Saturday, 15 September 2012

Very Slow Through Two Lock Flights

(Boat Sickle - posted by Alan)

This was the second and final weekend allocated to completing getting "Sickle" back from Alvecote to her home mooring.  Again it involved "two car shuffles", but as the boat was now closer to home, fortunately not with the mileages we had to cover in cars last weekend.  Last weekend had also seen us mislay one of the keys to one car by the end of it.  The strong hope was that it would turn up on "Sickle" this weekend, and indeed it did.  We can be fairly dippy sometimes!

Working our way slowly up the Braunston flight.
Last evening we finally got to visit the Admiral Nelson in its latest reincarnation.  This famous canal-side pun has struggled in recent years, being through many different managements, often with longish closures in between.  We had not gone their on our wedding anniversary because the family are vegetarian, and whilst we could find options to suit, the menu had been too limited to feed our sons, but now we were alone.  The prices are at the high end for pub food, now, although not extortionate.  When I saw portion sizes, I was initially disappointed, but actually the quality of what was served was so good, I could forgive them this - far more interesting flavours than we have had in a pub meal in many years, I would say - really top end cookery.  So, if you are not obsessive with your meal needing to overhang the side of the pl;ate, give it a try, but if you prefer quantity over quality, you are probably better off at the Boathouse!  The wine pricing was bizarre, (to put it mildly!).  Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay were all priced at a not particularly cheap £15 for a 750 ml bottle, but at £4.50 for a 250 ml glass, (equivalent to £1.50 per bottle less).  Needless to say we ordered our wine by the glass, but I can also recommend the particularly well presented "Landlord" beer.

.......and equally slowly down the Buckby flight!
Our indulgence went one step further the next morning with cooked breakfasts at the Gongoozler's Rest floating cafe.  This probably cost us far more time than the meal actually took, because by the time we were ready to leave the Braunston locks were already busy, with a small queue waiting at the bottom.  This proved to be a classic "no point in rushing it" day from beginning to end.  It didn't matter what speed you and an accompanying boat worked your locks at really, because there were always slower ones ahead.  It just took a very long while to get up the Bruanston flight - actually 6 very easy locks, but often busy.

Cath sits crocheting waiting for the boat that never came!
At Buckby / Whilton locks, things went even slower, if that were possible.  The boat we came down most of them with was under the impression there were only three, and that they could turn and go back up again.  They panicked a bit when they realised their first opportunity to do so was just one lock from the bottom!  Unusually we had two boats wanting to turn around (or "wind") between the bottom two locks, one travelling in each direction.  The one we shared with did so fairly easily, but the boat that had just come up from the bottom lock seemed unable to do so, (or more accurately its steerer did).  Being good, we sat, now alone, in the bottom lock, waiting for them to complete, but it never happened.  Eventually they had still not managed, but there were too many boats now trying to get through, so we shared with a different one.  We wondered if they ever managed to turn ?

All this delay made us far far later into the long pound to Stoke Bruerne than we ever intended, so what should have been an early arrival there, actually turned into quite a late one.  We had planned to have all our evening meals in pubs, and had no food available to cook, so getting to the Boat was a priority.  No problem of course, and I love this pub, which we now laughingly refer to as our "local" even though we live nowhere near it.  Food is always OK, though certainly not as out of the ordinary as what we ate last night. 

Braunston to Stoke Bruerne
Miles: 20.3, Locks: 13
Total Miles: 563.0, Locks: 328 (Worked)
(I'm treating the delayed return of Sickle as part of the overall summer trip with both boats).

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