed between our mooring and the bridge, so we wouldn’t be able to go shopping from here, or get to the folk club on Friday, or get to James’ appointment.
We spoke to a man on one of the boats nearby, who said he was renting his boat from someone who says he has permanent moorings along here. Because the boats don’t move, they don’t need a licence, he said. That also means they don’t need a boat safety certificate. It all sounded very suspect, and some guy with some scruffy old boats is making some money that he shouldn’t. We were always under the impression that the moorings were council short stay visitor moorings, but they obviously don’t monitor this length at all.
We had spotted a space much further back,opposite the college boat houses, where another footpath left the towpath and connected through to the Abingdon Road, well serviced by buses, and we thought we might try that for Friday.
We undid our mooring lines and moved through the north channel under Folly Bridge as the
south channel was closed.
Hugo on the lookout.
A challenging Keep Left sign
An old railway branch used to cross the river to service a gas works. It was built in 1886, and closed in 1960. It is fairly ornate, and there are photos online of the bridge in use, and a section being floated on barges during the construction. http://www.southoxford.org/local-history-in-south-oxford/interesting-aspects-of-grandpont-and-south-oxford-s-history/st-ebbe-s-gasworks. Now it is used as a footpath, and today a young fearless lad was walking along the parapet.
We cruised up to Osney Lock, which was also self service, and the top gates had been left open, we guess by the hired cruiser from earlier.
When we arrived at the moorings by Osney Bridge we spotted Petroc moored up. We thought we had left them behind in Abingdon, but apparently they had left us behind instead.
There were no spaces large enough for our boat, so we tied alongside an Anglo Welsh hire boat, thinking that they would probably move off later and we could take their place.
Hazel stayed with the boat while James went for his 3.30pm appointment at a Doctors surgery in Beaumont Street. He saw two doctors, who were very efficient and helpful. They took a blood sample, and did some other tests. They wanted another opinion from the opthalmology department at the John Radcliffe Hospital, so James was sent off there with a letter in his pocket, plus the blood samples. There had been very heavy rain, and the pavements were all wet, with very large puddles at the side of the road.
To find the right bus was a challenge, as there are no “Where to board your bus” lists on the bus stops. He had to ask a driver, who said it was a number 14 bus. There was a 25 minute wait for the next one, during which time he was chatting to a man at the bus stop about Canal Ministries.
When he arrived at the JR Hospital, he got off the bus at the bottom of the hill, as did everyone else. He was looking for the main entrance, but all he saw was the West Wing, and the Childrens Hospital. He saw that A & E was at the top of the hill, where the bus had gone, so he walked up about three blocks, and enquired at A & E reception. “Oh you need to go down the hill to the West Wing, and up the escalator.”
So he had a long walk back down the hill, and into the West Wing. There was an unmanned reception desk. There were no signs pointing to the Opthalmology Department. So he went up the escalator, where there were signs to ear, nose and throat departments, and the Oxford Eye Hospital where he went to seek directions. He found another unmanned reception desk, and no-one about.
A lady came out of a corridor pushing a trolley. “Are you looking for someone?” she said. “Is there anyone on reception?” he asked. “I am looking for the Opthalmology Department.” “Oh, this is the Opthalmology Department, but they have all gone home. We are closed”
He explained the situation and showed her the letter. She disappeared and returned with a another doctor who thankfully said “Ah, we have been expecting you”.
So then there were more tests and prodding about. He was given a prescription for some steroids. The probable diagnosis is something called Temporal Arteritis. The symptoms are sudden shooting pains up behind the left eye and in the left part of the head.
He took another bus back to the city centre, where he found a branch of Boots that was open. He had been prescribed 60g of the steroid, but Boots only had 5g tablets, so that means 12 pills at once, plus another two to avoid side effects. James so far takes no regular medication – now it is fourteen pills all at once daily.
The tablets obtained from Boots
Then he took another bus back to Hazel on the boat below Osney bridge, where the boat was now bankside, as the hireboat had left.
We tried the pub that used to be known as the Watermans Arms, which used to provide huge helpings of home made pub food such as cottage pie and ham egg and chips. It has changed, and is now called the Punter, and has gone for an up market menu, although the surroundings are still basic. We noticed that no-one was eating.
