Monday, September 02, 2013

Our week with Michelle - outward journey

The Yelvertoft barbecue was postponed to Sunday because of the poor weather forecast for Saturday, so we had to miss that, unfortunately. It turned out that they made the right decision; Sunday evening was good for them.

Michelle's arrival on Saturday was delayed some three hours because of Bank Holiday weekend traffic on the M1, but she arrived safely and in good spirits, and we had a good evening together. We left the marina the next morning under a dull sky which threatened drizzle like the day before, but things improved as the day moved on. The sun was out by the time we arrived at Watford Locks. We had a short delay before we could make our way through the top lock, below which we moored, sat out, and soaked up the rays.

We had a three-hour wait there, such was the traffic that day, lunching and relaxing. We were in no great hurry. As we finally left the bottom lock, we passed no less than twelve boats waiting to ascend the flight. Some of them were due to have to wait twice as long as we had.

Moving on down to Norton Junction and turning left, we were unable to find a mooring for the night, so we descended the top lock and moored up about 100 metres further on. Michelle had her first experience of wide locks here at the Buckby Flight. The bottom gate on the towing path side is extremely heavy, as I remembered from my own previous experience of it. I feared she had hurt her back, but no real harm was done, fortunately.

Monday morning started warm and bright, and the day went on to get very hot and sunny. We were really chuffed by the comments on the boat, made by various people throughout that day on on through the week. "Beautiful, gorgeous" was typical, and we beamed proudly. We completed Buckby Flight in good time, although we had to come through solo, but Michelle's help on the locks sped things up noticeably, and we enjoyed the work together. We moored for the night just after bridge 45, Wright's Lane Bridge.

Tuesday morning was beautiful, misty and still, and the day soon turned into another hot one with clear, blue skies. We moved on to nearby Gayton Junction where we availed ourselves of the facilities, then, with Michelle at the helm, to Blisworth where we bought a few items of food from a poorly-stocked shop.

The 3057-yard Blisworth Tunnel was empty of boats as we entered it, and so it remained for the 35 minutes it took us to travel through. Emerging into the bright sunlight at the far end, we stopped at Stoke Bruerne for lunch, sightseeing and delicious ice-creams.

We descended the seven-lock Stoke Bruerne flight solo, the weather very hot by now, but the scenery delightful. Our overnight mooring was at Bridge 58.

Wednesday, and half-way through our week, we continued a further couple of miles to Thrupp Wharf (Castlethorpe Wharf), where we winded, navigating back to Stoke Bruerne (yes, we did the locks solo again) for more ice-creams, and an overnight mooring just before Blisworth Tunnel.

Coming into the pound at the top of Stoke Bruerne locks, and wanting those ice creams, we pulled over to the side to moor. There were bollards to rope to, but not spaced right for us to have one at the stern and one at the bow. I was holding the bow rope and, realising that the only way to get those ice creams was for me to stand and hold the rope, I called out to Grace at the stern, "I'm a bollard!", whereupon a group of folk behind me immediately called out, "Aww! Don't be so hard on yourself! You're all right!"

Metal wire sculptures on the woodland trail at Stoke Bruerne

While we were enjoying a drink on the foredeck, a man from the CRT walked past us with equipment on his back that made him look as if he were about to embark on a space-walk. In fact, his large backpack with tall extension was a Google camera. I read just a few weeks ago that CRT were being lent such a camera, for them to add pictures of the canal system to Google Street View. We're looking forward to seeing if Kantara will appear there now.

We ended this stage of our trip on another beautiful, sunny evening.

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