Thursday 24 September
We arrived at the boat late in the afternoon and had the ropes off about 5 pm. From our mooring we made our way down to the top lock and while the lock was filling managed to unload the car into the boat, this included the carpet tiles for the lounge that we had taken home to clean. We met the first boat just as we left the top lock which saved closing gates, this is one of the few Narrowboats that I have seen with wheel steering. The second boat appeared as we left the second lock, things were looking good, but after the next lock which had almost emptied its self we were following craft travelling down hill and didn't meet any more boats. Just beyond The Folly we were able to pull into the 48 hr moorings for the night.
Friday 25 September
Another fine day and we were away about 9 am. Steady run down the Oxford Canal and then sharp left at Wigrams Turn to go north along the Grand Union Canal. We were contemplating weather to stop at the top of Calcutt Locks and tack water, but as we arrived there were two boat coming out of the lock towards us, one of them shot over to the water point and the boat ahead went into the lock, the obvious thing for us to do was to go in and join them, locking down together. I got chatting to the chap on the other boat as we locked down, his boat was a trad with a Gardner engine, the interesting thing was his exhaust which was hinged to drop back if it hit anything and had a spring fitted into the hinge mechanism so it came gently to rest as it fell back, level, but not hitting the cabin roof. We parted company at the bottom of the flight and continued on alone towards Stockton.
The approach to Stockton Lock is quite slow due to the number of moored boats along that section and before we reached The Boat pub we were passed by a chap on the towing path carrying a windlass, some way behind us was a converted working boat and I am guessing that the chap had probably walked from Calcutt Locks to Stockton Locks along the towing path. I dropped Diana off at the bridge by the pub and by the time I reached Stockton Top Lock he had opened both gates and was on his way down to the second lock. I was in the lock and Diana was ready to close the gates before NB Chiswick arrived and slid in beside me. She is acting as a floating stage for two waterway artists, you can see more details at http://www.sounduk.net/event_page.php?eid=12 . With 2 crew with the boats and one member setting ahead we had a good run down the flight. The young lady steering Chiswick was very capable of handling such a fine craft and we slid down the flight side by side entering and leaving the locks together, we didn't meet any other boats to disrupt our rhythm. We winded and after taking water moored outside the Blue Lias while Chiswick visited WFB to get an estimate for some repair work they needed doing.
Our reason for visiting The Blue Lias was that it was the annual Cutweb Internet Boat Club CIBC rally that weekend and we had 12 other boats moored with us plus some camping units in the field behind the pub. Our Saturday night entertainment was provided by Kate Saffin in her one woman show. On Sunday we had a charity auction, I was a bit late arriving and Diana gave me a wave to show me where she was sitting, it cost me a pair of glass decanters, the first lot knocked down to her for a pound. As usual we were very well looked after by staff of The Blue Lias.
Monday 28 September
9 am and we were on our way in the company of nb Jannock up the Stockton flight, all the locks were against us at first but then we met a couple of boats coming down which eased our way slightly, then on to the Calcutt flight, here there was a boat read to go into the lock so Jannock went in with them, we in turn went in with another boat that had just arrived from somewhere, probably the marina, that was on a "training day" the two chaps and the trainer just stood there talking to each other after the other boats in front had left the lock and the top gates were closed. I walked up and asked them if they intended going up the flight and they said they would like to join us, I then suggested it might help if they did some of the work as I had nothing to moor to and walked past, leaving the boat drifting to set the lock. Graham saw my plight, sent me back, turned the lock opened one gate, I passed the boat went in and moved across before any of the others wandered up. At was at this point I found out it was a training day and suggested that maybe the trainer should train them to do some of the work. I had been standing on the towing path holding the boat right behind them all the time the other boats were going up and none of them bothered to walk back and tell me what they were up to. We shared all three locks with them with some pointed comments about how we were working the lock and not asking for a "thumbs up" before opening paddles, I don't think they would have noticed a flag waving and they were well roped up before they closed the bottom gates.
We turned left at Wigrams turn and followed Jannock into Braunston where we winded and made use of his self pumpout kit before returning to Calcutt to fill up with diesel. Once toped up with diesel we moored for the night just above the locks opposite the reservoir at 5 30 pm. later we witnessed a glorious sunset with a bright red sky reflecting in the water.
Tuesday 29 September
After a very quiet night the dog had us up before it was light, when we finally surfaced it was sunny and as the morning went on, things got even better, probably the warmest day all month. We set off at 9 30 am heading back to Wigrams Turn where we turned sharp right up the South Oxford canal. We met a few boats between the junction and the Napton Locks. As we cleared the bridge by The Bridge Inn, Napton a passing boater was trying to remoor a boat that had drifted out across the cut, we assisted by pushing the bows in and then throwing the front mooring line to him. This boat was here when we passed last Friday, at that time the front line was strung across the towing path and tied to a post in the hedge.
At the bottom of the locks the working boat Gosty was bunkering diesel, he only sells none propulsion diesel and to commercial users at the low rate of duty. He also had a full load of coal on so if you get behind him he may be a bit slow through the bridge holes. We didn't have a bad run up the flight meeting a few boats on the way but also catching some up. Just above the top lock a Rose Narrowboat was moored on the lock moorings with the engine boards up, Diana went to enquire if he had a problem and he said he had found a pipe come off in the engine bay. I got volunteered to go and look, it was the pipe from the bottom of the sump to the oil change pump, apparently it had also been off when he picked the boat up and the chap just pushed it on again, so he had done the same and didn't know what it was. I told him that if it fell flat in the bilge it could drain all the oil from the engine. We then went up to our mooring and moored up at about 12 30 pm. Whilst I was changing a bulb in the stern light an Oxford hire boat pulled up beside me, the chap asked the best way to turn round. I told him to back up, stick his nose in the arm and drive the back round, this resulted in the request for me to demonstrate, I didn't demonstrate but I did hop on his boat and instruct him on what to do and within 5 minuets a happy boater was heading back towards Marston Doles locks, I don't know if he is still happy as he was hoping to get to Cropredy tonight.
We shut the boat up and headed back to Suffolk.