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Abingdon

Wallingford – aka Causton

Sunday promised more fine weather with rising temperatures so we got on our way just after eight o’clock. After passing under Abingdon bridge, I could see a small boat near the bank and as I approached, the person on it advised me that there were rowers heading upstream and asked me to keep over to the right, which I duly did. A few minutes later and the rowers came into view, no problem as there was plenty of room. Suddenly, the boat in the centre of the channel started to veer off course and was in danger of crossing our path. He was very soon at an angle of about thirty degrees to the bank and the line of the other boat. I changed course and being still concerned at his wayward path, slowed down and sounded my horn. At this point a girl in another motorised boat which should have been advising the rowers, decided to wake up and shout a warning to the crew. Disaster averted but of course their stroke had been interrupted so one of the crew decided that he should unleash a string of obscenities as they passed by. We didn’t retaliate, there didn’t seem any point. These guys are pumped up with adrenaline, testosterone and probably steroids too but the main issue other than them believing that they own the water is that where normal people have a brain, their skull cavities are stuffed with sausage meat.

Anyway, after that bit of excitement we had a peaceful trip down river until we reached Wallingford and as we approached the visitor moorings, a narrowboat pulled out and left a Caxton sized gap. I didn’t think that there was enough space but Sue thought otherwise so we gave it a go and we just squeezed in between two cruisers.

Tucked in between two cruisers.

The bank was filled with people sitting enjoying the beautiful Sunday sunshine and a few were swimming either side of the bridge.

Children enjoying the river.

We locked up the boat and walked into town and what a lovely place it turned out to be. Wallingford is one of the original locations used in the filming of TV’s Midsomer Murders, Causton as a matter of fact.

Wallingford market place.

Marketplace.

St Peter’s Church.

St Mary’s street cat.

St Mary’s street.

After a wander around, we returned to the riverside and sat in the cratch while watching the activities in and out of the water.

The Boat House after sunset.

Oh no, not another election!

Our fifth and final day in Abingdon coincided with the annual election for the post of “Mayor of Ock Street”. This event has taken place for centuries in the town, more details here.

While waiting for the result we took a final walk around the town and also spent a little time watching the local cricket team in action.

County Hall museum

St Nicholas church

The old Police Station.

The Old Anchor Inn.

St Helen’s church.

The cricket match.

In full swing.

We made our way to the Brewery Tap in Ock street and waited for the count to take place, once ready everyone made their way to the car park  for the announcement.

The Brewery Tap

Now after all the elections and referendums of the last few years, I’ve become conditioned to the aftermath so I wasn’t quite expecting what happened next. The result was announced by the runner up and he graciously admitted defeat, congratulating the winner and telling the assembled crowd that they had made an excellent choice.

Runner up graciously cheers the winner.

The new mayor of Ock Street

Contrast that with Clinton bleating that Trump’s win was a mistake and possibly illegal, Corbyn claiming that he had somehow won the election with less seats and fewer votes than May, Remainers thinking that the slight “leave” majority wasn’t enough so Brexit should be cancelled and Sturgeon losing the independence vote and asking for another on the “best out of three” principle.

Abingdon Morris men

The musicians set the tune

The victory parade.

The Mayoral election was, therefore, a breath of fresh air and after watching the ceremony reach completion we left the Morris men to dance on into the evening while we returned to our mooring.

On to Abingdon

On Tuesday morning we untied from our East Street mooring and moved down to Osney lock. The lock keeper was busy painting out graffiti on the nearby footbridge but within a few minutes he was back at the controls and helping us lock down. As we chugged our way around the edge of the city we saw hardly anyone, it was all very quiet around Folly bridge, no doubt due to the fact that it was only ten o’clock on a Tuesday morning and outside the school holidays. All of the punts were safely tied up  outside the Head of the river pub and Salter’s trip boats were moored on Folly Island. Once free of the city we realised just how much the open spaces and deep, wide waters of the Thames are in stark contrast to the features of the Oxford canal. We took our time and yet we still made good progress through the next two locks before eventually reaching Abingdon.

Abingdon lock approach.

We took on water before dropping down through Abingdon lock and taking the first available mooring there. We wanted to have a few days in the town and had been told that the moorings there would be busy with only the first day being free. Where we had tied was a five day mooring so we were happy enough with where we were.

Mooring below Abingdon lock.

Caxton’s panels tilted towards the evening sun.

The lock keepers cabin.

A brave soul kayaking below the weir.

We later found out that in fact all of the moorings allow a stay of five days and although there were a lot of boats around, many were coming and going so we needn’t have worried about finding a space. We were happy enough though with two routes into town, and since both walks only take ten minutes, we thought that we were in a good spot. What we hadn’t appreciated was that marker buoys in the river made the approach to the lock relatively narrow with the result that every large boat that passed, particularly Salter’s Steamers, pulled hard on our mooring lines.

Salter’s Steamer passing by.

On Wednesday evening I had to reposition the pins as well as re-tighten the ropes so on Sue’s suggestion we walked downstream and found a space opposite the park where the river is much wider. Fifteen minutes later we were on our new mooring and as the following days proved, passing boats had very little effect on us.

Abingdon is a lovely town and one that I have never visited before, despite having passed by on the A34 on countless occasions over the last twenty years. There are lots of shops, pubs and historical buildings to see and explore, which we did during our stay. The following photographs should give a little flavour of the place but for better information click here

Robert Gatward Jewellers.

 

Farmer’s Market in the market place.

 

Abingdon County Hall Museum.

 

St Nicholas Anglican church.

 

Morland brewery owned pubs had these adorning their walls.

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November 2017
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