Author Archives: pipandmick

About pipandmick

We discovered our mutual love of canals early on in our relationship when on a canal holiday on the Leeds and Liverpool. Since then we enjoyed four years being part owners of a share boat and have now progressed up to owning NB Lillyanne. Mick is a Telephone Engineer and Pip is a Theatre Designer. We have both taken time off work to explore the waterways, meet up with old friends, make new ones and watch the seasons change around us.

Is It Us? 14th June

Stoke Bruerne to Haines Bridge 62

A bee busy at work

This morning we noticed that NB Tyseley was unable to come through Blisworth Tunnel due to a tree blocking the navigation close to the north portal . A rather big tree too! We seem to be having this effect on trees, luckily for us they fall over behind us. That of course is no good if you are on a schedule, maybe we should let NB Tyseley get ahead of us!

With the knowledge of no boats about to appear from the tunnel we headed for the locks. It was nearly dry outside, but we didn’t trust it so put our waterproofs on. Two boats were coming up the top lock with the help of a Volunteer. They had been told to moor up and wait for news, there was concern that the moorings would soon fill up, would there be enough space for them. There was plenty and I’m sure even by the end of the day there would still have been plenty of room.

Stoke Bruerne Top Lock

One of the boats that had followed us yesterday had already headed down the locks, no locking partner would appear from behind so we started down on our own. The volunteer Lockie soon appeared and went ahead setting locks and by the fourth lock we’d caught NB Carpe Diem up.

Just about full to over flowing

They waited for us after a short pound, our locks worth of water adding to theirs and flooding the sides of the lock. By now the sun was trying to come out, waterproofs came off. We chatted as we descended, they are pootling about until they can get back onto the River Nene once the levels have lowered.

That cloud was catching up with us

As we walked down to the last lock a very dark cloud had caught us up, the boats took their time to deliver our coats, but luckily this was before the rain really got started.

The new collar on the bottom gate was only just noticeable, a new weld giving it away.

2 soggy Micks
A new weld on a slender collar

The level below the lock looked much higher than we remembered. The River Tove joins the navigation here before heading off eastwards, so the current rainfall was swelling the canal.

That looks a touch higher then normal

Pulling in at the services we were pleased to see a recycling bin and one for glass. We made good use of this and deposited our collection that had been taking over the cratch and galley for a while. Then a nudge up to the end where there’s a handy water point. The pressure wasn’t great but that suited us, we could run the washing machine and have lunch as the tank filled. It beat us to it though, but with no other boats arriving we stayed put and topped up the tank before leaving.

Shelving all dressed now

Mick moved us along to find a mooring as I retired below. Models take a lot of painting and I seem to have the same problem as last year, I keep changing my mind! Today some kitchen units were painted three different shades of pink before I liked them. Grrr, designers!!

The sun came out and we had blue skies for much of the remainder of the day.

7 locks, 4 shared, 4.66 miles, 1 downpour, 1 full water tank, 0 rubbish left (except bits of cardboard tucked behind the knife block), 1 load washing, 1 pooh bucket changed, 4 hours, 0 fire, 1st blue sky for ages.

Mending. 13th June

Nightingales Bridge to Stoke Bruerne Top Lock

Another very wet morning. We weren’t going to be going anywhere! Tilly however was encouraged to take a morning nap as the weather app suggested that it might dry up later on, then we could at least get to Blisworth where we might find a shop for a few bits.

As I sat down to breakfast and to catch up on the latest blogs I picked my computer glasses up. These are old prescription reading glasses that are just perfect to view the lap top with. They are quite old and a lense has a tendency to fall out. Today however it wasn’t the screw that had come loose, it was still there, just where it connected to the other side of the frame had snapped off! Darn and blast!

Broken!
Mended

My bifocals are not good for the computer, I’d have to do something about this. Father Christmas had been a jolly good chap this year and bought me a tube of super glue. This alone would hold things together but some reinforcing would be wise. With some black button thread and Mick to help hold things in place, I tied the joint together then applied some glue, letting it soak into the cotton and hopefully the joint. After a minute I tied a few more knots around the joint sealing it all with more super glue. The end result is a fully operational pair of glasses once again. may now have to dig out the other old pair that have a loose lense and see if I can mend those also.

