Saturday, May 17, 2014

Our first cruise of the year starts here!

Wednesday, 14th May.
The sky is blue, the clouds are fluffy and white, and there's little wind. A perfect start for our return cruise down to Brentford. We left the marina at around 11:30 and headed south, passing several moving boats before Crick Tunnel. We passed one in it, too, but after that, the traffic on the canal was very thin, and all was very peaceful.

We had just a ten-minute wait at the top of Watford Locks, after which we descended quickly. We had a relaxed lunch shortly after that, and moored for the night at a favourite spot of ours, opposite the pair of abandoned BW butties, just above Norton Junction. That was around 3:30pm, and no boats passed us for the rest of the day. Why is it so quiet?

It was a beautiful morning when we woke at 7:00, and it continued that way for the rest of the day. Setting off under a clear, blue sky, we arrived at Buckby Top Lock behind a 35 foot NB Kes being taken to Rugby Boats at Stowe Hill by two ladies, one of whom was the wife of the owner of the boat dealership, and the other was Mortimer Bones, a regular writer for Canal Boat magazine. (Good grief! I'm currently moored at Stoke Bruerne, and just been passed by 30 whippets, being walked along the towing path by their owners! No, make that 35!)

We were fortunate to have a boat to share the wide locks with, and even more so, that they were such good company. Since Mortimer (her nom ne plume, I'm sure) did most of the locking down this flight of seven, I got to chat a lot with her, and she was a lot of fun.

Ahead of us were two, 70 foot boats, tied together side by side. The owner of one of them was at her tiller, the other owner was doing the locks. It wasn't without its difficulties, and our progress behind them was slow, but the weather was the best we'd seen for ages, we were in no hurry, and we met lots of folk along the way.

We parted company with Kes after the bottom lock. The two ladies had to get to Stowe Hill as soon as possible, and Grace and I needed some lunch. Since we didn't want to arrive at Stoke Bruerne before 6:00pm on Friday, we moored about half a mile below the lock, had lunch, and stayed there until the next morning.

Awaking to another fine, sunny morning, with only the occasional sound from the railway a few hundred yards away to break the silence, we got off to a lazy start towards Blisworth Tunnel. Again, we were surprised at the small number of moving boats we encountered. We started to tan under a clear sun.

We moored in the village of Blisworth, where we did a bit of food shopping, and had lunch. We stayed there until 5:00 before going through the Tunnel in a record 29 minutes, having met no oncoming boats at all. We found a good mooring close to Stoke Bruerne wharf, and tied up for the weekend.

On a sad note, Terence, of Canal Arts, the teacher at the Roses & Castles painting course Grace is attending here, was the victim of a burglary yesterday morning. Thieves stole 185 of the pans, buckets and other items on which he paints his beautiful designs, for sale.

So we're here until Monday morning. And it's one of my favourite spots!

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