Michelle arrived at Stoke Bruerne. The Pay & Display fee is a fixed £3 per day or any part thereof, but they allow people in Michelle's situation to stay overnight as well for the same cost, and issue a special pass to display in the car. Very convenient. A quick cuppa and a piece of cake, and off we went down the Stoke Bruerne Locks, aided by the same volunteer as had deserted Jess and me last year, failing to go ahead and prepare the locks for us as he'd said he would, in favour of going to the pub with his mates. He didn't do it this time. Perhaps it was my glare which kept him. A bright sun lit up the clouds between short spells of rain. A stiff breeze kept it cool.
Continuing, we turned left at the lock. We missed it last time. This stretch of the GU has a motley collection of long-term moored craft. I can't imagine that's unique, though. There are broad-beam canal boats, Dutch barges, plastic cruisers (I use plastic in the derogatory sense of the word), and some strange hybrids. There are boats with 30-foot masts. One with folded wooden wings (well, that's what they look like to me). And the ubiquitous narrowboats which have quite clearly recently lost a paintball battle.
Then there are those who have been turned into beautiful, floating gardens. I miss having tomatoes and flowers on the roof, but we're feeling really protective towards the new paint, and there's no doubt that the pots and the plants are both bad for it.
Soulbury Three Locks was easy-going. No flooding this time. Last time, Jess and I very nearly had water running into the pub. "Yes, it happens a lot", said a lockie, casually.