We left and found a kebab shop, and ate on the boat, along with James taking his fourteen tablets.
2 locks, 3 miles.
Thu 14th Sep Osney Bridge to Christ Church Meadows
Moored near Osney Bridge
The moorings here are 24 hours, and we needed a few days, so we set off downstream to moor below folly Bridge, where we had seen a space yesterday opposite the boathouses.
We departed early, saying farewell to Geoff on Petroc as we turned the boat in the mill stream opposite their boat.
Farewell to Petroc
Back through Folly Bridge
Moored opposite the boat houses
We went into Oxford via a footpath to Abingdon Road, and a bus to St Aldates, where it terminates. We visited the Covered Market, where we saw some amazing decorated cakes being made.
We called in at the Tourist Information for a map, and then had a lovely Thai lunch in a side street. We visited the Hotter shoe shop to collect some shoes Hazel had ordered. Then we visited the Natural History Museum. Here are some glimpses of our day in Oxford:
Some corners of Oxford
Natural History Museum.
We had a bit of a search for the right bus and bus stop to get back to the boat. Eventually we had to go to St Aldates to catch one. Got on a number 300 park and ride without realising that it doesn’t stop after crossing Folly Bridge. James had to persuade the driver to let us off. The traffic was stop and start anyway, so he didn’t lose any time.
Back on the boat it was a cold evening, so we lit a fire.
Hugo caught a mouse.
1 lock, 1 mile, 1 mouse
Fri 15th Sep Oxford Christ Church Meadows
We didn’t need to visit the city today, so we did some sorting out. James took everything out of the bow locker, and found some coal and some kindling, and stowed everything again.
He tightened an alternator belt which had been squeaking.
We sorted out some songs and went to the Oxford Folk Club which meets in the White House pub, walking distance from our mooring. It was singers night, with an extended spot from Graham Metcalfe. Everyone got just one song as there were eighteen floor singers. We sang “A Long Way Down”. Graham was very traditional, using just his voice. He had a very broad Yorkshire accent and we couldn’t understand most of what he said or sang, but he had a great deep voice, and was a warm character.
Apart from two other guitars, a banjo, and a strange Swedish instrument, and us, everyone sang unaccompanied. A very traditional folk club.
We won a box of chocolates in the raffle, and then walked back to the boat in the dark.
No boating today. 1 mouse
Sat 16th Sep Oxford Christ Church Meadows
There was no rain in the forecast so we decided to take no brolly, no coat, and no torch, as we thought we would be back in daylight.
We took a bus to St Aldates, and met our BCF friend Anne Clarke at the Odeon cinema and reserved our seats for 2.45pm, for the new film Victoria and Abdul.
We went for lunch at Bella Italia, where they were advertising a set lunchtime menu on an A-board outside. When we asked to see this menu they said it was for Monday to Friday only. They were oviously embarrassed by this, so they let us choose from the set menu anyway, and we noticed they took in the A board. The food and service was excellent.
Anne and Hazel outside Bella Italia
We had time to spare before the film, so went to visit the Craft fair in Broad Street, which we were told only takes place three times each year. There were some very talented artists there.
Victoria and Abdul was very amusing and well worth seeing.
We had teas and coffees in a cafe, before going to a shop to buy torches, as we needed to return to Thrupp with Anne to collect our post. Then James realised he had left his hat in the coffee shop, so he went back to collect it. It was on the floor.
We took a bus to the Park and Ride, where to start with we couldn’t find the right car park. Then we spotted it cunningly concealed behind a hedge. Anne drove us to Thrupp for the post, and then back to a bus stop in Kiddlington where we took another bus to Oxford.
By now it was raining, and we had no brollies. We went to Itsu for something quick to eat, and were not disappointed. It was our first experience there, and will not be the last. We have often seen the one near Little Venice, which is always closed during the Cavalcade. A missed opportunity from business, as there are lots of people about.
The rain had eased off a little as we took yet another bus from St Aldates down Abingdon Road, and walked through the footpath to the boat. Our bus passes are really useful!
We lit a fire as soon as we got in. Hugo was pleased to see us.
No boating today
Next: A visit to St Aldates Church and Sainsbury’s before cruising up stream in the direction of Lechlade for a folk club near there on Wednesday.