|Turning off the Grand Union into the Market Harborough Arm|
We were at Market Harborough with 6 days to spare before our friends from Malibu arrived. Their itinerary meant we needed to ‘ang at ‘Arborough. Last year the mooring time limits, at Market Harborough, were flexible with the C&RT Enforcement Officer. This year we didn’t see any sign of the Enforcement Officer and we stayed put in ‘our’ ideal mooring for more than 48 hrs hoping to be able to see him. The moorings were never full to capacity.
Nb Tupelo, the Ice-cream Boat moored up behind us, almost a year to the day when we first met, and we were mutually overjoyed to meet each other again. They report ‘Sarah’s Hokey Pokey’ Icecream has been a big success and has had positive comments from all including visiting ‘Kiwi’ customers. The day Nb Tupelo winded at Union Wharf cruised past us, they shouted out for our attention and put 2 pottles of their Lemon Curd Icecream into a fishing net they held out for me to reach in and grab. How kind!
Nb Sundowner, a time share boat, moored up near us and I had an albeit brief speed chat with the woman on board. I cannot remember her name but we are both from New Zealand. We both trained as Occupational Therapists (OTs) within a few years of each other. She worked at Christchurch Public Hospital and was OT on the Orthopaedic Ward prior to moving to England in September 1984. I worked at Christchurch Public Hospital as OT on the Orthopaedic Ward from September 1984 until I moved to England in February 1985. We had never met before until, by chance, now. That, to me, is a small world.
Della is such a sociable dog and sees almost anybody and everybody human as a petting machine. She does socialise with dogs and likes larger dogs and Miniature Schnauzers. Della is always keen to go out for a walk whether it is a short or long walk. If she has had enough walking she’ll plant her legs until we turn around or change direction. The Waste Disposal Area (aka Rubbish) at Union Wharf Moorings is a walk past a Cafe/Restaurant and people may be seated outdoors. So we are on the rubbish run and Della walks up to people, at a table, on the terrace for Afternoon Tea. A woman asked me what Della’s name is. I told her and she said her name was Della, as well. It’s not a name often heard. I explained we formed Della’s name from the Portuguese word Cadela, which means ‘female dog’. Yeah right we couldn’t go round calling her ‘Bitch’.
As Della and I moved to continue our walk I asked the human Della if she would like to come for a walk as well. We both laughed and Della-dog and I continued our walk.
|Almost ready to move from 'Arborough|
The Malibu connections, four ‘old’ friends of ours, turned up as planned and were at DB, on time early morning on the 15th June, ready to cruise DB to Welford which included The Foxton Locks, 2 staircase flights of five locks each. It is not common to have more than 2 Locks forming a staircase.
At the Foxton Locks there is a Passing Bay between the 2 Flights. A staircase Lock means that the emptying Lock will fill the Lock below and raise the boat in it to its level and the gates will open allowing the boat to move between Locks. Adjacent to each Lock is a water pound and the working of the Lock paddles has some influence on the pound and the Lock. All I remember is ‘Red’ paddle before ‘White’ paddle. The Foxton Locks are a popular gongoozler ‘hang-out’. There were at least 3 C&RT Volunteers to assist with safe boat passage on the day we were there. We were the only boat in the pound at the bottom of the Locks and, as there was no Lock Keeper or Volunteers at ‘ground level’ I needed to climb to the top of the Flight to get the OK to get started up to the Passing Bay. There was one boat beginning its Lock descent as we began ours. We now had a Volunteer to assist our progress and we were at the Passing Bay in record time. The Boat coming down must have been making a meal of it and had completed 2 Locks when we tied up at halfway.
|A last year at Foxton Locks photo.|
And so began the LONG wait. I’m sure the Chief Chap, which is the one in charge, lost count of the boats coming down. After what seemed like a lot of boats coming down and still there was another one entering the top staircase, I went to the ‘Head Poncho’ to see if we should set up our mooring for the night. I know I was getting snarky and he responded
“You were lucky I let you come up to the midway point. If I had known how long your boat is I would have kept you at the bottom. It’s six boats going down then six boats going up.”
I thought, size doesn’t matter, and was tempted to say “How many is six?”
We offered a couple of gongoozlers the opportunity to experience the feeling of a Lock on the rise and they waited, on board, until we got the all clear, from above, to move up the last staircase. They couldn't thank us enough, very cool.
Yes we got to the top of the Foxton Flight and still had enough of the day left to get to Welford, at the end of the Welford Arm off the Grand Union Canal. Alan, our cheerful Lock Volunteer had found out the Welford Lock would be open between 1500 – 1700hrs. Thanks Alan. The beam on one of the Lock Gates had broken when some ‘Walkers’ had posed for a group photo standing on the Gates.
We throttled up on the Grand Union as time was not on our side, now. We passed through the 1166yd Husband’s Bosworth Tunnel which brought squeals of joy from our friends as they looked for all creatures’ great and small stalactites.
One friend asked “Is there a Wife’s Tunnel?”
Soon we turned to the Welford Arm and through the Lock just before 1700hrs. The end of the Arm was nearly full and there was no mooring room for our size. We could have squashed in if Boaters were more thoughtful and adjusted their moorings when boats leave meaning there is no gap between boats. We winded and had to moor with our ‘Nose’ pointing a little into the Winding bank.
Matey, in front of us, fitting out his boat on a prime 48hr mooring site said “It’s a winding area.”
I said “Yes, I know.”
He said “It’s a Winding area.”
I said “Yes I know, there are no other moorings and the Lock is closed now so I don’t think anyone will be winding this evening.”
He said “It’s a Winding area.”
I wanted to say “And how long is your 48hrs.”
I kept my mouth shut.
That evening we had a fabulous meal at The Wharf Inn, close to our mooring, a fitting end to another memorable day.
Who needs reality TV?