Sunday, 22 May 2016

Cheese, Aground and a Change of Plan.

Sunday 22nd May, 2016 at Norton Junction.
By chance, we had moored last night in front of the "Cheese Boat", skippered by Mike. We've bought cheese from him before and luckily he had a stock of R's favourite - the ginger spice cheese from the Snowdonia Cheese Co.
R set off east through Braunston tunnel while M walked over the top, always looking wistfully backwards, sad to be leaving lovely Braunston.
Along the way, she found the first wild rose of the summer. So lovely.
Due to M's customary dawdling, R was already through the tunnel and waiting patiently for M to arrive!
Halfway to Norton Junction, MM ran well and truly aground. No amount of rocking and heaving on the long pole had any effect. The bow was free but the stern seemed to be sitting on a rock.
Even recruiting the help of a passing walker, MM would not budge an inch.
R tried to pull her off with a block and tackle but without success. Eventually a passing hire boat, nb "Eloise", gave us a tow and managed to pull MM off the obstacle and free her at last. The whole process took us at least thirty minutes.
The canal is lined by natural wild flowers of all descriptions - this, however, is a garden escapee.
We found a mooring just before Norton Junction, with lovely far-reaching views over the fields.
Blue tits were nesting in a tiny hole in the tree next to us and flying in and out to feed their young.
Our plan had been to go down the Grand Union Canal to Stoke Bruerne (down 7 locks and about 15 miles) and back, before going up to Crick for the IWA show next weekend; however, we heard that the flight of 7 Buckby Locks was closed due to a broken gate on the second lock down.
We walked along to investigate and found that the top gate on Lock 8 was lying on its side.
It appears that the owner of the narrowboat on that side, while in the lock, had gone below to make a cup of tea. The boat had drifted forwards and as the lock filled and the boat rose, the bow got caught under the gate and lifted it off its hinges. This has not gone down well with the Canal & River Trust chaps, who now have to work against the clock to repair the gate so that all those boats stuck south of the flight can make it to their reserved moorings at the Crick Boat Show next weekend.
It is expected to take three of four days to fix, so we have had to change our plans and just take it easy for a few days before going up to the show.
On the way back to MM, we admired this house with an old railway signal set to "Go" in its back garden. M says she wants one like it! We also admired the old-fashioned street lamp.  And, believe it or not, the garden also had a red letter box!  Marvellous!
So, we had a quiet afternoon and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset with the silhouette of a cow reflected in the water.

Just when we thought that it couldn't get any better, the sunset set the horizon on fire. This has to be one of the most spectacular sunsets that we have seen.
Today: 3 miles, 0 locks and 2.9 hours.
Trip: 85 miles, 42 locks and 71.3 hours.

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