Birthday Girl

We had our earliest start this week, with a 9am cast off, it was a little rushed as a hire boat was just about to leave the lock, so we seized our chance!  There was a group of swans on the towpath, so I went armed with a few slices of bread as a distraction.

Toby expertly steering us through all the moored boats

Once through the locks, we motored through Blisworth tunnel with only one boat coming the other way.  We wanted to get a photo of the air shafts , although it was a but tricky as you can’t see them ahead, and then all the water is dripping down them!

Air shaft in Blisworth Tunnel

It was somewhat cooler today, so we had our jackets, hats and gloves on.  Toby was the pied piper collecting ducks with the leftover bread supplies

Feeding the ducks
Chilly on the canal

We arrived back at Heyford Fields marina about 12.15.  I was talked in to taking us in to the marina, and then reversing on to the pump out pontoon.  I did OK [Ed: more thank ok!] , although I did have Toby’s expert tuition and light winds!  We finally got Oliver back on his mooring at 12.45.  A cuppa and a cookie with Brian and Lorraine, and then we packed up the car.

What a fab birthday, and a lovely end to our honeymoon.  I felt a little sad that it’s come to the end, Toby said it’s just the beginning.

Autumn Bliss

Today is our last full day of the honeymoon period…we had another somewhat lazy start but got going a little earlier than yesterday to try to beat the rain and get a mooring at Stoke Bruerne.

We had to pass Kingfisher marina nice and slowly in case of any ducks crossing

Sarah commented that we don’t normally get to see haystacks when we’re on the canals in the summer time, but they make a lovely sight all stacked up neatly.

Autumnal scenes

About an hour away from the locks at Stoke Bruerne and we had another boat on our tail. Sarah was determined to not let them pass, in case moorings were in short supply, so I pushed the revs up a bit and we stayed in front.

As we reached the bottom lock, we caught up with another boat that was just going in, so we slipped in next to them and went up the locks as a pair. I’m sure the boat behind was somewhat disappointed to now have to wait for us to go up, and then have to go through themselves on their own. I was just glad I’d followed Sarah’s orders and not let them past, or I’d have had an earful!

Moored up just below Stoke Bruerne, where there was plenty of space. Up top was a lot busier.
On the way to dinner we spotted a butterfly resting on the lock gate beam, so here’s the obligatory wildlife photo for the day.

We went out for a very pleasant curry at the Spice of Bruerne before returning to Oliver for our last night out on the cut.

Wet Wallies

In the rush of getting all our stuff together, Toby managed to forget his PJs (or was it planned?!), so I’ve ended up with morning tea and coffee duties.  This morning I left the pan of milk on the hob, I thought I was smelling toast from another boat, and then the penny dropped!  Thank goodness for non stick pans, although the same can’t be said for our smoke alarm, which was silent throughout.

Burnt on milk dregs – oops

After a breakfast of croissants, we set off about 10ish to a cloudy day, only two locks to do today – and only 16 for the week, we’re used to doing more than that in one day!

Just after Cosgrove and the moored boats are beginning to build
View from the Iron Aquaduct, it’s a sheer drop on this side, with a fenced off footpath the other side

Today is our half way day, so we needed to turn in a winding hole.  As we try and do one way trips (with Peter and Romy’s help), or a circular route, three point turns in a narrowboat isn’t one of Toby’s strengths!  I decided to stand on the bow, I soon had to move inside, and lift any branches to minimise any scratches.

View from the bow in the winding hole

We were very lucky with Herons today, athough the zoom on our camera isn’t great.

Heron at the winding hole
A Heron with some lunch, sadly the quality isn’t great, but it’s the first time I’ve seen a Heron with a fish
A mermaid of rope

In all the rush of packing, we forgot the wet gear.  I blame Romy and Peter, as we cleared out the boat earlier in the year for the return leg from Bristol.  We had a few showers, and managed with the brollie.

My new mug

On our way back to Cosgrove, the canal seemed to turn green, we wern’t sure if it was the rain, reflection, or grass in the canal.  We soon passed the culprit, and some green dye seeping in to the canal

The green waters of the canal

Along with all the apples on the trees, we’ve had the smells of a few log burners going, and the trees beginning to turn.  Autumn is on the way.  We moored up about 3pm, just by the bridge and The Navigation Pub – guess where we’re going for dinner!

A wonderful wedding gift from Richard and Jane on Casual Water. The colours match perfectly, thank you both

In the evening we had dinner at the Navigation, Sarah had the most enormous looking Calzone, though the waiter promised it used the same amount of dough as the standard pizza.

