Fri Dec 24 Christmas Eve
Well we finally got to harnser on Friday lunch time. We had planned to be onboard a week earlier but things came up, as they do. I refitted the water pumps and refilled the water system.
We then had a drive down to Gloucestershire to deliver my son and daughter in law's presents, much to my surprise my daughter, grand daughter and son in law were there so that saved my a further hours run with their presents.
Sat Dec 25 Christmas Day
Christmas morning we set off a little after 10 am in glorious sunshine down the flight exchanging pleasantries with a BW man and meeting 1 boat in the bottom pound. We met a second boat on the GU and moored for the night at Flecknoe. Work is really pushing on at the new marina at Wigrams, the service block has been built and so has the entrance channel with a dam across it, trenches have been dug for the retaining walls right into the canal. I wonder how long it will be before its in water? We moored for our Christmas dinner in the middle of nowhere, between the Puddle Banks and Wigrams.
Sun 26 Dec Boxing Day
We woke far to early to a very frosty morning, by 9 am the sun was up making it a brilliant day. We set off at 10 and saw several boats on the move before reaching Braunston. In places there was ice on the cut but the majority was clear water. Braunston locks were all in our favour and the shop at the bottom lock was open so we were able to buy some matches and fire lighters. The third from top lock was half full as was the top lock, it would have been a much easier run it the norm was to leave gates open when you leave. As we approached Braunston tunnel the air inside was so clear I could see the far end, not a very common sight. We pushed on to Buckby Top Lock and filled with water, as my daughter and family were calling in to see us we decided to moor just short of the water point, but as we intend to go to Crick tomorrow we reversed down to the junction, winded and then reversed back to the mooring to wait for them.
Mon 27 Dec 04
We woke early again, it was bright moon light all night with a very hard frost. I crawled out at about 7 to make the porridge and the moon was still high in the sky. The canal was frozen over with about half an inch of ice. By the time we set off at 10 it was bright sun shine but very cold. We broke ice all the way to Watford lock up the Leicester Arm where we met a boat coming down. In the top lock I stepped onboard to knock Harnser out of gear and as I reached forward to pull the leaver back my back went out. Di took over steering and I popped a couple of pills down my throat. We were lucky to find a spot in Crick as all the moorings opposite the marina have been turned over to winter permit moorings to stop for lunch. After lunch we pushed on to wind at bridge 28 and moored for the night around 4 pm. By then the weather had started to change, the clouds were gathering and the wind was picking up.
Tue 28 Dec 04
It was nice to find that the weather this morning was much improved on last night. Today the sun was shining again, last night it blew and rained.
We set off at 10 and by 11 it had turned much colder with frost forming on the towpath grass and a biting wind starting to freshen but it still stayed dry all day. We met a few boats about in the morning but not many. As we passed The Thai Garden restaurant and pub I noticed that their moorings had collapsed only leaving room for a 40 foot boat to moor.
When we arrived at the Watford Flight there were 3 boats going down in front of us, unfortunately 2 of them were going the same way as us to Stoke Bruerne so we would have to follow them down the Buckby flight. The Buckby flight turned out much better than expected as although we were travelling alone and following 2 other boats we met boats coming the other way in most convenient places. We moored for the night just after 4 pm opposite Whilton Marina.
Wed 29 Dec 04
We had a surprisingly peaceful night when you consider the M1 is on the port, the railway on the starboard and the lock with water topping the gate directly behind us, in addition to this there was the odd plane going overhead. We set off around 10 and found that there was still a bit of ice about. The new road bridge that crosses both the railway and the canal is coming on at quite a pace. The section over the railway is just a flat deck, but they have gone to the trouble of building an arch over the canal.
We knew that Draco and Thorn would be stopping at Arm End to take on water and do loos etc, sure enough as we approached the arm they were about to set off, we could have done with taking water ourselves but as there was another boat waiting at the water point we pushed on. Just prior to Blisworth tunnel we ran into a drop of rain, nothing much, just a few spots on the roof. In the tunnel I came up behind another boat that was going so slow that I was on tickover or in neutral so as not to run up the back of him, by the time we got to the end of the tunnel there was a convoy of 6 of us, when we entered I couldn't see another boat in any direction.
We moored for the weekend up against Julian's bow, this was after David on "Grange" had pulled forward a couple of yards to let us in. Draco and Thorn moored just by the winding hole and when John arrived on Black pig he came along side us.
Sun 2 Jan 05
Today was set off home day, we went down to the top of the locks to fill our water tank yesterday so we were now facing the tunnel mouth ready for the off. We had arranged with Connie and Guy for a 9am start and as we slipped our mooring he was already turning Thorn and Persephone ready to depart. I slipped past him as he completed the turn and lead the way to Arm end where top up the water while we waited for his arrival, as soon as his water tank was full we were off. It was a glorious sunny, clear day with a biting cold wind. We past several fishing matches, most of the anglers responded to a greeting but a few just stared at their keep nets and one even complained that there were to many boats about.
We arrived at the bottom of Whilton lock around 2 pm and as the weather was so good decided to do the flight, by the time we entered Buckby top it was getting dark. It was here that we discovered all the mooring spaces above the lock were taken so we breasted all three boats and reversed back out of the lock to spend the night moored in the top pound. By this time it was dark and we moored by torch light. about 6 pm and well dark John and Kate on Black Pig pulled in to moor behind us. Connie and Guy came onboard for dinner bringing it with them, we supplied the seating, wine etc. After we had finished eating we heard noises outside and found a Scotty type dog on our deck, note we were moored on the outside of Thorn. He had a collar with disk on so we rang his owners to see if he had gone missing. He had and the young lady said she would get her parents to come and pick him up. Half an hour later there was still no sign of them so I rang again to be greeted by "well I rang them and told them so I will ring them again" ten minutes later two people with a piece of string turned up and took Scotty away. It turned out he had also had a guided tour of the Black Pig when they opened the door to see what the noise was.
Mon 3 Jan 05
We set off about 9-45 in pleasant sunshine, there was still no sign of life on the Black Pig as we headed up Buckby Lock. The weather started to deteriorate with it turning colder and the sky's clouding up. At Braunston locks a local boater who had helped work a friend up very kindle assisted us on our downward journey until he reached his boat moored outside the Nelson. He told us that the Nelson now had new management but was still owned by the same people, so we will give it a look some time.
At Braunston, after a stop for soup, Connie and Diana jumped ship to do a car shuffle. As we left Braunston just beyond the Puddle Banks I spotted an Owl zooming around on the off side. By the time I had picked up the camera he had decided to take a rest on one of the fence posts. Connie rejoined Guy at Flecknoe and Diana met me at the Bridge Inn. The weather had deteriorated slightly with very over cast sky's and by 4pm it was getting dark, so we decided to moor at the bottom of the Napton Flight overnight. Over the past week I have only see the price of diesel displayed at 2 places, Whilton Marina at 45p and Fred Tarry for 38p, you can probably guess where I filled up
Tue 4 Jan 05
I was quite windy and warm this morning, As I lay in bed I heard the ex working boat that was in front of us start his engine to go up the flight. We set off about 10 and were surprised to find the first 4 locks empty but no boats had come down since the working boat went up. At the next lock we met the working boat coming down again. We carried on up the flight with the locks still in our favour, even if they had leaked a bit. As we approached the top lock it started to rain, it normally does as we come up the flight. We moored just beyond the lock mooring to unload the boat into the car, we then moved over to our moorings where I pumped the fresh water system dry before we left the boat and headed home.