Blimey it all happens down here on the South Oxford. Being so rural, you'd think you could get lonely, but far from it. Ever since we got to Banbury we've had good company.
We got to Aynho on Tuesday just before Oakie and Maffi arrived tooting and waving as they pulled in on their respective boats. Poor Oakie had got problems on Nb Stronghold, his alternator had packed up. I went over to take a look. Very interesting to get a good look at Stronghold, as the steelwork of his boat was built by the same person who built Herbie. Surprisingly, they are quite different in all sorts of ways. I expect Oakie prefers his, and naturally we prefer ours. Luckily for him there is a man at Aynho who could fix his alternator on Wednesday morning.
The three of us (me, Kath and Oakie) put on our best bibs abd tuckers and retired to the Great Western Arms for dinner, only to be joined by Maffi and Mollie, then three other boaters of his acquaintance, so we all ate round a big round table and swapped boating tales most of the evening. The food and service is always good at the GWA if it is a little pricier than most canal pubs.
Then on Wednesday a real treat. We moved on down to Lower Heyford where we found Maffi (again) and Bones and then a little later Simon and Ann (aka the Moomins) on Nb Melaleuca (not long off the Thames) for our planned evening meal. Bones roasted a juicy leg of lamb with garlic and anchovies tucked inside and we did a melange of roasted veg and we all gathered on the Moomins' boat for what turned out to be a real feast. Bones (who claims to be no cook but you could have fooled me) also cooked a yummy apple oaty crumble.
All in all we've had a splendidly sociable time, but now we need to get back home a bit earlier than planned as we have some family business to attend to. It's a long way back to Crick, but Kath had a better idea. After a quick couple of phone calls we've arranged to leave Herbie in Cropredy marina for a couple of weeks. This means we only have to retrace our steps for a day and a half rather than for four and a half days. As Crick and Cropredy are both owned by the same company we have permission to moor at either without further charge as long as there is room. In a couple of weeks time we'll pick up Herbie and wend our way back to Crick. Simples.
It turns out that nothing is that simple though. We were planning to get back as far as Banbury today, but the wind this morning has been so scary in places, that we've decided to hunker down half way at Aynho and start a bit earlier tomorrow when the gales have blown over. I'm certain that had we been less experience boaters we would have had a few coming togethers with moored boats this morning when the wind was sideways on. Stopping the boat at lock landings we had to hang on to the ropes with all our strength to stop Herbie from blowing across to the far bank.
We should get back to Cropredy by tomorrow afternoon anyway.