Sunday, July 4, 2010

Day 51.Transition To Canals

Back to Abingdon this morning for the last bit of the Thames Path, as far as I am concerned. The beginning of the Oxford Canal is very close to the Thames, so it would be an easy transition. Except that I chose to walk into the heart of Oxford, not having been there for many a long year.

On my way out of Oxford, I passed the Randolph Hotel and couldn’t even remember why it was I used to stay there. I followed the OS map, in Satmap form, back to the canal, only to find that the street which I expected to debouch onto the canal bank was in fact a dead end. I returned to a street which ran parallel with the canal, but which had many smaller streets heading in the direction of the non-running water (my late friend Richard Burman frequently asked people if they could “point him in the direction of running water” – he used this phrase as other people would refer to “spending a penny”). Any or all of these streets could be dead ends. Fortunately, I espied a couple coming out of their house and asked for help. Not only did they show me the way to go, but they insisted on crossing my palms with silver intended for the purple Pancreatic Cancer UK collecting tin which we keep in V-Force One.

The canal was very crowded with boats, mainly parked, including some with alarming jungles growing all over their roofs. I was very surprised by all the apartment blocks built right up to the canal bank on the other side. They went on for quite some distance.

I had arranged to meet Gay at the Pear Tree Roundabout Services. She texted to tell me the service area is closed for refurbishment but she was taking tea at the Holiday Inn next door. It seemed to me, when I was close, that the whole area was being refurbished. Lots of roadworks, which resulted in closure of the canal towpath. I came up onto a very busy road and, in order to make my way to the Holiday Inn, had to cross building sites, climb fences, force my way through one of those impenetrable thickets they build on the slopes of motorways and other fast roads, and inch my way along one of these fast roads, on the inside of the crash barrier, which was frequently being assaulted, as was I, by the thicket. I eventually made my way to the Holiday Inn, with skin battered, bruised and torn.

Judging by the difficulty we had driving off the HI carpark onto Pear Tree Roundabout on a Sunday, it will be very unpleasant for Gay after she has dropped me off there tomorrow morning.

We are on another Caravan Club CL site, which means that we are camped in a field, with very few facilities. There is a water tap. Nothing else. And we are locked in here until 8 am tomorrow morning.

I walked 24.5 kms. VBW total 1413.5 kms. It was far too hot for walking. Have England and France swapped weather systems?

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