Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes

I thought, now it was summer, I would start that summer top again. I was getting towards the end of the first section of the back and was thinking I could slip the neckline over my head to try to see how long it was on me, when I saw a mistake. So all that day’s work and a bit more got ripped back. Each tricky bit is easier the second time round.

Shane was doing solo trips to keep busy, while I rested my knee by not pounding the path and by taking anti inflammatory tablets, which we now have in abundance. The weather fluctuated but Shane stayed dry.

Sunshine and dark clouds at the service point

This morning it felt a whole heap better, than yesterday, but I was taking no chances. I was in no hurry to work a flight of locks. We were poised by a water point and there was a steady stream of boats wanting the same facility so it was a few hours before we spotted a gap to swing across. It was pretty windy and we had watched a couple of boats slam into the concrete side at the water service point. I went to the front pulling the rope in without having to step off (take it easy on the kneesy) and Shane eased Bartimaeus round gently and we got tied up and got the water connected. We gathered the tap wasn’t a fast filler by how long other boats waited there. There was plenty time to look around. A lorry arrived to leave an empty skip and take away the very full skip at the rubbish point. He had to ask the car with a boat on the slipway to move so he could complete the manoeuvre. Shane was concerned that the skip was overfull and above the load line and was relieved to see the conscientious driver get out and cover the load over. I didn’t know skips wore headscarves.

Covering the skip load so nothing tumbles off

The nearby house had a well kept garden and I could see, by the angle of their tree, that today was not the only day there was a strong wind coming towards the water area.

So it wasn’t all service, sluices and sanitation at the water point, there was quite a bit of colour and a mosaic to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Northampton arm connecting the Grand union canal with the river Nene.

Mosaic by Gayton Primary School pupils, of canal life 200 years ago. Watch your head on that bridge!

Shane set off and squeezed along past Gayton marina where boats were moored three deep, and we stopped to have lunch before tackling the flight. In deference to my knee, I took the tiller when we got to the lock and Shane took the windlass. At the first lock he got no peace as, first one, then two, excitable collies sniffed his toes and circled him, looking eagerly for snacks, of which he had none. As he went to the next lock a third collie emerged and trotted after him. Nobody was with them but they didn’t stray far from home and ceased following him.

Though the locks were single width, the shape of the gates didn’t make it easy for him to cross but he took the opportunity to cross over the boat when he could rather than go right round.

Shane using Bartimaeus as a bridge

I expected some lift bridges after seeing the mosaic, but the first, straight after that lock was fixed up, so he didn’t have to get his head round operating them both at the same time.

Leaving the lock and going under the lift bridge

We met a couple walking their dog, the man chatted to Shane for a bit and I noticed the dog was limping a little so I commented to the woman, asking if it had a sore foot. She explained it had an operation and was still healing. I said I was empathising with my sore knee, so driving in stead of locking. She said she couldn’t feel comfortable driving their narrow boat so commended me for doing so. Shane would have got pretty tired if I had been unprepared to do either job and left him to shoulder all the boating responsibilities.

Between the next two locks I saw him tip toeing and dancing around muddy patches too. Altogether it would have been dodgy for me to have done all the walking prancing and pushing. I would have got some knitting done though.

The next possible lift bridge was bridge number 6, and it wasn’t even over the canal. Shane went ahead to get the next lock ready as this lock filled (get your back into it man!) and I took pictures of the bridge and artwork.

Bridge 6 on the grass by the tow path
Wire woman seated with a basket and wire man pointing, in old canal style

As I left the lock I saw the bridge support was still there complete with instructions to operate it. Good luck with that! Shane was well past needing his jumper and when a slight shower came on, I popped it inside to keep dry. He didn’t need it again.

Bridge 6B was quite different from 6. There were a couple of busy roads and we were getting nearer the town and the end of the locks.

Lock by Bridge 6B and Shane crossing over Bartimaeus roof bridge

I was getting a taste of Northampton from the bridge. I doubt it will be quite so multicoloured and I haven’t seen any herons today, but well done on the perking up of the boring bridge

Shane indicated, to my surprise, there was a boat coming as I emerged from under the next bridge. They were in the lock 13, the last of the flight. We mush have hit the rush hour in the Northampton arm.

Traffic jam at Northampton , approaching last lock

They told Shane it was busy in Northampton itself so before the next flight we moored up. Northampton can wait till tomorrow 

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