Saturday, 14 April 2007

Early bird got the worm.

13 Locks, 61/2 Miles, 1 Tunnel and now moored at Braunston.
Total of 218 locks and 2231/2 miles and 8 Tunnels since 5th Nov 2006

We were up earlier than usual so that we could get to the Watford flight before things got busy. Well we timed it perfectly as the lock keeper had just finished letting water down to the bottom pounds as they drain out overnight due to leakage. He allowed us to proceed all the way through as there were no waiting boats. On the way down at the 3rd lock he pointed out a bird nesting in the lock gate behind the steel plate only a foot or so above the water line. I’m sure he said it was a Yellow Warbler but from the photo that Dot took it doesn’t look quite right for a warbler. From what we can see in the photo my bird I.D book leads me to think that it is a Grey or Blue Headed Wagtail but I stand to be corrected. Apparently a bird nested in the same place last year but got frightened off and abandoned the eggs due to the gate constantly opening and shutting. This bird appears to be more determined.

Almost unbelievable but true,
look carefully and you will see mum sitting on her eggs
on one of the very busy Watford Gap lock flight gates.

After completing the flight we were making good time so decided to press on towards Braunston. We kept a look out for a good overnight mooring but found nothing by the time we reached Braunston tunnel so on we went.
Going through the tunnel was a new experience due to the fact that we passed 4 oncoming boats and we only bumped one boat at a point which must have been barely wide enough to get 2 boats abreast.
As there was a lot of boats on the move we again struck lucky going through the Braunston lock flight with just about every lock being in our favour. The only hold up was waiting for 2 boats at lock 2. The lock seemed to take for ever to fill. After about 10 - 15 minutes I went and had a look and found the paddles on one of the bottom gates still half open so I shut it in a very pointed manner because the 2 guys on the boats were so busy talking and not concentrating on the job in hand. The problem was 4 teenagers on one boat were doing the locking and more interested in skylarking around and the parents just ignored what was taking place and whether they were doing things properly or not. As the boats finally left the lock I got a very lame apology which left me thinking that some people should stay home in the comfort of their armchairs.
We finally reached the great Mecca of Braunston where we again came up smelling of roses by managing to find a 48 hour mooring between the 2 marina entrances. Moorings are very scarce here because we only found 1 other free mooring along about ½ a mile of towpath. Dot always said that Friday 13th was her lucky day.
We visited both the chandleries and bought a few bits and pieces and then wandered around the marina looking at boats for sale comparing them with “Gypsy Rover” in age and price. A Mr Whippy ice cream van was on site trying to drum up some business so we made it worth his while and had an ice cream each. We will stay put for the weekend, do some painting as the forecast is great again and set off for Rugby on Monday morning.

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