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Foxton to Norton Junction (22 miles, 7 locks)

We have had a great couple of weeks up at Foxton Locks.  Thank you to everyone who came to see us and the many other exhibitors, and made the festival it's best ever apparently!

The calm flight at Foxton after the previous inundation of visitors

Following on from my previous post, we managed to get a twin tub, during our time at Foxton.  Richard had to go into Market Harborough anyway to deliver a parcel, so we just ordered one via 'Click and Collect' on Ebay and he fetched it whilst he was there, in the bike trailer.  That was his exercise for a fortnight I think!

A quiet evening on the visitor moorings

We returned to the Visitor Moorings for last weekend, before setting off back towards Norton Junction.  

Beautiful views across the rolling hills

The plan would be to buy more paint for Jjinad, from Braunston, to enable us to change her name to something a little less eyebrow raising!  Richard has shaved off his beard and won't tell anyone he was born in Tripoli until the name is changed over!  No offence to the previous owners, it just is too near the knuckle for us and we want the quiet life!

A striking panorama

We set off yesterday afternoon, after I had waited for a Canalia delivery for my gift shop.  A lot later than originally planned, but Richard had made sandwiches and drinks for the journey, whilst I waited down at the pub for the courier.

Going past Welford Junction

We  made good time for us at around 2 1/2 hours to get to Welford Junction.

Yelvertoft Wharf

We moored up at around 6pm a little further on and then set off again today to beat the 2 day stoppage at Watford Lock flight.  Maintenance is required again to this gem of the canal system.

Crick tunnel

The weather has been glorious.  After a brief shop at Crick for essentials, on we went through Crick tunnel and beyond to await our place in the queue at the lock flight.

Me on the motor tiller for a change!

Grateful thanks to the volunteer lockies again at Watford gap locks for their assistance getting us both down unscathed.  Richard always takes the butty, bowhauling her with the dogs inside, trying his hardest to not bang her about too much!  I waited for Richard below the bottom lock and cross strapped the butty as the gates were opened.  My turn!

2 worlds collide...

The new boat is very much heavier than Comfortably Numb, but steers decisively and stops when you tell  her, which makes a change!  I found it quiet relaxing after a while,  except for the mooring when we reached Norton Junction.  A boat came around the bend just as I was pulling into the side and I had to take the boats back out of the channel to the offside again.  Then reverse and she came into the bank a little too sharply with a 'bump'.  Whoops, but then I am only a novice on the new boat after all and nothing got damaged ......

Stoke Bruerne to Foxton (again!) and a new boat!!!! (39 miles and 14 locks)

Welcome to another post on my diary blog and I would like to introduce our new motor boat JJinad!

JJinad ~60 foot trad stern narrowboat with Gardner 2LW engine

One of those moments where you both say 'ooh I like that boat' and 'I wonder if it is for sale?'
We went and had a look at the weekend, by car and arranged for a valuation on Comfortably Numb a couple of days later, on our return to Whilton by canal.

On up the Buckby flight again, but this time with a different feel!

And very quickly, she was ours!  The appeal is the look of JJinad.  Richard has wanted an undercloth conversion for a while now, but I had always decided they would make the interior claustrophic and were dangerous with the sides over the hob.  But then we saw the interior of JJinad and loved it!

My first time at the tiller going back up the Watford flight

She is lined with ash coloured ply and allows much light in through prisms in the top plank. 
We packed as much of the old boat into the butty before the handing over and then spent a day cleaning the old boat and familiarising ourselves with Jjinad, whilst waiting for the Boat Safety Certification to be done.

Carrying on towards Crick

Once we had done all the necessary business on the purchase, our mission was to get to Foxton for the weekend, so moving in was a bit on the back burner!

Entrance to Crick tunnel

Electrics have been a big issue, but now we have resolved the 'wherefores', the 'whys' are now irrelevant really.  We thought the invertor was not charging the batteries, but then realised that when the generator was on, if we put the immersion heater switch on as well. the charger in the invertor sprang into life..... Ummm, much head scratching has been done and we have decided to get rid of the extremely electrically thirsty freezer, we had initially been excited about!

Moored in Foxton,  ready for a busy few days now it has stopped raining!

So on the shopping list now is, a new washing machine (left our's behind), possibly some fresh batteries and little bits like a water level monitor for the watertank.   Other than that, I think we can adjust to sleeping permanently in the back cabin, the lack of storage and of a proper toilet (2 portaloos!) for the time being, who wouldn't?

Whilton Marina to Stoke Bruerne (14 miles)

We sat out the extra strong wind, the other day just up from Whilton Marina alongside (across a field) the M1.

Back on the road again, leaving our mooring at Whilton

Our intention was to get to Stoke Bruerne for Thursday morning, in order that the shop gets it's permitted 4 days mooring at this busy (seldom these days) visitor attraction.

