Monday, July 06, 2015

Our week with Michelle - part 6

Grace and I stayed at Stoke Bruerne for the night. We weren't in a hurry, and it's a good place to be. When we moved on the next day, holiday boaters seemed to be out on force. It's good to see so many people enjoying their holiday here rather than by the pool of some English-food-serving hotel in some sunnier corner of Europe. Never mind a bit of rain. Or the record temperatures we were experiencing at the time! The UK waterways are just great.

On Monday, we stopped earlier than intended. We'd been following a very timid hire-boat for quite some time. We normally go past moored boats faster than he was travelling. There was another owner-boat in front of us, then the slowboat. He was perfectly entitled to go slowly if that's what he wanted, and it was very likely that this was his first time driving a boat. But it is rather frustrating that he didn't pull over and let us pass. No matter, we moored at Stowe Hill. We'd stopped there before. Regular readers may recognise the house.

We'd got rather short of water. The tap at Gayton Junction had been in use when we arrived there the day before, and the flow was very slow. The woman on the other boat reckoned she was going to be waiting for some long time still, so we'd moved on. Expecting to have to wait until we got to Norton Junction, we were pleasantly surprised to find another tap just above Stowe Hill Wharf.

We moved on under a blazing sun, the temperature soaring.

At Buckby Bottom Lock, we looked back and saw a narrowboat approaching, tiny in the distance. We kept a descending boat waiting while we waited for them to join us in the lock. It was NB Teezy, with Anthony aka Tony aka Tone, with Teresa aka Terri aka Tel. They were fun, out for a 12-week cruise and in their seventh week. We shared the flight with them as far as Top Lock, below which we stopped.

Mooring below Top Lock

The thing was, we'd heard it on the canal grapevine that Watford Locks had been closed for emergency repairs for two days - effectively until Thursday morning. Grace receives very regular emails from CRT with details of closures and delays around the entire system, but had received nothing about this one. A phone call to CRT proved fruitless - "Look on the website" - and it was hard to find details on the website. But we did eventually, and they confirmed the closure. Not as we had been told, but Wednesday and Thursday, opening first thing Friday morning.
We stayed for the night, and enjoyed a very good meal at The New Inn at the lockside. How long has it been called "New", I wondered. Surely, it has to go through a phase when it's simply "The Inn", though that sounds rather pretentious, before becoming "The Old Inn". No?

The next morning, I went for a stroll around the wharf. I'd never taken photos of the area, except from the boat. 

From the footbridge at the end of the Leicester Arm, I saw that there were spaces for us to moor, and we decided to move in there that day, to speed our arrival at Watford Locks early Friday morning.

So we moved on up to that mooring, had lunch, and went for a walk up towards Watford, to try and gauge how many boats were ahead of us in a queue to go up the locks. And on that walk, we met the first boat to be let down Watford after the locks had been opened earlier than expected. We hurried back to Kantara and made haste north. To our surprise, we were the only boat at the bottom, the first to arrive from that direction since the locks re-opened, and there were only two coming down, so we got through the flight at a good speed, and headed off towards Yelvertoft.

Watford Bottom Lock
And then it rained. My word, did it rain?! After days of hot weather, sunny skies, no wind, it suddenly changed to torrential, wind-driven wet stuff. Warm, nonetheless. We got soaked. And we arrived back at the marina at around 7:00pm. Very wet. 68 miles and 50 locks. Very enjoyable.

Our trip ended with an unusual visitor to the boat.

A Small Magpie Moth. We'd not seen one before.

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