Our spritzer bottle for the composting toilet has recently lost it’s spritz. We use this with diluted vinegar in it to spray the urine separator on our toilet with the hope that the vinegar will help to keep the pipes clear. However the spray was starting to be a bit feeble. Mick took it apart. The spring that makes it spritz fell into four pieces. We’d been warned not to have a steel urine tank as gradually the vinegar would work it’s way through this, it looks like it had eroded the spring.

A spare spring was found in an empty hand wash container. Now our spritzer spritzes again. Not bad for £1 from the handyman shop in Ellesmere eighteen months ago.

Which way?
Brentford!

By 11:45 the rain was easing, we needed to find a shop, mostly for some cat food, a variety and flavour that Tilly would actually eat rather than be put in the bin after a day. The wine cellar is currently half full of rejected boxes of cat food and very little wine! Mick doned his waterproofs and pushed off, leaving me indoors adding detail to my Boozer model bits.

Gayton Junction

At Gayton Junction a boat had just pulled up and positioned itself right in the middle of the service moorings. Mick couldn’t be bothered to ask them to nudge up so we could off load our rubbish so he carried straight on, the mountains of rubbish having to wait a while longer.

Round the bend towards the tunnel

The moorings at Blisworth had space for us so he pulled in. A walk into the village proved fruitful for cat food, but little else. After lunch there wasn’t sufficient time for us to go through Blisworth Tunnel and to reach the top of Stoke Bruerne locks before the last boat in at 3:15, so we didn’t rush.

North Portal

The boat was put into full tunnel mode, I came up on deck having suggested an early afternoon nap to Tilly and we pushed off. Blisworth Tunnel is just short of 3km long and is the third longest navigable tunnel in the UK, ninth in the world. It is straight, very straight therefore you can see all the way through. The interior goes from arched brickwork to a long section of concrete hoops in the central section, back to brick again towards the southern portal. The tunnel suffered over the years altering shape, it became unnavigable. In the 1980s major works were done to rebuild it, the method used was a try out for the Channel Tunnel.

The other end
Nearly there

Just before halfway through we could see another boat had entered at the south portal. Was this the trip boat that sticks it’s bow into the tunnel then reverses out? Or were they coming towards us, if they were they were going very very slowly. The tunnel was wetter than usual, no surprise there and we gradually came to meet the on coming boat. The speed they were going at it would take them an hour to go through!

The South portal

We had risked arriving at Stoke Bruerne where there might not have been any moorings left, but it turned out there were no queues waiting for the locks in the morning. We had a choice of where to moor and later on we were joined by three more boats, one having reversed past us at 22:45.

Mikron van hiding at Blisworth, wonder if it has a name?

We could hang around for a couple of days and share the locks southwards with NB Tyseley the Mikron boat, but that wouldn’t get us a Saturday newspaper or our wine stocks replenished. Hopefully the weather will improve, Mikron are loosing donations due to the bad weather. They had to perform a ‘radio’ version of their show the other night at The Admiral Nelson due to lack of space indoors for the full show.

0 locks, 4.4 miles, 1 straight on, 1 spring sprung, 1 pair glasses mended, 1 boozer exterior finished, 10 hanging baskets, 2nd sock new and improved version started, 9 pouches of edible food again.

Tall Tales. 12th June

Bugbrooke Bridge to Nightingales Bridge 46 ish

Another miserable day in the making. At least it started off dry, for a while. All the boats around us moved off and carried on their journey and it was soon time for us to do the same. With Stoke Bruerne flight closed we decided to move along to before Gayton, mooring up where Tilly could go off and explore.

Get that door open!

I helped push off and then left Mick to it whilst I did some work below. I’d been putting off checking a few things out on my ground plan for panto. So I started the day with the drawing board out. I made a list of potential problems and then worked my way through them. Details of the trap in the stage had only just been confirmed, the size and position having changed a touch since last year! It didn’t matter for Aladdin, but this year it does. A bit of problem solving and I have a couple of options.

Mick moved us on, far less traffic on the cut than in the last few days, most probably due to the broken lock ahead. He pulled us in after almost three miles cruising at the last big M on our map before Gayton Junction. Here there is armco to make it easier to moor, but the trains are quite close. Trains are a feature of the Grand Union Canal that you have to get used to. The line does move away at times but hugs the canal the remainder of the way to London.

I’m busy!

Seven Hours! Blimey! What could I do with all that time?! No need for it to rain as the grass was good and soaking which got me very wet too. Marvellous.

