Time to move on from Oxford

We had found ourselves moored below Medley bridge for almost a week, thoroughly enjoying being tucked away peacefully, yet close enough to enjoy the best of Oxford’s lively atmosphere. We had even been lucky enough to realise that a pair of kingfishers had a nest right opposite us.

A kingfisher treat

We suspect the young had hatched, but they stay in the nest for 3 to 4 weeks, it would have been pushing our luck to stay on the off chance of seeing the brood emerge. We were also running low on water so needed to move on. It was only as we were pulling away that we saw the nice post we had tied to actually had a notice on it…. 2 days only

A very well camouflaged sign

Ah well, we will show them the photo to prove our ignorance if anyone pursues us for a mooring fee. We actually feel quite strongly about respecting mooring restrictions, otherwise it would be hypocritical for us to complain about the continual moorers who belligerently believe it’s their right to moor wherever they want for as long as they want. Being continual cruisers we haven’t set out to do any of the recognised cruising rings promoted by the hire companies, however we set off to do the Oxford ring.

Screen shot from AC canal planner

We left the river at Sheepwash channel,

Sheepwash channel

Where the Rewley Road swing bridge is being restored as a scheduled ancient monument. I’m very glad it will remain open, as it takes 2 men to operate it, allowing passage into Oxford,

Rewley road swing bridge

Through Isis lock

Isis Lock

which is effectively the end of navigation on the canal for most boats as the short branch that continues only has a 35 foot winding hole.

Looking down past the residential moorings towards the terminus of the Oxford canal

So we cruised north up the Oxford canal

Past some houses with lovely gardens

And returned to the river via Dukes Cut

Entering Dukes Cut

before continuing our journey downstream past Medley bridge and onward.

Its approximately 8 miles and a 4 hour journey, but the environment agency that looks after the river has some frustrating rules about the water points, only using a rigid 7m hose with no fittings, in theory to prevent contamination and back flow, however as we have a 20m flexible hose with brass fittings we are going to have to make some compromises. And so this time we opted to return to the canal to fill our tank. But it wasn’t just a maintenance cruise, we did also see some lovely canal, and some very nice homes.

We made the mistake of cruising past all the rowing clubs on Saturday morning.

It was very busy, although if the bridge grafiti is to be believed not everyone is taking the strain.

“Perfectly Legal” -someones got a sense of humour,

We’ve enjoyed Oxford far more than we expected. Its been fun to explore and theres still plenty left for the next time.

Oxford part 3, expanding ourselves, museums and markets

As usual when faced with an overflowing abundance of choice, I never know where to start. Oxford is an affluent city centre that attracts the curious, both academic and tourist, and a curious mix of both. Oxford is where Charles Dodgson, aka CS Lewis studied and taught so a lot of the curious tales of Alice in Wonderland were set in and around Oxford and particularly Christ Church college.

Christ Church

So we resorted to simply exploring on foot, searching out independent retailers, and avoiding anything that herded us like sheep. Whilst we were wandering around we discovered the Covered market which first opened in 1774, now it is home to some fabulous little independant retailers and celebrates Alice’s adventures with a collection of paper lantern sculptures hung from the rafters

We also had a very tasty, and affordable Thai meal from Sasi’s and the best icecream from the Wicked Chocolate store.

The wicked chocolate shop and gelateria

Not everything in the market was edible, or should I say desirable because the notice claims it is edible, Fellers butcher’s proudly displays the worlds oldest Ham

The world’s oldest ham

Following on from our market musings, it was time to take in some museums, and again so many to choose from that we had to prioritise. We chose the History of Science museum which celebrated over 1000 years of beautiful and intricate instruments, some collected by the eminent scholars of Oxford and some celebrating the work of more recent times, in particular the Oxford Astazenica covid vacine

And having done the science, I chose the botanical gardens, the rose garden planted in honour of the researchers who discovered the clinical importance of penicillin

And the alliums because we cant all go to Chelsea

We barely scratched the surface of all the things we could do and see in Oxford, but we have to save some for next time

Oxford part 2 time to play

I’m sure all those new graduates that we saw on Saturday worked hard for their degrees but I suspect they had also played hard during their time in Oxford. Port Meadow appeared to be a favourite place to let off steam.

Its not just fish swimming in the river

There were swimmers and frolickers in the water most days regardless of the weather. The temptation to join them proved too much although there was no way I was brave play Tarzan and swing off the tree.

The clear river water was too tempting to ignor

Of course some preferred getting up a bit of speed on the river and most mornings we saw the rowers being put through their paces

This team looks like champions

But in the evenings it seemed to be the paddle boarders came out to play

Thought we were under attack with this lot headed straight for us

We were very impressed by how clean the water was, very little litter, save for the occassional champagne cork bobbing along.

No plastic here

We didn’t run to champagne, but just across Medley Bridge was a lovely riverside bar that did woodfired pizza with wild garlic which hit the spot on more than one evening, even when it rained.

Oxford, part 1 – all work and no play

Of course I’d like to say I studied here, well no not really, it wouldn’t have been the best or right place for either of us, but oh boy what a lovely place to immerse yourself in academia if you’re so inclined.

One very proud young man

And the day we explored was graduation day so plenty of smiling happy family’s milling around the closed gates Sheldonian.

And without any logical plan of our own we just walked around town enjoying the atmosphere

And soaking up some of the history of the place

The faculty of history building

There was too much reading up to do

The Bodleian library

and taking good photos was proving difficult

The Radcliffe camera

But Christchurch has to be the most magnificent

Christchurch from the meadows

Or perhaps not wanting to be left behind Magdalen College

Magdalen College

Which sits on the banks of the Cherwell and where we could watch the haphazard tourists trying to outdo the students punting. The queue was long so we didn’t have a go

Punting on the cherwell

And we ended our day back at Christchurch for choral evensong

Inside the quad a christchurch
Awaiting evensong

Moving on to Oxford

We waved goodbye to the lovely Buttercup meadows of Eynsham


Past Dukes Cut junction where we joined the Thames a few weeks ago, and into Kings lock. Which although it didn’t have any fancy topiary that we’d seen upstream but was appropriately guarded for a king. Kings lock was the last pound lock built by the Thames Conservancy in 1928 when George V was on the throne so I assume it was named for him.

The King’s Lock Dragon

The next lock, at Godstow was the first stone built lock built in 1790. Godstow had been home to an Abbey and nunnery but Henry VIII put paid to that during the resolution of the monasteries, I wonder if that’s where some of the lock stones came from.

Godstow abbey ruins

Now Godstow is the first of the electro-hydraulic locks we shall meet on our journey downstream. We shared it with a lovely young couple who showed us which buttons to press.

I still cant convince Eric to let me have a roof garden

We cruised through Port Meadow and caught our first glimpses of Oxford’s dreaming spires, although the skyline was over dominated by cranes taller that the beautiful buildings we strained to see.

Dreaming spires in the distance

Under the Red Bridge or Medley foot bridge to give it s proper name,

Medley bridge

And onto a mooring snuggled into the trees

Where the next day we had a spur of the moment meeting when Amanda stopped off for lunch as she just happened to be driving past.

Always nice to have visitors

Port Meadow is a pleasant 20 minute walk into the centre of Oxford, so as we couldnt see any mooring restrictions, we settled down to enjoy a bit of a holiday.