Very impressive looking Calzone!

New Tings

It was a wet and windy night, and we were glad to be on a secure mooring at Stoke Bruerne.  A lazy start and we cast off to blue skies about 10am.

We had a complaint on yesterday’s blog and no selfies, so here you go!

The first lock was set for us, as there was a volunteer lock keeper, apparently Wednesday is a busy day at Stoke Bruerne due to the hireboats.  It wasn’t long before we were exiting the lock, and then a shout from the vlockey – please wait in the next lock as another single boat is on it’s way down.  Great we thought, and then we saw the single hander!!  He was called PJ, and I’ve never seen anyone open paddle gates so quickly.

Looking back in Stoke Bruene top lock
What a cutie of a little narrowboat
The heavy rain meant that the water was flowing over the top of the locks

It didn’t take us long to work through the seven locks, the wind did make steering interesting, especially when slowing down past moored boats.  I managed to lose my mobile phone cosy, it caught the wind and Toby tried to save it (saying it wil be fun!!), but the wind wasn’t playing ball, and we ended up across the canal.

Showers planned for the afternoon, so we decided to moor in Cosgrove.  Soon after, it poured down, and we felt quite smug watching all the boats going past in the rain, while we were dry and warm.

Crab apple trees are aplenty on the canals

As for the blog title, we’re both still getting used to the ting noise of our new rings, it was noticable today with the windlass in hand, and holding on to gates, or in Toby’s case with beer in hand.

Ting Ting!!

 

 

Mr and Mrs

We came aboard Oliver for our honeymoon, to the wonderful sight of the whole boat bedecked in balloons! (thanks to Lorraine and Sarah’s mum)

It took a while to unload the car, and once done we opened the remaining wedding cards and investigated a couple of wonderful hampers we’d been given – one Yorkshire themed and the other Welsh. Let’s just say we won’t be going hungry this trip!

 

We stayed put in the marina on Monday night – both of us were too tired to go anywhere, and we also wanted to take Lorraine, Brian and Matt out for dinner to say thank you for all they’d done. The table flowers and canal boat silhouettes were amazing!

Tuesday morning we woke up to lovely sunshine, so we started the engine and set off

We moored up after a few hours in Stoke Bruerne; there’s some strong winds forecast overnight so we wanted to be somewhere secure and it was also perfect for visiting the canal museum there, which we’ve always meant to visit but never quite got around to.

We also enjoyed a wee snack in the cafe there, and a short walk up to the blacksmith’s and along a woodland trail with some sculptures.

A quiet afternoon on board and then we’ll batten down the hatches for overnight – by tomorrow morning all should be calm again, we hope!

Aussie aboard

After a breakfast at the marina cafe, Toby, Mum, Dad, Keith and I set off in full sunshine.  We decided to head towards Buckby locks,  with Keith sat in the bow enjoying the English countryside.

We stopped for cream tea aboard,  and turned around in Whilton marina just before Buckby locks.  We arrived back at the marina at about 5pm, and enjoyed a feast of local cheeses, homemade chutneys.  We had such a lovely supper, we’ve decided on a monthly cheese night.

The end of another chapter

We spotted a Canal Boat Club boat, “Mad As A Hatter”, heading for the lock and we were in Romy’s words “off like a rocket” to share the heavy load down the Buckby Locks.  We were just in time as another boat came round the corner just after we had set off.  He thought he was going to go down the locks with us until we pointed out another boat was actually waiting in front of us.

Although not frantically enthusiastic about helming into locks with other boats Romy managed the whole flight very skilfully.

Romy shares a lock with “Mad As A Hatter”
Another faultless entry

A single hander entered lock 11 and emptied it, just after Oliver and Mad etc. left lock 10.  He was still there unable to open the gate to get out when we arrived.  For some strange reason he had closed the bottom paddles before opening the gate and the lock had started to fill up again because he had not closed the top ground paddle properly!  He claimed “these locks have been a problem for years”.  He did the same thing at the next lock, so we rescued him again.

At the Bottom Lock, number 13, we were surrounded by staff from Santander who were on a team building day.  It seems a shame that they were just pulling up weeds rather than something a little more challenging and helpful to the boating fraternity.

What a crowd, Lock 13

We stopped at Rugby Boats for diesel and a pump out.  Our estimate was 100 litres and we actually squeezed in 108.9.  Unfortunately the attendant, Josh, dropped the pump out adaptor in the canal and didn’t have a spare.  It was comforting to know that we could use the facilities at Heyford Fields.

