Sun and Surprises

We had been moored for a couple of nights in a shallow cutting.  Usually I would avoid such locations because they tend to be dark – I want light in the windows and on the solar panels.  At this time of the year, the leaves are only just appearing even as the sun gets higher in the sky, so it was a surprisingly bright spot.  Nevertheless we decided to move on again this morning.

The forecast had suggested that there would be rain in the afternoon, so we set off fairly promptly in the cold morning air.  It was only a short distance to the Braunston Tunnel.

Approaching the tunnel.  From the back of a narrowboat we are approaching the portal of a tunnel.  The tunnel entrance is a dark archway in what could be a brick bridge, except that it has trees on top and a hill rising gently behind it.  The banks slope down towards the water on both sides.
West Portal of Braunston Tunnel

The tunnel is a little over a mile long.  I’ve been through it a number of times, but I don’t think I’d yet done so without meeting another boat.  The tunnel is (just) wide enough for two narrowboats to pass, though it is a little wiggly so it doesn’t look like it.  Today I was surprised to see the other end of the tunnel as we were entering. Instead of the glare of an oncoming headlight we could see the soft green of vegetation in sunshine.

Earlier I’d overheard someone talking about water pouring from the roof of a tunnel.  It takes a while for rain water to percolate from the ground to the roof of a tunnel.  It has been so wet for so long I feared we would be in for a drenching.  Another pleasant surprise – there were only a few isolated drips which we managed to avoid.  It was even possible to look up at the (three) ventilation shafts as we went under them.

Tunnel ventilation shaft.  Looking up from the bottom of a ventilation shaft.  A circular hole in the brickwork of the tunnel roof gives way to a brick lined shaft.  The bricks lining the shaft look more like weaving.
Brick Lined Ventilation Shaft in Braunston Tunnel

The sun felt stronger and brighter when we emerged at the eastern portal without meeting another boat!  Clare said I looked grumpy – I was just dazzled!

Exiting the tunnel.  The tunnel portal is a dark arch in what looks like a brick bridge with trees growing on top.  The sky above is bright blue and cloudless.  The head of a man in a hat is in the foreground.
Shane Exiting Braunston Tunnel East Portal

We carried on in the sunshine for another mile or so.  The shallow cutting continues for most of that distance, but eventually gives way to a section with views over the valley to the north, and easy mooring.  There were a number of boats here but still some space.  We moored up just in front of the boat we’d recently shared the locks with.

After a quick drink, I suggested we set off for a walk before the weather broke.  I spotted a quiet lane leading to the small village of Norton, about which we knew nothing.  We soon spotted the signs saying that fish and chips were served in the pub, but it wasn’t really lunch time yet.  The village was a mixture of old stone built cottages and more modern brick houses built in a similar style.  Most of the gardens were well kept with primroses, cowslips and daffodils in abundance.

As we sat on a bench in the sunshine I spotted a ladybird on my shoulder.  It proceeded to walk down my arm, on to my other hand and arm and back to my coat hood.

Ladybird on back of a hand.  The insect is approaching the elasticated cuff of a raincoat.  The elastic in the cuff is twice as wide as the tiny insect.
Ladybird Just Beyond Halfway in Circumnavigating Shane

In the graveyard, one grave appeared to have been planted with daffodils, and another with primroses.  The plastic wrapped flowers on some of the other graves looked dull by comparison.  Inside the church I picked up a couple of books from the selection on sale.  Fortunately the single pound coin I was carrying was the stated price.

In one of the aisles I noticed something on the floor.  With my glasses on, I confirmed that it was a bumblebee, but I wasn’t sure it was alive.  I found a leaflet and pushed it gently towards the creature.  I was pleased to see it very slowly walk forward on to the paper.  I took it outside, reckoning that it needed to be warmed by the sun and be able to get to some of those flowers.

Bumblebee on leaflet.  A leaflet with pictures of various features inside a church is unfolded with a large bumblebee resting on it.
Bumblebee Saved by Church Leaflet

By now we were ready for lunch, so we headed for the pub.  To our surprise there was a group of about a dozen people already inside, some sort of group outing for retired folk.  The landlady was very welcoming and friendly.  She took our order and then phoned it through to the chip shop which is another part of the same building.  Our freshly cooked meal was then brought to our table – delicious!

The largest sign above the bar seemed apt.

Signs above the bar.  A group of "comic" signs above the bar.  The largest sign simply says "Bee Happy" with a picture of a bee.
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