Day 19 (25th Sep 2013) – Fenny Compton to Twyford Wharf:

 

Another misty morning as Justin and Stevo set out south on the Oxford canal. It was a paddle of several miles before the first set of locks and the lads weren’t in any hurry. Sometime along the canal they came across the carcasses of a sheep and a rabbit floating together. Possibly the final act in a bizarre yet tragic tale of doomed love; we’ll probably never know.

After trolleying the kayaks around a set of five locks and then paddling to the next set of three the boys pulled the boats out again and were almost around the next set of three before meeting New Zealander Keith from the Banbury Canoe Club based in Cropredy. Soon they had linked up with Siobhan, Kristen, Anna and Chris from the club and followed them to the clubhouse for tea and cakes. The Banbury folk then escorted the lads down past the next couple of locks to send them on their way. The boys continued as a twosome down the canal encountering the occasional boater and dogs, some pleasant, some knob-heads as Stuart would say. Somewhere back along the way Curtis was working his way along ‘Merlot’ when he slipped and put one leg into the canal up to the knee. This was considered too trivial to be considered a swim.

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Somewhere north of Banbury the two intrepid kayakers encountered a lone kayaker who turned out to be Paul from the Banbury Canoe Club. Paul joined Justin and Stevo through Banbury and to the south. As they passed Paul’s put in point on some parkland Paul spread his arm and declared, “I live about 150 metres that way, whoops” after which he started to tip sideways and slowly entered the water. Swim number six. Paul showed great fortitude to continue with the lads until the next lock, soaking wet. Even Stevo was impressed.

Finally Twyford Wharf appeared and Justin and Stevo pulled out the boats. They had to sit on the towpath for an hour as Justin had ignored the first rule of the overnight stop; nearby pub. Eventually ‘Merlot’ showed up and soon after that Andy arrived to pick up Stevo and Curtis for a meal and a bed at his and Jane’s place in the nearby village of Culworth. On the way back to the village Andy insisted on dropping into the ‘Ye Olde Reine Deer’ pub in Banbury for a quick pint, the lads didn’t object. They then remembered to pick up JP from the train station. JP is the patriarch of the Parke family and the father of Patrick, Will and Louise. He is also a survivor of the 2010 Gutless trip and a trooper.

The boys then had to stop at the George and the Dragon pub in Chacombe for another pint before arriving at Andy and Jane’s house for a feast of spag-bol, garlic bread and red wine. All was well with the world…

 

 

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