Sunday 5 July 2015

Dogs and ducks

It was another busy day today, powering through the locks and meeting plenty of other boats in both directions. I liked the camaraderie with, especially, the other hirers like us, who blundered about and laughed off each others' bumps. Not so much the boat owners, who were understandably more precious about such things and inclined to pass the odd passive-aggressive comment. The old guy in a tshirt reading 'Old guys rule' said that he'd been at it for 40 years, and advised "If you're finding it hard work, you're doing it wrong." True, no doubt, but a bit irritating to hear.
There were also lots of dogs today, all sorts, and we shared a flight of locks with greyhound Sybil and Scottish terrier Poppy (both of them more interested in the goings-on than the child on board, intent on her iPad game). We discovered ourselves using lots of previously-unnoticed boating terminology: knowing the ropes, barging through, plain sailing, light at the end of the tunnel.
Some dramatic weather swept by, briefly, after a lunch which saw off the last of the Pont l'Évêque that I bought two weeks ago in Normandy - still good! - as well as some Colton Bassett Stilton for national balance. 
Passing boaters declared gloomily, "Well, that was summer, then" - but at Braunston the sun came out again and we could appreciate the cleverness of the packhorse bridge that allowed horses to change sides back in the day, where the Oxford Canal joined the Grand Union. Two wrought iron bridges take the human traffic across the canals, and nearby is The Boathouse with an irresistible 2-for-1 menu offer.
Afterwards, having had coffee in the superbly comfortable and ship-shape Moonpenny belonging to long-time boaters Val and Dave, we padded back along the tow path in the long dusk, past a mother duck with both wings protectively spread over her brood on the bank.

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