Thursday, 12 October 2017

The Big Push (Part Three) Claydon to Aston Marina.

Sunday 8th to Thursday 12th October from Claydon to Aston Marina.
A lovely early morning as we entered Claydon Bottom Lock, the first of five Claydon locks.
Curious cows peering over the bridge make excellent gongoozlers!
Unfortunately, at the fourth Claydon lock, R twisted his ankle stepping back into MM having closed the lock gates behind him - so now he has to hop rather than walk! (note from M. - "he's very uncomplaining!").
The light at this time of year has a special quality and, not for the first time, the scenery looked as if it came straight out of a Constable painting.
M's "second son", Scott, lives in nearby Daventry and walked down the towpath from Braunston to meet us.
It was so good to see him again and he travelled up to Braunston with us, where we moored for the night just beside the old toll office where Scott had to leave us.
No overnight stay in Braunston would be complete without a visit to the "Gongoozlers' Café" for breakfast. It was as good as ever and set us up for the day ahead.
The "Master Cutler" steam train from Sheffield to London was sadly axed long ago and the tracks torn up - but a solitary signal gantry remains to remind us of past glories.
Another new marina under construction called "Dunchurch Pools" already had some boats moored in it. This is a very popular area for narrowboats and we wish them well.
Might these two handsome birds keep the pesky Canada Geese under control? We wish!
Because of our late start, courtesy of breakfast at Gongoozlers', it was getting dark as we went through Hawksbury Junction. To our surprise, we saw Arthur on nb "Gordon Bennet" moored there; we last saw him on the Hatton flight, which we did together. He was pleased to see us and came for a chat as we went through the stop lock.
Tuesday was MM's sixth birthday and by mid-morning, we were at Atherstone with its flight of 11 locks. M was thrilled to see nb "Harry" in the top lock and had time to chat with Vicki Blick, who was steering. She and her husband Kevin are both regular contrubutors to Canal Boat Magazine. Vicki writes the cookery column and, like M, cooks on board every day.
We moored for the night at Hopwas and although rain was forecast later on Wednesday, the early morning was clear when we set off.
Soon after doing the two locks at Fradley Junction, we heard from our friends Mel and Peter on nb "Inkling". We knew that they were in the process of moving their boat from Mercia to Aston but had expected them to be ahead of us. We were surprised to find that actually they were behind us. Heavy rain just after Rugeley was a good excuse to moor up and wait for them.
A beautiful sunset followed the rain and the four of us (plus their two dogs) spent a happy early evening on "Inkling" catching up over an excellent glass of Beaune.

The last day of our "Big Push" treated us to a spectacularly colourful sunrise.

We cruised with the two boats together, each boat crew taking it in turns to set each lock for the other. At Colwich Lock, MM was moored up to set the lock for "Inkling".
Our first objective was to have breakfast together at Great Haywood's Canalside Café.
These chaps were cutting back the overhanging branches and afforded us great entertainment when one of them accidentally sprayed one of the others with the stuff coming out of the shredder. Good job that we couldn't hear his language over the shredder's noise!
Finally, Aston Marina. Such a welcome sight.
R backs MM into her mooring after 13 days, 221 miles, 108 locks and 98.4 hours' cruising since we left Guildford.
Peter and Mel sailed past us towards their own new mooring on the other side of the bridge.
R and Guy, our Skipper and Captain, who have successfully bought us "home". Well done, both of them, says M! Couldn't have done it without M, says R!
Five days: 94 miles, 39 locks and 40.2 hours.
This year's Trip: 574 miles, 432 locks and 336.2 hours.
Since MM was launched six years and two days ago: 3,165 miles, 2,210 locks and 2350.2 hours.

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