Thursday 25 September 2014

MK to Braunston - where is that somnambulant snail now?

On Monday we moved on from Milton Keynes to Cosgrove after deciding to get Ed to look at sensors and gauges (among other things, to make his trip worthwhile) later in the week when we could be closer to his base. It was a fab afternoon’s boating – warm, sunny and peaceful.
We moored up for the night after the waterpoint above the Cosgrove lock. We chatted with the couple on widebeam Hetty – they love living on board and are very happy to only be able to be on the Grand Union, Thames and Kennet and Avon.  The view out of the galley window in the evening sun was special.
Cattle, heron, canada geese in the evening sun at Cosgrove

Important to see the heron at full stretch ...

The following morning, I prepared brekkie and decided to throw out the stewed apple that I’d cooked a few days ago – it was looking decidedly dodgy. Of course the compost heap on the boat is the canal. The bowl slipped out of my hand as I tossed the apple away and into the cut it went. Did you know that pyrex doesn’t float? David is equating this misdemeanour with standing on oven door – his logic: we still have the oven, it still functions, but we don’t have the bowl. And to add insult to injury, I broke one of our small ramekins that evening …
A bucolic scene on our way after Cosgrove
Another bucolic scene - different animals this time
A solar panel and a battery on a makeshift catamaran - overseen by the skeleton. Weird, man!

Nether Heyford from the canal

The old bridges are very attractively designed and built

We had an email from Tony and Helen that night saying they were at Soulbury and aiming for Stoke Bruerne – would we catch up? Yes!!! Well, they had to catch us up actually. We met them at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight – I am sure they broke all speed limits to get there not long after we did.
Someone's unattended boat at the bottom of the Stoke Bruerne flight - watering up first as we had to wait for another couple of boats ahead of us in the lirst lock

Approaching the first lock

We did 5 of the 7 locks breasted up (not tied but steering together) and it was fast and efficient. David and Helen were a good team on the lock wheeling and Tony and I worked well together on the boats. 
Coordinated steering - a bit like synchronised swimming but drier

And into through the gates without touching the sides

Tony and I get to relax while Helen and David do the hard work. Notice how Tony is crowding me over to the side of the lock - he's hogged all the spare space!
However I did force him over to the offside in one pound, and when we came to moor up for the night, as I tried to reverse back to the mooring spot, I hounded him over to the offside again. I take full responsibility. He did extricate himself rather well on both occasions I have to say. Helps having a 24 inch draught – if it had been me on the offside, I would probably have got stuck with Waka Huia’s 28 inch draught.
We moored up in the pound below the 2nd lock. Early in the day I had prepared Thai Chicken Salad (Alison and Simon Holst recipe adapted from salmon and replacing noodles with rice) so all that was required was to stir fry the meat and cook the rice, then spread the raw veges over that, add a marinade and then the chicken – topped with pine nuts that night. It usually has sesame seeds on it and I know they are somewhere in the galley but I couldn’t find them. However the pine nuts were delicious. Dinner, wine, lots of laughs on Waka Huia. A very good afternoon and evening all round.
Late in the evening I took this photo out of the galley window - what were the swans doing having their cygnets out so late at night? I didn't realise they are reasonably nocturnal.
The next day David and I had pretty much agreed we would have an easy day. Then we looked at the distance to Braunston and realised that wasn’t really an option. So we got in touch with Tony and Helen and said we’d do the Buckby flight with them that day. 

It was a very long day indeed. We didn’t get to the bottom of the locks till after 4pm! And then there were 7 of them. Tony and I tied the bows of the two boats together and increased the efficiency of the day before’s efficacious locking. It helped as Tony could get off and help Helen close the gates and I kept a semblance of control of his boat as I steered the two of them out of locks.

David and I knew we would be b*ggered by the time we got to the top, so to save trying to find a mooring in a honey spot, we had booked a mooring at Weltonfield Marina just up the Leicester Arm. We walked back to Tony and Helen’s boat for dinner – it was a very lovely evening but not as raucous or wine-soaked as the night before – we were all pooped! 

Tony and Helen left quite early this morning for Braunston then Calcutt, but we had a relaxing morning, and didn’t leave Weltonfield until after noon – preceded by a pumpout and water fill after we’d had BLATs for a late brekkie. The turn into (and out of) the marina for the pumpout was pretty exciting given the wind that was blowing down the canal.
That continued between Norton Junction and the Braunston Tunnel, so I was quite relieved to get into the protection of the tunnel - and that makes a change for me. It was 23 minutes to get through it, and then we came down the Braunston Locks breasted up (not tied) with another boat. Derick and Jan are coming to NZ from Feb to May next year, so we will see them there.

We are moored up in Braunston and it is surprisingly quiet. We need to make sure tomorrow that we have all the bits and pieces we need for Ed’s work in the afternoon, and that we have covered off all the things we’ll need for getting the boat into good shape for being left for the winter.

We went to the Marston's pub for dinner tonight - service was good, but the food was only OK - the food on the Waka Huia is much better.

I think we are both tired tonight, so what is called for is an early night and not an early wake up tomorrow. No doubt there will be boats on the move early but that is generally quite relaxing.
My eyes are drooping - time for sleep ...

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