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  • clivenmel

Jan 30th

Normal 0 false false false st1\:*{behavior:url(#ieooui) } /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0cm 5.4pt 0cm 5.4pt; mso-para-margin:0cm; mso-para-margin-bottom:.0001pt; mso-pagination:widow-orphan; font-size:10.0pt; font-family:"Times New Roman"; mso-ansi-language:#0400; mso-fareast-language:#0400; mso-bidi-language:#0400;} After breakfast this morning Clive dragged the boat backwards to the water point and filled our tank up with fresh water.  Whilst he was in the middle of doing this one of the big working boats came past carrying diesel, Calor gas, Elsan blue, coal, logs and kindling.  We were a bit too late to stop him at that point but told him we needed some kindling �I�ll be back in about half an hour� he said.  So when we were all filled up and ready to go we hung about till we saw him reversing back down the canal.  Now as we have mentioned in the past, narrowboats don�t really like going in reverse and they can be a bit tricky to steer as well!  Anyway, it took him a while but finally he made it, we got our kindling and were on our way.  It is good to buy stuff from these guys, they are keeping a very old tradition alive, trading on the waterways, the more people buy from them the longer the tradition will last.  The boats are amazing too.   Once we had our kindling we set off and very shortly arrived at the Norton Junction. We have been here before as you may remember and last time we turned left heading for Braunston, this time we took the right fork up the Leicester Arm, heading for Market Harborough.   I forgot to mention, just before we set off this morning another boat passed us, having just come up through the top lock � it was Molly May II again!  They had caught up with us.  However, just after we turned right at the junction we saw them again � I think they had moored up for second breakfast!   We continued cruising, flanked by the M1 on our right and the railway line on the left and very noisy it was too!  Then we noticed a lot of parked lorries down on our right and realised we were just passing over the Watford Gap Services!!!!  Not much further along we arrived at the Watford Flight.  Now this is an interesting lock flight, its known as a staircase flight.  There are seven locks in total.  The first two locks were just normal, single, locks however the middle four locks are all joined together so as you leave one lock you go directly into the next lock, there is no pound in between.  They are quite tricky till you get the hang of them.  There are two different types of paddles; one is painted red and the other is painted white.  On the way up the flight you open the red paddle first which lets water through from the lock above, but then you have to open the white paddle, this draws water in from holding ponds which are located over on the left side of the flight (going up).  It�s a very clever piece of engineering � you can�t just operate these locks in the normal way otherwise there wouldn�t be enough water to fill the lock by the time you reach the top one, which is where the holding tanks come in.  The same applies when you are going down the flight, the water goes out from the lock into the holding pond, otherwise it would flood the one below.   Anyway, we made it to the top eventually but I have to confess I was very confused down at the second lock and as Pat and Peter had by this time caught up with us I popped back down to get them to explain the theory to me � they have done the flight many times.  There is a little rhyme that helps to keep you on the right track: Red before White and you�ll be alright; White before Red and you�ll wish you were dead!  Must remember it this time � I had remembered it wrong � White is alright, red and you�re dead!  Thank goodness Pat and Peter were there, it could have been a disaster!!   Soon after the Watford flight we arrived at the Crick Tunnel.  Compared to some of the other tunnels we have negotiated this is a relatively short one � only 1500 metres or so.  However it�s a very drippy one!  One trick we have learned in drippy tunnels is to have an umbrella handy!  We can usually see drips in the headlight up in front so have time to get the brolly up before we get a shower, but in the Crick tunnel its advisable to keep it up all the time!  Soon after we entered the tunnel we could see a headlight, there was another boat coming the other way � not to worry, the tunnel is wide enough for two but it�s tight!  Once out the other end we started looking around for a mooring � we knew there were visitor moorings after a bridge so made for them but when we arrived there was a notice saying �14 days free mooring April to October� but then �November to March permit only Winter mooring�  So there was all this lovely barrier with no boats on it at all and we weren�t allowed to moor on it!  However I wanted to go to the local shop and get some bread and milk as we were running a bit low, so Clive stayed on the boat and I trotted up to the shop and got our provisions, then back to the boat and off again.   By this time it was getting decidedly chilly and there was definite bite in the wind so we really needed to get moored up as soon as possible, but sod�s law there were no decent moorings to be seen � the bank was really messy, no barrier to tie up to and the towpath was appalling.  Then a few bridges further down we saw some barrier and pulled in ready to moor up, however the towpath yet again was in a right state, in fact it looked as if the local farmer had led a whole herd of cows along it � yeuch gloopy!   Then we had a problem � the wind was blowing the boat into the bank and Clive just couldn�t get her back out again.  I tried pushing off from the cratch with my mop handle but it just wouldn�t work, she was glued to the bank.  So I had to jump off into the gloop and push her off from the bank but of course then I couldn�t get back on!  So I trotted off down the towpath and told Clive to pick me up at the next bridge (it�s easy to get on and off under a bridge) - I had to walk for about half a mile!  Well I have certainly had plenty of exercise today;  a flight of seven locks, a walk up to the shop in Crick and then a jog along the towpath for half a mile � wish my waistline reflected all my hard work!   Finally we came around a bend and saw a couple of boats moored up and there was still some space left for us, so we pulled in and got moored up as quickly as possible and just as we were finishing tying her up, Molly May II appeared round the bend and moored up right behind us!   Now we are battened down yet again with plenty of fuel on the stove and our tummies well stoked up with cottage pie � yummy!  Oh and a bottle of wine to wash it down � what more could we ask.  Unfortunately we have no TV signal here so it will have to be a DVD tonight, or we might just read and have an early night!   The next few days are evidently going to be very cold again, so let�s hope we make it to Foxton without getting iced up again!  We are booked in for an engine service in Foxton on Monday morning, but I have a date with a washing machine on Sunday afternoon all being well! Thinking about the bad weather to come this weekend reminded me of a few years back whilst I was working at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge.  One lunchtime it started to snow and me being a Yorkshire lass knows what snow looks like when it is set in for the day - however, none of my colleagues would take any notice of me, so we all carried on working.  However by 2.30pm I was getting decidedly agitated and finally about an hour later we all decided to pack up and go home.  One of my colleagues, Marian, gave me a lift to the Park and Ride to get my car and that in itself took well over an hour to do what is normally a 10 minute drive.  Anyway once in my car I was off onto the M11 heading for home when I realised it was extremely slippy and the whole motorway was grinding to a halt!  To cut a long story short I finally got home about 11.15 that night after doing a detour in the city centre to pick up my daughter Vicki as she was stranded - no buses, nothing!  Strangely we had an almost identical occurrence the following year, one day earlier - the dates were the 29th and 30th January!!!  

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