I did lots of boat jobs today. First was to check that the domestic alternator still worked after installing the relay. It did, which was good. Next I applied a second coat of red paint to the tunnel band. Then it was time to change the engine oil and filter, a task which went smoothly. While doing this it occurred to me to check the gearbox oil level, something I'd been putting off as I didn't have the right size spanner to loosen the dipstick nut. I still don't have the correct spanner but I managed to use a small stilson to turn it without damage. (The gearbox oil filler, which incorporates the dipstick, is to the right of the photo, partially hidden by the left'hand of the two parallel hoses.)
Anyway, back to the gearbox. Another detail in the story is that, for some time now, there has been a puddle of new-looking oil under the engine/gearbox.
Well, I don't know. I refilled the gearbox with nice new oil, quite tricky as the filler hole is much smaller and less accessible than the engine oil filler, and started up. All connections and plugs etc. seemed to remain dry so I declared the boat good to go.
And go we did, leaving Banbury after a very nice couple of sunny days. We stopped at Morrison's for one or two essential supplies, then progressed down to Aynho Wharf. On the way a cyclist exchanged a few words as we worked through a lock; we met him again at Aynho Weir Lock. Dan was cycling from Liverpool to Oxford for a lunch date tomorrow, sleeping rough en route. He was about to light a camp fire to cook his vegan meal of nettle heads and blackthorn blossom - and half a can of beans. His bed was to be a pile of dry grass cuttings under the bridge. I think he said he'd set off on Monday last week, i.e. eight days ago.
Before this encounter we stopped at the farm shop just before Nell Bridge. Here there was a strange assortment of old settees and barbecues, an upright piano on a pallet under a rustic roof and a Rolls-Royce as well as the farm shop itself and a café kiosk with a sign saying "Bacon is the answer". (Or was it "The answer is bacon"?) On our way back we'll have to stop for a fry-up!
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