Saturday, 29 November 2014

Almost fell in

After a walk around Weedon Bec we set off for Norton junction. Just after we set off we passed Jim the boat builder on Mike and Aileen’s boat in his yard.  Here he is with a cupboard front he had just finished from some reclaimed black walnut (rather reminded us of my father who has made some lovely pieces for us on our boat).  We had a brief chat and off we went again.

When we went for our morning walk we deliberately found a field where Buddy could meet up with other dogs and have a good run around (walking the tow path doesn’t really give him the chance to let off steam).  At one point there were seven dogs running together although there are only five in this picture, with Buddy in the forefront.

After a while we passed a CRT boat coming in the opposite direction loaded with new lock gates.  Canal lock gates are built at two workshops in England; one is at Bradley near Wolverhampton and the other at Stanley Ferry near Wakefield.  Lock gates are always made of English Green Oak.

At a place called Brockhall we met up with the M1.  For about three miles the motorway, canal and railway line run closely together.  You can just make out a Virgin train on the left and trucks on the M1 on the right.

We stopped at Buckby wharf for a pump out and Karen went for a look round the farm shop and chandlery.  I was getting the equipment sorted out and slipped off the side of the boat,  I managed to cling onto the roof but one leg went in up to its knee.  Doesn’t count as falling in but close.  Funnily enough the wet foot felt warmer than the other after another hour or two of cruising. Here is the boot drying near the fire later in the evening:

As I was putting everything away a boat came past and asked if we were locking up the next seven locks which are close together (Buckby flight).  Of course we said we would as it is better to have two boats going up together for several reasons:

  • Saves water
  • Easier to lock with more hands
  • Quicker on a flight where the locks are close together as one person can go ahead and get the next lock set so you drive straight out of one into the next
  • Chance to meet and chat with other people
  • The boats remain stable.  A single boat in a double width lock will have a tendency to bounce around and hit the sides if you are not very careful with the operation of the paddle gear and ropes

The couple we locked up with were John and Mary on Mallard.  They were taking their boat to Braunston marina as it was going on the market.  They also have a cruiser on the Great Ouse in Norfolk and were going down to one boat as they (as they said) were not young any more; I learnt that John was 73 but he looked very active.  Coincidentally their cruiser is called Lysandra which is a genus of blue butterflies, such as the Adonis Blue, but not the genus to which our Chalkhill Blue belongs.

At the top of the flight there was a box of apples by the lock cottage for people to take so Karen took a bagful.  I’m looking forward to apple pie or crumble this weekend now.  Next was Norton junction.  The canal to the right is the Grand Union Leicester line and to the left is the Grand Union mainline.  

The old toll house can be seen in the centre of the above picture.  Below is a poor shot but the signpost says, "Leicester 41 1/4 miles, Brentfrod 89 1/2 miles, Braunston 4 miles".
As we decided last night, we took the left branch and moored up a short while later without any signs of boats, cars, houses or people.

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