“Adventure is a path. Real adventure – self-determined, self-motivated, often risky – forces you to have firsthand encounters with the world. The world the way it is, not the way you imagine it. Your body will collide with the earth and you will bear witness. In this way you will be compelled to grapple with the limitless kindness and bottomless cruelty of humankind – and perhaps realize that you yourself are capable of both. This will change you. Nothing will ever again be black-and-white.” –Mark Jenkins

Sunday, 2 November 2014

The Cotswolds as seen from the South Oxford Canal

Wow what a fantastic week. Only one day of not-so-good weather and 6 days of fantastic cruising in totally bearable temperatures - we arrived back at the boatyard on the last day in a balmy 18 degrees.... in November?! gorgeous.
We set off, six of us, from Napton boatyard aboard our rented 70ft Black Prince Narrowboat named "Adele".  With 3 fixed doubles and a twin room at the back (which became our wet room), a kitchen and lounge/diner we had ample space to spread out and relax. The South Oxford canal is a real skinny affair with dinky little bridges, wide open vistas and very well kept towpaths. It was also in full Autumnal bloom with stunning leaf colours and bright red berries, all complete with early morning mist. 
When it comes to canal-side pubs, good grub and decent ales, the South Oxford is (in my opinion) on a par with the Kennet & Avon. The Folly does a cracking Lamb Shank, tasty Steak and Ale pies full of fat-free meaty chunks (apparently) and has a somewhat eccentric owner serenading the guests as he passes- but book early as the place fills fast. The Great Western serves a mightily impressive Sea Bass as well as the largest Sirloin Steak I think I have ever seen. The pub was so good in fact that we went twice - once on the way there and again on the way back.
We made it to Banbury on the third day and, as is fast becoming traditional, we moored up, donned our fancy dress and headed into town for supplies. This years theme was Cowboys and Indians and what a giggle. Amazed how many people of Banbury saw the funny side and joined in, but equally amazed at those that had no sense of humour at all - especially the women in shoe zone who failed to see the funny side when asked if she could shoe our hobby horse for us!

Seemed to be less abundance of wildlife on the South Oxford, but that could easily have been the noise we were making and the strength of wind blasting across and keeping the birds sheltered inside the hedgerows. We did however see two kingfishers and a number of herons, ducks, and swans, as well as a Kestrel catching a mouse on the bank in front of us on our last morning - simply stunning. The other thing we saw which was a real treat for me was a group of what must have been about 20 partridges, running along the towpath beside us for a good 100m or so. Never seen that before and boy do they move fast.

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