Loo views

Loo views

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Lower Heyford tears and laughs

You can't see it, but the River Cherwell is just the other side of the towpath, here at Lower Heyford. It is a lovely mooring beside a very pretty Oxfordshire village, but getting here reduced me to sweary, angry tears!

I started off that morning feeling slightly out of sorts, probably because I have been doing too much. I got to the first deep lock which had such stiff paddles that I had to stamp on my windlass to turn it at all. As I am sweating and struggling, I look up to see a woman of similar age to me, standing behind me holding a windlass. 'Oh good', I said, 'help' and gave her a big smile. Nothing. Not a glimmer from her. 'There are some really stiff paddles on this stretch, aren't there? Still, at least the sun is shining'. Not a smile or a comment from her at all. 'Is there something wrong'? I asked. 'No, why?' she asked.

I still thought I'd missed something as I could see no reason for her unfriendly attitude. 'I just wondered why you weren't speaking to me?' She just stared so I continued 'It's just that most people I meet at locks are friendly. Best way in my opinion'. 'There is friendly and then there is garrulous'. I knew she had just insulted me but wasn't sure what it meant! Meanwhile I had at last managed to empty the lock and open the gate (with no help from her at all). So I smiled and said 'well, it was a REAL pleasure to meet you' and continued on. (Garrulous = overly talkative!)

On I went to the next lock where I saw there was a woman just bringing her boat in. I went to give a hand and said brightly 'Oh it's lovely to meet another single handed woman!' She looked at me for a second and then said 'Why?' My heart sank. 'Well, I don't meet that many'. I knew the conversation was doomed when she replied that she knew plenty, but then she had lots of friends! I wondered was it me or am I in an unfriendly area of the country?

Rather deflated, I carried on until I reached Lower Heyford's lift bridge. I had been warned that I wouldn't be able to operate it on my own but I had a go anyway. They were right. It is a large, aluminium bridge which is cantilevered to stay down. Even when I managed to, using every muscle I had, get it up, there was no way of securing it in the upright position and so I couldnt leave it to go get my boat. I did try and jam it open with my boat pole but I couldn't hold the bridge and wield the pole at the same time. Also I quickly worked out that jamming it open would have been dangerous as it could easily slip causing the bridge to crash down on my boat. I was hot, tired, stressed and rather scared to be stuck.

I struggled with it for about 20 minutes before I accepted defeat. I backed up my boat, intending to moor up until I could find help, when around the corner came a cheery little woman in a cheery little boat. She quickly calmed me down with a few cheerful words and between us we soon got both our boats through and I found this mooring just a little further on. What a relief and I was so grateful to my saviour that I admit to shedding the odd tear.

The rest of the day improved, culminating in a lovely pub meal with friends I had last seen 16 years ago! Much laughter and reminiscing over a meal brought the evening to a happy end.

This is the mooring at Lower Heyford and a glimpse of the Cherwell.