Monday, 16 May 2016

Jon and Panutcha's Anniversary Trip.

Monday 16th May, 2016 around Braunston.
What a marvellous day the four of us had! We awoke to a sunny morning (hooray!) with a trace of mist lingering on the water.
We had promised Jon and Panutcha that we would start their anniversary day with one of R's "Smiley Breakfasts" on board. Smiles all round!
We set off soon after. Jon was excited at the prospect of being back on the water again and Panutcha, who comes from Thailand, was looking forward to her first ever experience of those colourful, eccentric, idiosyncratic English narrowboats.
She was game to try her hand at the locks and by the third lock beside the Admiral Nelson pub, she was already getting the hang of it, under the watchful eye of Jon.
M, who was on foot, waved MM off as she disappeared into the 2,042 yard Braunston Tunnel.
On the far side of the tunnel, Panutcha took the tiller and did very well. She soon got used to the way that MM reacted. Halfway to Norton Junction, Jon took over; he skilfully turned MM at the junction and took her back towards the tunnel. On the way back, we picked up M, who was still walking the towpath, happily dawdling along listening to the birds and collecting flowers.
Before going back into the tunnel, M and Pantcha got off to walk over the top. It is an absolutely beautiful walk along the former horse path. Panutcha was enchanted by the Northamptonshire countryside and particularly with the large field of rape by the path. She said that she had never been that close to a colourful field like that before.
There was no one around and the only sound was birdsong - skylarks, yellowhammers and this handsome chappie, a goldfinch, chirping  merrily from the hedge beside the path.
Over the top of the hill there were lovely views of Braunston in the distance.
Jon continued to steer MM through the tunnel and, having picked up M and Panutcha on the far side, Jon took MM down through the six Braunston Locks, thus giving R the rare treat of being able to walk the towpath and do the locks. Jon seemed quite pleased with his own progress.
Beside the top lock, M got talking to the owner of "Top Lock Cottage" who was outside cleaning the fence because the house is for sale. It has three acres of land, which makes it too expensive for us - but otherwise we might have been sorely tempted.
By the bottom lock is a small shop that sells canal memorabilia as well as ice creams, and after doing twelve locks (and the tunnel twice) we decided that we all deserved an ice cream!
Back at Braunston, we moored up again only to find that in the opposite bank was a fox's den with a cub's face peering out, watching us attentively.
Later, in the evening, we took Jon and Panutcha to dinner back at the Admiral Nelson beside Lock 3.
It was a brilliant day and they both appeared to enjoy it so much. Jon was able to relive the old days and Panutcha was so enthusiastic about everything. They were both a delight to be with and we will have the happiest recollections of their visit.
Today: 8 miles and 12 locks, 4.5 hours.
Trip: 81 miles, 36 locks and 51.9 hours.

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