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Old Linslade, Leighton Buzzard to Fenny Stratford again (12 miles, 7 locks)

Thank you to everyone who came to see us at the Linslade festival.  We had a lovely day with the butty shop open and managed to walk around and see the other attractions.

Another project off the list.  This huge bread bin took me nearly all week!

After a busy week visiting family (youngest son's 21st) and then having the company of our eldest on the butty for a couple of days, we set off for the festival a few miles further on.

How's this for mooring outside your house?  Your own private gated marina!

Coming up through Leighton lock, we stopped off at the canalside Tesco and stocked up properly, especially heavy things like beer....

Kath and Odin with their boat Sickle  Sickle and Chalice

Unfortunately, we forgot to take pictures of the festival, but if you can imagine a packed towpath and an adjoining waterpark with lots of stalls, you'll get the picture!

If you enlarge this picture, you'll see the small gap left for boaters to navigate around the hire boat company! Actually this wasn't as tight as on the way to the show!

At about 5.15pm it started to spit with rain, so we did quite well considering the awful forecast for most of the afternoon!  We packed everything up and set off after saying goodbye to Kath and Alan on their boat Sickle (pictured above).

Thought this was fun and quirky!

We short lined the boats through the rain and Leighton lock again and moored overnight, before the Globe Inn, just in time for the torrential downpour!

Oops, is that Richard down the weedhatch?

This morning, the wind greeted us with all it's might, making the decision not to bother with the shop outside the pub and head towards Stoke Bruerne for the next weekend, all too easy.

Anyone lost a fishing brolley?

Volunteers were on duty and helped us negotiate the 3 locks at Soulbury, hastening our passage to the single lock further along.  By the time we got there, the sun was back out, so we stopped quickly for some sandwiches before carrying on to Fenny Stratford for the night.

I've run out of pictures, so here is the reverse of my bread bin!

Nearing our destination and the promise of fish and chips for tea (if it's open, which I doubt on a Sunday!) the propellor tried to chop through a very metallic object loudly!  Richard basically couldn't steer, so ended up broadside on the canl, whilst I manage to steer the butty to the towpath. Pulling with all my might, slowly, both boats came into the side, where the investigation down the dreaded weedhatch began.

Obviously, someone's fishing brolley had taken off in the wind and we were unfortunate enough to wrap it around our prop.  Dutyfully, we despatched what remained of the brolley into the bins at Fenny Stratford, so nobody else would have the misfortune of picking it up.  The saga continues...

Fenny Stratford to Old Linslade (6 miles, 4 locks)

The butty rudder now is bigger and steers properly now!

The virtually finished version, just need some new coach bolts and we're done

Whilst we moored at Fenny Stratford, Richard took it upon himself to remove the rudder on the butty and insert another section of wood to make it wider.  Steering would, therefore, be improved and also we could properly trial towing the butty on a short line, rather than cross strapping it.

Outstanding scenery all the way along this stretch

Towing on a short line improves fuel efficiency, as the big boat isn't fighting the butty for water.  I steer the butty slightly to one side to keep out of the prop wash and she she seems to respond beautifully!

We had a go 'cross strapped', at first just to see if the steering was better, then dropped the butty onto a short line

The rudder is heavier, obviously, with the new piece of wood in, but the butty glides around bends so easily now.

Coming up the 3 locks at Soulbury

We moored overnight in some shade at Soulbury, as the heat soured, then brought the boats up through the 3 locks in the morning.

Approaching Old Linslade and another blind bend!

We had decided to moor for the weekend at The Globe pub on the outskirts of Leighton Buzzard.
From here we can easily travel to our next festival next Saturday at Linslade Linslade Canal Festival 2013

All set up ready for the crowds!  Hopefully, I will have some stock left for 'Linslade' and I haven't done this weekend yet!  The pub gets so busy - it's like being at the seaside.  Running out of stock fast..........

Stoke Bruerne to Fenny Stratford (17 miles, 1 lock)

Arriving on the outskirts of Cosgrove, we moored for just one night ready to be directed to our official festival mooring the next day.

One day a heron wandered by....

The village has a couple of pubs and a shop on the large campsite next door, which annoyingly has a pool (patrons of the campsite only!).  All weekend we could hear people playing in the pool whilst we sweltered on the canal side - but we enjoyed the sunshine, don't get me wrong!

Extravagantly ornate bridge in Cosgrove

View from the unrestored Buckingham Arm - the reason the festival takes place each year

The festival is run each year, to raise funds for the continuing restoration of the Buckingham Arm, which used to take the canal to Buckingham around 10 miles and 2 locks away.  It was deamed unviable in the 1950s and was closed to traffic.

