Our last evening and our first sight of rain that was hard enough to cause droplets on the cratch cover. It is such a shame that it was dust laden rain so when we awoke we found Oliver covered in a sandy coating.
We washed it off rather cursorily, with canal water, so as to not present too shabby a picture when today’s crew arrived.
Peter and Romy were joined by Barrie and Rosemary from just above Norton Junction all the way back to the Heyford Fields and it was lovely to have some company and some help with the locks. Thanks to Sarah for acting as chauffeuse.
It was the first day of the school holidays and clearly amateurs day on the cut! At Buckby Top Lock we met three newbies. We were invited to go down with the second boat and to overtake them if we wanted to. At first we declined but after a few minutes changed our mind. The first pair of boats asked me why the lock was filling so slowly. I took a look and suggested it might be because one of the bottom paddles was still partly open – problem solved. Then they couldn’t get through the bridge below the lock because another newbie, trying to come up the locks, was stuck at 45° across the exit tunnel. I went to help him and by the time I got back they had nearly refilled the lock not realising they should wait for the boat coming up! This convinced us “yes please we would like to go ahead of you”. Unfortunately their third boat then decided to stick with us for the rest of the flight. We saw seven or eight year old children left to wind paddles on their own without supervision, playing on the roof and jumping from the lock side onto the roof. It was scary.
Toby, Sarah and Eira met us at Rugby Boats where we stopped to fill up and empty out. It was a cunning move on their part to choose a place that ensured there were no more locks 😂. Rosemary kindly bought us all ice creams which were very welcome as the day had certainly heated up considerably.
We mad a very slow approach to the Marina as we followed a boat that seemed to have a one horsepower engine. Just to slow us down further he decided to use the marina entrance as a winding hole.
Peter managed to reverse onto Oliver’s mooring at the second attempt having been hampered by a force 8 gale roaring down the marina. OK so that’s an exaggeration but I need some sort of excuse!
We then sat down to another excellent BBQ prepared by Sarah, with assistance from Waitrose. Sarah did however do all the cooking on her own.
Toby, Sarah, Barrie and Rosemary then headed home.
Peter and Romy spent the rest of the night and following morning making sure Oliver was as clean as a whistle and ready for his next voyage. Another exaggeration? – Maybe!
We stopped to drop off a couple of things and for lunch with Toby and Sarah on our way home and that provided a pleasant break on our journey. As we drove home we thought how lucky we were driving towards Poole rather than in the opposite direction.
We had a really lovely 24 nights on Oliver. We travelled some 152 miles and through 200 (or was it only 199?) locks, through 10 moveable bridges, across 13 small aqueducts and through 9 tunnels.
We spent our time on narrow canals, broad canals, small rivers and large rivers. We visited several interesting towns and cities, a few churches and a number of National Trust properties. In summary we had a holiday with a great variety of experiences that made every day different and enjoyable. We were never far apart, particularly when aboard so it’s a good job we still enjoy each other’s company too.
Many, many thanks to Toby and Sarah for lending Oliver to us once again – sorry about the scratches be they small or not so small.