Monday 26 August 2019

August weekend: Day 5

We were up in good time, and set off a bit before 8 -- at exactly the same moment as a boat moored the other side of the bridge.  After waiting for each other for a moment, I waved them through.  The conditions were lovely, and it was clearly going to be another lovely day.  The mile back to the marina was uneventful, apart from a Wyvern boat moored on the off side.  We were soon back in our berth and packed up.  Adrian dropped me at Milton Keynes Central to get a train to work, while he drove home.

1 mile, 0 locks.  (36 miles, 16 locks)

Sunday 25 August 2019

August weekend: Day 4

Another very hot and sunny day.  We had another relaxed start, only setting off at about 9.30.  Lots of the fields are now filled with big rolls of straw.

We went past our marina, through Cosgrove, and down the lock, mooring up before the aqueduct.  There was initially some shade alongside the boat, and we sat outside reading.  As the sun moved, so did we, with our chairs getting further and further along, and closer to path.  We had lunch outside, then a little while later the ice cream man cycled past, heading for his usual spot by the aqueduct.  We walked up and got a very welcome ice cream.

This afternoon, we set off along over the aqueduct and turned before the Galleon pub.  It was quite busy, with a couple of boats behind us (one of which had been in front but stopped for ice creams), and an old working pair coming the other way.  They also stopped for ice creams on the aqueduct, and when we came back last, the guy was doing a roaring trade.

When the pair got to the lock there were two Wyvern hire boats coming down, who initially shut the gates behind them.  It was only after considerable hooting by the pair that they opened them again.  The pair slipped into the lock and I pulled up on the lock landing.  A family with several children were trying to refill their water bottles from the water point there, so I unlocked it for them. As the pair needed to go up and another boat was waiting to come down, I thought I’d use the few minutes to put some water in our tank.

We were joined in the lock by another Wyvern hire boat.  We were hoping for the shady mooring n the other side of Solomon’s Bridge, but it was taken so we pulled in towards the end of the village mooring.  We walked through the horse tunnel under the canal to the Barley mow for a drink in the garden, with Briar Rose right opposite, across the canal.

A local cat came over the fence and visited several tables, including ours even though we had no food at all.

6 miles, 2 locks.  (35 miles, 16 locks)

Saturday 24 August 2019

August weekend: Day 3

We had a lovely evening last night, sitting out on the towpath with Catherine, Nigel, Grace, and Matthew — with the barbecue going and the wine flowing.  We were treated to a hot air balloon going over, three powered hang glider things, and then as the sun went down, bats and increasing numbers of stars.

This morning was sunny and warm from the off.  We set off around 8.45; Adrian walked the rubbish round to the bin at the service point and I picked him up at the bridge.  Going through the tunnel, I was catching the boat in front, and the one behind was catching me.  When we emerged at the far end, we had at least three boats in front of us, but one moored up and another went over to the water point.  The boat in front of us joined another in the lock, and we waited with the following hire boat alongside.

By the Spice of Bruerne Indian restaurant is now an ice cream van, cleverly called the Ice of Bruerne.

When we dropped down the lock, there was great excitement as a good sized terrapin was spotted.  The volunteer lock keeper says it’s normally up by the tunnel.

We worked well with the crew of the hire boat, who were very experienced boaters, and got down the flight in about average time.  Just below the locks, on a blind bend, we heard a horn warning of an oncoming boat.  It turned out to be a motor with a butty alongside — the butty being Barnes, which until last week belonged to my BBC colleague Mike Embley.  It set off from London last weekend bound for a new home.

When we got through Bridge 57, a popular mooring spot was empty so well pulled in for lunch.  It’s been really sunny and warm, and we couldn’t be bothered to set off again.  We’ve spent the afternoon lounging about, reading, and possible falling asleep a little.  The local ducks have been having a fine old time, splashing about and enjoying themselves.

