Monday 6th July

Up and away about 6.50, Alan steering. The day got off to a bad start for me: I had dreamt that Maddie (the dog) had become rich and famous, but I woke up before the rest of us could work out how to cash in on this!

7.30: going in to Braunston Tunnel -- at more than 2,000 yards, the second-longest in the country still in use. Once inside, it seems to go on for ever. After five minutes or so you look back to the entrance and it still seems quite large, while the exit ahead is still a dot in the distance. Out by 7.55, then straight into the six-flight Braunston locks, which we were through an hour later -- very much par for the course.

Steady going on to Napton, where we paused at noon for a pint at the Folly before tackling the locks. Signs of a queue building up, so we moored up to tuck into some baked potatoes Penny had put into the oven earlier. Resumed about 1.30.

The weather has been rather dull today, whereas yesterday was quite sunny. Some rain this morning, though not enough to get clothes seriously wet. Started reading Dr Thorne (again), having finished Pride and Prejudice over coffee before setting out from Wantage yesterday. I had felt in the mood for re-reading some familiar 19th century novels, because they would be easy to read, absorbing enough to keep me occupied, and substantial enough to provide a fortnight's reading. With Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park and Persuasion from Jane Austin, Trollope's Dr Thorne and Mrs Gaskell's Wives and Daughters, there should be no danger of running out. Also appropriate to take a few Jane Austen's with me, as the J. A. Society will be having its A.G.M. while we are away. (Chawton is just a few miles away from where I live.)

Cleared Napton top lock about 3.00. Towards the top of the flight, we encountered a "Bill Ferney" character going down. He seemed to object to several things -- including me opening one of the lock gates and Nick tying up our boat at one of the pre-lock bollards. 'Didn't give him enough room to steer coming out of the lock.' (Actually, it made it slightly less convenient for him to pick up his wife from the towpath). Consoled by the thought that our encounter with him was a momentary unpleasantness, whereas someone of his sort must live in an atmosphere of perpetual aggravation.

Next, the famous 'windy bit' of the Oxford Canal, with Penny steering and taking everything 'in her stride'. Then a long haul through the Fenny 'tunnel' (it used to be one, but was opened up into a cutting years ago) and Claydon Locks. Moored up at 8.45. Left in rather an awkward position, we had to moor just above Crowpredy Lock. We had steered past several hundred yards of mooring which was either private or already occupied. Inspection downstream of the lock showed that a similar situation obtained on that side as well. Impossible to reverse such a distance as would be needed to get to space before the moored boats. Continuing forwards not possible either, since it would soon be dark. Could only moor with half the boat in the section just before the lock, where boats tie up just before going through. Muttered, though clearly audible, comments of an uncomplimentary nature heard from occupants of neighbouring boat. Collectively shrugged shoulders and went off for fish and chips at the Red Lion. Shared a tot of Penny's malt whisky before retiring.