Sunday 31 May 2015

Nostalgia and a recommendation

Moored above Stoke Hammond lock yesterday while I was poorly

From the side hatch at Stoke Hammond

Well, today has been wonderful. 
My Dad's jersey, David's Dad's sheepskin hat and leather gloves - and when I got outside it wasn't that cold, but I couldn't remove the hat or there would have been a severe case of hat head! I have to say, I look a lot like my Dad ...
Although the weather was a bit suspect this morning, we decided to move on to Soulbury so we could go to The Boot for lunch and visit my Aunt Daphne’s old semi-detached house. It was a short trip, and we first filled with water - moving in front of a boat that was moored on the water point, ostensibly filling with water - they had the hose attached but the tap was turned off ... Once we'd filled, having removed their hose, we pulled back to the two day moorings. Then we showered and cleaned ourselves up and off we set on foot into Soulbury. Jaq and Les Biggs have posted about Soulbury recently (check it out on the nb Valerie blog), and theirs was informative about the village.
One of the views on the walk from the three locks up to Soulbury

On the bridge over the railway and the bypass is this sign - I am not sure why it says Caution though.
This way to the site of the Great Train Robbery

Coming back to make sure David doesn't trip in the hole in the bridge's footpath

I knew that the guys who owned the other part of the semidetached house had bought Daphne's house to create a granny cottage downstairs for Simon’s mother and to add the upstairs rooms (3 bedrooms) to their home.

We went to see them first, thinking that it was possible they would be going out on a Sunday afternoon. Simon and James were home with their sons, were very welcoming and happily showed us around. Isobel, Simon’s mother arrived back from the garden centre and was also happy that we had come to visit and to see what had become of Daphne’s beloved house.

The granny cottage and amalgamation of Daphne’s home into Simon and James’s place have been beautifully done.
Daphne's house used to be the RHS of this home - I am standing in front of her early addition: the front porch. She never used the original front porch apart from as a place to store junk.

Isobel invited us for coffee after our lunch at the Boot, so on through the village we went admiring the wonderful gardens on the way. The Boot did not disappoint in any way.

I first went there with my mum and Daphne back in 1988, and again in ’90 with David and the kids, and on a few occasions since – Melita and I took Daphne for lunch there one day, and the last occasion I was there was for the wake after Daphne’s funeral back in 2007.
 Fresh bread before the starters, and a bottle of Argentinian viognier
Smoked haddock on mash and fresh steamed veges

Roast beef, yorkshire, roast potatoes, horseradish

Two of the lovely waitresses

All in all, a lovely pub
Today the ambience**, the food and the service were lovely. Some of the touches that make such a difference and are missing from many restaurants now are still in place at The Boot. Handcut slices of fresh baked bread are complementary and the staff come and ask if you’d like more. When they come to ask if everything is OK, it’s not just for form’s sake, but includes a suggestion/question re supplying more gravy, more bread. I couldn’t finish my roast beef and roast potatoes, so they were packaged up (with more gravy) for me to carry away. That wasn’t an issue for David as he’d scoffed all of his smoked haddock with a yummy sauce on mash …

If you are coming through Soulbury on your boat or by car, we would recommend the pub extremely highly. 10 out of 10, from both of us. It’s a mile’s walk from the 3 locks, and it is worth it.

** The music was playing softly and was melodic – chosen for the likely taste of the patrons, not the waiting staff.

So fully replete, we went to the churchyard to see Daphne’s grave. My cousin had told me that Daphne didn’t want a headstone, and a couple of years ago the vicar organised a simple wooden cross to mark the grave as he couldn’t find any family to ask. Seeing the cross today made me sad. Daphne didn’t have any Christian belief but she did participate in church things because it was the hub of the community, and that was extremely important to her. 
At Daphne's grave

We then called in to see Isobel for tea (and yummy little chocolate rolls. Note self: FIND THEM at the next supermarket.)

We had already looked through the cottage before lunch but Isobel showed us more of the touches that were important to her. It was lovely to discover that Isobel collects owls, as did Daphne, she loves to garden, as did Daphne and she has managed to salvage a number of Daphne's roses, shrubs and old fashioned apple trees. She and Simon removed a giant wodge of brambles that had taken over part of the back garden as Daphne got past keeping it in trim, and they have exposed the end of the garden that looks out on to field behind.

The old apple tree and the field beyond
Two of Daphne's roses beyond the new terrace

The whole effect of the changes to the house and joining up of the gardens is beautiful and I am sure that Daphne would be pleased to see it all looking so loved and cared for.