6 miles, 7 locks.  (29 miles, 14 locks)

Friday 23 August 2019

August weekend: Day 2

We had a pretty relaxed start to the day, and set off about 9.30.  At first it was very cloudy, and it couldn’t decide whether to be warm or chilly.  We plodded along through Bugbrooke, Furnace Wharf, and High House Wharf, and then spotted a boat coming the other way that we were looking out for.  Rowington, with my second cousin and family on board, heading back to Gayton Marina.  We’ll see them again later.

We stopped at Rugby Boats for diesel and bought a couple of bags of coal so we’re set for our September trip.  Then we turned round at Weedon Wharf.  On the way back, we stopped for lunch at Nether Heyford, but the first place we pulled in turned out to have not one but two wasps nests in the piling.  It probably explains why no-one was moored there.  We pulled forward a bit more, closer to the narrows.

The day had really heated up, and the canal looked lovely.

We passed last night’s mooring six hours after we’d left it.  We tied up for the day at Gayton Junction, somewhere we’ve never stopped before.  We are less than a mile from last night’s mooring, but we’ve taken 13 miles and all day to get here!

Catherine and family and heading along in a bit for a towpath barbecue, so it should be a nice evening.

13 miles, 0 locks.  (23 miles, 7 locks)

Thursday 22 August 2019

August weekend: Day 1

Adrian came up to the boat yesterday afternoon, with the drive taking much longer than usual.  I came up by train after a night shift; I was also delayed by a passenger ill on the train, resulting in a long wait at Harrow and Wealdstone.  Adrian went to Tesco in Wolverton this morning, and then picked me up from Milton Keynes Central.

We set off a little after 10am.  The old farm house by Bridge 63 has the most elaborate marquee I’ve ever seen, being built in the garden.  Because of the sloping ground, there’s a raised floor, and there’s even a balcony looking over the canal.

A bit further on, one field has a very substantial margin filled with sunflowers.

The journey to the bottom of Stoke Bruerne Locks seemed to take a little longer than the usual hour and a half.  When we got there, we found two boats about to go up, so we knew we were in for a bit of a wait.  There was also a widebeam ahead of them, and boats coming down.  The wait meant we were joined by a very nice extended family on a former Shakespeare boat, which now operates out of Gayton.  The first few boats coming down were singles, but the next ones were in pairs; we opted to try to stay parallel , and the other boats went round us.

The seven locks normally take an hour and a half, but today the bottom five had already taken two hours, so we opted to stop in the long pound and have some lunch.  Setting off again, the camping boat, William, had just come down so the remaining two locks were on our favour.

At the top lock, Adrian had a set to with the volunteer lock keeper.  We know these locks well, and know that the calmest way of bringing up a single boat is to open the ground paddle on the boat side, and the gate paddle on the other side.  The volunteer had already annoyed us by lifting a paddle without checking if we were ready, and in fact not even checking if we wanted help.  He went somewhat apoplectic when Adrian lifted the gate paddle, ordering him to shut it.  Adrian explained he knew what he was doing, but the volunteer wouldn’t have it, and eventually swore at him.  Adrian asked him to just step away from the lock and leave us to it, but the volunteer instead decided to tell passers by what we were doing wrong, and then to keep up continual comments.  An email has been sent to CRT.

We went through the tunnel, and across Gayton Junction.  A little boat, seemingly specially built for offside blackberrying caused some amusement.

We stopped for the night at a spot we’ve often used, the other side of Bridge 46.  Of course there are Virgin trains, but it’s otherwise peaceful.  I will sleep well tonight, having already been up almost 24 hours.

10 miles, 7 locks

Monday 5 August 2019

Yelvertoft Marina

A quick dash up to Yelvertoft Marina today for a boat test.  We’d been keeping an eye on the weather, and Andy the photographer decided yesterday that midday today would be best.  I was sceptical having looked at the forecasts, but he was right — it was lovely and sunny with blue skies and white fluffy clouds.  The marina is home to a big family of swans, which goes around like a gang.

I popped into Crick to get a late lunch from the Co-op before heading back.  I was home at a reasonable time.

Sunday 4 August 2019

Shine on test

The September edition of Canal Boat is out, and includes my boat test of the solar electric powered boat, Shine by Mothership Marine.