Bar service…

Napton to near Norton Junction: 8.6 miles, 6 locks, 1 tunnel
          Heat early this morning – both from the sun and also from a fire in a bankside bucket

(though reason unknown).
         The canal between Napton and Braunston is a contour canal: it winds and weaves its lock-free way around the hills and slopes of this part of South Warwickshire. Contented sheep bleated from the fields, Napton Narrowboats hurried past back to their hire base, butterflies danced and spun above canal side vegetation, moored boaters sat in the shade – and other boaters dawdled along towards Braunston.
          Some curious boat names were spotted – here are two:

          (More on boat names in the footnote below).
          Inside Cleddau was an unusual sight – the laptop under cushions.

“”Keep checking in case there’s a signal,” the Captain had instructed. On the boat went, butterflies still dancing above –  but no signal appearing below. Then, just as the Braunston Turn Junction hove into view, there was a shout from the back deck, a microwave mast spotted on the hill. Once moored reconnection to the digital world could be made…
           A curious thing about Braunston (a small hilltop village in Northamptonshire) is how quiet and unhurried life is up on its sole street. It cannot be true but it seems that the sun always shines here, hollyhocks are always standing sentinel beside the pavement and roses are always in bloom.  Once past the beautiful church

you might notice the odd attractive doorway

or unusual tile patterns on a roof

or the beam supports of an ancient building.

Back down the hill, by contrast, it is the canal that is busy. There are chandleries, boatyards, a huge marina, a hire boat base and people keen to soak up the distinctive Braunston atmosphere.

            The Braunston Tunnel is six uphill locks away. Nb Spellbound (a shared ownership boat with a crew of four) became lock partners.

There were gongoozlers about of course, and at the pub more spectators and drinkers.

Drinkers! Beer! Any plastic glasses?  The Captain and another disappeared into Admiral Nelson, reappearing a lock further – with mostly full glasses. “Something apple you asked for…” said the Captain. “I’ve got you cider!”

And so Cleddau’s last three locks were completed by a cider-slugging Boatwif…
            Lights were adjusted for the Braunston Tunnel (2042 yards): Cleddau, due to gifts last year, is now well illuminated.

 Ahead went nb Spellbound.  A few hundred yards in a fiercesome BANG! rent the air, a nervous oncoming hire boat colliding with Spellbound… At the far end another boat skipper seemed frozen in fear, stationary. “Put all your inside lights on,” advised the Captain. You could hear the passengers’ collective sigh of relief. Gently their boat was pushed to the side and Cleddauemerged, unscathed. “It’s an adventure,” said Boatwif, encouragingly. To some, perhaps, it seems an adventure too far…
        Tomorrow – down the Whilton Flight towards Weedon.
WEDNESDAY: “Erm, how exactly do you pronounce your boat name?”
THURSDAY: “Look, CLed-o.” (small boy, good on phonetics.)
FRIDAY: (A Monkton Moment*, near Braunston) “You don’t really come from Haverfordwest, do you?” (the helmsman on Celtic Quest, his presumption corrected by the Captain…)

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