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Braunston top lock to the pub! (The Admiral Nelson) 4 locks, 1/2 mile!

Exhaust happy, (see previous post if you have no recollection of this latest epic) we plodded down 4 locks to find a lovely mooring just down from the pub.

Spring is finally here! (sorry for sarcasm)

So, no we didn't spend the last few days in said pub, we caught up on much needed painting and fender making, like good little liveaboards.
We had our first delivery from Asda this week, going without a hitch, being unloaded to us on the canal bridge beside our mooring.  (Don't worry, it's not a used bridge, more of an access road)

Trouble is with online ordering, Richard ordered a quiche and it turned up as an Individual Quiche for one, which obviously he wouldn't have ordered, had he been in store.

What I'm trying to say is, it's easy to get some things wrong, when you can't see the packet size in real life!  And, the tray of eggs we bought, turned out to be 30 eggs not a dozen!
Whoops!! So we had omellette for breakfast.....

Things are getting busy on the canal approaching Braunston junction!

The Braunston Historic Boat Rally  is taking place this weekend, so we are hoping to entice a few people ambling to the pub, with our wares!

We will have to see what happens this weekend, then we plan to amble back towards Stoke Bruerne again to meet up with other trader friends and hopefully have a busy few days.

Weedon to Braunston (8 miles, 7 locks)

We keep bumping into old friends and ending up having impromptu banters along our journey with them.  It's great!

Sam and John (Smudge) on Fairies Wear Boots - Morgan the cat tormenting the dogs on the roof of the butty!

All things have to come back to reality, so we said our goodbyes and moored at Whilton for a couple of days and bumped into another friend Matti on appropriately 'Old Friends'!

Loads of ducklings doing well this year!

So we had a barbecue that evening, which was extra tasty, as Matti found a fish in the freezer to go with some other bits.  All very civilised!

Beautiful mural on the side of this boat

Thursday night, Richard's brother collected me and took me to my car at his house, so I could drive to Mum's in Lincolnshire and do some errands.   
Arriving back the next day, Richard and I took the boats up the 7 locks to Norton junction.

Quietly moored at Top lock above Braunston

We decided that the priority would be to get to Midland Chandlers to get a new exhaust box for the big boat, following the nice choking atmosphere created by the existing one!

The now deceased exhaust box, with big crowbar hole in the side of it!

Wow what a job that turned out to be!  Without getting into the specifics of the language used in the removal of aforementioned box, the whole process took ***king hours!!

Hacksawing at the threaded flange

When Richard had got the box off, the flanges on the pipework and the one in the roof still needed to come out so the new exhaust box could simply be screwed back in.

No - that's not going to work.  Need a much bigger hammer....

I would say, it took Richard about 2 hours to get each flange off!  But then

The finished exhaust!

...suddenly it fell out of the roof and the new exhaust fitted in it's place!  Richard would like to comment that no Copperslip had been used in the installation of the original exhaust. So thank you, that marine engineer -  go to the top of the class of numpties!
Richard would also would like to say that he DID use Copperslip in his fitting, so next time the bl@@dy thing needs to come off, it will!!  I tell you what, the water in the bath tonight was black!  

Blisworth to Stoke Bruerne and return to Weedon (14 miles, longggg tunnel x 2!!!)

First of all, please allow me to thank all of you who came to see us at the Stoke Bruerne Gala at the weekend.  We had fab fun, had lots of interest and positive feedback. So thank you!

All that separates Blisworth and Stoke Bruerne is a tunnel.  Not any old tunnel but the third longest in the country at 3076 yards long, opened in 1805, taking almost half an hour to pass through!

Busy and tight navigating at the show!  Good job it wasn't a widebeam!

Arriving at the village, I scooted off to find the Harbourmaster, as instructed by the organisers, and was told we weren't on the list!  Ten minutes later, after several phone calls, I was told that due to a cancellation, they could squeeze us in somewhere.

The Cheese Boat operated by Mike and Gwen

I promptly returned to Richard and the boats waiting just outside the village perimeter and suggested we jump into a gap behind the  The Cheese Boat.  So we did and it was the best thing we did, as later, the organisers told us we were fine to stop there as they had got someone else mixed up with us.  So I was happy in the end.

The calm before the storm.  Stoke Bruerne looking from the locks towards our mooring around the bend.

Thursday evening, we unexpectedly were visited by good friends Jim and Sheila, Islonian moored further down the locks and ended up doing a pub quiz in The Navigation, as you do!  Totally unplanned, but a great laugh.  Yes we did get thrashed, but hey!

Busy busy on the towpath during the show

The weekend arrived, but the weather was terrible, so we didn't bother opening up until after 11am.  But then, everyone arrived!

Much interest and admiration for our little butty shop!

Sunday was much quieter, but still enjoyable despite the rain nearly all afternoon.

Trip Boat was kept busy all weekend

Just 'cos there's a show on, doesn't mean I can stop painting!

That evening, Richard backed the boat to the winding hole at the tunnel entrance to turn around ready for an early morning through the tunnel.

Lovely wildlife everywhere

Looking back towards the winding hole and the tunnel entrance

Reversing started well, but as with any boat which doesn't have the privilege of a bow thruster ('girly button' as Richard calls it!) things rapidly went pear shaped!  So much time later, we turned the boat where the winding hole was and backed back to our mooring, which took ages as the prop walk kept taking us into the offside trees and bushes!

Richard had another trip to Towcester to get supplies and snapped the entrance to Towcester Racecourse. Very grand!

The tunnel was choked up so badly in the morning, that we couldn't see anything in front of the boat really and it was pitch black behind us.  Not nice, especially as Richard hadn't put the splitter on the exhaust (reduces dirt and soot being transferred from the tunnel roof onto the roof of the boat).  Consequently, he looked like a coal man when he emerged into the daylight!

