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Hillmorton to Alvecote (33 miles, 12 locks)

We are hoping that the bank holiday weekend proves better for weather than last  year at Alvecote Historic Boat Gathering.  We are attending as traders along with the Cheese, Fudge and Olive (ethnic clothing) boats, all enjoying the music and atmosphere surrounding this momentous event!

Another commission successfully completed in time for the event!

Demonstrating at the recent Hillmorton Locks anniversary event (pictures by kind permission of Michael Parmee)

Painting petals on a rose

Last few stages

My first time demonstrating was not as scary as I thought.  Thank you to everyone who showed an interest.  Hopefully we all learnt something!

Peaceful moorings below Hillmorton

After Hillmorton, we relaxed for a few days below the locks and got some jobs done on the boat.  Now Jjinad is nameless.  The watercan was requested to be returned to the old owner, which we did, and the panels with her name on have been sanded and repainted by Richard in readiness for the new name 'Eclipse'.  Not very original but it goes well we think with the butty (Echoes) and the Star class design, her hull is based on.

Lovely decoration under some of the bridges around Rugby

Setting off again, with Road and Tracy on their boats Biddie and Olive, the convoy of 4 boats has slowly wound it's way towards Alvecote for this weekend.

Following Richard on cross-straps

Whilst I was at Hillmorton, I received a request for a very large order of canalware from a marina I haven't supplied to for a while. A bit of bad timing really considering it's proximity to the festivals we are attending in the next few weeks!  So I have been getting the stock back up to a good level, sending good long days in my butty workshop.

The boys, Reilly and Lister, just take it all in their stride!

Some overgrown bits on bends under bridge holes...

Love this boat

Lots of Piebalds and .... a Shetland?  Perhaps he got the wrong field, bless!

So now we await the weekend excitedly as more and more historic boats arrive and find their moorings....

Blisworth to Hillmorton (25 miles, 15 locks)

Another fantastic festival at Blisworth again this year!  Thank you to the organisers and visitors who made this apparently their biggest ever!  Blisworth Canal Festival 2015

On the move again on a line rather than cross~straps for a while

We left Blisworth on Monday morning and stopped briefly at the junction to do the ablutions. 

I walk the dogs now the boats are back on cross~straps

Heading for the locks at Whilton, we pushed on all day whilst the weather was reasonable.

Beautiful views from our mooring above Norton Junction

Following frustratingly slow hire boaters, one boat in the lock above us and another on it's own in the lock above that (normally to save water, boaters would double up in the locks), we eventually made it to the top of the flight.  I was properly knackered as I had run up to the lock above us, each time, and helped the hirers through, to turn the lock around for us.

Braunston tunnel

Thankfully quiet, Braunston tunnel was our first job on Tuesday morning.  

Coming out of Bottom lock in Braunston

Braunston was very busy, as is the norm, so we grabbed a mooring just before the marina entrance and went into Gongoozler's Rest for breakfast.  Sorry not really impressed with the breakfast there of late.  No black pudding or hash browns, nothing spectacular like other cafes recently.

Setting off again, we thought our name was near the knuckle!

We decided too up sticks and move up to where Rod and Tracy, on narrowboat pair Biddie and Olive were moored, further out of Braunston.

One way traffic through past the waterpoint!

Interesting passage through past the waterpoint in Braunston, as a boat was making it's way fro the other direction an just kept coming.  Richard stood his ground and told him '2 boats', so the oncomer had to reverse to allow us through.  You can just see his bow as we waited for him to move back.

Hotel pair pass us as we are moored up

The next morning, we let Rod and Tracy go ahead as they like to go on a line and consequently need a little more speed than us.  

Our old boat (Comfortably Numb)(dead centre of picture) now resides in Barby Marina

We arrive above the locks at Hillmorton to be greeted by a bit of organisational carnage and the news that our boats will be moored separately amongst other things.  I spent a very anxious time trying to figure out how this would work, but after a chat with all those concerned, I relaxed and got it into context.  It doesn't help that I am meant to be an attraction, ie. demonstrating, so I am slightly worried how that will go anyway!

The boys playing by the canalside with Reilly daringly taking a drink!

So here we are below the bottom lock on the lock approach waiting for 3 boats to be moved, enabling us to moor where they are.  Then the butty (moored in the pound above) will need sorting out for the Hillmorton Double Celebration tomorrow.  But we can do that..........

Linslade to Blisworth (28 miles, 14 locks)

To those hoping that we would unmask the saboteur of our Linslade Festival booking, our investigations drew a blank.

The lady from the council came to see us during the festival, confirming that 'a person' had contacted the office cancelling the attendance of Comfortably Numb, our old motor boat.  No one had any business giving this information on to an official, except us, especially as they neglected to add 'but their new boat Jjinad will be coming in it's place!'  No details had been taken as the message appeared to be genuine......

We continued to enjoy a busy festival, so no harm done in the end

Leaving Stoke Hammond Lock

Setting off after the crowds had gone, we visited the shops and then moored at The Globe pub overnight.  Sunday was a washout, so we only covered a few miles.

Monday morning, we arrived at Soulbury locks (3 locks) to witness a couple on a narrow boat, absentmindedly leaving the top paddles up, whilst they had the bottom paddles fully open, consequently flooding the pound below!  I sprang into action and dropped the top paddles, quietly reassuring the woman that no harm was done, as she was flushed with embarrassment.

Campbell Park, Milton Keynes

Milton Keynes was uneventful, except for a hire boat trying get between, us and a moored boat, when we were just coming through a bridge hole and had another boat on our (towpath) side.   Only a cigarette paper could have got between us! 

Gorgeous fuchsia bushes on this widebeam

The hire boat slowed down in the nick of time and suggested, he ought to have waited for us to get out of the way first.  No Sh%t Sherlock!

Nosey heron, trying to be invisible

Back past the Wolverton Mural again

Soon we were on the outskirts of Milton Keynes and hoping to moor at Cosgrove again.

The Aqueduct at Cosgrove

It was fairly quiet (moored boats wise), so we pulled in for the night.  It had been a wet and long day.

Busy Stoke Bruerne

We completed our journey arriving at Stoke Bruerne and mooring up above the locks on Wednesday.  It was our aim to trade from then to Saturday evening,, as footfall was reputed to be good midweek.

The new Ark Stained Glass business is now open, before the Blisworth Tunnel and Blacksmith hut.  Good luck to Martin and his wife with their new venture.

After about 5 months of being a lazy cow, I went for a run 'round the block 'with the dogs, over the tunnel and down into Blisworth and back.  It felt good and I will continue, arthritic joints will not stop me!  
We had a good 4 days trading and then moved off this evening, through the tunnel and into Blisworth.

And into Blisworth village...

We are now  moored quietly, beyond the village awaiting the Blisworth Canal Festival this coming weekend.  Crowds and good weather are expected.  We are very excited, as this has been our best festival for the past 2 years.

Meanwhile the painting has to continue with a vengeance.....

Small milk churn with detachable handle.  The first of it's kind for me.  I will make them available to order on my website.  Price is £45  Please use the Contact us page for more details and colourways.

Meanwhile, we hope to see old friends and new faces at Blisworth!  Should be memorable!