Abingdon Bound – 15th August 2022

We only had three hours of cruising to get to Abingdon but it took us five hours.

Some of the locks had elaborate bridges and staircases around them dating back to the 18th century. They don’t build like this anymore, sadly.

This particular lock was just chocolate box perfect.

The garden around this lock was extensive with a lot of lavender and what we assume was Scottish Thistle.

We then came up to Sandford Lock which is the deepest on the non-tidal Thames. It is one of the largest locks on the Thames because of a paper mill that use to be by the side of it which required capacity for haulage of it’s goods.

As is mentioned, we were holed up here for half an hour whilst they tried to repair the lock. By the time we got through the lock, the technician still had his head buried in the mechanism.

These are the lock operation units. There is one for each set of gates. Mostly they are operated by pushing buttons in a certain order which open the sluice paddles and then gates and then closes both. The wheel is used as an override in case of electrical/mechanical issues.

The lock keepers on this lock appear to have a sense of humour.

Prior to going into the lock, we had some white geese come up to the boat wanting food. We noticed that they have unusual blue eyes with red trim.

There is never a dull moment in a boater’s life. As we were moored up for three nights in the shade of some trees, we ended up with a mixture of detritus on the roof.

On our approach to the last lock of the day we came across this very sad sight. It had been there for quite some time, and you would think that they should just remove it. Easier said than done as access to the site is difficult and you need very heavy lifting gear.

The lock before we came into Abingdon saw us bullied by a yoghurt pot owner who wanted us to move off the services we were using as he wanted access to the pump out facility. The correct modus operandi is for you to wait until the current boater on the services has finished and then you move in after them. This guy wanted us off the site as we were using the water and elsan services but not the pump out. He was very aggressive and rude. The other two boats around us were very upset by his behaviour. Once we had finished, we did move off but made sure we took our time. Mostly, other boaters are understanding and polite, but you always get these rogue characters throughout life.

Abingdon is a gorgeous town. It is a historic market town and the Abbey was founded around 676 – no digit missing – it is 676.

Abingdon railway station was closed to passengers in September 1963. The line remained open for goods until 1984, including serving the MG car factory, which operated from 1929 to October 1980.

Bun-throwing is an Abingdon tradition that began with the 1761 Coronation of King George III.  This long-standing tradition of the town has local dignitaries throwing buns  (5,000 buns in 2022) from the roof of the Abingdon County Hall Museum (picture above)  into crowds assembled in the market square  below on specific days of celebration (such as royal marriages, coronations and jubilees). The museum has a collection of the buns, dried and varnished, dating back to bun-throwings of the 19th century. To date there have been 35 bun-throwing events. Since 2000, there have been bun-throwing ceremonies to commemorate the Millennium, the Golden Jubilee of Liz  in 2002, the 450th anniversary of the town’s being granted a royal charter  in 2006, the Royal Wedding of Prince William  in 2011, the Diamond Jubilee of Liz in 2012, the centenary of the end of the WWI in November 2018 and the Platinum Jubilee in 2022.

We did a short walk into town and a few boring errands before making our way back to the boat where we came across this group of kids having a ball. At 8.00pm tonight we had our first rain in over two months which was oh so welcoming. The temperature continued to be in the low 30’s today and along with-it, uncomfortable humidity. Going forward though, it is meant to be cooling down. Already it is dark at 8.45pm, so we are now seeing a change into autumn light.

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