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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Bottom of Buckby Locks to Braunston.

Monday 15th December.

Bottom of Buckby Locks to the Top of the Buckby Locks, 1.4 miles and 7 locks.

A calm, almost warm morning, compared to what we have had lately. It was very damp under foot when I took Paddy for his morning walk, but was pleasant weatherwise. We had not hurried to get up as we were only doing a shirt stint, so did not leave our mooring until 10.20am. It is so wonderful not to be in a hurry to get anywhere. As we approached the first of the locks next to Whilton Marina, it was clear to see there was plenty of water coming down, as the water was pouring over the top of the bottom gates. I took a centre line from Hadar, wound it around one of the lock bollards and secured it, before walking up to empty the lock. Having got through the first couple of locks, I noticed a boat in front of us; it was N.B Shirley Ann who had passed us earlier on whilst we were having our breakfast. Graham very kindly waited for us at lock 3 and we proceeded to do the rest of the flight together, which helped Graham no end, because he was single handing. Once we reached the top of the flight, there was just enough room for us both to moor up and it was only 12.25pm, just in time for lunch.
With lunch over, we then chopped up the sticks we had collected along the way, which were lying on the roof. These sticks were then piled up underneath the back cabin stove to dry out. They make excellent kindling first thing in the morning. With Graham moored up behind us we got chatting about the usual boating topics and how wonderful this time of the year is for cruising. The next two things to get done were emptying the rubbish and a toilet cassette at the sanitary station by the top lock. British Waterways guys were busy preparing their work boats for the winter stoppage at Braunston locks, the boats were laden down with metal safety fencing, a pair of lock gates, and lots of other necessary items to carry out work after Christmas. By the end of the afternoon they were underway heading for the tunnel. Paddy and Marmite took advantage of the dry afternoon, by sitting out on the back counter. Keith took Marmite off on her lead for a walk, at times it looked like she was taking him, as she kept changing direction, meowing continually so that everyone knew she was about. Our day ended with us closing the boat up against the cold evening, before we settled down to watch ‘Love Actually’ on DVD, I really love that movie.

Tuesday 16th December.

Top of Buckby Locks to Braunston, 4.1 miles, 1 tunnel and 6 locks.

Brrrr a cold morning greeted Paddy and I as we stepped off of the boat. We walked up the Leicester Arm, where we saw the two Narrowboat Trust Working Boats Nuneaton and Brighton moored up, but there was no one was onboard, so we kept walking until Paddy had done what he needed to do. Back on Hadar we had breakfast, before I made up the fires, fed Mog and Dog and then we prepared Hadar for leaving at 9.50am. We left our overnight mooring and the BW guys hard at work, Keith took Hadar through Braunston Tunnel, there was a boat ahead of us, which turned out to be the ex-challenger boat ‘Victorious’ with Mary and Jim onboard. We arrived at lock 6 with them and down at lock5, we saw Graham on N.B Shirley Ann, we had caught him up as well. Whilst Mary operated the first lock, I walked down and helped Graham by doing the gates for him so he could get back onto his boat to leave the lock. Keith and Jim had plenty to chat about with them both liking engines and railways. Jim helps out on a Steam Railway down in Kent, which must be great fun. Mary and I discuss Christmas and what are plans are, her plans are much more tiring as she is cooking for 17 on Boxing Day arghhhhhh. Thankfully those days are no more for us, we tend to take things a lot quieter these days, not only that we would never get that many onboard, what a great excuse we have. We worked the locks down to Lock 3 and the Admiral Nelson Pub, where we called it a day and moored up, leaving N.B’s ‘Victorious’ and Shirley Ann to travel down the remaining locks together. On the way down we had been shrouded in low cloud and drizzle, during lunch the sun came out for all of five minutes, but it did not stop us taking a walk up into Braunston to find the Londis store and Post Office, as we are waiting for our post to arrive from the boatyard. We walked up the hill into the village which is a really pretty village, with old and new houses, some built of honey coloured stone. The walk is definitely a workout, but you do have the downhill walk back to look forward to (load of laughs). We walked back through the village and down the path opposite Braunston Marina to see if there were any towpath moorings still available, which there were. So once back at the boat we spurred Hadar into life and left the mooring, descended the two remaining locks and moored up at Bridge 1, Butchers Bridge. We will stay for a few days whilst we wait for our post to arrive from Tina at the boat yard; she very kindly collects our mail and posts it on to us, where ever we may be. During the afternoon we put the TV on to see what sort of reception we were going to get, which was not that brilliant, but on Channel 4 we began to watch ‘A Place In The Sun’ because it was all about a lady from Yorkshire, with £150,000 budget, who wanted a Narrowboat that she could cruise the waterways of the UK. During the program she was shown 5 boats from different brokerages, the program also visited Braunston Marina, where she met a boat builder, who told her all about having her own boat built for around £88,000, a boat that she could move on to and cruise into the sunset on. What he did not tell her was she would need to find a mooring to put that boat on. The other boats she looked at all had moorings with them. In the end having considered everything, she decided that she would go to a boat builder and have a boat built. I wondered if she went with the builder from Braunston?
Yet another program that told of the glamorous side of boating and did not explain the pitfalls, but what can we expect from the media?

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