Sunday, 18 May 2014

Stoke Bruerne to Braunston - music in the tunnels

(Boat Chalice - posted by Cath)

Approaching Blisworth tunnel
Alan and I  took Odin for an early morning walk through the woodland path at Stoke Bruerne. He seemed quite subdued and tired. We checked him over carefully, and decided that he was just tired by all the excitement the previous day, although it was possible that he had managed to pull one of his back legs - so a very gentle day for him.

Cath's Dad Jim would doubtless have approved of his cornet being used here!
Straight into Blisworth Tunnel, where David decided to practice his cornet. The acoustics in the tunnel are wonderful, I've played melodeon in the tunnel in the past, but the sound made by the cornet is really rich. David has only relatively recently restarted playing a brass instrument having done some trumpet at school a decade ago. There were no other boats in the tunnel, so a quick and easy passage.

Clear run through Blisworth - nothing to pass this time.
Alan and I took turns to steer over the long pound up towards Whilton. At Stowe Hill I jumped off with Odin to allow for the call of nature, and he bounded about, showing no sign of the subdued dog of only a few hours earlier. It's very difficult to get the balance right. He's keen to get off the boat and bounce around, but doesn't understand how quickly he tires. We allow him off the boat for short, controlled walks - a little bit at a time, and monitoring his progress carefully.

Floating nest - somehow they seem to cope with a moving home!

Ryan Dimmock passed with his loaded motor "Southern Cross".
We worked up the Whilton locks with the cheerful crew of a hire boat from Braunston. The woman said "My husband's been saying he wanted to do this for years. I've hired this boat for our 30th Anniversary this weekend - I now wish we'd done it ages ago".

Starting to move up Buckby lock flight.

Rapid progress sharing with another boat.
Into Braunston tunnel, with a lot of diesel fog - we couldn't see the other end, and the one boat approaching us appeared to have a red headlight until it was close. David practiced cornet again, and was asked by the passing boat to play more. He is still re-learning the mouth 'embouchure', and getting the muscle control back, so makes the occasional mistake, especially on higher notes, but it's good to hear him playing. He has my late father's cornet - I'm sure my Dad would have thought playing in the tunnel was great fun. He once arrived to meet us on the boat, pulled his cornet out from the folds of his raincoat and serenaded us down the canal with 'Hearts of Oak', 'A Life on the Ocean Wave' and other nautically themed tunes.c9,

We stopped mid-flight to buy diesel and Calor gas grom Jules' Fuels

Braunston tunnel
Braunston locks are much easier to do than Whilton, being about only two thirds the depth, so much less work - but they took far longer than we expected, waiting for other boats. Odin happily trotted up and down, meeting other dogs, and lying in the cool shade by the locks. We found a nice mooring, overlooking parkland with chestnut trees heavy with floral candles, hedges filled with blossom, and the field dotted with fluffy white sheep. We headed off to the Boathouse for a meal, where Odin charmed all the waitresses.

Just one boat passed in Braunston seemed to appreciate the cornet playing!

Whilst piling works go on we had to use this dredger as our waiting point.
I do love this boating lark....

Stoke Bruerne to Braunston
Miles: 20.5 (Chalice), 0.0 (Sickle), Locks: 13

Total Miles: 67.9, Locks: 36

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