We had a very nice evening last night. Somewhat to our surprise, Nigel turned up; Matthew was feeling so ill that only his mum would do, so Catherine stayed at home. The three of us chatted about boats, trains, garden birds, and a whole load of other things. The food at the Walnut Tree was, as usual, excellent.
This morning was blustery and chilly again. We set off at about 8.30, travelled slowly down to the tunnel, and went through without seeing another boat. At Stoke Bruerne we spotted Waiouru moored up, and Tom looked out for a brief chat. A boat had just come up the top lock and one was going down, so we joined him. It was a single hander. Once the boats had started descending, I went and knocked on Kathryn's door. She emerged with a couple of her famous cheese scones, still warm from the oven. We had only the briefest of chats today, but we both enjoyed a scone as we went down the flight. By now, Tom had arrived armed with a windlass, and kindly helped us all the way down. It meant the single hander was able to stay on his boat, which he was very grateful for. Here's Tom, working.
Progress seemed a bit slow, as we had a boat going down in front of us, and two hire boats in front of them. These were mob handed, yet very inefficient -- lots of running about, but very little gate or paddle action at times. We also started meeting boats coming up, which included a lock of three small boats. With us, the boat in front, and the three, one pound ended up with six boats in it.
Despite it seeming slow going, we actually made very good time down the locks. And as we were helping our single hander, and the boat in front, we all felt we'd done good deeds en route. It was about eleven o'clock by the time we reached the bottom, so we moored up and put the kettle on. Tom joined us for tea as a reward for his hard word (unless it's his Jan reading this, in which case he was working hard the whole time!)
Once Tom had headed back up the flight it was almost lunchtime, so we decided to stay put and have lunch. We set off again just before 1pm, in sunshine but more strong winds. There were lots of boats on the move, many of them from the Lionhearts moorings in Milton Keynes. The turn into the marine was difficult because of the strength of the wind, but at least it was blowing straight down the pontoons. That makes it a lot easier to spin round and reverse into our berth. Adrian said it was one of the best entries he'd seen.
Once the boat was secure we drove up to Heyford Fields to collect the other car. Since then we've washed the pontoon side of the boat (it was filthy from the hull having been pressure washed -- I gave the other side a quick wash down yesterday), we've filled the water tank, and we've taken everything off the well deck and given that a good clean too. In spite of a forecast for heavy thunder showers, we've had only about five rain drops. Tomorrow, I'm got an early shift at work, while Adrian will go home.
8 miles, 7 locks. (13 miles, 7 locks)