Butty 'Kildare' being towed in the traditional way by a team of dedicated enthusiasts.

We stopped at Gayton Junction to replenish the water and empty the toilet cassettes etc and eventually moored at Weedon again.
I had flicked the bar stool into the water trying to push the tiller over too hard on a particularly congested part of the canal, and had to stand up for the last hour of our journey.  That'll teach me to not look what I'm doing.  I didn't hit the boat I was very close though!
Walking down the towpath during the evening, butty boat Kildare passed by towed by it's horse, led by volunteers, apparently walking to Braunston, where motor boat President is residing.  President and Kildare

Just as they passed us, Smudge (John) and Sam arrived on their boat  Fairies Wear Boots, so another impromptu visit to a pub was totally necessary.......

Weedon Bec to Blisworth (8 miles, no locks!!)

Been killing time at Blisworth for the week, whilst the Gala at Stoke Bruerne approaches next weekend!  Our second 'event'! Stoke Bruerne Gala 2013

A little commission job I completed in between other painting projects

We had a steady plod from Weedon Bec around the corner to Stowe Hill overnight, as we needed to stop anyway for a gas bottle there.

Unfinished or never started projects along the way....

We were way too early for the Gala, but thought we would be able to open the butty shop in between and keep busy getting ready for it in the meantime.

Rugby Boat Sales, Stowe Hill - where many a fine narrowboat awaits a buyer

We thought it would be a bit busier there, but we were wrong, can't seem to get it right this year for busy spots!

Butty (with hydraulic drive! and undercloth conversion) called Lincoln - our neck of the woods!

Further along the canal, there are some superb properties

We set off again, to hopefully moor at Bugbrooke for a couple of days opposite the canalside pub there.

Another lovely old working pair

And then 'ooh look, there's Guy Martin's boat Reckless off the telly!!'

Well that's different!  Another converted old working boat, but this one's got an outboard and a teddy to ward off undesirables!

No room at the inn, so we pressed on and moored at Blisworth.

Lister and Scooby have a charge round as we moor up for the day.

Blisworth has been a lovely mooring and we have met some great boaty people.  It has been a bit quiet for the shop, but we have got lots done for the show and today cycled into Towcester to do a 'big shop'.  What a leg buster that was!  We took a quieter 'scenic' route there (about an hour!), to return, fully loaded, in about half the time by the correct direct route.  Oh well, all the fitter for it we hope!

Crick to Weedon Bec (10 miles, 14 locks)

After much deliberation, on the eve of the Crick Show, we decided to move the boats to Norton Junction for the Bank Holiday.

Moving past the lines of moored boats at the Crick Show

I was really gutted that we couldn't get into the side enough with the butty to open the shop, but it would have been too dangerous for our customers.  The canal was too shallow and moorings nearer the showground were allocated to paying visitors.  Unfortunately, we had decided not to pay the £1.86 per foot per boat (!!) on this occasion.

Narrowboat Dover moored in ABNB's marina - the subject of a tv documentary recently

Approaching Crick Tunnel - 1528 yards long

Out the other end of the tunnel unscathed!

What a beautiful sky!

It was early in the morning, as we rounded the bends to the Watford flight of locks.  There are 7 locks in the flight and a lock keeper on duty, with whom, boaters make themselves known and are guided down (and up!) in an orderly fashion.

The locks are narrowguage, so I took the big boat down, as Richard refilled the locks behind me and bow-hauled the butty in behind.  I had some help from the lock keeper, but operated the paddles and gates where I could.

This one had a proper leak on the gates behind me!  Good job I am not 70 feet long, else i would have got wet!

4 of the locks were in a 'staircase' style, where one goes straight into the next.  Consequently, I remained on the boat whilst the locky, sent me down, sending the water via side ponds and then into the lock below.

Lister and I, operating the bottom lock on our own

View back up to the exit of the staircase section, where Richard is still coming down

I moored the boat below, and refilled the lock, just as Richard was arriving.

Jumping back on the butty, as she leaves the last lock, not always as easy as it looks!

Richard cross lined the boats and we continued our journey to the junction.

Old work boat moored around the corner

What a lovely day!

Norton Junction - right for Braunston, left for London and Leicester behind us

We moored before the top lock of the Buckby Flight which would take us in the London direction, or more specifically Brentford.

Such a picturesque junction with willow trees overhanging the water

Not long after we had moored, friends Matti and Kathy pulled up behind us in their narrowboat 'Old Friends'.

Lister and Kathy cuddling, with Matti and Richard polishing off the beer....

Later, we sampled the delights of the newly re-opened New Inn pub at the top lock and returned fairly early to our respective boats, as some people have to go to work you know!

Me operating the lock as Richard brings the boats through

After a disappointingly quiet weekend, we breasted up the boats ready to negotiate the 7 individual double locks making up the Buckby flight.

Ok, so we're not that special, but we always knew there were others like us out there....

Hilariously named 'Firkham Hall' - sorry about the picture quality

We completed the flight during the morning and continued a chilly sail further down the canal towards Stoke Bruerne, where we are booked in for their Gala weekend Stoke Bruerne Gala 2013 in mid June.

Fire going well!

At the end of May, we found ourselves buying a bag of coal, at great expense (£10 for 25kg house coal!!)  from Whilton Chandlery.  At least Dick Turpin wore a mask!  We used to sell it for £7.50! We had run out of wood as well, and being chilled to the bone is not good!

Mooring at Weedon Bec, we have been able to see Richard's brother and go out in our car back to Lincolnshire for the day.

But today, we are opening the shop, so if anyone is passing, pull in and say 'Hello'!!