Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Friends reunited

I have stolen the post title from Tony and Helen on nb Holderness who used it very recently. It seemed apposite, so I thought plagiarism was OK, just this once.

We came down from Bugbrooke to Grafton Regis on Monday. That involved coming through the Blisworth Tunnel which is about 2800 metres long – about 900m longer than the Braunston Tunnel that we had done the day before. I must be getting used to them as I didn’t feel too stressed about either of them. The fact that they are two-way helps as, when there’s no one coming towards us, we can scoot along speedily in the centre. Through the Braunston we met no one, but we passed three boats in the Blisworth, all creeping along at far less than tickover.  David sits out on deck with me and holds a torch pointing to the side wall so I can count off the hundred metre markers. I like knowing how far we have to go – so I guess my anxiety isn’t all gone …
Almost out of the Blisworth Tunnel. Raincoat required as lots of water pours out of the roof, the ventilation shafts and walls. If you look closely you can see a glimmer of light well back in the darkness - that is a following boat.
Mel is back in his rightful place

At Stoke Bruerne we stopped at the top of the locks for water, where the Wyvern hire boat Sovereign was kindly moored on the waterpoint, securely locked with no one aboard. We tied up alongside them and got water anyhow, and while we were waiting for the tank to fill, I went in to the Boat Inn and got a punnet of hot chips for our lunch. Yummy! On leaving, we left a note on nb Sovereign asking them not to moor on waterpoints.

Across to the lock moorings we went, and were just moving gently back to allow space for boats to exit the lock, when I got tooted at by a turning trip boat and told by the arrogant skipper to use my eyes. I was extremely embarrassed at being remonstrated with so publicly by him that I was rather rude in response. Considering he had his own mooring one boat length behind me, I am not sure why he finds it necessary to use the lock landing to turn at, nor why he has to be so damn patronising.

One bonus of that altercation though was that we met Kathryn who lives in one of the cottages beside the museum, skippers nb Leo No 2, and is an NZer – formerly from Nelson. As we chatted while waiting for the lock, her NZ accent got stronger and stronger. Nice woman, as is her neighbour Kate (?) who was also out on the front steps enjoying the sunshine. Check out Kathryn’s blog (look up nb Leo No 2 on google and you will find it) – she has an extremely impressive photo of her boat on the Thames … Kathryn has offered to come with us next time we go through the tunnel and show us the interesting things about it. She said she likes to go through it very early in the morning and stop and look at features on her way.

Breasted up with nb Adelaide - it meant the skipper on the other boat could work the locks with David,  while I steered both boats

And from the front in one of the locks

After coming down the seven locks we stopped at Grafton Regis and, while David cleared the cratch lockers so we no longer have stuff just sitting in the cratch, I made dinner – tuna mousse, salad and new potatoes.

Bucolic scene somewhere on the way

Rape seed field with hawthorn bushes
It had been a tiring day

In the morning we moved on down to Cosgrove to meet Mick and Julia who were coming from Desborough for a day with us. It was only about an hour’s cruise, fine and sunny but a bit breezy and chilly. I started off with fleecy, scarf, jacket and gloves on. David didn’t need those accoutrements as he was boat-bitching inside – sweeping, floor washing, bed-making, bringing in the washing.

A lovely surprise as we came into Cosgrove – there was nb Valerie. Several sharp toots on the horn got Les and Jaq out. They were waiting for a Tesco delivery and then going to head south again. While we filled up with water David had a shower, then I went to the caravan park shop (very well stocked) and then we pulled back off the waterpoint to await Mick and Julia’s arrival.

As soon as they arrived, we were off down the lock, moored up in the sunshine, table and chairs out on the grass by the towpath, tea, coffee, biscuits. Lots of chat and catching up. Then out came the wine, cider, lager, and nibbles on a large tray. Finally, along came Les and Jaq, who stopped for hello hugs and to socialise for a few hours – they did have to bring their own lovely new lime green chairs. Lots of laughs and much chat.

I had made a chicken and vege curry, Bombay potatoes and rice. Jaq cannot abide curry, and Mick was feeling rather delicate so the two of them sat in the saloon while Les, Julia, David and I consumed that. David packed the leftovers for Mick to eat when his constitution had recovered …

Les and Jaq headed away for points south where we will join them tonight. We walked Mick and Julia back to their car, having forgotten to pay them for the Oyster Bay chardonnay they got for me, dammit.

It was such a lovely day – catching up again with old friends, and seeing new ones. We are hoping we will see M&J again this season, so we need to work out if we can coordinate boating plans. Now that I have put their contact details in the address book on the laptop, that will be possible …


Jenny said...

Looks like you are having no trouble getting back into the swing of narrow-boating. A great day by the look of it, travelling and meeting up with friends!
Robin and Jenny

Marilyn McDonald said...

It's a tough life, Jenny, but someone's got to do it!