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FLOODS: Boaters keep calm and carry on as water rises
Buy this photo » Tim Wiseman, who lives aboard the narrowboat Tallis, hangs his clothes out to dry Pictures: OX55862, OX55864 Jon Lewis
WHEN Tim Wiseman put his clothes out to dry yesterday morning, he didn’t think anything of it.
But for some people, the sight of a man in waders standing outside a houseboat suspending clothes on a line just a foot or so above water might be considered unusual.
Mr Wiseman lives on the narrowboat Tallis on Weirs Mill Stream near Donnington Bridge, Oxford, but the rising water level meant he could only get to and from his home by canoe.
He said: “Life is continuing and people are helping each other out, which is part of this little community. There is no sense of peril.
“The water started coming up on Saturday, which is lucky because it gave us the time to prepare, find our waders and move things up to higher ground.
“When the water goes down we have to make sure that the boat doesn’t get banked.”
The water coming down the River Thames meant Iffley Meadows, which are owned by the Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust, were flooded.
And the gravel path from Weirs Lane, which Mr Wiseman uses to get to and from his boat, was under a couple of feet of water.
Mark Stainthorpe, who lives in nearby narrowboat Hamido, said: “It was worse in 2007. The good thing about it is that the boat is still floating – it is just a matter of getting to it.
“I am going on holiday to the USA tomorrow, so hopefully it will have cleared by the time I get back.
“I’ll have to put some waders on to get out and leave them in the car.”
It was also a case of business as usual for some of Oxford’s other water-based firms.
Folly Bridge-based Salters Steamers has been running passenger trips up and down the River Thames since 1858 and hasn’t let the flooding stop it.
Director Neil Kinch said: “We do a lot of Christmas parties on our boats at this time of year and we have been able to do them all.
“It might restrict where we go on the river, but it takes quite a lot to stop us.”
Meanwhile, Oxford’s Abingdon Road-based fishing shop Fat Phil’s Angling Centre has been doing a roaring trade.
Manager Wayne Gray said: “Today we sold about eight pairs of waders in about two hours and we sold 18 pairs on Saturday. We’ve been selling them mainly to boaters who can’t get back to their boats“It is lots more than we would usually sell. Normally we only sell two pairs a week if we are lucky.”