More of my model got painted this afternoon and Mick went for a walk up to the junction to see what he could see and give me a bit more room to work. He returned just after it started to rain again, I made him some room on the table in return for him not nudging it too much as I painted thin lines of turquoise and dark red.

Boozer and The Nick

If you are looking for something to help fill these rather wet times avoiding being outside, can I point you in the direction of a friends blog. Jan is a story teller based in Edinburgh (Link to her blog). She is also a Theatre Designer, textile artist and curator. Last July Jan joined the crew of tall ship Tenacious as a volunteer, hauling sails, climbing the rigging, hearing and telling stories. This year she is aiming to tell tales on ten tall ships and will be joining the crew on board The Lord Nelson sailing up the Norwegian Coast as part of the tall ships race. The first posts on her blog take her to the Falkirk Wheel and the Kelpies, she featured on Ramblings on Radio 4.

Jan on Tenacious last summer

Stay dry. Oh, this afternoon there was an update on Stoke Bruerne (on the website not an email) saying that the locks are open again, so dependant on how much water is falling from the sky I will either be working or we’ll be heading to descend the locks. Fingers crossed.

0 locks, 2.72 miles, 1 dry start, 1 very wet end, 62 trains, 1 tail held high, 6 hours of soggy moggy, 1 hour of exhaustion, 1 set of new tenants, 1 hat (of mine) headed for the high seas this summer, 10 tall ships, many tales, 900mm wide not 700, 1 trap a touch bigger than planned.

Bangers, Rain and Burgers

Weedon Bec to Bugbrooke Bridge 36

Blimey I totally forgot about the Braunston sausages in yesterdays post. Really not sure how that happened as they certainly left an impression on us.

Braunston gluten free sausages come frozen wrapped on a tray with just GF Pork written on them. For around £5 our initial thought is that they were quite expensive, but there certainly looked like there was plenty, next time we’ll weight them. Mick prepared them for our evening meal, one of our favourites sausages and roast veg (potatoes, carrots, parsnips and a bramley apple all chopped up like chips). After a while he opened up the oven door to check on them and give everything a good move around. ‘They’ve expanded!’ He pricked them with a knife and put them back in the oven.

Giant sausages

My photos don’t quite show the scale of them when they’d finished cooking, but hopefully you’ll get the idea when I say that the smallest one (which did look measly compared to the others) was a touch bigger than your average sized supermarket sausage. But the biggest one was the equivalent to at least two whole sausages. There was far too much sausage for us to cope with! We both ended up leaving one.

Tasty too

So they were big, very big, but where they tasty? Verdict. Yes, the tastiest gluten free butcher made sausages we’ve had yet. Not quite the same as a Braunston Banger, but close enough. As with all Braunston butcher sausages you get them in a variety of sizes and in future we’ll know not to cook all six for one meal.

The first boat came by a 6:45 this morning, it’s engine didn’t fade away quite as normal, but as we were still very much in sleeping mode we didn’t take much more notice. Next came a hire boat who pulled in and moored in front of us at just gone 9. Maybe they were wanting a full day looking around Weedon. Then a boat that had been moored ahead came past, then went into reverse, they moored up too.

That’ll be why there’s only been one way traffic!

As we started to get ourselves ready, a slight lull in the rain stired us into action, this is when we realised why we were surrounded by boats so early in the day. Over night a tree had come down about 200ft behind us, luckily missing any moored boats. At 11am there was a boat moving around with a chap at the front, he was sawing up the tree and others were pulling sections out of the cut to open the navigation.

Bye bye NB Bleasdale

We were wanting water so took advantage of there being no through traffic and pushed off. This of course got the hopes up of other boats waiting to go through. We pootled on the short distance to the next water point where we pulled alongside an ABC hire boat to wait. Swallows and swifts swooped back and forth having a major feast on the wing as boats filled with water. When it was our turn the washing machine went on and we stayed until the final rinse, we also rinsed off the nights debris from the roof.

A roof full
A good price not to be missed

Just round the corner we pulled in for a top up of diesel. Rugby boats is one of the cheapest on the cut at 77.9p a litre at the moment we weren’t going to pass them. Next fuel stop will be Uxbridge, then we’ll be onto Thames prices, best make the most of it whilst we can.