Isobel kindly drove us back down to the three locks and came to look around the boat. We have each other’s contact details and will stay in touch.

We are moored below the three locks for the evening - too tired to move further today!

Saturday 30 May 2015

Sickly and static at Stoke Hammond

I have been feeling poorly for the last couple of days - sore throat, skin feeling tender all over. This morning I asked David to make sure that I stayed in bed for the day so I can recover. I'm dosing myself with cough medicine in warm water (as suggested by the helpful pharmacist in Netherfield yesterday) and ibuprofen.

Mick just rang a few minutes ago and suggested lemonade and honey. No lemonade on board but we do have lemons and we do have honey - not manuka, but sick beggars can't be choosers! So my next task is to prepare a posset of lemon and honey.

David is taking advantage of a non-boating day to catch up on boatie tasks. In his search for the pliers to sort out the TV aerial cable, he found his never to be found again windlass pouch and his lock gloves (leather gardening ones they are and protect his tender hands). He has sorted the aerial, tidied the cratch lockers, and mopped water from the cabin bilge in the galley - we suspect the washing machine that did get a hammering with three loads the other day. As we fill it with warm water by jug rather than letting it fill on the cycle and get heated, we may have put in too much. Not sure how it overflows, but when Barry and Pauline come to visit, the two guys will pull the machine out and have a look.

His next task is to attach the chain sections to the D rings and then to secure the solar panels to their brackets.

After that it'll be time to prepare dinner. I wonder what culinary delights he will consider fit for a poorly wife? Considering my view is that when sick, a person should be off their food, I do hope he doesn't adhere to the same principle ...

Woughton on the Green to Stoke Hammond

It was a strange sort of a day yesterday. We knew the weather was due to pack up and so we decided to stay put at Woughton on the Green in Milton Keynes. It was a nice mooring the night before last– pretty quiet except for a main road behind the luxury flats overlooking the canal. Of course, as soon as we’ve decided that I start getting antsy and want to move on…

So instead I went off on foot to the Netherfield shops to the Coop and the post office. The best things I can say about Netherfield are:
·      You can get there from the canal on pathways without having to set foot on roads at all
·      The Coop is well stocked and the staff are friendly and helpful
·      The pharmacy staff are friendly and helpful
·      The people in the post office are also friendly and helpful
Apart from that it’s a bit of a sad place. Two people have told me this afternoon that the housing there is what was built as temporary housing for the people building Milton Keynes and that was back in the 50s and 60s, I believe. So it’s loads of scruffy looking flats with no balconies, all in lines. Therefore it’s all council estate. There were lots of working age people at the shopping centre looking unhappy, and I saw the Immigration people there photographing people, looking for illegal immigrants I guess.

I know it’s my prejudice, but I wasn’t keen to stay at the same mooring on a weekend night, in case it got rowdy and a bit obstreperous. So when I got back to the boat with my shopping, we moved on. We had planned to visit Pollards, a hardware shop in Fenny Stratford so we moored up before the lock and set off, with David leaving me to lock the boat while he got rid of the rubbish at the service area. We found Pollards using the mapping function on the phone – that is such a good app! And in we went.

Had either of us brought the measurements for the chain sections we need for securing the solar panels to the brackets? (Nothing will stop the determined thief but we will satisfy the insurance company if we have taken steps to secure them against theft.) Answer: NO

Have either of us brought one of the screws that we need another one of for the slider for the pram cover so we can find the right sized one? Answer: NO

So back David goes and I start on the list with the owner of the shop. Do they have U bolts (called D rings here)? Answer: NO

Do they have a piece of dowelling we can use as a flag pole and clips to hold it on to the swan’s neck of the tiller? Answer: NO to both

Do they have Locktite to ‘glue’ the bolt on the U bolts: Answer: YES, but it’s £15 for more than we could ever use in a lifetime if we’d started back when we were 20. And Yes, they do at £5 for 3ml of the stuff that can be undone using standard handtools – WTF?

Can they supply me with 4 x 450mm of chain? Answer: YES as long as I wait while the woman who had been serving me and the young chap (who came to help me when she got diverted to some other customer who had a list as long as the M1) went back to serve someone else – one length he could do fast – 4 was not a happening thing. I waited a few minutes, but then my patient gene was stretched and snapped. So I texted David that I was coming back to the boat empty handed. AAARRRGGGHHH!!!

On we came, through Fenny lock and on to Willowbridge Marina. The rain came down, the sun came out, the wind blew, the sun came out.

