We've had a thoroughly enjoyable day -- largely because of the people we've met along the way.
This morning was beautifully sunny. Once out of the boat I realised how cold it had been, as the roof was very frosty. I guess it shows how good our insulation is (sorry, Tom, it's not something unique to your boat!)
We boated up to Gayton Junction where we turned in the junction and headed back. It took about half an hour to pass our mooring place. The sun was low and bright, and in my eyes, so it was difficult to see much. At times, there was the added complication of the reflection of the sun on the water. In some ways, it was a relief to get into the darkness of the tunnel. Because of the sun shining straight into the tunnel, the far portal looked much bigger and closer than normal; but it also felt as though it was taking longer to get through (it didn't -- the passage was the normal half an hour). The sunshine made the exit from the tunnel quite spectacular.
We moored up after the tunnel and walked down to Kathryn's house and rang the doorbell. We knew the Halfies from Jubilee were due to be there -- and we'd timed it just right as the kettle had just boiled. We had a good hour chatting over teas and coffees in Kathryn's lovely vaulted kitchen.
Eventually we decided we'd better get Briar Rose and Jubilee down the locks. On returning to the boat, I found I'd missed a text from my second counsin, Catherine, and her family, asking if they could come and see us. I replied saying we were just heading down the locks. As I walked back to the top lock, a man called hello from the other side -- and it took me a few seconds to realise that it was Catherine's husband, Nigel. They'd come to Stoke Bruerne with the children to see if they could find us.
We headed down the locks, with John from Jubilee mostly helping a boat going down in front of us. We had help at the top couple of locks from Grace and Matthew, who are keen on pushing and pulling lock gates. The weather was fantastic -- not a cloud in the sky.
At the bottom of the locks we stopped for lunch, and John and Jan joined us. We had a very pleasant time, and frankly could have stayed there all afternoon. But we'd made the decision that because of the strong winds forecast for tomorrow, it would probably be wise to head back into the marina today. We'd have loved to stay out another night -- and at one stage it looked as though the wind would die away after lunch. But getting in to the marina and our berth can be tricky at the best of times, let alone when there's a strong wind blowing. So when Jan pointed out that it was already half past two, we all thought we'd better get moving.
On the way back, it was pretty chilly. The sheltered parts of the fields were still frosty, and the big puddles were frozen over. We got back into the marina in fading light -- and with hardly a breath of wind -- at the end of a very enjoyable day.
10 miles, 7 locks. (19 miles, 14 locks)