Another fallen overnight, good job the angle of the wind wasn’t different

It wasn’t raining now, but still very drizzley. We pootled on, another tree down across the towpath, we’d be looking for a tree free mooring today. Arriving at Bugbrooke there were plenty of git gaps, then one space by the bridge. A touch too close to the road for Tilly shore leave, but we couldn’t see anywhere else. As soon as we’d moored i lit the stove to try to get some warmth back into the boat, today definitely felt like an autumnal day.

Oleanna, The Wharf and Unusual at the back

This evening we’ve been across the way to The Wharf to meet with Lizzie our friend from Crick. She works next door at Unusual Rigging. This is a company who engineer complex flying equipment for theatre, TV and events world wide. We’d last seen Lizzie at the beginning of the year, much has happened since then, so there was a lot to catch up on.

Spot the difference

We all three chose the same Hog Bun Burger but with slight variations. Mick had the standard, I had the Gluten Free option (GF bun) and Lizzie opted to have hers bread free. All were very tasty and it was nice to not have to have either Hunters chicken or a steak.

Tomorrow we’ll move on a bit. Ahead of us is Blisworth tunnel, then Stoke Bruerne. Currently the Stoke Bruerne flight is closed as the bottom lock was damaged in a boat strike yesterday. Hopefully it won’t take too long to mend, but no updates have been issued yet.

0 locks, 3.72 miles, 1 more wet day, 2 trees down, 1 broken lock ahead, 1 full water tank, 1 chinese laundry, 0 shore leave, 1 full diesel tank, 1 bag of coal on the roof in June! 3 non-identical identical burgers, 2 glasses of wine less than yesterday, we did leave the pub before it closed today!

Ordnance, Yarn And The Pub. 10th June

Weedon Bec

Ruth on the back of Jellicoe

What a wet and miserable day. Although it seemed to have rained constantly I think we have got off lightly compared to others. There were still plenty of boats moving. If we’d spotted NB Mountbatten and Jellicoe earlier we’d have stopped them for some coal, but they were heading past us before we realised it was them. We had no plans on cruising today and it turned out that was a good decision.

We’ve always passed through Weedon Bec before, pausing for a pint of milk at Tescos to the east of the canal. This time we were going to explore the west side, the proper Weedon Bec.

A small basin now marks where the canal once had an arm, a small housing estate has been built over part of this as access is only by road.

Secret steps down from the canal

We climbed down the steps from the embankment and walked under the canal and then the railway, back up the hill on the other side where we could see by the large wall we were where we wanted to be.

The Royal Ordnance Depot was built in 1802 just before the Napoleonic Wars. It was positioned more or less in the centre of the country away from possible invasion along the coast. Here small firearms and cannons were stored and repaired, there was a barracks, and a military prison. The site remained a secretive arms distribution centre for around 150 years, still being used during WW2 and into the 1950’s, finally being decommissioned in 1965.

Numerous buildings

The original site was added to through the years, but now stands pretty much as it did originally.

The visitor centre

There is a visitors centre, sadly not open Mondays and Tuesdays and you are welcome to wander around. The site is now owned privately and the buildings are rented out to local businesses as workshops or offices. There were far more vehicles than I’d imagined and it seems to be a busy place. A fascinating place too.

Building 14 I think

A book shop and cafe are in one of the first buildings you come to, those will have to wait for our next visit as I was interested in finding one business in building 14. Downstairs is filled with vintage cars and parts. Mountains of rush seated chairs were piled up, none of this was what we were looking for, in the end we were guided to a set of steep steps on the end of the building. A familiar face was walking to them anyway.

The canal no longer joined to the Grand Union

Riverknits, Becci and Markus, moved into a space on the top floor of building 14 a few months ago. They used to work from their narrowboat dyeing yarns and were running out of space. They moved off the boat into a house and continued to use the boat as a dye studio, but they missed waking up on the water everyday. So in the end they hired a space at the Depot to work in, redecorated their boat whilst they still had the house and now live back on board.

I’d come for a nosy really and with the intention of buying some yarn so that I can make myself something, something really nice. Becci showed us round their space. on the boat they could only have one dye pot going at a time, but here they now have space for several. On the boat the yarn once dyed and rinsed would be hung from the grab rail outside to dry, but now they have lines of clothes rails all lined up.