We turned neatly into the marina and proceeded to reverse onto the services pontoon until the wind caught the bow and absolutely refused to allow it to turn in the direction we wanted.  We changed tack and went in forwards.

If we reversed down to Oliver’s mooring perhaps we could get into that without having a similar problem.  No chance.  When we were half way there the wind caught us again and so we entered the berth forwards as well.  At least there were no dramas!  Just two failures.  In defence the wind was probably gusting between Force 5 and 6 so it may have been a tad over optimistic to even try.

That’s the end of another lovely holiday with Oliver who has served us admirably.  Only one day of rain in a whole month, fantastic, and no dramas this year.

Thank you Toby and Sarah for allowing us to share Oliver once again.  He is not as black as he was when he left his home but he probably will be after the weekend.

Braunston and Buckby

We headed towards Braunston, at 8:15, aiming to get there in time for the chandlery to be open.

Braunston Junction

We were able to find a 48 hour mooring just after bridge 1 which gave us a short walk to the chandlery where we bought a tin of Epifanes mutiforte.  We are now poised for the great black op.

We saw a few boats that need a lot more touching up.  Why are they allowed on the canals?

Safety certificate? Licence? Really?

We saw a rather odd procedure going up Braunston locks.  Two boats were coming down together but they only opened one gate.  One of the boats then had to move from one side to the other to get out and took ages doing it.  When he came out and Romy was nicely positioned, where she should be, to enter the lock, he had the cheek to say that’s where he wanted to go and she was in the way.  The boats following this odd pairing were tearing their hair out as they had refused to modify this bizarre approach in the previous four locks and a queue was building up behind them.

Some of the Braunston locks seem to have racks sticking up everywhere.

Two ground paddles and four gate paddles

Although Romy expressed a desire to “do the Braunston Locks” they were just too heavy so she had to revert to being helmswoman once again.

Romy enters the last of the Braunston locks

The tunnel was uneventful apart from a small bump with an oncoming boat just after we had entered and before our eyes had adjusted.  The language from the other boat, particularly the “lady” was not very demure.  We passed two other boats without incident.

Peter must have suffered a memory lapse for the expected mooring between bridges 7 and 8 after Braunston Tunnel failed to materialise.  An effort to test out the water depth at the bank led to a hasty retreat and a decision to press on for a bit.

We finally ended up just past bridge 12 after the first of the Buckby Locks and just in view of the second lock.  This is not an official visitor mooring but is a good spot with Armco rails and loads of deep water.  It is also close to a small memorabilia shop (which also sells ice creams) and a pub.  We have come to a sort of conclusion that the place we are most unlikely to choose to moor is on a visitor mooring shown in Pearson!

We moored at 13:45 just in time to miss the next rain showers – excellent.

Wind in the willows (and poplars)

We walked back to The New Inn for our second pub meal in a row.  Well it was so close it seemed a shame not to take advantage.

Off The Top

Waking early seems to have become an ingrained habit.  We cast off at 7:35 this morning.  It was dry but grey and quite chilly.  Soon  patches of blue appeared and it was not long before it became another beautiful day.

What a lovely day

As we approached our first lock at Marston Doles another boat, that had been at the water point, shot out in front of us, they were in such a hurry that they had to come back to get their key!  A few locks down another boat told us they had a similar experience but the boat that leaped out had forgotten to untie their rear rope.  That must have been very funny to watch.

There were volunteers on the Napton Locks and they were extremely helpful to  us rather than the boat in front, perhaps because of our tale of disgust or perhaps it was the cookies Romy gave them.  One of them went ahead and prepared several of the locks for us.  This meant we made very good time to Napton so we had a good lunch at the somewhat eccentrically decorated Folly Inn.  We then had a walk up the hill to the village store.

Helpful volunteers replete with cookies
Is it a Folly?

As we passed Black Prince Marina a 70ft boat came hurtling out of the marina without seeming to look in either direction.  The owner was clearly not pleased when we made it clear that we expected him to stop.

We thought it would be good to get clear of Braunston early on Thursday to avoid returning hire boats and considered stopping at the moorings either side of bridge 102.  Another bike recce showed that there were numerous excellent moorings all the way down to just before bridge 100 so that’s where we eventually tied up.  This we thought provided an excellent starting point for our journey through Braunston tomorrow, not forgetting we have to stop at the chandlery to accomplish a black operation.

Pretty as a picture