Lister and I check out some of the details surrounding the restoration at the side of the lock

The old canal under all that vegetation, but at least it is still there and not a housing estate!

We moored next to the Cheese Boat again The Cheese Boat and stocked up a bit before the weekend ended. Yummy cheese and chutneys - beautiful!

A present from Joy - watercolour artist I met during the Stoke Bruerne Gala

During our stay at Cosgrove, we had a visit from Joy Thomas and her husband, who run  A Cut Above , with a present for me for my butty!  I love it!  She is extremely talented and is hoping to take her painting to new levels in the future.  We thought her work would be great for children's story books.  Click on the above link and see what you think.

Richard and Lister below the aquaduct at Cosgrove

After a baking weekend, we decided to go for a walk by the river below the Grand Union aquaduct.

Lister is so reluctant with water, but Richard cooled him down with a gentle paddle in the river!

History signs dotted about telling the story of the building of the aquaduct and the canal usage

So today, we drifted through Milton Keynes and are moored at Fenny Stratford for the rest of the day.  Richard has visited the timber yard and is outside widening the rudder on the butty so I don't struggle to steer it!

So we will see you babies on the way back in a couple of weeks time, hopefully still 5 and even bigger!

Braunston to Stoke Bruerne (19 miles, 13 locks, 2 tunnels)

Thank you to everyone who came to see us at Stoke Bruerne this weekend.  We had a fairly busy time with the butty shop and now I find myself having lots of projects to complete before the Cosgrove Festival this weekend!

Richard's parents - Sam and Veronica steer the butty during their stay with us

Last week, we had the company of Richard's parents, being able to accomodate them in our recently converted Boatman's cabin in the butty.  They had a steep learning curve in steering the butty and refresher in operating the locks!

Jules Fuels after delivering a new gas bottle to us

Coming down the Buckby flight, we had a long wait whilst the pound below was part drained and a paddle was checked for damage on the bottom gate.

Workmen preparing to survey damage to the bottom gate paddle

We were asked not to take photos for the workmen's protection, but others were.  Locks are quite fascinating without water in them!

Congestion on the bend adds to the challenge of getting boat and butty through unscathed!

One morning, we were heading towards Gayton Junction and encountered several moored boats on the bend with the fuel boat also moored alongside.  We slowed to tickover and passed between them and an oncoming boat, as the picture shows, but the hire boat behind didn't accept our pace and tried to pass us!  Unfortunately for him, he was still in car mode and grounded his boat on the right of the butty as we flagged him round us!

I take over on the big boat as Richard takes a break on the bow of the butty!

He tried again, once he'd registered what he should have done and narrowly missed another boat coming towards us.  Some people don't know how to slow down, rush rush rush!

View up to Stoke Bruerne with the Navigation pub on the right

We moored at Stoke Bruerne for the weekend and said our goodbyes to Richard's parents on the Sunday.  I opened the shop and was quite busy on Sunday as the sun blazed down on us!

In the bridge hole below top lock

We set off this morning to tackle the 7 double locks below Stoke Bruerne in the relative coolness of  early morning.

Murals in one of the bridge holes

Everything went to plan and we didn't race like some days, it was lovely and enjoyable.

Ok, so I lied.  Once a runner, always a runner!  Lister and I try to get ahead to set up the next lock

We moored in a secluded part of the canal and began work on painting jobs outstanding.

First on the list, finishing the roses panel on the butty

So many things we want to get done for the show, but know we will run out of time!

Completed roses and lettering on the other panel

At least this side looks smart now! So we spun the butty round to begin the other side......

Braunston Historic Boat Show weekend

What a quiet weekend above the 2nd lock at Braunston!  So I got a couple of bigger projects off the list.....

Milk Churn...

and a small stool

and Richard created attractive traditional whirly rope designs to the bow of the butty and lots of other ropework projects

The show in the centre of Braunston was very busy however and we had a good look around whilst the shop was closed in the mornings.

The marina with all the visiting working boats clustered together

View towards the locks where we were moored

Morris dancers visiting the pub

Morris dancers returning to the show

Relaxing outside the canal pub - not us incidently!

Nick and Eleanor on their boats Clara and Duke - 100 years old and totally wooden!

Richard serving a customer

So this week, we met up with Richard's parents and have had a lovely time showing them the sights on the canal and working our way back towards Stoke Bruerne for the weekend.