The canals and rivers have been eerily quiet. Weed accumulating mid channel where normally boats would cut it away like lawnmowers with their propellers. The canal towpaths and river banks like mini jungles with foliage spilling over into the water.
The easing of the lock-down on 23rd May has meant that people whose primary residence is onboard, are now encouraged to start to move their boats away from their lockdown location.
In continuous cruising terms we normally have up to 14 days maximum at a location before being required to move on. 14 days after the 23rd May brings us to 6th June 2020 and we are now supposed to be back to pre lockdown movements unless we have a good reason not to be.
The River Thames beckons for me again this year, and for obvious reasons, is a poignant visit.
Emerging from Dukes Cut onto the Thames and fighting our way around fallen willow trees I wondered if this would be a sign of what to expect on our way upstream towards Lechlade.
On the Thames, I have learned to expect the unexpected. And the Thames rarely disappoints in my experience… on our first morning, one of the first sights to present itself was a huge flotilla of wrecked boats coming into Kings Lock.
I asked one of the men who was working on the boats what was happening. He explained that they are from Oxford Cruisers, and they have travelled from Culham Lock to pick up the sunken narrowboat, and then gathered the rest of the fibreglass boat wrecks on their way back to their yard at Eynsham.
The fibreglass boats will go to Smiths at Bloxham to be recycled. And the narrowboat will be looked at by the insurance companies as it is still part of a possible claim.
We gave the flotilla of wrecks a good hour or so head start as they were also heading upstream. When we arrived at Eynsham Lock later in the morning we chatted at a safe distance from to the lock keeper there who we know well. It was a bitter sweet moment for him to see this particular narrowboat go through the lock. He revealed that she was called Penguins Progress… And that he had lived on her in central Oxford on the Hythe Bridge Arm over 20 years ago. But in a funny kind of way it was like she had come full circle with a final visit to one of her first owners.
We carried on with our day. Pleased to be back on familiar Thames waters.