Sunday 19th to Friday 24th June 2011
Today were off south, retracing our steps to Gayton. At Nether Heyford we passed what looks like an archaeological dig on the hill, not far from the old Roman Road. The other day the dig area was littered with people on their knees and although V thought shed spotted Phil Harding I could see no sign of Time Teams distinctive Landrover.
We shall see, perhaps one day theyll put this site on the tele along with its narrowboat backdrop.
From our temporary overnight stop we were able to hit Gaytons night-soil centre before anyone was up. But no matter how early you get going theres always someone who beats you to the locks and this time it was nb.NoProbs. No, not No Problem but nice guys, like Sue and Vic, and they read the Blog so we know our readership is on the way to double figures.
We were doing so well until we met with an empty pound below lock 5. Being first boat through, or so we thought, we passed a message to BW while we set about shifting the problem by stealing water from behind us.
We later received a call with an apology for being in a meeting. No need for apologies Alex, its a Monday morning and weve all been there, why they always pick Monday morning for meetings Ill never know, it was the same with many jobs Ive had. Desperate customers always called first thing on Mondays and it took a clever switchboard operator to hold calls until we spilled out of the boardroom. You can tell how long ago I worked in an office cant you, we had switchboards !!
As we approached our last lock of the Northampton flight we were met by old friends Eddie (G3ZJO) and Sue. Havent seen them for a couple of years so it was nice to catch-up on news especially the experimental electronics stuff. Thanks for the cake Sue (wonderful chocolate cake) and the RadComs, plenty of quiet evenings ahead I hope.
What with the water shortages earlier in the day we hadnt broken any records getting to Weston Favell. But the weather was kind enough to get in a really quick BBQ and we joined the two other boats with an early night.
Tuesday and Wednesday
An early start again but beaten by our neighbours, we didnt even hear them go.
Oundle Mill next to Upper Barnwell Lock has taken the restaurant of the year 2010/11 award. The sign says Winner of Food & Drink awards 2010/11 and still we havent seen the insides of the building. Would they appreciate boaters clobber I wonder.
Two halves and a packet of crisps please, were in a hurry to get off the river before water levels rise.
Talking of water levels, despite heavy rain a couple of nights last week and a proper downpour after yesterdays BBQ the water levels are low. Abstraction is evident where land is given over to veggies but Ill bet no one is counting the cow effect.
Some bright spark has estimated how much gas is produced by all the cows in the world but it wouldnt surprise me if there were figures for how much water they pinch from our rivers.
Two things remain in my memory for Ashton Lock.
Firstly, it was the place I picked up a couple of Jack Hargreaves books from the waterways travelling man who was downsizing and sorting his stuff between showers.
Secondly it was the place I did damage to the tunnel light by trying to juggle three balls (impossible for a bloke) which ended with me running the boat into the guillotine gate before it was out of the way.
Fortunately the Hargreaves books were good enough to distract me from the pain of having to straighten the brasswork.
Simple, stick the new bit on the stern.
What would you use that back deck for? Christmas parties, family weddings, fishing competitions, or just somewhere to keep the gas, there are so many uses for a double stern. When the licence renewal form asks for the distance between bow and stern youll have a choice of answers.
Wansford moorings were chocka so we stopped on the bank-side, like the old days. We did alright for bunny rabbit entertainment outside the galley porthole and steam engine showings outside the chain locker. Engine 44422 made a timely river crossing while the camera was within reach.
Wansford to Perterbro by early afternoon, thats just 2 1/2 days from the outskirts of Northampton, not bad but could be improved.
V desperately needed retail therapy so took off for the shops to chill out. Shed seen enough of locks, waterproof trousers and probably me.
Were hanging a right after the park and doing the Middle Levels next. No stress, just a calm 4 to 5mph wander along the Old Nene, the lodes and the drains.
The lock passage is pretty painless unless of course you do what I did and stroke the ginger cat. He loves hands and if youre not quick hell show you what colour your blood is. Coming from a cat family I am used to it so I enjoyed the scrap and it cheered me to know hed done the same with his owner.
Looking ahead to the journey across the Levels Im already thinking about that nasty little corner in Whittlesey with peoples faces on the wall above and perhaps a little name calling like ditch crawlers which is very appropriate.
Our summer cruise has started and were looking forward to cruising clean water, feeding the roach and perch and perhaps wrestling the odd eel for excitement.
That reminds me, we need a rod licence.