Thursday, 8 July 2010

Braunston and back the long way

I know this is a bit after the event but we've been just a little busy of late and time seems to have scooted on without us.
Anyway, the trip to the Braunston annual get together for ex-working boats and this year, boats still earning a living such as, Roach, Archimedes, and Ayr.
We set of late, as usual, this been due to work commitments. It was Wednesday night 6:00 when we finally got away. We decided to try and catch up with one or two boats that had passed Fradley earlier, so that meant motoring on into the night, which on a clear summer night is really good.
While ascending the Glascote Locks, someone in the Flats adjacent took exception to us going through the locks at about 10:00. Well, tough s h 1 t, go and live somewhere else. probably a good job I'm deaf and didn't hear it all, otherwise there could have been a debate on canal history. Not being put off any, we pressed on and passed the Samual Barlow about midnight and to our surprise quite few a boats were all tied up in the wharf. So, sneaked passed (sneaked...that's a joke) and decided to tie up at the bottom of Atherstone Locks at 1:45am.
The following morning, 6:00 we're off up the locks and it's not long before we're meeting other boats, must all be early risers too. After a bit of a bumpy ride at the top of Atherstone and through Rugby we arrived at Braunston around 8:00pm and went directly to the beer tent.
Friday morning we pushed open the back cabin doors to see everybody doing their brasses and mopping the cabin tops. Not wanting to be out dazzled I thought I better get some cleaning done.
I got out our new big tin of Brasso, took of the lid and promptly spilt a quarter of it on the cabin top, (insert various swear words here) after a frantic mopping up session and dowsing everything that was brass, I finally got a shine on the brassy bits and the not so brassy bits.
I didn't bother taking any photos, you've seen plenty before I'm sure so I did a bit of video instead.... the music you can hear is our wind up gramophone playing Glen Miller's "Who's Sorry now". I did quite a few to different tunes and put one or two on Youtube for a laugh.
We weren't planning to do the procession this year due to the total chaos of previous years, however, having the new engine and the Cratch up we thought we'd go and show off. As we set off some friends shouted out to hitch a lift, these were customers of mine from years ago (Sea Otter days) I built their boat called "Marrionette" It's still going strong and they still love it, one of my few successes. After the long drag Mike and Marrion treat us to a couple of pints in the beer tent. While at Braunston we met up with Martin and Sam off Kestral and Vienna so they could measure up for Dove's new cloths. They are just starting up in business so we thought we'd give them a chance, keep it on the cut and all that.
About 3ish we made a move and set off up the Braunston locks with the plan to go the Leicester way home. We stayed over night at Norton junction along with John and Jenny Jackson and a couple of other coal boat people we know by sight but not to talk to.
The following morning, up bright and early, and off to Watford. Dove's never been up this end before and it's a long time since we've been up this way too, so we've forgot most of it. Had really slow start up watford, three boats coming down first, seamed to take ages. The lock keeper just said "looks like you know what you're doing, I'll leave you to it." We got to the top no problems and motored on to Foxton. Not much to say on here really, it's, err, green, just endless green.
We did have one little episode, when we caught up with a boat who wasn't that comfortable with us up his rear and I think he was looking for the Welford arm, because he made a hand signal to turn right. But, went into a winding hole, then emergency stop. We just went on by and left him to it.
On arriving at the top of Foxton the lock keeper waved us straight in and left us to it Saying "ya know what to do, don't ya." I think everybody does now days "red before white and you'll be alright" as Mike and Christel used to say. At the bottom we were met by a very loud group of beer slerpers, Lucy Tucker and her Mum & Dad, Dave Ray and Sue Cawson, they'd been in the Bridge 61 all afternoon and were quite a few pints in front of us. We tied up against Dave's boat "Ant" and joined them for a few more. Dave was having a spot of bother with his motor, a Gardner 5LW, it turned out to be lift pump problems. We tried alsorts to get it going but failed, so after Lucy made a group chilly with everything we had between us, we all went back to the Bridge 61. to make a plan to get Dave home.

Desending the Foxton flight

Next day we awoke to Dave clattering and banging about still trying to get going, but it was no go. He finally had to phone for help and buy a new lift pump so we left them to it and we went for a walk around the plane and looked in the museum. At about dinner time we set off towards Leicester, yet more green stuff, we just plodded on putting the world to rights and wondering where to tie up for the night. Ho! and I lost my Neil windlass in Kibworth lock, dam! blast! after an extensive search, no luck, it's gone for ever. We had to press on as we needed some provisions, so Andrea said she'd like to get to South Wigston as there was a shop close by to bridge 92. It didn't look to be a good place to stop the night, in fact we couldn't even get in the edge. So Andrea got off in the bridge hole and I waited there while she nipped to the shops. After about 30 minuets I was getting a little concerned, so I thought I'd phone her, as I waited for an answer I could hear her phone ringing, in the boat! Not knowing what to do for the best I climbed up the bridge, taking the back rail line with me to see if I could see her or the shops. I finished up stood in the middle of a busy road holding a piece of rope, this must have looked very perculiar to passers by. I did ask one lady where the shops were, she replied, " just up that path and on the right" so where's Andrea? It's been an hour now and I'm getting ready to phone the police and she comes trundling down the road loaded down with shopping. Andrea didn't know about the Path and had walked for miles round the road. We now carried on a while and tied up at the top of Dunns lock with a couple of other boats.
In the morining we attacked Leicester and everything is going well until North Lock. We came out of the lock and sat firmly on a pile of breeze blocks in the shallow water. We pulled it, tugged it, rocked it and flushed it, stuck solid. I noticed the water level was falling more and more. After consulting the map, it was a pound with no river feed like all the others, so boats in front at the next lock were using all the water. After a while the plan was, Andrea would drop a Lock full and I would pull on the line at the same time and hope that at some point one of us could get back on the boat. Thankfully the plan worked and we were on our way, after the next lock we're back in deeper water and we're scooting along nicely. At Barrow Deep lock and it is deep! we exit to a brand new lock landing. Due to the design of the lock I had to the landing to collect Andrea, to my amazement I was bouncing over rubble, I came to rest in a hollow, I couldn't go forward or backwards, not even sideways. A chap came across from the moorings on the other side to give us a push but, there was no way out. So, we were back to the flushing plan, Andrea went to fill the lock then let it go as me and the helping hand pulled on a line. We just scraped out and I made a jump for the boat, Andrea caught up and got on at the next bridge. We were trying to get to Zouch for the night and thinking nothing else could go wrong. Then we got to Bishops Meadow Lock! As we're going down I'm thinking this is a bit short, as the bow is on the bottom gate and I'm not far from the top gate. At the bottom we found you can't open the gate, not even with all the fenders up. We discovered the only way out is to open the opposite gate then slide across. So, how did they go on with a working pair. They must have gone down single. We got to Zouch that night, quite early too. had tea on the bank and wandered round to the pub for a drink or two.
Next day we're off down the Soar the flood locks were open, so we're straight through no problems. Next is the juntion with the Trent, the wind is blowing a touch, so I wind up the motor and we're off round, what a piece of cake, wind the motor up to full chat and it's off . Arriving at Sawley Lock we caught a boat up and went in together, well neally together, I don't think he wanted us to scrach his boat. We then made our way to Shardlow and spent night with The Trouts. We've done the BCN Challenge, now we've done the Leicester Challenge.

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