Draw Me A Map

In The Boat, a thatched pub, where we had a tasty lunch, Shane started explaining some places and distances to me and what we might do in the following days. I did tell him that my brain was not going to hold on to information about directions without a map to help me keep track and using a compass direction was unlikely to help. He gave it a go anyway and although each point described was memorable, I couldn’t connect them or remember how far apart they were. Fortunately our meals arrived before he tried to tell me again.

It made more sense with an accompanying map later on. We have been to all the places but have been travelling so slowly that something that was over two weeks away could in fact be covered in a day or two if we really put our minds to it, especially since we had nipped down a side arm and stayed at the far end for a few days, and we would not be doing that this time. We are still trying to explore while staying close to Gary and his boatyard in case we suddenly get news that he is ready to remake our side hatch doors.

We had gone down two locks and stopped there while it rained heavily for a day. There was plenty wind and sharp showers around. The next day the forecast improved so we set off to finish the locks. We had seen a lot of volunteers around but also knew that they don’t stay all day, which made a good reason to get going in the morning. There was a pair of boats ahead but they told Shane another was coming so we could buddy up with them. I drove into the lock and waited. Old Tom (that’s the boat, not the driver) came in beside me. We were both happy to be in much better weather than the previous day. There was plenty blue sky and a lot less wind today.

Bartimaeus and Old Tom in the lock. Shane and several volunteers working it.

The volunteers were communicating from different ends of the flight. A boat was coming the other way and a volunteer asked us to wait in the lock rather than coming out. This meant it got a bit fumey, since Old Tom’s diesel was chugging away and we were in the bottom. We didn’t have to wait too long and then and the volunteer waved us on. Old Tom said he’d follow my lead, and it all went smoothly, but when the gates opened I could see the lock ahead was shut and there were no volunteers. We went forward and tied to the side. Shane found the lock was set against us so worked it alone. The lady accompanying Old Tom had been closing a gate there. She appeared while I was holding a rope at the side declaring she was getting hungry. I said I could get her a biscuit as soon as I had washed my ropey hands but she said she was fine and would much prefer some wine. I apologised that I couldn’t help with that. She went up to help get the gates open and I drove in and she helped hold the rope at the side. Once Old Tom had come in, they closed the gates and went to work the other end. The gates behind were not quite closed but usually close once the water flows but they didn’t and water was rushing in, so we were not emptying at all. Shane worked out things were not right and came to see and they opened and closed the gates again. Still it was block. Old Tom’s driver grabbed his barge pole and guddled it around. He didn’t feel he had achieved anything but this time the gates closed. Where were the 8 or so volunteers at the most awkward lock of the flight? I concluded that they had decided we all knew what we were doing and didn’t need any help. Shane told me later some were new and being trained. On exit I saw boats were waiting to go in but one had gone to the lock side bollards and the other had gone to the other side and got blown into the trees. There wasn’t much I could do to help but I felt for him as I went past. We’ve all been there, getting dragged backwards through some branches.

After the last lock there are services and we were delighted to get rid of glass bottles. We filled with water. Old Tom moved on and I guess she had her wine while we had lunch. We couldn’t stay there and continued to Yardley Gobion, where we went to find the shop. Shane led the way through side paths and we passed someone who obviously hadn’t visited the bottle bank for some time but managed to make the most of the situation.

Glass Bottle Sculpture in a garden

We found a small “pocket park” along the way. It had a single path round it so even I couldn’t get lost there. The millennium project there had been to restore an old well and pump. I was amused that the name of the county council was South Northamptonshire which seemed to mean two opposite directions village, town, county.

We pressed on and found ourselves next to Old Tom overnight. We had passed each other a few times. The next day they were gone, but we stayed out so don’t know if we will see each other again.

Old Tom moored beside us in Cosgrove.

I can’t remember being in Cosgrove, so perhaps we didn’t stop though the name is vaguely familiar. Shane remembers that I already took a photo of the bridge on the way in before, but I took it again anyway. The place is justly proud of its bridge. It had had some recent repair but there is some very old stonework.

Cosgrove’s Ornamental Bridge

Today we had three short excursions in different directions. We visited a cafe that Shane had seen was advertised. As we went we found another rubbish point with another bottle bin. Shane was looking on his phone to check the route and we saw that unusually the bin area had a map to the very place on it. It wasn’t very far.

Map for canal users to the cafe and shop

The shop and cafe were in a trailer park and we’re not connected with the canal but had obviously noticed that they could get passing trade from boaters as there were a lot of signs along the canal for it. We had an afternoon walk in the other direction. I could see from the boat that there was a church which might be worth a visit. It was on the other side of the canal. I did not expect the route we would take, not over but under the canal.

The route to the the church weaved round a couple of pubs and up a little lane. The church was open and was ancient with some very wonky old beams. It had photograph albums and cards made of several of it’s highlights. Unfortunately we had no cash to buy one with us. One was a quilted panel that had been made depicting a map and village highlights. There are some clever crafters out there. The hassocks and some cushions were all decorated too.

For such a small church there were a lot of interesting features:beautiful organ pipes, historical information and lovely old carved wooden hymn boards.

As we left the churchyard there was a map. There aren’t often maps in churchyards, and the village isn’t that big that you need much help finding your way around.

Map of Cosgrove in the Churchyard

We found our way to the millennium sign and some thatched old houses, past cows and a pony and returned by the bridge and were right back to the entrance of the horse tunnel again.

After dinner Shane was keen to take another stroll this time along the canal, past the lock and along to see the Iron Trunk Aqueduct which was the oldest double width iron aqueduct. Yet another map showed how to get there.

Map of Local walks

It didn’t give details or signs to a horse tunnel but we found there was one anyway. The photo doesn’t show it but it was actually dark inside it and I couldn’t see the ground as I headed along. I just remembered that there was drainage at the side and hoped that meant it was dry in the middle.There were plenty signs about the aqueduct itself and another map.

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