Bridge 63 to Houdini’s Field
Another early start today to try to beat the crowds of gongoozlers at Foxton. Shortly before we pulled out a boat passed us heading towards the locks, this would mean a short wait before we’d be able to follow them up the staircase. We pulled through Rainbow Bridge and tied up on the confused mooring to wait our turn. Mick walked up the flight to find the Lock Keeper to check in and see when we’d be on our way. He didn’t have far to go as the Lockie was on his way down with a boat.
After half an hour two boats had come down the staircase and the boat ahead was on their way up. Today I decided to have a go at working the locks. They are narrow and all but two gates are double so they are easy to open and close, the paddles are easy too. We started at the bottom of the flight at 9.30 and gradually worked our way up. Red before White and you’ll be alright.
Other boaters were arriving and checking in. The boat ahead of us had passed the middle pound where boats heading up and down the flight can pass one boat going in the opposite direction, other than that there is no passing possible. One boat behind us was allowed to start her ascent but would then wait in the middle pound for the boats that would be coming down to pass.
Now gongoozlers started to arrive, but luckily not too many. I can understand their interest, but when you constantly have to ask them to step aside so that you can see your boat, to get out of the way otherwise you’ll push them in with a lock beam, along with all the questions you get asked it gets a bit much. But I only had two daft questions today.
The noise of a thousand wasps started to get close, looking up there was a drone heading up the flight filming as it went. There turned out to be two of them. Not only was it noisy in an annoying way, neither of us wanted to be filmed by someone. One chap said to Mick ‘Smile!’. But Mick replied with that he didn’t think they were allowed to fly drones over people, so the chap moved it over to one of the side ponds. The boat ahead asked the Lockies what the situation was as they weren’t happy either, as it hadn’t happened before at Foxton they didn’t know but did make a few phone calls. It being a Sunday I suspect they didn’t manage to get an answer.
At the top two ladies waiting to come down helped open the last gate. The smell of bacon butties was very enticing, but not for us today. It had taken us just under 45 minutes to do both staircases in the sunshine and despite the drones it had been great to be back working the locks.
On we pootled in the sun shine. We very quickly noticed that we were back in the land of many boaters. As we approached moored boats another one would be heading towards us. Mick slowed down as we really don’t want to have scratch marks from trees on our newly painted cabin sides and let the others go past first. At Husbands Bosworth Tunnel we were lucky as no-one came towards us and we had it all to ourselves.
At North Kilworth the new marina has progressed somewhat since we last passed. Masses of metal structures were in position for the pontoons and the skeletons of buildings had gone up at one end of the site. It seems vast, mental note, once it’s opened don’t bother with Foxton or Watford on sunny weekends!
There was a space with our name on it at Welford Junction so we pulled over for lunch. They lied, they said I’d be allowed out today, so they stop and tell me ‘Later’. Later means not enough time!!
With the sun still out we continued on our way with the aim of reaching Houdini’s Field in time for a certain second mate to have plenty of time to climb trees and pounce on creatures smaller than herself for the first time in over two weeks.
As we rounded a bend there was a flurry of activity on a Canal Time hire boat ahead. They were obviously planning on pulling out, seen us and decided that they’d go for it rather than wait. If it was us or most boaters, we would have waited for the approaching boat to pass before pulling out. No, instead the stern was untied and started to drift out whilst a chap at the bow was frantically trying to untie it. In the end with what looked like a crush injury they managed to both be on the boat and a blast of full throttle pushed them away from the bank. As they moved off there was no wave back to us, just an occasional panicked look over their shoulders. They really should have waited!
When we arrived at Houdini’s Field there was one other boat moored with three lively dogs. Because I am a meanie I insist that the trip computer is turned off with our grid reference written down before Tilly is allowed shore leave. This is done with the hope that she won’t constantly ask to come out when we are cruising, this so far hasn’t worked! As I opened the back door, after the windows closing down music had been played the other boat pushed off. We had Houdini’s Field all to ourselves. This being the first time Tilly has had shore leave since moving onto Oleanna I stayed outside with her for a couple of hours. I busied myself with washing the starboard side whilst Mick tried to work out where the water is going from the central heating. I busied myself climbing trees, checking the hedge bottoms and best of all pouncing on Houdini Field Mice in the long grass.
This was quite a sight, Tilly launching herself high into the air above the growing crop time after time after time. Here’s hoping we have a quiet night tonight.
10 locks made up of 2 staircases of 5, 13.14 miles, 2 rights, 1 tunnel, 0 bacon butties (doctors orders), 0 chilled medication for breakfast (Mick’s orders), 2 annoying drones, 2 boats to leapfrog, 1 premature inflation, 1 panicked hire boat, 3 dogs, 1 desperate cat, 1 outside not changed for a month! 1/2 clean Oleanna, 1 fabulous field, 1 leaking radiator, 5 trees, 7 field mice, 1 coot, 1 slightly sore foot, 1 pooped Tilly.