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The log notes: arr. 9.13 dep. 9.30 It was sad to see that Bourton Lock remains a shadow of its former self, long gone the days when it was so lovingly tended by Irene who had a stunning cottage garden on the off-side of the lock. In those days many a boat would hold back a while in the lock and catch up on passing news. When she was eventually too old to remain in the cottage, it was shamefully left to rot, unattended, it was broken in to, and a fire ripped the soul out of the place. Happily a couple of local boaters have taken on the huge task of restoration, and with little money and a lot of heart are bringing the old place back to life.

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The cottage has started to ‘smile’ again!
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Shuttered and safeguarded from further deterioration. The roof’s had attention, and the windows are glazed. It’s amazing how much progress had been made really given that the cottage stands in splendid isolation, not even connected to Little Bourton up on the ridge. The current owner was busy carrying paint-pots and tools down to the cottage as I passed, walking across the intervening fields and the busy railway line to reach the lock.
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The cottage, illuminated by a moment’s welcome sunshine. Eileen rises in the lock in stately fashion. The top gate was frozen rigidly in place, I needed a little help from Eileen’s forward gear to crack and break the ice…
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This photo illustrates the technique I use when single-handed. The boat’s in neutral, it idles forward slowly under it’s own momentum until it clears the top gate, I then push it shut and step back aboard (the stern rope is there in case the boat has drifted too far forward to enable me to safely step aboard). It’s a technique perfected over the years and works well…
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As Eileen closed in on Bridge 158 nb. Electra appeared through the bridge hole ‘icebreaking’ from the opposite direction… from here to Cropredy I’d have a channel cut through the ice…
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nb. Electra had, fortuitously for me, left the bottom gates at Slat Mill Lock open and I breezed straight in… as snow clouds gathered ominously ahead and the temperature dipped markedly…
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The exposed location of Slat Mill can be clearly seen in this photo. The next band of snow is snuffing out the remaining sunlight.Though not picked up on the photo, it was actually snowing at this point, an odd, dry, powdery, soft-hail of tiny round spheres of snow.
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The splendid drama of boating during this strange, chill, late Winter period.
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