Sunday 5th July

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The previous evening I'd arrived in Wantage, to stay overnight with Alan and June. Pint of local brew ('Healer') at the Oak with Nick, Penny and Maddie, then back to Alan and June's for home made mix-your-own pizza. Much discussion of details of route, especially how far we might get on the first evening. Nick more optimistic than Alan about whether we'd be able to get past Norton Junction that day.

In the morning, managed without too much difficulty to get up in time for 8 o'clock Mass. Elderly Irish priest -- pleasant manner -- interesting sermon. Had a few words with him afterwards. He turns out to be a visting retired Jesuit from Ireland.

Breakfast. Began diary -- the only one I've kept except during a week's pilgrimage to Israel during my last year of studies in Rome. Due to meet Nick and Penny here at 11.30, then we drive in convoy to the boatyard at Gayton.

At Gayton in time for lunch, but neither of the two pubs we visited did food. To add insult to injury, one of them -- which was described in the Good Beer Guide as welcoming dogs -- fell well short of expectations in that department. Apparently they are welcome to stay outside in the garden! Still, the beer wasn't too bad.

Checked into the boatyard somewhat ahead of time, and luckily they were just about ready. Boat named 'Crested Coot'.

The Boat

The boat is quite large for a six-berth. Steers well. Kitchen quite well laid out. Good range of supplied equipment inside boat -- they've thought things through pretty thoroughly.

Inside the 'Crested Coot'

Loaded and off about 3.10 -- on the way to a longish run to the first flight of locks at approach to Norton Junction. Followed another boat from the same boatyard for a considerable distance. Were then chased by a privately owned narrowboat, whose owners seemed to enjoy racing along while rocking their boat by hanging off the side. Through seven locks before tying up just past Norton Junction at 8.30.

Supper of burritos by Penny. Excellent. Also very filling. Staggered off along muddy footpath to pub, for pint and sanitary facilities (we have a long tradition of only using those on the boat when absolutely necessary). Nick awarded the facilities 2½ out of 5, Alan 2. Some debate about whether Alan would have given them 2½ if Nick hadn't been before. Note on the Bog Standard.

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