Tuesday 7th July

Nick, Alan and Penny roped the boat through the lock -- to avoid waking up touch neighbours! -- at 5.50 am. Meanwhile, I was just getting up! Later, I took the helm and brought us through Banbury about 8 o'clock. Through King's Sutton two hours later. The church there has strange pinnacle-like decorations sprouting from the base of its steeple. I don't remember having seen anything quite like that before. The locks are getting deeper at this stage -- about 9ft -- with only one lower door right across the lock, rather than the usual two side-by-side (apparently an economy measure).

Interesting diamond-shaped lock at Aynho, where the Cherwell crosses the canal. Unusually, the river doesn't cross over or under the canal, via an aqueduct or tunnel, but just joins it from one side and meanders off on the other.

Aynho Lock

River Meets Canal at Aynho

Though the lock is an interesting shape, it does seem aesthetic rather than useful, since it only has a drop of one foot -- hardly worth bothering about, I would have thought. We stopped at Aynho village, hoping for lunch and a drink, but everywhere was all shut up. We carried on through Somerton Deep Lock (where we saw signs of a queue developing ahead) and on to Upper Heyford.

Here we stopped at about 1.50 for a pint, crisps and chocolate (and had sandwiches back on the boat afterwards). On the way to the pub, we saw what at first looked like a policeman sitting by the lock with a clipboard in his hand. He turned out to be a British Waterways official of some sort. He seemed to be keeping a record of the number of boats passing through the lock. We resumed about 2.50.

The rest of the day saw steady progress, fairly uneventful. We stopped to take on water at Thrupp, about 7 o'clock, and moored a little way further on. Supper at the pub, then back to the boat to watch the second half of World Cup game Holland v. Brazil. Supper itself was quite funny. The menu said 'Choice of veg/salad, chips/jacket potatoes'. In fact it turned out that each dish could only be served with a particular combination of these items, and they couldn't tell you in advance what that combination would be. You just had to wait and see what the kitchen sent up. We had naively assumed that 'choice' meant 'customer's choice', when it really meant 'kitchen's choice'! The food was quite good when it came, however.