Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Indigo Dream

Sometimes, a lack of planning works really well.

It became clear during Sunday that we didn't really need to go back to the Crick show on Monday, so we began to wonder what canal-related activity we could fill our Bank Holiday Monday with.  We knew Sue and Richard from Indigo Dream had been moored at Billing Aquadrome on their way back up the Nene, so wondered if they might need a bit of help with some locks.  As we were driving away from Crick, we established that they were just entering Blisworth Tunnel and planning to moor at Stoke Bruerne overnight.  We'd been wondering where to eat that evening, and thought Stoke Bruerne would be as good a place as any.

And so it happed that as Indigo Dream emerged from the tunnel, we were just walking up to the tunnel mouth.  We knew there were no moorings above the locks, so grabbed a windlass each and worked the boat down a couple of locks to the long pound, where there was an Indigo Dream sized space on the visitor moorings.  It wasn't long before four humans and two dogs were sat under the patio heaters at The Navigation, eating, drinking, and talking.  And toilets were mentioned only once, and even then only in passing.  It was a really enjoyable evening, and it was gone 10 before we headed back to our hotel which turned out to be only ten minutes away.

The next morning we were back at Indigo Dream again, with the intention of providing a lock crew for the decent of the remaining five locks.  On Richard's advice, we parked free beside the penultimate lock, then walked up to the boat where we were plied with tea and coffee before setting off.  A passing remark from Sue about steering saw Adrian hesitate for almost half a second before taking the tiller.  Richard and I worked the locks -- I'd forgotten how large and heavy these Grand Union lock gates are.  We thought a rather frail looking couple were going to wait for us in the lock below, but they didn't.  However, we caught them up at the next lock, and they were grateful to be able to stay on their boat while we did the work.  There were a few boats coming up, some of whom even knew what they were doing.

Once at the bottom, we stayed on board for a couple of miles, surprised at how busy the canal was.  There were boats in both directions, including Nutfield and Raymond.  At about noon, we hopped off and left Sue and Richard to continue their journey back towards London.  We'd had a very enjoyable morning in excellent company, and are looking forward to seeing them again in London during the summer.  We walked the two miles back to Stoke Bruerne in about half and hour, and saw Nutfield and Raymond again, just leaving the lock where the car was parked.

In the village, the whole place was swarming with people.  We went for lunch at The Boat.  We sat outside even though it wasn't very warm, and watched the trip boat loading up for its first visit of the day to the tunnel mouth.  There must have been about 35 or 40 people on board, each paying £3 for a trip lasting about 25 minutes.  Then it was back in car for the drive home, which was successfully completed before the Bank Holiday traffic really got going.


Simon said...

sounds lovely.

Do give me a text if the two of you want to work Tortoise through a few locks... ;-)

Anonymous said...

Eh Simon, get your mitts of our lock crew. They are far to efficient to share out!


Simon said...

you two come out instead - you must owe me a few... ;-D