Butchers Bridge to Braunston Turn to the new armco at Norton Junction.
Saturday newspaper bought along with a chicken for tomorrow we pushed off late morning. Facing the wrong way to get to Midland Chandlers we needed to wind, it took quite sometime to get a space between passing boats to be able to push out, then we reversed back to the Marina entrance to wind. A boat pulled in near the water point behind us, but only to let a boat past, then they kept coming our way. Both of us wanting to wind in the entrance. As we’d arrived shortly before the other boat Mick reversed under the arch whilst they trod water. The bow thruster came in very handy for this manoeuvre and meant Oleanna was winded quicker so the other boat could start their turn and clear the main channel for us to get out of their way.
Midland Chandlers mooring was handily free so we made use of it and had a browse around the shop before picking up some spare antifreeze and a new ash boat pole. Some £55 lighter we moved up to the water point just after Braunston Turn, filled the tank and disposed of rubbish.
Now we needed to wind again. There may have been just enough space to turn Oleanna south of the Turn, but we decided to wind using the Turn. Back pushed out, Mick reversed her under the nearest bridge onto the Oxford. A boat was heading to the junction and luckily wanted to turn south, so we waited for them to pass before backing up further and then following through the other arched bridge. We were now finished with Braunston, sadly we’d not managed to meet up with Lucy, a designer friend who was visiting her Mum in Daventry, her message of a suggested rendez vous came through shortly after we’d committed ourselves to doing the locks. Hopefully we’ll coincide here or in Leeds another time.
Union Canal hire boats were all at home filling up the towpath moorings, the advantage of it being out of season is that there was more space up by Braunston Bottom Lock than usual, no boats waiting to go out. So we managed to pull in and wait for a couple of boats to come down, we’d spotted one going up before them, so knew the locks would be against us. Once in the lock we loitered to see if anyone would join us. Back at Butchers Bridge it looked like there might just be a boat heading our way, we loitered, it carried on towards us. Hooray someone to share with.
NB Conchita worked up the locks with us, we didn’t pass anyone but we made good progress with one of us heading up to the next lock to set it for both boats as they rose in the lock below. A nice couple who use their boat at weekends whilst living in London. Their boat is of an age that when they first bought her she needed welding doing, so her waist line isn’t as narrow as she once was. They have never take her through Lock 9 at Napton as they had difficulty at Allens Lock and got stuck just entering Somerton Deep Lock on the South Oxford, C&RT had to come and try to flush them out.
At the top of the locks they let us go ahead whilst they closed up, leaving a good gap between us for Braunston Tunnel. I put Oleanna into full tunnel mode and explained to Tilly that I’d turned the lights on inside so that when the lights went out outside she would be fine. Just a shame she didn’t agree! This of course may have had something to do with meeting two boats heading north. The first had a very noisy engine, the second did a lot of forward and reverse to get past us, but still managed to collide with us resulting in a big bang. Several things were knocked over inside but we have yet to have a good look to see if the gunnel has taken any damage (luckily it was on the side I’ve not got round to touching up yet). Maybe we’d illuminated the tunnel too much for the chap at the helm with our Christmas lights.
New houses have appeared behind the canal cutting at the south end of the tunnel. These will be hidden mostly when the trees are back in leaf. We carried on, hoping to gain a stretch of the new armco before Norton Junction. Only one boat, so we managed to position ourselves with a great view over the rolling countryside and as the sun started to set we were joined by a few more boats. This may now become our chosen spot, rather than round the corner by Welton Hythe.
This outside has a pirate cat! It only came out after everyone had gone to bed and was trying to board Oleanna. This was so not on. I made sure it knew I was on board and that Tilly Too and I would not put up with any nonsense. She came and put a big light on it, white and ginger, and quite big. The three of us soon saw it off, but I stayed on look out for several hours keeping my crew and boat safe as they slept.
6 locks, 5.01 miles, 2 winds, 1 tunnel, 1 mysteron, 2 boats passed, 1 big bump, 1 newspaper, 12ft of ash, 1 full water tank, 1 sharing boat, 1 fantastic mooring with views, almost 0 TV signal though, 1 pirate feline, 1 set of Christmas lights that may need adjusting in the morning.