Saturday, 11 July 2009

Stoke bruen Pt 4

After mooring up near Norton Junction for the night, we set off at a respectable hour the next morning to tackle the Buckby locks. Blimey but wasn't the weather getting hot! Neil and I were breaking out in a sweat just watching our crew winding away at the lock paddles and pushing the gates (we did manage to assist in the gate pushing bit as the locks were descending).

Also passed two of the narrowboat icons of the system - steamboat President and her butty Kildare (named after a famous America GP, I was told).

Very thirsty work in the hot sun and therefore had a welcome break at Wilton Marina for lunch and a bit of shopping in the chandlery. It is amazing to see the waterfall cascading over the bottom lock when a boats are entering the lock. Nobody had a sensible reason for this phenomena, but I suspect that the lock gate is just a little too low for the water flow from the pound above.

Didn't go a hell of a lot further that day, but moored up just short of Bridge 26 where there is a handy water point and beyond the bridge, a beautiful and very well appointed pub called the Narrowboat.

Having rested and sorted the necessary to freshen ourselves up we headed to the said pub for dinner. Not exactly a reasonable price to pay for pub fare, but excellent quality and the view was superlative - overlooking the canal and surrounding countryside.

Just before we sat down to eat, the haunting sound of a steam whistle sounded and I thing most of the patrons sitting outside in the garden were canny enough to recognise an approaching steam - it was not likely to be a steam train on a canal; so we all waited with baited breath and were rewarded by the sight of President sweeping around the bend in the canal, towing Kildare on a 70 snubber.

There was a lot of waving and cheering from the garden of the Narrowboat, genially returned by the crews of both President and Kildare. Also accompanied by many more shrill blasts on the whistle. One may be a little cynical, but could they possibly have anticipated an audience at the Narrowboart? Anywary It was a magic canal moment at any event.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Stoke Bruene Pt 3

I should add that we both fell in love with narrowboating back in 1997 when we were holidaying around the country by car. Seeing the canal at Oxford, we decided to follow part of its course to Birmingham. It must be over forty years since I read LTC Rolt's 'Narrowboat', but the names of the towns were firmly wedged in my memory. So there we were sitting at a table in the beer garden of the Admiral Nelson, watching the boats locking up and down through lock no. 3 that we thought 'wouldn't that be a great way to get around the countryside'. Well it is; and with a little deja vu, we locked up through the Braunston Six and came face to face with the yawning mouth of Braunston Tunnel.

Now this is not the first tunnel that we have been through, but apart from the Newbold, is the first that we have to negotiate two way traffic. Personally I like the slam of the garage door behind you in the Harecastle or the friendly green lights of the Foulridge, realising that there is not going to be a boat coming the other way.

It is interesting to see how much the bank has collapsed at the entrance to the tunnel, but there is still plenty of room to slip into the darkness without bumping the sides.

Ha! but not for long! Whichever god granted me my eyesight must have suffered from gross moral turpitude; given that I can see enough to make life wonderful, but not enough to negotiate a 60ft boat in suddenly changing light conditions. To put it mildly, with Nerus following, I whanged into the side about 100 yards in. Jeeves was furious and took over the tiller until we were near the end. Thank god for that!

At least we didn't have to pass any boats that day - more on this subject later.

After the tunnel, we made another early stop so that the stalwart lock-wheelers were ready for the Bucky flight the next day. And Whew! Apart from the passage through the tunnel, it was getting to be awfully tropic.

Looking back at the exit of the tunnel, one wonders how effective the ventilation shafts are - well they are pretty good for dropping a curtain of water on the steerer anyway.

Stoke Bruene Pt 2

It was Neil and Ruth's suggestion that Stoke Bruene would make a good destination for a shortish cruise and we jumped at the chance to tag along. So, on a bright Saturday morning we made a left hand turn from the marina and headed off toward Braunston fully aware that the Working Boat Festival was still in full swing. We had already visited this event prior to the occasion (see blogs passim), now we were going a week after the definitive weekend!

The weather proved to be splendid and Jeeves was resplendent with parasol in one hand and the helm held 'steady as you go'.

Needless to say, we had no intention of trying to moor up in Braunston, so decided to stop when the spire hove into sight over at bridge 87, but seeing a lot of boats moored up even before we got that far, decided to pull over way before that. There wasn't any particular hurry and being right out in the country is lovely on a hot summer's evening.

Working boats there were aplenty, the next morning as they thumped past us during breakfast (actually before that, you lazy bastards -ed). And off we set, prepared for the canal equivalent of a motorway tailback. It wasn't though and with a bit of care and patience, our entry into the town was completely stress free.

We did have the pleasure of seeing some wonderful working boats - motors and butties and some under way, with the butty following silently in the wake of the motor. Personally, I am quite ambivalent when it comes to the love of old boats (by this I mean owning and living on one). Both of us would be over the moon to have a Russell Newbury, Lister or Gardner pushing us along the cut, but on the other hand, how could we do without all the mod cons like Travelpower generator, fridge/freezer and (oh so sad) the dishwasher? Anyhow, it is great to look and dream.

As it happened, Braunston was indeed busy, but turned out to be a breeze. We arrived at the bottom lock with no bumps or bangs and lots of 'hellos' to boaters and gongoozlers alike, where Neil found that there seemed to be an unofficial winding hole! At first we thought we would have to turn around and go back, but all was sorted and we followed Nerus into the lock. I really wonder if you could wind here, it would prove to be quite handy!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Ante Stoke Bruene

Quite a bit was going on at Brinklow before we set off for the epic voyage to Stoke Bruene:

Firstly; there is pond life again.

Then there is hard work. . . . . . .

This poor Typist was very tired having spent so much time with her busy master. Being ng a 'Girl Friday' she had brought the tea and biscuits. Seen here Tally is relaxing with afternoon tea on Gleemaiden before atttemding her massage appointment.

And then the pre cruise to Warwick to assess the damage passing narrowboats could inflict: Jeeves asseses the castle and other unspoilt parts.

Right that is enough for the moment.

Two tunnels and an historic village Part 1

The historic town of Stoke Bruene is known to all who travel the inland waterways of this country, so there is little to add, apart from our observations during the journey and whilst visiting Stoke itself. We also visited Towcester (now there are a good deal of pseudonyms and puns to be had with this one - indeed I popped up there. [No more towcester jokes -browned off]). I was of course in my element in Towcester, sandwiched between beautiful black and white buildings one minute, then springing forth through the narrow apertures behind chrome street facades, visited Waitrose and bought necessities such as butter; marmite and that sort of thing.

Well this is a long way from where we set out so I think it is time for a different posting. I do also apologise for the complete lack of pictures or recent postings. The 3G+ signal here is abysmal Anyay, I will try again in a couple of hours.

Sounds from the saloon would suggest that the Ashes are on - think I'll watch for a bit. Try and upload some pictures later.

Ah well! thanks to Neil and Ruth from Nerus, here is one picture that I have manage to upload - so now I am going to continue with the rest of the diary of the journey. Cheers!!