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Boat Blog: Aimless meanderings (8)

Posted by indigodream on 26 September, 2013

Rewind to Monday 19th August

Sandford Lock to Northmoor Lock (just downstream of Newbridge)

Happy me! Having a cuddle with Archie hound and Yorrick the lurcher...

Happy me! Having a cuddle with Archie hound and Yorrick the lurcher…

We had yet another relaxed start but we got away from our mooring at 10.30am, which is practically dawn by recent standards. It was a lovely morning, but autumn reached out for us in the form of a chilly breeze which meant we needed real sweaters rather than the metaphorical ones that cosseted the landscape yesterday ๐Ÿ™‚

We cruised on towards Oxford, keeping an eye out for a twitter friend “Workboat Pug” – Pug is based just downstream of Oxford at the Salters boatyard. As we passed, Jon, from Pug, waved us in for a cup of tea. Oh my, what a merry meeting – not only had we the pleasure of meeting Jon in person, but we also met his business partner, Sam, who owns an ancient lurcher, Yorrick.

Yorrick was persuaded to leave his bed to meet the greyhounds – needless to say, they got on famously. There was also another lurcher at the yard called Dizzy, but he didn’t come out to play.

We were given a tour of the yard/shed – it has an interesting story. In the winter it’s the home of the Salter’s trip boat fleet, but the “Green Boat Company”, hire it in the summer when the fleet’s out. The boatshed is enormous and has a ramp and rail arrangement for pulling boats out of the water. While we were wandering around, we suddenly realised that there was a lack of hounds around – Ollie, Henry and Archie had taken off through the boatshed and out to the lawn beyond. Despite having had no fear when finding their way out, all the hounds were then reluctant to walk back past the yard’s activities – typical!

The Green Boat Company - good with boats and they like greyhounds - what's not to like :-D

The Green Boat Company – good with boats and they like greyhounds – what’s not to like ๐Ÿ˜€

We had to drag ourselves away – but not before promising to call in on our way back – we were so impressed by Jon, Sam and their facilities, we decided to arrange some late winter maintenance with him, but there just wasn’t time to discuss it today. It had been a thoroughly lovely social call – enhanced by waving at another twitter friend nb Alnwyck and at fellow tideway veterans nb Flora Dora. Yesterday we’d exchanged greeting with fellow jubilee-ers nb Madam and nb Galatea

It’s fair to say that we feel quite at home on the Thames ๐Ÿ™‚

We set off through Oxford and contemplated a stop so that Archie hound could visit his hu-mum Sarah’s Alma Mater – but we just couldn’t be naffed to do the walk! I do hate how Oxford has turned its back on the Thames – though above Osney bridge we found a “purple passage” in every sense, as the dull back-lot of the Osney culvert was enlivened by a dense riot of purple wild flowers.

The river improves tremendously as it meanders out of Oxford towards Godstow. We stopped briefly on the meadow above Godstow Lock – the hounds needed a comfort break. The meadow and path around the ruins of Godstow Abbey were deserted – amazing for such a pleasant bank-holiday weekend. Not that we were complaining – it meant that Henry and Archie could have a good run!

We had been looking forward to another greyhound gathering at Northmoor Lock – for several years we’ve met up with the resident greyhound, Handsome Pa, who lives there. Or rather, lived there – the lockie at Pinkhill told us that Handsome Pa had gone over the rainbow bridge earlier this year. We were very sad to hear the news. We weren’t able to pass on our condolences as there was a relief lockie on at Northmoor, but the regular chap (Handsome Pa’s hu-dad) would be on duty when we passed back this way.

We had an ambitious plan of getting to Kelmscott – a village we’d very much enjoyed last year; but we had a backup plan of stopping at any likely pubs in-between, including those at Newbridge. But we didn’t even make it that far – as we cruised along the wilderness between Northmoor and Newbridge, Richard suddenly spotted a brilliant towpath mooringย (on the right-hand side looking upstream, about half a mile downstream of Newbridge, marked M on Nicholson’s) . We pulled over quickly – it was perfect – the mooring had a hard edge with not too high a jump for Ollie; the towpath alongside was gated at either end, and the path below the downstream gate opened onto an expanse of water meadow. The path itself was largely deserted – it’s so remote here that we only saw serious hikers and cyclists – it seemed to be too far off track for recreational dog-walkers. The dogs had a ball here – alternatively lolling around on the towpath by the boat or racing around the meadow – idyllic ๐Ÿ™‚

Photoblog:

Purple passage - the "neglected" backwaters of Oxford...

Purple passage – the “neglected” backwaters of Oxford…

The river's busy - canoes, kayaks, cruisers, swimmers, dogs, cows, ponies - King'sMeadow has it all :-D

The river’s busy – canoes, kayaks, cruisers, swimmers, dogs, cows, ponies – King’s Meadow has it all ๐Ÿ˜€

Frolicking in the wide open spaces at Godstow...

Frolicking in the wide open spaces at Godstow…

Wistful dragon - the lock-keepers really care for their surroundings..

Wistful dragon – the lock-keepers really care for their surroundings..

Sad sight - don't know how they'll get a crane in to right this boat - it's pretty remote....

Sad sight – don’t know how they’ll get a crane in to right this boat – it’s pretty remote….

We spoke to one boater  who said they found the Thames "boring" and couldn't wait to get off onto the Oxford Canal - but just see what they're missing upstream...

We spoke to one boater who said they found the Thames “boring” and couldn’t wait to get off onto the Oxford Canal – but just see what they’re missing upstream…

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