Wednesday, July 12, 2017

A week out at last!

It had been our intention to take Michelle along the Trent & Mersey from Fradley Junction to Nottingham on the Trent, and back. We'd planned to meet her at Fradley, where she would park her car for the duration. This called for us to spend five days travelling to Fradley, and five back, of course. We'd arranged for Caroline to come and see us there the day we arrived. Caroline is an old friend of Madeline's we'd been reacquainted with at Madeline's funeral.

The problem was, I'd messed up some dates in my calendar, and we couldn't actually afford the five days for the return journey at the end of the week. We changed plans, then.

Michelle arrived at around midday on Sunday, and we set out soon after. It was a lovely afternoon, and there were lots of boats about. Moving on after lunch just above Watford Locks, we had a short wait at the busy flight. Chatting with the husband-and-wife vollie team, we discovered that they both used to live in Boreham Wood, the town of our birth, and that the wife had been born there, too. Small world, huh?

We arrived at the place of the rusty butties - Norton Junction approach - at about 5:00, and were glad to find just one mooring space. It was here I had something of a painful surprise.

Monday morning was breezy. The dawn chorus was fabulous - they'd rehearsed well.

Braunston Tunnel would have been fine but for a very timid skipper in front of us who moved very slowly, and bounced off the wall several times. He even reversed at one point. We're generally patient, but slowing down means less control over the steering, so it made things a bit more challenging for Grace, let's say.

Boats were queuing at the top of Braunston Locks, as they were below and, no doubt at each successive lock. Most travelled in pairs, which made the whole matter that much speedier and more efficient. One of the boats was a party of Norwegians on NB Rock Thrush who were on their fourth annual two-week UK canal holiday. They considered themselves quite expert, but I didn't have the heart to disabuse them of that idea. We were to meet up with them several times over the rest of the week, since their itinerary was much the same as ours. They planned to stop and visit Braunston.

"How big is the city?" they asked.

One balance beam at Bottom Lock bore a CRT sign I'd not seen before.
"Warning! Bee activity in balance beam!"
It's amazing how often we come this way and find Roy and Lee of Days Afloat inside Roy's boat having morning coffee, lunch, afternoon tea... And still they manage to get their work done!

Just beyond Braunston, on the Oxford Canal North, we had a bite to eat. It's a lovely place to stop at.

On we went afterwards. Willoughby, Barby, then Hillmorton Locks. We'd hoped to moor above the locks, but there was no room, so we made our way down, and tied up just around the corner after Bottom Locks. It had been a longer day than we'd expected.

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