We had ordered the filters (fuel and air) from them the day before and a spare alternator belt from a neighbouring auto electricians. So, list in hand, in we went.
·      D rings: YES
·      Chain: YES
·      Screws: Yes
·      Engine oil: YES
·      Filters: YES
·      Tiller extension: YES

We decided that we would move on and moor above Stoke Hammond Lock even though we were both tired. David fell as he jumped off to take the middle rope when we were due to moor. That gave us both a fright.

The rain started in earnest as we tied up and it was a bit of a struggle to get the pram cover up and secured. As happens (this could be Taranaki in this respect) the rain stopped and the sun then shone brilliantly! Lots of hire boats came past on the way into the lock after we moored – they were not fair weather boaters!

The view from the galley across the cut into the red sky after dinner last night

The lovely grandsons trying on new clothes for our niece's wedding in August
The new caddies I bought at the shop partway down the Buckby flight - just went in for icecreams ...

Thursday 28 May 2015

Very slow progress

Yesterday afternoon we cruised from Cosgrove down to Stantonbury to meet up with Les and Jaq in the evening. 
An obediently following bunch of cygnets

As we approach the aqueduct David decides to adjust the new toys

It's quite a long way down to the valley - the aqueduct was built in 1811
The stuff floating on the water is seed heads from the willows.

We stopped at Wolverton so I could go off and do a shop at Tescos. I took a granny trolley and filled it to capacity and beyond its specified weight limit - 6 bottles of wine and numerous cans of tomatoes are pretty heavy even before the fruit and vege get stacked in ... There were some very helpful teenagers sitting on the seat beside the boat when I was struggling down the steps, having texted David to come and help lift the trolley down - his phone was on silent ... They were nice kids.
The mooring at Wolverton outside a huge set of apartments
Waiting for the paparazzi to photograph one is so time consuming ...

This was the easy part of the trip
The wind at that corner was pretty strong ...

It was very windy coming through Wolverton and a number of boats had trouble pulling in to moor or staying on course as they cruised at that point. 

By the time we got to Stantonbury we were both tired, so we had an early dinner while waiting for Jaq and Les to arrive. Then we had a late night (well, late for me) and I fell asleep in one of their comfy chairs. Jaq does a very nice line in nibbles - a homemade ranch dressing with crudites and a salmon dip with crackers, plus olives, and a chicken and grape salad that I do have to make at some stage very soon.

Our original intention for today had been to get to Stoke Hammond so that tomorrow we could cruise a short distance to Soulbury and walk into the village – a time of nostalgia as it is where my Aunt Daphne lived very happily from her early 50s until she died in 2007. When I first came back to the UK with my mum in 1988 we stayed with Daphne in her semi-detached home in Chapel Hill. The Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire countryside was my first taste of England and I fell in love with it. It was while we were on an outing to Stoke Bruerne that I decided that David and I needed to come to the UK with Tim and Kirsty as soon as we could scrape up the money, and we had to have a narrowboat holiday. Of such small seeds are life changing decisions made …

So, as I said our intention was to get to Stoke Hammond. That aim got modified as our leaving taking from Les and Jaq Biggs was delayed while they gave me the gen on moorings on the way into and out of London – in on the canals, out on the Thames. So we finally left not much before noon, as Les is nothing if not thorough ;-)

David is aware that I suffer from low blood sugar that affects my concentration and, dare I say it, my mood/temper/tolerance. So his mission is to keep me fed little and often during the day. Those of you who know me know that I am not the world’s most patient person, so once we are underway, I just want to keep going till we get to the destination.

However, I am pretty good at revising plans. A good thing too, as it has happened a few times today. The plan to get to Stoke Hammond was abandoned when we stopped for water, and had showers and lunch while the tank was filling – of course the showers empty it faster than the tap fills the tank, so filling took well over half an hour.

At that point we decided we would stop for the day at Fenny Stratford – a lovely long straight of moorings where we moored up last season with Barry and Pauline on board and had dessert with Jaq and Les.

But hey, plans change when conditions change, so we are now moored up just past Woughton Park in Milton Keynes – it’s not the quietest as there is quite a big road not far away, but it is beautifully sunny so the solar panels are having fun, we have the hatch open and I think the wine may come out shortly.

This early stop was precipitated by going at far less than tickover as the last in a line of 4 boats, the lead being a widebeam that necessarily, I guess, has to travel slowly to make sure they don’t hit the sides of bridges or moored boats of which there are a few. I was impressed by the Wyvern hirers who were 2nd and 3rd in the line. More patience than me – but they probably need to be back at Linslade by either tomorrow or Saturday morning.

