We're back on the main line of the Grand Union now. This morning we polished off the remaining six locks of the Buckby flight (we'd done one last night) and stopped at the bottom for coffee. I was just about to take my first sip when we noticed the erratic behaviour of a "Hire-a-Canal-Boat" craft in front of us. Now we were moored on the 48 hour moorings a good few boat lengths from the bottom lock, and it seemed that the Canaltime boat (it's easier to call it that) was attempting to "come in to land". Something prompted me to put my mug down, walk up to them and ask if they were mooring up or wanting to go up the lock. When Stephanie (for that was her name), who was on the bank hanging on to a rope, said that they were going up the locks but hadn't done any before, I said that I'd show them what to do.
Stephanie's face had a look of pure relief. I gulped down my coffee and walked up to the lock with her, while Stephen steered towards the lock. It transpired that they had taken the boat out of Gayton with what must have been the minimum of tuition. Over the course of six locks (I left them to tackle the top lock by themselves) I showed Stephanie how to tell the state of paddles, how to wind them up and down, when to open gates etc. I had to help with some of the bottom gates as she could not budge them by herself, being of even slimmer build than me! By Lock 8 Stephanie seemed reasonably confident, just looking to me for reassurance that she was going to do the right thing.
As you might imagine, Stephanie and Stephen (over here from Brisbane) were immensely grateful. Stephanie had prayed that God would send someone to help them with the locks - it turns out that I was the answer to her prayer! I was grateful that I'd brought my bike with me as I was then able to cycle back to the boat. I wasn't terribly grateful that the back tyre picked up a large thorn: I'll mend the puncture tomorrow!
After that excitement we had lunch and cruised to Weedon. Here we stopped for a brief visit to One Stop for some essentials (including loo rolls); then carried on to Nether Heyford. After tea we walked to the Foresters Arms pub (Adnams Explorer direct from the barrel, and the closest to a full pint I've been offered so far). We had an interesting chat with the owner, who grew up on the banks of the GU at Cosgrove and Old Stratford, with memories of working boats and early cruisers.
And now it's bed time.
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