Becci and some of their yarns

A quick look at patterns on the internet gave us an idea of how much yarn I’d be needing. DK weight was going to cost me a lot as I’d need a lot of skeins, 4 ply more manageable on the pocket and now manageable with my fingers after several pairs of socks. But which colour?

My yarn waiting to be wound into balls

A vivid turquoise jumped out at me from the wall of yarns, Becci could dye me some up but off the shelf it was only available in DK. I’d been trying to choose something other than red, but now I was just drawn to a varigated red called ‘My heart bleeds wine’, not all red honest. The pattern I’d chosen needed just over 4 skeins so I chose a mini skein in a rich blue which pulls out the red more. I’ll use this on the pockets or band or somewhere.

All done

Byrn their 3 year old kept Mick amused playing transformers, whilst I was given the chance to wind my skeins into balls. This by hand would take around an hour for each one, so a lot of TV would have to be watched. I’ll stash these away for a while, I’ve got lots that needs to be done before I’m allowed to get carried away knitting something for myself.

Crackletastic

A walk down the other side of the depot, a closer look at the fire engine that has the most extreme crackle paint effect I’ve ever seen. Then we walked into the village for some bread.

Just one of many

Weedon is an old village, two villages that have gradually merged together.

Wonderful wonky windows

As you walk around large thick creamy yellow stone walls with thatched roofs and small windows take you back to Tudor times. Around every corner another building catches your eye.

£190,000 would have got you the house on the end

A lovely end terraced house has just sold, it’s front door down a little alleyway.

St Peter and St Pauls

Weedon not only has the canal but also the West Coast Main line cutting it’s way right through it. The church of St Peter and St Paul is sandwiched between the two. The interior quite dark today due to the weather and failing lights. Yesterday there had been a full peel of the bells, shame we missed it.

It was quite dark so not many good photos

Later on this afternoon I got a message from our friend Heather on NB Bleasdale, she’d spotted from my facebook picture that we were in Weedon, so was she. A meeting was arranged in the Plume of Feathers for a catch up over a few drinks. Our paths haven’t crossed for a couple of years, so the hours ran away with us. We ended up being the last people in the pub with the front door locked. There was no rush to leave so we managed to avoid the down pours. Hope the weather improves for Heather as she is catching a lift from Lincoln to cross the Wash at the weekend.

Empties

0 locks, 0 miles, 2 sets of secret steps, 1 Royal Ordnance Depot, building 14, 480 grams of yummy yarn, 9.75 fingers twitching to start, 480 grams hidden, 1 fire engine, 1 transformer, 1 pretty village divided by the railway, 1 photo, 1 car show missed, 3.5 hours catching up, 1 very wet day very well spent.

Mrs Tilly’s shop

Five. 9th June

Braunston Stop House to Weedon Bec Wharf

The Wasp going down Braunston

Five years ago today we pushed Lillian (NB Lillyanne) out from Crick Marina to start a year afloat. This was never going to be just one year as when we bought Lillian one of the caveats was that our year would only start when we moved onto Oleanna our bespoke built boat. This of course took longer than originally planned, three years in the end.

So how come we’re now up to five? Well there are still places to explore, plans for this summer, plans that may be changing for next which means that they will be differed to the following year. The lifestyle suits us, so for now you are stuck with us!

To mark our fifth anniversary the sun came out and we were going to make the most of it, along with every other boat in the area!

Braunston this morning

A lady from the stern of a passing Braidbar boat shouted out GOOD MORNING! as she passed. The sun had given everybody a smile this morning. Our tight mooring became a touch awkward as soon as our spring line was undone. Boats passing, at maybe a touch too fast, pulled us back and forth on our almost straight lines, we nudged the boat ahead who were having their breakfast. From then on until we managed to push off I clung onto the bow rope.

Joining the queue

We tagged on the end of a few boats. A lady popped her head out from NB Many Meetings to say she’d just read the article in Canal Boat as we passed. Approaching the bottom of Braunston Locks we could see that we were fifth in line, hopefully someone would join us so we could share the locks. Two boats set off, then the bottom lock was reset for the next two. I walked up to help as it looked like there was only going to be one person working the lock. A chap appeared and helped out on my side. He requested a rope be thrown up, so that he could pull them into the side as the other boat came into the lock. This was taken very literally, he was thrown a rope, both ends of it!

Clare and Graeme, We’ve found your boat!

