On Saturday we decided to remain in Kidlington/Thrupp another day before moving down to Oxford, assuming the town moorings would probably be busy with hire boaters visiting for the weekend.
Barry took the opportunity to chat for a good while with the boater moored in front of us, called simply '8ch' (Aitch). He's also great with a camera - check out his website here. I, meanwhile, did a spot of hand-washing (can't bear it but a distinct lack of launderettes means it's best to keep on top of it!), and then a bit of boat cleaning/polishing - making the most of our static time.
After lunch we returned up the canal to explore the tiny hamlet of Thrupp. In years gone by there'd been a mill here, now there's a charming row of cottages, sadly spoilt by the cars parked outside and the rubbish bins - such a shame. Apparently this used to be called 'Salt Row' and may have been used as salt warehouses.
In the 18th century Thrupp had two pubs, 'The Axe' which is now the very popular 'Boat Inn', and the 'Three Horseshoes' which closed in 1924. In the 20th century 'The Britannia' opened on the main Banbury Road - now renamed 'The Jolly Boatman' and nestling snugly between the main road and the canal - we were reliably informed this used to be the most popular boating pub until it changed hands and the new owners removed many of the original features making it more of a restaurant than anything resembling a place for boaters to go and have a drink or two - unsurprisingly they soon lost their boating clientele to 'The Boat Inn' - what a short-sighted move! Boaters may not spend a lot of money, but if you're situated next to a canal it doesn't take a genius to work out who your regulars are likely to be! It was a very quiet place each time we walked past it, not terribly 'jolly'!
The Jolly Boatman - almost in the canal!
Bones' boat is at the front of this line-up of boats, though this isn't her usual mooring
At the end of the road through Thrupp, there's a steel lift bridge across the canal - it's now electronically controlled and there've been many 'ups and downs' (excuse the pun!) while it's been installed - Maffi has written extensively on the problems and frustrations in his blogs - see this post as an example.
Thrupp Lift Bridge recently automated, though it's still not problem-free
Confident enough in her boat to stand at full height
Thrupp BW yard - sharp right to the infamous lift bridge
A popular spot for people to enjoy the local boating sights
On the other side of the lift bridge there's a good tea room and gift shop, and you can hire day boats and canoes from here too. Further along there's three cottages with a common thatched roof - all of them currently in the process of being sold. It seems that one of them was snapped up last year at around £170,000 and has changed hands since then - the current owners are hoping to sell it at auction for around £350,000! Not sure I'd pay that, even if I had the money, for what is after all a 'end-terraced' house. It's postulated that the cottages previously belonged to the British Waterboard, being used by their employees.
Maffi at the gift shop where he spends the odd hour working, when he's not sorting out the hire-boaters and canoeists
Annie's tearooms and gift shop at the back of the canal
The house on this end is on the market for around £350,000
The gargoyles outside the 'Old Chapel' The Boat Inn ready for another big night
We met up with Maffi once again, working in the gift shop, and also later in the evening to go back to The Boat Inn for a couple - well that was the plan, but it turned into another fun-filled night with a hen party this time! It's a good job the two parties didn't clash, there would've been a riot I feel. The girls were great fun, the hen was serving behind the bar for a while, and then the Landlord and Bar Manager (very accommodating and friendly people), put some dance music on and they were away - much easier on the ears than the stags 'singing' the previous evening!
The Hen soon tried to cajole willing volunteers to dance with her, and to my incredulity not one of the eight or so men in the bar took her up - shame on you all! I quite fancied a dance, and the Hen was lovely, so I partnered her instead. She probably wished I hadn't as we had a bit of a stumble at the end of the song and banged her arm on a chair quite badly - she'll have a bit of a bruise in the morning bless her - sorry!
The Hen's sister on the left, Hen on the right, cheery chicks all around
Come on Maffi show us what you're looking at, or give us some more pork scratchings - Maffi's dog Molly and Bones' dog Boots accompanied us to the pub bless 'em
We left the premises just before midnight, as Maffi had to be up and back in the shop Sunday morning, but the party was still in full swing - what a congenial pub - fantastic, we thoroughly enjoyed Thrupp!