After tentatively emerging from the marina last Tuesday, back onto the North Oxford Canal, we headed the few miles toward Rugby. It wasn’t long before we felt like a butterfly finally out of the chrysalis. All our fears of forgetting how to live aboard, safely steer our vessel or indeed know if we were where we needed to be, evaporated as we took in the gentle rock of Celtic Maid and the sights and smells of the rural countryside.
After an overnight stop in Rugby to stock up at Tesco, we retreated into the countryside just north of Braunston and took advantage of a couple of bright days to clean and polish one side of Celtic Maid and to re-pot our herbs. It was a restful and productive couple of days before we went into Braunston to find a mooring ready to receive visitors over the weekend.
Our good friends from Edgware – Chris and Sue – and our US friends – Mick and Kendra – drove up to visit us. We had relocated from opposite The Boathouse pub to just near the Admiral Nelson after deciding to book in there for dinner Saturday night. We had already done a quick walk into Braunston butchers and convenience store to pick up extra supplies and were waiting for their arrival. The sun was shining, birds singing, many boats cruising and gongoozlers on the towpath enjoying the break in weather. And we had a ploughman’s lunch waiting.
Once we had done our intensive catch up and shared a fine repast we all went for a bit of a walk ourselves along the towpath only to be caught in a brief downpour. The men were ahead of the women and they got considerable wetter while we huddled under a bridge. Within minutes the sun shone again!!!! We must be back in England…
We all highly recommend the food at the Admiral Nelson as we all left the table very satisfied. Our friends went back to their hotel in nearby Daventry but returned for bacon and eggs in the morning. Another pleasure of being in Braunston is being able to purchase freshly baked bread at a small canal shop next to the bottom lock. We enjoyed it both with our ploughmans lunch and our breakfast and our friends purchased some to take home!!! They left in the afternoon and we planned our next few days in trying to reach our rendezvous point at Gayton Junction today.
Boating expediency, comfort and planning is closely linked to the weather and nothing is more valuable than a good weather App on your smartphone. We use XCWeather as recommended by NB Figment last summer. It predicted very well that Monday was the best way to check off the miles and we did achieve the remaining 4 Braunston locks, the Braunston Tunnel and the Buckby flight of 7 locks as well as about 11 miles before finding a great spot between Weedon and Nether Heyford opposite a campground.
In conquering the Buckby flight we met up with new friends Chris and Richard on NB Mandalay. Not only were the locks much easier with 2 boat crews but we have had wonderful company for the last few days as well. We stayed 2 nights to avoid a very rainy day on Tuesday and enjoyed Monday afternoon in the sunshine on the towpath, and Tuesday afternoon aboard NB Mandalay sharing stories and a couple of light refreshments!! Such a civilised way to while away the hours….. Of course we had done all our domestic tasks first – we don’t just socialise!!!!
We battled the intermittent drizzle to arrive at Gayton Junction yesterday – one day ahead of schedule, and found moorings very close to the junction. A much quieter night was required – both to recover from our busy social life over the last few days and to prepare for meeting up with our travelling companions today – Chris and Jim on NB Sylph.
Look out River Nene cos we’re coming!!!!