Sunday 20 June 2021

Flaming June?: Day 3

We had a lovely evening with Catherine, Nigel, Grace, and Matthew last night.  During the evening, the three Gayton hire boats which had apparently been turned around, came past — at a speed which made big waves in the long pound, and had the boat bobbing up and down long after they had disappeared.  Shortly after the family had left, I had a call from Nigel asking me to bring a windlass down, as the locks down the flight had gates and paddles open.  One pound was a couple of feet down.  While the family shut the gates, I closed the paddles and then ran some water into the low pound.

It was fairly murky when we set off at just after 8.30 this morning.  We knew a boat was going down in front as we’d seen them a while before, so the first locks needed turning.

We did meet a couple of boats coming up.  One of the locks has a good crop of cow parsley growing on the bottom gates.

The familiar plod back to the marina went by without incident, although it did begin the drizzle a bit.  The lapwings were in the same field where I saw them on Friday, and this time I managed a heavily zoomed photo.

The turn back into the marina and then into our berth went well.  We were back by 11.30, so did the packing up, had an early lunch, and headed for home at 12.30.

5 miles, 5 locks.  (20 miles, 14 locks)

Saturday 19 June 2021

Flaming June?: Day 2

Dry this morning, and we set off about 9.30.  Two hire boats from Gayton had already come down and there was a third at the bottom lock, with four guys with cans, and Bob Marley blaring out of a speaker.  At the lock by the A308 there’s a big pipe under the road.  This has always been here, it’s just that it used to be under the towpath on that side.

We made steady progress up the locks, and at the penultimate one we met two boats coming down, one of which was a Grand Union hire boat.  Steve Furniss was also there, showing his customers how to work the locks, so we had a good chat.

We met Mike from the trip boat at the top lock, then went through the tunnel.  We’d had a notice about tree down at the far end, passable with caution.  It turned out to be one of the most pathetic fallen trees we’ve seen — almost indistinguishable from the normal offside vegetation.

At Gayton Junction we turned down the arm and stopped at the marina for a gas bottle — having already checked they had one, as there seems to be a shortage.  The price, £32.45 seemed pretty good to me.  One of the staff asked if we’d seen three of their boats that they’d been having complaints about and had called the police on.  We went down to the winding hole at the top Rothersthorpe Locks and turned around, retracing our steps.  We have come down two locks to the long pound, and Catherine and Co are coming to see us this evening.

10 miles, 9 locks.  (15 miles, 9 locks)

Friday 18 June 2021

Flaming June?: Day 1

I worked a night shift last night, so Adrian dropped me at the station to go to work, and carried on up to the boat.  This morning, by the time my train had got to Wolverton, he’d already done a shop at Tesco.  Back at the boat, we topped up the water and decided to set off; it was raining, but steadily rather than heavily, and the forecast suggested it wouldn’t get any better but would be worse this afternoon.

I was almost certain there would be few other boats on the move in these conditions, but just after I had completed the turn out of the marina towards Stoke Bruerne, a boat came through the bridge behind.  He got closer and closer each time I slowed for moored boats, so I waved him last and he was soon long gone.

In a field just after Kingfisher Marina there were some lapwings.  I noticed them because of their looping flight; on the ground they are quite difficult to spot, but when you do they are very identifiable because of the curl on the top of their heads.  We passed some kids in canoes and I asked them if they were doing it voluntarily or had been forced.  They’d been forced, for their Duke of Edinburgh Award.  We moored at the bottom of the locks.

We had an early lunch, then Adrian had a video call to do so I put all my wet weather gear back on and went for a walk, both to keep out of the way and to complete my steps target for the day.  I walked up to the tunnel and back.  On the return, a workboat moored on the offside had come adrift and was across the canal.

The lady from the house alongside, who I assume is the owner, had been alerted, and a CRT man had arrived to lend a hand.  Back at the boat we’ve been doing not much, while the rain has got heavier and heavier.

5 miles, 0 locks.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Friday 4 June 2021


A dash to Sheffield for a boat test today. There’s some rather spectacular new graffiti art work along the canal since we were last up here.