Saturday, 31 May 2014

And finally on the flat

It was with more than a little relief that we finally turned into the entrance of the Oxford canal this afternoon.  We left Abingdon this morning with a lot of flow against us and it was like that for most of the eight miles we had to cover.  The Thames is really picturescue but its not relaxing when you have to flog the poor old engine so hard just to get anywhere.
As we left the last but one lock we saw the dreaded -' Regatta ahead' signs and were warned by the lock keeper that the river would be busy.  He also pointed out that rowers considered that they owned the river, my reply was simple, I weigh about eighteen tons and they don't.  That said we were prepared to be a nice as we could.  But when you stick to the rules and come around a right hand bend on the right hand side to be confronted with a dozen rowing eights all on your side and then the commentator says to keep the centre of the river clear - you start to get a little miffed. We missed them all but none of them seemed to want to even acknowledge we were there which was pretty dumb.
The last bit of the river we had to get through is narrow and so the flow gets even faster.  After the last lock we had about a quarter of a mile to go and it seemed to take forever.  However, it let me generate my cunning plan for getting across the stream and into the narrow canal entrance.  The plan lasted about two seconds when we saw a dead tree jammed and in the way of exactly where I wanted to go.  Plan B - the Jeremy Clarkson approach was invoked - power - flat out and aim for the gap praying that we would get across stream before it swept us sideways onto said dead tree.  It worked and suddenly I could throttle back in calm water.  One simple single lock and we were in the Isis section of the canal.  No water flow, simple single locks - heaven.

Saw this chap just outside Abingdon, clearly he can't read - or was he one of the
dangerous Herons??

For goodness sake - health and safety gone barking - this is where they start the rowing races and the starter uses a starting pistol - do you really need a sign warning you and what are you meant to do anyway?????

So ladies and gentlemen - rule of the road - always keep to the right hand side of the river.  Unless you are a chinless wonder rowing type when you can go anywhere you please, which in this case is just about anywhere.

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