And it is fortuitous that we have moored here – I have been able to order an air filter, and fuel filter from Willowbridge Marina and an alternator belt from an automotive engineer next door. We can pick them up tomorrow early in the afternoon – that means we can have a lie in. And I think that, at the moment, we will probably get to Soulbury on Saturday.

I took this photo of the heron in the field with the sheep from our mooring near Grafton Regis a couple of days ago.

Also at Grafton Regis - the hawthorn bushes look lovely

The view that morning from the dining table

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 …

Sunday 24 May 2015

Norton Junction to Bugbrooke

Yesterday arvo this family was near our mooring

This morning, Mel was looking askance at the mass of cords on the table. David is on notice that any cords that are out when I get up in the morning will be used to whip him. As he is not into pain, this is a valid threat.

But wait, there's more ...

And more ...
We are moored up just south of Bugbrooke after a fairly busy 5.5 hours of boating - we came down through Buckby Locks breasted up with a bunch of four Australians on a week's hire from Rose Narrowboats in Rugby. They had been told to leave gates open which is an anathema to us, so all gates were closed unless boats were approaching. Is it the new standard practice to leave them open? Doesn't make much sense to us.

The hawthorn blossom looks lovely and smells wonderful

There are some beautiful homes and gardens beside the cut

We were keen to get to Bugbrooke to have a Sunday pub lunch, a la Tom and Jan's pattern (nb Waiouru). We didn't stop to get water so we could get to Bugbrooke in time, and because we arrived at about 1.50pm, we were a bit limited in choice, so we went to The Wharf by Bridge 36. The food was rather disappointing really (£10.95 for a main course) and took over 50 minutes to arrive. A whole heap of meals came out at the same time, so I did wonder if the kitchen staff had had a lunch-break between times ... The chardonnay was pretty good tho as was David's blackcurrant cider (well, it was purple and had blacksomething in it).

Having not got water today, and having had two showers and done two loads of washing since we took on water yesterday at Braunston, we are in conservation mode just in case. Two saucepans have been filled so we at least have enough for drinking purposes. Being clean can wait!
Note to selves: Forget lunch, get water every day!

After lunch we moved about 300m down the cut to a mooring that is less busy and doesn't have dog poo. We are now stopped for the day. David is faffing in a most productive way with the TV aerial having cleaned his new toys, the solar panels. I've hung out some washing, brought in a folded some from yesterday, and am going to blob for the rest of the afternoon. I think I need to have an on-board chardonnay shortly to compare it with the one in the pub ...

Saturday 23 May 2015


On Thursday, once the solar panels were successfully installed and explained, and we had sullied Tim Davis's green principles with cream donuts, we headed to Hillmorton by car to the Canal Shop with two intentions - first was to sort out about our proposed purchase and fitting of an Airhead toilet (arranged for August-ish), and the second was meet up with Paul and Sally on nb James. Their Airhead was being fitted there, so we took the opportunity to see them and deliver a bottle of Australian red. We had hoped to have time for a boat meeting, but they were heading for Crick and we were still in the marina. It was lovely to meet them properly after reading Paul's newsletters regularly and emailing back and forth over the last 18 months or so.
Paul, David and Charlie and Daisy on board nb James

Sally on board nb James

Well, yesterday was our first day boating for this season, and it ended on a fabulous note. As I mentioned in the previous post, we left a note in Mick and Julia’s letterbox in Desborough, hoping they would get in touch. Last night they did – they had just arrived back from a trip to the US and called us. The smiles on our faces were wider than any seen on a wide mouthed frog.

They are coming to see us on Tuesday!! Yay!! Excitement unlimited indeed. And Mel is very happy too – he has fond memories of being dressed up in the appropriate scarf  and shirt, and dancing on a coffee table with Mick when Leicester City were playing some team at football and winning. Was it Manchester City? Westham?

One relaxing thing was that I could stop rearing up every time I heard an old style boat coming past, now I know M&J are ensconced at their place in Desborough.

It was a lovely day all round. We had a call from Jaq Biggs and will catch up with them during the week too. What a pleasure this life onboard is.

I was going to title this post ‘And the Score is …’ It was a day of nifty happenings and some mess-ups, some of them hilarious and others rather embarrassing.

