Marston Doles to below Lock 9 of the Napton Flight
After deliberating over night when to pick up our Christmas bird, today turned out to be the day. We hopped in the car and headed straight over to Braunston. Braunston Butchers would only be open today between 8 and midday so the other things could wait until later. When we arrived, passing ‘Bangers’ steeple, I was glad we’d decided to do this today rather than tomorrow, there was a queue. Good job the village isn’t too busy on the traffic front as the queue was starting to encroach on the road. I hopped out of the car and joined in line whilst Mick found a space to park.
Everyone stood in an orderly line most clutching pieces of paper, their order with a handy reference number to make the butchers job a lot easier. I however had placed our order over the phone, so had no number. After around twenty minutes of standing in the near drizzle we entered the shop and a lady was sent off into the back to find our meat. Joints were brought out along with turkeys for those around us, people (mostly men) stood and ogled at the pork pies. Only small Braunston pies left but still plenty of other flavours. Luckily Mick had joined me by this stage so was able to choose a pie for himself. Our bird came out first and then was joined by a huge gammon joint that had been reserved for us. Blimey the size of it would feed both our families put together for a week! It was sent into the back to be reduced to about a quarter. With some streaky bacon too we were done. Wish I’d asked him about gluten free sausages when I rang, as today I spotted a sign saying that they were available, wonder if they are of the Banger variety? Might have to ask them after Christmas.
The Post Office was closed, so that left a job for tomorrow morning. Then we headed to join the queues of traffic trying to get parked in Daventry. Our timing was spot on as Mick managed to turn straight into a space. Waitrose provided us with all but one thing and we got a free Sunday paper too. Tesco filled in the final gap for our food shop. All fairly painless and we were on our way back to the boat.
A quick lunch and then time to move down the locks. The morning had been far drier than we’d thought it would be, sadly the afternoon made up for it. As we were about to push off the light drizzle turned into something a touch more substantial. A boat had only just gone past to head down the locks so we’d be following them, at least the flight isn’t of 21 locks! But just as we pushed off a Kate Hire Boat appeared up the lock, at least that was one we wouldn’t have to turn. A shame that in only a few minutes from them having shut the top gate it had drained enough to necessitate it being topped up.
As I opened the bottom gates of the second lock a lady came for a chat and helped with the gates. They had moved up the flight yesterday along with the other boats from the last pound. Leaving one boat and it’s butty, very sadly the the chap on board these had passed away the night before. She wasn’t certain whether they would still be there as someone was planning on moving them. When we’d walked down to the bins the other afternoon the chap had been sat by his Epping stove with the butties cabin doors open. So very sad.
As we approached Lock 14 we could see that we’d caught up with the boat ahead. One person was working the boat down the lock and slowly moved around, it appeared that they were single handing. I walked down and helped shut the gates just as his wife appeared from inside. Their little dog had just fallen in and had needed drying off, poor thing still new to boating. They pulled in the long pound below and we carried on past them.
Most locks were just about in our favour so I stayed with Mick and Oleanna, not bothering to go ahead to set the next lock. This saved walking the muddy towpath three times.
At Lock 9, the one that has recently been rebuilt a sign has been put up on the fencing nearby. This has a good photo of when the work was being done and an explanation of the breeze blocks. They had been let down by their supplier and new coping stones would not be available until after the lock was due to open. So instead of delaying the lock they have put in breeze blocks as a temporary measure. These will be replaced in March/April time when a short stoppage will be needed.
We made our way down with the normal 6 to 8 inches of spare width in the lock, it was wider. Just a little bit disturbing the amount of water coming out of the new brickwork on lock sides. This lock is now most definitely a pisser with numerous spouts, one to make sure your windows are shut before you go through.
The pound below was empty of boats so we made use of the space and moored up, now both really rather soggy. Poor Mick had to walk back up to Martson Doles to move the car down, so he got even wetter. But neither of us minded as we were one step closer to Christmas. We deserved a well earned pint at The Folly before dinner, well it is Christmas!
8 locks, 1.89 miles, 1 duck, 1kg gammon joint, 6 rashers of streaky, 1 pork and chorizo pie, 3rd supermarket lucky, 1 free Sunday paper with lots of puzzles, 1 boat followed, 1 boat overtaken, 1 soggy dog, 2 soggy boaters, 2 beers, 1 toast, 1 lock left to Christmas.