We had given Northampton a pretty good going over. Most places are lucky to get more than a day. The windy weather was gone too. It’s been a fun and useful few days but now it was time to go.

We decided to go early (by our standards) as there were a lot of locks and the rain was due in the afternoon. The first few are well spaced but the other 13 are closer together, with no mooring opportunities, so we planned to do all of them in one go.

Shane had planned ahead (nothing new there) and put his shorts on, anticipating a workout. He was all go and had nipped to the shop for fresh bread while I was having a shower. He wanted to get going to beat the rain and set off driving, while I finished my breakfast.

Once the locks began, I was driving. We had noticed a chimney like tower in the other direction and had wondered about it’s purpose as there weren’t any building around. Shane took the time to check out what it was, since he wasn’t driving. We would never have guessed! It was a lift test tower. A lift manufacturer would install a lift there to test it. Sometimes this included letting it go at the top, to check that the safety mechanisms worked effectively.

Lift Testing Tower

Once we reached the flight, he got his folding bike out. This made it much easier for him to go ahead to the next lock to get it ready, and to come quickly back to open the gate to let me out.

Shane speeding back from the lock ahead, to open the gates now this one is full

This really helped us do it quickly and I didn’t have much waiting between locks and could just keep going at a reasonable pace. On the way down, I had coasted, dawdled and paused between locks waiting for them to be ready. This was much speedier. It wasn’t long before Shane had got rid of the long sleeved layers. I expected to be standing relatively still, so had a fleece, a cardigan and a long sleeved top on and was a bit chilly. After a bit, some light rain started, earlier than forecasted, so I took the opportunity to get on a few more bits and pieces as I went for my waterproof. At the next lock, we really didn’t look like we were out in the same weather.

Shane closing a lock for me

Me waiting in the lock in waterproof, scarf, hat, gloves and fleece. (plus another two long sleeved items under those).

We met one boat, a loan boater, He waited in his lock until we had come up before easing out and we crossed in the small pound easily. He was going nice and slow, since he had all the work to do. He had a long way still to go.

View out the back of the lock as the doors are closing to the other boat entering the lock I have just left.

Shane was crossing sides on the boat as I drove out, as he needed to drop the paddle on the other side. He was saving the long walk around, or waiting for the gate to close before doing that job. He had quite a rhythm and not all that long staying still. He managed the odd chat with passing walkers.

Shane crossing the lock over the boat while I drive out, bike at the ready on it’s stand

We had reached the lift bridge that once operated. It does look tight and I am glad at such times that my roof has no chimney or pot plants on top.

Driving under the lifted bridge into the lock

The rain was beginning in earnest, but I recognised that we were approaching the last lock by the collie dog coming to greet Shane. Only one, rather than three, on the rainy day and thankfully it wasn’t a dog that likes to chase bikes though it was interested enough to sniff it when it was on the ground. He watched everything keenly. Collies are always on the go and alert.

Collie watching Shane fold the bike away at the last lock

Walkers, also caught out by the forecast, were kind enough to let Shane back on and operate the gate for us. This let us press on to moor up and get lunch. We had made it in good time, it was just the rain was early.

While driving I had managed to mull over ideas for the two most recent prompts for poetry writing month (a new poem prompt every day in April). I had fallen a bit behind but got two done yesterday morning and another completed after lunch today, a relaxing way to spend a wet afternoon. Only one more to go.

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