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The colour of first light, as I pottered about preparing Eileen for the day…

Our Easter Trip started on Good Friday morning. The first log entry captured the moment:

29.03.13 8.20 let go ropes! Ice! Ice! Ice!

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The powdering of frost on the back cabin and grass provided evidence of the chill morning…

In over twenty years of boat owning this was a first for me… Moving the boat through a 5mm+ solid sheet of ice. As a dog walker called: “So you’re the ice breaker today!?!”

Our Eileen surely was…

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Under way. Eileen cracking the sheet ice as we headed towards the sharp Hardwick Wharf corner…

Eileen wasn’t phased in the least by ice, she took it in her stride, skittish and wilful she cut her own path, preferring a straight line, which proved a little difficult around the tight bend at Hardwick Wharf. The ice offered resistance, cracking, layering, contorting and snapping, firecrackers and groans, retorts and sighs. Ice v. boat each whispering and chuckling conspiratorially, iron hull against iron water.

Fantastic!

If I ignored the fact that the ice was successfully abrading the blacking on the bow…

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Our path, cut through the ice, is clear to see…

A bitter cold morning, the Baltic wind scythed the air, passed through me rather than around. A welcome warmth wafted up from the Morso stove in the Long Cabin (the back cabin stove has a broken seal and needs a little work before I’d be happy lighting it).

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Below Hardwick Lock…

What an excellent morning for boating, no I mean it! I had all the time in the world, no-one but myself to look out for, there was a clear road ahead, with few boats about and the locks set in my favour. A full belly, a warm boat, a mug of coffee, and the unfolding drama of a lingering Winter holding (coiled) Spring at bay.

Wonderful stuff!

The towpath mud was sculptured frozen footprints and bike tyre-tracks, and scraps of crisp grass were brittle under foot as I stepped out to work through Hardwick Lock.

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Into Hardwick Lock

My log notes:

Hardwick Lock (arr. 8.45 dep. 8.56): Why do some boaters, on an attractive rural canal such as the South Oxford, choose to moor either under Bridge 160 – a busy railway bridge – or above the lock close-by the ‘whoosh-whoosh’ of the M40 motorway at Bridge 159A???

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Thicker ice after Bridge 159A, the motorway left behind, and heading into open countryside…

Leaving the noisy imposition of the M40 behind, Eileen ploughed on hungrily, towards Bourton Lock, and tomorrow’s post…

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