Friday, 30 September 2011

Norton Junction Mooring

Very smugly moored! We will be here for a while, while Pete keeps locks.

The queue for Braunston flight

Restrictions or not, there is generally a queue for Braunston. It's always a hoot, as Braunston Canal Carriers are based just below the bottom lock, to the right in this pic. Opposite them is a significant working boat yard and Chandlery, and at the lock is Lock Stores, where we've bought three of our oil lamps let alone a number of ice creams. So it's busy most of the time!

Queueing means walking the boat forward, one foot on Bella's gunwhales and one on a hire boat's gunwhale, and tying our bow and stern lines where we can - on one or two boats! We step over the hire boats to hop up to the lock shop for the ice creams....

Waiting in the top lock

We had such lovely lock partners today as we ascended the six Braunston locks. They were taking their boat to Brokerage in Wilton (in no hurry) and were happy careful boaters. It is always good to double up, bit even better to double up with cheerful people.

Braunston top lock

Just a visual reminder. This is our lock life! We love it.

Solar lit tunnel

This made us giggle today in the Braunston tunnel. Mind you, we usually sing in the tunnel and today there were excellent renditions of The Sailormen's Alphabet, Bless The Lord and Just One Cornetto. But when not singing, we giggled at our solar lamp. We bought three at the end of summer sale, wanting a warm glow to walk Josie around the boat on dark evenings. Until our latest outing, they've been on spikes in our bank side potted plants, but we decided to leave most plants behind for this short jaunt. So we put this one in the roof lettuce. And hey presto, tunnel light!

(that took rather a lot of words..)

Stunning day

It was an amazing day today. It is hard to know if we should be worried. We've just heard that it's been the hottest September day on record in England. This may be the way life is now, but who really knows? It's glorious, but the other down side is that this dry sunshine is no way to fill the canals. The reservoirs are already drying and it's the restrictions which mean Pete has to lock keep, managing the use of water quite carefully.

But - we could get used to this!

Opportunity beckons

On the way between Braunston tunnel and Norton Junction, we passed this unexpected site. Clearly the water is shallower than usual and these cows worked their way under the fence and into the water. They looked perfectly relaxed as we passed!

Shadow tillerman and photographer

We just liked this - the fabulous long shadows of autumn days!

Tonight's moorings

We're just approaching tonight's moorings at Norton Junction, where the Grand Union Leicester arm juts north from the main GUC. At the top left of the picture, you can see the boats moored on the arm. We are now at the first mooring before the bridge and on Sunday morning, will use the arm to turn around. Tomorrow, Pete lock keeps the Buckby flight, just around the corner - whilst Elizabeth does a deep clean!

It has been a sunny stunning day, unseasonably warm for Autumn and the journey from Braunston glorious.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Beer cupboard complete

Here we are, a few hours after mooring, with our new beer cupboard. We had all the stuff in our DIY cupboards, so it was just a matter of sawing and sanding. Great fun! We only realised the solution to this gap yesterday. We've spent four years wondering, from rolling out shelving, to a ladder with drawers pushed in sideways, to, well anything. Finally we realised all we needed was a door. So we made it :-)

North of Willoughby

A glorious morning. Today we face an arduous journey from bridge 84 to bridge 89 followed by an afternoon of DIY to stop the beer falling over should we bump anything

Our morning visitors

Here is an unusually large family of swans, hoping for some breakfast. This family has five cygnets. Generally by now, most cygnets will have become food for foxes or herons, so it is lovely to see them. However, they won't soften us enough to feed them. If we did, they'd bully us by banging on the boat sides and windows until they were satisfied, then if they don't get enough, they hiss horribly. We have learnt to ignore them at best and send them away if needs be. We do this by putting an umbrella out the side hatch and quickly opening and closing it. Our wings are bigger than theirs.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A short hop to volunteer

<p>Ah, what a wonderful summery Autumn. We're on the cut, heading south, working our way to the Buckby flight of locks for Pete to volunteer as Lock Keeper for! He's been working Hillmorton on weekends in September, though we had planned to be in Stoke Bruerne for the volunteering there. The water levels have been so low that lock keepers have been needed at most of the flights to make sure boaters share locks when they can and if at all possible, don't go into a lock unless someone is coming out of it - therby saving more than 80 tonnes of water (per boat).

We have an unusually warm week ahead, 25 today and no lower than
13 tonight and all this anticipated for a small while. So we were so itching to get out! We worked our socks off this morning, pulled into the maintenance point for diesel around 3 this afternoon and enjoyed moving home! A glorious day and we're now moored up at what we call North Willoughby moorings, a few miles north of Braunston. Homemade tomato parmesan bread and veg soup happily await.


Monday, 26 September 2011

Jules' first visit of the season

Here's Towcester, with Jules at the helm, backing into the cut after having dropped off our first big coal delivery of the autumn/winter. Our neighbours collected theirs as well and by the time of this picture, Towcester was a tonne lighter!