Monday 10th to Sunday 16th October 2011

Looking at our diary and the BW stoppage list, including closed sections of canal around Leicester, it has dawned on us that we can no longer follow our preferred route up the Leicester Line to Foxton. There’s no alternative, apart from digging our own canal and filling it in behind us, but to take the long way round the North Oxford and Coventry Canal to the Trent and Soar.

It’s going to be a bit of a slog with little time off so we have set our minds to longish days and started the week by motoring the rest of the Nene, the Northampton flight and a couple of miles of the GU in two days.

Cogenhoe moorings on the Nene were notable, the wind was annoyingly strong when mooring, the cows had spooky eyes in the evening light but the bell ringing was the best we’ve heard all summer.
When these beasts first came into view I thought we were looking at a bull but its dangly bits said otherwise which prompted my question – what was that thing in its nose? Any cow experts out there?
spooky cows

The guillotine gate control cabinet at Billing Lock had been vandalised so I did the decent thing and ‘phoned EA to report it [Incident Report Tfn 0800 807060].

“I’m on a boat and I want to report a damaged control cabinet at Billing Lock on the River Nene”, I said.
“Postcode please” he answered.
“Boats don’t have postcodes” I replied, “I’m talking about Billing Lock”.
“Where’s that?” came the reply.
I tried to explain by referring to Northampton, the villages east of it and the names of the locks between Northampton and Billing Aquadrome.
“I can’t find it” he said.
“Are you looking at a road map”, I asked. “No” he said, “it’s because I’m in Sheffield and don’t know my way around Northampton”.

Oh dear, it took about ten minutes while he scrolled his way around the computer screen ‘til he found it.
Personal details taken, report reference given (I declined to write that down as I was negotiating a lock at the time) and an assurance was given that my call would be acted upon in due course.

But, give him his due he must have sent it to the right person. “This is a common problem near Billing Aquadrome, the kids smash things because they know it winds us up” said the engineer who called me back five minutes later.

Excitement over we progressed without further incident. But I hate to think what that 0800 call cost me on a mobile ‘phone.

Well, I say without incident but V went down with a bad foot. I was cutting up dead trees, as you do, when she dropped a log on her foot instead of on the boat. It swelled up, it hurt, she hopped about and I thought that was it, we’re stuffed as far as getting to Leicester before the closures.

But give her her due she recovered and with lots of rest eg. ‘pickups’ instead of walking on to the next lock she was back to her usual cheery self in a couple of days.

Ever seen pheasants gather on the towpath in the evening and at a moments notice take off into the air and crash into the branches of the offside trees? Must have been thirty of them roosting next to us on Wednesday.

After an hour’s wait at Buckby for a ‘paired boat’ that never materialised we got on our way to Braunston where we caught up with Chas and Ann (Moore 2 Life) and a welcome cuppa.

Chas looked like he was either about to take his morning dive into the canal or we’d caught him saying his prayers.

Braunston is nice this time of year, fairly quiet as boats go and very welcoming, everyone gives a cheery “Hello” and there’s a sense of community that includes visitors like us. I quite like the place out of season.

Some strange wildlife in these parts, either a new species or there was something wrong with this duck.
braunston duck

We passed Valerie on Friday at Newbold but there was no sign of Les and Jaq. Curtains were pulled so we didn’t like to shout.

Also passed Herbie and Free Spirit on the move but most frustratingly there’s no time to talk. This happens a lot on canals particularly when passing linear moorings where you daren’t take your eye off moored boats.

Brinklow Marina came and went, and had we more time it would have been nice to pop in and see who was about (Clarence and Autumn Myst?)

And finally we made it to All Oaks Wood and one of the last mooring spaces beyond the carpark.
All Oaks Wood

Our weekend was peaceful, if you don’t count the 100 or so boats passing by. One took off the paint that I put on a couple of days earlier so I could have saved my time.
Oil change, log chopping and surprise visitors (C&T) filled the remaining hours before we were up and at it again, nose to the water under steadily greying skies.

Monday should see us clear of the North Oxford and put us a fair way up the Coventry Canal.
Chilly evenings herald the end of our summer cruise and a depressing sigh from V as she unpacks last winter’s wardrobe.

Only another four more months before we (ice permitting) shake off hibernation and start pencilling-in our Spring Cruise route to the west. Well that’s one of the plans.