A couple of puzzles

Near Norton Junction to  Nether Heyford:  6.75 miles, 7 locks
            It’s been a hot day again, though here in Northamptonshire a mooring was secured about four hours before the storm. Now the rain is in full rage, with thunder and lightning regularly crashing and flashing…
Somehow sunset tonight is unlikely to be as spectacular as last night’s!

           It was a smart turn right at Norton Junction this morning

and about an hour’s pause for servicing before finally the top lock was entered.

Ahead were two working boats breasted together,

cruising the network delivering coal.  It became a leapfrog operation as before lock 2 a displaced rudder on the butty (the unmotorised vessel) needed some engineering adjustment with use of block and tackle.  Later at Weedon Bec the motor appeared towing the butty on a long length of rope.

“Much quieter here on the back,” said a crewman, as the butty noiselessly floated past.              
                 Down the seven heavy Buckby locks Cleddau came, sharing the last two with another boat. The ears had to atune to an increasingly noisy transit: the fast Virgin trains, the M1 motorway – and a nearby go-kart track (where Lewis Hamilton started his career, so a rather inebriated motor fan explained yesterday afternoon).
               “Back in the south,” the Captain soon grumbled. The Grand Union is deep and fairly wide – but it is busy! At the bottom lock there were boats queuing for the locks, boats queuing for fuel, boats lining the towpath moored up. The canal meanders on, the trains still close, the motorway a little further away. Loud reggae music drifted from one moored boat, a small group of appreciators lounging and smoking something nearby on the towpath.

The Captain, analytical as ever, arrives at conclusions:  there are  more grey beards on the back decks, a response to “Hello” or Good morning” is often “You al-right?”, people are less likely to offer help at locks and, worst of all, boaters speed.  It seems private owners are as guilty of speeding past moored boats as hirers. At a bridge hole  this afternoon an oncoming boat left little space for Cleddau to get through: “Haven’t you got a bow thruster then?” asked the helmsman as the Captain executed a slick ‘handbrake turn’, avoiding both the oncoming boat and the one moored nearby. The arrival through the bridge hole of the following boat, however, was marked by passengers fleeing its front deck and a CRASH into the moored up boat…

There had been a pause at Weedon Bec – a gallop down the 47 steps from the canal to the village,

and although the Tudor Greengrocer was already closed the One Stop wasn’t – and there are some delightful buildings here,

many made from deep bronze coloured local stone.

              Time to moor up, ahead of the threatened rain.  Position the fenders: why is the Captain so pleased with this?

              Another puzzle: this flag was displayed on the stern of a boat at Braunston yesterday.

Which area of Europe does it represent? Answers to both tomorrow…

Tomorrow: past Gayton Junction, through the Blisworth Tunnel to or below Stoke Bruerne


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