Wide beam country again!

Look closely to see a mannequin dressed as an old guy.  Made us jump!

Beautiful  gardens along this part of the canal

We made good progress, passing through Weedon and on towards Bugbrooke.

Quiet campsite after Weedon

This road bridge is at a bit of a dodgy angle, but thankfully there was nothing coming the other way...this time!

Heyford Fields Marina

Approaching Gayton Junction

Breasting the boats side by side, we slowly navigated the straight approach to Gayton Junction where the facilities block is situated.  It is easier for us to breast up when it is still a bit windy before attempting a manoeuvre like this as there is always a boat coming from one direction or another!

Leaving Blisworth ~ with the old flour mill (now luxury flats) in the centre of the picture.

We spent the night moored behind the Cheeseboat and caught up with Geraldine and Michael therein.   Setting off behind them in the morning, we all were hoping to avoid oncoming traffic in the Blisworth Tunnel just after the village.

Approaching the tunnel entrance ~ 3076 yards being the third longest navigable tunnel in the UK

Of course we met oncoming traffic!  The first was fine, but the second had a tunnel lamp which could have been seen from space and kept turning it off and on as we got nearer to him!

Safely out of the tunnel unscathed but a bit wet ~ as is the norm!

As the guy navigated past us, I heard Richard ask him if he was afraid of the dark because of the brightness of his dazzle!

A couple we have met before with their collection of ex racing greyhounds ~ one being Reilly's double! ~ a blue snowflake

We breasted the boats up again, winded (turned around) to face the tunnel and reversed back into an available mooring in the village of Stoke Bruerne ready for the weekend.  The Cheeseboat had already done the same, saving dropping down 2 locks, winding and coming back up again.

Cabin stool on display in my shop

The shop has been open since mooring up and we will return through the tunnel Sunday evening.  The crowds have not been here at Stoke  Bruerne ~ a complete disappointment and worry for the future.  Perhaps, we wondered, the carpark is £3, putting people off?

View towards the carpark and museum ~ recently taken over by the Canal and River Trust.  Also Bob from All Things Spanish (the ice cream boat behind us) is supervising Richard 'brasso-ing'!

We had a lovely evening at the  Navigation pub for my birthday and Geraldine's 80th (!) from the Cheeseboat on the Friday.  Joining us was our eldest Martin, who had taken 4 hours to do a 1hour trip from Oxford due to accidents!  Also, our good friends Sam and John drove up from Northants Marina (John is the manager) and joined us.  A great night!

All set up in the sun ~ all we need now are customers!

Yesterday, we saw some footfall, but it is nothing like a couple of years ago here.  A huge anticlimax.  CRT have been told that the signs saying '£25 for additional staying over the allowed48hours' is frightening boaters from mooring up.  Perhaps they will see the damage being done to the land based businesses and museum and have a rethink!  Such an optimist am I.....

Foxton to Whilton Marina (24 miles 14 locks)

With the presentation of the Red Wheel Heritage Plaque by the Transport Trust on June 6th at Blisworth Tunnel, we have spent the last 3/4 days travelling to Blisworth in time to support this fantastic recognition.

We 'whizzed' to Welford Junction on Sunday evening and moored, hoping to get down the flight at Watford Gap the next day.

Passing past the wharf at Crick

Crick was quiet after the show buildup we had passed through a couple of weeks before.  

The heavens kept opening and we got another drenching as we approached the tunnel.

Tunnel done without oncoming traffic thankfully, and the weather had improved!

Approaching Norton Junction

Luckily, the delay at Watford Locks was only slight, so we trundled on determined not to let the horrible weather stop us getting around the junction and onto the Grand Union (south).

Below the top lock, setting off the next morning

We spent the night below the top lock of the Buckby flight alongside the noisy A5!

Approaching the second lock 

As we had breasted the boats together, I brought them down the flight, whilst Richard attended to the heavy lock gates, much to my relief!

Steering the boats into lock 2

The flight was quiet as it was about 7.30am.  Half a plan was breakfast at Whilton Marina at the bottom of the flight of 7 locks.  

I get back on the boat after closing my gate on my side, and Richard starts to drop the water out of the lock.

and onto the next lock

some of the bridge holes are a bit tight!

and finally we are at the bottom lock just before 9am.

We moored up just past the marina entrance below the bottom lock and discovered a small bit of redesigning by our new greyhound.....

Just a little bit of a chew...

Reilly is not impressed with being left in the butty for a short while as we moored up!  This is a protest.  He hadn't had his breakfast and been walking with Richard and our other dog Lister down the flight.

We stuck to plan A, breakfast at the marina (which was delicious) after we had fed Reilly and Lister of course!