We were joined by NB Kingfisher a Carefree Cruising shareboat. Plenty to chat about at the stern, a little bit harder at the noisy end of the lock. At just about every lock boats were coming down so we could leave gates for them, if not then the pair following us were eager to close up behind us and empty the lock for themselves.

How many boats can you fit into one pound?

Between locks 4 and 5 is where things got a touch awkward. Someone must have waited for boats to come down 5 meaning they sat in the short pound between. By the time the boats coming down were leaving the lock another two boats had come up 4. The four boats in the locks had to vacate them before others could take their spaces, this meant six boats do-si-doing in the short pound. Those following up the locks just kept on using the empty lock, so there were always six boats manoeuvring around to get to the next hole in the puzzle.

Della chatting to Mick

At the top lock there was a queue waiting to come down. This meant there was plenty of crew on hand, one of which was Della from NB Muleless. Only time for a short chat as other boats were hot on our tail. Good to meet you properly Della, I didn’t chance to ask where you were heading.

Braunston Tunnel ahead

Into tunnel mode, lights, torch, head light, life jackets and a caring head nudge for Tilly before someone turned the outside lights off. Mick hates Braunston tunnel, two way traffic and the kink, but Tilly hates it more! We were fortunate with our timing as most people must have stopped for lunch. Only one boat which we passed in the last 100 ft of the tunnel. NB Kingfisher took another ten fifteen minutes to appear from the southern portal, they’d have met two boats which would have slowed their progress somewhat.

Tilly in such a frenzy after the tunnel

We paused for lunch. Braunston had taken far longer than before, would we be in time to get down Long Buckby before the gates got padlocked, we also wanted water. We decided that if someone came along and joined us then we’d do the locks, if not we’d fill with water and drop down the top lock and wait for morning.

Hello!

Two boats ahead pulled in at the new length of armco, the first one plonking themselves right in the middle of the view. A chap from the following boat told them to move up to allow them to moor behind, instantly eliminating two git gaps. At Norton Junction we could see NB Triskaideka swinging round onto the Leicester Section but we were to carry straight on.

You can’t miss these notices at the top lock

As we were still deciding what to do a head popped out from a boat and asked if we were going down the locks. ‘Yes, would you like to join us?’. We had a partner. A boat was just coming up and the crew from a following boat appeared soon afterwards wanting to come up. We dropped down Lock 7 at 14:32, the gates on lock 8 would be locked at 16:00 but last boat in is at 15:00. Plenty of time.

Very smelly today

The walk to the next lock was so pretty and fragrant, the gardens of cottages that line the canal were full to overflowing with blooms. Only time for a short pause to take a photo. Lock 8 ahead had been turned and a small tug came up. We were still within the time frame, entering the lock at 14:50 and exiting it 7 minutes later. We were in the flight now, no one could stop us.

I’d chatted with the chap from our accompanying boat, suggesting he stay on board and I’d open one gate, in front of him then Mick would bring Oleanna out through the same gate, this saves a lot of walking round and climbing ladders and means I do no more work than if we were on our own. Having arranged this off course at every lock there were boats wanting to come up so plenty of crew to open and close gates.

At Lock 10 two ladies waited to help us down, they’d left the gates at 11 open for us as they could tell someone was on their way. Apparently there was a rather officious lady there telling them to close the gates and that her husband had headed up the flight to lock the gates at the top. They were concerned that they’d be locked in the flight. I reassured them that I was sure that even if the gates had been locked then they would be allowed out as C&RT don’t want anyone mooring in the pounds over night, I hope I was right.

Out the bottom lock before 4pm

Arriving at the next lock two chaps were waiting to come up, it was now 15:30, half an hour after the last boat was meant to come through. We were soaring down the flight. The officious lady said she’d not said anything to us as she continued to have a point argued with her. Have to say I’d have argued my point, we’d entered the flight within time and were leaving with twenty minutes before the gates were due to be locked. On reaching the bottom lock of the flight there was a notice informing you that the last boat in would be at 16:00, not the new amended times!

Here I opened the one gate and our locking companion pootled off into the distance to find a mooring, with all the boats coming up we’d done the full flight in an hour and ten minutes.

The happy couple

Not wanting to be too close to either the West Coast Main Line or the M1 we carried on towards Weedon. The Bedazzled chap now has a lady friend and dog and seems to have curtailed his drinking from when we last came through.

