One of the hidden joys of boating is the odd unexpected expense or two. Things go wrong, equipment fails, bits break off and they all have to be fixed. This happens in houses and with cars as well of course but with a boat it is different, with a boat, the cost is always eyewatering! We’ve already forked out nearly £700 for a new calorifier (hot water tank) this year and today another £300 went on a replacement water pump for the Hurricane heater. There’s a problem with the large domestic alternator which we’re hoping will be a cheap fix, if not, another four hundred quid will bite the dust.
After we moored up yesterday at Napton, I called Calcutt boats who are the UK and European agents for the Hurricane heater to see if they could take a look at the problematic unit. The result was that we would take Caxton there this afternoon. This morning, we took a walk up to the village shop at Napton, we first visited it about five years ago when it had just changed hands and what a transformation there has been since then. This once run down store is now a little treasure selling the full range of groceries and speciality foods. It’s a post office and a cafe too so well worth the ten minute walk from the canal. Once again we lunched at the Folly Inn before setting off for Calcutt, a destination that we reached just after two o’clock. After descending the top lock, we pulled on to the wharf and then sat in the sunshine as two engineers fiddled with and diagnosed the problem with the hurricane. Two hours, a new pump and three hundred pounds later, we were ready to leave. Before then, we met Barry and Sandra from the home brew boat who had pulled in for diesel and while we were waiting, passed the time of day with them.
We went back up through the top lock at Calcutt just before five o’clock and made our way back to Wigrams turn where we turned left and looked for a mooring. We found a spot, actually one of our old haunts near bridge 103 where have settled for the evening. There are tractors harvesting corn in the fields around us, the moon is almost full and we have seen a beautiful sunset.
If the price of this lifestyle is the odd bill for a few hundred quid, it must be worth it.
We had a lazy start today, the sun was shining but it was still cool when we awoke. Being in no hurry, we had a couple of cups of coffee before we dragged ourselves out of bed.
It was still windy when we left our mooring but with no turning round to do, we were untroubled by it. Sue prepared dinner in the slow cooker as we made our way to Calcutt locks on what was turning out to be the first glorious day of the year. We were up and through the locks in no time at all, the first being our way and the other two needing to be emptied suggesting that we were following someone on the way up. By the time we left the top lock, it was warm enough to strip down to short sleeves, hard to believe how dull and cold we had been just twenty four hours earlier.
We had a pleasant journey back to Braunston and decided that we would make the most of the weekend by staying overnight and return home in the morning. After a short stop to take on water and empty the cassette we nudged our way into our berth in the marina. Our plan is now to have a walk before returning for our sunday dinner, a beef hotpot which is already smelling delicious. We have to get out of here before the aroma forces us to abandon the walk !!!
Another blue sky greeted us when we got out of bed on the last day of our journey. We wanted to get up and through the Stockton locks before the traffic built up on what we thought would be a busy, sunny Sunday. By quarter past seven we were on our way to the bottom lock with me steering and Sue on foot. Another early starter in a Calcutt hire boat was in the process of coming down the lock so we waited until he had vacated the chamber before taking our place and beginning our ascent. The steerer told us that they were attempting the Warwickshire ring in a week, an ambitious target but as we are approaching the longest day of the year and with the weather settled for the week, they should manage it but it will be hard work. It soon became clear that they had been tied up at the Blue Lias because after we reached the locks above the pub, the chamber walls were dry and most were either empty or very close to being empty. We met a couple of boats near the top of the flight and that speeded our progress even more, so much so that we managed to leave the tenth lock just ninety minutes after we had started.
Despite the fact that it was still not quite nine o’clock, the temperature was rising nicely as we passed our regular mooring above the bridge next to the Boat Inn. We had a steady run up to the three Calcutt locks where we caught up with a lone locker just below the bottom lock. Between the three of us we soon transcended the flight and with the exception of a slight delay leaving the top lock where we waited while a boat attempted awkwardly to wind above the lock, we were soon out and heading for Wigram’s turn. Our lock buddy was taking his boat to Brinklow for blacking the following day so we settled in behind him at a decent distance and chugged our way back to Braunston turn where, with a cheery wave, we parted company. The journey back was peaceful enough in the sunshine and despite the large number of boats travelling in the opposite direction, it all passed without incident. We did see a pen full of sheep being sheared at the farm by bridge 104, the novelty of which entertained us for a few minutes as we passed by.
Typically, a boat pulled away from the water point near the A45 road bridge, no problem there as they would not have known that we were coming through behind them. We followed them to the marina entrance and then had to wait while they winded their boat. We were hoping that there might be enough empty berths to allow us easy passage on to our pontoon but we were out of luck. We made it in past Havoc II with a little help from another boater who fended us off the bow of the aforementioned narrowboat. Just before we started our manoeuvre, Sue had discovered nb Phyllis May II, pride and joy of Terry Darlington and his wife Monica tied up on the pontoon directly opposite from our own. The adventuring authors are taking a stall at the Braunston historic boat show, no doubt hoping to sell a few signed copies of their books over that weekend.
We spent a little while doing the usual stuff and taking showers before clearing some bits and pieces into the car ready to drive home. Of course we will be back on Thursday evening to make ready for a Friday afternoon departure to start our two week cruise to ….., well we’re still undecided on that one so watch this space.