Lower Heyford

Our spirits were raised this morning by a visit to NB Acres the smallholding above Nell Bridge. The pigs stirred as we arrived – they were very friendly because they were expecting breakfast. There were Gloucester Old Spot, Oxford Sandy and Black, and the British Lop (the rarest of all), including two groups of piglets who spent a lot of time chasing each other. We were shown around by Sarah Wherry and bought some pork chops, sausages and eggs. The whole area is well organised with well-built pens, shelters and a store, part of which will become a farm shop. The visit raised our spirits for what was to become another difficult days boating.

Greeting the pigs at Nell Bridge

The temperature was only about 6 deg C but with 30 mph winds the wind chill was significant. The wind blew across the cut for most of the day (westerly) so much that at times Albert was listing and going crabwise down the cut.

Anyho Weir Lock, the diamond shape one, was tricky but more difficulties were to come. Thanks to the warnings of a boater going north we were prepared for the lowered lift bridge (193). Maggie got off the boat early and opened it up well in advance, as a result we got through with no problems. There was no chance of stopping at the bridge without being blown across the cut. At Somerton Lock I passed on the message to a boat leaving the lock and going north but the steerer just commented “well there is not much I can do about it”. And I thought forewarned was forearmed.

We had to wait for a boat in front to go down Somerton so we had to moor up. It took some effort and in the end, we walked Albert into the lock on ropes. It hailed as we operated the lock. A large quantity of weed in the lock fouled the prop of the boat ahead. I managed to remove the mass with our keb but snapped the handle in the process.

Weed from Somerton Lock (dodgy hat!)

We ate lunch on the move, passing a lone happy angler who didn’t mind the weather because he wasn’t at work.

We picked up fuel at Oxfordshire Narrowboats who had nearly all their fleet moored up at Lower Heyford Wharf ready for the Easter Break. We moored up on the outside of five of their boats and the navigation was completely blocked. Luckily nobody came through as we waited to be served.

Bangers and mash tonight!

Still only GPRS. We have had 5 days GPRS and 1 day 3G. When will we get 3G and the ability to post images?