‘Eileen’ snug in her Winter mooring. It’s early morning, and the stoves of other boats are sending out plumes of smoke as fresh coal is added.

Morning on Grimsbury Wharf and a very particular pastoral symphony.


Birdsong mingles with the shoosh-whoosh of cars racing the Hennef Way to the motorway; the scutter&flap of ducks dressing feathers enriches the steady thrummthrumm of boat engines charging depleted batteries.


Wickes’ carpark is filling with weekend DIY-ers, car doors slam; in the garage the sounds of tarting up cars and touting for trade; and above the activity of the canal an occasional loud wheeze of steam erupting from the chimneys of the ‘coffee giant’- ┬áthe huge factory that dominates this end of Banbury and produces a coffee-coloured, coffee-flavoured powdery coating that dusts the boats.

The yard, looking spick and span after it’s Winter hedge-trimming and de-weeding. It’s always a good feelin to return to ‘The Arm’ after the pressured journey up the motorway. Immediately life begins slowing down toward the calming, and more sane ‘Canal Time’.

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