We left Pangbourne at 08.30, and very soon I was operating my second automatic lock. All was still fairly quiet on the river until we saw a number of bright orange things bobbing in the water about three quarters of an hour later. We soon realised they were swimmers! There were eight of them, we thought they must be mad swimming in the Thames, but they seemed to be thoroughly enjoying it.
Some time after that between Moulsford and Wallingford we saw various sets of school children canoeing, although some were doing fairly well, others didn’t seem to have had any instruction at all, and were all over the place, which made for some interesting navigation for Martin. As well as the canoeists we were met by a number of college rowing eights Oriel Men’s team were the first on the list, and as we approached Wallingford we passed the Oxford Brookes University boathouse.
As we wended our way towards Culham we saw a red kite swoop down to the water and catch a fish, just after we left Culham lock. We stopped not long after that at Abingdon at about 13.50 for some lunch. We would have stopped before that, but there weren’t any suitable moorings. By the time we got to Abingdon we had travelled twenty one miles three-quarters and had passed through seven locks.
After lunch we checked the measurements of the boat again before leaving in readiness for Osney Bridge, we cast off from Abingdon to continue our journey. We caught up with the Queens college ladies eight, at one point they tried to overtake us not very appropriately on a bend, and had a near miss clash or oars on our port side.
We finally reached the dreaded Osney bridge at 17.15. We met Jan walking along East Street on Osney Island, so she hopped on the boat with us to go under the bridge. It was never going to be easy to get under the bridge…..and it wasn’t. We had to go dead centre to get through. Martin inched under the bridge, occasionally we were getting wedged as the boat moved away from the centre of the bridge slightly. The bow and tabernacle got through OK, so he carried on. The horn took a bashing as it went through, but the top deck got wedged on the port side. I went and stood on the port side to bring it down a millimetre, and we carried on. The same then happened on the starboard side, but again we got through, with me standing on that side. We were elated that we had got through what we thought originally was going to be the trickiest bridge on our journey. We dropped Jan off on the other side of the bridge, and waved her goodbye for the time being.
We motored on through a narrow part of the river before reaching Port Meadow. There were swimmers here too, and it reminded me of childhood Summer days when as a family we would picnic and swim watching the boats pass us, and jumping in the wake of them. Little did I realise then that I would be on one of the boats years later.
Godstow bridge also proved difficult. It was on a skew with a very tight turn and trees to the right of us. The wind was also against us as it was pushing us over into the bank and bridge side. We caught up with Jan again at this point, as she had driven to The Trout, and had walked down to the bank on the other side of the bridge. We moored at 18.15 by The Trout pub. We had a meal and some of our friends and family joined us in the pub. It was a relief to have completed the ‘bridges conundrum’ and we knew that we would sleep well tonight, despite the noisy peacocks from the pub.