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Sunday, 23 May 2010

May 18th to 23rd

Tues 18th and it's a lovely start and a great forecast for the week. We cruised down the GU to Gayton. Noted ex working boats Balham & Edgeware moored on way to Gayton and which were once so smart and now look so sad. Replaced empty gas & did loo & water at Gayton and set off towards Northampton (Noton). Mo (nb Balmaha) told us we'd need a bigger windlas for the Ouse so bought one at Gayton. Made steady progress, crossing with one boat, but why are the handrails on the bottom gates so arranged, what is an easy step across on most other narrow canals I didn't feel I wanted to risk on the Noton flight? We stopped for the night just past the M1, not too quiet but not a bad mooring. The water on the flight is beautifully clear and blue/green coloured, but why so much running down the byewashes? Note more good BW mooring policy. Only 6 1/2 miles and 13 locks but we were tired.

More BW mooring

Wed hotter still and we poddle down onto the Nene and tie up on the moorings by the footbridge over the river before wandering into the town for a look see and to see what was on at the cinema (Orange Wednesdays) but none of the films appealed to both of us. A shop at Morrisons almost on the river. Good night. 4 miles & 4 locks.

Well on Thursday I wandered into town first thing to buy a padlock to fit to our fuel filler plus got Carol an anniversary card..more later. We were off through first lock, but it was worked for us by the crew of The St John's trip boat whilst they waited for their passengers, and then we stopped to attend to our levels, our water tank gauge has failed yet again and as such we have to keep topping up, I'll change to a stand pipe indicator shortly. We moseyed along a short way when we were alongside the excellent moorings at the Brittania and it seemed rude not to stop. The "Directors" was excellent, so good I had another!

By now it was warm & it was shirt off time. The next lock was pretty hard work, around 60 turns to wind the top paddles, nearer 80 on the lower ones, but after this the EA had put on much more mdern gearings only needing about 20 turns each way.

This day all the guillotine bottom gates were electrically operated, slow but not tiring. After 9 locks & 8 miles we'd had enough & got a mooring above Barton lock, not the best mooring, but we had seen no better ones.

Friday 21st. I had been getting worried about our slow progress as we had a time to get to March & unless we get a move on we'll not get there. This morning was bright sun from first light, but there was a heavy dew.

Standard thing happened, just as I was casting off a working boat came the other way, followed shortly afterwards by 2 more. We progressed, then as we approached Wellingborough our new poly V alternator belt gave up the ghost, I fitted the spare, but am very worried as to why, especially as we now have no spare. We tied up at the town moorings, Carol went off the the nearbt Tesco. She was so relieved to see it as the 22nd is my birthday & the 24th our anniversary & she had no cards!! I went on-line to get motor spares firms & spend about 3/4 hr ringing around to try to get one, but to no avail. I re-tightened the belt and hoped, and did so again when we stopped for the night. Hell our car had one on it for 16 years & only replaced it because it started squeeking a bit, but then Lily has a mch more powerful charge rate.

After lunch we made steady progress before tieing up after Lower Ringstead lock, pretty hairy mooring but hadn't seen any others. The non electric guillotine gate and take a lot of spinning of the stainless steel wheel to lower & raise the guillotine. An hour or so after mooring up a chap came along with a bag of pellets wanting to know how long we would be stopping. He had rented the bank & had been feeding the fish along it for weeks! We covered 12 miles and 10 locks. I looked on-line for somewhere to stop on Saturday & decided on a pub at Ashton, it reviewed pretty well, but notes I had about cruising the river said it got busy at weekends, so it's an earlier start tomorrow.

May 22nd and its incredibly hot for the time of year, barely a cloud seen & touching 25 degrees. Lovely collection of cards but poor Carol, I had said I'd like some ratchet ring spanners which she asked for in Screwfix (which stocks 2 types) but she had been given a large set of normal spanners, but which I already have! Bless her she tried, and Sam & Hannah got me a new tie, perhaps they are trying to tell me something.

There was a very heavy mist as we cast off but by the time of the first lock the sun was through. Went hard aground as we left Denford lock, a big shelf of gravel had been brought down the side channel and it took us a lot of effort to get off. We decided to top up our water tank at Upper Barnwell lock, except that the pressure was so high that it bst our hose in about 6 places (tried it next day on a more normal tap & it worked OK). We made it to Ashton & turned into the mill stream, but no obvious spots, but some annoying gaps that would have made one, but at the end we got in, or at least got the bows in.

A lovely mooring, and our meal at the Chequered Skipper was excellent. Ashton is a lovely little village, built by a Rothschild in 1900 using tradition methods, and where the World Conker Championships are held. The day had been bright sun all day. 14 miles & 8 locks.

Sunday and it was bright sun all day & we walked into Oundle to get papers & I'd run out of coffee. Quite an intersting place, but we were away at 11.20.

We shared locks many times during the day, not just with boats but also people jumping in!

Carol & I kept our shirts on all day, as well as our hats but I'm sure many of the people we saw by the river will be red raw tonight. Fotheringhey church has an impressive setting, but it looks a it clean cut, we'll be stopping by many of the places we have noted on our way down river. Shame some can't read the notices on some moorings, but moorings are difficult on this river!

We tied up for the night just past Wansford havving passed under the A1. Another wild mooring site where I used the plank to get off & on.

13 miles & 7 locks, stopping at 5. ( Just had a big worry, computer just shut down as I was trying to save this, thought I'd lost it all!!)

All week we have been suffering from "snowstorms" of seeds from grey willows.

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