Wednesday, 21 June 2017
This is not the most picturesque view from the loo but the most important thing about it today is the shade! Having endured temperatures up to 29° since last Friday, it is forecast to be over 30° today.
I am not one of those people who revel in the heat and strip off at the drop of a hat. I much prefer the gentler caress of a spring or autumn sun. In fact if my only choice in life was to live in Africa or Alaska, it would be Alaska all the way! Bonny too struggles in the heat. She still expects her walks and still wants to ride on the roof when we are moving but I have had to restrict her to the back counter for her own safety. I also bought a table fan in Banbury, primarily for her, but every time I point it at her she moves! I have also put a wet towel on the floor but she won't lie on it. Instead she just looks at me pleadingly and pants herself into exhaustion.
Yesterday was particularly trying as I had only intended to water up and do a couple of miles and locks before finding more shade. I had forgotten that for fairly long stretches of the South Oxford the towpath resembles a rainforest and you can't get close to the bank for vegetation. I ended up doing one swing bridge, five locks and seven miles which took four and a half hours, all in searing heat.
I nearly cried at the last lock of the day which is a river lock (where the Cherwell joins with the canal briefly). The gate was so heavy and the lock so leaky that even sweating and straining with all my strength, I couldn't budge the top gate. Fortunately another boater came to my rescue and together we cranked it open. He then worked the lock for me so I could stay on board. I occasionally write about the awkward people I come across on the cut but they are still vastly outnumbered by helpful, friendly ones.
I was faced with yet more impenetrable growth along the towpath and was just about to really panic as the heat was overcoming me when through a mercifully open lift bridge I could see somewhere to moor. Not only clear of vegetation along the edge but also with an overhanging oak tree which provided shade for most of the afternoon. I nearly cried again, this time with relief.
It is still very hot but, unlike Banbury, there is a breeze here and we can find shade for most of the day. Today is the Summer Solstice which happily coincides with the last day of this heat wave, they say the hottest in 20 years. I would obviously be dancing naked around the nearest standing stone to celebrate. But it is just too hot. Roll on winter!!