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Braunston to Foxton and return, then down the Grand Union to Weedon (54 miles, 26 locks)

Unfortunately, to follow our last post, we did not get the opportunity to own a pair of historic narrowboats, but our chance will come.  Right place, right time...

Another completed project for the gift shop

The weather was pretty rubbish for the bank holiday, but we persevered and managed to open the gift shop each day.  Mum came down to stay over the weekend and ended up taking Scooby our 14year old terrier/yorky back with her, to retire gracefully in her bungalow.

No more sunning himself on the roof of the boat

His front legs were getting so badly bent, despite losing some weight, that we thought he would cope better without steps.  We do miss him, but apparently he has made himself at home nicely!

Paddling cows

Scenic canal all the way back to Crick

So the other day, we began the 2 day journey back to Norton Junction.  Beginning with a late evening start to get through Market Bosworth tunnel avoiding as much of the Crick Show traffic as we could.

Road bridge on the way to Crick

Most boats had moored up the next day as the weather was awful, but this played into our hands, as Richard could put me on a line rather than cross straps.

Boat moored across the canal?

Passing Yelvertoft Marina, we both refocussed our eyes on the boat in the distance on the bend, apparently on the offside.  As we approached, we realised that it had gone adrift, creating a barrier from both directions.  Richard got our boat into the towpath side as a couple also arrived to lend a hand tying her back up safely.  Meanwhile, I hovered in the middle of the canal, thanking our lucky stars that the canal was fairly quiet!

Still some boats moored at Crick following the show the previous weekend

Crick tunnel was superbly wet as usual!  Crick end of the tunnel felt like someone was throwing water at us from the brickwork above!

Love this!  Always makes me smile when I see it

We ploughed on to Watford locks, but had a 2 hour wait for our slot to go down the flight due to the volume of boats coming from the show.

Reckless in good use after it's 'makeover' by Guy Martin and his buddy

Mooring that night at Norton Junction, we had a day off boating to get some painting done (me) and Richard did an oil change and sorted fuel leaks.

Below Norton Junction, the gardens are just gorgeous

This morning, we started at about 8 for the waterpoint, getting the washing machine on and sorting the rubbish and toilet cassettes out.

Breasted up, Richard steers the boat into each lock, whilst I wind the paddles and struggle with the gates!  They are terrifically heavy and stiff.  Richard does close his side gate as he enters the lock using a rope. Quite clever really!

Richard keeps the boats safely in front of the cill as the water escapes through the gate paddles

The M1 roars in the background like an ever present headache!

Lister and I chase after Richard after struggling to close the gates

Much needed brew 1 lock below the bottom of Buckby flight (7 locks)

Leaky locks!

Long lining from bottom lock.  I'd forgotten how wide the Grand Union is!

Tonight we moored on the straight route through Weedon ready for our long awaited chinese meal!

Weedon Ordnance Depot - former canal gateway

Portcullis in the entrance, leading to the arm where goods would have been loaded onto boats
Next to the canal is the former Napoleonic War era Military Ordnance Depot (established by Act of Parliament in1803). The depot, which was the central small arms depot for the British Army, was originally served by the canal, by its own branch which entered through a portcullis (above) Designed by Colonel Pilkington of the Royal Engineers, the depot was largely built between 1805 & 1806.
The depot consisted of eight large storehouses, built either side of the central canal and surrounded by a high stone wall. The upper floors were used for storage of small arms and the like, the ground floors for larger items (field artillery etc.). There were canal gatehouses at each end of the precinct; beyond, at a safe distance, the canal entered a further walled area, likewise gated at either end, which contained a row of four gunpowder magazines (each separated from the next by a 'blast house' filled with earth as a precaution against explosions). Later, another magazine was added, as well as a large 'clothing store', between the two precincts, in 1902. All the aforementioned buildings survive (among others) to this day, and they (together with the enclosure walls) are listed Grade II*.
There was also a barracks in the village, holding a standing battalion, plus a troop of cavalry and a troop of horse artillery. The barracks were demolished in the 1950s. Three large pavilions were built between the depot and barracks to house the senior civilian officers of the Depot. These were demolished in the 1960s. Next door to the barracks was the Army School of Equitation, also demolished in the 60s. The depot became redundant in 1965 and was finally sold by the Ministry of Defence in 1984. It is now used for storage and light industry.  (ref. Wikipedia)

View to the ordnance buildings flanking the canal

Tonight we have enjoyed a fantastic chinese from Weedon House Chinese, ready to get to Stoke Bruerne for the first time this year and a sunnyish weekend!!!

Norton Junction, back to Braunston for the IWA Northampton Branch Show and return (8 miles, 12 locks)

We are now waiting out the weather back at Norton Junction, after a fairly quiet weekend at the Inland Waterways Northampton branch get together.

Setting off from Norton Junction early last week, back to Braunston for the show

The week had started interestingly, as we had had a trip over to Nottinghamshire to view an historic pair of narrowboats.  Richard has always wanted to own an original working pair, but to me, the thought of leaving the beautiful comfort and luxury in Comfortably Numb and of course my beloved butty, would be quite a wrench!

Through the bridge and heading towards Braunston

The sticking point for us, is that we live on the boat we intend to give up and logically, most people would prefer cash.  Would the boats still be there in say a few months, if we advertised our pair?  A swap would involve us paying fees, as per selling our boat through a brokerage.  Quite a decision, but we have to see what the owner would prefer to do and negotiate from there.......

Gorgeous scenery at Norton Junction towards the tunnel

So, last week, we made the relatively quick journey back to Braunston for the show, and were warmly welcomed by a committee member (Steve) acting as Harbourmaster.  We moored right up to the marina entrance opposite Gongoozlers Cafe, prime spot for the bank holiday.

Ready for the crowds!  (Teapot on the roof - denotes membership of esteemed 'Ladies Only' club 'Women on the Cut' a la Facebook page)

But wow, it was really quiet all weekend.  It was very strange because normally, Braunston's footfall is fairly good with or without a show.  The Monday was better and I succeeded in selling amongst other things a large green bread bin, so I was very chuffed!

My bread bin, successfully sold at Braunston

The next day, we plodded back up through the locks, having an interesting encounter with a couple who were obviously disgruntled that we had got up earlier than they and beat them to the locks!  They weren't rude to us, but tried to turn the lock between us leaving the lock and an oncoming boat, which resulted in some shouts from the oncoming people trying to enter the lock and lots of running!  I think the couple behind learnt a bit of canal etiquette that day the hard way, as the oncomer seemed to be giving them a piece of his mind!

These signs are all over Braunston for 'dog-owers'.  Spellchecker is good, I always find, if you haven't got a proof reader handy!

So here we are back at the junction, having decided, because of the bad weather, we wouldn't race to Foxton for this weekend, probably next weekend instead.  We had a lovely visit off my aunty and uncle from Leicester, the day we arrived back and caught up on all things cousins etc

Butty back cabin, all cosy with the range lit

This is all subject to what happens to the boats and whether we have to sell our two in the meantime....................