Shane has been a bit anxious about resolving various issues with the boat and also keen to make good time, so we don’t fall behind in our schedule before arriving at our winter mooring. We had undertaken a slightly more ambitious route based around being in a good place to pick up Bryn and the knowledge that he enjoys locks and would help us get through them faster. He also knew Bryn would like a meal out to be fitted into the schedule as his childhood holidays usually had at least one pub meal outing, a barbecue on the towpath and often a curry night. November didn’t seem a good time for a barbecue but he did know there was a good curry place along our route and it’s also a favourite with Shane.
We set off in sunshine today with Shane and Bryn doing the first lock while I drove. We headed across the Iron Trunk Aqueduct. There is no rail on one side which gives a lovely view down. Shane mentioned that there is no way to drive off the edge; it certainly feels like you might when driving so good to keep that in mind.
It was sunny but colder air. We were all warmly dressed and I glanced briefly at the view, while Bryn took pictures. Bryn was in charge of all the photographs today.
The weather certainly added to the experience and hurrying early in doing a lot of locks in the rain seemed the right use of the time as it was much more attractive to sit in the sunshine outside to do that in the rain. On a sunny Saturday there were more boats about, meeting us at bridges and on such a day people all seemed in good spirits remarking on the beautiful day and not the cold. I was particularly taken with this bridge with quite a different character. I must have seen it before but didn’t remember it.
The Canada geese don’t mind the cold and were out in force, on water and land. A stalking heron and a speeding kingfisher made an appearance singly.
Shane was feeling much better about our time. He is often twitchy about what speed we are doing when he isn’t driving, but he looked uite happy though he had niggling ribs today following the fall a few days ago, and he asked to drive. I don’t know if it was the lack of speed or that he felt he would be more comfortable standing rather than seated.
We were planning ahead and now we were confident we would be at the curry house today, we had options for eating there tonight or tomorrow lunch time. Shane quite fancied lunch time as he didn’t want to go to bed on a full tomach. I didn’t want to do locks on a full stomach either but there would be a pause before any locks would be done as the restaurant is just before a long tunnel. We were searching to see it’s opening hours and it wasn’t obvious lunch was an option, nor even if the restaurant still operated except as a take away. The reviews were good so we would still be happy with the take away option.
We stopped for water and lunch. Bryn and I dealt with the water while Shane went to ask about staying in a nearby marina. He returned with the news that there was no marina here and he had misremembered where it was. Given how much planning and fretting he has been doing about getting charged up and access to electricity, I think he must be having a marina mirage. Definitely time he had lunch.
Just as he had finished lunch we saw a boat come past and Shane thought if we went now we could share the flight of locks ahead. Alternatively if he wanted water we could let him know we were done. I ran over to ask him if he would like us to come with him and he agreed with alacrity. I hadn’t put a coat on and Shane offered me one but I reckoned in the sun I would soon wish I hadn’t my coat, if I was working the locks.
Shane and the other boater were clearly getting along very well. Shane called to Bryn to see if the next lock was ready. I tidied up the one we were on and they were able to smoothly go from one to the next.
At the next lock I thought I would go ahead and found when I got there that the side I was on had railing and no access below the bridge. I heard Shane shout and wave but couldn’t tell if he was calling me back or asking Bryn to wind a paddle. I investigated different access routes and eventually ran well ahead, crossed a road and got back to the lock and got the paddles up before Bryn got there, only very slightly ahead this time. Bryn informed me that there was a sign saying there was no access, so I seemed to have done the impossible! We got the next two ready in time for the boats arriving.
We were romping along and I certainly felt warm enough dressed. There was no time for winter chills when working the double locks in the sunshine, especially when I had run a bit extra.
I thought we might be at the last one of the locks as I couldn’t see another but was informed that we did have more but there was a bit of a gap so we might want to hop on rather than walk to the next one. Bryn was on the Bartimaeus side and Callisto offered to give me a ride to the next one. It was cosy on the step near his engine. The old style boats have the engine in a room in the boat rather than in a compartment below deck. I have seen some people travel standing on the gunwale on this traditional style boat, but today was a day for soaking in the heat and I didn’t fancy the gunwale after Shane’s slip earlier in the week.
The last two locks had more people around and Callisto’s driver remarked that there would be lots of Gongoozlers at these ones. I remembered a pair of boats getting wedged going into the last one as it wiggles on the way in, so mentioned it to Shane when I saw them coming out side by side from the second last lock, so they decided not to risk a “told you so” in front of an audience.
The Spice of Bruerne was now in sight and while it was closed at that time, it seemed all options on sit in or take away and lunch tomorrow or dinner tonight were available.
Bryn was surprised how early it was. We went for a walk to fill time and give those of us who hadn’t worked a flight of locks or had an interrupted lunch, time to build up an appetite. We were soon all ready for an early curry. The menu has all the old favourites and also a whole host of unheard of combinations. We chose ones that were new to us but made a point of getting a balance of heat and demolished the lot. The waiter took our photograph, but I don’t have a copy of that. If you are ever in the area, hot foot it to The Spice of Bruerne – other restaurants are available.