We left Tunbridge Wells at 8-30 on Sunday morning. The weather was not as good as it has been recently with a bit of cloud about. The roads weren't to bad but still a fair bit of traffic on the M25. At one time there were 5 Landrovers together on the M25, two Discoveries in front and three Rangerovers abreast in all three lanes. We turned West on the M40 and ran into the rain. The skies all round were very black but soon started to improve. We carried on past the Banbury turn to the next exit to stay clear of the traffic leaving Cropredy. We arrived at the moorings just before 11 am. and after a few pleasantries with the other moorers we were on our way down the flight.
We had to wait for a boat going down and one coming up before we could get into the first lock and this gave us time to unload the car into the boat. We met boats all the way down the flight one of them being "The Rosery" with Paul & Janine on board. At the bottom lock there was a group of boaters waiting to come up. Diana closed the top gate as soon as I entered and I went forward and wound up the offside paddle, the lady on the towing path side put her windless on and then just stood there. She then explained that the BW chap who was there told her that you should open one gate and wait until the lock is half empty before lifting the other. However when I said I wanted it up she obliged. The GU from Wigrams Turn to Braunston was very busy and just before the Puddle Banks we caught up with a slow boat "Mr. Plod" however as we passed moored boats I slowed more than them so it didn't hold us up much. Braunston was very quiet with loads of moorings but we had decided to go on a bit more. At the Bottom Lock there sat "Mr. Plod" waiting for two boats to come out. We shared all the locks with them again meeting boats coming down saving a lot of work. It turned out they didn't own "Mr. Plod" but were moving her for the new owner who bought her to see if she likes it! before buying a larger boat to live on. "Mr. Plod" is fitted with a single cylinder Saab engine that ticked over like a sewing machine, the only problem being that you needed to start winding it up 30 seconds before you needed it as it has such a large flywheel. We met quite a few boats in Braunston Tunnel, one of them being "Slow Motion" I'm sure some of you will remember her. We moored for the night about half way between the tunnel and the junction where its a bit more open with a hope of watching the fireworks tonight. I found out why mooring in the Braunston lock flight is so popular, after speaking to a Hudson Owner it seems that the flight has a good TV reception. Maybe it's a Hudson thing.
I didn't find last nights meteor storm that impressive but I did have one go just in front of me as I walked the dog that made me jump, however we did have a very good, bright, sighting of the International Space Station as it flew overhead. This morning we set off in bright sunshine and made our way to the Watford flight where we were the second in the queue but we had to wait
for 3 boats to come down before we could start our trip up. Speaking to the last boat coming down it appearers that there were boats waiting over two hours yesterday. Somewhere in the flight we picked up something on the prop, this didn't make its self known until we left the flight. A bit of hard astern followed by forward seamed to improve things so we carried on to "Edward’s" at Crick to fill with water where I delved down the hatch. What came up after a few minutes work with the hook was a pair of plastic sausages on a piece of rope with faces on them. I think it was probably a dogs toy. Diana finished the water about the same time as I
replaced the weed hatch cover so we were soon on our way again. The canal was much quieter today but I would estimate we still met over 25 boats in the course of the day. BW have large buoys in place on the offside at bridge 32 where the whole face has virtually falling off. I think they will defiantly require a stoppage to rebuild it. We moored for the night at 1730 hr. against the concrete edging that BW have very thoughtfully put mooring rings into for about 4 narrowboats but the would have had room to put them in for about 10.
Yesterday evening was very pleasant and we were able to watch the gliders being towed up by a light plane before being released some way south to make their own way back to their starting point. During the afternoon this journey took them some time as they turned and climbed in the thermals but as the evening progress their flight became much shorter until about 8-45 when the last on virtually flew straight back after being releases with rapidly failing light. This morning we woke to the promised rain and the barometer had dropped back to 985 so we decided to go no where fast but started the engine to recharge the batteries and enable Diana to make a fresh loaf of bread in the Bread Maker. We finally pushed off just before 12 o'clock when the rain eased to a drizzle. By the time we were at the actual junction with the Welford arm, about 250 yds. the rain had good as stopped so we reverted to an earlier plan to go to Foxton. We met quite a few boats on the way and when we arrived at the locks the boat that had moored in front of us last night had just gone in the top lock and the lock keeper said we could follow. This meant we were down the flight at 3-30 and moored outside "The Locks" pub. I thought I better go in and check the beer was OK to find they had 6 cask ales on and a couple of pints cost us £5-10, less than we have been paying but 15p/pint more than across the cut at "Bridge 61". We have decided to stay here for the night and eat in The Locks with Guy and Connie who will be joining us by car later this evening. Overall I don't think BW have made a bad job of this pub, however how much is due to the competition across the cut is hard to say. It would be nice if all BW pubs were Wifi hot spots.
Last night Guy and Connie came over by car and we all ate in "The Locks" pub. I must say it may be BW owned but I couldn't knock it. The service was first class, the portion size was good and they were very accommodating when we wanted to deviate from the menu choices. This morning I took the dog out just before 9 am and walked up the flight where I met the lock keeper coming down and a descending boat entering the last lock. I had a word with the locky and booked us in, we would be third going up as soon as this boat cleared the flight. I finished a short walk with the dog, half way up the flight and we pushed off from the pub moorings just as the first boat going up had shut the bottom gates and we were on our way up by 9-15. The weather forecast was right about heavy showers, we certainly had some of them as we made our way along the summit. Again we probably met 15 to 20 boats in the course of the day including a hotel pair , Snipe and her butty, in Crick tunnel. When we entered the tunnel it was tipping it down, but by the time we left it had stopped so we were undecided whether to go down the Watford flight tonight, however it started to rain hard again so we thought it best to moor for the night and go down in the morning. We had several attempts at getting against the bank to moor but it wasn't until the forth go we found a spot deep enough to get in. We can hear the M1 in the distance over the fields but with the doors shut tonight I don't think it will effect us. I have seen a phenomena this week that I have witnessed before but never as often. Fish for some reason have swam very fast breaking the surface and skimming over the water, these looked like bream up to about 4" long. One of them shot out from the bank and skimmed right into the side of the boat, this was probably the largest one we saw. I have seen small fish break the surface when a large perch or pike has come up below them and also the odd one skim away but this week I have seen probably 15-20 of them.
We set off at 8-30 just after the narrowboat "Pilot" had gone past. When we arrived at the top of the Watford flight another boat "Free Spirit" was just entering the top lock, Diana had a word with the lock keeper and we followed them in. There was no one waiting to come up and the first boat we met was at 10 o'clock. We met lots of boats in Braunston tunnel and when we arrived at Braunston Top lock we had to join a queue. We finally went down with "Free Spirit" meeting boats in every lock, the last 5 were all single boats, goodness knows why they didn't wait for each other. Just as we left the bottom lock it started to rain, this was quite heavy but didn't last long and by the time we had taken water by the Stop House it had stopped. We met Dave and Jane on "Willy no Name" just before Napton Narrowboats. The moorings by The Bridge Inn were all full but there were quite a few spaces by The Folly Inn. We met a boat who had just entered the bottom lock coming down and he was the first of many, in some pounds there were 3 boats waiting to come down and Diana had to stop them turning the locks. We arrived at our moorings at 1800 and there were still boats arriving
to go down.