As the last few weeks have gone on, it has been more and more difficult to know what day of the week it is, not that it matters anyway! It was easy today, it must be Bank Holiday Monday because the weather had taken a turn for the worst. We were up and away at half past seven because we wanted to get through the wharf where the hire base is situated before all of the “Friday to Monday” boats returned. We made it but only just, settling at the water point by eight o’clock. The short journey wasn’t without incident though, Sue had set off on foot to open Mill Lift bridge, thankfully now mechanised since we last passed this way, no problem there. After passing through, she continued on foot while I chugged slowly passed the line of moored boats running down to the wharf. A few minutes later and I was confronted by a boat from the nearby Oxfordshire narrowboat hire base. The steerer had plenty of room as I maintained a six inch gap between Caxton and the moored boats but seemed reluctant to use more of the seven or eight feet that he had between his boat and the canal bank and so there was a small bump, nothing serious but totally avoidable.
Five boats returned to the base in the thirty minutes or so that we sat filling the water tank, no problem for us but they blocked the canal as they manoeuvred their vessels into place. We were soon underway again and in similar fashion to our trip two days earlier, we covered around five miles and dropped down through another three locks, mooring below Pigeon lock. The bottom gate of this lock doesn’t open fully and when we arrived a queue had formed as a result of a boat getting stuck, allegedly because it had its fenders down. It had gone by the time we arrived so we don’t know for sure but once things had started to move, the backlog soon cleared.
After lunch, we walked to the village of Tackley which is just over a mile from the canal by way of a bridleway. The path begins by winding around the back of the private houses which were once the Three Pigeons pub and a water mill respectively. There is now a sluice where presumably the mill stream once ran and the path crosses it by way of a bridge. The bridleway continues between fields of crops until it reaches Tackley station where the walker has to cross the tracks before continuing into the village. There isn’t much to Tackley, like so many of these villages which have become commuter dormitories. In fairness to the inhabitants, there must be some people who want to retain a village spirit because the village hall has a community shop, although it had closed by the time we got there because of the bank holiday. The local pub, the Gardiner Arms is also a community run business and has limited opening hours as a result. We called in and had a drink, it is a lovely building with a spotless well maintained interior.
We were half way back to our mooring when the rain started and why not? It was a bank holiday after all!
After another good night’s sleep we awoke to a fairly bright morning with a sky filled with white clouds. After pottering around until lunchtime, we set off in the direction of another close by village, Kirtlington. Like Tackley, Kirtlington is just over a mile away from Pigeon lock along a road which only gives access to the old mill. It didn’t take us long until we reached the village centre with it’s traditional village green. We visited the church, the village shop and then the Oxfordshire Arms. Kirtlington might just win the prize for being the most desirable of the four villages that we have visited in the last few days but again it is very quiet with little activity going on.