Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Our week with Michelle - part 2

It wasn't very encouraging that the weather started to deteriorate as the day wore on. There were strong winds and thickening cloud, and the forecast wasn't promising, but we stayed optimistic. We shared the descent of Buckby Locks with NB Illustrious, and old, rather beaten-up boat, but with an enthusiastic owner who'd slapped some paint on to brighten her up, and was suitably proud of her. It was good to spend the time with him, even though we were in constant anxiety about his safety as he clambered up and down from lockside to boat and back at every opportunity. Still, he was used to travelling solo, and was probably well used to managing perfectly well without us.

NB Matilda was a boat we considered buying back in 2011. She was bought by a young couple after we decided on Kantara, and had been at Yelvertoft Marina for some time. We met her that afternoon, now with new owners and with a new home mooring. She still looked the same from the outside, and we wondered what work might have been done inside. The galley was in particular need, I remember.

A good mooring was easily found in Stoke Bruerne Wharf as we emerged from our wet passage through Blisworth Tunnel. A strong sun beamed down upon us. We didn't even check the forecast. Michelle's week would be spent in good weather, I had no doubt.

There's a blacksmithy close to the tunnel at Stoke Bruerne. Nothing to do with CRT or the museum, he hastened to inform me. Not an exhibition, but a professional earning an honest living doing work which is almost disappeared from our land. We had a long mooring pin which was rather bent; too bent to be usable - how, I know not. I took it to the smith, one Bob Nightingale, hoping he might straighten it for me, but my heart sank when I saw that his forge was not alight. No matter. He took it over to his anvil and struck it several mighty blows with a mighty hammer, checking it for straight every now and then by looking down its length. Job done in about two minutes. No charge. A nice bloke, though fully capable of talking you into a stupor if you gave him the way in. He sold second-hand CDs and garden plants from a table outside the forge. I got trapped in conversation with him - well, no; I got trapped into listening to his monologue - as I was browsing them. The three CDs I bought were almost worth it!

I exaggerate. He was interesting.

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