Bypass bridge

The Weedon-Flore bypass bridge is now complete spanning the canal and railway. It is huge and currently the embankments are covered in poppies. In the dry under the road way sits a bench and a plaque commemorating Matthew James Elson a civil engineer who died at the age of 26.

A local hire boat

We moved along to just past the wharf onto the embankment to moor, finding a length of towpath not too overhung by trees. Tilly headed off into the trees, we could tell where abouts she was due to the crows and magpies as ever. She popped back out from behind a vocal dog just as it’s back had turned.

Poppies

A good days boating in the sun to mark our fifth anniversary.

5 years, 13 locks, 9.25 miles, 1 tunnel with 2 mysterons passing 1 just, 1 straight on, 2 boats to share with, 6 in a pound, 1 ex blogger, 1 new bridge, 4478825433638 poppies, 1 lovely neighbour for cutting our grass, 1 year of being Mrs Tilly

16mm. 8th June

Bridge 87 to almost Braunston Marina Entrance, Grand Union Canal

Pushing off after breakfast and a short time out in the rain for Tilly we wound our way towards Braunston. This morning it was to be rainy, this afternoon dry but windy. Rain is preferred when there is such a choice.

A boat was just pulling out from the Midland Chandlers mooring opposite Braunston Turn so we took its place. The man at the helm said he’d pulled in for a bag of coal, he thought he’d got the last one. Sadly he was right, we were offered logs, kindling and fire lighters but no coal was left. With the evenings a touch chilly at the moment we are lighting the stove, we still have just under a bag of coal, so there’s no immediate need.

Burnt out next to the Stop House

As we pulled away we passed NB Waka Huia, the crew all inside playing cards. Hope their onward journey isn’t a damp one. We’d heard that Braunston was quite busy, not many spaces to be had yesterday, so as spaces showed themselves we gambled at trying a bit further on. In the end we got a space one boat away from the water point at the Stop House. This space was made to measure with only a couple of inches spare. Almost straight ropes meant the need for a spring line so that we wouldn’t be bumping into our neighbours with every passing boat.

Over the bridge and up the hill for Bangers

Both being a little bit damp we decided to head straight up into the village for our newspaper. Blue geraniums border Butchers Bridge at the moment. Our garden in Scarborough used to overflow with them at this time of year, until our tenants decided that they were weeds! But they are hardy and when we last went to have a look they were fighting back.

Today Braunston Butchers had some gluten free sausages in the freezer, so we’ll give them a go in a couple of days. They can defrost in the fridge and wait to be consumed. Lets see if they are anything like Braunston Bangers!

Tradline

We also visited Tradline. A couple of years ago we bought a full set of ropes for Oleanna a touch thicker than the normal 12 or 14mm thick. The grip in my right hand has improved over the last couple of years but having chunkier ropes is still a good thing. Our ropes are showing their age and usage, still serviceable but as we’re heading onto rivers this summer we thought we’d treat Oleanna.

The chap showed us various ropes which I got to handle, 16mm blue was our choice. He’d make them up for us this afternoon to be collected just before 4pm. We also bought a couple of soft shackles which attach our centre lines to the ring on the roof. Our first one had been looking worn a couple of months ago so we’d replaced it. Sods law would be that it would give at a really bad moment, so better safe than waving Oleanna goodbye! So now we have spares to last us a few more years.

Just why won’t it come the full way out?!

Mick mopped out the freezer. Then we tried to pull the drawer out to remove it. This proved impossible. The drawer runners have little things that you push up and down which release the drawer, but to be able to do this you need to pull the drawer out far enough,which we couldn’t! We need a square ended screw driver to try removing the back of the drawer, this should then mean we can get the freezer out and have more chance of seeing what the problem is. We know what it is, condensation, we need to do something about it.

New ropes and shackles

During the afternoon the rain subsided and yes it got a bit windy, but nowhere near as bad as had been forecast. By the time Mick had picked up our new ropes it was a touch too late to set off for the locks. So tomorrow we hope the forecast is correct as we aim to go up Braunston Locks and down Long Buckby. Fingers crossed.

0 locks, 1.29 miles, 1 straight on, 0 returned pin, 0 coal, 58ft 9inches squeeze, 1 paper, 6 sausages, 2 ten meter ropes, 1 twelve meter rope, 2 soft shackles, 2nd colour, 1 stubborn freezer.