Friday, 2 December 2016

Willoughby (Schoolboy error today)

Wide spanned bridge – unusual for a narrow canal like the Oxford canal

The frost was a lot harder on Wednesday night than expected and the canal was still completely frozen over.  When Buddy and I went out for our morning walk it did feel like it was thawing a bit so I was hopeful that if the sun came out the ice would start disappearing.

A couple of boats went past during the morning and obviously weren’t worried about damaging their blacking.  I remember one year we were taking our boat to a yard to have it blacked and had to break the ice to get to the yard.  It didn’t matter so much as any damage was going to be made good when the boat was out of the water being blacked.

The sun was also out so I had an early lunch and then had a quick walk up and down to check the ice and it did seem to have gone in the sunny spots and was sufficiently broken up in the sheltered areas.

I set off towards Hillmorton so I could wind the boat and head back down to Braunston and Flecknoe.  Wind is pronounced wind, not wind, so it rhymes with sinned not signed.  I arrived at the winding hole and realised my silly mistake – no one had winded there since the cold snap so it was covered in thick ice away from the main channel.

It’s amazing that a large heavy steel boat can be deflected by ice but you just cannot turn into it.  There was nothing for it but to get my boat hook, make my way down to the front and start smashing up the ice.  I had to make the trek a couple of times before I could successfully turn the boat round.   

What with setting out late, travelling slowly because of the ice and the evening closing in I realised I wouldn’t get to Braunston so decided to moor up at Willoughby instead.  At least I knew I could moor near a bridge where Karen could park.  I had also forgotten to take any pictures during the day and quickly took one of a rather striking bridge - see top of this blog entry.  I say it’s striking because most of the original bridges on the Oxford canal have narrow bridge holes so this wide span is out of the ordinary.

Just before I moored up I caught sight of an old railway signal in the middle of a field.  I was surprised by two things, firstly, I had never seen it before and secondly that it wasn’t taken down when the railway was dismantled.  It really looked odd sitting on its own in a field.

Picture should not have been a close up then it would have given a better perspective

As I moored, a boat that had been following me since I had winded, also moored.  It belonged to a local couple who like to pop out for the odd day’s cruise from their marina at Hillmorton.  We had a bit of a chat and then I took Buddy out for his final walk before settling in to wait for Karen to get back from work.

Our mooring at Willoughby – the last time we moored here was back in April this year but you can see how handy it is for the road - there is a lay-by just in front of the white van

During the day I heard from Aileen that their boat was successfully dropped into French waters near Auxerre and they have negotiated their first French locks - congratulations to Mike and Aileen - we're so envious.

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