We were up and away at 0800 and entered Blisworth Tunnel a few minutes later. After a while it became clear that we were following the widebeam which we knew was booked through at 0800. I was catching up, so I slowed down to follow at a respectful distance. Our stove was putting our a fair amount of smoke: some of the time it was being blown in front of us, and sometimes it was swept back. Either way we managed to fill the tunnel with smoke - oops! I don't suppose the boat following us was too pleased, even though he was a long way behind. The tunnel entrance we'd left had turned yellow.
At Gayton Junction we battled the cross wind and pulled in to the 24 hour mooring opposite the Northampton Arm with plenty of time before the work party I'd offered my help to was scheduled to begin. I found Geoff from the Northampton Branch of the IWA in the CRT yard dishing out the obligatory hi-vis jackets. After introductions I was offered the opportunity to work on a scaffold tower. I would be scraping and painting the end gables of the loo block: masonry paint on the white and black gloss on the wooden bit. My painting partner on the platform was someone I called Roger until, near the end of the four hours, I heard others calling him Robert. Oops (again)! There were about eight volunteers and a couple of CRT people looking after us. Other jobs were filling crumbled-away brickwork with mortar, weed clearance by hand (no weedkiller allowed in case it gets into the water), preparing rails and bollards for repainting. We ran out of time to finish everything, but there are more work parties - or task parties as they seem to be called - booked throughout the year. It's a shame we didn't concentrate on the wall facing the GU main line: the upper section looks splendid (my bit!) but the lower part is peppered with unpainted mortar repairs.
At 1445 we set off for Weedon. Jan got off and walked from Bridge 33, about 2.5 miles. I tied up on the embankment by the church and put the fat fenders down (go-kart tyres labelled "bonglers" by Sarah of Chertsey). Even these might not be enough to keep us from banging the shelf below water level, not that I'll notice tonight as I'm pretty tired.
For food this evening we ended up at the Heart of England. Ally and Ben drove up to join us, and we enjoyed their "two meals for one" offer. My shoulder of lamb was very good, with loads of meat. Oh, and the Black Wych porter was good, too.
Back to the boat, write this, and bed. Tomorrow it's Destination Crick.
Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival - *Sat 16th Jun* Aqueduct Marina We drove to Middlewich via Church Minshull, with instruments in the boot, and we parked in the car park for the Boars Head...
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