We had planned to leave Barby early-ish yesterday morning but realised that it would be quicker to do some of the retail tasks while we had a car at our disposal. So we headed to Tescos in Rugby (that is accessible from the cut, but that would have involved an hour or so of boating instead of 5 minutes of driving), then to Halfords to get a fuel pump wrench – of course there were a few games that needed to be purchased for when the grandsons come to visit – Battleships, Connect 4, Monopoly. Then back to Enterprise who dropped us off at the marina.

We (read I) thought it would be a quick job to cast off and leave the marina but of course David wanted to do such tasks as getting the TV aerial down, putting away the gas bottles etc … Then we thought we’d get some diesel before heading out.

My first mess up was nudging the side at the service area before winding to get fuel. David’s was in tying up - he thought it would be a good idea to thread the rope through the pipe bollard rather than wrapping it around it. Not sure where his brain was focused at that point.

Then heading out – a disaster  of such embarrassing proportions that I felt hot and bothered for about half an hour afterwards. On making my way out through the gap, I didn’t get over far enough to be able to swing the stern around to starboard and bow to port. And thoroughly jammed I got. A kind man who moors in Barby saw me stuffing it up and came to assist, getting me to reverse and wind in combination, then taking first my stern rope (not a useful strategy as it reduced my steering to zilch) and then my middle rope to get me pointing in the right direction.
We are underway and I have stopped blushing from embarrassment

The panels have assumed their travelling position for the first day - flat and low to keep them away from low-flying bridges

We decided to moor up early in the afternoon outside Braunston close to Bridge 88 – it was peaceful, no road noise, and black-faced sheep in the ridge and furrow field across the cut were the only critters making any noise.

A game of Battleships ensued after lunch. We used to play it years ago so its purchase was a bit of nostalgia. Well, it was for me…

Clearly David had forgotten how it was set up, how it was played and what the rules were. Considering he remembers every kind of card game that he’s ever played, seen played, read about, watched, his lack of memory of Battleships surprised me.

He started off not recording the calls he made to try to hit my ships, then he started putting the pegs in the board his ships were in in positions that he called to try to hit my boats. Consequently he had a mish-mash of pegs and ships. When that confusion was cleared up, instead of moving the pegs showing positions he’d checked out on my board, he moved his ships – they were then on the top (ie perpendicular) board. Pegs marking the hits I made fell out, then the ships started falling out … At that point, I gave up in hysterics.  
This photos is blurred because I was laughing so hard. See David's ships in the lid? See that two of them have fallen off? Nutbar, I say ...

David is showing me how he has things arranged and is asking what is wrong with it. Hysteria stopped play at about this point!

I decided to walk to the chandlers in Braunston to replace the fuel filter Ed had bought - Midland don't stock many genuine parts for Listers so it was a case of trying to find the Fram one that is the same. No luck, so I got a refund, but who should come in as I was at the counter but the guy who’d helped me at Barby. Embarrassment re-visited …

Late in the afternoon, I decided to prepare the plant pots for when I find a variety of lettuce plants. In went last year's rock collection for weighting purposes, followed by vege scraps from dinner prep and, lastly, the potting mix. At the supermarket I had bought small pots of flat and curly parsley and mint so they got planted. Not sure if they will take, given they had been potted for quick use rather than planting out. But we shall see - plenty of pot space, warmth and water could see them get a new lease of life. It worked last year ...
A sneaky shot

Last night's left over dinner - David loved this meal which was incredibly simple: sauteed veges (onion, capsicum, mushrooms, celery, carrot) & mince with a Knorr beef stock cube and a carton of passata, salt and pepper. These leftovers will be transformed tonight into a bastardised version of cassoulet by adding cannellini beans and chorizo.

David and his new toy, the MPPT controller this morning. I thought he was easily distractable before this arrived, but now every task is interspersed with multiple checks of the controller.

Ridges and furrows in the sunshine at 6.30am
Peace in the early morning sunshine

We are underway and it has clouded over, so jerseys are on

A sight familiar to almost all narrowboaters is the spire of the church at Braunston.

An early night with a late start this morning, into Braunston, through the locks with a couple of families on a hireboat – that was lots of fun and surprisingly quiet through Braunston – everybody must be at Crick! And then we led the way through the tunnel. Uneventful, no boats coming towards us and it seemed shorter than I remember at just over 1800 metres.

We moored up at 1.30pm-ish well before Norton Junction so there is no traffic or rail noise. David’s heel is sore so we will stay here for the rest of the day and tonight, so he can get ready for the Buckby Locks tomorrow. This is the life - all boating activity over before 2pm! We must be retired.