You don't need me to tell you it's been hot. We've been toiling up over the South Oxford summit where shady spots are as rare as air stewardesses on a hang glider. Despite the heat, we had to keep battling on for we were on a mission, to arrive at Calcutt in time for early Wednesday morning so that they could give Herbie's engine a tweak -more of which later.
Having stopped for the night somewhere on the Wormleighton wiggle on Monday, we rose early on Tuesday to attack the Napton flight before it got too busy and too flippin' hot. It all looked very pretty in the sunshine. The old song sums it up perfectly.
Oh give me a home where the buffalo roam
And the skies are not cloudy all day
The poor old Buffaloes looked hot, a lot of them look heavily pregnant, poor things. Take a trip up the locks in a few weeks time and you might see a lot of buffalo calves.
Our strategy worked out well and we were down the locks by late morning, in time for lunch at the Folly where (and I am not exaggerating) I had easily the best chips I have had in the thirty five years since we got rid of our deep fry pan at home and gave up double frying. Don't take my word for it, ask Rick who was with us.
"Ain't that right Rick?"
There, told you.
By now Herbie was hotter than Tim Peake's re-entry capsule as we soldiered on to the top of Calcutt locks where as luck wouldn't have it there was no shade. By now the air temperature was hot enough to cook a Fray Bentos boater's pie. Undaunted, Kath and Rick set about erecting a Ray Mears style tarp using some sleeping bag liners, some string, a boat hook and a brick. I of course assured them it wouldn't work and that they were wasting their time, ( it's seldom they've heard a discouraging word) but against all the odds it did, and we spent the rest of the afternoon loitering within tent. Later, Marilyn came to rescue Rick leaving me and Kath to struggle on this morning through the whole fifty yards and one lock to the boatyard.
All BMC engines like Herbie's have one spot in the rev band where they hit a sort of resonant frequency and shake about a lot, normally you can easily throttle past it, but our shaky spot seemed to have decided lately to settle at tick over or thereabouts which is a right pain when idling in locks or creeping past moored boats. So that was Calcutt's challenge for the day. That and finding and curing an annoying diesel leak. On BMC engines, Ian at Calcutt is Da Man. After checking everything over he decided to advance the engine timing a smidge ( by rotating the injection pump a tad on its drive) and that seems to have done the trick. He also seems to have stopped the fuel filter from weeping. Oh that I had his magical powers. So we now seem (subject to putting a few miles in to prove it) to have a smoother drip free engine. Cleaner too as he washed it with degreaser and used Calcutt's megahoover to clean out the engine bilge. Deep joy.
Ian actually complimented Herbie on the cleanliness of her engine bay! Crumbs, I can't imagine what others are like.