April 2000: “Silver Star”, Anglo Welsh of Lower Heyford.
Dad, Grandad, Mum, Josh (the dog) and myself were off for a week on the South Oxford Canal, one of my favourites. We’d lost Grandma a few months earlier after a few months of being very ill. We were all devastated, especially Grandad after a lifetime together. I hoped a week away may help us all. The boat was a 58ft 4 berth from their Silver 4 class. She was built in 1985 by Anglo Welsh’s building division, Harborough Marine and had their characteristic high sweeping bow and louvred windows. The boat was in very good condition for her age and had a fixed double aft, seperate wc and shower, followed by a galley, two singles forward and then four armchairs forward. This was a good, spacious layout for us all, and the deep windows meant even from inside you got a good view. The weather was quite cold, but the boat was very warm. We cruised to Oxford first, along the short river section that we had enjoyed in 1994, where the boat flew along, helped by the deeper water. On our way back we heard that this river section was closed due to high levels. We enquired at Thrupp’s BW office who confirmed we could go if we wanted, but they would not advise it. Having no desire to be stuck motionless for the rest of the week we decided we’d go for it. My Mum and I walked the short river section by towpath to open the lock at the far end so we could drive straight in, as I did not fancy trying to moor. Then we walked back, opened the lock gates where Silver Star was waiting for us with Dad and Grandad and off we went. I was quiite nervous as I remember a picture from an old magazine of a boat stuck on a field on this section, as the river had flooded and the hirers had misjudged what was river what was field! I decided to keep this memory quiet so as not to panic my crew who seemed quite excited! I put full throttle down in the hope that would help and also mean that the current couldn’t influence our course and we charged along the flooded river at a rate of knots. The passage went smoothly and then straight into the lock we went Success, hoorah! We were all delighted. The next day we got stuck anyway! A low bridge ahead meant the level was too high to pass under. We cruised to Aynho, our starting point on previous holidays, rang a taxi and brought the car to where we were moored. Mum, Grandad and myself went to Warwick for a meal and an afternoon mooch! Luckily the next day water levels had reduced and we could cruise again. This was quite an eventful holiday, but we all enjoyed it. The weather was cold, but the heating and boat was very good so we all had a great time. At the end of the trip we saw a boat and soon after bought it, so we were soon back to move her home - read about her here.